05/21/18

U.S. Iran Strategy Announced by Sec State Pompeo

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

This speech/policy sets the table for the North Korea talks with President Trump. Further, it advances the mission on countering militant Islam not only in the region, but globally. Europe has to decide on a corporate business relationship with Iran versus human rights, along with worldwide terrorism at the hands of Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Since 2014, a broad range of organizations, from medical companies such as GE Healthcare to aerospace firms such as Lufthansa Technik, as well as educational institutions such as Harvard University, have obtained permission and waivers to operate in Iran.

Other U.S. institutions that were permitted to do business in Iran include: General Electric Medical and Aviation Divisions, Bausch & Lomb, Boston Scientific, Smithsonian Institute, HSBC, Philips North America, University of California San Diego, University of Wisconsin, Loyola University, New York University, BNP Paribas S.A., American Pulp and Paper and Intelsat Corporation to list a few. More here.

(Reuters) – The United States on Monday demanded Iran make sweeping changes — from dropping its nuclear program to pulling out of the Syrian civil war — or face severe economic sanctions as the Trump administration hardened its approach to Tehran.

Iran dismissed Washington’s ultimatum and one senior Iranian official said it showed the United States is seeking “regime change” in Iran.

Weeks after President Donald Trump pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran, his administration threatened to impose “the strongest sanctions in history,” and vowed to “crush” Iranian operatives abroad, setting Washington and Tehran further on a course of confrontation.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded sweeping changes that would force Iran effectively to reverse the recent spread of its military and political influence through the Middle East to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

If Washington sees tangible shifts in Iran’s policies, it is prepared to lift sanctions, Pompeo said.

“The sting of sanctions will only grow more painful if the regime does not change course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen for itself and the people of Iran,” Pompeo said in his first major speech since becoming secretary of state.

“These will be the strongest sanctions in history by the time we are done,” he added.

Pompeo took aim at Iran’s policy of expansion in the Middle East through support for armed groups in countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

He warned that the United States would “crush” Iranian operatives and proxies abroad and told Tehran to pull out forces under its command from the Syrian civil war where they have helped President Bashar al-Assad gain the upper hand.

Iran’s president summarily dismissed Pompeo’s demands.

“Who are you to decide for Iran and the world?,” the semi-official ILNA news agency quoted Hassan Rouhani as saying.

“The world today does not accept America to decide for the world, as countries are independent … that era is over … We will continue our path with the support of our nation.”

Tension between the two countries has grown notably since Trump this month withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement aimed at preventing Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

A senior Iranian official said Pompeo’s remarks showed that the United States was pushing for “regime change,” a charged phrase often associated with the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein.

Pompeo warned that if Iran fully resumed its nuclear program Washington would be ready to respond and said the administration would hold companies doing prohibited business in Iran to account.

“Our demands on Iran are not unreasonable: give up your program,” Pompeo said, “Should they choose to go back, should they begin to enrich, we are fully prepared to respond to that as well,” he said, declining to elaborate.

Pompeo said Washington would work with the Defense Department and allies to counter Iran in the cyberspace and maritime areas.

The Pentagon said it would take all necessary steps to confront Iranian behavior in the region and was assessing whether that could include new actions or doubling down on current ones.

Related reading: 2015 France Opened Trade Office in Iran for 150 French companies

Related reading: May 2018 UK Updated the Trade Policy with Iran

Related reading: ‘Made in Germany’ has a very good reputation in Iran

NAMING NAMES

Pompeo said if Iran made major changes, the United States was prepared to ease sanctions, re-establish full diplomatic and commercial relations and support the country’s re-integration into the international economic system.

Any new U.S. sanctions will raise the cost of trade for Iran and are expected to further deter Western companies from investing there, giving hardliners, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an opportunity to cement their grip on power.

Iran’s ruling elite are mindful of recent protests sparked by economic hardship, which is, in part, their calculation for working with the Europeans on ways to salvage the nuclear deal.

Pompeo’s speech did not explicitly call for regime change but he repeatedly urged the Iranian people not to put up with their leaders, specifically naming Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“At the end of the day the Iranian people will get to make a choice about their leadership,” Pompeo said.

Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of the Brooking Institution think tank’s foreign policy program, said Pompeo’s speech did indeed amount to a strategy of regime change.

“There is only one way to read it and that is that Trump administration has wedded itself to a regime-change strategy to Iran, one that is likely to alienate our allies. One with dubious prospects for success,” she said.

The administration’s approach “explicitly puts the onus on the Iranian people to change their leadership or face cataclysmic financial pressure,” said Maloney who has advised the State Department on Iran in the Bush administration between 2005-2007.

Lebanese analyst Ghaleb Kandil, who has close ties to the pro-Iran Hezbollah group, said Washington’s demands have previously not worked.

“These are conditions that were tested in previous phases of American pressures, before the nuclear deal, when Iran was in more difficult circumstances than it is in these days, and it did not surrender to these conditions or accept them,” said Kandil.

Pompeo outlined 12 U.S. demands for Iran including to stop uranium enrichment, never to pursue plutonium reprocessing and to close its heavy water reactor.

It also had to declare all previous military dimensions of its nuclear program and to permanently and verifiably abandon such work, he said.

Pompeo’s demand that Tehran stop uranium enrichment goes even further than the nuclear deal. Iran says its nuclear work has medical uses and will produce energy to meet domestic demand and complement its oil reserves.

Washington’s regional allies, the Gulf and Israel, who were strong critics of the deal, praised the administration’s position on Monday.

