US nuclear buildup shows new arms race has already begun – German FM

World safety requires more disarmament initiatives, not more nukes, says German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, accusing the new US Nuclear Posture Review of endangering Europe.

“The decision by the US government in favor of new tactical nuclear weapons shows that the spiral of a new nuclear arms race is already under way,” Gabriel said in a statement, noting that “like the Cold War times, we in Europe are in particular danger.”

The newly-released US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) refers to Russia’s nuclear modernization as one of the reasons to renovate and upgrade the US nuclear arsenals making them more mobile by developing new, low-yield nuclear weapons.

Gabriel also put part of the blame for the deterioration of international security on Moscow, mentioning its 2014 reunification with Crimea and a “dramatic loss of confidence” in Russia as a result. The instability in the countries along Europe’s southern borders is another challenge to the global order, which “is increasingly being called into question,” Gabriel said.

© Greg Baker

But building more nukes is not the answer, he added. Instead, they send the “wrong signal” and trigger a new upward spiral in the arms race.

“Instead of new weapon systems, we need new disarmament initiatives,” Gabriel said, noting that all existing arms control agreements should be “upheld unconditionally” in a concerted effort to create a world free of nuclear weapons.

While not having nuclear weapons of its own, Germany stores about 20 American B61-4 nuclear bombs which it keeps at the Luftwaffe’s Büchel Air Base in Rhineland-Palatinate, western Germany. The base hosts German Tornado aircraft that can carry the US bombs under a nuclear sharing deal. Starting from 2021, the aging bombs will be gradually replaced by a new variant of the B61, the B-12, which is expected to go into full-scale production in 2020. The new bombs are considered to be more accurate and are set to be stored at the same base which has been housing US nuclear weapons since 2007, despite vocal protests from the German opposition.

The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee © Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James Kimber/U.S. Navy/

Germany’s criticism comes after the US nuclear doctrine was denounced by Russia, China and Iran, all named in the document as potential nuclear threats to the US.

On Sunday the Chinese Foreign Ministry branded the report that accuses it of a major nuclear-build up “presumptuous speculation” calling on Washington to drop its “Cold-War mentality.” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote in a tweet that it violates international non-proliferation treaties and brings the world “closer to annihilation.” 

Decrying the US nuclear ambitions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that “Americans are shamelessly threatening Russia with a new nuclear weapon.”

Commenting on the document, Moscow said that the accusations against Russia in the review “have nothing to do with reality,” dismissing Washington’s “aggressive Russia” notion as a straw man, and a pretext for pumping more money into its military industry.

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North Korea fires ballistic missile, Pentagon claims it’s an ICBM

North Korea has fired a ballistic missile, which splashed down in the Sea of Japan, according to the South Korean, Japanese and US militaries. The Pentagon says an initial assessment indicates it was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff was the first to report on the launch. "North Korea launched an unidentified ballistic missile eastward from the vicinity of Pyongsong, South Pyongan Province, at dawn today," it said, as cited by Yonhap news agency. Seoul and Washington were analysing the missile’s trajectory, it added.

The Pentagon later said it detected and tracked a North Korean missile launch.

© Damir Sagolj

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning described the projectile as an intercontinental ballistic missile, adding that it traveled some 1,000 km before splashing down into the Sea of Japan.

The White House said that the US President Donald Trump had been already briefed on the new Pyongyang’s launch when the missile was still in the air. 

the Japanese prime minister's office also said that the North Korean missile apparently landed in waters off Japan within the country’s exclusive economic zone. 

Japanese PM ordered an emergency meeting of cabinet ministers, according to Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. Tokyo has also expressed a “strong protest” over the launch.

Following the North Korean launch, South Korean military staged a “presision strike” missile exercise, Yonhap news agency reported, citing South Korea's military.

The launch, if confirmed, would be the first test conducted by Pyongyang since September, when the North fired a ballistic missile over Japan.

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‘George Soros seeks a one world government to serve oligarchs, not the people’ – US State Senator

For people like Soros and the globalists; they view the nation-state as a problem, because the nation expresses the will of the people of that nation, and it serves their personal interest, Richard Black, Republican Virginia state Senator, told RT.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the Fidesz Party Vice Chairman Gergely Gulyás are locked in a desperate battle with the billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros, as well as his ideologically driven campaign to allow thousands of migrants to flood into Europe.

Leaders like Orban say the strategy will lead to the total collapse of a “Christian Europe,” and argue that Soros is trying to subvert Hungary and the rest of the EU.

@RT_com Hungary's ruling party deputy chairman accuses of attacking country via NGOs & EU bureaucrats

RT:  What reputation does George Soros and the Open Society Foundations have in the world? What role do they play?

