We really are due for the sixth seal: Revelation 6:12

Opinion/Al Southwick: Could an earthquake really rock New England? We are 265 years overdue

On Nov. 8, a 3.6 magnitude earthquake struck Buzzard’s Bay off the coast of New Bedford. Reverberations were felt up to 100 miles away, across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and parts of Connecticut and New York. News outlets scrambled to interview local residents who felt the ground shake their homes. Seismologists explained that New England earthquakes, while uncommon and usually minor, are by no means unheard of.

The last bad one we had took place on Nov. 18, 1755, a date long remembered.

It’s sometimes called the Boston Earthquake and sometimes the Cape Ann Earthquake. Its epicenter is thought to have been in the Atlantic Ocean about 25 miles east of Gloucester. Estimates say that it would have registered between 6.0 and 6.3 on the modern Richter scale. It was an occasion to remember as chronicled by John E. Ebel, director of the Weston observatory of Boston College:

“At about 4:30 in the morning on 18 November, 1755, a strong earthquake rocked the New England area. Observers reported damage to chimneys, brick buildings and stone walls in coastal communities from Portland, Maine to south of Boston … Chimneys were also damaged as far away as Springfield, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut. The earthquake was felt at Halifax, Nova Scotia to the northeast, Lake Champlain to the northwest, and Winyah, South Carolina to the southwest. The crew of a ship in deep water about 70 leagues east of Boston thought it had run aground and only realized it had felt an earthquake after it arrived at Boston later that same day.

“The 1755 earthquake rocked Boston, with the shaking lasting more than a minute. According to contemporary reports, as many as 1,500 chimneys were shattered or thrown down in part, the gable ends of about 15 brick buildings were broken out, and some church steeples ended up tilted due to the shaking. Falling chimney bricks created holes in the roofs of some houses. Some streets, particularly those on manmade ground along the water, were so covered with bricks and debris that passage by horse-drawn carriage was impossible. Many homes lost china and glassware that was thrown from shelves and shattered. A distiller’s cistern filled with liquor broke apart and lost its contents.”

We don’t have many details of the earthquake’s impact here, there being no newspaper in Worcester County at that time. We do know that one man, Christian Angel, working in a “silver” mine in Sterling, was buried alive when the ground shook. He is the only known fatality in these parts. We can assume that, if the quake shook down chimneys in Springfield and New Haven, it did even more damage hereabouts. We can imagine the cries of alarm and the feeling of panic as trees swayed violently, fields and meadows trembled underfoot and pottery fell off shelves and crashed below.

The Boston Earthquake was an aftershock from the gigantic Lisbon Earthquake that had leveled Lisbon, Portugal, a few days before. That cataclysm, estimated as an 8 or 9 on the modern Richter scale, was the most devastating natural catastrophe to hit western Europe since Roman times. The first shock struck on Nov. 1, at about 9 in the morning.

According to one account: ”Suddenly the city began to shudder violently, its tall medieval spires waving like a cornfield in the breeze … In the ancient cathedral, the Basilica de Santa Maria, the nave rocked and the massive chandeliers began swinging crazily. . . . Then came a second, even more powerful shock. And with it, the ornate façade of every great building in the square … broke away and cascaded forward.”

Until that moment, Lisbon had been one of the leading cities in western Europe, right up there with London and Paris. With 250,000 people, it was a center of culture, financial activity and exploration. Within minutes it was reduced to smoky, dusty rubble punctuated by human groans and screams. An estimated 60,000 to 100,000 lost their lives.

Since then, New England has been mildly shaken by quakes from time to time. One series of tremors on March 1, 1925, was felt throughout Worcester County, from Fitchburg to Worcester, and caused a lot of speculation.

What if another quake like that in 1755 hit New England today? What would happen? That question was studied 15 years ago by the Massachusetts Civil Defense Agency. Its report is sobering:

“The occurrence of a Richter magnitude 6.25 earthquake off Cape Ann, Massachusetts … would cause damage in the range of 2 to 10 billion dollars … in the Boston metropolitan area (within Route 128) due to ground shaking, with significant additional losses due to secondary effects such as soil liquefaction failures, fires and economic interruptions. Hundreds of deaths and thousands of major and minor injuries would be expected … Thousands of people could be displaced from their homes … Additional damage may also be experienced outside the 128 area, especially closer to the earthquake epicenter.”