European parties to the nuclear deal – France, Britain and Germany – are working to find a way to keep the nuclear pact in effect after Washington’s exit.

Speaking ahead of Pompeo’s speech, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it would be difficult for the United States and its allies to deal with all the issues they had with Iran at the same time.

“If you try to pull all of those into a giant negotiation, a new jumbo Iran negotiation, a new treaty…that seems to be what they envisage and I don’t see that being very easy to achieve in anything like a reasonable timescale, Johnson said in Argentina.

05/20/18

Gordon Chang Is Right, Recall Chinese Diplomats

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Today, May 20th, Steve Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary announced the Chinese tariffs are on hold, pending some kind of a tentative agreement. Really Steve? This happens as the North Korea Kim/Trump talks are on shaky ground. China wants North Korea to have nuclear weapons, period.

China is a Leninist state. I spent a month on the mainland, I saw it.

A threat to the United States? Yes. To allies? Yes.

China has overtly weaponized those pesky islands with an H-6 bomber aircraft landing on Woody Island. Did President Xi share any of this with President Trump at that confab at Mar-a-Lago? The matter of the South China Sea and those disputed waters and islands is hardly any new threat. It goes back to at least 2014 and President Obama was briefed often on the building Chinese aggression. There was a temporary Asia Pivot by Obama, but it was merely a gesture in retrospect. That Asia Pivot hardly raised any eyebrows in Beijing.

The reason to recall diplomats and expel others from the United States? At least the first one, laser attacks on our U.S. airmen.

8 May 2018 The two airmen reported symptoms of dizziness and seeing rings. Pointing lasers at aircraft is extremely dangerous. It can temporarily blind pilots, and in the United States it’s a federal offense. While the pilots are expected to make a full recovery, the incident raises questions about how far the United States will allow China to push it without pushing back.

But first let’s back up. What’s everyone doing in Djibouti, a tiny country in eastern Africa? America has a base in Djibouti because of its proximity to Yemen, a terrorist incubator. The 4,000 U.S. troops stationed there are tasked with conducting counter-terrorism operations in the region.

What about China? Well, that’s a little more opaque. China opened its Djibouti base last August, claiming that its purpose is to help with anti-piracy patrols and other peacekeeping missions. It’s supposedly a logistics base, but here’s the thing: China doesn’t have foreign military bases anywhere in the world — except in Djibouti, eight miles from the U.S. base.

But worse… is anyone paying attention outside of Gordon Chang and Steven Mosher? Yes thankfully, Congress is. FINALLY.

I strongly suggest you watch this video and consider how much of it, if not all of it was stolen from the United States.

So, let us consider some of these items shall we?

  1. Why are we giving China access to our defense contractors? Additionally, there are cyber part operations and hacks of the F-22 and F-35.
  2. Who is challenging the BRI, Belt Road Initiative?
  3. The South China Sea is part of the Blue Water Territory. China is building a navy to be twice the size of that of the United States. That includes up to 12 nuclear powered carrier battle groups.
  4. No one challenged China on the Scarborough Shoal achievement, that is the new China model for hegemony.
  5. China wants all telecom advances developed by the United States for it’s fiber-liked command centers and is getting them. China wants to lead on 5G, then there is outer-space.
  6. China and Russia have an alliance on military, missile and hybrid tactics to alter the balance of global power.
  7. Then there was the China/Argentina issue with the Falklands, again.
  8. China has instituted national re-education programs. The program is a hallmark of China’s emboldened state security apparatus under the deeply nationalistic, hard-line rule of President Xi Jinping. It is partly rooted in the ancient Chinese belief in transformation through education – taken once before to terrifying extremes during the mass thought reform campaigns of Mao Zedong, the Chinese leader sometimes channeled by Xi.
  9. A significant Chinese operation is debt-trapping. Sri Lanka and the Philippines are already falling due to this.
  10. China is forcing Venezuela to give up Blanquilla Island over their debt.
  11. If you look at the Qing Dynasty, that is President Xi’s vision and Taiwan is an important key to that achievement. China Wants to Build a Massive Underwater Tunnel to Taiwan and to own/control Taiwan by 2020.
  12. OBOR, One Belt, One Road is a sophisticated trade strategy on a global scale and it threatens currency stability, port security, transportation channels and debt.

05/16/18

Results of OPCW Investigation in Syria

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Remember, the anti-Assad forces otherwise known as rebels don’t have aircraft and don’t have bombs that would create craters in the ground. Oh yeah, notice that Russia has not produced their own investigations or conclusions as they pledged to do?

The exact same sort of wheel assembly we saw on the Douma chlorine bombs on the chlorine bomb used in Saraqib!

The details of samples taken are interesting in light of the Douma attack, soils samples and samples from the munitions confirm the presence of chlorine, although these were taken close to the time of attack.

Here’s samples from Khan Sheikhoun, showing the same three chemicals as detected in the Saraqib attack, all indicators of Sarin use.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 16 May 2018 —The Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), confirmed in a report released yesterday that chlorine was likely used as a chemical weapon on 4 February 2018 in Saraqib, Idlib Governorate, Syrian Arab Republic.

The FFM determined that chlorine was released from cylinders by mechanical impact in the Al Talil neighbourhood of Saraqib.

The conclusions are based inter alia on the presence of two cylinders, which were determined as previously containing chlorine; witness testimony; environmental samples that demonstrated the unusual presence of chlorine in the local environment; and the number of patients at medical facilities shortly after the incident who showed signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to chlorine and other toxic chemicals.

