Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP_

The Pronk Pops Show 1294, July 23, 2019, Story 1: Spending Beyond The Means of The American People and Burdening Future Generations — Shame on Democrat and Republican Politicians For Out-of Control Government Spending or Spending Addiction Disorder (SAD) — They Have No Shame —  Betrayal of American People By Their Elected Representatives — Two Party Tyranny — Tea Party 2.0 Time To Stand-up A New Political Party — American Independence Party — to Challenge Both Democrats and Republicans — Send Them All Home — To Save The American Constitutional Representative Republic From Bankruptcy, Default, Socialism, and Budget Busting  Warfare and Welfare Statists — President Trump Either Vetoes This Bill or Faces The Dump The Two Party Tyranny Movement — Videos — Story 2: United States and Israel Joint Strike Targeting Iran’s Nuclear and Missile Weapon System Programs Deep Underground in Mountains will Require Low Yield Nuclear Weapons To Be Successful — Waiting For Trump To Start World War 3 To Stop Nuclear Proliferation in The Middle East and Far East — Videos

Posted on July 24, 2019. Filed under: 2020 Republican Candidates, Addiction, Addiction, American History, Applications, Banking System, Blogroll, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Business, Cartoons, China, Coal, Communications, Computers, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Culture, Deep State, Defense Spending, Disasters, Diseases, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Energy, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Freedom of Speech, Genocide, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Great Britain, Hardware, Hate Speech, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Labor Economics, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), Media, Medicare, Military Spending, Monetary Policy, National Security Agency, Natural Gas, North Korea, Nuclear, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, Progressives, Public Relations, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Robert S. Mueller III, Rule of Law, Senate, Servers, Social Security, Spying, Success, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP_, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Surveillance/Spying, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, United Kingdom, United States of America, Videos, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1294 July 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1293 July 22, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1292 July 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1291 July 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1290 July 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1289 July 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1288 July 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1287 July 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1286 July 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1285 July 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1284 July 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1283 July 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1282 June 27, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1281 June 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1280 June 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1279 June 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1278 June 20, 2019 

Pronk Pops Show 1277 June 19, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1276 June 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1275 June 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1274 June 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1273 June 12, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1272 June 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1271 June 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1270 June 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1269 June 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1268 June 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1267 May 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1266 May 29, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1265 May 28, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1264 May 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1263 May 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1262 May 22, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1261 May 21, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1260 May 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1259 May 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1258 May 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1257 May 14, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1256 May 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1255 May 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1254 May 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1253 May 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1252 May 7, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1251 May 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1250 May 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1249 May 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1248 May 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1247 April 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1246 April 29, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1245 April 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1244 April 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1243 April 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1242 April 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1241 April 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1240 April 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1239 April 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1238 April 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1237 April 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1236 April 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1235 April 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1234 April 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1233 April 4, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1232 April 1, 2019 Part 2

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Story 1: Spending Beyond The Means of The American People and Burdening Future Generations — Shame on Democrat and Republican Politicians For Out-of Control Government Spending or Spending Addiction Disorder (SAD) — They Have No Shame —  Betrayal of American People By Their Elected Representatives — Two Party Tyranny — Tea Party 2.0 Time To Stand-up A New Political Party — American Independence Party — to Challenge Both Democrats and Republicans — Send Them All Home — To Save The American Constitutional Representative Republic From Bankruptcy, Default, Socialism, and Budget Busting  Warfare and Welfare Statists — President Trump Either Vetoes This Bill or Faces The Dump The Two Party Tyranny Movement — Videos — 

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Big Spender

Hey Big Spender

The minute you walked in the joint,
I could see you were a man of distinction,
A real big spender,
Good looking, so refined.
Say, wouldn’t you like to know
What’s going on in my mind?
So, let me get right to the point,
I don’t pop my cork for every guy I see.
Hey, big spender, spend,
A little time with, me, me, me!
Do you wanna have fun?
How’s about a few laughs?
I can show you a, good time,
Do you wanna have fun, fun, fun?
How’s about a few laughs
Laughs laughs
(I can show you a good time)
(Good time)
(Good time)
(Good time)
What did you say you are?
How’s about a ,
I could give you some,
Are you ready for,
How would you like a,
Let me show you a, (good time)
Hey, big spender,
Hey, big spender,
The minute you walked in the joint,
I could see you were a man of distinction,
A real big spender.
Good looking, so refined.
Say wouldn’t you like to know
What’s going on in my mind?
So, let me get right to the point,
I don’t pop my cork for every guy I see.
Hey, big spender,
Hey, big spender!
Hey, big spender!
Spend a little time with me!
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Fields Coleman
Hey Big Spender lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing LLC

 

Fiscal Conservatism Dead: Trump’s Deal with Democrats Unleashes Spending, Uncaps Debt

David Stockman And Peter Schiff Address Trump – Mr. President, if you watch this-Stop

GOP repeals the entire legacy of the Tea Party in one fell swoop

· July 23, 2019
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Franklin with debt

DNY59 | Getty Images

All Republicans had to do when they won the election in 2016 was to hold the line on the budget bill they helped pass in 2011 with control of just one branch of government. Instead, first with control of all three branches and now with control of two of the three, they are about to undo the one spending success of the past decade, and with it, pre-empt any leverage they have to pressure Democrats on a single issue.

Why is it that not a single mile of new fencing has been constructed for Trump’s entire term? Why is it that we’ve spent billions taking 21,000 sick illegal aliens to the hospital, chewing up 250,000 man-hours of Border Patrol at hospitals and away from patrolling, yet not a penny more was spent on Border Patrol or the military holding the line against the cartel smuggling?

Look no further than the budget deals Trump signed over and over again, which collectively increased discretionary spending by 16 percent but not a dime for new border walls or deportations. He gave away his leverage for free. Now, with Trump agreeing to the deal Senate Republicans and his treasury secretary just forged, the total spending binge will rise to 20 percent above fiscal year 2017 levels and will still not include a dime for the border.

Here are the toplines of the deal:

  • The debt ceiling will once again be suspended until July 31, 2021, with zero reforms or spending cuts. We will likely accrue over $2 trillion in additional debt over that time. And that is if Congress holds the line one any new “supplemental” or “emergency” spending over the next two years, which is next to impossible.
  • By canceling the budget caps for the final two years of the Budget Control Act (FY 2020 and FY 2021), Trump will seal our fiscal ruin. All they had to do was simply pass a clean continuing resolution, and the automatic spending cuts would kick back in. Now that leverage is gone.
  • The total cost of erasing the spending cuts plus adding new spending will be $321 billion over two years.
  • What Republicans accomplished with one branch of government was erased when their power grew. After winning back control of the Senate, noted fiscal “conservative” Paul Ryan forged a deal to bust the caps by a total of $80 billion in FY 2016 and FY 2017. When Republicans won the White House, they agreed to another budget-busting bill of $296 billion for FY 2018 and FY 2019. Now they will add another $320 billion. In other words, by simply coasting with the status quo baseline, Republicans could have pocketed nearly $700 billion in less spending, yet they chose to use their power to spend everything Democrats wanted.
  • Making this deal the new baseline for the next two years will lead to nearly $2 trillion in more spending over 10 years.
  • Crafters of the deal are claiming that there are $77.4 billion in spending offsets, but the majority of it is scandalous. It’s from what’s called CHIMPs. No, it’s not chimpanzee-style math, but it as may as well be so. Changes IMandatory Programs means that they just write a line in the bill saying, “In 10 years from now we will spend less on entitlement programs, and that will free up immediate increases for spending on discretionary programs.” They’ve been doing this for decades, and of course the cuts never happen. Imagine if you had a credit card limit and you got to say, “Hey, in 10 years I will find some funding to pay for the extra $100,000 I want to spend today, so here it is, fully offset.” Real monkey business.
  • Consider that revenue is now $1.5 trillion higher than in 2009-2010 – during the Great Recession – yet the emerging deficits will rival those of the Obama stimulus era.

Republicans and even the Trump administration will once again hide behind military spending as excuse for this deal. But the entire point of the 2018 deal was to secure that spending. We already paid the price. Why does military spending have to be increased yet again, especially when we won’t even properly counter the Mexican cartels or Iran?

Even if Trump were inclined to agree with this madness, at least make the Senate work through the August recess on sovereignty and border security issues and build the case for a better budget deal in September. Why give away all your leverage at once on both the debt ceiling and spending caps?


 

There’s only one reason why Congress is doing this so quickly and rushing it before the August recess. They know the president is influenced by his conservative base and will reject this plan if it’s allowed to be exposed to the sunlight of the August townhalls held by members of Congress. Where is the outrage from media members who claim the mantle of conservatism? At the precise moment when their voice needs to be heard, they remain silent.

When spending and illegal immigration numbers were not nearly as bad as they are today, Trump was very clear about what should be done with debt ceiling negotiations:

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

The Republicans must use the debt ceiling as leverage to make a great deal!

400 people are talking about this

Yet almost seven years later and $6 trillion deeper into the abyss of debt, Trump as president is now agreeing to a blank check, which will in turn preclude any leverage to deal with illegal immigration, which is about three times as large as it was at the time of that tweet.

 

 

White House, congressional leaders work to sell two-year budget deal


Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi holds a news conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

July 23 at 2:20 PM

White House officials and congressional leaders defended a controversial budget deal on Tuesday, hoping to assuage concerns from conservatives and liberals ahead of a crucial House vote this week.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Senate Republicans at a lunch on Capitol Hill, conveying that President Trump fully supported the deal and would sign it into law. Republicans felt burned by Trump last year after they voted on a budget deal they thought he supported, only to have the White House withdraw its backing at the last minute.

“The four (congressional) leaders and the president are fully on board with this,” Mnuchin told reporters as he left the meeting.

Still, the effort to whip up political support showed signs of strain.

A number of conservative Senate Republicans announced their opposition to the two-year, $320 billion deal, complaining it adds to the ballooning deficit while doing nothing to constrain spending. Mnuchin defended the agreement, saying it was crucial to increase military spending and suspend the debt ceiling through July 2021, lifting the prospect of a full-blown financial crisis later this year.

But Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he’d told Mnuchin the deal should have included changes to take the threat of future government shutdowns off the table.

“If we don’t get a structural reform in exchange for an increase the debt ceiling, I don’t see how I can support this thing,” Johnson said.

Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said he declared his opposition to the deal during the lunch with Mnuchin. And while some senators said Mnuchin had effectively conveyed the stakes for the Pentagon budget and looming debt crisis absent a deal, others left the lunch with the treasury secretary unpersuaded.

Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) said Mnuchin’s message to senators amounted to, “’Yippee yippee yay, I made a deal.’”

“I didn’t learn anything. … It was more of a rah, rah session,” Kennedy said, adding he was undecided how he’d vote. “I think it says about the United States Congress, both sides, that we really don’t have a commitment to getting control of the credit card.”

On the Democratic side, some liberals including Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) expressed consternation about a side agreement struck by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to keep controversial policy provisions off spending bills. This would include agreeing not to limit Trump’s ability to transfer money to build his border wall. The practical implication of the agreement seems limited, since any such changes would require bipartisan support anyway, but White House officials were touting it as an important win.

Despite the complaints from rank-and-file lawmakers of both parties, White House officials and Democratic and Republican leaders all argued that the deal was the best they could get in divided government, and blamed their political opponents if it wasn’t any better.

“I make no apologies for this two-year caps deal,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “I think we’ve done the best we can with this divided government.”

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat and vote-counter, said the deal was better than any of the alternatives.

“The notion of shutting down the government or defaulting on the America debt — those are unacceptable,” Durbin said.

Exiting the GOP lunch, Mnuchin was asked how he would defend the deal against its GOP critics. “Well we needed a debt ceiling increase, that was incredibly important,” Mnuchin replied. “And again we couldn’t get a deal without getting bipartisan support, so the Democrats, they compromised on a lot of things along the way, and we had to make certain compromises.”

The budget deal, announced Monday, would suspend the debt ceiling through July 2021 and raise the budget for the military and many other programs for two years. Lawmakers will still need to approve individual spending bills, but the agreement is expected to make it much less likely that there will be a government shutdown when existing agency budgets run out Oct. 1. But the budget also appears to lock in a large gap between tax revenue and government spending, which could breach $1 trillion this year and continue in perpetuity if changes aren’t made.

The government must borrow money to finance that gap and pay interest on the growing debt.

Lawmakers were rushing to cut the deal because Mnuchin had warned the Treasury could run out of money by early September to pay all of the government’s bills if the debt ceiling wasn’t raised by then. Congress is set to go on a lengthy August recess soon, leaving legislators little time to maneuver.

The House is expected to vote on the deal this week, with the Senate voting next week.

Pelosi released a letter to House Democrats touting what she described as wins in the deal, including extending the debt limit, obtaining increased domestic nondefense spending, avoiding onerous budget caps known as “sequestration,” and staving off the administration’s demands for spending cuts to accompany the budget increases.

But reaction from lawmakers in the House made clear the speaker will have to navigate opposition from liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans to pass the deal with the votes of more moderate-leaning lawmakers in both parties.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) complained about a double standard that prioritized tax cuts and spending that Republicans favored but refused to extend money for things she advocates for, like college education.

And Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) posted a video on Twitter of the comic book figure the “Joker” standing in front of an inferno, and labeled it “Budget deal.”

Acting White House budget director Russ Vought, who had fought largely unsuccessfully to secure large spending cuts as part of the agreement, acknowledged the GOP frustration and promised to push for spending reductions in the future.

“Look, I love the concern of the conservatives who are bringing attention to the problems that we have with fiscal responsibility in this town,” Vought said on Fox News.

The budget has grown markedly since Trump took office, even though he campaigned on a promise to eliminate the now-$22 trillion debt by the time he left the White House after eight years.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/white-house-congressional-leaders-work-to-sell-two-year-budget-deal/2019/07/23/fb2fe29a-ad55-11e9-a0c9-6d2d7818f3da_story.html?utm_term=.a1a4223b2b69

Deal sealed on federal budget ensures no shutdown, default

President Donald Trump and congressional leaders have announced a critical debt and budget agreement that’s an against-the-odds victory for Washington pragmatists seeking to avoid political and economic tumult over the possibility of a government shutdown or first federal default.

The deal, announced Monday by Trump on Twitter and in a statement by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, will restore the government’s ability to borrow to pay its bills past next year’s elections and build upon recent large budget gains for both the Pentagon and domestic agencies.

“I am pleased to announce that a deal has been struck,” Trump tweeted, saying there will be no “poison pills” added to follow-up legislation. “This was a real compromise in order to give another big victory to our Great Military and Vets!”

The agreement is on a broad outline for $1.37 trillion in agency spending next year and slightly more in fiscal 2021. It would mean a win for lawmakers eager to return Washington to a more predictable path amid political turmoil and polarization, defense hawks determined to cement big military increases and Democrats seeking to protect domestic programs.

Nobody notched a big win, but both sides view it as better than a protracted battle this fall.

Pelosi and Schumer said the deal “will enhance our national security and invest in middle class priorities that advance the health, financial security and well-being of the American people.” Top congressional GOP leaders issued more restrained statements stressing that the deal is a flawed but achievable outcome of a government in which Pelosi wields considerable power.

“While this deal is not perfect, compromise is necessary in divided government,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

However, it also comes as budget deficits are rising to $1 trillion levels — requiring the government to borrow a quarter for every dollar the government spends — despite the thriving economy and three rounds of annual Trump budget proposals promising to crack down on the domestic programs that Pelosi is successfully defending now. It ignores warnings from deficit and debt scolds who say the nation’s fiscal future is unsustainable and will eventually drag down the economy.

