Archive for the ‘Oil’ category

Texas to become world’s number 3 oil producer, passing Iran

July 19, 2018

John Sexton Posted at 1:01 pm on July 19, 2018 Hot Air

Source Link: Texas to become world’s number 3 oil producer, passing Iran

{God Bless Texas. – LS}

America is a powerhouse and I mean that literally as well as figuratively. CNN Money reported Wednesday that Texas is set to become the world’s number three oil producer thanks to a boom in production:

Plunging drilling costs have sparked an explosion of production out of the Permian Basin of West Texas. In fact, Texas is pumping so much oil that it will surpass OPEC members Iran and Iraq next year, HSBC predicted in a recent report.

If it were a country, Texas would be the world’s No. 3 oil producer, behind only Russia and Saudi Arabia, the investment bank said.

“It’s remarkable. The Permian is nothing less than a blessing for the global economy,” said Bob McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group, a consulting firm…

“The industry cracked the code on fracking,” said McNally.

Texas is producing so much oil that it will soon be bumping up against pipeline capacity. Some producers are already selling at a discount because of the limitations. Another problem is a shortage of labor, though that will likely be good news for the state and for people moving to Texas to find work.

The boom in Texas is one reason the U.S. is set to become the world’s number one oil producer. Last week, U.S. production reached an all-time high of 11 million barrels per day:

Reuters reports that if these preliminary numbers are confirmed, the U.S. is currently the second largest producer in the world, just behind Russia:

U.S. crude oil production last week hit 11 million barrels per day (bpd) for the first time in the nation’s history, the Energy Department said on Wednesday, as the ongoing boom in shale production continues to drive output.

The gains represent a rapid increase in output, as the data, if confirmed by monthly figures, puts the United States as the second largest producer of crude oil, just behind Russia, which was producing 11.2 million bpd in early July, according to sources.

“Eleven million would have made us the biggest producer in the world; but actually Russian production in June was above 11 million. So, this is kind of like the space race,” said Sandy Fielden, director of research in commodities and energy at Morningstar.

But we won’t be behind Russia for much longer. The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicted last week that production would near 12 million barrels a day by next year:

EIA forecasts total U.S. crude oil production to average 10.8 million b/d in 2018, up 1.4 million b/d from 2017. In 2019, crude oil production is forecast to average 11.8 million b/d. If realized, the forecast for both years would surpass the previous record of 9.6 million b/d set in 1970. Crude oil production at these forecast levels would probably make the United States the world’s leading crude oil producer in both years.

Of course, gasoline prices are still up a bit thanks to problems in Venezuela and sanctions on Iran. But fracking has made the U.S. the world’s energy powerhouse and that should continue well into the 2020s. This is data the Trump administration should continue to cite as a sign America is resurgent.

Putin to Meet Iran’s Rouhani, Turkey’s Erdogan in Tehran for Syria War Talk

July 15, 2018

By Adelle Nazarian July 14, 2018 Breitbart

Source Link: Putin to Meet Iran’s Rouhani, Turkey’s Erdogan in Tehran for Syria War Talk

{Now Putin wants to step in and save Iran’s oil industry from sanctions by investing billions. Russia’s deal with Germany must be quite lucrative. – LS}

The Iranian government claimed Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin will “soon” head to Tehran to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the status of Syria’s civil war.

Iran’s state-run Mehr News agency reported on Friday that Ali-Akbar Velayati, Senior Aide to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said, “Putin said that he will go to Tehran soon to take part in [Turkey-Iran-Russia] meeting on Syria.”

Velayati made the announcement on Thursday after meeting with Putin in Moscow.

Khamenei’s senior aide called the dialogue between Tehran and Moscow “constructive, clear, and friendly.”

According to Turkey’s state-run Andalou Agency, Velayati’s meeting with Putin “has become the subject of debate in Iran” among Iranians. The publication noted, “Although Velayati has no official role in Iran’s Foreign Ministry, he is widely regarded as Khamenei’s second most trusted advisor on Syria after Qasem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force.”

In addition to talk about Syria on Thursday, Velayati said Putin announced that Moscow plans to invest up to $50 billion in the Islamic Republic’s oil and gas sector, and noted that Russian firms could replace Western oil companies that have left or are leaving Iran to comply with America’s demands that nations stop importing Iranian oil by November 4 or face sanctions.