The Director-General stated: “I strongly condemn the continued use of toxic chemicals as weapons by anyone, for any reason, and in any circumstances. Such acts contradict the unequivocal prohibition against chemical weapons enshrined in the Chemical Weapons Convention.”

The FFM’s report on the Saraqib incident has been shared with States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention.  The report was also transmitted to the UN Security Council through the UN Secretary-General.

Background

In response to persistent allegations of chemical weapon attacks in Syria, the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) was set up in 2014 with an on-going mandate “to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic”. The FFM’s mandate is to determine whether chemical weapons or toxic chemicals as weapons have been used in Syria. It does not include identifying who is responsible for alleged attacks. Attribution was part of the mandate of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism, set up by the UN Security Council, which expired in November 2017.

The FFM has previously confirmed with a “high degree of confidence” the use of chlorine, sulfur mustard, and sarin as weapons.

The FFM is required to study available information relating to allegations of use of chemical weapons in Syria, including information provided by the Syrian Arab Republic and others. The FFM employs investigative methods to determine if chemical weapons have been used. It interviews witnesses and obtains environmental and bio-medical samples and physical evidence for analysis.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons operates according to a strict confidentiality regime, which governs the operations of the Organisation, protects the integrity of its investigations, ensures the security of its technical experts, and determines what information can be made public.

As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently and verifiably eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997 – and with its 192 States Parties – it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.

05/15/18

Trump Kim Talks Now In Jeopardy, Developing

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

The United States and South Korea do military drills often and Kim Jung Un was well aware of those planned stating the drills were a rehearsal for an invasion. Further, North Korea has canceled talks with South Korea. The Kim regime is making yet another demand stating the United States must be careful about deliberations and the summit itself due to the ‘ruckus’ over the drills.

This all comes from the conclusion of the meeting that North Korea has with China.

Meanwhile:

That nuclear test site that North Korea has declared inoperable and where media has been invited to see the dismantling of the site and tunnels may not be the only site and no one is speaking of other sites but should be. Why? Well Iran refuses to declared PMD (possible military dimension) sites that are part of the nuclear development plan. Since Iran and North Korea have long collaborated on nuclear programs, it stands to reason North Korea has other sites as well.

***

Ahead of the April 27 inter-Korean summit, NGA published a separate assessment that North Korea had started dismantling significant components and structures associated with nuclear test observation at Punggye-ri.

Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site by JamesMartinCNS on Sketchfab

The North’s decision not only came before Kim Jong-un’s first meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at Panmunjom, but also before the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit meeting, scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.

Satellite imagery published by 38 North on Monday, May 14, provides open source corroboration of significant changes near the northern, western, and southern portals leading into the underground tunnel network that composes the Punggye-ri test site.

North Korea watchers Jeffrey Lewis and Dave Schmerler of the Monterey Institute of International Studies have also observed the dismantling of structures around the Punggye-ri test site. Lewis and his team created a 3D model offering an impression of the horizontal tunnel network at the Punggye-ri test site.

North Korea’s work to dismantle structures at the test site comes ahead of its announced intention to invite journalists and experts from China, Russia, South Korea, the United States, and the United Kingdom to observe the site’s dismantlement between May 23 and May 25.

A report published over the weekend by the country’s outward-facing state media, the Korean Central News Agency, said that the event would be to “ensure transparency of discontinuance of the nuclear test (sic).” U.S. President Donald Trump called Kim’s move a “very smart and gracious gesture” in a tweet.

The same report specified the process for the site’s disabling, which would include the collapsing of tunnels — presumably with explosives — and the removal of observation and research facilities. U.S. intelligence assessments suggest that much of the latter work will have been completed prior to the arrival of foreign observers.

The DIA and NGA assessments leave open the possibility that North Korea’s planned modifications to the test site next week could significantly extend the period of time necessary to restore Punggye-ri to a usable state.

Following Kim’s announcement that the Punggye-ri site will be shut down, international observers, including the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization’s (CTBTO) executive secretary, Lassina Zerbo, welcomed the announcement. Kim has not specified whether the CTBTO will be invited to verify the closure of the nuclear test site.

North Korea is the only country known to have conducted full-yield tests of nuclear weapons in the 21st century. Kim Jong-un has not expressed an interest in signing the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, which has yet to enter into force.

With six nuclear tests, North Korea likely has a useful set of data that it can use to continue refining its nuclear weapons designs. The U.S. intelligence community has, with consensus, determined as of mid-2017 that North Korea is capable of mounting compact nuclear weapons atop its larger ballistic missiles, including its intercontinental-range ballistic missiles that threaten the continental United States.

In the same report to the Workers’ Party of Korea’s 7th Central Committee where Kim first acknowledged that Punggye-ri’s mission had come to an end, that North Korean leader, for the first time, publicly acknowledged that North Korea had conducted sub-critical nuclear weapons testing.

North Korea has not made any concessions on its sub-critical testing program, which will likely continue at its Nuclear Weapons Institute. Continued sub-critical testing would allow North Korea to maintain its existing weapons and refine their performance.

RCD: With the location and date of the forthcoming summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong‑un now fixed, speculation has turned to what sort of agreement might be achievable. US National Security Advisor John Bolton recently suggested that the ‘Libyan model’ of nuclear disarmament—from 2003–2004—might offer a framework that could be applied to North Korea in 2018.

The suggestion received what might kindly be called a mixed reception, not least because the North Koreans believe that Muammar al-Qaddafi was a fool to abandon his nuclear program. Still, I’d like to explore the Libyan case here because it offers one of the few examples of ‘denuclearisation’ that we have.

