nuclear weapons

Dick Cheney Warns Of Massive Terrorist Attack On U.S. Before Decade Is Out

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was interviewed by attorney, law professor, and broadcast journalist Hugh Hewitt recently for the latter’s nationally-syndicated radio show. During a June 24 broadcast, Cheney- who’s now spearheading the Alliance for a Strong America along with his daughter Liz- shared his views on U.S. foreign policy and warned listeners of the potential for a future terrorist attack on the American homeland “far deadlier” than September 11, 2001. From the exchange between Hewitt and Cheney:

HH: Do you think we get through this decade without a massive attack on the homeland?
DC: I doubt it. I doubt it. I think there will be another attack. And next time, I think it’s likely to be far deadlier than the last one. You can just imagine what would happen…
HH: Yeah.
DC: …if somebody could smuggle a nuclear device, put it in a shipping container, and drive it down the Beltway outside of Washington, D.C.
HH: And do you, by the way, if that were to happen, do you see the government reconstituting? Because it would have to be military rule for a period of time at least.
DC: Well, there was, some years ago, a program called the continuity of government program. It was part of the Cold War strategy that we pursued here, and basically it involved having a government waiting, if you will, ready to go in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States, so that we could always maintain the Constitutional base of governmental authority. I was part of that program for several years, and a lot of it, I’m sure, is probably still classified. But it was very, very important, and we operated and actually trained under circumstances of how would we go about making, providing for a government to survive if you know, we’re having nuclear weapons from the Soviet Union falling all over the country…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

As I noted on this blog’s “About” page back in late 2010, other high-profile, knowledgeable individuals are warning of the same within the next several years. From that page:

This debate asks how likely is it that terrorists will explode a nuclear bomb and devastate a great American metropolis. In the judgment of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, the likelihood of a single nuclear bomb exploding in a single city is greater today than at the height of the Cold War. Nuclear Terrorism states my own judgment that, on the current trend line, the chances of a nuclear terrorist attack in the next decade are greater than 50 percent. Former Secretary of Defense William Perry has expressed his own view that Nuclear Terrorism underestimates the risk.

From the technical side, Richard Garwin, a designer of the hydrogen bomb who Enrico Fermi once called, “the only true genius I had ever met,” told Congress in March that he estimated a “20 percent per year probability with American cities and European cities included” of “a nuclear explosion—not just a contamination, dirty bomb—a nuclear explosion.” My Harvard colleague Matthew Bunn has created a probability model in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science that estimates the probability of a nuclear terrorist attack over a ten-year period to be 29 percent—identical to the average estimate from a poll of security experts commissioned by Senator Richard Lugar in 2005.

-Graham T. Allison, director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and author of Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe, in an April 2007 debate

Spooky stuff, to say the least.

But getting back to Dick Cheney. Considering the kind of intelligence the man’s had access to over the years, disregarding such a mind-blowing warning may be foolish.

Especially when the enemies of America look not only to be flourishing, but also emboldened, at the present time.

You can read the entire transcript of the interview on Hugh Hewitt’s website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Surviving A Nuclear Attack On Washington, D.C.

Personally, I think there’s a good possibility enemies of the United States will someday detonate nuclear devices in Washington, D.C. and New York City.

Why?

Because these political and cultural centers in America are just too juicy of targets for the bad guys to ignore.

Particularly that new Freedom Tower (One World Trade Center), which is expected to open to the public this year.

I’m not the only one who thinks nuclear terrorism could be in the cards for us. Read further down my “About” page and you’ll understand what I mean.

And don’t forget this from March 24. I blogged:

Earlier today, President Barack Obama spoke at a news conference while attending the Nuclear Security Summit 2014 in Holland. The U.S. President brought up the danger of a nuclear device being detonated in one of America’s major cities. From a transcript provided by the Federal News Service:

And so my response then continues to be what I believe today, which is Russia’s actions are a problem. They don’t pose the number-one national security threat to the United States. I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Think POTUS knows something that we don’t?

Getting back to the nation’s capital, Marc Ambinder recently wrote an article on The Week website entitled, “If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?” Armbinder inquired in the April 14 piece:

I was wondering if the government had deigned to share with us citizens any tips for, you know, surviving something their own intelligence points to as the likeliest unlikely Black Swan event… it turns out that there is quite a lot that you or I can do if we get stuck in Washington when something like that happens. Choices we make could very well make the difference between our imminent death and a relatively full and happy life, assuming the bomb is a one-off.

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory released a report in 2011 that spells all this out. It hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it deserves.

It’s called the “National Capital Region Key Response Planning Factors for the Aftermath of Nuclear Terrorism” and it makes for fascinating reading…

It really does, and if I lived or worked in the nation’s capital, I’d read that November 2011 U.S. Department of Homeland Security-funded publication as if my life depended on it.

Because it very well might one day.

You can find the 120-page publication here (.pdf format) on the Homeland Security Digital Library website.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Ambinder, Marc. “If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?” The Week. 14 Apr. 2014. (http://theweek.com/article/index/259829/if-a-nuclear-bomb-exploded-in-downtown-washington-what-should-you-do). 15 Apr. 2014.

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Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 Government, Man-Made Disasters, Terrorism No Comments

North Korean EMP Weapon That Can Strike U.S. For Real?

There’s been increased chatter about the North Koreans having the capability of attacking the United States using an electromagnetic pulse weapon that could fry electronics and power grids. From F. Michael Maloof on the independent news website WorldNetDaily (WND.com) yesterday:

A long-suppressed report prepared by the Department of Homeland Security for the Defense Department concludes that North Korea could deliver on its threats to destroy the United States with a nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack.

The report remains blocked from release to the American public.

However, a copy obtained by Peter Vincent Pry from sources within DHS finds North Korea could use its Unha-3 space launch vehicle to deliver a nuclear warhead as a satellite over the South Pole to attack the U.S. from the south…

Pry said that an EMP attack on the U.S. would not have to originate from North Korea but could be a missile, such as the SA-2, launched from a freighter off the U.S. East or Gulf Coasts. At that point, there would be no missile defense capable of halting such an event.