Richard Black: George Soros is an immensely wealthy billionaire. He has an interest in converting the world. He has a very, very sinister reputation throughout the world, and he is viewed widely as being anti-moral and anti-nationalistic. His belief appears to be that we should have a globalist government that dictates to the people and that nations are a sort of an impediment, because when you have national governments – they express the will of the people. When you have a globalist government it simply exhibits the views of the oligarchs and has very little regard for the people. That is the side he is on – he is with the oligarchs, he is not with the ordinary people.

RT:  The Hungarian government and the ruling party have been accusing George Soros of interfering in the domestic affairs of Hungary and other nations. Do you think their claims are valid? Do they have a reason to be wary of Soros’ activities?

RB: Soros has interfered very dramatically in the affairs of Hungary and a number of eastern European countries. But right now his focus is on Hungary. I would certainly applaud the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Orban is a man who gets things done. When he had illegal immigrants pouring across the border into Hungary, he sent the army out, he put up a wall, and within a month he had stopped immigration from crossing Hungary.

I think for people like Soros and the rest of the globalists, they view the nation-state as a problem because the nation expresses the will of the people of that nation and it serves their personal interest. Whereas if you have a one world government than it can simply disregard the interest of the people, and it can basically cater to the very wealthy oligarchs.

@RT_com Soros accuses Hungary of ‘anti-Muslim sentiment’ & ‘anti-Semitic tropes’ in campaign against him

I would mention that the background of Soros is a very, very poor one. He is known as the man, who was a currency manipulator, who broke the Bank of England – one of the most powerful banks in the world. He disrupted the Malaysian financial stability back in 1997, and he crushed the Bank of Thailand and forced 600,000 temporary workers to give up their homes and leave. So he thinks nothing of ordinary people. He is willing to crush them out; he is willing to destroy their lives and their livelihoods.

Prime Minister Orban and also the Fidesz Vice Chairman [Gergely] Gulyás have united and have fought very hard against Soros. Soros is trying to subvert the country of Hungary. He does it through these non-governmental organizations. The NGOs – there are some good ones, but there are very many of them that act as a Fifth Column to undermine the stability and integrity of the countries. Often they work in conjunction with covert intelligence agencies – whether it is the CIA, MI6, French intelligence and so on. They act as sort of an internal intelligence agency that is always there when the time comes to overthrow the government. The prime minister of Hungary recognizes this danger. He is not going to stand for it.

One of the big points of contention is that Soros is running a university in Budapest to promote the liberal ideas he believes in. These are ideas that break down the culture, they break down the moral values, and they break down the national integrity of the nation…

@RT_com What does want and who are his 226 EU ‘friends’?

RT:  Soros had been calling for the EU to apply pressure against conservative governments of Hungary and Poland, while Soros-funded NGOs are heavily criticizing EU countries for not accepting more migrants and asylum seekers. What, in your opinion, does Soros wish to achieve do doing this?

RB: The real rebellion against the European Union seems to be emanating from the eastern European countries. Soros is also having great conflict with Poland. Poland is becoming increasingly nationalistic. They are adamantly opposed to immigration. The immigrants flow through Eastern Europe into Germany.

Chancellor Angela Merkel invited a million immigrants to be brought to Germany, and of course, they immediately began raping and terrorizing the nation. And it looks as though Angela Merkel may very well lose her leadership in Germany. The country has been thrown into a crisis strictly because of the sexual assault of the German people by the immigrants that were brought in, by people like Soros, by people like the European Union. I think where you see the strongest resistance is in Eastern Europe. Not so much in Germany, not so much in France, which is almost a lost country by now. But there is still the ability of the people of Eastern Europe to rise up and fight this…

RT:  How do you think things will develop in Hungary? How will the people react there?

RB: There will be an immense amount of money that will be spent against Prime Minister Orban and against his party. But I have watched the Hungarian people throughout their history, and there are no tougher or more independent people than the Hungarians. I have great confidence in the nation of Hungary. I know they will be influenced by the EU that will pressure them and try to compel them through dictatorial means to accept whatever the EU wants, including the reinstitution of the whole corrupt Soros organization there that seeks to undermine the values of the Hungarian people.

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Trump, European Union leaders remain at odds over Russia

BRUSSELS – As President Trump met with European leaders on Thursday, he couldn't escape the Russia controversy dogging him at home and now abroad.

The White House is grappling with multiple investigations into Russia's interference in last year's presidential election, including an FBI probe into possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Moscow. Still, Trump has openly sought warmer relations with Russia – and just this month welcomed top diplomats to a controversial Oval Office meeting in which he reportedly disclosed highly classified information in an apparent attempt to get Moscow to step up its fight against the Islamic State.

Yet in Brussels, home of the NATO and European Union headquarters, EU leaders publicly broke with Trump's more positive diplomatic approach to President Vladimir Putin's government.