True, the two cases are markedly dissimilar: Libya, unlike North Korea, had made relatively little progress towards nuclear weapons when its leadership took the strategic decision to abandon the program. The Libyans had no nuclear weapons. Yes, they had a small number of centrifuges—some still in their original packing—and a quantity of uranium hexafluoride (the feedstock for a centrifuge enrichment cascade).

More ominously, they had a nuclear weapon design, apparently obtained from the A.Q. Khan network—although some Libyans claimed that the design was a ‘bonus’ intended as a reward for their other purchases.

But when US officials appeared before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in early 2004 to talk about the disarmament effort, senators were at least as interested in the detailed picture of the nuclear black market that the Libyan program revealed as they were in the program itself. While a raft of fascinating material about the program had suddenly spilled forth, it was the procurement trail, stretching from Libya to Pakistan and Malaysia, that the committee chairman, Senator Richard Lugar, referred to as ‘the treasure trove’.

While North Korea’s current indigenous capabilities are far stronger than Libya’s were 15 years ago, one suspects there would be similar interest in Washington today about Pyongyang’s proliferation links.

Further, there are some aspects of the Libyan model that the current US administration might want to replicate in any deal with North Korea. Two of those aspects concern access and relocation. US and British experts were given extraordinary access to the Libyan weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program. See the statements made in 2004 by Paula DeSutter, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance, to two congressional committees (here and here) and, separately, in an interview with Arms Control Today:

The Libyans said, ‘We are no longer going to have a nuclear weapons program.’ They invited the United States and the United Kingdom in. They gave the United States and the United Kingdom access to all facilities that we requested to see. They were willing to permit any tests that we wanted to conduct. They were willing to have their centrifuge program removed … They have been very forthcoming.

In the chemical weapons area, we assisted them in drafting their declaration to the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons]. They had the OPCW technical secretariat come in. On one occasion they said, ‘You know, we really hadn’t told the others that came before, but there are some other munitions we need to show you.’ They took us to a facility that we almost certainly would not have been able to identify independently and showed us the unfilled munitions there. That is transparency. That is the kind of access that we are given when a country has made a strategic commitment. They volunteer information.

Some sources suggest that the procedure was not quite as straightforward as that passage of text implies. William Tobey, for example, argues that Libyan commitment and transparency varied on a day-to-day basis, at least in the early months. (See Tobey’s five-part series in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 and Part 5, and his 2017 assessment of intelligence and policy cooperation in the Libyan disarmament case.)

It was because of that variability that the Americans wanted to relocate key parts of the WMD program quickly. The most proliferation-sensitive parts of the program—equipment and documents—were airlifted to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The nuclear weapon design documents, revealed to the Americans on 20 January, were flown out of the country two days later.

During the night of 25–26 January 2004, an American C-17, its insignia painted over, landed at an air base near Tripoli, loaded its cargo—including advanced centrifuge rotors, five Scud‑C missile guidance sets and two tons of uranium hexafluoride—and took off again. Later, in March 2004, another 1,000 tons of materials and equipment were loaded aboard a US ship, the Industrial Challenger, its insignia again painted over, and taken to America.

Is that what President Trump is going to propose to Kim Jong‑un? Media sources say that the US has asked North Korea to ‘discard’ the data from its nuclear weapon development program and allow its nuclear scientists to emigrate. Of course, the manner—and direction—in which that data might be discarded is a non-trivial issue.

And emigration would, of course, be a humane solution to an intractable problem: that even after the weapons are gone and the data has been discarded, the knowledge of how to make nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles will still exist in the minds of North Korea’s scientists. I don’t imagine, though, that Washington wants those scientists heading to the Middle East. Russia and China might be acceptable destinations. People say that Tennessee is nice this time of year.

As was the case with the Libyan deal, the US is also arguing that this is an opportunity for North Korea to abandon not merely its nuclear program, but all of its WMD. Still, nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles seem likely to be the core of any deal.

On ballistic missiles, a key US objective in 2003–2004 was to ensure that Libya’s missile program was compliant with the thresholds set out in the Missile Technology Control Regime—namely, that its missiles were limited in their range to a maximum of 300 kilometres and in their payload to a maximum of 500 kilograms.

In short, the Libyan model sets high standards in relation to the exposure of proliferation linkages; provision of access to sites, personnel and materials; relocation of key items; and acceptance of international standards on WMD. Can an agreement with Pyongyang meet those standards? Frankly, it seems unlikely.

The Libyan model, after all, had one driver that might not be equally compelling in the North Korean case: the strategic commitment by the leadership to put aside WMD. Because of that commitment, the model unfolded quickly and the verification hurdles proved surmountable.

A similar level of strategic commitment on Kim Jong‑un’s part is what the Americans are hoping to find in Singapore on 12 June. The Trump administration is certainly signallingthat this is their desired approach.

05/15/18

U.S. Applies New Iran Sanctions, Hardly Enough

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

We are still at war in the Middle East where Iran with proxies is the real and virtual enemy. The United States uses proxies as well, yet the United States’ near term and long range strategy remains fleeting.

The talks that continue between Iran and Europe on the JCPOA should include Iran’s war operation in the Middle East.

For related reading: How Iran Spreads Its Empire through Terrorist Militias, In Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere, Tehran has perfected the art of gradually conquering a country without replacing its flag.