So even if we don’t worry much about volcanoes, we know that hurricanes and tornadoes are always possible. As for earthquakes, they may not happen in this century or even in this millennium, but it is sobering to think that if the tectonic plates under Boston and Gloucester shift again, we could see a repeat of 1755.

Why does the Russian horn want tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus? Daniel 7

Why does Russia want tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus?

Minsk and Moscow have close military ties with Belarus a staging ground for the invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

Published On 28 Mar 202328 Mar 2023

Vladimir Putin’s announcement that he intends to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory appears to be another attempt to raise the stakes in the conflict in Ukraine – and follows the Russian leader’s warnings that Moscow is ready to use “all available means” to fend off attacks on Russian territory, a reference to its nuclear arsenal.

Belarus said on Tuesday it had decided to host the weapons after years of pressure from the United States and its allies aimed at changing its political and geopolitical direction.

“Over the last two and a half years, the Republic of Belarus has been subjected to unprecedented political, economic and information pressure from the United States, the United Kingdom and its NATO allies, as well as the member states of the European Union,” the Belarusian foreign minister said in a statement.

“In view of these circumstances, and the legitimate concerns and risks in the sphere of national security arising from them, Belarus is forced to respond by strengthening its own security and defence capabilities.”

Minsk said the Russian nuclear plans would not contravene international non-proliferation agreements as Belarus itself would not have control over the weapons.

A look at Putin’s statement and its implications:

How did Putin explain the move?

Putin said that President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus has long urged Moscow to station its nuclear weapons in his country, which has close military ties with Russia and was a staging ground for the invasion of neighbouring Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Russia already has helped modernise Belarusian warplanes to make them capable of carrying nuclear weapons – something that Belarus’s authoritarian leader has repeatedly mentioned.

In remarks broadcast Saturday, Putin said the immediate trigger for the deployment of Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus was the UK government’s decision to provide Ukraine with armour-piercing shells containing depleted uranium. Putin toned down his language after first falsely claiming that such rounds have nuclear components, but he insisted they pose an additional danger to the civilian population and could contaminate the environment.

Putin also said that by stationing tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, Russia will be doing what the United States has done for decades by putting its nuclear weapons in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. He said the Russian move does not violate an international treaty banning the proliferation of nuclear weapons, even though Moscow has argued before that Washington has breached the pact by deploying them on the territory of its NATO allies.

Putin’s move contrasted with a statement that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping issued after their talks at the Kremlin last week, which spoke against nuclear powers deploying atomic weapons outside their territories, in an apparent jab at the US.

What are tactical nuclear weapons?

Tactical nuclear weapons are intended to destroy enemy troops and weapons on the battlefield. They have a relatively short range and a much lower yield than nuclear warheads fitted to long-range strategic missiles that are capable of obliterating whole cities.

Unlike strategic weapons, which have been subject to arms control agreements between Moscow and Washington, tactical weapons never have been limited by any such pacts, and Russia has not released their numbers or any other specifics related to them.

The US government believes Russia has about 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons, which include bombs that can be carried by aircraft, warheads for short-range missiles and artillery rounds.

While strategic nuclear weapons are fitted to land or submarine-based intercontinental ballistic missiles that are constantly ready for launch, tactical nuclear weapons are stored at a few tightly guarded storage facilities in Russia, and it takes time to deliver them to combat units.

Some Russian hawks long have urged the Kremlin to send a warning to the West by moving some tactical nuclear weapons closer to the aircraft and missiles intended to deliver them.

What exactly will Russia do?

Putin said that Russia already has helped upgrade 10 Belarusian aircraft to allow them to carry nuclear weapons and their crews will start training to use them from April 3. He noted Russia also has given Belarus the Iskander short-range missile systems that can be fitted with conventional or nuclear warheads.

He said the construction of storage facilities for nuclear weapons in Belarus will be completed by July 1. He did not say how many nuclear weapons will be stationed there or when they will be deployed.

Putin emphasized that Russia will retain control over any nuclear weapons deployed to Belarus, just like the US controls its tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of its NATO allies.