According to Russian state news outlet RT {Russia’s official propaganda network – LS}, Velayati also delivered messages from Khamenei and from President Hassan Rouhani to Putin.

In November 2015, Putin visited Iran for the first time in eight years to discuss the Syrian conflict.

In April, Iran, Russia, and Turkey held trilateral talks in Ankara, where they strategized about Syria’s future after the United States announced it would slowly phase out its presence there. Despite his reluctance to do so, President Donald Trump agreed to keep roughly 2,000 troops in Syria until the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) terrorist group is completely defeated.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in the southern region of Syria on Tuesday that killed and wounded at least 50 of what the terrorist group described as “Crusader Russian Forces” and “the Apostate Nusayri Army.” Nusayri is reportedly a derogatory term used to refer to Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s soldiers.

The jihadist terrorist group still poses a great risk to parts of Syria’s population.

Also on Tuesday, the Maghawir al-Thowra reportedly detained 11 Islamic State fighters inside the deconfliction zone in southern Syria.

“This is evidence of our partner forces’ effectiveness in the fight,” Army Maj. Gen. James Jarrard, commander of Special Operations Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve,”said, according to the Department of Defense. “As [ISIS’] movement from southwest Syria continues, our partners will interdict and disrupt these forces to ensure the defeat of [ISIS] in the region.”

This week, the Andalou Agency also suggested that Putin’s recent meetings with Trump have drawn suspicion from “much of the Iranian public … especially in terms of Syria.” The publication wrote, “Putin’s recent meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump have only exacerbated these suspicions.”

 

 

Trump signs order aimed at opening Arctic drilling

April 28, 2017

Trump signs order aimed at opening Arctic drilling, Associated Press, Matthew Daly and Jill Colvin, April 28, 2017

It also directs Zinke to review the locations available for offshore drilling under a five-year plan Obama signed in November. The plan blocked new oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. It also stopped the planned sale of new oil and gas drilling rights in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska, but allowed drilling in Alaska’s Cook Inlet southwest of Anchorage.

The order could open to oil and gas exploration areas off Virginia and North and South Carolina, where drilling has been blocked for decades.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Working to dismantle his predecessor’s environmental legacy, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday aimed at expanding drilling in the Arctic and opening other federal areas to oil and gas exploration.

With one day left to rack up accomplishments before he reaches his 100th day in office, Trump signed an order reversing some of former President Barack Obama’s restrictions and instructing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review a plan that dictates which federal locations are open to offshore drilling.

It’s part of Trump’s promise to unleash the nation’s energy reserves in an effort to reduce reliance on foreign oil and to spur jobs, regardless of fierce opposition from environmental activists who say offshore drilling harms whales, walruses and other wildlife and exacerbates global warming.

“This executive order starts the process of opening offshore areas to job-creating energy exploration,” Trump said during a White House signing ceremony. “It reverses the previous administration’s Arctic leasing ban and directs Secretary Zinke to allow responsible development of off-shore areas that will bring revenue to our treasury and jobs to our workers.”

“Today,” he said, “we’re unleashing American energy and clearing the way for thousands and thousands of high-paying energy jobs.”

The executive order reverses part of a December effort by Obama to deem the bulk of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic as indefinitely off limits to oil and gas leasing.

It also directs Zinke to review the locations available for offshore drilling under a five-year plan Obama signed in November. The plan blocked new oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. It also stopped the planned sale of new oil and gas drilling rights in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska, but allowed drilling in Alaska’s Cook Inlet southwest of Anchorage.

The order could open to oil and gas exploration areas off Virginia and North and South Carolina, where drilling has been blocked for decades.

Zinke said that leases scheduled under the existing plan will remain in effect during the review, which he estimated will take several years.

The order also directs Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to conduct a review of marine monuments and sanctuaries designated over the last 10 years.

Citing his department’s data, Zinke said the Interior Department oversees some 1.7 billion acres on the outer continental shelf, which contains an estimated 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered natural gas. Under current restrictions, about 94 percent of that outer continental shelf is off-limits to drilling.

