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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

U.S. Warships in Gulf ‘Sitting Ducks’ for Iran Missiles

U.S. naval ships in the Persian Gulf are within reach of Iranian missiles should it consider an offensive against the Islamic Republic, an Iranian expert said on Wednesday.

“The United States knows that its ships in the Persian Gulf are sitting ducks when it comes to Iranian missiles,” Dr. Mohammad Marandi, a professor at Tehran University, said in an interview with Press TV.

“If missiles are fired at American naval ships they will hit their targets very quickly.”

He warned that Western countries would face severe consequences in case of a military attack against Iran.

His comments come after the European Union brought in a new round of sanctions on Iran’s oil exports in a bid to force Tehran to give up its right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.

In response, Iran conducted a three-day missile drill, codenamed Great Prophet 7, which Marandi said was a message to Western nations that they should be concerned about escalating the situation further.

Meanwhile, a senior military commander warned that Iranian missiles could “obliterate U.S. military bases in regional countries within minutes of an attack on Iran.”

Brigadier General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, commander of Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)’s Aerospace Division, added that Iranian missiles could also easily reach Israel.


Iran says can destroy U.S. bases "minutes after attack"

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran has threatened to destroy U.S. military bases across the Middle East and target Israel within minutes of being attacked, Iranian media reported on Wednesday, asRevolutionary Guards extended test-firing of ballistic missiles into a third day.

Israel has hinted it may attack Iran if diplomacy fails to secure a halt to its disputed nuclear energy program. The United States also has mooted military action as a last-resort option but has frequently nudged the Israelis to give time for intensified economic sanctions to work against Iran.

"These bases are all in range of our missiles, and the occupied lands (Israel) are also good targets for us," Amir Ali Haji Zadeh, commander of the Revolutionary Guards aerospace division, was quoted by Fars news agency as saying.

Haji Zadeh said 35 U.S. bases were within reach of Iran's ballistic missiles, the most advanced of which commanders have said could hit targets 2,000 km (1,300 miles) away.

"We have thought of measures to set up bases and deploy missiles to destroy all these bases in the early minutes after an attack," he added.

It was not clear where Haji Zadeh got his figures on U.S. bases in the region. U.S. military facilities in the Middle East are located in Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Turkey, and it has around 10 bases further afield in Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan.


Defence analysts are often sceptical about what they describe as exaggerated military assertions by Iran and say the country's military capability would be no match for sophisticated U.S. defence systems.

Iranian media reported that this week's three-day "Great Prophet 7" tests involved dozens of missiles and domestically-built drones that successfully destroyed simulated air bases.

Iran has upped its fiery anti-West rhetoric in response to the launch on Sunday of a total European Union embargo on buying Iranian crude oil - the latest calibrated increase in sanctions aimed at pushing Tehran into curbing nuclear activity.

Revolutionary Guards commanders have also threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, through which more than a third of the world's seaborne oil trade passes out of the Gulf, in response to the increasingly harsh sanctions.

Major powers have said they would tolerate no obstruction of commercial traffic through the Strait, and the United States maintains a formidable naval presence in the Gulf region.

Iran accused the West of disrupting global energy supplies and creating regional instability and says its forces can dominate the vital waterway to provide security.

"The policy of the Islamic Republic is based on maintaining security in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz for all ships and oil tankers," Iranian English-language state Press TV quoted the chairman of parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, as saying.

The United States and its allies accuse Iran of using its nuclear program to covertly develop all the components required to produce nuclear weapons, accusations the Iranian officials have repeatedly denied.

Yahoo News

The Dead Sea Scrolls - Dr. Peter Flint

'Britain's Atlantis' found at bottom of North sea

Divers from St Andrews University, find remains of Doggerland, the underwater country dubbed 'Britain's Atlantis'

Fossilised bones from a mammoth also show how this landscape was once one of hills and valleys, rather than sea

'Britain's Atlantis' - a hidden underwater world swallowed by the North Sea - has been discovered by divers working with science teams from the University of St Andrews.

Doggerland, a huge area of dry land that stretched from Scotland to Denmark was slowly submerged by water between 18,000 BC and 5,500 BC.