If Moscow sends nuclear weapons to Belarus, it will mark their first deployment outside Russian borders since the early 1990s. Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan inherited massive nuclear arsenals after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 but agreed to ship them to Russia in the following years.

What are the possible consequences?

With his latest statement, Putin again is dangling the nuclear threat to signal Moscow’s readiness to escalate the war in Ukraine.

The deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, which has a 1,084-kilometre (673-mile) border with Ukraine, would allow Russian aircraft and missiles to reach potential targets there more easily and quickly if Moscow decides to use them. It would also extend Russia’s capability to target several NATO members in Eastern and Central Europe.

The move comes as Kyiv is poised for a counteroffensive to reclaim territory occupied by Russia.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, warned last week that attempts by Ukraine to reclaim control over the Crimean peninsula were a threat to “the very existence of the Russian state,” something that warrants a nuclear response under the country’s security doctrine. Russia illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

“Every day of supplying Western weapons to Ukraine makes the nuclear apocalypse closer,” Medvedev said.

Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said that Putin’s goal is to discourage Ukraine’s Western allies from providing Kyiv with more weapons before any counteroffensive.

Putin is “using nuclear blackmail in a bid to influence the situation on the battlefield and force Western partners to reduce supplies of weapons and equipment under the threat of nuclear escalation,” Zhdanov said.

“The Belarusian nuclear balcony will be looming over not only Ukraine, but Europe as well, creating a constant threat, raising tensions and rattling the nerves of Ukrainians and their Western partners.”

How have Ukraine and its Western allies responded?

Ukraine has responded to Putin’s move by calling for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. A UN spokesman referred questions on the issue to the Security Council, which had announced no meeting on it by Monday afternoon.

“The world must be united against someone who endangers the future of human civilisation,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday that US officials “haven’t seen any movement of any tactical nuclear weapons or anything of that kind” since Putin’s announcement on Belarus.

He has said Washington has seen nothing to prompt a change in its strategic deterrent posture.

NATO rejects Putin’s claim that Russia only is doing what the US has done for decades, saying that Western allies act with full respect for their international commitments.

“Russia’s nuclear rhetoric is dangerous and irresponsible,” NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said, adding that the alliance hasn’t yet seen any change in Russia’s nuclear posture.

Lithuania, which borders Belarus, described Putin’s statement as “yet another attempt by two unpredictable dictatorial regimes to threaten their neighbours and the entire European continent,” calling them “desperate moves by Putin and Lukashenko to create another wave of tension and destabilisation in Europe.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry responded to Western criticism by pointing out that Washington and its allies had ignored repeated Russian calls for the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from Europe. The ministry reaffirmed Moscow’s right to take “the necessary additional steps to ensure security of Russia and its allies”.

China Horn’s rapid nuclear expansion most ‘disturbing’ threat he has seen: Daniel 7

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall speaks March 14, 2023, during the service’s Total Force Integration Symposium on Joint Base Andrews, Md.

Air Force secretary labels China’s rapid nuclear expansion most ‘disturbing’ threat he has seen



STARS AND STRIPES • March 28, 2023

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told lawmakers Tuesday that increased efforts by China to rapidly expand its inventories of nuclear weapons worries him more than anything he has seen in his long national security career.

“I don’t think I’ve seen anything more disturbing in my career than the Chinese ongoing expansion of their nuclear force,” Kendall, a former Army officer who has spent decades in Pentagon and other national security roles, told House appropriators during a hearing on Capitol Hill.

The Pentagon warned in a November report that China was working to nearly quadruple its inventory of nuclear warheads by 2035. China now holds about 400 nuclear warheads and seeks to grow that number to 700 within a few years and to 1,500 by 2035, according to the Pentagon. The United States had about 3,750 active nuclear warheads as of 2020, the last time the federal government released such information to the public. Russia is believed to hold about 4,500 nuclear weapons, according to the Arms Control Association, a Washington-based nonpartisan organization that publishes information about international arms control policy.