“This agreement is a total abdication of fiscal responsibility by Congress and the president,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a Washington advocacy group. “It may end up being the worst budget agreement in our nation’s history, proposed at a time when our fiscal conditions are already precarious.”

A push by the White House and House GOP forces for new offsetting spending cuts was largely jettisoned, though Pelosi, D-Calif., gave assurances about not seeking to use the follow-up spending bills as vehicles for aggressively liberal policy initiatives.

The head of a large group of House GOP conservatives swung against the deal.

“No new controls are put in place to constrain runaway spending, and a two-year suspension on the debt limit simply adds fuel to the fire,” said Republican Study Committee Chairman Mike Johnson, R-La. “With more than $22 trillion in debt, we simply cannot afford deals like this one.”

Fights over Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, other immigration-related issues and spending priorities will be rejoined on spending bills this fall that are likely to produce much the same result as current law. The House has passed most of its bills, using far higher levels for domestic spending. Senate measures will follow this fall, with levels reflecting the accord.

At issue are two separate but pressing items on Washington’s must-do agenda: increasing the debt limit to avert a first-ever default on U.S. payments and acting to set overall spending limits and prevent $125 billion in automatic spending cuts from hitting the Pentagon and domestic agencies with 10 percent cuts starting in January.

The threat of the automatic cuts represents the last gasp of a failed 2011 budget and debt pact between former President Barack Obama and then-Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, that promised future spending and deficit cuts to cover a $2 trillion increase in the debt. But a bipartisan deficit “supercommittee” failed to deliver, and lawmakers were unwilling to live with the follow-up cuts to defense and domestic accounts. This is the fourth deal since 2013 to reverse those cuts.

Prospects for an agreement, a months-long priority of top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., became far brighter when Pelosi returned to Washington this month and aggressively pursued the pact with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin , who was anointed lead negotiator instead of more conservative options like acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney or hardline Budget Director Russell Vought.

Mnuchin was eager to avert a crisis over the government’s debt limit. There’s some risk of a first-ever U.S. default in September, and that added urgency to the negotiations.

The pact would defuse the debt limit issue for two years, meaning that Trump or his Democratic successor would not have to confront the politically difficult issue until well into 2021.

Washington’s arcane budget rules give each side a way to paint the numbers favorably. Generally speaking, the deal would lock in place big increases won by both sides in a 2018 pact driven by the demands of GOP defense hawks and award future increases consistent with low inflation.

Pelosi and Schumer claimed rough parity between increases for defense and nondefense programs, but the veteran negotiator retreated on her push for a special carve-out for a newly reauthorized program for veterans utilizing private sector health care providers. Instead non-defense spending increases would exceed increases for the military by $10 billion over the deal’s two-year duration.

In the end, non-defense appropriations would increase by $56.5 billion over two years, giving domestic programs 4% increases on average in the first year of the pact, with a big chunk of those gains eaten up by veterans increases and an unavoidable surge for the U.S. Census. Defense would increase by $46.5 billion over those two years, with the defense budget hitting $738 billion next year, a 3% hike, followed by only a further $2.5 billion increase in 2021.

Trump retains flexibility to transfer money between accounts, which raises the possibility of attempted transfers for building border barriers. That concession angered the Senate’s top Appropriations Committee Democrat, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who said he has “many concerns” with a memorandum outlining the agreement that promised there will also be no “poison pills,” new policy “riders,” or bookkeeping tricks to add to the deal’s spending levels.

The results are likely to displease some on both sides, especially Washington’s weakening deficit hawks and liberals demanding greater spending for progressive priorities. But Pelosi and McConnell have longtime histories with the Capitol’s appropriations process and have forged a powerful alliance to deliver prior spending and debt deals.

The measure would first advance through the House this week and win the Senate’s endorsement next week before Congress takes its annual August recess. Legislation to prevent a government shutdown will follow in September.

https://apnews.com/b72be6c420bb478ea469da72c73065e2

The US national debt just pushed past $22 trillion — here’s how Trump’s $2 trillion in debt compares with Obama, Bush, and Clinton

donald trump chart debt obamaJoe Raedle/Getty Images
  • On February 11, the US national debt eclipsed $22 trillion for the first time.
  • Since President Donald Trump took office, the US has added over $2 trillion in new federal debt.
  • See how Trump’s debt accumulation — and projected debt accumulation — stacks up to that of recent presidents including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

The US national debt passed $22 trillion on February 11, the first time the federal debt had breached that threshold.

The landmark came just over two years after President Donald Trump, who once promised to eliminate the federal debt in eight years, took over the Oval Office.

But compared with some other recent presidents’, Trump’s debt accumulation is not as stunning as it first appears.

Read more: The US national debt just topped $22 trillion for the first time

The US Treasury has been tracking day-by-day debt accumulationsince the start of 1993, meaning daily debt figures are available for the presidencies of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Trump.

In raw terms, Trump added the second-most debt of any recent president. According to the Treasury data, the US added $2.07 trillion — $2,065,536,336,472.90 to be exact — in new debt between Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017, and February 11, when the country pushed past $22 trillion. (The US added another $2.8 billion through February 15, the latest daily figures available.)

That is less than the $3.46 trillion added between Obama’s inauguration in January 2009 and February 11, 2011, but it is more than the $676 billion added under Bush and the $617 billion added under Clinton in their first 752 days as president.

One important difference between Trump’s debt figures and Obama’s is that Trump has added a massive amount of debt while the US economy has been strong, whereas Obama took over during the depths of the financial crisis.

Economists typically recommend that the federal government increase spending, and thus add more debt, during times of economic struggles and then pay down that debt when the economy recovers. So while economic theory would support Obama’s spending to help support the economy, Trump’s recent debt binge has less support among economists.

Looking ahead, recent legislative changes are expected to help Trump catch up to some of his predecessors in the debt-accumulation department.

The combination of the new GOP tax law and the recent bipartisan spending deal are projected to increase the speed of debt accumulation over the rest of Trump’s presidency.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the annual deficit — the shortfall of federal revenue compared with spending in a given fiscal year — will soon push past $1 trillion. 2018’s budget deficit was the largest since 2012, when the US was still dealing with the fallout from the recession.

Based on the CBO’s projections, Trump will have accumulated $3.73 trillion in new debt by the end of the 2020 fiscal year, which, because of federal budget rules, actually runs until the end of September 2020. And by the end of fiscal 2024, the last year of Trump’s second term if he wins reelection, the total debt added is projected to come in at $8.78 trillion.

A lot could change over that time period — adjustments to the tax code that increase revenue or spending cuts would alter the CBO’s projections. But as it stands, Trump could add roughly the same amount of debt as Obama over two terms.

total debt accumulated by president v2Andy Kiersz/Business Insider

But while the raw debt figures are astonishing, putting the accumulation in percentage terms provides a somewhat different picture. Based on Treasury data and CBO projections:

  • The national debt grew by 15% through February 11 of Clinton’sfirst term and ended up growing by 36% by the end of the 2000 fiscal year, the final full fiscal year of his presidency.
  • The debt grew by 12% during Bush’s first 752 days and grew by 75% when the 2008 fiscal year came to a close.
  • Under Obama’s first two years and change, the national debt grew by 33%, and it grew by 84% by the end of the 2016 fiscal year.
  • The debt grew 10% in Trump’s first 752 days and is projected to grow by 44% by the end of the 2024 fiscal year.
percent change though feb 11Andy Kiersz/Business Insider

https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-national-debt-deficit-compared-to-obama-bush-clinton-2019-2

Story 2: United States and Israel Joint Strike Targeting Iran’s Nuclear and Missile Weapon System Programs Deep Underground in Mountains will Require Nuclear Weapons To Be Successful — Waiting For Trump To Start World War 3 — Videos —

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Dr. Strangelove – Ending

We’ll Meet Again
We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do
‘Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away
So will you please say hello
To the folks that I know
Tell them I won’t be long
They’ll be happy to know
That as you saw me go
I was singing this song
We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day
We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do
‘Til the blue skies
Drive the dark clouds far away
So will you please say hello
To the folks that I know
Tell them it won’t be long
They’ll be happy to know
That as you saw me go
I was singin’ this song
We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Hughie Charles / Ross Parker
We’ll Meet Again lyrics © Music Sales Corporation, Universal Music Publishing Group

Peter Sellers doing accents and talking Dr. Strangelove on NBC’s Today Show interview (1980)

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ContactKelsey DavenportDirector for Nonproliferation Policy, (202) 463-8270 x102; Kingston ReifDirector for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, (202) 463-8270 x104

Updated: July 2019

At the dawn of the nuclear age, the United States hoped to maintain a monopoly on its new weapon, but the secrets and the technology for making nuclear weapons soon spread. The United States conducted its first nuclear test explosion in July 1945 and dropped two atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Just four years later, the Soviet Union conducted its first nuclear test explosion. The United Kingdom (1952), France (1960), and China (1964) followed. Seeking to prevent the nuclear weapon ranks from expanding further, the United States and other like-minded states negotiated the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996.

India, Israel, and Pakistan never signed the NPT and possess nuclear arsenals. Iraq initiated a secret nuclear program under Saddam Hussein before the 1991 Persian Gulf War. North Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT in January 2003 and has tested nuclear devices since that time. Iran and Libya have pursued secret nuclear activities in violation of the treaty’s terms, and Syria is suspected of having done the same. Still, nuclear nonproliferation successes outnumber failures and dire forecasts decades ago that the world would be home to dozens of states armed with nuclear weapons have not come to pass.

At the time the NPT was concluded, the nuclear stockpiles of both the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia numbered in the tens of thousands. Beginning in the 1970s, U.S. and Soviet/Russian leaders negotiated a series of bilateral arms control agreements and initiatives that limited, and later helped to reduce, the size of their nuclear arsenals. Today, the United States and Russia each deploy roughly 1,400 strategic warheads on several hundred bombers and missiles, and are modernizing their nuclear delivery systems.

China, India, and Pakistan are all pursuing new ballistic missile, cruise missile, and sea-based nuclear delivery systems. In addition, Pakistan has lowered the threshold for nuclear weapons use by developing tactical nuclear weapons capabilities to counter perceived Indian conventional military threats. North Korea continues its nuclear pursuits in violation of its earlier denuclearization pledges.

Nuclear-Weapon States:

The nuclear-weapon states (NWS) are the five states—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States—officially recognized as possessing nuclear weapons by the NPT. The treaty legitimizes these states’ nuclear arsenals, but establishes they are not supposed to build and maintain such weapons in perpetuity. In 2000, the NWS committed themselves to an “unequivocal undertaking…to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.” Because of the secretive nature with which most governments treat information about their nuclear arsenals, most of the figures below are best estimates of each nuclear-weapon state’s nuclear holdings, including both strategic warheads and lower-yield devices referred to as tactical weapons.

China

  • About 290 total warheads.

France

  • About 300 total warheads.

Russia

  • March 2019 New START declaration: 1,461 strategic warheads deployed on 524 intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and strategic bombers.
  • The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) estimates approximately 4,490 stockpiled warheads and 2,000 retired warheads for a total of roughly 6,490 warheads, as of early 2019.

United Kingdom

  • About 120 strategic warheads, of which no more than 40 are deployed at sea on a nuclear ballistic missile submarine at any given time. The United Kingdom possesses a total of four ballistic missile submarines.
  • Total stockpile is estimated up to 200 warheads.

United States:

  • March 2019 New START declaration: 1,365 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on 656 intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and strategic bombers.
  • FAS estimates approximately 3,800 stockpiled warheads and 2,385 retired warheads for a total of 6,185 warheads as of early 2019.

Non-NPT Nuclear Weapons Possessors:

  • India, Israel, and Pakistan never joined the NPT and are known to possess nuclear weapons.
  • India first tested a nuclear explosive device in 1974. That test spurred Pakistan to ramp up work on its secret nuclear weapons program.
  • India and Pakistan both publicly demonstrated their nuclear weapon capabilities with a round of tit-for-tat nuclear tests in May 1998.
  • Israel has not publicly conducted a nuclear test, does not admit or deny having nuclear weapons, and states that it will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Nevertheless, Israel is universally believed to possess nuclear arms, although it is unclear exactly how many.

The following arsenal estimates are based on the amount of fissile material—highly enriched uranium and plutonium—that each of the states is estimated to have produced. Fissile material is the key element for making nuclear weapons. India and Israel are believed to use plutonium in their weapons, while Pakistan is thought to use highly enriched uranium.

IndiaBetween 130-140 nuclear warheads.
IsraelAn estimated 80-90 nuclear warheads, with fissile material for up to 200.
PakistanBetween 150-160 nuclear warheads.


States of Immediate Proliferation Concern:

Prior to the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran pursued a uranium-enrichment program and other projects that provided it with the capability to produce bomb-grade fissile material and develop nuclear weapons, if it chose to do so. Iran’s uranium enrichment program continues, but it is restricted and monitored by the nuclear deal. North Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT in 2003 and tested nuclear devices and nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. Uncertainty persists about how many nuclear devices North Korea has assembled. In 2007, Israel bombed a site in Syria that was widely assessed to be a nuclear reactor being constructed with North Korea’s assistance. Syria has refused to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s attempts to investigate.

Iran:

  • No known weapons or sufficient fissile material stockpiles to build weapons.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the institution charged with verifying that states are not illicitly building nuclear weapons, concluded in 2003 that Iran had undertaken covert nuclear activities to establish the capacity to indigenously produce fissile material.
  • July 2015: Iran and six world powers negotiated a long-term agreement to verify and significantly reduce Iran’s capacity to produce material for nuclear weapons.
  • As part of this agreement, the IAEA and Iran concluded an investigation into Iran’s past nuclear weapons-related activities. The agency concluded that Iran had an organized program to pursue nuclear weapons prior to 2003. Some of these activities continued through 2009, but there were no indications of weaponization activities taking place after that date.

North Korea:

  • Estimated as of June 2019 to have approximately 20-30 warheads and the fissile material for 30-60 nuclear weapons.
  • While there is a high degree of uncertainty surrounding North Korea’s fissile material stockpile and production, particularly on the uranium enrichment side, North Korea is estimated to have 20-40 kilograms of plutonium and 250-500 kilograms of highly enriched uranium. The estimated annual production of fissile material is enough for 6-7 weapons.
  • North Korea operates its 5-megawatt heavy-water graphite-moderated reactor used to extract plutonium in the past for nuclear warheads on an intermittent basis since August 2013. There has also been intermittent activity at North Korea’s reprocessing facility since 2016, indicating that Pyongyang has likely separated plutonium from the reactor’s spent fuel.
  • North Korea unveiled a centrifuge facility in 2010. It is likely that Pyongyang is using the facility to produce highly-enriched uranium for weapons. U.S. intelligence suggests that there are several additional centrifuge facilities in North Korea.
  • By 2020, experts estimate that North Korea could have anywhere between 20-100 nuclear warheads based on the rate of its stockpile growth and technological improvements.

Syria:

  • September 2007: Israel conducted an airstrike on what U.S. officials alleged was the construction site of a nuclear research reactor similar to North Korea’s Yongbyon reactor.
  • The extent of Syrian-North Korean nuclear cooperation is unclear, but is believed to have begun in 1997.
  • Investigations into U.S. claims uncovered traces of undeclared man-made uranium particles at both the site of the destroyed facility and Syria’s declared research reactor.
  • Syria has not adequately cooperated with the IAEA to clarify the nature of the destroyed facility and procurement efforts that could be related to a nuclear program.