Divers from oil companies have found remains of a 'drowned world' with a population of tens of thousands - which might once have been the 'real heartland' of Europe.

A team of climatologists, archaeologists and geophysicists has now mapped the area using new data from oil companies - and revealed the full extent of a 'lost land' once roamed by mammoths.

The research suggests that the populations of these drowned lands could have been tens of thousands, living in an area that stretched from Northern Scotland across to Denmark and down the English Channel as far as the Channel Islands.

The area was once the ‘real heartland’ of Europe and was hit by ‘a devastating tsunami', the researchers claim.

The wave was part of a larger process that submerged the low-lying area over the course of thousands of years.

'The name was coined for Dogger Bank, but it applies to any of several periods when the North Sea was land,' says Richard Bates of the University of St Andrews. 'Around 20,000 years ago, there was a 'maximum' - although part of this area would have been covered with ice. When the ice melted, more land was revealed - but the sea level also rose.

'Through a lot of new data from oil and gas companies, we’re able to give form to the landscape - and make sense of the mammoths found out there, and the reindeer. We’re able to understand the types of people who were there.

'People seem to think rising sea levels are a new thing - but it’s a cycle of Earht history that has happened many many times.'

Organised by Dr Richard Bates of the Department of Earth Sciences at St Andrews, the Drowned Landscapes exhibit reveals the human story behind Doggerland, a now submerged area of the North Sea that was once larger than many modern European countries.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2167731/Britains-Atlantis-North-sea--huge-undersea-kingdom-swamped-tsunami-5-500-years-ago.html#ixzz1zgKeRnB2

Gerald Celente and Greg Hunter

The Bank of England told us to do it, claims Barclays

A memo published by Barclays suggested that Paul Tucker gave a hint to Bob Diamond, the bank’s chief executive, in 2008 that the rate it was claiming to be paying to borrow money from other banks could be lowered.

His suggestion followed questions from “senior figures within Whitehall” about why Barclays was having to pay so much interest on its borrowings, the memo states.

Barclays and other banks have been accused of artificially manipulating the Libor rate, which is used to set the borrowing costs for millions of consumers, businesses and investors, by falsely stating how much they were paying to borrow money.

The bank claimed yesterday that one of its most senior executives cut the Libor rate only at the height of the credit crisis after intervention from the Bank of England.

The memo, written on Oct 29, 2008, by Mr Diamond and circulated to two other senior bank officials, said: “Mr Tucker reiterated that he had received calls from a number of senior figures within Whitehall to question why Barclays was always toward the top end of the Libor pricing.”

The note claimed that Mr Diamond had warned Mr Tucker that “others in the market [are] posting rates at levels that were not representative”.

It added: “Mr Tucker stated the level of calls he was receiving from Whitehall were 'senior’ and that while he was certain we did not need advice, that it did not always need to be the case that we appeared as high as we have recently.” Mr Diamond, who resigned yesterday, is now expected to use the memorandum to claim that the bank was not seeking to boost profits during the credit crisis by manipulating Libor. He will appear before MPs today to face questions on the banking scandal.

Mr Diamond sent the memo to other senior colleagues, including Jerry del Missier, the bank’s chief operating officer, who “passed down a direction” to others in the bank to cut the Libor rate.

The Bank of England has said it is “nonsense” to say that Mr Tucker was instructing Mr Diamond to artificially suppress the rate. Mr del Missier resigned yesterday from Barclays but regulators have not pursued “enforcement action” against him.

Government sources suggested that Baroness Vadera, one of Gordon Brown’s closest colleagues, was responsible for the contact with the Bank of England. Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, was also under pressure to disclose whether he played any role in the scandal.

Both claim not to remember any such interventions.

The disclosure of the document threatened to plunge one of the biggest high street banks into open war with the country’s central bank, which will soon assume responsibility for regulating Barclays. In one of the most dramatic days in British corporate history, Mr Diamond resigned yesterday, less than 24 hours after telling staff he was the right man to reform the bank.