With a missile launched from a freighter, it could be difficult to identify who is responsible for an attack.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“EMP Bomb Threat Video”
YouTube Video

Peter Vincent Pry. Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity might remember his name, as I blogged back on March 8, 2013:

Enter Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and Director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both congressional advisory boards. Dr. Pry, a former intelligence officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, wrote on the Family Security Matters website on February 26:

The West consistently and unwittingly cooperates with North Korea and Iran by underestimating the advancement, sophistication, and strategic implications of their nuclear weapon and missile programs.

Despite North Korea’s successful long-range missile test in December 2012, and now its third successful nuclear test on February 12, 2013, the Obama administration and the press keep reassuring the American people that North Korea is not yet a fully fledged nuclear weapons state – that a North Korean nuclear missile threat to the United States is still years in the future.

The facts do not support this judgment. North Korea is already a major nuclear threat to the United States–an existential threat.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Dr. Pry went on to say:

North Korea now appears to be armed with a FOBS capability to make a surprise nuclear attack against the United States–or against any and all nations on Earth–with Super-EMP.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

FOBS? Super-EMP? The author of Apocalypse Unknown: The Struggle To Protect America From An Electromagnetic Pulse Catastrophe explained:

A Super-EMP warhead is a nuclear weapon specially designed to produce an enormous burst of gamma rays that generates an extraordinarily powerful electromagnetic pulse, capable of destroying even the best protected electronics, thereby paralyzing military forces and blacking out power grids and collapsing critical infrastructures everywhere–across an entire nation the size of the United States…

During the Cold War, the USSR experimented with a secret weapon, the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS), that used an ICBM like a Space Launch Vehicle to put a nuclear warhead into orbit, like a satellite. Instead of using the ICBM to lob the warhead on a more accurate arcing ballistic trajectory, flying along the shortest range to target, like an artillery shell, the FOBS lofted the warhead into a “fractional” or partial orbit, sacrificing accuracy for limitless range.

FOBS could reach any nation or threaten any target anywhere on Earth.

A Super-EMP warhead does not weigh much, and could probably be delivered by North Korea’s Fractional Orbital Bombardment System, successfully tested in December 2012, against any nation on Earth. Thus, North Korea already possesses an ICBM and poses a mortal nuclear threat to the United States, and to all nations on Earth–right now.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Scary stuff.

By the way, I noticed Maloof, like Pry, also has a book out on the subject, entitled A Nation Forsaken: EMP: The Escalating Threat of an American Catastrophe.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Malood, F. Michael. “DHS study: North Korea capable of EMP attack on U.S.” WorldNetDaily. 9 Apr. 2014. (http://www.wnd.com/2014/04/dhs-study-north-korea-capable-of-emp-attack-on-u-s/?cat_orig=world). 10 Apr. 2014.

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Quote- No, Headlines- For The Week

Something different for readers this week. Instead of a quote, here’s two news headlines which made my eyes roll upon spotting them this weekend…

“Dow 20,000 here we come: It’s different this time”

-MarketWatch.com, November 22, 2013

“It’s different this time.”

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve heard this phrase uttered over the years as some asset bubble was being inflated.

It’s not just me either.

From Michael Kling on the Moneynews website back on May 23, 2013:

Time and again, as stock prices continue rising to unsustainable heights, stock enthusiasts have preached, “This time is different.”

And it’s not just stocks either.

From Charles Hugh Smith on LewRockwell.com this past Halloween:

Defenders of current real estate valuations can draw upon an array of justifications, but they boil down to the same one used to justify valuations in every asset bubble: this time it’s different.

As for my two cents? Like I commented on a Chicago Tribune article last week, it’s my belief that after the economic crisis reared it’s ugly head in the fall of 2008, home prices nose-dived, and the “Great Recession” took hold, Washington and the Fed only managed to paper over the situation and monetary policy was designed to inflate a new asset bubble (or two, what the hell) to “save” the U.S. economy and larger financial system. Subsequently, we find ourselves immersed in QE Infinity and what some of those who correctly-predicted the “Panic of ’08” and housing crash see as new bubbles forming in residential real estate and equities.

I don’t envision this ending well.

Speaking of the Tribune, here’s another headline that made me cackle in disbelief.

“Breakthrough deal curbs Iran’s nuclear activity”

-Chicago Tribune website, November 24, 2013

All I can say about this hopium-infused headline is that I expect one of two scenarios down the road:

1. Downtown Tehran packed to the gills as the Islamic Republic of Iran parades its first nuclear weapon for the entire world to see. Those in the know understand state actors in this region of the world can only salivate over the prospect of having a nuke in their arsenal- Iran included. Realpolitik, people.

2. A mushroom cloud over an Israeli or U.S. city. If the technology/opportunity presents itself, an electromagnetic pulse originating from a nuclear device detonated in the atmosphere over one of these countries (more bang for the buck).

Of course, all bets are off over these two scenarios taking place if some one (the Israelis?) take out Iran’s growing nuclear capabilities with military force.

Question is, is that even possible anymore given the time Iran has had?

Again, there’s others who think the claim that the interim pact reached betwen Iran and China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, and the United States “curbs Iran’s nuclear activity” is one big joke.

Enter Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, “the world’s foremost value investor” with a net worth of $20 billion as of March 2013 according to Forbes magazine. Here’s what the Saudi royal had to say about a potential deal with Iran. From Jeffrey Goldberg on Bloomberg.com Friday night:

“There’s no confidence in the Obama administration doing the right thing with Iran,” he told me, with a directness that would make Benjamin Netanyahu blush. “We’re really concerned — Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Middle East countries — about this.”

It is quite something for a Saudi royal to state baldly that his country is part of a tacit alliance with Israel, but Saudi leaders, like Israel’s leaders, are frantic with worry that an overeager Obama will accede to Iran’s desire to become a threshold state, one whose nuclear program is so advanced that it would only need several weeks to assemble a deliverable weapon. Alwaleed, like Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, believes that Iran, in its ongoing negotiations with the world’s major powers, will pocket whatever sanctions relief it gets without committing to ending its nuclear program. “Why are they offering relief?” he asked. “Keep the pressure on. Sanctions are what brought about the negotiations to begin with! Why not keep the pressure up?”

Obama, Alwaleed says, is a man who is in desperate political straits and needs a victory — any victory — to right his presidency. “Obama is in so much of a rush to have a deal with Iran,” he said. “He wants anything. He’s so wounded. It’s very scary. Look, the 2014 elections are going to begin. Within two stamonths they’re going to start campaigning. Thirty-nine members of his own party in the House have already moved away from him on Obamacare. That’s scary for him.”

