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Kuwait says emir recovered from 'setback'

Kuwaiti state media on Sunday reported Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah had “recovered”, shortly after Iran’s foreign minister indicated that the 90-year-old was unwell. The emir “has recovered from a setback and is in good health now”, Kuwait’s of…

O’Rourke: El Paso shooting makes clear the ‘real consequence’ of Trump racism

Democratic presidential candidate says suspect who killed 22 people earlier this month was inspired by Trump’s rhetoricDemocratic presidential candidate Beto ORourke speaks to media and supporters during a campaign re-launch on 15 August in El Paso, Te…

Iranian tanker due to be set free from Gibraltar on Sunday night

Iranian tanker due to be set free from Gibraltar on Sunday nightGibraltar on Sunday rejected the United States’ latest request not to release a seized Iranian supertanker, clearing the way for the vessel to set sail after being detained last month for allegedly attempting to breach European Union sanctions on Syria. The ship was expected to leave Sunday night, according to Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran’s ambassador to Britain, who issued a statement on Twitter.  The tanker’s release comes amid growing tension between Iran and the West after President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers over a year ago. Shortly after the tanker’s detention in early July near Gibraltar – a British overseas territory – Iran seized the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which remains held by the Islamic Republic. Analysts had said the Iranian ship’s release by Gibraltar could see the Stena Impero go free. Gibraltar’s government said Sunday it was allowing the Iranian tanker’s release because “The EU sanctions regime against Iran – which is applicable in Gibraltar – is much narrower than that applicable in the US.” In a last-ditch effort to stop the release, the U.S. unsealed a warrant Friday to seize the vessel and its cargo of 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil, citing violations of U.S. sanctions as well as money laundering and terrorism statutes. U.S. officials told reporters that the oil aboard the ship was worth some $130 million and that it was destined for a designated terror organization to conduct more terrorism. The unsealed court documents argued that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are the ship’s true owners through a network of front companies. Authorities in Gibraltar said Sunday that, unlike in the U.S., the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is not designated a terrorist organization under EU, U.K. or Gibraltar law. The Iranian ship was detained while sailing under a Panamanian flag with the name Grace 1. As of Sunday, it had been renamed the Adrian Darya 1 and had hoisted an Iranian flag. Workers were seen painting the new name on the side of the ship Saturday. Iran has not disclosed the Adrian Darya 1’s intended destination and has denied it was ever sailing for Syria. The chief minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, said he had been assured in writing by the Iranian government that the tanker wouldn’t unload its cargo in Syria. Baeidinejad, Iran’s ambassador to Britain, said in a series of tweets that “round-the-clock efforts to carry out port formalities and deploy the full crew onto the ship” had taken place since Gibraltar lifted the vessel’s detention Thursday. The Astralship shipping agency in Gibraltar, which has been hired to handle paperwork and arrange logistics for the Adrian Darya 1, had told The Associated Press that a new crew of Indian and Ukrainian nationals were replacing the sailors on board.

Satellite images suggest Iran satellite launch looms

Iran appears to be preparing another satellite launch after twice failing this year to put one in orbit, despite U.S. accusations that the Islamic Republic’s program helps it develop ballistic missiles. Satellite images of the Imam Khomeini Space Cent…

Jordan summons Israeli envoy over holy site clashes

Jordan has summoned Israel’s ambassador to protest “Israeli violations” at a Jerusalem holy site sacred to Muslims and Jews. Jordan’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday that Amman delivered a “decisive letter” to the ambassador, including a call “to immedia…

Leaked Brexit Document Depicts Government Fears Of Gridlock, Food Shortages, Unrest

A government source told the Sunday Times, which obtained the document, that “this is the most realistic assessment of what the public face with no deal.”

Israeli troops kill 3 Palestinians near Gaza fence

Israeli troops killed three Palestinians and severely wounded a fourth near Gaza Strip’s heavily guarded perimeter fence, the Gaza Health Ministry said Sunday. The Israeli military said a helicopter and a tank fired at armed suspects near the fence ov…

Feminist icon Steinem blasts Israel PM over travel ban

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem has called Israel’s prime minister a “bully” and says she won’t visit as long as he remains the country’s leader. At the urging of President Donald Trump, Israel denied entry to Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar last week…

Airport bombed by Libya's Haftar not military: UN

The United Nations mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has dismissed claims by strongman Khalifa Haftar that a government-controlled airport bombed by his forces in recent days housed military infrastructure. On Thursday and Friday Haftar’s self-styled Libyan N…

Pakistan Has Lots of Nuclear Weapons: Should the World Worry?