David Cameron and George Osborne welcomed the resignation. The Chancellor is understood to have discussed Mr Diamond’s position with Sir Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, and Marcus Agius, the Barclays chairman, on Monday.

Mr Agius telephoned Mr Osborne at 11.30pm on Monday to warn him that Mr Diamond would be resigning. The Prime Minister was informed shortly before midnight. Last week, Barclays paid a record £290 million fine after it admitted manipulating the rate.

RBS and Lloyds Banking Group are among other banks also facing investigation over their role in the scandal.

Last night, Barclays released a detailed account of the “background” to their settlement with regulators over the Libor scandal.

The bank said it had spent nearly £100 million over the past three years investigating its role in the scandal to “ensure no stone has been left unturned”.

It reviewed 22 million documents, more than one million audio files and conducted more than 75 interviews.

It found that between 2005 and 2009 certain traders had sought to inappropriately manipulate the Libor rate.

This stopped in May 2009 and the senior management says the manipulation was done without their knowledge.

However, separately during the credit crisis of 2007 and 2008, Barclays and its top executives were involved in discussions with regulators over its high Libor rate. This did lead to its rate being artificially lowered during this period as the bank was facing unjustified “market speculation” that it was struggling to borrow money.

During this period, senior executives claim that they repeatedly raised concerns with the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority, the City regulator, over the low levels at which other banks were setting their Libor rates. One senior Barclays insider said last night: “Barclays had been telling the Bank of England, including Mr Tucker, that the banks were massaging numbers lower ever since 2007.

“Everyone was very clear to anybody they spoke to from the Bank of England, the Government, the FSA and the British Bankers Association that this was what was happening.”

The allegations are set to lead to senior Bank of England and FSA figures being called before MPs in the coming weeks to answer questions about their role in the scandal.

In a speech yesterday, Lord Turner, the chairman of the FSA, said: “The cynical greed of traders asking their colleagues to falsify their Libor submissions so that they could make bigger profits has justifiably shocked and angered people, in particular when we are facing hard economic times provoked by the financial crisis.

“But sadly it is clear that the behaviours evidenced in the Libor case were not, in the years before the crisis, confined to this specific area of financial activity.”

He added that other banks were likely to admit they had manipulated rates and be forced to pay fines, “before the end of the year”.

The Prime Minister has already announced plans for a Parliamentary inquiry to be held into the conduct of the banks.

However, Labour is now pressing the Mr Cameron to announce an independent inquiry, to be led by a judge modelled on the Leveson Inquiry into the media.

MPs are preparing to vote tomorrow on the form of such an inquiry into the banks that will be held in the coming months.

The Telegraph

Russia May Sell S-300s to Iran If Syrian Government Falls

Russia may scrap its ban on S-300 anti-aircraft missile sales to Iran if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is replaced, said Ruslan Pukhov, who heads a Russian defense think tank.

Then-President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree prohibiting the sale of Russian weapons, including S-300s, to Iran in 2010 after the United Nations imposed sanctions against the Islamic republic. Iran has sued Russia for breach of contract.

“The S-300 ban was a political decision and these systems are not actually subject to sanctions,” Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow, said in an interview today. “If the Syrian regime is changed by force or if Russia doesn’t like the outcome” of a peaceful transition to a new government, “it most likely will respond by selling S-300s to Iran.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, along with his counterparts from the U.S., the U.K., France and China, endorsed a United Nations plan for political transition in Syria on June 30. Lavrov said the road map doesn’t imply Assad’s ouster and Russia says it will continue to block efforts in the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Syria to force him out.

Assad’s government is fighting a growing insurrection in which as many as 17,000 people have died in the last 16 months, according to non-governmental organizations. At least 114 people were killed in Syria yesterday, the Local Coordination Committees in Syria said in an e-mail.
‘Timely Decision’

“The fall of the Syrian government would significantly increase the chances of a strike on Iran,” said Pukhov, who also sits on a Defense Ministry advisory board. “Resuming S-300 shipments to Iran may be a very timely decision.”

Western powers say the Persian Gulf nation is hiding a nuclear-weapons program, and the U.S. and Israel have declined to discount the possibility of military strikes against its atomic installations.