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Note Goldberg’s headline for his Bloomberg piece:

“Iran Is Playing Obama, Says Saavy Saudi Prince”

Iran is “playing” Obama and many others, judging by the buzz being reported in the mainstream media this Sunday.

Not me. I just can’t see Dow 20,000 being sustained just yet or Iran’s nuclear aspirations being curbed through diplomacy any time soon.

Sources:

Kling, Michael. “New Yorker: No Stock Bubble- This Time Is Different.” Moneynews.com. 23 May 2013. (http://www.moneynews.com/InvestingAnalysis/stock-market-bubble-different/2013/05/23/id/506002). 24 May 2013.

Smith, Charles Hugh. “What Real Estate Bubble? Oh, You Mean the One That’s Bigger Than the 2007 Bubble?” LewRockwell.com. 31 Oct. 2013. (http://www.lewrockwell.com/2013/10/charles-hugh-smith/what-real-estate-bubble/). 24 Nov. 2013.

Goldberg, Jeffrey. “Iran Is Playing Obama, Says Savvy Saudi Prince.” Bloomberg.com. 22 Nov. 2013. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-22/iran-is-playing-obama-says-savvy-saudi-prince.html). 24 Nov. 2013.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Iran Can Now Produce Enough Weapons-Grade Uranium To Build A Nuclear Weapon Within 2 Weeks?

“Despite what this White House or its predecessors have repeatedly told the American people, it’s my belief that Iran will soon have nuclear weapons (barring military intervention by us or our allies).”

-Christopher E. Hill, Survival And Prosperity, January 20, 2011

There’s been plenty of talk lately that Iran may be able to produce enough weapons-grade uranium soon to build themselves a nuclear weapon.

To be fair, the prospect of the Iranians carrying out this achievement is something that keeps popping up in the news on a regular basis.

Still, I stand by that initial statement.

And here’s the latest chatter about the Islamic Republic of Iran getting their weapons-grade uranium and nuke. On October 5, AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace interviewed U.S. President Barack Obama on a wide range of topics. One of those was Iran. From their exchange:

Q: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this week that Iran is about six months away from being able to produce a nuclear weapon. You said in March, before your trip to Israel, that you thought Iran was a year or more away. What’s the U.S. intelligence assessment at this point on that timetable?

THE PRESIDENT: Our assessment continues to be a year or more away.

U.S. intelligence on an Iranian nuclear weapon? One year.

On October 25, Oren Dorell reported on the USA TODAY website:

Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build a nuclear bomb in as little as a month, according to a new estimate by one of the USA’s top nuclear experts.

The top nuclear expert Dorell was referring to was David Albright, president of Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Science and International Security and a former inspector for the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency. From the non-profit, non-partisan ISIS in an October 24, 2013, summary for their report entitled “Iranian Breakout Estimates, Updated September 2013″:

We evaluated a range of breakout scenarios based on the current enriching IR-1 centrifuges and LEU stockpiles, total installed IR-1 centrifuges, and a possible covert facility containing IR-2m centrifuges. This analysis utilizes a modified form of the well-known four-step enrichment process that was developed under A.Q. Khan for Pakistan’s centrifuge program and transferred to other countries, such as Iran. Using all four steps, Iran would enrich natural uranium to 3.5 percent in step one, then to 20 percent in step two, then to 60 percent in step three, and finally to WGU in step four. This analysis considers the four-step, three-step, and two-step process also with the use of existing LEU stockpiles.

The table lists the major estimated breakout times of the four scenarios considered in this report. Today, Iran could break out most quickly using a three-step process with its installed centrifuges and its LEU stockpiles as of August 2013. In this case, Iran could produce one SQ in as little as approximately 1.0-1.6 months, if it uses all its near 20 percent LEU hexafluoride stockpile. Using only 3.5 percent LEU, Iran would need at least 1.9 to 2.2 months and could make approximately 4 SQs of WGU using all its existing 3.5 percent LEU stockpile.

(Editor’s notes: Italics added for emphasis)

ISIS on Iran being able to produce one significant quantity (SQ) of weapon-grade uranium (WGU)? One month.

It was also noted in that summary:

The estimates in this report do not include the additional time that Iran would need to convert WGU into weapons components and manufacture a nuclear weapon. This extra time could be substantial, particularly if Iran wanted to build a reliable warhead for a ballistic missile. However, these preparations would most likely be conducted at secret sites and would be difficult to detect.

Which doesn’t rule out the possibility then that some manufacturing hasn’t already been going on.

And finally, Raphael Ahren reported yesterday on The Times Of Israel website:

Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build an atomic weapon within two weeks and has, “in a certain way,” already reached the point of no return in its nuclear program, a former senior International Atomic Energy Association official said Monday.

“I believe that if certain arrangements are done, it could even go down to two weeks. So there are a lot of concerns out there that Iran can hopefully now address, in this new phase, both at the P5+1 [talks between Tehran and six world powers] and with the IAEA,” former IAEA deputy director Olli Heinonen said, confirming a report released last week by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, which stated Iran could muster enough uranium for a bomb by converting all of its 20-percent enriched stockpile within 1 to 1.6 months.

Former IAEA deputy director on Iran producing enough uranium for a nuke? Two weeks.

Two weeks.

Something tells me that while the Obama administration would have liked to kick the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon down the road as far as possible, they might actually welcome these latest estimates as a convenient distraction for the American public away from other problems the White House is currently trying to deal with.

Stay tuned.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

“Full text of Obama’s interview with AP.” Associated Press. 5 Oct. 2013. (http://www.timesofisrael.com/full-text-of-obamas-interview-with-ap/). 29 Oct. 2013.

Dorell, Oren. “Report: Iran may be month from a bomb.” USA TODAY. 25 Oct. 2013. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/10/24/iran-bomb-one-month-away/3181373/). 29 Oct. 2013.

“Iranian Breakout Estimates- Summary.” Institute for Science and International Security. 24 Oct. 2013. (http://www.isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/Breakout_Study_Summary_24October2013.pdf). 29 Oct. 2013.

Ahren, Raphael. “‘Iran two weeks away from weapons-grade uranium’” The Times of Israel. 28 Oct. 2013. (http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-two-weeks-away-from-weapons-grade-uranium/). 29 Oct. 2013.