The Pentagon in recent years has named China its “pacing challenge,” labeling Beijing’s efforts to expand its military capabilities and grow its influence across southeast Asia and into other regions as the Defense Department’s top concern. Of all of China’s efforts to boost its power, Kendall said Tuesday that its nuclear ambitions could have the greatest impact on global security.

“For decades, they were quite comfortable with an arsenal of a few hundred nuclear weapons, which was fairly clearly a second-strike capability to act as a deterrent,” Kendall told lawmakers during a hearing to defend the Air Force Department’s roughly $215 billion fiscal 2024 budget request. “That expansion that they’re undertaking puts us into a new world that we’ve never lived in before, where you have three powers — three great powers, essentially — with large arsenals of nuclear weapons.”

The United States and Russia for years have held the vast majority of the world’s nuclear weapons. Tensions between Washington and Moscow have increased recently after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its announced suspension from complying with the New START treaty, the last agreement between the two powers to regulate nuclear arsenals.

Kendall, who served in various national security roles during the Cold War, said the United States and the then-Soviet Union “came close a couple of times” to nuclear war, but it was ultimately averted via high-level communication between the powers.

China, Russia and the United States, he said, now need to establish communication norms on nuclear issues, warning of growing instabilities among the top nuclear powers.

“Russia’s latest move on the New START treaty is not helping — it’s going in the wrong direction,” Kendall said. “Nobody wants a nuclear war. We do not want to go back to that [Cold War] world of 30 years ago. I thought we would never be in this position again, and here we are. So, we need to be wise. We really need to start talking to them.”

Kendall implored lawmakers to fully fund the Air Force’s top priorities, which include billions of dollars for development of its next generation of nuclear capabilities, including the B-21 Raider bomber and the Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missiles. He said it was critical lawmakers pass a 2024 budget on time for the first time in years, in part to counter China’s growing military threat.

Some $5 billion of the Air Force’s 2024 budget proposal funds efforts specifically focused on countering China’s military capabilities, he said. The budget request also includes more than one dozen new programs that cannot begin without an enacted fiscal 2024 budget and authorizations bill, Kendall said.

“We must develop, produce and field [those new programs] if we desire to maintain the air and space superiority that America and our allies have counted on for decades,” he said. “In order to proceed with any of these programs, the Department of the Air Force needs timely authorizations and appropriations.”

Without them, he warned, China would continue to improve its military, while U.S. combat capabilities could erode.

“War [with China] is not inevitable,” he said. “But successfully deterring conflict is heavily dependent on our military capabilities.”


Corey Dickstein covers the military in the U.S. southeast. He joined the Stars and Stripes staff in 2015 and covered the Pentagon for more than five years. He previously covered the military for the Savannah Morning News in Georgia. Dickstein holds a journalism degree from Georgia College & State University and has been recognized with several national and regional awards for his reporting and photography. He is based in Atlanta.


Shaking Before the Sixth Seal: Revelation 6

QUAKE DATA | INTERACTIVE MAP | NEW: SEISMOGRAMS | USER REPORTS | EARLIER QUAKES HERE | QUAKES IN THE US | QUAKES IN THE US | QUAKES IN THE US | NEW YORKReported seismic-like event (likely no quake): 43 mi southeast of New York, USA, Tuesday, Mar 28, 2023 at 1:11 am (GMT -5)

Reported seismic-like event (likely no quake): 43 mi southeast of New York, USA, Tuesday, Mar 28, 2023 at 1:11 am (GMT -5) – 1 day 13 hours ago