"I am not 100% sure that we can say today ... that we have a common position, common opinion, about Russia," said European Council President Donald Tusk after meeting with Trump. Tusk added that both parties remain critical of Russia's military incursions into neighboring Ukraine.

Tusk also said "some issues remain open" with Trump, including climate change and trade policy.

Trump's meeting with Tusk, who presides over the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, preceded talks with leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The Brussels stop came in the middle of Trump's first foreign trip as president, one that began with visits to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Rome. Trump is spending nine days away from Washington, which is still reeling from a spate of recent revelations related to Trump's links to Russia.

Trump's first foreign trip as president came a week after the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to look into possible ties between Trump campaign associates and Russians who sought to influence the 2016 presidential campaign. The U.S. intelligence community has accused Moscow of orchestrating a high-level campaign of cyberattacks, propaganda and fake news to try and influence the 2016 election, though the president and his aides have denied any collusion.

Still, EU members have long questioned Trump's warm comments toward Putin, who has backed many anti-EU candidates in elections throughout the continent. And countries such as France, Germany, and the United Kingdom have expressed concerns about similar Russian hacking and disinformation campaigns to undermine elections in their countries.

Trump's lean towards Russia was on full display one day after firing his FBI director, when Trump took an Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kisylak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S. on May 10. The Washington Post subsequently revealed Trump divulged highly classified intelligence in that meeting about a terror plot, in a way the Russians could have deduced secret sources and methods.

This is notable not just because it potentially compromised a source of intelligence on the Islamic State – believed to be Israel – but because Russia has also backed Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, whom the U.S. and European countries accuse of widespread killing civilians and opponents in the name of fighting terrorism.

Trump also unnerved European Union leaders by supporting last year's "Brexit" vote in which the United Kingdom opted to exit the EU. Trump, who met with new president of France, Emmanuel Macron also had kind words for defeated French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, another EU opponent.

While Trump said better American relations with Russia would benefit all nations, he has also opposed Putin on occasion. The Trump administration supported Montenegro's admission to NATO, an addition Russia opposed. The president has made no move to lift sanctions on Russia over its activities in Ukraine.

Trump ends his journey this weekend at a Group of Seven industrial nations summit on the Italian island of Sicily. Trump is expected to air his concerns about what he calls unfair trade policies by other nations and the Paris climate change pact that obligates the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – two other issues on which the president and European Union leaders disagree.

The Trump-EU meeting did have its lighter moments, including the fact that complex European Union rules require the naming of two presidents: Tusk, who presides over the European Council, and Juncker, president of the European Commission.

“Do you know, Mr President, we have two presidents in the EU,” Tusk told Trump, who responded: “I know that."

Juncker chimed in by joking, "there is one too much."

Later, when asked his impressions of Trump, Juncker simply said, "I hope he hasn't sent a tweet about me yet."

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Trump Drops a Motherload: US Uses Most Powerful Non-Nuclear Bomb in Afghanistan

"It will feel like a nuclear weapon to anyone near the area," said Lt. Col. Rick Francona.

The U.S. military dropped its biggest non-nuclear bomb in the Achin district of the Nangarhar province in Afghanistan Thursday — in an area where the munition’s impact is likely to be felt by at least 95,000 people.

RELATED: US-led Coalition Airstrikes Mistakenly Kills 18 Militia Allies in Syria, Says Pentagon

CNN first reported the strike after speaking to four U.S. military officials who had direct knowledge of the mission.

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb or as it’s nicknamed, the "mother of all bombs" – MOAB, is a 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition that is the world’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb.

@DavidWright_CNN Breaking: US military has dropped most powerful non-nuclear US bomb, MOAB, targeting ISIS in Nangarhar, Afghanistan -- first ever combat use

@DavidWright_CNN MOAB - also known as ‘Mother of all bombs" - a 21,600 lbs munition; dropped Thursday & US military currently assessing damage

It was dropped by an MC-130 aircraft that was stationed in Afghanistan and operated by Air Force Special Operations Command, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump told CNN.

The target was allegedly an ISIS cave and tunnel complex.

"The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously and in order to defeat the group we must deny them operational space, which we did," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told press shortly after the munition was dropped. The strike "targeted a system of tunnels and cave that ISIS fighters use to move around freely."

The MOAB, which was developed during the Iraq War, has never before been used in the battlefield.

While the U.S. Forces Afghanistan claim that they took “every precaution to avoid civilian casualties”, and while it remains to be seen what the impact of the strike will be, retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona told CNN, "It will feel like a nuclear weapon to anyone near the area", implying that it will likely be grave.

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Assad’s fate ‘to be decided by Syrian people,’ says Tillerson

At a news conference in the Turkish capital, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appeared to suggest the end of Bashar Assad’s presidency was no longer a prerequisite for a way out of the Syrian crisis, in a U-turn from Washington’s long-held policy.