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Pentagon-Contracted Report: ‘None Of The 104 Commercial Nuclear Power Reactors’ In U.S. ‘Is Protected Against A Maximum Credible Terrorist Attack’

Remember all those commissions and panels that convened after 9/11? They put forth all these recommendations that would make the United States “safer” from terrorism.

Problem is, you can churn out as many recommendations as you want, but if they’re not being implemented

From the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project (NPPP) at the University of Texas at Austin last Thursday:

AUSTIN, TX– August 15, 2013– More than 10 years after the 9/11 hijackers considered flying a fully loaded passenger jet into a Manhattan area nuclear reactor, U.S. commercial and research nuclear facilities remain inadequately protected against two credible terrorist threats– the theft of bomb-grade material to make a nuclear weapon, and sabotage attacks intended to cause a reactor meltdown– according to a new report prepared under a contract for the Pentagon by the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project (NPPP) at the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs, and released today.

Available online at www.NPPP.org, the report, titled “Protecting U.S. Nuclear Facilities from Terrorist Attack: Re-assessing the Current ‘Design Basis Threat’ Approach,” finds that none of the 104 commercial nuclear power reactors in the United States is protected against a maximum credible terrorist attack, such as the one perpetrated on September 11, 2001. More than a decade after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, operators of existing nuclear facilities are still not required to defend against the number of terrorist teams or attackers associated with 9/11, nor against airplane attacks, nor even against readily available weapons such as high-power sniper rifles.

Of particular concern, the NPPP report finds:

• Some U.S. nuclear power plants are vulnerable to terrorist attack from the sea, but they are not required to protect against such ship-borne attacks. Reactors in this category include Diablo Canyon in California, St. Lucie in Florida, Brunswick in North Carolina, Surry in Virginia, Indian Point in New York, Millstone in Connecticut, Pilgrim in Massachusetts, and the South Texas Project.

• Another serious terrorism danger is posed by three civilian research reactors that are fueled with bomb-grade uranium, which is vulnerable to theft to make nuclear weapons. These facilities are not defended against a posited terrorist threat, unlike military facilities that hold the same material. The three reactors are at the University of Missouri in Columbia, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is located just two dozen miles from the White House in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore suburb of Gaithersburg. The facilities are supposed to convert to non-weapons-grade, low-enriched uranium fuel. But they will continue to use bomb-grade uranium, and remain vulnerable to terrorist theft, for at least another decade, according to the latest schedule…

“None of the 104 commercial nuclear power reactors in the United States is protected against a maximum credible terrorist attack.”

Whew! It’s a good thing Al-Qaeda is “decimated.”

You can read the entire NPPP press release on their website here.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Earth Barely Escapes Coronal Mass Ejection 2 Weeks Ago

Here’s something you probably won’t hear in the mainstream media:

The Earth just missed being hit by a coronal mass ejection two weeks ago.

I wrote about CMEs way back on August 6, 2011. I blogged:

Coronal mass ejections are “powerful eruptions on the sun that break free of the solar atmosphere. If these masses of plasma reach the earth, it could destroy our electrical grid, which touches every facet of modern life.”

But back to this near-miss. Paul Bedard reported in the “Washington Secrets” section of the Washington Examiner website last night:

The earth barely missed taking a massive solar punch in the teeth two weeks ago, an “electromagnetic pulse” so big that it could have knocked out power, cars and iPhones throughout the United States.

Two EMP experts told Secrets that the EMP flashed through earth’s typical orbit around the sun about two weeks before the planet got there.

“The world escaped an EMP catastrophe,” said Henry Cooper, who led strategic arms negotiations with the Soviet Union under President Reagan, and who now heads High Frontier, a group pushing for missile defense.

“There had been a near miss about two weeks ago, a Carrington-class coronal mass ejection crossed the orbit of the Earth and basically just missed us,” said Peter Vincent Pry, who served on the Congressional EMP Threat Commission from 2001-2008. He was referring to the 1859 EMP named after astronomer Richard Carrington that melted telegraph lines in Europe and North America.

On November 12, 2012, I blogged about the potential impact on the United States from one of these solar superstorms. I wrote:

But to give you a better idea of where the United States stands right now concerning this extra-terrestrial threat, nuclear physicist Yousaf Butt wrote an op-ed that appeared on The New York Times website back on November 2, 2012. Dr. Butt warned:

A powerful solar (or “geomagnetic”) storm has the potential to simultaneously damage multiple transformers in the electricity grid and perhaps even bring down large sections of it, affecting upwards of a hundred million people in the United States for many months, if not years.

These huge transformers are expensive and difficult to replace, and not many are stockpiled in the United States for an emergency. In the worst case, the impact would be devastating: An outage could cost a few trillion dollars, with full recovery taking years. Not only would parts of the grid be compromised, but telephone networks, undersea cables, satellites and railroads also would be affected…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Bedard noted that Pry, Cooper, and former CIA Director James Woolsey have been pushing Washington to prepare the nation’s electric grid for an EMP, either from the sun or a nuclear weapon. Bedard added:

They want the 2,000-3,000 transformers in the grid protected with a high-tech metal box and spares ready to rebuild the system. Woolsey said knocking out just 20 would shut down electricity to parts of the nation “for a long time.”

Regrettably, not many in Washington seem to be listening.

Sounds like the beginning of one of those post-apocalyptic novels if you ask me.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Bedard, Paul. “Massive solar flare narrowly misses Earth, EMP disaster barely avoided.” Washington Examiner. 31 July 2013. (http://washingtonexaminer.com/massive-solar-flare-narrowly-misses-earth-emp-disaster-barely-avoided/article/2533727). 1 Aug. 2013.

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Pentagon: Iran Could Flight-Test ICBM Capable Of Striking U.S. By 2015

Here’s a bit of disturbing news concerning Iran’s advancing nuclear capability I caught yesterday from Defense Update, an online defense magazine published in Israel. From their website:

A new Pentagon assessment of Iran’s military power maintains that in two years time, Iran could flight-test an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the United States, given “sufficient foreign assistance”, is provided to Tehran. The new assessment reiterated a longstanding estimate of the U.S. intelligence community. Iran could test such a missile by 2015 with assistance from nations like North Korea, China or Russia.