Updated: Mar 29, 2023 19:40 GMT – just now

28 Mar 06:12 UTC: First to report: VolcanoDiscovery after 2 minutes.

Earthquake details

Date & timeMar 28, 2023 06:11:10 UTC – 1 day 13 hours ago
Local time at epicenterTuesday, Mar 28, 2023 at 1:11 am (GMT -5)
Magnitudeunknown (3?)
Depth10.0 km
Epicenter latitude / longitude40.67489°N / 73.92999°W
Antipode40.675°S / 106.07°E
Shaking intensityWeak shaking
Felt1 report
Primary data sourceVolcanoDiscovery (User-reported shaking)
Nearby towns and cities2 km (1 mi) NNW of Brownsville (New York) (pop: 74,500) | Show on map | Quakes nearby
2 km (1 mi) SSW of Bushwick (New York) (pop: 112,600) | Show on map | Quakes nearby
2 km (1 mi) N of Rugby (New York) (pop: 178,500) | Show on map | Quakes nearby
3 km (2 mi) NNE of Brooklyn (New York) (pop: 2,300,700) | Show on map | Quakes nearby
4 km (2 mi) NE of Flatbush (New York) (pop: 93,400) | Show on map | Quakes nearby
4 km (3 mi) NW of Canarsie (New York) (pop: 87,400) | Show on map | Quakes nearby
7 km (5 mi) NE of Borough Park (New York) (pop: 149,200) | Show on map | Quakes nearby
8 km (5 mi) SE of New York (pop: 8,175,100) | Show on map | Quakes nearby

Russia to Power the Chinese Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

China has plans to expand its nuclear arsenal. Photo: Facebook

Russia to power China’s nuclear weapon ambitions

‘No limits’ partnership means Russia will provide China the tech and fuel it needs to tip the prevailing global nuclear bomb balance


Russia plans to provide fast breeder nuclear reactor technology to China, an agreement that could allow Beijing to significantly grow its nuclear arsenal and tip the prevailing global balance of nuclear weapons.  

This month, Bloomberg reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping announced a long-term agreement to continue developing fast breeder nuclear reactors optimized for plutonium production for nuclear weapons.  

The report notes that in December 2022, Russia’s-state owned Rosatom nuclear power company finished transferring 25 tons of highly-enriched uranium to China’s CFR-600 nuclear reactor, which analysts say has the capacity to produce 50 nuclear warheads a year.

US Department of Defense (DOD) officials and US military planners have assessed that the CFR-600 will be critical in building China’s nuclear arsenal from 400 warheads today to 1,500 by 2035.

China has rejected this assessment, however, arguing that the CFR-600 is connected to its civilian power grid and is part of a US$440 billion program to overtake the US as the world’s top nuclear energy generator by the middle of the next decade, news reports said.

Russia’s ramped up nuclear assistance to China was announced during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s meeting with his Russian counterpart, where the two leaders announced a raft of new agreements. The two leaders declared a “no limits” partnership shortly before Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.  

Russia’s nuclear technology exports, which have surged since the invasion, are one effective way it can offset lost energy and arms exports caused by Western sanctions imposed in punitive response to the war.

The Bloomberg report notes that Russia is the world’s largest supplier of nuclear reactors and fuel, and that China’s fast reactors, which use liquid metal instead of water to moderate operations, are based on Russian technology.

Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom is currently involved in the construction of nuclear power generating units in China. Photo: AFP / Sputnik / Rosatom

In the 2022 book Russia-China Relations: Emerging Alliance or Eternal Rivals, Brian Carlson notes that Russia’s strategic calculus towards China was profoundly changed by its invasion of Ukraine, the imposition of unprecedented Western sanctions and the declaration of a “no-limits” strategic partnership.

In Carlson’s view, Russia’s decision to provide China with nuclear technology to significantly enlarge its arsenal shows that Moscow has set aside long-term concerns about China’s potential threat in Russia’s Far East.

The move reflects Russia’s desire for increased cooperation with China in dealing with the West and the recognition that a breakdown in Russia-China relations would adversely affect Russian interests at this critical time, Carlson says.

In terms of Russia’s energy exports to China, Thane Gustafson notes in an April 2022 article for Fortune that China may not be able to buy enough to save Russia’s previous levels of energy exports.  

Gustafson notes that Russia’s oil exports to China have little room for immediate expansion given constraints in pipelines and marine terminals and that sending oil by tankers could be difficult as traders and shippers shy away from Russian oil.

He also says that Russia’s current gas infrastructure in the Russian Far East could supply China with just a fraction of the volumes sold to Europe, noting the stalled Power of Siberia 2 pipeline and Russia’s lack of liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers.

For coal, Gustafson says that a proposed European ban on Russian coal and plans to phase out coal altogether, combined with Russia’s two underfunded Pacific rail lines, are also significant issues in ramping up exports to China.

Gustafson also mentioned that Russia’s energy export infrastructure was built over the course of half a century to supply Europe, and pivoting Russia’s energy exports to China will be expensive and time-consuming. 