Zinke, who is also tasked with reviewing other drilling restrictions, acknowledged environmental concerns as “valid,” but he argued that the benefits of drilling outweigh concerns.

Environmental activists, meanwhile, railed against the signing, which comes seven years after the devastating 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Diana Best of Greenpeace said that opening new areas to offshore oil and gas drilling would lock the U.S. “into decades of harmful pollution, devastating spills like the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, and a fossil fuel economy with no future.”

“Scientific consensus is that the vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves – including the oil and gas off U.S. coasts-must remain undeveloped if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change,” she said.

Jacqueline Savitz of the ocean advocacy group Oceana warned the order would lead to “corner-cutting and set us up for another havoc-wreaking environmental disaster” in places like the Outer Banks or in remote Barrow, Alaska, “where there’s no proven way to remove oil from sea ice.”

“We need smart, tough standards to ensure that energy companies are not operating out of control,” she said, adding: “In their absence, America’s future promises more oil spills and industrialized coastlines.”

Transfer of Internet control could lead to silencing of criticism of jihad terror; Soros-funded group says relax, all will be well

September 30, 2016

Transfer of Internet control could lead to silencing of criticism of jihad terror; Soros-funded group says relax, all will be well, Jihad Watch

“Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn have warned that transfer of U.S. control of ICANN will give China, Russia and Iran, whose governments censor websites and online commentary critical of their policies, more control over the internet.”

Iran, and Saudi Arabia, and other entities who believe, in the words of Barack Obama (who has initiated this transfer), that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” That means that transfer of Internet control could help the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) advance a long way toward achieving its cherished and long-pursued goal: the silencing of criticism of jihad terror

But “New America is a Washington, D.C. think tank. Its fellow Danielle Kehl wrote in a New York Times column this week that the U.S. government’s ceding of power will actually bolster internet freedom by bringing businesses and civil society groups to the table.” New America is funded by George Soros, who has never shown himself to be a friend of the freedom of speech or free society.

So this could be it, friends. I’ve been updating Jihad Watch day in and day out since October 2003, and if the Internet passes into the hands of those who are committed to destroying the freedom of speech (and there are many of those, and they are powerful; I’m just finishing up my next book,The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Free Speech (and Its Enemies), which tells the whole appalling story), before too long I could have quite a bit of time on my hands.

The thing is, if we lose the Internet as a platform for the truth amid the mainstream media lies and distortions, it will be a terrific blow, but the struggle for freedom will not be over. We will find other platforms, we will organize in different ways. The political and media elites are increasingly fearful of losing their grip, and are becoming increasingly authoritarian as a result. They may succeed in driving us underground. They will never succeed in silencing us.

icann

“Four States Sue USA to Try to Stop Transfer of Internet Manager,” by Cameron Langford,Courthouse News Service, September 30, 2016:

GALVESTON (CN) – With the U.S. government set to cede control at midnight Friday over the nonprofit that manages the internet, Texas and three other states sued, seeking to stop a move they claim will expose them to meddling from foreign governments hostile to free speech.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, of ICANN, manages domain names and assignment of internet service provider numbers under a contract with the U.S. Department of Commerce that’s set to expire Sept. 30.

The California-based nonprofit was formed in 1998 with help from the federal government.

Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn have warned that transfer of U.S. control of ICANN will give China, Russia and Iran, whose governments censor websites and online commentary critical of their policies, more control over the internet.

Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma and Nevada share the Republican senators’ fears. Their attorneys general sued the United States, the Department of Commerce and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration on Wednesday night in Galveston Federal Court….

Texas claims that without U.S. government oversight ICANN and Verisign will have “unbridled discretion” to change the “authoritative root zone file,” known as the internet’s “address book” or “master directory,” thereby imperiling its license to use the .gov domain.”In doing so, the U.S. Government is handing over control of the ‘vast democratic forums of the Internet’ to private parties, and giving those parties free reign [to] employ prior restraints,” the states say.

“Alternatively, ICANN could simply shut down ‘.gov,’ preventing public access to state websites.”…

New America is a Washington, D.C. think tank. Its fellow Danielle Kehl wrote in a New York Times column this week that the U.S. government’s ceding of power will actually bolster internet freedom by bringing businesses and civil society groups to the table. “Completing the transition will actually prevent foreign governments from expanding their role in internet governance. This plan explicitly rejects any formal government role in ICANN,” she wrote.