States That Had Nuclear Weapons or Nuclear Weapons Programs at One Time:

  • Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine inherited nuclear weapons following the Soviet Union’s 1991 collapse, but returned them to Russia and joined the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states.
  • South Africa secretly developed but subsequently dismantled its small number of nuclear warheads and also joined the NPT in 1991.
  • Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program prior to the 1991 Persian Gulf War, but was forced to verifiably dismantle it under the supervision of UN inspectors. The U.S.-led March 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent capture of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein definitively ended his regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
  • Libya voluntarily renounced its secret nuclear weapons efforts in December 2003.
  • Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, and Taiwan also shelved nuclear weapons programs.

Sources: Arms Control Association, Federation of American Scientists, International Panel on Fissile Materials, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of State and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Nuclearweaponswhohaswhat

The F-35 has already freaked out Iran and changed everything in the Middle East

Jake Novak
CC: Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II
Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II
Robert Sullivan | FlickrCC

No conversation about the world’s massive political and economic changes since 2015 is complete without mentioning the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, developed by Lockheed Martin.

That became even clearer this week thanks to a somewhat cheeky statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response to Iran’s provocative moves in the Persian Gulf and other threats from Tehran. Standing in front of an F-35 jet parked at an Israeli Air Force base, Netanyahu barely held back a smile as he said that Israel can reach Iran, but Iran cannot reach Israel.

He didn’t add the words “undetected by radar,” but it was surely implied.

To understand why that soundbite with the visual backdrop was more than just bluster, you have trace the F-35′s incredible history in the Middle East over the past four years.

We hopped into a F-35 simulator. Here’s what it’s like

You don’t have to be a military genius to know that a supersonic jet that can fly undetected by radar for hundreds of miles will make a difference anywhere in the world. But the F-35′s already powerful impact in the Middle East was multiplied extensively during the months leading up to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. That was still more than a year before the jet was put into service anywhere in the world.

But it was late summer 2015 when reports in the Israeli news media surfaced about how Israelis working on F-35 prototypes had managed to double the jet’s flight and stealth capacity. It wasn’t lost on anyone that the extension meant Israeli Air Force pilots could use the F-35 to fly from Israel to Tehran and back without detection — and without having to refuel at U.S. air bases in Saudi Arabia or Iraq.

Suddenly, U.S.-Israeli air superiority in the region had risen to a new level. Saudi Arabia had already begun the process of cooperating more with Israel on defense and security matters for some time, something Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at during a “60 Minutes” interview after President Trump’s election. But the idea of letting Israeli jets land and refuel in that Arab country was still a stretch in 2015. Iraqi leaders were also not receptive to the idea. But the new technology was now rendering the objections moot.

The move only acted to bring the Saudis and the Israelis closer. It was one thing for the two countries to have a common enemy in Iran that was on the verge of getting billions of dollars and a clear, if supposedly delayed, path to a nuclear weapon. But with the new F-35 and its expanded capacities in the picture, there was something more tangible than political promises and intelligence sharing to hang their hopes on.

Israel says it’s the first country to use F-35 fighter jet in combat

All of that made it easier for King Salman to shake up his regime and name Mohammed bin Salman the new crown prince. Mohammad, who is aggressive on defense, wasted little time enhancing military ties with Israel and the U.S. There was even an unconfirmed report that he visited Israel secretly in September 2017.

Yet the most direct effects of the F-35 were still to come. In July 2018, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported that Israel had flown a test mission of at least three F-35 jets to Tehran and back from an airbase near Tel Aviv. While never confirmed publicly, a good number of military and political leaders in the region believed and still believe the story. The long-rumored threat the F-35 posed to Iran now seemed like a reality.

Earlier this month, reports in the same Kuwaiti newspaper said that Iran’s military leadership panicked enough over the purported stealth mission that it kept news of it from reaching Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

But when Khamenei found out about the mission, he reportedly moved to fire not only Iran’s air force chief but also the long-serving and powerful commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. That’s major impact without even firing a shot.

All of this comes as Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has decided to choose procuring Russia’s S-400 missile program at the expense of getting promised F-35s from the U.S. Judging by how much his neighbors in the region fear and revere the F-35, this appears to be a ruinous choice.

US halts delivery of F-35 equipment to Turkey

The impact of the F-35′s development has had a major financial impact, as well. Since reports of the Israeli stealth enhancement first surfaced, Lockheed Martin shares are up more the 75%. The F-35 program is also the most expensive defense project in U.S. history, and it has faced a long history of criticism for that cost.

But considering how much the very existence of the jet has already achieved in Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran, it may already be more than worth it.

Jake Novak is a political and economic analyst at Jake Novak News and former CNBC TV producer. You can follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/18/f-35-has-freaked-out-iran-and-changed-everything-in-the-middle-east.html

Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: The United States
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Updated: July 2019

According to the Federation of the American Scientists, as of April 2019, the United States possesses 3,800 stockpiled strategic and non-strategic nuclear warheads and an additional 2,385 retired warheads awaiting dismantlement, for a total of 6,185 nuclear warheads. On Feb. 2, 2018, the Trump administration released its Nuclear Posture Review, detailing its strategy for the role of U.S. nuclear forces. The United States has destroyed about 90.6% of its chemical weapons arsenal as of 2017 and is due to complete destruction by September 2023. It is party to the Biological Weapons Convention and has destroyed its biological weapons arsenal, although Russia alleges that U.S. biodefense research violates the BWC.

Contents

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

  • The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview
  • Delivery Systems
  • Ballistic Missile Defense Systems
  • Fissile Material
  • Proliferation Record
  • Nuclear Doctrine

Biological Weapons

Chemical Weapons

Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

  • The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty
  • New START
  • Nuclear Reductions Beyond New START
  • Conference on Disarmament (CD)
  • Nuclear Weapons Free Zones
  • Nuclear Security Summits
  • Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)
  • Syrian Chemical Weapons

 

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Signed

Ratified

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

1968

1970

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

1996

– – –

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)

1980

1982

CPPNM 2005 Amendment

– – –

2015

Chemical Weapons Convention

1993

1997

Biological Weapons Convention

1972

1975

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

2005

2015

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Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Group Status
Australia Group Member
Missile Technology Control Regime Member
Nuclear Suppliers Group Member
Wassenaar Arrangement Member
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol Signed in 1998, entered into force January, 2009.
Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism Co-founder with Russia
Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation Participant
Proliferation Security Initiative Founder
UN Security Council Resolutions1540 and 1673 The United States has filed reports on its activities to fulfill the resolutions and volunteered to provide assistance to other states.

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Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview

According to the Federation of the American Scientists, as of April 2019, the United States possesses 3,800 stockpiled strategic and non-strategic nuclear warheads and an additional 2,385 retired warheads awaiting dismantlement, for a total arsenal of 6,185 warheads. In April 2019, the Defense Department stated it would no longer declassify the number of U.S. nuclear warheads.

Under the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), the United States can deploy no more than 1,550 treaty accountable strategic warheads on 700 deployed delivery systems until February 2021 when the treaty expires. According to the March 2019 New START data exchange, the United States deploys 1,365 strategic nuclear warheads on 656 strategic delivery systems.

The United States also deploys an additional 150 tactical (non-strategic) nuclear warheads based in Europe. While the United States and Russia maintain similarly sized total arsenals, the United States possesses a much larger number of strategic warheads and delivery systems while Russia possesses a much larger number of non-strategic (or tactical) nuclear warheads.

The United States is the only nation to have used nuclear weapons against another country, dropping two bombs (one apiece) on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

Delivery Systems

(For a detailed overview of current and planned U.S. nuclear modernization programs, see our fact sheet here.)

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM)

  •  As of April 2019, the United States Air Force deploys 400 LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBMs.
    • The Minuteman III has a range of over 6,000 miles (9,650-13,000 km).
    • Each missile is equipped with either one 300 kt W87 warhead or one 335 kt W78 warhead.
  • Under New START, the United States reduced the number of deployed ICBMs from 450 to 400. 50 excess silos have not been destroyed but have been kept in a “warm” operational status and can be loaded with missiles relatively quickly if necessary.
  • In 2015, the United States concluded a multibillion dollar, decade-long modernization program that will extend the service life of the Minuteman III to beyond 2030.
  • The U.S. Air Force is also developing a new ICBM, known as the ground-based strategic deterrent (GBSD), which is intended to replace the Minuteman III between 2029 and 2035.

Submarines and Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM)

Submarines:

  • The U.S. Navy operates 14 Ohio-class SSBNs submarines, two of which are undergoing overhaul of their nuclear reactors at any given time. The remaining 12 are available for deployment. However, since some operational SSBNs also undergo minor repairs at any given time the actual number of SSBNs at sea usually numbers at around 10.
  • 7 submarines are based out of Bangor, Washington and 5 submarines are based out of Kings Bay, Georgia.
  • The submarines originally had 24 missile tubes for Trident II D5 SLBMs, but under New START, the Navy deactivated 4 tubes on each submarine, finishing this process in 2017.
  • The Ohio-class submarines have a life-span of 42 years.

Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs):

  • The Trident II D5 was first deployed in 1990 and has an operational range of 7,400-12,000 km.
  • The Trident II D5 missile can hold up to eight warheads (but usually holds an average of four to five) and carries 3 variants:
    • the W88—a 475 kt Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle (MIRV) warhead.
    • the W76-0—a 100 kt MIRV warhead.
    • the W76-1—a 100 kt MIRV warhead.
  • To comply with New START, the Navy will not deploy more than 240 missiles. As of February 2018, 203 submarine-launched ballistic missiles were deployed.
  • An ongoing life extension program is expected to keep the Trident II D5 in service until  2042.
  • The Trident II D5 is the only MIRV’ed (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle) strategic missile remaining in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Bombers

  • As of April 2019, the Air Force deploys 46 nuclear-capable B-52H Stratofortress bombers and 20 nuclear-capable B-2A Spirit bombers.
  • The Air Force plans to deploy no more than 60 nuclear-capable strategic bombers under New START.
  • An estimated 850 nuclear warheads are assigned to the strategic bombers, but only about 300 are typically deployed at bomber bases.
    • B-52H Stratofortress bombers: dual-capable; can carry 20 AGM-86B cruise missiles. The AGM-86B has a range of 2,500 km and is equipped with a 5-150 kt W80-1 warhead
    • B-2A Spirit bombers: dual capable; can carry 16 B61-7, B61-11, or B83-1 gravity bombs.
  • The United States also maintains several fighter-aircraft that serve in a dual-capable role. The F-15E and F-16C have been the cornerstone of this aspect of nuclear deterrence, carrying the B61 gravity bomb. The new stealth F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, will replace the F-16 as the U.S. Air Force’s primary nuclear capable fighter-aircraft.

Ballistic Missile Defense Systems

The United States develops and deploys several ballistic missile defense systems around the world. To learn more, see: “U.S. Missile Defense Programs at a Glance.”

Fissile Material

Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

  • The United States has publicly declared that it no longer produces fissile material for weapons purposes. It stopped production of HEU in 1992.
  • In March 2016, the United States announced the declassification of its national inventory of highly enriched uranium (HEU) of 585.6 tons, as of September 30, 2013.
  • The United States halted the production of HEU for weapons in 1964 and ceased plutonium separation for weapons in 1992.
  • Estimates from 2016 place the U.S. HEU stockpile at around 600 metric tons, including 253 metric tons of military HEU and 264 metric tons of fresh and spent naval HEU.
  • According to the 2015 Global Fissile Material Report, the United States has about 40 metric tons of HEU remaining to be downblended of the 187 metric tons it declared as excess to defense requirements and has committed to dispose.

Plutonium

  • The United States ended production of separated plutonium in 1988.
  • At the end of 2014, U.S. military plutonium stockpiles amounted to a total of 87.6 declared metric tons (49.3 metric tons of which are declared as excess military plutonium).
  • In October 2016, citing U.S. failure to meet its obligations under the agreement, Russia suspended its own implementation of the deal. Russia refuses to resume the agreement’s implementation until U.S. sanctions against Russia are lifted and NATO forces in Europe are reorganized along lines favorable to Russia. Russia contends that U.S. plans to abandon the conversion of plutonium into MOX fuel in favor of a cheaper and faster downblending method does not meet the terms of the deal because doing so would fail to change the composition of the plutonium from weapons-grade to reactor grade.
  • The United States possesses no separated civilian plutonium but at the end of 2014, an estimated 625 metric tons of plutonium were contained in spent fuel stored at civilian reactor sites.
  • Under the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA), finalized with Russia in 2000, the United States committed to disposing of 34 metric tons of excess weapons-grade plutonium beginning in 2018. The agreement was amended in 2010 to change the agreed disposition methods in which Russia abandoned using mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel in light-water reactors in favor or irradiating plutonium in its fast-neutron reactors. The amendment also expressed renewed U.S. commitment to provide $400 million towards the Russian disposition program. Russia suspended cooperation with the agreement in November 2016.

 Proliferation Record

  • A close relationship exists between U.S. and British nuclear weapons programs. The United States supplies the United Kingdom with the Trident II D5 SLBM.
  • Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey all host U.S. tactical nuclear gravity bombs as part of NATO nuclear sharing agreements. The estimated 180 weapons remain under U.S. custody during peacetime, but some may be released to U.S. allies for delivery in times of war.
  • Beginning with President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1953 “Atoms for Peace” initiative, the United States has engaged in extensive worldwide trading and exchanging of fissile materials and technical information for nuclear science research and the peaceful use of nuclear technology. In 1954, an amendment to the Atomic Energy Act allowed bilateral nuclear agreements with U.S. allies to proceed, with the intent of exporting only low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel; however, this soon expanded to include HEU.
  • Under the “Atoms for Peace” program a number of former, aspiring, and current nuclear-weapon states such as South Africa, Iran, India, Pakistan, and Israel all received, directly or indirectly, training and technology transfers utilized in their nuclear weapons programs. For example, in 1967, the United States supplied Iran with a 5 megawatt nuclear research reactor along with HEU fuel. Iran admitted to using the reactor in the early 1990s for the production of small amounts of Polonium-210, a radioactive substance capable of starting a chain reaction inside a nuclear weapon.
  • Since the end of the Cold War the United States has tried to mitigate the adverse effects of the “Atoms for Peace” initiative and returned exported HEU and plutonium to the United States.

Nuclear Doctrine

Then-Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, in a Feb. 2, 2018 press briefing, claimed that the 2018 NPR “reaffirms that the fundamental role of U.S. nuclear policy is deterrence.” Critics of the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) argue that the NPR reverses previous policy to reduce the role and number of U.S. nuclear weapons.

Declaratory Policy

The NPR dictates that the use of nuclear weapons will only be considered under “extreme circumstances” to defend the “vital interests” of the United States and its allies. It defines “extreme circumstances,” which the 2010 NPR did not, to include “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks” against “U.S., allied or partner civilian population or infrastructure, and attacks on U.S. or allied nuclear forces, their command and control, or warning and attack assessment capabilities.” For more on declaratory policy, see: Nuclear Declaratory Policy and Negative Security Assurances.