At the same time, the Ukraine war may have significantly undermined Russia’s defense industry, a significant source of export revenues.

The ongoing conflict has raised the possibility that foreign arms orders may be redirected to replace Russia’s battle losses, exposed Russia’s surprising dependence on Western technology and led to the imposition of financial sanctions that can prevent foreign clients from paying.

The often poor performance of Russian weapons in the war, plain for the world to see in news reports, may also have dented their appeal among foreign buyers. China may already be beyond the need to purchase Russian weapons, as its advancements, especially in terms of jet engines and semiconductors, may already have overtaken those of Russia.

Russia is rushing to replace and upgrade weaponry lost in the war. Image: Facebook

However, Russian assistance could be instrumental in China’s efforts to rapidly expand its nuclear arsenal.

In an August 2021 article for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Tong Zhao discusses the factors driving China’s nuclear expansion drive. Zhao notes that evolving US missile defenses and conventional strike weapons are making China’s nuclear arsenal vulnerable and thus undermining its deterrent capability.

Zhao notes that Chinese leaders perceive Western countries as deliberately creating trouble and excuses to contain and demonize China, fearing that its rise challenges the West’s dominance of the current international system.

He also notes that any sign of weakness will encourage Western countries to destabilize China and weaken the Chinese Communist Party’s hold on power, making it critical for China to enlarge its nuclear arsenal to make its rivals respect its position and exercise restraint.

China’s nuclear buildup also aims to increase the survivability of its arsenal in a potential war scenario. Asia Times noted in November 2022 that China’s nuclear force structure is optimized to ride out an adversary’s first strike rather than threaten using nuclear weapons.

Although Chinese leaders have debated changing their country’s no-first-use policy from time to time, there is no sign that China intends to change that stance anytime soon.

In a February 2023 article for Air and Space Forces Magazine, Christopher Prawdzik mentions that a larger and more diverse nuclear arsenal increases China’s second-strike capability and puts the country in a better position to brandish its nuclear weapons coercively and employ them if necessary.

Prawdzik also mentions that 700 nuclear warheads are enough for China to have a secure second-strike capability, with options for limited theater nuclear strikes. Moreover, the size of China’s nuclear arsenal, diversity of delivery systems and warhead yields expand the types of nuclear attacks China can launch and the targets it can threaten.

US invasion of Iraq – The brutal strategy that spawned the Prophecy: Revelation 13

US invasion of Iraq 20 years on: The brutal strategy that spawned total chaos in the Middle East

Opinion Piece By Christina Georgile | 27/03/2023

Washington’s decision to completely dismantle the state and military apparatus contributed decisively to the prevalence of total chaos and the disintegration of Iraq’s social fabric

The events of September 11, 2001 and the subsequent American invasion (2003) and occupation of Iraq (2003-2011) were two landmark events, which made Washington the architect of regional destabilisation and insecurity in the Middle East for about a decade.

The timeline of the invasion refers to the US and British-led attack of “the willing” on March 19, 2003, in implementation of the US “New National Security Strategy,” which placed the issue of terrorism at the top of Washington’s political agenda.

At the same time, the George Bush administration claimed that the invasion had as a legitimising basis the need to enforce the resolutions of the Security Council (S.C.), according to which Iraq was called upon to comply with requests to disarm and monitor its nuclear program.

It is a fact that Decision 687 of the S.C. imposed a series of commitments on Iraq’s disarmament, including destroying any alleged weapons of mass destruction and cooperating with a UN Special Commission to inspect its nuclear program.

Iraq’s refusal to cooperate with the international community was quickly taken advantage of by the USA and Great Britain in order to request that the S.C. adopt a new decision authorising the use of force. With most UN member states opposed to violence and in favor of a peaceful resolution, the US and UK launched a unilateral invasion, which was criticised even by US officials, such as the US ambassador to Baghdad in 1990.

The unilateral military operation against Iraq was carried out in violation of Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter, which introduces a general prohibition of the use of force, and Article 51, which recognises the “natural right of individual or collective self-defense, in the case that a State is attacked”, as well as article 39 of Chapter VII, which refers to the authorisation of the Security Council.