“Moreover, ICANN’s multistakeholder model is an alternative to the intergovernmental solution that some foreign countries — especially Russia and China — have championed for years. They would prefer to see the domain name system managed by a multilateral organization in which governments are the only stakeholders who can meaningfully participate.”

Trump taps climate change skeptic, fracking advocate as key energy advisor

May 13, 2016

Trump taps climate change skeptic, fracking advocate as key energy advisor, ReutersValerie Volcovice, May 13, 2016

U.S. Representative Kevin Cramer (R-ND) speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, United States on January 8, 2015. REUTERS/Larry Downing/File Photo

U.S. Representative Kevin Cramer (R-ND) speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, United States on January 8, 2015. REUTERS/Larry Downing/File Photo

Republican presidential contender Donald Trump has asked one of America’s most ardent drilling advocates and climate change skeptics to help him draft his energy policy.

U.S. Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer of North Dakota – a major oil drilling state – is writing a white paper on energy policy for the New York billionaire, Cramer and sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Cramer was also among a group of Trump advisers who recently met with lawmakers from western energy states, who hope Trump will open more federal land for drilling, a lawmaker who took part in the meeting said.

Cramer said in an interview his paper would emphasize the dangers of foreign ownership of U.S. energy assets, burdensome taxes, and over-regulation. Trump will have an opportunity to float some of the ideas at an energy summit in Bismarck, North Dakota on May 26, Cramer said.

A spokeswoman for Trump’s campaign did not comment.

While the ultimate size and makeup of Trump’s energy advisory team is unclear, Cramer’s inclusion suggests the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s oil policy could emphasize more drilling, less regulation and taxes, and curbs on efforts to combat climate change.

Cramer has said he believes the Earth is cooling, not warming, and he has opposed efforts by the Obama administration to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Trump has been light on details of his energy policy so far, though he recently told supporters in West Virginia that the coal industry would thrive if he were in the White House. He has also claimed global warming is a concept “created by and for the Chinese” to hurt U.S. business.

Trump only recently started building up teams of advisors on the economy, foreign policy and other issues to flesh out his platform for the Nov. 8 presidential election.

Cramer, North Dakota’s only congressman and an early Congressional Trump supporter, encountered Trump when they were guests on a radio show last month and Trump spoke about relaxing regulation and expanding drilling. Trump’s political team later asked Cramer to write the energy policy paper, the lawmaker said.

“The real opportunity for prosperity in this country has been to produce more because you have access to more markets,” Cramer said, referring to the recent lifting of a decades-old ban on oil exports. “The last thing we need is more rules.”

On foreign ownership of U.S. oil assets, Cramer said: “One-third of refining capacity is owned by OPEC countries. How does this fit into his (Trump’s) America first policy?”

OPEC members Saudi Arabia and Venezuela both have large stakes in U.S. refining capacity.

Cramer said he expected energy policy to be a vulnerability for Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, in an election year where energy companies are going broke.

Clinton has advocated shifting the country to 50 percent clean energy by 2030, promised heavy regulation of fracking, and said her prospective administration would put coal companies “out of business.”

Russia’s endgame in Syria: Follow the Money

October 7, 2015

Russia’s endgame in Syria: Follow the Money, Center for Security Policy, John Cordero, October 6, 2015

(Is Putin engaging in a holy war against the Islamic State, an oily war or both? — DM)

3300795117

The one strategic motivation for Russia that has been widely ignored is the economic one.  Qatar, the richest country in the world per capita and also owner of the world’s largest natural gas field, proposed in 2009 to jointly construct a gas pipeline running through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, and into Europe.  Assad, not wanting to provoke Moscow, refused to sign on.  Instead, he floated an alternative: an Iran-Iraq-Syria and possibly Lebanon pipeline, to then follow under the Mediterranean to Europe. The Qatar-Turkey pipeline would run through majority Sunni countries with the exception of Syria’s Alawite regime. Assad’s counter proposal follows the Shia crescent.