Apparently, this comes from an unclassified portion of the Annual Report on Military Power of Iran, dated January 2013 and made available by the Pentagon on April 25, 2013.

You can read the rest of the article on the Defense Update site here.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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North Korea Capable Of Crippling U.S. With Super-EMP Weapon?

“A furious North Korea threatened Thursday to attack America with nuclear weapons as punishment for perceived Western aggression – saber-rattling that came as the United Nations readied more sanctions against the Kim Jung-un’s rogue regime.

An unnamed spokesman in Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry office said North Korea will launch “a preemptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors,” The Associated Press reports.

The spokesman referred to Washington as being the aggressor in a nuclear attack on North Korea, AP states.”

-The Washington Times, March 7, 2013

The last time I blogged about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear warfare capabilities was on January 27. From that post:

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has been doing a lot of saber-rattling since I last blogged about the Communist state last month. At that time, I asked:

So what kind of timeframe are we talking about here before North Korea has an ICBM capable of reaching and hitting the continental U.S.?

Based on expert opinion, it could just be 4 short years.

And how does America know North Korea’s intentions are to target it with nuclear weapons? Ju-min Park and Choonsik Yoo reported on the Reuters’ website last Thursday:

North Korea said on Thursday it would carry out further rocket launches and a nuclear test that would target the United States, dramatically stepping up its threats against a country it called its “sworn enemy”…

“We are not disguising the fact that the various satellites and long-range rockets that we will fire and the high-level nuclear test we will carry out are targeted at the United States,” North Korea’s National Defence Commission said, according to state news agency KCNA.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Park and Yoo added:

North Korea is not believed to have the technology to deliver a nuclear warhead capable of hitting the continental United States, although its December launch showed it had the capacity to deliver a rocket that could travel 10,000 km (6,200 miles), potentially putting San Francisco in range, according to an intelligence assessment by South Korea.

Now, the above discussion focused on a nuclear attack against the United States with intercontinental ballistic missiles as they’re traditionally-intended to be used.

However, earlier this week I stumbled upon material which suggests North Korea may already have the capability to cripple America via unconventional nuclear warfare.

Enter Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and Director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both congressional advisory boards. Dr. Pry, a former intelligence officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, wrote on the Family Security Matters website on February 26:

The West consistently and unwittingly cooperates with North Korea and Iran by underestimating the advancement, sophistication, and strategic implications of their nuclear weapon and missile programs.

Despite North Korea’s successful long-range missile test in December 2012, and now its third successful nuclear test on February 12, 2013, the Obama administration and the press keep reassuring the American people that North Korea is not yet a fully fledged nuclear weapons state – that a North Korean nuclear missile threat to the United States is still years in the future.

The facts do not support this judgment. North Korea is already a major nuclear threat to the United States–an existential threat.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Dr. Pry went on to say:

North Korea now appears to be armed with a FOBS capability to make a surprise nuclear attack against the United States–or against any and all nations on Earth–with Super-EMP.

FOBS? Super-EMP? The author of Apocalypse Unknown: The Struggle To Protect America From An Electromagnetic Pulse Catastrophe explained:

A Super-EMP warhead is a nuclear weapon specially designed to produce an enormous burst of gamma rays that generates an extraordinarily powerful electromagnetic pulse, capable of destroying even the best protected electronics, thereby paralyzing military forces and blacking out power grids and collapsing critical infrastructures everywhere–across an entire nation the size of the United States…

During the Cold War, the USSR experimented with a secret weapon, the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS), that used an ICBM like a Space Launch Vehicle to put a nuclear warhead into orbit, like a satellite. Instead of using the ICBM to lob the warhead on a more accurate arcing ballistic trajectory, flying along the shortest range to target, like an artillery shell, the FOBS lofted the warhead into a “fractional” or partial orbit, sacrificing accuracy for limitless range.

FOBS could reach any nation or threaten any target anywhere on Earth.

A Super-EMP warhead does not weigh much, and could probably be delivered by North Korea’s Fractional Orbital Bombardment System, successfully tested in December 2012, against any nation on Earth. Thus, North Korea already possesses an ICBM and poses a mortal nuclear threat to the United States, and to all nations on Earth–right now.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Real disturbing stuff. Even more so now that the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Thursday for tougher sanctions against North Korea.

You can read Dr. Pry’s warning about the North Korean Super-EMP threat in its entirety on the Family Security Matters website here.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Iran, North Korea Nuclear Threat Update

Two nations are rapidly climbing America’s nuclear threat board these days:

Iran and North Korea.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has been doing a lot of saber-rattling since I last blogged about the Communist state last month. At that time, I asked:

So what kind of timeframe are we talking about here before North Korea has an ICBM capable of reaching and hitting the continental U.S.?

Based on expert opinion, it could just be 4 short years.

And how does America know North Korea’s intentions are to target it with nuclear weapons? Ju-min Park and Choonsik Yoo reported on the Reuters’ website last Thursday:

North Korea said on Thursday it would carry out further rocket launches and a nuclear test that would target the United States, dramatically stepping up its threats against a country it called its “sworn enemy”…

“We are not disguising the fact that the various satellites and long-range rockets that we will fire and the high-level nuclear test we will carry out are targeted at the United States,” North Korea’s National Defence Commission said, according to state news agency KCNA.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Park and Yoo added:

North Korea is not believed to have the technology to deliver a nuclear warhead capable of hitting the continental United States, although its December launch showed it had the capacity to deliver a rocket that could travel 10,000 km (6,200 miles), potentially putting San Francisco in range, according to an intelligence assessment by South Korea.

And then there’s the Islamic Republic of Iran. According to former top U.S. diplomat Henry Kissinger last week, a crisis involving a nuclear-armed Iran looks to be a good possibility. From the BBC website Thursday:

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has warned that a crisis involving a nuclear Iran is in the “foreseeable future”.

The Nobel Peace laureate, 89, was speaking about prospects in the Middle East at the World Economic Forum.

He said nuclear proliferation in the region triggered by an armed Iran would increase the chances of an atomic war – “a turning point in human history”.

Kissinger, who served as Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford, explained his concerns in more detail. From the piece:

The consequences of Tehran’s programme, he said, would be that other countries in the region would also want nuclear arms.