Due to the export ban on S-300 exports to Iran Russia lost about $1 billion dollars, according to Pukhov’s think tank. Russia built Iran’s $1 billion Bushehr atomic plant, the country’s first, and the country has said it would like to order new Russian-made nuclear power stations.

After shipments of S-300 were stopped in 2009, Iran also canceled talks on buying 40 TU-204 passenger aircraft, which would have added about $3.5 billion of revenue, CAST says.

President Vladimir Putin may resume shipments to Iran in retaliation for the U.S. selling weapons to Georgia and at the same time to promote Russia as an arms exporter, Pukhov said.
Improving Image

“Russia needs to bolster its image as an exporter as a decline in weapons exports is inevitable” because the country “is fulfilling its contract obligations in arms trade quicker than it gets new contracts,” he said.

Russia has signed export contracts worth $5.7 billion this year, up from $3.3 billion in the first half of 2011, Putin said. It shipped $6.5 billion of defense equipment overseas in the first half of 2012, up 14 percent from a year earlier.

Arms exports more than doubled to $13.7 billion in 2011 from $6 billion in 2005 and exceeded $44 billion over the last seven years, Putin said on July 2 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Defense accounts for 2.5 percent of Russian exports.

Fifty-five countries including India, China, Venezuela, Syria and the U.S. buy Russian weapons. Sales of new-generation air defense system S-400s to China may begin as early as 2015, Pukhov said.
Syria Contracts

In Syria, Putin has focused on negotiations over sanctions or military intervention after Russia lost billions of dollars of arms and civilian contracts as a result of the Arab Spring uprisings that toppled autocratic regimes in the region.

Since 2006 Syria signed with Russia arms contracts for about $5.5 billion, according to CAST estimates. In 2012, Syria is due to receive Russian weapons for about $500 million, CAST estimates.

Russia has contracts with Syria to deliver fighter jets, anti-aircraft systems and anti-tank systems, according to Pukhov’s think tank. Vyacheslav Davidenko, a spokesman for Rosoboronexport, Russia’s arms export monopoly, declined to comment.


Collapse of spent fuel storage pool at Fukushima Daiichi could be worse than initial accident

A collapse of the already tilting reactor No 4 building at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant, ¬atop which sits a spent nuclear fuel storage pool containing 1,535 fuel assemblies – including 204 unused ones – would lead to a “significant global impact,”– by far topping last year’s triple meltdown at the plant, a new report says.Charles Digges, 03/07-2012

According to the report (available for download in PDF at lower right in blue box) released by Holpchi CH, a Swiss-based industrial analytics think-tank, even a 10 percent release of the storage pool’s inventory of radioactive cesium and strontium would “represent 3 to 10 times the March 11, 2011 release amounts, substantially increasing risk levels in Japan and marine life.”

“This is an acute example that we will have to live with the threats emanating from Fukushima for years to come,” said Nils Bøhmer, Bellona’s nuclear physicist and general manager.

The spent fuel pool was singled out by Bellona early in the Fukushima crisis as a possible source of catastrophic radiation releases due to water loss, which took a back seat to the chaos of trying to restore cooling water to reactor Nos 1, 2 and 3 with fire trucks, water cannons and seawater dropped from helicopters.

A tsunami following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake devastated primary and back up cooling to Fukushima Daiichi, causing three reactor meltdowns within three days of the March 11, 2011 disaster. All of Fukushima Daiichi’s reactors are currently in cold shutdown.

But water loss or collapse of the structure housing the spent fuel storage pool continues to pose a cataclysmic threat.

If cooling water for the pool is lost, said the report, “a major release of radioactive material could result,” adding that, “Given the large amounts of heat generated by the fuel rods, the temperature would rise quickly. These rods are surrounded by zirconium cladding and at high temperatures, this cladding catalyzes hydrogen production, can generate additional heat and even explode and burn.”

The report states there are many ways such a catastrophe could occur, from loss of water in the pool through cracks or evaporation due to the heat of the spent fuel elements, leading to a radiological fire, fuel melts, to a complete collapse of the pool, which would shed spent fuel assemblies and irradiated water in total disarray. Each fuel assembly contains approximately 50 to 70 rods of uranium fuel.