Russia, not wanting to lose its primary market in Europe, is adamantly opposed to a prospective Qatari project.  A military presence in Syria will guarantee that even if Assad is removed from power, the pipeline will not be built.  It will look on favorably to the Iranian proposal, provided Gazprom and other state-owned companies get their share of the pie.

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As Vladimir Putin orders airstrikes against rebels of all stripes fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime, there are important strategic economic goals behind Russia’s actions in Syria.  The short term goal is easy to discern: prevent Assad’s collapse as no alternative suitable to Russian interests exists, preserve Russia’s only naval base in the Middle East at Tartus, and promote Russia both at home and abroad as a world power that counterbalances American hegemony.

Much of the media has focused on Putin as a personal driver of Russian behavior.  While forays into Georgia and Ukraine have accomplished the tactical goals of preventing increased European Union presence in Russia’s sphere of influence, these have come at a high cost both politically and economically in the form of isolation and sanctions. Putin seems to have concluded that intervening in Syria in the name of fighting terrorism can only help repair Russia’s battered image.

It is important to at least try to understand Putin’s motivation without delving too much into psychoanalysis.  He is on record as lamenting the collapse of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.”  In power since 2000, the former KGB officer is an ardent Russian nationalist, a promoter of a personality cult concerned with his country’s standing and perception in the world.  With his career spent in the service of the state, he is not one to take a background role in world affairs. Putin has effectively used Russia’s alliance with Iran as an effective tool to undermine the US, both regionally in the Gulf and globally with the nuclear deal.

The current buildup at Tartus and Latakia is nothing new: since Hafez al-Assad’s rise to power in 1970, the Former Soviet Union and then Russia was and is a stalwart ally, long attempting to position Syria as a counterbalance to American and Israeli military superiority in the Middle East.

Russia’s actions are also a message to the world: unlike the US, which abandoned long-time ally Hosni Mubarak during his time of need in Egypt, Russia is prepared to intervene, militarily if necessary, to preserve a friendly regime in danger.  Therefore, it pays for autocrats to court Moscow, especially if they possess valuable resources or are in prime strategic locations.

While Vladimir Putin ostensibly espouses the acceptable goal of a global alliance against IS, the strategic context is that he has entered into a sectarian alliance with Shia Iran, Iraq, Syria, and the proxy army Hezbollah (The P4+1) against the American-backed Sunni alliance of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and the UAE, all of whom insist that Assad has no future in Syria.

Through its airstrikes, Russia continues to advance the prior Syrian strategy of focusing efforts against pro-Western rebels, with the recognition that, while dangerous, the Islamic State is the one party in the conflict the West will never support.

The Islamic State will take advantage of both the respite, and the propaganda value of being the recognized number one enemy of the infidel coalition, which it uses to rally supporters simply by pointing out that its enemies are gathering to destroy the renewed Caliphate.

The one strategic motivation for Russia that has been widely ignored is the economic one.  Qatar, the richest country in the world per capita and also owner of the world’s largest natural gas field, proposed in 2009 to jointly construct a gas pipeline running through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, and into Europe.  Assad, not wanting to provoke Moscow, refused to sign on.  Instead, he floated an alternative: an Iran-Iraq-Syria and possibly Lebanon pipeline, to then follow under the Mediterranean to Europe. The Qatar-Turkey pipeline would run through majority Sunni countries with the exception of Syria’s Alawite regime. Assad’s counter proposal follows the Shia crescent.

Russia, not wanting to lose its primary market in Europe, is adamantly opposed to a prospective Qatari project.  A military presence in Syria will guarantee that even if Assad is removed from power, the pipeline will not be built.  It will look on favorably to the Iranian proposal, provided Gazprom and other state-owned companies get their share of the pie.

Pipeline politics in the region have a long and varied history of Russian involvement.  The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline was built only after Moscow’s demand for an alternative pipeline for Azeri oil to Russia was met.  During the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, US intelligence officials determined that an explosion on the pipeline near the Turkish-Georgian border was carried out via Russian government cyber warfare.  Days after the explosion, Russian fighter jets bombed positions in Georgia close to the pipeline. Although the BTC pipeline was built precisely to avoid Russian interference, the Kremlin has never let that stop them.