Negative Security Assurance

The NPR also includes a negative security assurance that the United States will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapons states that are “party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and are in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations.” The review caveats this negative security assurance by retaining “the right to make any adjustment in the assurance that may be warranted by the evolution and proliferation of non-nuclear strategic attack technologies and U.S. capabilities to counter that threat.” For more on negative security assurances, see: U.S. Negative Security Assurances at a Glance.

Testing
The United States has conducted 1,030 nuclear weapons tests. The first test was conducted on July 16, 1945 and the last test occurred on Sept. 23, 1992. The United States was the first country to conduct a nuclear test.

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Biological Weapons

  • In the early 1970s, the United States destroyed its entire stockpile of biological weapons, which had been developed between 1943 and 1969.
  • The United States ratified the Biological Weapons Convention in 1975.  However, in 2001, the Bush administration opposed and killed an effort dating back to 1995 to augment the Biological Weapons Convention with a legally binding verification protocol. U.S. officials said the protocol would be too burdensome on legitimate governments and private biodefense programs, while at the same time failing to deter cheaters.
  • According to a 2016 State Department report, “In December 2015 at the annual Meeting of States Parties to the BWC, the delegation of the Russian Federation asserted that the United States had knowingly transferred live anthrax spores to a foreign country for use in open-air testing, and that this constituted a ‘grave violation’ of Articles III and IV of the BWC [Biological Weapons Convention].”
  • The United States maintains that these transfers were a blunder. The report also notes that, “All U.S. activities during the reporting period were consistent with the obligations set forth in the BWC. The United States continues to work toward enhancing transparency of biological defense work using the BWC confidence-building measures.”

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Chemical Weapons

  • Behind Russia, the United States has declared the second-largest stockpile of chemical agents.
  • As of 2017, the United States had destroyed about 25,154 metric tons, or about 90.6 percent, of its declared Category 1 chemical weapons stockpile. The United States has completed destruction of all its Category 2 and 3 chemical weapons.
  • The United States received several extensions on its initial deadline for chemical weapons destruction under the Chemical Weapons Convention, and it now due to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal by September 2023.
  • Destruction of the United States’ largest remaining stockpile of chemical weapons began in 2016 at Colorado’s Pueblo Chemical Depot. Upon completion, the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, Kentucky will have the last remaining chemical agent stockpile in the United States.

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Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities  

Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty
The 1987 INF Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union requires the United States and Russia to eliminate and permanently forswear all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. The treaty resulted in the United States and the Soviet Union destroying a total of 2,692 short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles by the treaty’s implementation deadline of June 1, 1991.
However, in July 2014 the U.S. State Department officially assessed Russia to be in violation of the agreement citing Russian production and testing of an illegal ground-launched cruise missile. The State Department reiterated this conclusion in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. In February 2019 the United States announced its intention to suspend its obligations and withdraw from the treaty, beginning a six-month withdrawal period that will end in August.  For more information on the INF Treaty visit our “INF Treaty at a Glance” fact sheet.

New START
In April 2010, the United States and Russia signed a successor agreement to the original Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) accord. The 2010 agreement, known as New START, commenced on Feb. 5, 2011. It requires that both sides reduce their arsenals to 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons on no more than 700 ICBMs, SLMBs, and bombers by Feb. 5, 2018 and both sides met the limits by the deadline. In addition, it contains rigorous monitoring and verification provisions to ensure compliance with the agreement. President Donald Trump has repeatedly questioned the value of New START, calling it a “one-sided” agreement.

New START allows for a five-year extension subject to the agreement of both parties. The Trump administration has begun an interagency review on whether to extend the treaty and is weighing several factors, including the lack of China’s participation in the agreement, Russia’s new and developing strategic systems, and Russian tactical delivery systems currently not covered by the treaty. Though no official decision has been made yet regarding the Trump administration’s decision to extend, National Security Advisor John Bolton called it“unlikely” in June 2019.

Nuclear Reduction Beyond New START
In February 2013, President Obama announced that the United States intended to engage with Russia to further reduce deployed strategic warheads by one-third below the New START limit to around 1,100 to 1,000 deployed warheads. However, there has been little progress toward achieving such reductions due to the deterioration of U.S.-Russia relations in the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Russia’s insistence that other issues, such as limits on U.S. missile defenses, be part of negotiations on further reductions. In the spring of 2019, the White House told reporters that the administration is seeking a new trilateral arms control agreement that limits all types of nuclear weapons and includes China in addition to the United States and Russia.

Conference on Disarmament (CD)
The Conference on Disarmament was established in 1979 as a multilateral disarmament negotiating forum by the international community. At the 65-member CD, the United States has expressed support for continuing discussions on the CD’s core issues: nuclear disarmament, a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT), prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS), and negative security assurances. The United States has been a prominent supporter of a proposed FMCT.

In March 1995, the CD took up The Shannon Mandate which established an ad hoc committee directed to negotiate an FMCT by the end of the 1995 session. A lack of consensus over verification provisions, as well as desires to hold parallel negotiations on outer space arms control issues, prevented negotiations from getting underway. Later, in May 2006, the United States introduced a draft FMCT along with a draft mandate for its negotiations. However, following an impasse in negotiations on a FMCT in 2010, the United States (and others) signaled its desire to look at alternative approaches outside the CD and called for negotiations to be moved to the United Nations General Assembly where the agreement could be endorsed by a majority vote. However, the United States no longer makes comments to this effect.

The United States does not support negotiations on PAROS, deeming it unnecessary because there are no weapons yet deployed in outer space. China and Russia continue to articulate a desire to hold parallel negotiations, a point which has further stalled efforts to begin FMCT negotiations.

Nuclear Weapons Free Zones
The United States has ratified a protocol to the Latin America and the Caribbean Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) treaty pledging not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against the contracting parties. The U.S. has declined to ratify similar additional protocols to any of the remaining NWFZ treaties for Africa, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific.

Nuclear Security Summits
In April 2010, the United States hosted the first Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Washington, DC. Participants included 47 countries, 38 of which were represented at the head of state or head of government level, and the heads of the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the European Union. At the summit, the participants unanimously adopted the goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear material in the next four years. The United States also attended the NSS in Seoul, South Korea, on March 26-27, 2012 and the third NSS on Mar. 24-25, 2014. Washington hosted a fourth summit in the Spring of 2016 where attendees developed action plansfor five global organizations to continue the work of the summits.

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)
Under the Obama administration the United States played the central role in the brokering of the July 2015 JCPOA, better known as the “Iran deal,” which limits and rolls back Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. Congress in September 2015 debated a resolution that would have blocked implementation of the accord, but it failed to receive enough votes to pass the Senate. In January 2016, sanctions on Iran, including those targeting the financial and oil sectors, were lifted and $100 billion worth of frozen Iranian assets were released after international inspectors confirmed that Iran had rolled back large sections of its nuclear program and met more intrusive monitoring requirements.

On May 8, 2018 President Trump violated the JCPOA by reimposing sanctions on Iran that were lifted by the agreement, despite the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Iran was adhering to its commitments under the deal and over objections from the remaining parties to the agreement. Since the U.S. decision to withdraw, the remaining parties to the deal have reiterated their commitment to the JCPOA and taken steps to bypass U.S. sanctions and preserve legitimate trade with Iran.

Syrian Chemical Weapons
In September 2013, in the aftermath of the large-scale use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, United States reached an agreement with Russia to account, inspect, control, and eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons. Before the deal was reached, the United States was planning to use airstrikes to punish the perpetrators of the attack, which the United States blamed on the Syrian government. By July 2014, Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile had been successfully removed from the country and flagged for destruction following a broad multilateral operation. However, the United States has raised concerns about the accuracy of Syria’s declaration.

In September 2014, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that chlorine gas was being used in Syria. The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on Mar. 6, 2015 condemning the use of chlorine gas in Syria. Secretary of State John Kerry was quick to suggest that the Assad regime was the likely perpetrator of the chlorine gas attacks; Russia, however, was hesitant to assign blame. In August 2016, the third report of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism was released, finding that the Syrian government was responsible for chemical weapons attacks.

In April 2017, another chemical weapon attack was carried out in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun where Syrian government warplanes were accused of spreading a nerve agent via bombs, killing dozens. U.S. President Donald Trump responded by immediately blaming the regime of Bashar Assad and launching 59 Tomahawk missiles targeting the airfield that had allegedly launched the attack. Following the launches, Trump stated that “It is in this vital national security of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.” As a justification for the U.S. response, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that “If you violate international agreements, if you fail to live up to commitments, if you become a threat to others, at some point a response is likely to be undertaken.”

(For a detailed timeline on Syrian chemical weapons, see our fact sheet here.)

https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/unitedstatesprofile

9 questions about the US-Iran standoff you were too embarrassed to ask

Will the US and Iran go to war?

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefs reporters on the suspected attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman at the State Department on June 13, 2019, in Washington, DC.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefs reporters on the suspected attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman at the State Department on June 13, 2019, in Washington, DC.
 Win McNamee/Getty Images

For the past month and a half, the US and much of the world has been consumed by a terrifying question: Is America going to war with Iran?

It’s an understandable question. The Trump administration says an Iranian strike on Americans in the Middle East remains “imminent” and has blamed Tehran for attacks on oil tankers in a vital waterway. Iran, meanwhile, has told its proxies to prepare for war and indicated it may stop abiding by the 2015 nuclear deal within just a matter of days (though it hasn’t said that it plans to pursue a nuclear weapon).

Those developments, combined with the rise of Iran hawks in the administration like National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have led to widespreadfear that some sort of conflict between Washington and Tehran is imminent.

Here’s the good news: Right now it seems fairly unlikely that a full-blown war is on the horizon — even though a limited strike was considered this week — mostly because President Donald Trump and American allies don’t want one. Nor does Iran, it seems.

But the situation is still very tense, and the room for error and miscalculation on both sides remains high.

So what exactly is going on? How did we get here? Why did this escalation happen so suddenly? And what would a conflict with Iran even look like, anyway?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. What follows are answers to some of the most pressing questions about the latest US-Iran standoff; hopefully they’ll allow you to breathe just a little easier.

1) What is actually going on?

The current crisis started on May 5, when National Security Adviser John Bolton announced the US was deploying an aircraft carrier and bomber planes to the Persian Gulf in response to “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” of threats from Iran.

This move, Bolton said, was meant “to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.” He said that the US “is not seeking war with the Iranian regime,” but added, “we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces.”

At the time, it was unclear exactly what that intelligence said, but reports over the following days provided a bit more clarity. Iran apparently intended to target US troops in Iraq and Syria, or even use drones against Americans in a key waterway near Yemen. There was also information that Iran put cruise missiles on ships, heightening fears that it might attack US Navy vessels with them.

The severity of the intelligence remains in dispute, and some say Bolton and others have inflated the threat. What isn’t in dispute is that America’s response dramatically raised the tension between the two countries — and a series of subsequent events only made things worse.

On May 8, three days after Bolton’s statement, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that his country would no longer comply with parts of the 2015 nuclear deal if European signatories to the deal didn’t provide Iran with financial relief within 60 days.

Specifically, Rouhani said Iran would start stockpiling extra low-enriched uranium and heavy water, the kind used in nuclear reactors that could be used to produce a nuclear weapon, and would enrich uranium to previously banned levels.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations on September 26, 2018.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations on September 26, 2018.
 Spencer Platt/Getty Images

All those actions remain banned by the agreement, which Iran, as well as some European powers, Russia, and China, is still party to. But Tehran’s decision, which it telegraphed days in advance, came exactly one year after Trump ended the US’s commitment to the accord.

Rouhani made sure all of that wasn’t an escalation. “The path we have chosen today is not the path of war,” he said, “it is the path of diplomacy.”

Still, that set the stage for a potential confrontation: The Trump administration doesn’t want Iran to get a nuclear weapon, and while Rouhani’s announcement still wouldn’t put Tehran anywhere near obtaining the bomb, it inched a little closer. And with the threat of a military fight hanging over it all, the chance for miscalculation grew.

But it didn’t stop there. A few days later, four oil tankers were damaged in attacks near the Strait of Hormuz, a vital waterway aggressively patrolled by Iran through which a third of the world’s liquefied natural gas and almost 20 percent of the world’s oil production flows.

Two of the oil tankers belonged to Saudi Arabia and one belonged to the United Arab Emirates — both staunch enemies of Iran and friends to the US. (The fourth was owned by a Norwegian company.) United Nations ambassadors from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Norway said two weeks ago that the damages came after a country used divers to place mines on the large ships. The diplomats didn’t specifically name Iran as the culprit, but the US had already blamed Tehranfor the sabotage.

Iran denied any involvement. But one day after the suspected attack, Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen launched an assault on a Saudi oil pipeline. And one of Iran’s top military leaders reportedly told militias in Iraq to prepare for a war, prompting the US to remove some staff from the embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Erbil last month.

Then, last week, two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman — just east of the Strait of Hormuz — were damaged in suspected attacks. The Trump administration said Iran was responsible.

That was followed by an Iranian official on Monday saying his country would stockpile enough low-enriched uranium that it would blow through the limits imposed in the 2015 nuclear deal, the same one the US withdrew from last year. The US soon after responded y saying it would send 1,000 more troops to the Middle East to counter Iran.

And then on Wednesday night or Thursday morning (the timing is still unclear), Iran shot down a US military drone (no one was hurt). That’s by far the biggest provocation yet in the weeks-long standoff, and could cause the tensions to skyrocket.

Trump authorized a limited strike on Iran to retaliate for the downing, but suddenly reversed himself, he said on Friday morning, worried that potentially killing Iranians wouldn’t be a proportionate response.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….On Monday they shot down an unmanned drone flying in International Waters. We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not….

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!

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Put together, it’s a fraught, delicate, and dangerous situation that could spiral out of control if not carefully managed by both countries. Worries of a larger war are widespread, and it’s not clear how the US and Iran will walk back from the brink.

2) Why is all of this happening right now?

The US and Iran have been at odds for decades. Since a 1979 revolution in Iran that overthrew the American-backed and installed leader, both countries have held aggressive stances toward the other.

Over the years, Iranian-backed groups have fought and attacked US forces, leaving hundreds of American troops dead in total. The US has also launched assaults of its own, including a devastating cyberattack, a naval campaign to sink Iranian ships, and mistakenly downing an Iranian commercial airliner.

First, the US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal last year, reimposing sanctions on the country and compelling European allies to stop importing Iranian oil. That has started to tank Iran’s economy.

Second is how the intelligence and military actions have been perceived over the past few weeks. According to the Wall Street Journal, Iran may have feared an American attack was imminent and is taking action to dissuade the US from doing so.

That view would make sense, according to some Iran experts. “To counterattack in response to pressure is a standard part of the Iranian playbook,” Suzanne Maloney, an Iran expert at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, tweeted on May 6.

The Iranian Islamic Republic Army demonstrates in solidarity with people in the street during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. They are carrying posters of the Ayatollah Khomeini, the Iranian religious and political leader.
The Iranian Islamic Republic Army demonstrates in solidarity with people in the street during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. They are carrying posters of the Ayatollah Khomeini, the Iranian religious and political leader.
 Keystone/Getty Images

Misperception and miscalculation are always worrisome in situations like this. One wrong move by the US, for example, could lead Iran to think war is afoot, thereby compelling Tehran to make aggressive countermoves or even launch assaults of its own. The same is true if Tehran startles Washington with some action, leading the White House to authorize a strike.

Which takes us to the third “push”: the Iran hawks in the Trump administration who are itching for a fight.

John Bolton, Trump’s top national security aide, has long argued for regime change in Iran and advocated for bombing the country to stop it from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also pushed the US to confront the Iranian regime.