“The danger is that we could be reaching a point where nuclear weapons would become almost conventional, and there will be the possibility of a nuclear conflict at some point… that would be a turning point in human history,” he said.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

The nuclear Pandora’s Box has indeed been opened.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Park, Ju-min and Yoo, Choonsik. “North Korea to target U.S. with nuclear, rocket tests.” Reuters. 24 Jan. 2013. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/24/us-korea-north-nuclear-idUSBRE90N03I20130124). 27 Jan. 2013.

“Davos 2013: Kissinger says Iran nuclear crisis close.” BBC. 24 Jan. 2013. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21177535). 27 Jan. 2013.

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Nuclear Material On The Loose

“The Obama administration is warning that the danger of a terrorist attack with nuclear weapons is increasing, but U.S. officials say the claim is not based on new intelligence and questioned whether the threat is being overstated.”

-Washington Times, April 14, 2010

I don’t agree with President Obama on a number of things, but here’s one we do see eye-to-eye on:

The threat posed by nuclear terrorism.

Consider recent events in the former Soviet Union. Desmond Butler of the Associated Press reported back on December 9:

Despite years of effort and hundreds of millions of dollars spent in the fight against the illicit sale of nuclear contraband, the black market remains active in the countries around the former Soviet Union. The radioactive materials, mostly left over from the Cold War, include nuclear bomb-grade uranium and plutonium, and dirty-bomb isotopes like cesium and iridium.

The extent of the black market is unknown, but a steady stream of attempted sales of radioactive materials in recent years suggests smugglers have sometimes crossed borders undetected. Since the formation of a special nuclear police unit in 2005 with U.S. help and funding, 15 investigations have been launched in Georgia and dozens of people arrested.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

And what of the years between 1991 (Georgian independence) and 2005? I shudder to think how much radioactive material might have found their way across the Georgian border and into the hands of the bad guys during those 14 years.

According to the piece, highly-enriched uranium has also recently been seized from smugglers in Moldova, another former Soviet republic.

From the Council on Foreign Relations website:

There have been no confirmed reports of missing or stolen former-Soviet nuclear weapons, but there is ample evidence of a significant black market in nuclear materials. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reported more than a hundred nuclear smuggling incidents since 1993, eighteen of which involved highly enriched uranium, the key ingredient in an atomic bomb and the most dangerous product on the nuclear black market.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

That portion of the CFR website was last updated in January 2006.

While the Council said there have been no confirmed reports of missing or stolen nuclear weapons, the same can’t be said of nuclear material. Butler added:

Russia maintains that it has secured its radioactive material — including bomb-grade uranium and plutonium — and that Georgia has exaggerated the risk because of political tension with Moscow. But while the vast majority of the former Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal and radioactive material has been secured, U.S. officials say that some material in the region remains loose.

“Without a doubt, we are aware and have been over the last several years that not all nuclear material is accounted for,” says Simon Limage, deputy assistant secretary for non-proliferation programs at the U.S. State Department. “It is true that a portion that we are concerned about continues to be outside of regulatory control.”

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

“U.S. officials say that some material in the region remains loose.”

If smuggling is taking place and the whereabouts of the nuclear material is unknown, I wonder if the above shouldn’t be changed to “some material from the region remains loose?”

Since illegal aliens and drugs routinely manage to find their way into the United States, it requires no stretch of the mind to envision nuclear material for a terrorist weapon also being smuggled in.

Butler’s incredibly-informative piece be read on the Yahoo! News website here.

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Friday, December 21st, 2012 Crime, Europe, Public Safety, Terrorism No Comments

4 Years Until North Korea Has ICBM That Can Reach Continental United States?

As if Iranian nuclear weapons weren’t already a worry for us (and more so Israel), now the North Koreans are one step closer to having an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the continental United States. Jack Kim and Mayumi Negishi reported on the Reuters website this morning:

North Korea successfully launched a rocket on Wednesday, boosting the credentials of its new leader and stepping up the threat the isolated and impoverished state poses to opponents.

The rocket, which North Korea says put a weather satellite into orbit, has been labeled by the United States, South Korea and Japan as a test of technology that could one day deliver a nuclear warhead capable of hitting targets as far away as the continental United States.

According to Kim and Negishi, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) verified the North Koreans’ claims.

And here’s something that’s particularly worrisome- if it’s true. From the article:

U.S. intelligence has linked North Korea with missile shipments to Iran. Newspapers in Japan and South Korea have reported that Iranian observers were in the North for the launch, something Iran has denied.

Great. Just great.

So what kind of timeframe are we talking about here before North Korea has an ICBM capable of reaching and hitting the continental U.S.?

Well, Elisabeth Bumiller and David Sanger reported on The New York Times website back on January 11, 2001:

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned Tuesday that North Korea was within five years of being able to strike the continental United States with an intercontinental ballistic missile, and said that, combined with its expanding nuclear program, the country “is becoming a direct threat to the United States.”

Mr. Gates is a former director of the C.I.A., and his statement, officials said, reflected both a new assessment by American intelligence officials and his own concern that Washington had consistently underestimated the pace at which the North was developing nuclear and missile technologies.

Considering that statement was made almost a year ago, it could be only 4 years before North Korea is able to hit the continental U.S. via a nuclear-armed missile.

From an AFP piece this morning:

“This launch certainly bolsters their credibility when they say that they have missiles that can strike the United States,” said James Schoff, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“It’s harder to wave that off after a successful test like this,” said Schoff, a former Pentagon official.

It looks to me that the United States is most likely looking at a nuclear-armed Iran and an ICBM-armed North Korea down the road.

Sources:

Kim, Jack and Negishi, Mayumi. “North Korea launches rocket, raising nuclear arms stakes.” Reuters. 12 Dec. 2012. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/12/us-korea-north-rocket-idUSBRE8BB02K20121212). 12 Dec. 2012.

Bumiller, Elisabeth and Sanger, David E. “Gates Warns of North Korea Missile Threat to U.S.” The New York Times. 11 Jan. 2011. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/12/world/asia/12military.html?_r=0). 12 Dec. 2012.

“North Korea rocket raises nuclear stakes, poses threat to US: Analysts.” Agence France-Presse. 12 Dec. 2012. (http://www.straitstimes.com/breaking-news/asia/story/n-korea-rocket-raises-nuclear-stakes-analysts-20121212). 12 Dec. 2012.