Turkey and Azerbaijan have also begun construction on a joint natural gas pipeline, theTANAP. This project’s stated goal is to reduce the EU’s dependence on Russian natural gas, a prospect that cannot please Moscow.   Both the BTC and TANAP bypass Armenia, a Russian ally and wary of its neighbors in the Caucasus.

As the endpoint for the Qatari project, Turkey is adamant in calling for Assad to step down or be removed, which dovetails with the proposed Sunni pipeline.  By clearing the way through Syria, Qatar and Saudi Arabia can receive a handsome return on their investment in backing jihadis fighting Assad.  On the other hand, Iran will not sit idly by and leave potential billions of dollars in the hands of its ideological and regional enemies.

Russian intervention in Syria is just beginning. There is every possibility that it will expand as more targets are found, perhaps those that are in the way of the proposed Iranian pipeline, directly threatening Damascus and by extension, the Russian monopoly of gas exports to Europe.  For the time being, Putin has the world’s attention.

The Iran scam worsens — Part II, North Korea – China connection

June 17, 2015

The Iran scam worsens — Part II, North Korea – China connection, Dan Miller’s Blog, June 17, 2015

(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

It is likely that the P5+1 nuke “deal” with Iran will be approved soon. Military and other nuke sites which Iran has not “disclosed” will not be inspected. Nor will Iran’s nuke ties with North Korea — which P5+1 member China seems to be helping, Iran’s massive support for terrorism and abysmal human rights record be considered because they are also deemed unnecessary for “deal” approval. Sanctions against Iran are moribund and will not be revived regardless of whether there is a “deal.” However, a bronze bust of Obama may soon be displayed prominently in Supreme Leader Khamenei’s office and one of Khamenei may soon be displayed proudly in Dear Leader Obama’s office.

Iran fenced in

Part II — The North Korea – China connection

The North – Korea connection is a “natural,” and its basis should be obvious: Iran has been receiving funds through sanctions relief and will get substantially more when the P5+1 “deal” is made. North Korea needs money, not to help its starving and depressed masses, but to keep the Kim regime in power and for its favorites to continue their opulent lifestyles.

As I have written here, here and elsewhere, North Korea has been making substantial progress on nuclear weapons and means to deliver them, which it shares with Iran. Now, China appears to be intimately involved in their transfers of nuclear and missile technology as well as equipment.

As noted in an April 15, 2015 article titled Obama Hid North Korea Rocket Component Transfer to Iran,

US intelligence officials revealed that during the ongoing Iran nuclear negotiations, North Korea has provided several shipments of advanced missile components to the Islamic regime in violation of UN sanctions – and the US hid the violations from the UN. [Emphasis added.]

The officials, who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon on Wednesday on condition of anonymity, said more than two shipments of missile parts since last September have been monitored by the US going from North Korea to Iran.[Emphasis added.]

One official detailed that the components included large diameter engines, which could be used to build a long-range missile system, potentially capable of bearing a nuclear warhead. [Emphasis added.]

The information is particularly damaging given that Admiral Bill Gortney, Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), admitted this month that the Pentagon fears that North Korea and possibly Iran can target the US with a nuclear EMP strike.

Critics have pointed out that the nuclear framework deal reached with Iran earlier this month completely avoids this question of Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program, which would allow it to conduct nuclear strikes. [Emphasis added.]

US President Barack Obama was given details of the shipments in his daily intelligence briefings, but the officials say the information was hidden from the UN by the White House so that it would not take action on the sanctions violations. [Emphasis added.]

On June 17th, Secretary Kerry stated, just before leaving to participate in P5+1 negotiations, that the

“US and its negotiating partners are not fixated on the issue of so-called possible military dimensions [of the Iranian nuclear program] because they already have a complete picture of Iran’s past activities.”

This comment was a compendium of contradictions and untruths.

Sure, John. A June 17th article at Power Line on the same subject is titled Kerry’s absolute idiocy.

Here are the highlights from a March 29, 2015 article at The Daily Beast titled Does Iran Have Secret Nukes in North Korea?

As can be seen from the North Korean base housing Tehran’s weapons specialists, Iran is only one part of a nuclear weapons effort spanning the Asian continent. North Korea, now the world’s proliferation superstar, is a participant. China, once the mastermind, may still be a co-conspirator. Inspections inside the borders of Iran, therefore, will not give the international community the assurance it needs. [Emphasis added.]