In May 2018, he gave a speech outlining 12 ways the clerical government must change — including stopping its support for proxy groups and halting its missile program — before the US lifts any financial and diplomatic pressure off Tehran.

Together, they have made the Trump administration a lot more antagonistic toward the Islamic Republic. It’s a stark difference from when Trump was flanked by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. While they both expressed deep distrust of Iran, they didn’t make maximalist demands or threaten conflict so brazenly.

It’s important to note that Trump says he doesn’t want a war with Iran, but the problem is that he’s effectively outsourced his Iran policy to the hawks. That means that at a time when cooler heads should prevail, there aren’t many cool heads to be found.

“Moments like these are when institutions should matter: leadership at the cabinet level, a serious policy-making process, intelligence standards, professional ethics. All those have been eroded by the Trump administration,” Maloney tweeted.

3) Wait, why do Bolton and Pompeo hate Iran so much?

It’s hard to find two more anti-Iran figures in Washington than the national security adviser and the secretary of state.

Let’s start with Bolton: The longtime Republican official and operative rarely has found an authoritarian regime he hasn’t wanted to punish in some way, but Iran seems to hold a special place in his heart.

In 2015, he wrote an op-ed for the New York Times making the case that the US should bomb Iran to keep it from getting a nuclear weapon. “Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program,” Bolton wrote, slamming the Obama administration’s efforts to strike a diplomatic agreement with Tehran. “The inconvenient truth is that only military action … can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.”

And in 2017, just eight months before becoming Trump’s third national security adviser, Bolton gave a paid speech to an Iranian exile group that wants to overthrow the country’s leadership.

Clearly, he agrees with them: “The declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran,” he said. “The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change and, therefore, the only solution is to change the regime itself.”

“Before 2019, we here will celebrate in Tehran,” he concluded. Well, it’s 2019 now, so perhaps Bolton hopes to make up for lost time.

Where Bolton’s animus seems driven by Cold War-era thinking, Pompeo’s seems to come from something much deeper.

The nation’s chief diplomat has made no secret of his evangelical Christian faith, which he admits guides his policy views. That holds true for world affairs, where his religious beliefs have partly led him to offer unqualified support for Israel, a key American ally — and for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who sees Iran as an existential threat to his country.

During a March 20 visit to Jerusalem, for example, Pompeo and Netanyahu both vowed to continue their joint pressure on Iran. Five days later, the secretary gave a speech to the pro-Israel lobby group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to show his support for the US ally and disdain for Iran.

“We’ve enacted the strongest pressure campaign in history against Iran and its proxies, and they are feeling the pain,” Pompeo said to applause. He added: “Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, and any nation that espouses anti-Zionism, like Iran, must be confronted. We must defend the rightful homeland of the Jewish people.”

Pompeo, then, has expressly linked America’s combative stance against Iran to support for Israel. While he has also said Iran deserves pushback for its pursuit of a nuclear program and its support for terrorists and dictators like Bashar al-Assad in Syria, it’s clear Pompeo views Iran as a threat to a country important to his Christian faith.

Which means Bolton and Pompeo are unlikely to tamp down growing tensions with Iran. If anything, they will want to escalate matters now that they have the chance.

4) Are the US and Iran going to war?

Breathe easy: It doesn’t look like the US will go to war with Iran anytime soon, although that possibility can’t be fully counted out. But there are three main reasons for optimism (or just not outright pessimism).

First some experts say the US military deployments to the Middle East aren’t so out of the ordinary.

Sure, the US moved an anti-missile battery to the region last month, but it removed four of them months earlier, Ilan Goldenberg, an Iran expert at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, tweeted on May 11. He added that the aircraft carrier sent to the Middle East to deter an Iranian attack was previously scheduled to be in the region.

“So what is actually happening? Someone in the administration has decided to dramatically increase the media posture of the US government around these deployments to apply pressure on Iran,” Goldenberg continued. The reason for the exaggeration, though, is not entirely clear.

Second, Trump doesn’t seem to want a war with Iran. He campaigned on not getting the US further involved in wars abroad, particularly in the Middle East. While Trump is no dove on Iran and seems to relish the US-led pressure on it, he’s not aching for a fight like some around him. He reportedly told his acting Pentagon chief in May that he doesn’t want to get into a skirmish with Iran right now.

And when Trump was asked on May 16 if the US was going to war Iran, he simply responded: “Hope not.”

MSNBC

@MSNBC

Reporter: “Mr. President, are we going to war with Iran?”

President Trump: “Hope not.”

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Third, it actually seems like tensions may be fairly low in the grand scheme of things. For example, Pompeo is leaning on European allies to compel Iran to “de-escalate” the tensions, the New York Times reported in May. It’s unclear if he’s doing this under Trump’s orders or if he’s decided to tamp down his typical hawkish Iran policies for the time being.

However, the recent attacks on oil tankers, Iran’s statement that it won’t abide by a crucial part of the nuclear deal, and the downing of the drone means problems might mount in the days ahead.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Iran made a very big mistake!

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Still, the US-Iran standoff isn’t quite as dire as it seems and may settle down. That’s not guaranteed, of course, as there’s always room for error. But for now, it doesn’t look like the US and Iran are going to war.

5) If the US did decide to go to war with Iran, what would be the rationale?

Based on the Trump administration’s statements and past US policy, America might choose to go to war for three reasons: 1) Iran gets close to obtaining a nuclear weapon, 2) the US decides to overthrow the regime, or 3) Iran launches a massive attack on Americans requiring an even bigger response in return.

Let’s start with the nuclear issue. US policy in this and previous administrations is that Iran should not have a nuclear weapon. That’s why President Barack Obama signed the Iran nuclear deal — to delay Tehran’s path to the bomb. Trump pulled out of the deal for a variety of reasons, but one was that he claimed it made Iran’s ability to get a nuke more likely, even though most experts disagree.

As of today, Iran is still far away from having a reliable nuclear arsenal at its disposal — and it has never officially said it is even seeking the bomb in the first place. But if it starts to move seriously in that direction, one could imagine folks like Bolton and Netanyahu pushing for a military strike on its nuclear facilities. As a sign of Israel’s seriousness on this issue, it has reportedly even killed nuclear scientists working for the Iranian regime.

Iran’s armed forces during an April 17, 2008 military parade.
Iran’s armed forces during an April 17, 2008, military parade.
 Majid/Getty Images

But what would that actually accomplish in the long run? Would we be able to stop Iran from ever getting a bomb if it really wanted to?

“We can probably destroy the existing program” with limited strikes, Richard Nephew, an architect of the Iran nuclear deal, told me last month. But “we cannot prevent Iran from reconstituting that program. So we would then have to either attack again in the future to deal with a reconstituted nuclear program or acquiesce to Iran having a nuclear weapon.”

Attacking Iran, he added, could actually compel the country to pursue the bomb in earnest in order to deter more US strikes.

Okay, so what about starting a war to overthrow the regime? That’s even less likely to happen, as it would take a colossal military effort. Right now the administration is reportedly considering sending 6,000 more troops to the gulf region, far below what would be required to carry out a major war against Iran.

That’s a far cry from previous considerations. In May administration weighed one plan which included sending 120,000 US troops to the Middle East — a plan Trump denied was ever in the works. Colin Kahl, who oversaw the Pentagon’s Iran planning from 2009 to 2011, tweeted on May 13 that the US would only deploy that many service members if regime change was the goal, although he noted it’s still too small of a force for a full-scale invasion.

By comparison, the US sent around 150,000 troops in the initial phase of the 2003 invasion of Iraq — and Iran is a much bigger country than Iraq.

If the White House aims to remove Iran’s leadership permanently, then, it would need to launch an invasion on a scale even bigger than the one in Iraq — starting what would be one of the most horrific wars in recent memory and leading to hundreds of thousands dead.

It’s hard to imagine Trump would find much love for a full-scale war. “Almost nobody would support an Iraq-like ground invasion for regime change under current circumstances,” Eric Brewer, who worked on Iran in Trump’s National Security Council, told me last month. “It’s hard to over-emphasize how costly such a conflict would be.”

Finally, war could break out if Iran were to attack American forces. Iran’s military leadershipdoes have its troops and proxies on high alert, but that doesn’t mean Tehran plans to imminently attack Americans.

The Islamic Republic is almost certainly aware that any action that puts US troops, diplomats, or private citizens in mortal danger will provide Trump advisers like Bolton or Pompeo with the ammunition needed to push harder for war.

The pressure will also be on Trump to respond in kind — if not more forcefully — if Iran kills Americans during this tense time. That pressure actually already exists, with some saying the attacks on two oil tankers last week requires a US military response.

Face The Nation

@FaceTheNation

NEW: @SenTomCotton says, “unprovoked attacks on commercial shipping warrant a retaliatory military strike against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

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That therefore incentivizes Tehran not to make overly provocative moves right now.

Luckily, then, none of these main pathways to war seem particularly open. And while it’s unlikely they will be, that’s not a certainty either.

6) What would a war with Iran look like?

That really comes down to what the US wants to accomplish, experts say. As noted above, war could take the form of targeted US military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities, or it could look like a full-scale invasion of Iran by the US.

But it’s worth noting that there are lower-level ways the US and Iran could fight each other.

US Army soldiers take part in a joint Israeli-American military exercise at a Patriot missile battery site October 27, 2009, in Tel Aviv, Israel.
US Army soldiers take part in a joint Israeli-American military exercise at a Patriot missile battery site on October 27, 2009, in Tel Aviv, Israel.
 Ziv Koren-Pool/Getty Images

For example, the US could launch cyberattacks on Iran’s infrastructure and power grid, a plan the military has already named “Nitro Zeus.” The Obama administration used this method to bring down part of Iran’s nuclear program. However, Iran has cyber capabilities of its own that it could use to target important American companies or even the government.

What’s more, Iran’s proxies across the Middle East could target Americans in Iraq, Syria, or elsewhere in the Middle East. Perhaps worried about that possibility, the US removed staff from two of its missions in Iraq last month.

Importantly, Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons, so the worst attack imaginable is off the table. Still, it’s possible that Tehran could use its growing missile program to target American ships and troops in the area.

It therefore wouldn’t take a full-on fight for things to get really, really bad between the US and Iran pretty quickly. Let’s hope we don’t find out.

7) Does anyone outside the US want an Iran war?

Mainly no, but there are some out there who do.

Israel, which in the past has advocated for strikes on Iran, is actively trying to stay out of the fray. The main reason is that a major war with Tehran would certainly involve Israel, most likely pitting it against Hezbollah, Iran’s ally and proxy in Lebanon.

Axios reported in May that Netanyahu has told his top defense and intelligence leadership that his country should “make every effort not to get dragged into the escalation in the Gulf and would not interfere directly in the situation.” So Israel, along with the United Arab Emirates, has backed off its openly hawkish Iran stances so as not to spark a war right now.

Russia and European countries, especially those still party to the Iran nuclear deal, are also working as go-betweens to end the standoff. Experts also say that European nations worry greatly about millions of refugees streaming into the continent if a war with Iran breaks out, which would put immense pressure on governments already dealing with the fallout of the Syrian refugee crisis.

That’s bad news for Bolton and others who might want a full-on war with Iran. For the US to be successful, it will need political and military support from Israel and Europeans. Without them, the US would struggle to have the international legitimacy and help it needs not only to win the fight but also to deal with the immense fallout.

But the US does have some support for a fight. Most of it comes from Saudi Arabia, which has been locked in a decades-long cold war of sorts with Iran for control in the Middle East. Arab News, a Riyadh-aligned newspaper, called for the US to launch a “surgical strike” on Iran in May.

That said, Riyadh doesn’t seem to want a war right now. Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters last month that “the kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want war in the region and does not strive for that.” He added: “if the other side chooses war, the kingdom will fight this with all force and determination and it will defend itself, its citizens and its interests.”

Still, it seems that if the US decided to launch a war with Iran, it would mostly do so alone. That must surely give even those itching for a fight in the Trump administration some pause.

8) This feels like the runup to the Iraq War. Is it similar?

Not really, no. “There are valid concerns that some in the administration are casting intelligence in a certain light to further their goals of regime change, but I think there are more differences than similarities to Iraq,” says Brewer, who is now at the Center for a New American Security in Washington.

In the runup to the Iraq War, George W. Bush’s administration made a clear and repeated case that Saddam Hussein, the country’s brutal dictator, had weapons of mass destruction. The problem is that it was based on cherry-picked intelligence that proved not to be credible, leading the US to launch a war based on faulty information and a misleading public pitch.

“There was a serious, coordinated effort by the Bush administration — via major speeches, interviews, etc. — to lay out its case for war. None of that appears to be happening now,” Brewer told me.

Still, there’s a good reason some compare the current Iran moment to the previous Iraq one. You have a Republican administration, featuring some of the same figures who pushed the US to war in Iraq (namely, Bolton), saying it has intelligence showing an imminent threat against Americans.

So let’s be clear about what we actually know — that is, what reports say the US has found:

  • Iran had plans to target US troops in Iraq and Syria, and a top Iranian military leader told the nation’s proxies to prepare for war.
  • Iran has placed missiles on ships that it could use to attack the US Navy, and could use drones against Americans in a key waterway near Yemen.
  • The US military released video the US claims shows Iranians removing an unexploded limpet mine from the side of one of the oil tankers attacked last week.

Experts are mostly unanimous in believing that intelligence like this exists and is credible. Where they differ is on just how much it clearly shows a new level of Iranian aggression.

Phillip Smyth, an Iran expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told me in May that major threats from Tehran’s proxies have continued since early 2018. “There have been maneuvers in the past that sent a signal to the Americans” of a worsening regional situation, he said.

But he noted that just because there are indications that an attack could happen doesn’t mean an Iranian proxy will launch one soon. “These guys are very smart and very patient with how they plan and execute,” he said.

Others, like Brookings’s Maloney, have said that people shouldn’t assume the intelligence is bogus, mainly because Iran would likely retaliate forcefully to the Trump administration’s antagonism.

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on May 13, 2019 in Washington, DC.
President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on May 13, 2019, in Washington, DC.
 Mark Wilson/Getty Images

What gives many pause, though, is that there seems to be a difference in what the US and its allies glean from the intelligence. For example, a top British military official involved in the coalition fight against ISIS in Iraq told Pentagon reporters last month that the threats weren’t extraordinary.

Meanwhile, senators from both parties in Congress have been briefed on the Iran intelligence — and both came away with completely different reads.

After a May briefing with National Security Adviser John Bolton on Monday, administration ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tweeted, “It is clear that over the last several weeks Iran has attacked pipelines and ships of other nations and created threat streams against American interests in Iraq. … If the Iranian threats against American personnel and interests are activated we must deliver an overwhelming military response.”

Meanwhile Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), an outspoken critic of Trump’s foreign policy and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also tweeted his take. “I‘m listening to Republicans twist the Iran intel to make it sound like Iran is taking unprovoked, offensive measures against the US and our allies. Like it just came out of nowhere,” he said. “I’ve read the intel too. And let me be clear: That’s not what the intel says.”

US defense and intelligence officials familiar with the information wouldn’t provide me with any more information than is already public.

But what makes all this different from the Iraq War is that both Congress and the press are refusing to take the administration’s claims at face value, and instead are pushing the Trump administration to back up those claims with actual proof.

9) Does the US-Iran standoff have anything to do with oil?