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Wednesday, December 12th, 2012 Asia, Foreign Policy, Middle East, Public Safety, Technology 2 Comments

Iran, North Korea Push On With Their Nuclear Programs

September 1995. Loyola University of Chicago, Rogers Park campus. My graduate school classmates and I are busy one autumn evening randomly-drawing names of notable political scientists to interview for a class project. I pick Alexander George out of Stanford University (was fantastic and insightful to talk to, by the way). My classmate and good friend Allison ends up with Graham T. Allison out of Harvard. I have no idea at that time how much Dr. Allison, now director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, would eventually contribute to my future knowledge about- and concern over- the threat of nuclear terrorism to America. The author of Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastropheicon, which was selected by The New York Times as one of the “100 most notable books of 2004” and is now in its third printing, had this to say about the danger in a 2007 debate (also noted in my “About” page):

This debate asks how likely is it that terrorists will explode a nuclear bomb and devastate a great American metropolis. In the judgment of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, the likelihood of a single nuclear bomb exploding in a single city is greater today than at the height of the Cold War. Nuclear Terrorism states my own judgment that, on the current trend line, the chances of a nuclear terrorist attack in the next decade are greater than 50 percent. Former Secretary of Defense William Perry has expressed his own view that Nuclear Terrorism underestimates the risk.

From the technical side, Richard Garwin, a designer of the hydrogen bomb who Enrico Fermi once called, “the only true genius I had ever met,” told Congress in March that he estimated a “20 percent per year probability with American cities and European cities included” of “a nuclear explosion—not just a contamination, dirty bomb—a nuclear explosion.” My Harvard colleague Matthew Bunn has created a probability model in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science that estimates the probability of a nuclear terrorist attack over a ten-year period to be 29 percent—identical to the average estimate from a poll of security experts commissioned by Senator Richard Lugar in 2005.

“The chances of a nuclear terrorist attack in the next decade are greater than 50 percent.” And Dr. Allison said this in 2007. I’ll have to check with the Harvard professor and administrator to see if he still believes this is the case in light of the progress being claimed by the Obama administration in the “War on Terror.” But based on recent reports about advancements in the nuclear programs of both Iran and North Korea, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still sticking to his guns here.

Concerning Iran, the Associated Press reported Wednesday:

Iran will step up its uranium enrichment program by sharply increasing the number of centrifuges used to make nuclear fuel, a senior official said Wednesday, in direct defiance of Western demands.

The statement by Iran’s nuclear chief, Fereidoun Abbasi, is likely to escalate tensions…

“Despite sanctions, we will most likely see a substantial increase in the number of centrifuge machines this year. We will continue enrichment with intensity,” Abbasi was quoted by state TV as saying Wednesday. The Iranian calendar year ends on March 20.

His remarks came days after the U.N. agency said Iran is about to double its output of higher enriched uranium at its fortified Fordo underground facility. That could move Iran closer to weapons capability.

Anyone out there still think the Islamic Republic of Iran won’t be getting a nuclear weapon short of a military conflict?

I wonder if the Iranians will be televising the parade from downtown Tehran when that happens?

As for the North Koreans? Reuters’ Fredrik Dahl reported Thursday:

North Korea has made further progress in the construction of a new atomic reactor, the U.N. nuclear chief reported on Thursday, a facility that may extend the country’s capacity to produce material for nuclear bombs.

Pyongyang “has continued construction of the light water reactor and largely completed work on the exterior of the main buildings,” Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said…

North Korea says it needs nuclear power to provide electricity, but has also boasted of its nuclear deterrence capability and has traded nuclear technology with Syria, Libya and probably Pakistan.

At the end of summer, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was already thought to have 23 nuclear weapons in their arsenal.

The world was already a dangerous place, but grows even more so in our time. Especially as it concerns nuclear proliferation.

Sources:

“Iran nuclear chief: Uranium enrichment to be stepped up with new centrifuges, reactor.” Associated Press. 28 Nov. 2012. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/iran-nuclear-chief-enrichment-to-move-ahead-with-intensity/2012/11/28/98834224-3965-11e2-9258-ac7c78d5c680_story.html). 30 Nov. 2012.

Dahl, Fredrik. “North Korea pushing ahead with new nuclear reactor: IAEA.” Reuters. 29 Nov. 2012. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/29/us-korea-north-nuclear-idUSBRE8AS0OT20121129). 30 Nov. 2012.

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Romney 3, Obama 0

Last night I watched the last in a series of U.S. Presidential debates between former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and the sitting President Barack Obama.

Once again, the incumbent came out swinging. However, despite it sounding once again like the audience was in his corner, President Obama lost.

More so than in the second debate, if you ask me.

An analyst on one of the TV stations covering the debate said it best when she pointed out that Obama was, in effect, debating himself. Since his Republican challenger lacked significant foreign policy experience (the supposed focus of last night’s exchange), it was the incumbent’s record in this area over the past four years that came under scrutiny.

And plenty of dedicated observers of U.S. foreign policy- myself included- will tell you that it’s in shambles.

Particularly in the Middle East.

As I see it, the Obama administration, in its attempt to tone-down what it perceives as an overly-aggressive U.S. foreign policy under the Republicans, has:

Not deterred Iran from advancing towards a nuclear weapon. Regular readers of this blog know that I believe the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to take advantage of proposed “talks” and other delays to continue work on such a weapon. Notwithstanding military action, they will get a nuke. The prospect of having one is just too tempting. Pop one or two of these over the U.S., and we’ll have a real problem on our hands.

Not left a stable regime in place in Iraq. I predict a real power vacuum here in the coming years, with a number of internal and external actors vying for ultimate control of the geopolitically-important failed state and its resources.

Made a big blunder in announcing the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan in 2014. Nothing like giving an enemy a timetable to work with. I suspect Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and their allies will throw everything they’ve got at our men and women in uniform over there as the end of 2014 draws closer, knowing full-well they need only sustain such intensity until the announced exit date. Then what? Attack us on our home soil, possibly. Some terrorism experts have suggested one reason why Al-Qaeda hasn’t launched a massive operation against the United States mainland since 9/11 is because they’ve figured out it’s simply easier to kill scores of Americans on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Remember, their stated goal is 4 million Americans dead. Back to being another failed state down the road.