Going forward for the United States:

Implications and Future Research

The unwillingness of the United States and its GCC partners to use their vast conventional military superiority has shifted the balance of power in the region from the conventional to the unconventional realm. Iran then relies on its willingness to assume more risk and its ability to better influence proxies than its adversaries, to achieve favorable foreign policy outcomes despite the opposition of the United States and its Arab allies. The use of proxy groups fundamentally decreases the physical cost a state incurs due to conflict. However, when the soldiers of a state die advising and assisting these proxies, it is more difficult to justify domestically, because using proxies signals that the objectives are not important enough to warrant decisive intervention. Therefore, states are most successful when they use proxies not as a cost-reduction mechanism alone but because proxies

are better able to achieve the desired end than conventional military forces. If the United States is unwilling to risk additional battle deaths or domestic political repercussions to prevent Iran from projecting power across the Middle East, then it must instead apply cost-imposing strategies.

Increasing the effectiveness of special operations forces from allied Arab states through intelligence sharing, kinetic strikes, training, and attached American advisors, while encouraging deployments of these elements to areas where Iranian advisors and IRGC units operate, would increase the human cost of Iranian activities. In addition to targeting Iran’s primary efforts in Iraq and Syria, these partnered operations should also confront peripheral Iranian efforts throughout the Gulf, including Yemen, in order to exploit the weakness of Iranian popular support for its presence therein. By working through Arab partners, the United States can apply the indigenous force necessary to confront Iranian proxies, while increasing the likelihood that Arab states achieve a confluence of shared ideology and objectives with their proxies, which eludes the United States

as a separate actor. Saudi and Emirati support to Yemeni military units recapturing the port of Aden and the Bab al-Mandab Strait serve as good examples of the type of effort the United States should expand.

In addition to combating Iranian proxy groups directly, targeting the ground, air, and sea logistical routes that the IRGC Quds Force uses to supply its proxies would affect Iran’s ability to support its efforts in the region. As long as Iran continues to rely on a domestically based force projection model, its network is vulnerable to air strikes, raids, and sabotage. An expanded network of friendly proxies partnered with US and allied

-Arab advisors would be ideally suited to facilitating this type of targeting.

Complete text, context and summary is found here.

The author is: Maj. Alex Deep is an assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He is a Special Forces officer with ten years of service and multiple deployments to Afghanistan in conventional and special operations task forces. He served as a rifle platoon leader and company executive officer in the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team prior to completing Special Forces Assessment and Selection and subsequently the Special Forces Qualification Course. He then served as a Special Forces detachment commander and battalion assistant operations officer in 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne). He currently teaches SS307: Introduction to International Relations. Deep holds a Bachelor of Science in American Politics and Arabic from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a Master of Arts in Strategic Studies and International Economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

05/12/18

Qasem Soleimani, Marshal of Global Terror and Money Laundering

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Primer: Qasem Soleimani, the military maestro of the IRGC, commanded the base that attacked Israel earlier this week. Further, the Israelis asked permission to assassinate Soleimani during the Obama administration. They were denied and Obama officials leaked the plot to Iran. Now, that same request has apparently been asked of the Trump administration and the request was approved.

Soleimani has a long terror history, globally.

Tower: The United States Treasury Department, working with authorities in the United Arab Emirates, broke up a money laundering scheme that provided millions of dollars to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), Reuters reported Thursday.

Treasury designated six individuals and three business entities for their role in the scheme. The UAE, where companies facilitating the money laundering were located, but the same people and entities on its list of terrorists and terror organizations that do business with the IRGC-QF.

In a statement announcing the new sanctions, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said, “The Iranian regime and its Central Bank have abused access to entities in the UAE to acquire U.S. dollars to fund the IRGC-QF’s malign activities, including to fund and arm its regional proxy groups, by concealing the purpose for which the U.S. dollars were acquired. As I said following the President’s announcement on Tuesday, we are intent on cutting off IRGC revenue streams wherever their source and whatever their destination. Today we are targeting Iranian individuals and front companies engaged in a large-scale currency exchange network that has procured and transferred millions to the IRGC-QF.”

Mnuchin thanked the UAE for its “close collaboration” in disrupting the money laundering and called on all nations to “be vigilant” in fighting Iranian attempts at money-laundering to “fund the nefarious actors of the IRGC-QF and the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.”

United States and United Arab Emirates disrupt large scale currency exchange network transferring millions of dollars to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force:  Exchange Network CHART:

Reuters described the IRGC as Iran’s “most powerful security entity,” with control over a large share of Iran’s economy. IRGC-QF is described as “an elite unit in charge of the IRGC’s overseas operations.”

In 2015, Reuters reported that more than $1 billion in cash had been smuggled into Iran despite sanctions, utilizing “money changers and front companies in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates and Iraq.” Iran preferred using a network of front companies to handle the money laundering in order to conceal “the overall size of the dollar-purchasing operation.”

When he announced the United States’ withdrawal from the nuclear deal earlier this week, President Donald Trump gave companies either three month or six months to wind down their dealings with Iran.

05/12/18

US Air Force Jets Intercept 2 Russian Nuclear Bombers Off Alaska Coast

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

The US danced in the skies near Alaska on Friday with Russia. Russian nuclear forces dispatch two strategic bombers into the air defense zone near Alaska and the aircraft were intercepted by American F-22 jets, the US Northern Command said. Two Tu-95 Bear bombers breached the 200-mile Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the Bering Sea near the Alaska coast early Friday, said Navy Capt. Scott Miller, chief spokesman for Northern Command and the US-Canada North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) Command.