Pretty much anytime talk of America going to war in the Middle East comes up, people wonder if it’s merely a quest to control more oil. That’s fair to an extent, as the US and other world powers have launched wars to take charge of energy sources.

That’s not really the case here. What the US does care about, though, is ensuring that vessels are allowed to sail freely through the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial maritime passage aggressively patrolled by Iran where a third of the world’s liquefied natural gas and almost 20 percent of the world’s oil production flows. When US-Iran tensions spike, Iran typically threatens to shut down the strait.

Doing so would send the global energy market into a tailspin and cause a worldwide crisis.

But Iran doesn’t usually follow through with its bluster, surely aware of the fury it would face from the United States and others. So when news of the mystery attacks on oil tankers surfaced twice in two months, it raised worries that Tehran may have found a way to send a message.

“By signaling that this supply is not safe and can be disrupted, Tehran is letting the world know it has escalation options,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran expert at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told me last month.

But while the continued supply of cheap oil is definitely important to the US, it’s not really the reason some in the Trump administration are pushing for an Iran fight today. That really comes down to this: Bolton, Pompeo, and others want regime change in Iran, and are using intelligence that shows Tehran doing provocative things to advocate for a more combative stance.

But Trump is still the boss, and so far he’s expressed no real appetite for war with Iran. Which means that a major, bloody conflict remains an unlikely possibility — at least for now.

https://www.vox.com/2019/5/20/18628977/us-iran-war-trump-oil-tanker-attacks-nuclear-program-pompeo-bolton-irgc

 

Iran and weapons of mass destruction

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Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is not known to currently possess weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and has signed treaties repudiating the possession of weapons of mass destruction including the Biological Weapons Convention,[1] the Chemical Weapons Convention,[2] and the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).[3] The country has first-hand knowledge of WMD effects—over 100,000 Iranian troops and civilians were victims of chemical weapons during the 1980s Iran–Iraq War.[4][5]

On ideological grounds, a public and categorical religious decree (fatwa) against the development, production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons has been issued by the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khameneialong with other clerics,[6][7] though it is approved by some relatively minor clerics.[8] Later versions of this fatwa forbid only the “use” of nuclear weapons, but said nothing about their production.[9] Iran has stated its uranium enrichment program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.[10][11] The IAEA has confirmed the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran but has also said it “needs to have confidence in the absence of possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.”[12][13]

In December 2014, a Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control report by Lincy and Milhollin based on International Atomic Energy Agency data concluded that Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one nuclear warhead in 1.7 months [14] In 2012, sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA, reported that Iran was pursuing research that could enable it to produce nuclear weapons, but was not attempting to do so.[15]The senior officers of all of the major American intelligence agencies stated that there was no conclusive evidence that Iran has made any attempt to produce nuclear weapons since 2003.[16] In a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, the United States Intelligence Community assessed that Iran had ended all “nuclear weapon design and weaponization work” in 2003.[17] U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated in January 2012 that Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapons capability, but was not attempting to produce nuclear weapons.[18] In 2009, U.S. intelligence assessed that Iranian intentions were unknown.[19][20] Some European intelligence believe Iran has resumed its alleged nuclear weapons design work.[21] Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he had seen no evidence of any nuclear weapons program in Iran,[22] while Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Iran was close to having the capability to produce nuclear weapons.[23][24] Iran has called for nuclear weapons states to disarm and for the Middle East to be a nuclear weapon free zone.[25]

After the IAEA voted in a rare non-consensus decision to find Iran in non-compliance with its NPT Safeguards Agreement and to report that non-compliance to the UN Security Council,[26][27] the Council demanded that Iran suspend its nuclear enrichment activities[28][29] and imposed sanctions against Iran[30][31][32][33] when Iran refused to do so.[34] Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad argued that the sanctions were illegal.[35] The IAEA has been able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, but not the absence of undeclared activities.[36] The Non-Aligned Movement has called on both sides to work through the IAEA for a solution.[37]

In November 2009, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted[38] a resolution against Iran which urged Iran to apply the modified Code 3.1 to its Safeguard Agreement,[39] urged Iran to implement and ratify the Additional Protocol,[39] and expressed “serious concern” that Iran had not cooperated on issues that needed “to be clarified to exclude the possibility of military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.”[40] Iran said the “hasty and undue” resolution would “jeopardize the conducive environment vitally needed” for successful negotiations[40] and lead to cooperation not exceeding its “legal obligations to the body”.[41]

Contents

Nuclear weapons

Overview

In September 2005, the IAEA Board of Governors, in a rare non-consensus decision with 12 abstentions,[42] recalled a previous Iranian “policy of concealment” regarding its enrichment program[43] and found that Iran had violated its NPT Safeguards Agreement.[44] Another IAEA report stated “there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities … were related to a nuclear weapons program.”[43] Iran has claimed that the military threat posed by Israel and the United States is forcing it to restrict the release of information on its nuclear program.[45] Gawdat Bahgat of the National Defense University speculates that Iran may have a lack of confidence in the international community which was reinforced when many nations, under pressure from the United States, rejected or withdrew from signed commercial deals with the Iranian nuclear authority.[46]

On 31 July 2006, the Security Council passed a resolution demanding Iran suspend its enrichment program.[34] On 23 December 2006, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions against Iran,[30] which were later tightened on 24 March 2007,[31] because Iran refused to suspend enrichment. Iran’s representative to the UN argued that the sanctions compelled Iran to abandon its rights under the NPT to peaceful nuclear technology.[30] The Non-Aligned Movement called on both sides to work through the IAEA for a solution.[37]

US intelligence predicted in August 2005 that Iran could have the key ingredients for a nuclear weapon by 2015.[47] On 25 October 2007, the United States declared the Revolutionary Guards a “proliferator of weapons of mass destruction”, and the Quds Force a “supporter of terrorism”.[48] Iran responded that “it is incongruent for a country [US] who itself is a producer of weapons of mass destruction to take such a decision.”[48] Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the IAEA at the time, said he had no evidence Iran was building nuclear weapons and accused US leaders of adding “fuel to the fire” with their rhetoric.[49] Speaking in Washington in November 2007, days before the IAEA was to publish its latest report, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz called for ElBaradei to be sacked, saying: “The policies followed by ElBaradei endanger world peace. His irresponsible attitude of sticking his head in the sand over Iran’s nuclear programme should lead to his impeachment.” Israel and some western governments fear Iran is using its nuclear programme as a covert means to develop weapons, while Iran says it is aimed solely at producing electricity. For its part in the conflict-ridden Middle East, Israel is a member of the IAEA, but it is not itself a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and is widely believed to currently be the only nuclear-armed state in the region.[50]

History

Iran’s nuclear program began as a result of the Cold War alliance between the United States and the shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who emerged as an important American ally in the Persian Gulf.[51] Under the Atoms for Peace program, Iran received basic nuclear research facilities from the United States. In return, Tehran signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1968. Fueled by high oil prices in the 1970s, Iran sought to purchase large-scale nuclear facilities from Western suppliers in order to develop nuclear power and fuel-cycle facilities with both civilian and potential military applications.[51] In March 1974, the shah established the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).[52] Sensing a heightened risk of nuclear proliferation, the United States convinced western allies to limit the export of nuclear fuel-cycle facilities to Iran. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, whose revolution displaced the shah’s monarchy in 1979 and ruled the newly established Islamic Republic of Iran until his death in 1989, placed little emphasis on nuclear weapons development because it was viewed as a suspicious western innovation.[53] During that time, many of Iran’s top scientists fled the country while the United States organized an international campaign to block any nuclear assistance to Iran.

Following the death of Ayotollah Khomeini, the leadership of President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei sought to revive Iran’s overt nuclear civilian program and expand undeclared nuclear activities during the 1990s.[54] According to a strategic dossier from International Institute for Strategic Studies, Iran turned away from Western suppliers and obtained nuclear assistance from Russia and China in a number of key areas, including uranium mining, milling and conversion, as well as technology for heavy-water research reactors.[51] However, Washington intervened with Moscow and Beijing to prevent Iran from fully acquiring its list of nuclear power and fuel-cycle facilities. The 1990s also saw Iran expand its furtive nuclear research into conversion, enrichment and plutonium separation. “Most importantly, on the basis of additional centrifuge assistance from the A.Q. Khan network, Iran was able to begin the construction of pilot-scale and industrial-scale enrichment facilities at Natanz around 2000.”[51] Full exposure of Iran’s nuclear activities came in 2002, when an Iranian exiled opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) declared the Natanz project in August of that year. Since that time, international pressure on Iran has remained steady, hampering but not halting the country’s nuclear development.[51] Iran remains legally bound to the NPT and states its support for the treaty.

There are various estimates of when Iran might be able to produce a nuclear weapon, should it choose to do so:

  • A 2005 assessment by the International Institute for Strategic Studies concluded “if Iran threw caution to the wind, and sought a nuclear weapon capability as quickly as possible without regard for international reaction, it might be able to produce enough HEU for a single nuclear weapon by the end of this decade”, assuming no technical problems. The report concludes, however, that it is unlikely that Iran would flatly ignore international reactions and develop nuclear weapons anyway.[55]
  • A 2005 US National Intelligence Estimate stated that Iran was ten years from making a nuclear weapon.[56]
  • In 2006 Ernst Uhrlau, the head of German intelligence service, said Tehran would not be able to produce enough material for a nuclear bomb before 2010 and would only be able to make it into a weapon by about 2015.[57]
  • A 2007 annual review the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London stated that “If and when Iran does have 3,000 centrifuges operating smoothly, the IISS estimates it would take an additional 9-11 months to produce 25 kg of highly enriched uranium, enough for one implosion-type weapon. That day is still 2–3 years away at the earliest.”[58]
  • The former head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, said on 24 May 2007 that Iran could take between 3 and 8 years to make a bomb if it went down that route.[58]
  • On 22 October 2007, Mohamed ElBaradei repeated that, even assuming Iran was trying to develop a nuclear bomb, they would require “between another three and eight years to succeed”, an assessment shared by “all the intelligence services”.[59]
  • In December 2007, the United States National Intelligence Estimate (representing the consensus view of all 16 American intelligence agencies) concluded with a “high level of confidence” that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and “with moderate confidence” that the program remains frozen as of mid-2007. The new estimate says that the enrichment program could still provide Iran with enough raw material to produce a nuclear weapon sometime by the middle of next decade, but that intelligence agencies “do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons” at some future date.[60][61] Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said 70 percent of the U.S. report was “true and positive,” but denied its allegations of Iran having had a nuclear weapons program before 2003. Russia has said there was no proof Iran has ever run a nuclear weapons program.[62] The former head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, stated that he had seen “maybe some studies about possible weaponization”, but “no evidence” of “an active weaponization program” as of October 2007.[63] Thomas Fingar, former Chairman of the National Intelligence Council until December 2008, in reference to the 2007 Iran NIE and using intelligence to anticipate opportunities and shape the future, said intelligence has a “recently reinforced propensity to underscore, overstate, or ‘hype’ the findings in order to get people to pay attention” and that the 2007 NIE was intended to send the message “you do not have a lot of time but you appear to have a diplomatic or non-military option”.[64] A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is the most authoritative written judgment concerning a national security issue prepared by the Director of Central Intelligence.[65]
  • The U.S. Director of National Intelligence said in February 2009 that Iran would not realistically be able to a get a nuclear weapon until 2013, if it chose to develop one.,[66] and that US intelligence does not know whether Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons, but believes Iran could at least be keeping the option to develop them open.[67] Mossad Chief Meir Dagan was more cautious, saying recently that it would take the Iranians until 2014. German, French, and British intelligence say that under a worst-case scenario it would take Iran a minimum of 18 months to develop a nuclear weapon if it chose to build one, and it would have to first purify its uranium and weaponize its uranium.[66] An anonymous source in the German Foreign Intelligence Service (BND) whose rank was not provided has gone further and claimed Iran could produce a nuclear bomb and conduct an underground test in 6 months if it wanted to and further asserted that Iran had already mastered the full uranium enrichment cycle, and possessed enough centrifuges to produce weapons-grade uranium.[68][69] Physicists say that if Iran were to choose to develop a nuclear weapon, it would have to withdraw from the International Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and expel International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors from the country.[70]George Friedman, head of the global intelligence company Stratfor, has said Iran is “decades away” from developing any credible nuclear-arms capacity.[71]
  • On 12 February 2010 US think tank expert David Albright, the head of the Institute for Science and International Security, said in a report that Iran was seeking to “make sufficient weapons-grade uranium”. His claim was criticized by former chief U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter.[72]
  • An IAEA report issued 8 November 2011 provided detailed information outlining the IAEA’s concerns about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program, noting that Iran had pursued a structured program or activities relevant to the development of nuclear weapons.[73]
  • On 30 April 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu revealed thousands of files he said were copied from a “highly secret location” in Teheran which show an Iranian effort to develop nuclear weapons between 1999 and 2003.[74]
  • On 1 May 2018 the IAEA reiterated its 2015 report, saying it had found no credible evidence of nuclear weapons activity in Iran after 2009.[75][76][77]

IAEA

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an autonomous international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy and to inhibit its use for military purposes.

On 6 March 2006, the IAEA Secretariat reported that “the Agency has not seen indications of diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices … however, after three years of intensive verification, there remain uncertainties with regard to both the scope and the nature of Iran’s nuclear programme“.[78] However, the inspectors did find some sensitive documents, including instructions and diagrams on how to make uranium into a sphere, which is only necessary to make nuclear weapons. Iran furnished the IAEA with copies, claiming not to have used the information for weapons work, which it had obtained along with other technology and parts in 1987 and the mid-1990s.[79] It is thought this material was sold to them by Abdul Qadeer Khan,[80] though the documents did not have the necessary technical details to actually manufacture a bomb.

On 18 December 2003, Iran voluntarily signed, but did not ratify or bring into force, an Additional Protocol that allows IAEA inspectors access to individuals, documentation relating to procurement, dual-use equipment, certain military-owned workshops, and research and development locations.[81] Iran agreed voluntarily to implement the Additional Protocol provisionally, however when the IAEA reported Iran’s non-compliance to the United Nations Security Council on 4 February 2006 Iran withdrew from its voluntary adherence to the Additional Protocol.[82]

On 12 May 2006, claims that highly enriched uranium (well over the 3.5% enriched level) was reported to have been found “at a site where Iran has denied such sensitive atomic work”, appeared. “They have found particles of highly enriched uranium [HEU], but it is not clear if this is contamination from centrifuges that had been previously found [from imported material] or something new,” said one diplomat close to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). These reports have not yet been officially confirmed by the IAEA (as of 1 June 2006).[83][84][85]

On 31 July 2006, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution demanding that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment activities.[34]

In late 2006, “New traces of plutonium and enriched uranium– potential material for atomic warheads– have been found [by the IAEA] in a nuclear waste facility in Iran.” However, “A senior U.N. official who was familiar with the report cautioned against reading too much into the findings of traces of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, saying Iran had explained both and they could plausibly be classified as byproducts of peaceful nuclear activities.”[86] In 2007 these traces were determined to have come from leaking used highly enriched uranium fuel from the Tehran Research Reactor, which the U.S. supplied to Iran in 1967, and the matter was closed.[87]

In July 2007 the IAEA announced that Iran has agreed to allow inspectors to visit its Arak nuclear plant, and by August 2007 a plan for monitoring the Natanz uranium enrichment plant will have been finalised.[88]

In August 2007 the IAEA announced that Iran has agreed to a plan to resolve key questions regarding its past nuclear activities. The IAEA described this as a “significant step forward”.[89]

In September 2007 the IAEA announced it has been able to verify that Iran’s declared nuclear material has not been diverted from peaceful use. While the IAEA has been unable to verify some “important aspects” regarding the nature and scope of Iran’s nuclear work, the agency and Iranian officials agreed on a plan to resolve all outstanding issues, Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said at the time.[90] In an interview with Radio Audizioni Italiane the same month, ElBaradei remarked that “Iran does not constitute a certain and immediate threat for the international community”.[91] In October 2007, ElBaradei amplified these remarks, telling Le Monde that, even if Iran did intend to develop a nuclear bomb, they would need “between another three and eight years to succeed”. He went on to note that “all the intelligence services” agree with this assessment and that he wanted to “get people away from the idea that Iran will be a threat from tomorrow, and that we are faced right now with the issue of whether Iran should be bombed or allowed to have the bomb”.[59]

In late October 2007, according to the International Herald Tribune, the former head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, stated that he had seen “no evidence” of Iran developing nuclear weapons. The IHT quoted ElBaredei as stating that,

“We have information that there has been maybe some studies about possible weaponization,” said Mohamed ElBaradei, who led the International Atomic Energy Agency. “That’s why we have said that we cannot give Iran a pass right now, because there is still a lot of question marks.”