Regarding the right of self-defense the Bush and Tony Blair governments did not invoke information about an existing or imminent threat, instead they based their arguments on the fear of a future use of weapons of mass destruction by the Saddam Hussein regime.

US arrogance peaked when defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld rejected the report of the UN inspector general for the search, inventory and destruction of weapons of mass destruction, which concluded that no evidence had emerged to support speculation about weapons of mass destruction. After all, the minister of foreign affairs Colin Powell, in his speech at the United Nations on  February 3, 2003, speculated that Iraqi weapons might be linked to terrorist organisations such as Al-Qaeda.

Based on the above, it is not surprising that the International Commission of Judges in Geneva concluded that the US committed a flagrant violation of the prohibition of the use of force, as its invasion of Iraq did not meet either of the two conditions under Chapter VII of the Charter Organisation of the United Nations.

However, the role of the UN was crucial in providing a legal cover for the so-called ‘multinational’ force in Iraq, and even under the guidance of the US and UK to defy the will of the duly elected Iraqi parliamentarians to attach the UN mandate to conditionalities, such as a timetable for the withdrawal of occupying troops or a refusal to privatise their natural resources.

But as history has taught, when a people is denied the ability to decide its own destiny through a peaceful political process, it will try to do so with guns and bombs. And here are the effects:

According to the Lancet medical review, until shortly before the emergence of ISIS in 2012, more than 1,455,590 Iraqis had lost their lives from fighting and explosions, and millions were wounded and displaced.

The ‘divide and conquer’ strategy that the American occupying power used to impose itself intensified the already existing ethnic and dogmatic passions. Washington’s decision to completely dismantle the state and military apparatus, contributed decisively to the prevalence of total chaos and the disintegration of the country’s social fabric.

The “liberation” of Iraq is captured in some of the most inhumane images, with open-air markets turning into rivers of blood and dismembered people, cities being wiped off the map, like Fallujah in 2004, prisoners being unspeakably humiliated by the ‘liberators’, as in Abu Ghraib.

In short, the invasion and occupation of the ‘prothyms’ in Iraq, includes all those ingredients that became fertilizer for ISIS propaganda and plunging the country into a vortex of chaos and blood.

According to president Barack Obama, “ISIS is the spawn of Al-Qaeda in Iraq that developed because of our invasion and is a sample of the side effects”.

Also according to Patrick Cockburn and his book “The Rise of the Islamic State”, ISIS is “the child of war” , of a supposed war on terror, as designed by Bush and Blair. Ηοwever, a war on terror would be directed against states that breed extremism like Saudi Arabia, but the two leaders chose a state whose government opposed religious fundamentalism and turned it into a magnet for hard-line jihadists in the power vacuum that followed the subversion of the legal government of the country.

And worst of all, the criminal operation of Bush and Blair brought terrorism to the safe streets of Europe, such as in Madrid, Paris, Berlin, London, Brussels and Nice.

Likewise, Islamic terrorism has spread to Africa through Al-Qaeda’s sister organisation Boko Haram and the Islamic State, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis that followed the ‘humanitarian’ war of the liberal ‘interventionists’ to overthrow the Muammar Gaddafi regime in Libya.

The war, which had a heavy cost for the Americans as well, with approximately 5,000 victims and an economic cost of 1.7 trillion dollars, was after Afghanistan the most overt application of the Bush doctrine of preventive strikes and was the reason for the strengthening of the American military presence in Middle East and the emergence of the dominant role of the USA in the Persian Gulf region.

The ‘achievement’ of fundamentally destabilising the entire region through its transformation into a series of “failed” states has been the hotbed for the rise of ISIS, with incalculable implications for the West.

Τhe war against Iraq, which also devastated neighboring Syria, was the main cause of the modern refugee crisis. According to UN data, in 2007 Iraqi refugees around the world were almost 4.000.000.

At the same time, however, the refugee crisis contributed to the rise of neo-nationalism and far-right movements in Europe, which there is a risk of leading to the collapse of the European Union.