Inspections? We don’t need and won’t get no stinkin inspections since His Omniscience Kerry knows everything and is not troubled by it.

The cross-border nuclear trade is substantial enough to be called a “program.” Larry Niksch of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., estimates that the North’s proceeds from this trade with Iran are “between $1.5 billion and $2.0 billion annually.” A portion of this amount is related to missiles and miscellaneous items, the rest derived from building Tehran’s nuclear capabilities.

Iran has bought a lot with its money. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, thought to be Tehran’s chief nuclear scientist, was almost certainly in North Korea at Punggye-ri in February 2013 to witness Pyongyang’s third atomic test. Reports put Iranian technicians on hand at the site for the first two detonations as well.

. . . .

The North Koreans have also sold Iran material for bomb cores, perhaps even weapons-grade uranium. The Telegraph reported that in 2002 a barrel of North Korean uranium cracked open and contaminated the tarmac of the new Tehran airport.

The relationship between the two regimes has been long-lasting. Hundreds of North Koreans have worked at about 10 nuclear and missile facilities in Iran. There were so many nuclear and missile scientists, specialists, and technicians that they took over their own coastal resort there, according to Henry Sokolski,  the proliferation maven, writing in 2003.

As noted in a January 31, 2014 Daily Beast article titled Iran and North Korea: The Nuclear ‘Axis of Resistance,’

Last September, at the same time Iran was secretly meeting with U.S. officials to set up the current nuclear talks, North Korea leaders visited Tehran and signed a science and technology agreement that is widely seen as a public sign the two countries are ramping up their nuclear cooperation.

“Iran declared Sept. 1, 2012 North Korea was part of their ‘Axis of Resistance,’ which only includes Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. They’ve announced to the world they are essentially allies with North Korea,” said David Asher, the State Department’s coordinator for North Korea from 2001 to 2005. [Emphasis added.]

On February 13, 2013, DEBKAfile reported that North Korea —  Iran nuclear connection is substantial.

There is full awareness in Washington and Jerusalem that the North Korean nuclear test conducted Tuesday, Feb. 12, brings Iran that much closer to conducting a test of its own. A completed bomb or warhead are not necessary for an underground nuclear test; a device which an aircraft or missile can carry is enough. [Emphasis added.]

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s boast this week that Iran will soon place a satellite in orbit at an altitude of 36,000 kilometers – and Tehran’s claim on Feb. 4 to have sent a monkey into space – highlight Iran’s role in the division of labor Pyongyang and Tehran have achieved in years of collaboration: the former focusing on a nuclear armament and the latter on long-range missile technology to deliver it. [Emphasis added.]

Their advances are pooled. Pyongyang maintains a permanent mission of nuclear and missile scientists in Tehran, whereas Iranian experts are in regular attendance at North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests.[Emphasis added.]

Since the detonation of the “miniature atomic bomb” reported by Pyongyang Tuesday – which US President Barack Obama called “a threat to US National security”- Iran must be presumed to have acquired the same “miniature atomic bomb” capabilities – or even assisted in the detonation. [Emphasis added.]

On the same day, an article at Fox News observed,

In an exclusive interview with Fox News, Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr, who has advised five U.S. presidents as a world renowned authority on arms control and nuclear non-proliferation, noted “If the assessments are correct as to his (Fakhrizadeh’s) role in the Iranian nuclear program, if China knowingly permitted him transfer from Iran across China to witness the North Korea test … then it would appear that China or at least some element in China are cooperating with nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran.” [Emphasis added.]

The Feb. 11 test has been described by experts as a miniaturized atomic bomb test of a relatively small yield of 6-7 kilotons, mounted on a Nodong missile.

. . . .

Ambassador Graham added: “The objective of this test has said to be the development of a compact highly explosive nuclear warhead mated with a North Korean missile. Iranian missiles were developed from North Korean prototypes. It could appear that North Korea is building nuclear weapons for transfer to Iran.” [Emphasis added.]