Removal of the waste in the spent fuel storage pool is hindered by debris, high radioactivity and the fact that the equipment for removing the assemblies was destroyed in the disaster.

Media reports state that removal of the spent fuel is scheduled for removal 2013. But the Holophi CH report indicates that should continue safely only in the absence of no further damage to the pool or its contents.

But Bøhmer pointed out that the spent nuclear fuel problem was not constricted to the spent nuclear fuel pool.

“All of the reactors, including those that were devastated by the tsunami, haves spent fuel in them that must be put into safe storage and that will take decades,” he said.
TEPCOs troubled efforts to cool the pool

The waste assemblies themselves produce 1 megawatt of thermal waste energy, even immersed in water. This is down from 2 megawatts of waste energy last year.

But cooling apparatus for the spent fuel pool continues to glitch.

It was only Sunday that improvised cooling systems were brought back online after they failed for unknown reasons on Saturday, the Japan Times reported.

The fuel assemblies must be kept at 33.3 degrees Celsius, and the weekend outage brought them to 42 degrees. A similar outage occurred on June 4, according to the paper.

The original cooling system for the pool was destroyed by a hydrogen explosion that seriously damaged reactor No 4’s building and integrity, and plant owner Tokyo Electric Co (TEPCO) has been cooling it with hoses.
Fuel pools open to the environment atop tilting building

Unlike reactor cores, spent fuel ponds are not protected from the atmosphere, meaning there is no second line of defense in the t of a leak, collapse or evaporation of the water holding the fuel elements.

The pool is perched 30 meters above the ground, and the No 4 building is reported to be leaning.

TEPCO confirmed this in a June report to regulators, saying that at least two of the walls of the No. 4 reactor building are bulging outward at various points and that the building is tilting.

TEPCO has installed steel pillars to help support the pool.

“If the pool collapses or develops serious cracks allowing the cooling water to drain, the fuel rods will be exposed to the environment,” warned the Holphi report.

Many experts say that the building would not withstand another quake – and further quakes of at least a 7.0 magnitudes are predicted in the Holphci CH report.

“Because of the great damage inflicted by the tsunami and the earthquake, there is doubt about the integrity of the other structures at Fukushima Daiichi as well,” said Bellona’s Bøhmer. “The waste inside these structures and the damaged fuel within the could trigger even larger catastrophes as time passes.”
Scenarios for disaster

The Holophi CH report analyzed contamination scenarios that may result from further damage to the pool and laid out radiation emissions that compare radioactivity released in March 2011 to what could be released from the spent fuel storage pool.

If collapse or breakage leads to only 10 percent of the pools radioactive isotopes being releases, said the report, an even distribution on land of cesium would equal some 100,000 Becquerel per square meter, compared to the 12,000-14,000 Becquerel per square meter that were measured in the Fukushima prefecture in March 2011 and the 1,500-5,000 Becquerel per square meter found in neighboring prefecures.

Strontium contamination on land is likewise projects to be far high: some 30,000 Becquerel per square meter evenly distributed on land compared the measured 3,600 to 12,000 measured in Fukushima prefecture in March 2011, and 450 to 1,500 in neighboring prefectures.

Sea contamination at only 10 percent contamination would also increase. According to the modeling structures used by Holophi, some 640,000 Becquerel per square meters would be deposited on the surface, with a volume concentration to 100 meters of 6,400 Becquerel per cubic meter.

This compared to March 2011 cesium measurements near shore of 210 to 8,000 Becquerel per cubic meter, and 6 to 1,400 Becquerel per cubic meter off shore.
Worst case scenario

According to the report, radiological fires would lead to some 30 to 100 percent of the cesium and strontium being released from the pool.

“If a radiological fire occurs and further cooling is impossible, more than 10 percent of the radioactive material of the [spent fuel pond] cold be released,” read the report. “Release of 100 percent of the cesium, strontium and other isotopes would scale the base case results by a factor of 10 and would clearly present a dire situation for areas of Japan, marine life in the Pacific and the global environment.”