“At approximately 10 a.m. eastern time, two Alaskan-based NORAD F-22 fighters intercepted and visually identified two Russian TU-95 ‘Bear’ long-range bomber aircraft flying in the Air Defense Identification Zone off the western coast of Alaska, north of the Aleutian Islands,” Miller told the Washington Free Beacon. He also stated that the Russian nuclear bombers did not enter sovereign US or Canadian airspace. That’s funny, because multiple sources say they came within 55 miles of the Alaskan coast. One thing is certain, the Russian bear is poking us, prodding our defenses. Miller stated that there was no unusual activity related to the encounter and there were no communications between the F-22s and bombers. Except the encounter itself was unusual, unless of course this is Cold War part deux.

The bombers were flying in international airspace and “flying according to international norms,” Miller said. “NORAD continues to monitor all air activity emanating from within and outside North American airspace,” he said. I’m not exactly comforted by that. Sorry. No further details were provided concerning the Russian interlopers. This is obviously part of a pattern of Russian nuclear coercion aimed at the United States.

“Putin’s Russia is in the nuclear intimidation business and is willing to burn a lot of unnecessary bomber fuel, not to mention the cost of refueling and additional maintenance hours resulting from the long flights just to make that point,” said Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon strategic weapons expert. “Threatening people with nuclear weapons is Russia’s national sport.” So true.

Just over a year ago, two Bear bombers flew inside the ADIZ near Alaska and were accompanied by two Russian Su-35 Flanker fighter jets. Just a note… Alaska is the home of the Pentagon’s strategic missile defense interceptor base at Fort Greely, Alaska, about 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks. It’s a prime target for the Russians if we go to war. US missile defenses irritate Putin and he is butt-hurt that we are globally deploying them to counter Russian missiles. Of course, we counter stating that our missile defenses are not targeting Russian forces, but are designed to counter North Korean ICBMs and future Iranian long-range missiles. In fact, they are meant as a deterrent to a number of enemies, such as North Korea, China, Iran and yes, Russia. The Russkies are not and never will be our friends.

Fort Greely houses most of the 44 long-range Ground Based Interceptors capable of knocking out intercontinental ballistic missiles. Other GBI interceptors are deployed at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA. Bear bombers are equipped with KH-55 air-launched cruise missiles as well as two of Russia’s newer and more potent cruise missiles, the conventionally-armed KH-101 and the nuclear-tipped KH-101. They actually practiced simulated missile strikes against our sites in Alaska in June of 2012 as a part of a major strategic nuclear forces exercise.

Some of Russia’s recent flights have been protected by fighters and others have not. “Irrespective of this, my perception is that the bomber ‘combat patrols’ as Putin called them when he started them in 2007 are not realistic training for attack but rather nuclear intimidation flights,” Schneider, a former Pentagon official, said. Right… but I might point out they are one and the same in the end. “When you have nuclear-armed KH-55, KH-102, and nuclear capable KH-101 cruise missiles with ranges from thousands of kilometers to about 5,000-kilometers, it makes no sense to fly the bombers close enough to be intercepted,” he said. It does if you have a weak enemy and you need to test them on a regular basis to see what they respond with.

The reason Russian military forces conducted ADIZ intrusion flights is that if they stayed further away there would be no “intimidation effect” and probably no new coverage of the flights, Schneider said. Earlier this month, a Russian Su-27 fighter jet made an unsafe intercept of a Navy P-8 surveillance aircraft over the Baltic Sea. The Su-27 flew within 20 feet of the P-8.

Last week, it was revealed that the US is re-establishing its Second Fleet, responsible for the northern Atlantic Ocean, nearly seven years after it was disbanded as the Pentagon puts countering Russia at the heart of its military strategy. The reason for that is Russia in the Arctic and possible war.

“Our National Defense Strategy makes clear that we’re back in an era of great power competition as the security environment continues to grow more challenging and complex,” Chief of US Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said last Friday. “Second Fleet will exercise operational and administrative authorities over assigned ships, aircraft and landing forces on the East Coast and northern Atlantic Ocean,” Richardson said. The command, which will be based in Norfolk, Virginia, will initially have 15 personnel and will eventually grow to over 200 people, officials said.

Keep telling us there’s no threat here. And they’ll do that until the first attack comes. With war on the horizon, that may be sooner than later.

05/10/18

Israeli Defense Minister Lieberman: ‘We Hit Nearly All The Iranian Infrastructure In Syria’

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

The war between Israel and Iran seems to have begun and the U.S. is strongly standing by the Israelis, thanks to President Trump. Just a day after Trump announced we were pulling out of the catastrophic Iran deal, Iranian Al-Quds forces based in Syria reportedly launched rockets at Israeli forces in the Golan Heights. Israel responded with its most extensive military operation in years and what the IDF described as its largest strike against Iranian targets.

Israel’s unprecedented Thursday counter-strike on Iranian infrastructure in Syria, following the Islamic Republic’s own brazen rocket attack on Israeli military positions, brought the war-making capabilities of both Middle Eastern countries into stark relief as already simmering tensions begin to reach a boil. The pre-dawn barrage flattened Iranian military compounds, intelligence facilities and munition warehouses in Syrian territory.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said at a security conference that Israel had launched a counter-attack against Iran’s Al-Quds forces that took out “nearly all” of Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria. They hit just about every facility after Iran launched 20 rockets at Northern Israeli military installations. It was an epic smack down. “We hit nearly all the Iranian infrastructure in Syria,” Lieberman told the conference, AFP reports. “I hope we’ve finished this episode and everyone understood.” I doubt that, but what isn’t in doubt is that Israel will preemptively fight back with all they have.