A June 11, 2015 Gatestone Institute article titled North Korea’s Serious New Nuclear Missile Threat, noted that North Korea already has upwards of twenty nukes and that

if North Korea’s technical advances are substantive, its missiles, armed with small nuclear weapons, might soon be able to reach the continental United States — not just Hawaii and Alaska. Further, if such missile threats were to come from submarines near the U.S., North Korea would be able to launch a surprise nuclear-armed missile attack on an American city. In this view, time is not on the side of the U.S. Submarine-launched missiles come without a “return address” to indicate what country or terrorist organization fired the missile.

The implications for American security do not stop there. As North Korea is Iran’s primary missile-development partner, whatever North Korea can do with its missiles and nuclear warheads, Iran will presumably be able to do as well. One can assume the arrangement is reciprocal.

Although attempts have been made to debunk recent photoshopped images of North Korea firing of a missile from a submerged platform, the immediately linked Gatestone article offers substantial reasons to think that it was indeed fired and that it is troubling.

The linked Gatestone article continues, despite hopes that China may force or talk North Korea into halting its missile development program and sharing with Iran, such hopes are

painfully at odds with China’s established and documented track record in supporting and carrying out nuclear proliferation with such collapsed or rogue states as Iran, Syria, Pakistan, North Korea and Libya, as detailed by the 2009 book The Nuclear Express, by Tom C. Reed (former Secretary of the Air Force under President Gerald Ford and Special Assistant to the President of National Security Affairs during the Ronald Reagan administration) and Daniel Stillman (former Director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory).(Emphasis added.]

Far from being a potential partner in seeking a non-nuclear Korean peninsula, China, say the authors, has been and is actually actively pushing the spread of nuclear weapons to rogue states, as a means of asserting Chinese hegemony, complicating American security policy and undermining American influence. [Emphasis added.]

The problem is not that China has little influence with North Korea, as China’s leadership repeatedly claims. The problem is that China has no interest in pushing North Korea away from its nuclear weapons path because the North Korean nuclear program serves China’s geostrategic purposes. [Emphasis added.]

As Reed and Stillman write, “China has been using North Korea as the re-transfer point for the sale of nuclear and missile technology to Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Libya and Yemen”. They explain, “Chinese and North Korean military officers were in close communication prior to North Korea’s missile tests of 1998 and 2006.″ [Emphasis added.]

Thus, if China takes action to curtail North Korea’s nuclear program, China will likely be under pressure from the United States and its allies to take similar action against Iran and vice versa. China, however, seems to want to curry favor with Iran because of its vast oil and gas supplies, as well as to use North Korea to sell and transfer nuclear technology to both North Korea and Iran, as well as other states such as Pakistan. As Reed again explains, “China has catered to the nuclear ambitions of the Iranian ayatollahs in a blatant attempt to secure an ongoing supply of oil.” [Emphasis added.]

What about Russia which, like China, is a P5+1 member? Russia announced in late May of this year that it would build an Iranian nuclear reactor for “peaceful” generation of electricity. It announced in April that it would provide accurate, long range S-300 missiles to Iran.

Iranian news sources are reporting that negotiations with Russia to buy the S-300 surface-to-air missile systems were “successful.”

Western officials say delivery of the system would essentially eliminate the military option to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

During a press conference Monday, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that the missiles will be delivered as soon as possible.

On September 23, 2014, the Iranian FARS News Agency announced that Iran was completing its own version of the S-330 missile.

Last month, senior Iranian military officials announced that their home-grown version of the Russian S-300 missile defense system, called Bavar (Belief)-373, has already been put into test-run operation and has once shot at a target successfully.

Commander of Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base Brigadier General Farzad Esmayeeli told the Iranian state-run TV that “Bavar-373 has fired a first successful shot”.

Might Russia have given Iran the plans needed to build its own version of the Russian missile? Why not?

Conclusions

We have to guess far more than we actually know about the North Korea – China – Iran nuclear connection. That is unfortunate. It is absurd that the P5+1 joint plan of action and the White House summary focus on Iran’s uranium enrichment to the exclusion of its militarization of nukes. Since nuke militarization, among other substantial matters, is deemed irrelevant to whether there is a “deal,” so is the connection with North Korea, China and possibly Russia.

Obama wants a “deal” with Iran, regardless of what it may say or — more importantly — what it may not say.

NK and Iran