The report acknowledges that it is not fully comprehensive, saying that many modeling structures about what could happen should the spent fuel pool fail “have been developed by government, but appear to be classified.”

Therefore, it says that, “the sequence of events that might follow a failure of [the spent fuel pond] is difficult to determine.”

It encouraged governments and other organizations with advanced modeling capabilities to draw their own conclusions and publicize them.

It also recommended an acceleration of the fuel removal process if there is still a significant possibility of a radiological fire.

Industries in Japan that may be affected by a failure of the pool and following radiation should draw up contingency plans for further events like earthquakes and other eventualities that might impact the pool.

The Holophi CH report also said that, “Members of the public, particularly in Japan, and the US, should pressure authorities to perform accurate and honest assessments of risks, to prepare plans to handle further earthquake or other damage to the [spent fuel pool] and the rest of the plant, and to accelerate mitigation activities.”

US military strength beefed up at Hormuz

The Obama administration released details Tuesday, July 3, of a fresh buildup of its military forces in the Persian Gulf, stressing their task is to fend off any Iranian attempt to endanger international shipping by blocking or planting mines in the Strait of Hormuz.

Shortly after the announcement, senior US administration officials said the fourth round of nuclear negotiations between Iran and six world powers taking place in Istanbul Tuesday were most probably the last: Tehran has refused to give way on the key issues of the 20-percent grade enrichment of uranium and the closure of its underground nuclear facility at Fordo.

The new war drums sent oil past $100 for the first time in three weeks.

As for the Gulf buildup, US sources said counter-measures were in place in case the extra forces were targeted for Iranian aggression.
Tehran earlier threatened military reprisals for the oil embargo imposed by the European Union Sunday, July 1. The next day, the Prophet 7 missile exercise was launched by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards simulating attacks on “enemy air bases.”

The wording of the exercise’s mission was taken as strongly intimating that Tehran had US air bases in the Persian Gulf and Middle East, including facilities used the US Air Force in Israel and Turkey, well within the sights of its missiles. It was stressed that short-, medium- and long-range missiles were being put through their paces.

Tuesday, commanders of the Iranian exercise reported that dozens of missiles had been trained for several hours on mock “enemy bases” in several countries, stating that missiles capable of hitting Israel had been successfully tested.
The US has doubled the number of fast warships in Gulf waters that are capable of instantaneously responding to Iranian moves for closing the strategic Straits of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s oil passes daily. More minesweepers are also on hand, as well as commando units for preventive action against the planting of mines in the sea lanes frequented by oil tankers on their way to and from Gulf export terminals.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that US, Saudi and other Gulf armies have been on high military alert since Thursday, June 28, on two counts: the escalating Syrian crisis and the potential threat to the strategic strait in response to the EU embargo. Iranian leaders have often threatened to treat this penalty as an act of war. As part of their new stance, Saudi forces moved up to the Jordanian and Iraqi borders.

According to our sources, the information released in Washington on the US Gulf buildup represents only a fraction of the concentration of strength gradually building up around Iran for five months since March. It was then that two squadrons of the F-22 Raptor stealth planes were moved to the United Arab Emirates air base at Al Dhafra and troops were flown in to two strategic islands, Masirah on the Gulf of Oman and Socotra at the meeting-point between the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. Their numbers now are estimated at 40,000.


Peter Schiff argues against three typical liberals

Jim Rogers, War and the Financial Mafia

French gay couples get right to marry and adopt children

Gay couples in France will be allowed to get married and to adopt children as of 2013, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has announced in parliament.

The announcement was part of a keynote speech outlining the new Socialist government's five-year plan.

It confirms an election pledge made by President Francois Hollande.

A number of European nations including Germany, Sweden and Britain already allow gay adoption.

At present only married couples - not civil union partners - can adopt in France.

"In the first half of 2013, the right to marriage and adoption will be open to all couples, without discrimination," Mr Ayrault told parliament.

"Our society is evolving, lifestyles and mentalities are changing. The government will respond to that."

He announced the news during a keynote speech outlining the government's budget and political agenda.