Alienated our ally Israel. President Obama seems to see Israel- like past U.S. foreign policy- as being too aggressive. And it doesn’t appear the sitting President doesn’t care too much for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu either- despite Vice President Biden and all that “Bibi” talk from the Vice Presidential debate. Consider the following:

November 3, 2011- Several media outlets reported an open-mic incident where then French President Nicolas Sarkozy told his American counterpart, “Netanyahu, I can’t stand him. He’s a liar.” Obama reportedly responded with, “You are sick of him, but I have to work with him every day.”

September 11, 2012- The White House said President Obama would not meet Prime Minister Netanyahu during a U.S. visit later that month. A number of media outlets suggested the Israeli leader was being spurned.

September 12, 2012- President Obama was taped for the CBS show 60 Minutes. From an exchange with Steve Kroft:

KROFT: You’re—you’re saying you don’t feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign to try and get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand? You don’t feel any pressure?

OBAMA: When it comes to our national security decisions, any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that’s out there.

Israeli concern over an Iranian nuke is “noise?”

Don’t even get me started on Libya and the deaths of 4 Americans, including an ambassador.

How the Obama administration has handled the Middle East is indicative of U.S. foreign policy as a whole.

Weak.

Worse yet, our adversaries recognize it and actively exploit it.

It shouldn’t be too much of surprise U.S. foreign policy has come to this. After all, Democrats aren’t really known to be big on foreign affairs. If anything, they seem to look at it as an annoyance.

Whenever I think of foreign policy in the Clinton years, two words come to mind.

Cruise missiles.

These days, perhaps it can reduced to just one word.

Drones.

Mitt Romney did a good job at pointing out the poor foreign policy record of the Obama administration.

But, truth be told, most Americans don’t care too much about international affairs.

The Republican challenger won this last debate not by talking about foreign policy- as was the intended focus- but by leading the discussion back to President Obama’s equally-dismal record on the economy.

This is what I meant when I said “more so than in the second debate, if you ask me” earlier in this post.

Romney kept hammering away at Obama’s domestic record as it pertains to take-home pay, unemployment, food stamps, government overreach, over-regulation, small-business woes, trillion dollar deficits, the $16 trillion national debt, the list goes on, and all the way to the end.

It was circling back to the Chicago Democrat’s domestic record these past four years that won the Republican challenger the debate.

In fact, all three debates.

Whether this will translate into a White House win come November 6 remains to be seen.

Regrettably, when it comes to that financial crash I predict is in store for us, I doubt a Romney win will make much of a difference at this point in the game. Economic pain is a certainty. Still, if he’s elected President of the Unites States and implements a sustained, meaningful program of fiscal responsibility, our financial “reckoning day” may not be as devastating as I suspect it would be should the nation continue on its current path.

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How Close Is Iran To Getting A Nuke?

As President Obama spoke to world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly this morning and vowed the United States “will do what we must” to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon, I became curious as to just how close the Western Asia country was to getting a “nuke.”

If you believe the Israelis, the Iranians are several months away from having the capability to build such a weapon. From Matt Spetalnick and Dan Williams on the Reuters website back on September 16:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that Iran was just six to seven months away from the brink of being able to build a nuclear bomb, adding urgency to his demand that President Barack Obama set a “red line” for Tehran in what could deepen the worst U.S.-Israeli rift in decades.

Taking to the television airwaves to make his case directly to the American public, Netanyahu said that by mid-2013 Iran would be “90 percent of the way” toward enough enriched uranium for a weapon.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

6 to 7 months away from being able to build a nuclear weapon.

Pop this device over the continental United States and we could be in a real world of hurt.

Is Netanyahu’s warning credible? Regrettably, it seems so.

Spetalnick and Williams added:

He appeared to be referring to Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity, a level it says is required for medical isotopes but which also is close to bomb-fuel grade. According to an August report by U.N. inspectors, Iran has stockpiled 91.4 kg of the 20 percent material.

Experts say about 200-250 kg (440-550 pounds) would be the minimum required to enrich further into enough material for a bomb, a threshold Iran could potentially reach soon by producing roughly 15 kg (33 pounds) a month, a rate that could be speeded up if it activates new uranium centrifuges.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Glenn Kessler wrote in the Washington Post’s The Fact Checker blog on September 16:

Israeli officials have a long history of claiming that Iran is close to having a nuclear weapon–indeed, in 1992, Israeli officials suggested Iran was just a “few years” from a nuclear weapon. So with that track record, the latest assertion by the Israeli prime minister might be easy to ignore.

But in this case, Netanyahu is on the right track. In fact, a case could be made that Iran already is ahead of his timeline. Note that he did not say Iran would have a nuclear bomb—just that the Islamic Republic would have the material for a nuclear bomb.

The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency suggests that Iran already has more than enough uranium enriched to 20 percent that could converted into weapons-grade (90 percent) uranium for at least one nuclear weapon.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Kessler went on to provide supporting evidence for this fact check.

So 6 to 7 months then.

And I once thought “Atomic Ayatollahs” would be a great name for a rock band.

Not so much anymore.

The allure of having a nuclear weapon is just too great for the Islamic Republic of Iran to let diplomacy get in the way. If anything, they’ll continue using it as a stall tactic to keep on working uninhibited.

Then look for Iran to throw a parade sometime in the near future celebrating its breakthrough.

However, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an attack on Iran by Israel alone, the United States alone, one or the other as part of a coalition, or some other combination.

Some even believe such a strike might take place before the November election.

If you believe war is in the cards, it’s probably a good idea to start considering the potential repercussions it could have back on Main Street. Higher energy prices? Retaliatory strikes on U.S. soil by Iran and/or its affiliates? I plan on blogging about this in the coming days.

Sources:

Spetalnick, Matt and Williams, Dan. “Iran on brink of nuclear bomb in six-seven months: Netanyahu.” Reuters. 16 Sep. 2012. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/16/us-iran-nuclear-netanyahu-idUSBRE88F06P20120916). 25 Sep. 2012.

Kessler, Glenn. “Netanyahu’s claim that Iran is ‘six months’ from having nuclear bomb material.” The Fact Checker. 16 Sep. 2012. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/netanyahus-claim-that-iran-is-six-months-from-having-nuclear-bomb-material/2012/09/16/7497078e-002f-11e2-b260-32f4a8db9b7e_blog.html). 25 Sep. 2012.

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