“But have we seen Iran having the nuclear material that can readily be used into a weapon? No. Have we seen an active weaponization program? No.”

The IHT report went on to say that “ElBaradei said he was worried about the growing rhetoric from the U.S., which he noted focused on Iran’s alleged intentions to build a nuclear weapon rather than evidence the country was actively doing so. If there is actual evidence, ElBaradei said he would welcome seeing it.”[63]

In November 2007 ElBaradei circulated a report to the upcoming meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors.[92][93][94] Its findings conclude that Iran has made important strides towards clarifying its past activities, including provided access to documentation and officials involved in centrifuge design in the 1980s and 1990s. Answers provided by Iran regarding the past P-1 and P-2 centrifuge programs were found to be consistent with the IAEA’s own findings. However, Iran has ignored the demands of the UN Security council, and has continued to enrich uranium in the past year. The IAEA is not able to conclusively confirm that Iran isn’t currently enriching uranium for military purposes, as its inspections have been restricted to workshops previously declared as part of the civilian uranium enrichment program, and requests for access to certain military workshops have been denied; the report noted that “As a result, the agency’s knowledge about Iran’s current nuclear program is diminishing”. The report also confirmed that Iran now possesses 3000 centrifuges, a 10-fold increase over the past year, though the feed rate is below the maximum for a facility of this design. Data regarding the P-2 centrifuge, which Ahmadinejad has claimed will quadruple production of enriched uranium, was provided only several days before the report was published; the IAEA plan to discuss this issue further in December. In response to the report the US has vowed to push for more sanctions, whilst Iran has called for an apology from the US.[95]

In his final November 2009 statement to the IAEA Board of Governors, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei said the Agency continued to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, but that other issues of concern had reached a “dead end” unless Iran were to fully cooperate with the agency. ElBaradei stated it would be helpful if “we were able to share with Iran more of the material that is at the centre of these concerns”, and also said it would be helpful if Iran fully implemented the Subsidiary Arrangements to its Safeguards Agreement and fully implemented the Additional Protocol. ElBaradei said Iran’s failure to report the existence of a new fuel enrichment facility until September 2009 was inconsistent with its obligations under the Subsidiary Arrangements to its Safeguards Agreement. ElBaradei closed by saying international negotiations represented a “unique opportunity to address a humanitarian need and create space for negotiations”.[96]

On 18 February 2010 the IAEA released a new report on Iran’s nuclear program. Ivan Oelrich and Ivanka Barzashka, writing in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, suggested “the media has seriously misrepresented the actual contents of the report” and that “in fact, no new information has been revealed.” They wrote that there was “no independent assessment that Iran is engaged in weapons work” and that this was “hardly the first time that the agency has discussed potential evidence of Tehran’s nuclear weapons research”.[97] Iran’s envoy to the UN atomic watchdog criticized Western powers for interpreting the IAEA report in an “exaggerated, selective and inaccurate” manner.[98] PressTV reported that the report verified the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran and that Iran started enriching uranium to a higher level in the presence of IAEA inspectors.[99]

In an April 2010 interview with the BBC, former IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said Western nations were seeking harsher sanctions “out of frustration”. “I don’t think Iran is developing, or we have new information that Iran is developing, a nuclear weapon today .. there is a concern about Iran’s future intentions, but even if you talk to MI6 or the CIA, they will tell you they are still four or five years away from a weapon. So, we have time to engage,” he said. ElBaradei further said the building of trust between the parties would “not happen until the two sides sit around the negotiating table and address their grievances. Sooner or later that will happen.”[100]

Alleged weaponization studies

Former IAEA Director General ElBaradei said in 2009 that the agency had been provided with “no credible evidence” that Iran is developing nuclear weapons,[101] but the New York Times reported in January 2009 that the IAEA is investigating U.S. allegations Project 110and Project 111 could be names for Iranian efforts for designing a nuclear warhead and making it work with an Iranian missile.[102] “We are looking to those suppliers of information to help us on the question of authenticity, because that is really a major issue. It is not an issue that involves nuclear material; it’s a question of allegations,” ElBaradei further said.[103] ElBaradei has strongly denied reports that the agency had concluded Iran had developed technology needed to assemble a nuclear warhead,[104] when a November 2009 article in The Guardian said the allegations included Iran’s weapon design activities using two point implosion designs.[105]

The New York Times article cited classified US intelligence reports asserting that Professor Mohsen Fakhrizadeh is in charge of the projects, while Iranian officials assert these projects are a fiction made up by the United States.[102] The article further reported that “while the international agency readily concedes that the evidence about the two projects remains murky, one of the documents it briefly displayed at a meeting of the agency’s member countries in Vienna last year, from Mr. Fakrizadeh’s projects, showed the chronology of a missile launching, ending with a warhead exploding about 650 yards above ground – approximately the altitude from which the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was detonated.”[102] Gordon Oehler, who ran the CIA’s nonproliferation center and served as deputy director of the presidential commission on weapons of mass destruction, wrote “if someone has a good idea for a missile program, and he has really good connections, he’ll get that program through.. But that doesn’t mean there is a master plan for a nuclear weapon.”[106] Outside experts note that the parts of the report made public lack many dates associated with Iran’s alleged activities meaning it is possible Iran had a Project 110 at one time, but scrapped it as US intelligence insists.[107] The Washington Post reports that “nowhere are there construction orders, payment invoices, or more than a handful of names and locations possibly connected to the projects.”[108] Former IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei said the Agency didn’t have any information that nuclear material has been used and didn’t have any information that any components of nuclear weapons had been manufactured.[103] Iran has asserted that the documents are a fabrication, while the IAEA has urged Iran to be more cooperative and Member States to provide more information about the allegations to be shared with Iran.[109]

In August 2009 an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz alleged that ElBaradei had “censored” evidence obtained by IAEA inspectors over the preceding few months.[110] ElBaradei has angrily rejected claims from Israel, France and the US that he had suppressed the internal IAEA report, saying all relevant and confirmed information had been presented to member states.[101] ElBaradei said he and the Agency have repeatedly said the rumors of censorship were “totally baseless, totally groundless. All information that we have received that has been vetted, assessed in accordance with our standard practices, has been shared with the Board.”[103]

On 16 November 2009 the Director General provided a report to the Board of Governors. The report stated “there remain a number of outstanding issues which give rise to concerns, and which need to be clarified to exclude the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.” “The Agency is still awaiting a reply from Iran to its request to meet relevant Iranian authorities in connection with these issues”, the report said. The report further said, “it would be helpful if Member States which have provided documentation to the Agency would agree to share more of that documentation with Iran, as appropriate.”[111][112]

Russia has denied allegations of “continued Russian assistance to Iran’s nuclear weapons program” as “totally groundless” and said the November 2009 IAEA report reaffirmed the absence of a military component in Iran’s efforts in the nuclear field.[113]

In December 2009, The Times claimed that a document from an unnamed Asian intelligence agency described the use of a neutron source which has no use other than in a nuclear weapon, and claimed the document appeared to be from an office in Iran’s Defense Ministry and may have been from around 2007.[114][115] Norman Dombey, professor emeritus of theoretical physics at Sussex University, wrote in that “nothing in the published ‘intelligence documents’ shows Iran is close to having nuclear weapons” and argued that it is “unlikely that nuclear weapon projects would be distributed among several universities, or weapon parts marketed to research centres.”[116] A senior U.N. official who saw the document said it may or may not be authentic, that it was unclear when the document was written, and that it was unclear whether any experiments had ever actually been performed.[117] The C.I.A. did not declare whether it believes the document was real, and European spy agencies also did not give any authentication to the document.[118] Western intelligence agencies said that, if genuine, it was unclear whether the paper provided any new insights into the state of Iranian weapons research.[118] “It’s very troubling – if real,” said Thomas B. Cochran, a senior scientist in the nuclear program of the Natural Resources Defense Council.[118] The Institute for Science and International Security, said that it “urges caution and further assessment” of the document and noted that “the document does not mention nuclear weapons .. and we have seen no evidence of an Iranian decision to build them.”[118] Anton Khlopkov, the founding director of the Center for Energy and Security Studies, said the media leak may be being used “as a pretext for inciting the campaign against Iran.”[119] Former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov has also said after the public publications of the documents “Russia has no concrete information that Iran is planning to construct a weapon”.[120] Russia’s representative to the IAEA, Alexander Zmeyevskiy, has noted that though the IAEA is in possession of these documents, the IAEA’s findings “do not contain any conclusions about the presence of undeclared nuclear activities in Iran.”[121] Iran pointed out the claims had not been verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency and argued that “some countries are angry that our people defend their nuclear rights.”[122] “I think that some of the claims about our nuclear issue have turned into a repetitive and tasteless joke,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in response to the documents.[123]

Iranian stance

Iran states that the purpose of its nuclear program is the generation of power and that any other use would be a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which it is a signatory, as well as being against Islamic religious principles. Iran claims that nuclear power is necessary for a booming population and rapidly industrialising nation. It points to the fact that Iran’s population has more than doubled in 20 years, the country regularly imports gasoline and electricity, and that burning fossil fuel in large amounts harms Iran’s environment drastically. Additionally, Iran questions why it shouldn’t be allowed to diversify its sources of energy, especially when there are fears of its oil fields eventually being depleted. It continues to argue that its valuable oil should be used for high value products and export, not simple electricity generation. Furthermore, Iran argues that nuclear power makes fairly good economic sense. Building reactors is expensive, but subsequent operating costs are low and stable, and increasingly competitive as fossil-fuel prices rise.[124] Iran also raises funding questions, claiming that developing the excess capacity in its oil industry would cost it $40 billion, not to speak of paying for the power plants. Harnessing nuclear power costs a fraction of this, considering Iran has abundant supplies of accessible uranium ore.[125]These claims have been echoed by Scott Ritter, the former UN weapons inspector in Iraq.[126] Roger Stern, of Johns Hopkins Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, agrees “Iran’s claims to need nuclear power could be genuine”.[127]

Iran states it has a legal right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes under the NPT, and further says that it “has constantly complied with its obligations under the NPT and the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency”.[128] Twelve other countries are known to operate uranium enrichment facilities. Iran states that “the failure of certain Nuclear- Weapon States to fulfill their international obligations continue to be a source of threat for the international community”.[25] Iran also states that “the only country that has ever used nuclear weapons still maintains a sizable arsenal of thousands of nuclear warheads” and calls for a stop to the transfer of technology to non-NPT states.[25] Iran has called for the development of a follow-up committee to ensure compliance with global nuclear disarmanent.[129]Iran and many other nations without nuclear weapons have said that the present situation whereby Nuclear Weapon States monopolise the right to possess nuclear weapons is “highly discriminatory”, and they have pushed for steps to accelerate the process of nuclear disarmament.[130]

Iran has criticized the European Union because it believes it has taken no steps to reduce the danger of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.[25] Iran has called on the state of Israel to sign the NPT, accept inspection of its nuclear facilities, and place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.[25] Iran has proposed that the Middle East be established as a proposed Nuclear Weapon Free Zone.[25]

On 3 December 2004, Iran’s former president and an Islamic cleric, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani alluded to Iran’s position on nuclear energy:

God willing, we expect to soon join the club of the countries that have a nuclear industry, with all its branches, except the military one, in which we are not interested. We want to get what we’re entitled to. I say unequivocally that for no price will we be willing to relinquish our legal and international right. I also say unequivocally to those who make false claims: Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons, but it will not give up its rights. Your provocation will not make us pursue nuclear weapons. We hope that you come to your senses soon and do not get the world involved in disputes and crises.[131]

On 14 November 2004, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator said that his country agreed to voluntarily and temporarily suspend the uranium enrichment program after pressure from the European Union on behalf of the United Kingdom, France and Germany, as a confidence-building measure for a reasonable period of time, with six months mentioned as a reference.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has publicly stated Iran is not developing nuclear weapons. On 9 August 2005 Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a fatwa that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that Iran shall never acquire these weapons. The text of the fatwa has not been released although it was referenced in an official statement at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.[132]

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a 2005 speech to the U.N. General Assembly said “We are concerned that once certain powerful states completely control nuclear energy resources and technology, they will deny access to other states and thus deepen the divide between powerful countries and the rest of the international community … peaceful use of nuclear energy without possession of a nuclear fuel cycle is an empty proposition”.[133]

On 6 August 2005, Iran rejected a 34-page European Union proposal intended to help Iran build “a safe, economically viable and proliferation-proof civil nuclear power generation and research program.” The Europeans, with US agreement, intended to entice Iran into a binding commitment not to develop uranium enrichment capability by offering to provide fuel and other long-term support that would facilitate electricity generation with nuclear energy. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi rejected the proposal saying, “We had already announced that any plan has to recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium”.[134] After the Iranian Revolution, Germany halted construction of the Bushehr reactor, the United States cut off supply of highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, and Iran never received uranium from France which it asserted it was entitled to. Russia agreed not to provide an enrichment plant and terminated cooperation on several other nuclear-related technologies, including laser isotope separation; China terminated several nuclear projects (in return, in part for entry into force of a U.S.-China civil nuclear cooperation agreement); and Ukraine agreed not to provide the turbine for Bushehr. Iran argues that these experiences contribute to a perception that foreign nuclear supplies are potentially subject to being interrupted.[135]

Iran resumed its uranium enrichment program in January 2006, prompting the IAEA to refer the issue to the UN Security Council.