Thanks to communists such as Obama, Clinton, Kerry and Power, Iran now has a straight path through Syria to try and encircle Israel. Yesterday was a preview of Israel’s tremendous military presence and response. The strike followed what Israel reports were 20 of either Fajr or Grad rockets fired by Al-Quds forces at Israeli forces in the Golan Heights around midnight. The IDF says that four of the rockets were intercepted by Israel’s anti-missile system; the other rockets failed to hit their intended targets and no Israelis were wounded. Good news all around.

Iran, during the Syrian conflict, has been trying to secure a steady land corridor from its border to the Mediterranean to help Hezbollah – a terror group it backs in Lebanon – and Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. Iran has also stationed increasing numbers of its Revolutionary Guard unit in Syria to bolster its aims. “The use of the corridor is probably intended above all for the movement of troops to Syria to further assist in stabilizing the Assad regime,” it said. “However, at a later stage, or in parallel, the corridor can strengthen Hezbollah’s capabilities against Israel – and perhaps those of other Shiite militias currently stationed in Syria – and thereby intensify Iranian deterrence and the threat to Israel.”

It added: “The delay in operating the corridor is likely due not only to the continued fighting in some of the areas, but also to the Iranians’ fear of attacks on convoys by the United States and/or Israel, as well as by Sunni elements, the Islamic State, and organizations opposed to Assad.”

“If confirmed, the incident would be the first time Iran had sought to directly attack Israeli-controlled territory aside from an alleged attempted drone attack in February,” AFP notes. It undoubtedly won’t be the last. I say bring it and Trump will find a way to help Israel regardless of Congress. This fight is long overdue and I hope they wipe the mullahs off the face of the earth. No apocalypse for you boys and your Mahdi can go know himself.

In response, the Israeli military says it struck around 70 military targets overnight, a raid the IDF described as its largest assault on Iranian targets and the force’s biggest operation in years. According to a monitor, 23 enemy fighters were killed as a result of the strikes, while the IDF reports that all of the Israeli aircraft returned safely. I call that sweet and righteous revenge.

The bombardment led to immediate calls for restraint from Russia, France, Germany and Britain, while the United States put the blame squarely on Iran and stressed Israel’s right to “self-defense.” Germany and Britain joined the United States in denouncing the rocket fire they also said came from Iran, while France reiterated its “unwavering support for Israel’s security.” In a rare, if not unprecedented move for an Arab country, Bahrain backed Israel’s right to “defend itself” after the strikes.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran had “crossed a red line” and that the resulting bombardment “was a consequence.” And Netanyahu does not bluff. He keeps his word. Iran has made no comment other than to claim they have no installations in Syria, which is a bald faced lie as usual. “We know that comes from the Al-Quds force,” army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said, referring to the special forces unit affiliated with Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard.

As I understand it, Netanyahu had traveled to Russia and warned Putin something like this was coming and to get his people out of the way. A warning to Netanyahu… do not put your faith in Putin and Russia. They are your enemy. They are actively aiding Syria and Iran and will turn on you like a rabid dog.

“We don’t want an escalation, but won’t let anyone attack us or build an infrastructure to attack us in the future,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday, calling it “a new phase” in their longtime rivalry. If the tensions between Jerusalem and Tehran lead to even greater armed conflict, however, Israel is ready to go toe-to-toe with Iran. “I say again — whoever hurts us we will hurt him 7 times more, and whoever is getting ready to hurt us — we will hurt them first,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday in a video statement. “That is what we did and we will continue to do.”

05/7/18

U.S. 2nd Fleet Is Back Due To Project 20870

By: Denise Simon | Political Vanguard

No one pays much attention to Russian activities in the Arctic except the Pentagon. There is a new battlefront happening there and so far the Russians are winning. With little media coverage, Congress has put $717 billion in play and it is assigned to China, Russia and Turkey operations.

As it relates to Russia and the Arctic, there is this big barge moving at about 4 knots and we just can’t trust it. Why?

Named the Lomonosov, it will be able to quickly replace the Soviet-era Bilibino Nuclear Power Plant and the Chaunskaya coal-fired power plant. Of the other six planned Project 20870 floating power stations, five are already set to help Russia’s state-run oil and gas company Gazprom expand its off-shore activities in and around the Arctic region. The last one could go to Dudinka on the Taymyr Peninsula or Vilyuchinsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula, both also in the country’s far north. If the concept proves sound, though, it seems likely that the Kremlin could look to expand the number of floating nuclear power plants, either of Project 20870 type or separate designs, to support additional efforts in the Arctic region, including supporting new or rehabbed military facilities. Starting in 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to refurbish various abandoned sites in the area, as well as build entirely new air, ground, and naval bases. This decision was part of a generally more assertive Russian force policy that had already become apparent with the illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region earlier that year.

In April 2017, Russian officials unveiled one of the first of its all-new Arctic sites, called the Arctkicheski Trilistnik, which translates variously as Arctic Trefoil or Arctic Shamrock, which sits on Alexandra Land, an island in the Franz Josef archipelago, and is north of the Arctic Circle. It is unclear whether this base’s own power plant, which helps it remain self-sufficient during the winter months when it is largely cut off from the mainland, is conventional or nuclear.

So, here comes the 2nd Fleet. Secretary of Defense Mattis and the Pentagon have been drafting operations and counter-measures on Russian activities. Left unresolved by the Obama administration after the annexing of Crimea and the Russian aggressions against Ukraine, very little attention has been focused on Russia operations in the Arctic, until now.