Pakistan Has Lots of Nuclear Weapons: Should the World Worry?Pakistan currently has a nuclear “triad” of nuclear delivery systems based on land, in the air and at sea. Islamabad is believed to have modified American-built F-16A fighters and possibly French-made Mirage fighters to deliver nuclear bombs by 1995. Since the fighters would have to penetrate India’s air defense network to deliver their payloads against cities and other targets, Pakistani aircraft would likely be deliver tactical nuclear weapons against battlefield targets.Sandwiched between Iran, China, India and Afghanistan, Pakistan lives in a complicated neighborhood with a variety of security issues. One of the nine known states known to have nuclear weapons, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and doctrine are continually evolving to match perceived threats. A nuclear power for decades, Pakistan is now attempting to construct a nuclear triad of its own, making its nuclear arsenal resilient and capable of devastating retaliatory strikes.(This first appeared several years ago.)Pakistan’s nuclear program goes back to the 1950s, during the early days of its rivalry with India. President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto famously said in 1965, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”Recommended: Air War: Stealth F-22 Raptor vs. F-14 Tomcat (That Iran Still Flies)Recommended: A New Report Reveals Why There Won’t Be Any ‘New’ F-22 RaptorsRecommended: How an ‘Old’ F-15 Might Kill Russia’s New Stealth FighterThe program became a higher priority after the country’s 1971 defeat at the hands of India, which caused East Pakistan to break away and become Bangladesh. Experts believe the humiliating loss of territory, much more than reports that India was pursuing nuclear weapons, accelerated the Pakistani nuclear program. India tested its first bomb, codenamed “Smiling Buddha,” in May 1974, putting the subcontinent on the road to nuclearization.Pakistan began the process of accumulating the necessary fuel for nuclear weapons, enriched uranium and plutonium. The country was particularly helped by one A. Q. Khan, a metallurgist working in the West who returned to his home country in 1975 with centrifuge designs and business contacts necessary to begin the enrichment process. Pakistan’s program was assisted by European countries and a clandestine equipment-acquisition program designed to do an end run on nonproliferation efforts. Outside countries eventually dropped out as the true purpose of the program became clear, but the clandestine effort continued.Exactly when Pakistan had completed its first nuclear device is murky. Former president Benazir Bhutto, Zulfikar Bhutto’s daughter, claimed that her father told her the first device was ready by 1977. A member of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission said design of the bomb was completed in 1978 and the bomb was “cold tested”—stopping short of an actual explosion—in 1983.Benazir Bhutto later claimed that Pakistan’s bombs were stored disassembled until 1998, when India tested six bombs in a span of three days. Nearly three weeks later, Pakistan conducted a similar rapid-fire testing schedule, setting off five bombs in a single day and a sixth bomb three days later. The first device, estimated at twenty-five to thirty kilotons, may have been a boosted uranium device. The second was estimated at twelve kilotons, and the next three as sub-kiloton devices.The sixth and final device appears to have also been a twelve-kiloton bomb that was detonated at a different testing range; a U.S. Air Force “Constant Phoenix” nuclear-detection aircraft reportedly detected plutonium afterward. Since Pakistan had been working on a uranium bomb and North Korea—which shared or purchased research with Pakistan through the A. Q. Khan network—had been working on a uranium bomb, some outside observers concluded the sixth test was actually a North Korean test, detonated elsewhere to conceal North Korea’s involvement although. There is no consensus on this conclusion.Experts believe Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile is steadily growing. In 1998, the stockpile was estimated at five to twenty-five devices, depending on how much enriched uranium each bomb required. Today Pakistan is estimated to have an arsenal of 110 to 130 nuclear bombs. In 2015 the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center estimated Pakistan’s bomb-making capability at twenty devices annually, which on top of the existing stockpile meant Pakistan could quickly become the third-largest nuclear power in the world. Other observers, however, believe Pakistan can only develop another forty to fifty warheads in the near future.Pakistani nuclear weapons are under control of the military’s Strategic Plans Division, and are primarily stored in Punjab Province, far from the northwest frontier and the Taliban. Ten thousand Pakistani troops and intelligence personnel from the SPD guard the weapons. Pakistan claims that the weapons are only armed by the appropriate code at the last moment, preventing a “rogue nuke” scenario.Pakistani nuclear doctrine appears to be to deter what it considers an economically, politically and militarily stronger India. The nuclear standoff is exacerbated by the traditional animosity between the two countries, the several wars the two countries have fought, and events such as the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, which were directed by Pakistan. Unlike neighboring India and China, Pakistan does not have a “no first use” doctrine, and reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, particularly low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, to offset India’s advantage in conventional forces.Pakistan currently has a nuclear “triad” of nuclear delivery systems based on land, in the air and at sea. Islamabad is believed to have modified American-built F-16A fighters and possibly French-made Mirage fighters to deliver nuclear bombs by 1995. Since the fighters would have to penetrate India’s air defense network to deliver their payloads against cities and other targets, Pakistani aircraft would likely be deliver tactical nuclear weapons against battlefield targets.Land-based delivery systems are in the form of missiles, with many designs based on or influenced by Chinese and North Korean designs. The Hatf series of mobile missiles includes the solid-fueled Hatf-III (180 miles), solid-fueled Hatf-IV (466 miles) and liquid-fueled Hatf V, (766 miles). The CSIS Missile Threat Initiative believes that as of 2014, Hatf VI (1242 miles) is likely in service. Pakistan is also developing a Shaheen III intermediate-range missile capable of striking targets out to 1708 miles, in order to strike the Nicobar and Andaman Islands.The sea component of Pakistan’s nuclear force consists of the Babur class of cruise missiles. The latest version, Babur-2, looks like most modern cruise missiles, with a bullet-like shape, a cluster of four tiny tail wings and two stubby main wings, all powered by a turbofan or turbojet engine. The cruise missile has a range of 434 miles. Instead of GPS guidance, which could be disabled regionally by the U.S. government, Babur-2 uses older Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) and Digital Scene Matching and Area Co-relation (DSMAC) navigation technology. Babur-2 is deployed on both land and at sea on ships, where they would be more difficult to neutralize. A submarine-launched version, Babur-3, was tested in January and would be the most survivable of all Pakistani nuclear delivery systems.Pakistan is clearly developing a robust nuclear capability that can not only deter but fight a nuclear war. It is also dealing with internal security issues that could threaten the integrity of its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan and India are clearly in the midst of a nuclear arms race that could, in relative terms, lead to absurdly high nuclear stockpiles reminiscent of the Cold War. It is clear that an arms-control agreement for the subcontinent is desperately needed.Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009, he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.

Gibraltar rejects US pressure to hold Iranian oil tanker

Authorities in Gibraltar on Sunday rejected the United States’ latest request not to release a seized Iranian supertanker, clearing the way for the vessel to set sail after being detained last month for allegedly attempting to breach European Union san…

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