Russian Horn to place nuclear weapons in Belarus, US reacts cautiously

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko observe training launches of ballistic missiles as part of the exercise of the strategic deterrence force, in Moscow, Russia February 19, 2022. — Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko observe training launches of ballistic missiles as part of the exercise of the strategic deterrence force, in Moscow, Russia February 19, 2022. — Reuters 

Putin says Moscow to place nuclear weapons in Belarus, US reacts cautiously

  • It is one of Russia’s most pronounced nuclear signals.
  • Senior administration official says there were no signs Moscow planned to use its nuclear weapons.
  • ‘Russia, Belarus speaking about transfer of nuclear weapons for some time’.

Russia will station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday, sending a warning to NATO over its military support for Ukraine and escalating a standoff with the West.

Although not unexpected and while Putin said the move would not violate nuclear non-proliferation promises, it is one of Russia’s most pronounced nuclear signals since the beginning of its invasion of Ukraine 13 months ago.

The United States — the world’s other nuclear superpower — has reacted cautiously to Putin’s statement, with a senior administration official saying there were no signs Moscow planned to use its nuclear weapons.

Putin likened his plans to the US stationing its weapons in Europe and said that Russia would not be transferring control to Belarus. But this could be the first time since the mid-1990s that Russia were to base such weapons outside the country.

“There is nothing unusual here either: firstly, the United States has been doing this for decades. They have long deployed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their allied countries,” Putin told state television.

“We agreed that we will do the same – without violating our obligations, I emphasise, without violating our international obligations on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.”

Tensions have grown over the war in Ukraine after heavy supplies of Western weaponry to Kyiv and Moscow shifting its rhetoric on its military operation away from “demilitarisation” of its neighbour to fighting “the collective West” there.

Some hawkish Russian politicians and commentators have long speculated about nuclear strikes, saying Russia has the right to defend itself with nuclear weapons if it is pushed beyond its limits.

“Tactical” nuclear weapons refer to those used for specific gains on a battlefield rather than those with the capacity to wipe out cities. It is unclear how many such weapons Russia has, given it is an area still shrouded in Cold War secrecy.

Experts told Reuters the development was significant since Russia had until now been proud that unlike the United States, it did not deploy nuclear weapons outside its borders.

The senior US administration official noted that Russia and Belarus had been speaking about the transfer of nuclear weapons for some time.

“We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture nor any indications Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon. We remain committed to the collective defence of the NATO alliance,” the official said.

NATO’s threshold

Putin did not specify when the weapons would be transferred to Belarus, which has borders with three NATO members — Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. He said Russia would complete the construction of a storage facility there by July 1.

“This is part of Putin’s game to try to intimidate NATO … because there is no military utility from doing this in Belarus as Russia has so many of these weapons and forces inside Russia,” said Hans Kristensen, director of the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists.

It was also unclear where in Belarus the weapons would be stationed. The transfer would expand Russia’s nuclear strike ability along NATO’s eastern border.

Although the Kremlin has never publicly confirmed it, the West has long being saying that Russia keeps nuclear-capable missiles in Kaliningrad, its Baltic coast exclave between NATO and European Union members Poland and Lithuania.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons called Putin’s announcement an extremely dangerous escalation.

“In the context of the war in Ukraine, the likelihood of miscalculation or misinterpretation is extremely high. Sharing nuclear weapons makes the situation much worse and risks catastrophic humanitarian consequences,” it said on Twitter.

Putin said that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had long requested the deployment. There was no immediate reaction from Lukashenko.

While the Belarusian army has not formally fought in Ukraine, Minsk and Moscow have a close military relationship. Minsk allowed Moscow to use Belarusian territory to send troops into Ukraine last year and the two nations stepped up joint military training.

“We are not handing over (the weapons). And the US does not hand (them) over to its allies. We’re basically doing the same thing they’ve been doing for a decade,” Putin said.

“They have allies in certain countries and they train … their crews. We are going to do the same thing.”

Russia has stationed 10 aircraft in Belarus capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons, Putin said, adding that it had already transferred to Belarus a number of Iskander tactical missile systems that can launch nuclear weapons.

“It’s a very significant move,” said Nikolai Sokol, a senior fellow at the Vienna Centre for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

“Russia had always been very proud that it had no nuclear weapons outside its territory. So, now, yes, they are changing that and it’s a big change.”