“I think the ... longer term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people,” said Tillerson at a joint conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevut Cavusoglu on Thursday, AFP reported.

Rex Tillerson and U.S. President Donald Trump © Carlos Barria

Under President Barack Obama, the United States made Assad’s departure one of its key objectives. The Syrian armed opposition also insisted upon the longtime leader’s resignation as one of the conditions during the Astana peace talks.

Tillerson added that there were no major disagreements between Turkey and the US over the NATO allies campaigns against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

“There's no space between Turkey and the US and our commitment to defeat Daesh [Arabic acronym for IS], to defeat ISIS,” he said.

However, this was met with disagreement from Cavusoglu, who complained about US support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, considered a terrorist group by Ankara.

“It is not good or realistic to work with a terrorist group while fighting another terrorist group,” Cavusoglu said, adding that Turkey expected “better cooperation” with the US over this issue.

Turkey said it is interested in supporting the operation to take the IS stronghold of Raqqa, but not if the Kurdish militia is involved, AP reports.

The Turkish authorities consider the YPG, or the People’s Protection Units, to be a Syrian faction of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a banned Kurdish movement that has been fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey since the 1980s.

Years of negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition, as well as representatives from Moscow, Washington, Tehran, and other powers, have failed to bring an end to the Syrian crisis. The Astana talks launched in January, which hoped to bring all the key sides to the negotiating table, have stalled since the Syrian opposition pulled out in mid-March.

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US ABM shield in Europe may lead to sudden nuclear attack on Russia, Moscow says

The US’ ABM sites in Europe and on warships patrolling Russia’s borders are creating the potential for America to launch an overwhelming surprise nuclear strike on Russia, the Russian general staff said.

USS Carter Hall © Murad Sezer / Reuters

“The presence of American ABM sites in Europe and ABM-capable ships in the seas and oceans close to Russia’s territory creates a powerful clandestine potential for delivering a surprise nuclear missile strike against Russia,” Viktor Poznikhir, deputy head of operations of the Russian general staff, told a disarmament conference in Geneva.

The Conference on Disarmament being held in Switzerland over five days this week is an international forum focusing on global security and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction with the participation of 65 member states.

The US’ global antiballistic missile system is provoking a new arms race, Russia’s top brass has warned, adding that the US system, which includes sites in Alaska, Romania, and Poland, compromises Russia’s nuclear deterrence capabilities.

Russia estimates that by 2020 the US will have as many as 1,000 interceptor missiles at its disposal, which would be a threat to Russia’s missile capacity.

READ MORE: Moscow warns NATO Black Sea buildup & increased spending may lead to new Cold War

“The presence of the global ABM system lowers the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, because it gives the US the illusion of impunity for using strategic offensive weapons from under the protection of the ABM ‘umbrella,’” Poznikhir said.

“The ABM shield is a symbol of the build-up of rocket forces in the world and a trigger for a new arms race.” 

FILE PHOTO. © Peter Andrews

Poznikhir also said that the American system poses a risk to the peaceful use of space by other nations.

He said the US is continuing to develop the system under a pretext of countering a perceived threat from North Korea and Iran, while ignoring Russia’s wider concerns.

The US’ attempt to get an advantage over Russia and China is undermining the global security system, Russia’s top brass said.

Poznikhir rejected the US’ contention that the ABM shield is incapable of intercepting all of Russia’s ICBMs if Moscow fires them en masse, and thus does not undermine its security, noting that the system can already intercept some missiles and would only become more capable in the future.

The US’ continuing development of the ABM shield “narrows down the opportunity for nuclear reduction dialogue,” the Russian official argued.

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Foreign secret services stepping up efforts to destabilize Russia – top security official

The head of Russia’s top consultative security body has said that foreign secret services have intensified their efforts to destabilize Russia, noting that Ukrainian authorities had openly confessed to planning sabotage operations.

The destructive activities of foreign special services that set their goal as destabilizing the Russian social and political situation has intensified,” Security Council chair Nikolai Patrushev told participants at a conference of the heads of security agencies of the Southern Federal District. 

Ukrainian authorities openly declare that they are organizing acts of sabotage,” he said.

The Russian security chief also told his colleagues that the terrorist threat was higher in the Southern Federal District than in other parts of the country. He outlined such threats as various radical and xenophobic groups, internet propaganda of radical ideas and the growth of xenophobia among the younger generation.

Earlier this month, Patrushev held a similar conference in the Urals Federal District in central Russia. There he prioritized the threat from cyberattacks, saying that the main goal of these attacks was the disruption of hardware - including the networks that service the Russian segment of the internet - and obtaining classified information through clandestine deployment of various means of computer surveillance.

According to the head of the Security Council, the overall number of cyberattacks on Russian state bodies and companies was over 52 million in 2016, more than three times the number registered in the previous year.

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