ABOARD THE USS GEORGE H. W. BUSH, NORFOLK, Va. — A sharp increase in Russian naval activity in the Arctic and north Atlantic in the years since its invasion of eastern Ukraine has prompted the U.S. Navy to resurrect a command it disestablished seven years ago.

At a ceremony marking Adm. Phil Davidson’s change of command with Adm. Chris Grady as the head of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson announced the Navy was set to reestablish the 2nd Fleet.

The command was merged into Fleet Forces Command in 2011, but the Navy has been talking about bringing it backsince it appeared as a recommendation in the Strategic Readiness Review into last year’s 7th Fleet collisions. Richardson told reporters onboard the carrier George H. W. Bush May 4. “So as we’ve seen this great power competition emerge, the Atlantic Ocean is as dynamic a theater as any and particular the North Atlantic, so as we consider high-end naval warfare, fighting in the Atlantic, that will be the 2nd Fleet’s responsibility.”

To put this nuclear barge into context and history, the Lomonsov was named after Akademik Lomonosov, a scientist and writer that died in 1765. He was born in 1711 in the village of Denisovka, which was renamed Lomonosov after him.

So, one must remember that Russia took over Crimea without a whimper from the rest of the world. Military hostilities continue due to Russian aggressions in the Ukraine. Could it be that the U.S. Navy under orders from the Pentagon are finally going to attempt to manage Russian aggressions in the Arctic? Is there a real strategy here? If there is, that strategy is hardly clear since Operation 20870 has been in process since 2016.

05/7/18

Putin Denies Military Operations Against Ukraine, Proof Emerges

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

The Ambassador predicted liberation of Mariupol in 2014, the plan was in place, was anyone listening? Liberation? That is how Moscow packaged it? And the Active Measures/propaganda continues.

Related reading: Ukraine Fortifies Its Airwaves Against Russian TV Broadcasts

Breaking: Russian Officers and Militants Identified as Perpetrators of the January 2015 Mariupol Artillery Strike

The investigation can be viewed here

На русском языке

The Bellingcat Investigation Team has determined conclusively that the artillery attack on targets in the Ukrainian town of Mariupol on 24 January 2015, which resulted at least 30 civilian deaths and over 100 injuries, came from Russia-controlled territory. Bellingcat has also determined that the shelling operation was instructed, directed and supervised by Russian military commanders in active service with the Russian Ministry of Defense. Bellingcat has identified nine Russian officers, including one general, two colonels, and three lieutenant colonels, involved directly with the military operation.

Furthermore, Bellingcat has determined that two artillery batteries of Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) were transported from Russia into Ukraine the day before the Mariupol operation. In the early morning of 24 January 2015, these batteries were deployed near the village of Bezimenne exclusively for the shelling of targets in and around Mariupol, after which they were repatriated back into Russia.

In the course of analyzing the events in the eve of and on 24 January 2015, Bellingcat has also identified two Russian generals involved with the selection and assignment of Russian artillery specialists to commanding roles in eastern Ukraine.

This investigation was made possible due to access to raw video and audio data that is being submitted by the Ukrainian government to the International Court of Justice as part of an ongoing legal case. This data was made available to a small group of international investigative media for the purposes of independent assessment. Bellingcat and its media partners analyzed a large volume of intercepted calls from and to participants in the armed conflict located in the area of Bezimenne at the time of shelling. Bellingcat conducted detailed cross-referencing of events, names and locations, as well as metadata from the calls, to open source data, including satellite photography data, social media posts, and voice samples from public statements of some of the identified persons. A detailed analysis permitted the identification of persons and military units, and the reconstruction of events leading up to the shelling of residential areas in Mariupol.

While previous reports, including the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine report from 24 January 2015, have identified that shelling of Mariupol’s residential areas came from separatist-controlled territory, Bellingcat’s investigation is the first to fully detail and identify the role of active Russian military units, as well as the direct commanding role of active Russian army officers in this military operation.

Our full report identifying the nine Russian officers involved with the military operation that led to the deaths of 30 Ukrainian civilians in Mariupol will be published later this week. Today, we are revealing the names of these individuals, along with a sampling of the telephone conversations that led to their identification.

The Russian officers who were in charge on high and lower levels of the MLRS batteries on the day of the shelling at Mariupol, or provided target instructions from another location in Eastern Ukraine, have been identified by Bellingcat as:

  • Major General Stepan Stepanovich Yaroshchuk
  • Alexander Iozhefovich Tsapliuk, call sign ‘Gorets’
  • Alexander Anatolevich Muratov
  • Maksim Vladimirovich Vlasov, call sign ‘Yugra’
  • Sergey Sergeyevich Yurchenko, call sign ‘Voronezh’
  • Alexander Valeryevich Grunchev, call sign ‘Terek’

The Russian officers who were in charge of selecting and sending artillery commanders and artillery equipment to Eastern Ukraine have been identified by Bellingcat as:

  • Colonel Oleg Leargievich Kuvshinov
  • Major General Dmitry Nikolaevich Klimenko
  • Colonel Sergey Ivanovich Lisai

The two Russian and Ukrainian militants in direct charge of the artillery units that shelled Mariupol have been identified by Bellingcat as:

  • Alexander Mikhailovich Evtody, call sign ‘Pepel’
  • Grayr Manukovich Egiazaryan, call sign ‘Shram’

Our full investigation, with biographical details on each of these men, our research process, and our analysis of the shelling attack itself, will be published later this week.

The investigation can be viewed here.