On 21 February 2006, Rooz, a news website run by Iranian exiles (the Fedayeen Khalq [People’s Commandos] leftist terrorist group),[136] reported that Hojatoleslam Mohsen Gharavian, a student of Qom’s fundamentalist cleric Mesbah Yazdi, spoke about the necessity of using nuclear weapons as a means to retaliate and announced that “based on religious law, everything depends on our purpose”.[137] In an interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency the same day, Gharavian rejected these reports, saying “We do not seek nuclear weapons and the Islamic religion encourages coexistence along with peace and friendship…these websites have tried to misquote me.”[138]

On 11 April 2006, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Iranian scientists working at the pilot facility at Natanz had successfully enriched uranium to the 3.5 percent level, using a small cascade of 164 gas centrifuges. In the televised address from the city of Mashhad he said, “I am officially announcing that Iran has joined the group of those countries which have nuclear technology“.[139]

In May 2006 some members of the Iranian legislature (“Majlis” or Parliament) sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan threatening to withdraw from the NPT if Iran’s right to peaceful use of nuclear technology under the treaty was not protected.[140]

On 21 February 2007, the same day the UN deadline to suspend nuclear activities expired, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made the following statement: “If they say that we should close down our fuel production facilities to resume talks, we say fine, but those who enter talks with us should also close down their nuclear fuel production activities”. The White House‘s spokesperson Tony Snow rejected the offer and called it a “false offer”.[141]

Iran has said that U.N. Security Council sanctions aimed at curtailing its uranium-enrichment activities unfairly target its medical sector. “We have thousands of patients a month at our hospital alone .. If we can’t help them, some will die. It’s as simple as that,” said an Iranian nuclear medicine specialist. An Iranian Jew from California claimed “I don’t believe in these sanctions… They hurt normal people, not leaders. What is the use of that?” Vice President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ghannadi framed the debate as a humanitarian issue, “This is about human beings. . . . When someone is sick, we should give medicine.” Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that fuel obtained from Argentina in 1993 would run out by the end of 2010, and that it could produce the uranium itself or buy the uranium from abroad.[142]

In February 2010, to refuel the Tehran Research Reactor which produces medical isotopes,[143] Iran began using a single cascade to enrich uranium “up to 19.8%”,[144][145] to match the previously foreign supplied fuel.[146] 20% is the upper threshold for low enriched uranium (LEU).[147] Though HEU enriched to levels exceeding 20% is considered technically usable in a nuclear explosive device,[148] this route is much less desirable because far more material is required to achieve a sustained nuclear chain reaction.[149] HEU enriched to 90% and above is most typically used in a weapons development program.[150][151]

In an interview in October 2011, President Ahmadinejad of Iran said:

“We have already expressed our views about nuclear bombs. We said those who are seeking to build nuclear bombs or those who stockpile, they are politically and mentally retarded. We think they are stupid because the era of nuclear bombs is over. [Why] for example, should Iran continue its efforts and tolerate all international treasures only to build a nuclear bomb, or a few nuclear bombs that are useless? They can never be used!”[152]

On 22 February 2012, in a meeting in Tehran with the director and officials of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and nuclear scientists, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said:

“The Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that the decision makers in the countries opposing us know well that Iran is not after nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous.”[153]

U.S. stance

  • In 2005, the United States stated that Iran has violated both Article III and Article II of the NPT.[154] The IAEA Board of Governors, in a rare divided vote, found Iran in noncompliance with its NPT safeguards agreement for a 1985–2003 “policy of concealment”[43]regarding its efforts to develop enrichment and reprocessing technologies.[26] The United States,[155] the IAEA[156] and others[157] consider these technologies to be of particular concern because they can be used to produce fissile material for use in nuclear weapons.
  • The United States has argued that Iran’s concealment of efforts to develop sensitive nuclear technology is prima facie evidence of Iran’s intention to develop nuclear weapons, or at a minimum to develop a latent nuclear weapons capability. Others have noted that while possession of the technology “contributes to the latency of non-nuclear weapon states in their potential to acquire nuclear weapons” but that such latency is not necessarily evidence of intent to proceed toward the acquisition of nuclear weapons, since “intent is in the eye of the beholder”.[158]
  • The United States has also provided information to the IAEA on Iranian studies related to weapons design, activities, including the intention of diverting a civilian nuclear energy program to the manufacture of weapons, based on a laptop computer reportedly linked to Iranian weapons programs. The United States has pointed to other information reported by the IAEA, including the Green Salt Project, the possession of a document on manufacturing uranium metal hemispheres, and other links between Iran’s military and its nuclear program, as further indications of a military intent to Iran’s nuclear program.[159] The IAEA has said U.S. intelligence provided to it through 2007 has proven inaccurate or not led to significant discoveries inside Iran;[160] however, the US, and others have recently provided more intelligence to the agency.[161]
  • In May 2003, The Swiss ambassador to Iran sent the State Department a two-page document, reportedly approved by Ayatollah Khamanei, outlining a road map towards normalization of relations between the two states. The Iranians offered full transparency of its nuclear programme and withdrawal of support from Hamas and Hezbollah in exchange for security assurances and normalization of diplomatic relations. The Bush Administration did not respond to the proposal, as senior U.S. officials doubted its authenticity.[162][163]
  • The United States acknowledges Iran’s right to nuclear power, and has joined with the EU-3, Russia and China in offering nuclear and other economic and technological cooperation with Iran if it suspends uranium enrichment. This cooperation would include an assured supply of fuel for Iran’s nuclear reactors.[164]
  • A potential reason behind U.S. resistance to an Iranian nuclear program lies in Middle Eastern geopolitics. In essence, the US feels that it must guard against even the possibility of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapons capability. Some nuclear technology is dual-use; i.e. it can be used for peaceful energy generation, and to develop nuclear weapons, a situation that resulted in India’s nuclear weapons program in the 1960s. A nuclear-armed Iran would dramatically change the balance of power in the Middle East, weakening US influence. It could also encourage other Middle Eastern nations to develop nuclear weapons of their own further reducing US influence in a critical region.[165]
  • In 2003, the United States insisted that Tehran be “held accountable” for seeking to build nuclear arms in violation of its agreements.[166] In June 2005, the US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice required former IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei to either “toughen his stance on Iran” or fail to be chosen for a third term as IAEA head.[167] The IAEA has on some occasions criticised the stance of the U.S. on Iran’s program.[168] The United States denounced Iran’s successful enrichment of uranium to fuel grade in April 2006, with spokesman Scott McClellan saying, they “continue to show that Iran is moving in the wrong direction”. In November 2006, Seymour Hersh described a classified draft assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency “challenging the White House’s assumptions about how close Iran might be to building a nuclear bomb.” He continued, “The CIA found no conclusive evidence, as yet, of a secret Iranian nuclear-weapons program running parallel to the civilian operations that Iran has declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency,” adding that a current senior intelligence official confirmed the assessment.[169] On 25 February 2007, The Daily Telegraph reported that the United States Fifth Fleet, including the Nimitz-class supercarriers EisenhowerNimitz and Stennis “prepares to take on Iran“.[170]
  • In March 2006, it was reported that the US State Department had opened an Office of Iranian Affairs (OIA) – overseen by Elizabeth Cheney, the daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney. The office’s mission was reportedly to promote a democratic transition in Iran.[171]and to help “defeat” the Iranian regime.[172] Iran argued the office was tasked with drawing up plans to overthrow its government. One Iranian reformer said after the office opened that many “partners are simply too afraid to work with us anymore”, and that the office had “a chilling effect”.[173] The US Congress has reportedly appropriated more than $120 million to fund the project.[174] Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh also revealed in July 2008 Congress also agreed to a $400-million funding request for a major escalation in covert operations inside Iran.[175]
  • The Bush Administration repeatedly refused to rule out use of nuclear weapons against Iran. The U.S. Nuclear Posture Review made public in 2002 specifically envisioned the use of nuclear weapons on a first strike basis, even against non-nuclear armed states.[176]Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh reported in 2006 that the Bush administration had been planning the use of nuclear weapons against Iran.[177] When specifically questioned about the potential use of nuclear weapons against Iran, President Bush claimed that “All options were on the table.” According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, “the president of the United States directly threatened Iran with a preemptive nuclear strike. It is hard to read his reply in any other way.”[178]
  • In September 2007, Condoleezza RiceU.S. Secretary of State, cautioned the IAEA not to interfere with international diplomacy over Iran’s alleged weapons program. She said the IAEA’s role should be limited to carrying out inspections and offering a “clear declaration and clear reporting on what the Iranians are doing; whether and when and if they are living up to the agreements they have signed.” Former IAEA Director General ElBaradei called for less emphasis on additional UN sanctions and more emphasis on enhanced cooperation between the IAEA and Tehran. Iran has agreed with IAEA requests to answer unresolved questions about its nuclear program. ElBaradei often criticized what he called “war mongering,” only to be told by Rice to mind his business.[179]
  • In December 2007, the United States National Intelligence Estimate (which represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies) concluded, with a “high level of confidence”, that Iran had halted all of its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen. The new estimate says that the enrichment program could still provide Iran with enough raw material to produce a nuclear weapon sometime by the middle of next decade but that intelligence agencies “do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons” at some future date. Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, said he hoped the administration would “appropriately adjust its rhetoric and policy”.[60][61]
  • On 2 February 2009, the thirtieth anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Iran launched its first domestically produced[180][181] Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described the successful launching of the Omid data-processing satellite as a very big source of pride for Iran and said the project improved Iran’s status in the world.[182] The United States claimed Iran’s activities could be linked to the development of a military nuclear capability and that the activities were of “great concern”.[183] The U.S. specifically said it would continue “to address the threats posed by Iran, including those related to its missile and nuclear programs.”[184] Despite the U.S. saying it would use all elements of its national power to deal with Tehran’s actions,[185] Iran said the launch was a step to remove the scientific monopoly certain world countries are trying to impose on the world.[186] Iraqi National Security Advisor Muwafaq al-Rubaie said Iraq was very pleased with the launch of Iran’s peaceful data-processing national satellite.[187]
  • In March 2009, Richard N. Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote that U.S. policy must be thoroughly multilateral and suggested recognizing Iranian enrichment while getting Iran to agree to limits on its enrichment. “In return, some of the current sanctions in place would be suspended. In addition, Iran should be offered assured access to adequate supplies of nuclear fuel for the purpose of producing electricity. Normalization of political ties could be part of the equation,” Haass said.[188] In October 2009, Ploughshares Fund President Joseph Cirincione outlined “five persistent myths about Iran’s nuclear program”: that Iran is on the verge of developing a nuclear weapon, that a military strike would knock out Iran’s program, that “we can cripple Iran with sanctions”, that a new government in Iran would abandon the nuclear program, and that Iran is the main nuclear threat in the Middle East.[189]
  • In 2009, Independent U.S. Security Consultant Linton F. Brooks wrote that in an ideal future “Iran has abandoned its plans for nuclear weapons due to consistent international pressure under joint U.S.–Russian leadership. Iran has implemented the Additional Protocol and developed commercial nuclear power under strict International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards using a fuel leasing approach with fuel supplied by Russia and spent fuel returned to Russia.”[190]
  • A 2009 U.S. congressional research paper says U.S. intelligence believes Iran ended “nuclear weapon design and weaponization work” in 2003.[19] The intelligence consensus was affirmed by leaders of the U.S. intelligence community.[citation needed] Some advisors within the Obama administration reaffirmed the intelligence conclusions,[191] while other “top advisers” in the Obama administration “say they no longer believe the key finding of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate“.[192] Thomas Fingar, former Chairman of the National Intelligence Council until December 2008, said that the original 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran “became contentious, in part, because the White House instructed the Intelligence Community to release an unclassified version of the report’s key judgments but declined to take responsibility for ordering its release.”[193]
  • Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, the chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said in January 2010 that there is no evidence that Iran has made a decision to build a nuclear weapon and that the key findings of a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate are all still correct.[194]
  • On 20 July 2011, Frederick Fleitz, a former CIA analyst and House Intelligence Committee staff member, took issue with a February 2011 revision of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear weapons program in a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “America’s Intelligence Denial on Iran.” In the op-ed, Fleitz claimed the new estimate had serious problems and underplayed the threat from Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons program much as the 2007 version did. However, Fleitz stated that he was not permitted by CIA censors to discuss his specific concerns about the estimate. Fleitz also claimed the estimate had a four-member outside review board that he viewed as biased since three of the reviewers held the same ideological and political views and two of them were from the same Washington DC think tank. He noted that the CIA prevented him from releasing the names of the outside reviewers of the 2011 Iran estimate.
  • Several high U.S. military and intelligence officials have stated that the effects of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would not be preventive. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in December 2011, and Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper, director of National Intelligence, said in February 2012 that an Israeli attack would only delay Iran’s program by one or two years. General Michael V. Hayden, former CIA Director, said in January 2012 that Israel was not able to inflict significant damage on Iran’s nuclear sites. He said, “They only have the ability to make this worse.”[195] In February 2012, Admiral William J. Fallon, who retired in 2008 as head of U.S. Central Command, said, “No one that I’m aware of thinks that there’s any real positive outcome of a military strike or some kind of conflict.” He advocated negotiating with Iran and deterring Iran from aggressive actions and said, “Let’s not precipitate something.”[196][197] General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in August 2012 that a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran would delay but not destroy Iran’s nuclear program and that he did not wish to be “complicit” in such an attack. He also stated that sanctions were having an effect and should be given time to work, and that a premature attack might damage the ‘international coalition’ against Iran.[198] Former Defense Secretary and former CIA Director Robert Gates stated in October 2012 that sanctions were beginning to have an effect and that “the results of an American or Israeli military strike on Iran could, in my view, prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations in that part of the world.”[199]
  • In 2011, the senior officers of all of the major American intelligence agencies stated that there was no conclusive evidence that Iran has made any attempt to produce nuclear weapons since 2003.[15]
  • In January 2012, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated that Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapons capability, but was not attempting to produce nuclear weapons.[18]
  • In 2012, sixteen United States intelligence agencies, including the CIA, reported that Iran was pursuing research that could enable it to produce nuclear weapons, but was not attempting to do so.[15]

Other international responses[

United Nations

In 2009, the United Nations built a seismic monitoring station in Turkmenistan near its border with Iran, to detect tremors from nuclear explosions.[citation needed] The UN Security Council has demanded Iran freeze all forms of uranium enrichment.[34] Iran has argued these demands unfairly compel it to abandon its rights under the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty to peaceful nuclear technology for civilian energy purposes.[30]

On 29 December 2009, Zongo Saidou, a sanctions advisor for the U.N., said that as far as he knew, none of the U.N.’s member nations had alerted the sanctions committee about allegations of sales of uranium to Iran from Kazakhstan. “We don’t have any official information yet regarding this kind of exchange between the two countries,” Saidou said. “I don’t have any information; I don’t have any proof,” Saidou said.[200] An intelligence report from an unknown country alleged that rogue employees of Kazakhstan were prepared to sell Iran 1,350 tons of purified uranium ore in violation of UN Security Council sanctions.[201] Russia said it had no knowledge of an alleged Iranian plan to import purified uranium ore from Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan denied the reports.[202] “Such fabrications of news are part of the psychological warfare (against Iran) to serve the political interests of the hegemonic powers,” Iran said.[203] Askar Abdrahmanov, the official representative of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said “the references to the anonymous sources and unknown documents show groundlessness of these insinuations.”[204]

China

The Chinese Foreign Ministry supports the peaceful resolution of the Iran nuclear issue through diplomacy and negotiations. In May 2006 Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Jianchao stated “As a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran enjoys the right to peaceful use of nuclear power, but it should also fulfil its corresponding responsibility and commitment”. He added “It is urgently needed that Iran should fully cooperate with the IAEA and regain the confidence of the international community in its nuclear program”.[205]

In April 2008, several news agencies reported that China had supplied the IAEA with intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program following a report by Associated Press reporter George Jahn based on anonymous diplomatic sources.[161] Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu described these reports as “completely groundless and out of ulterior motives”.[206]

In January 2010, China reiterated its calls for diplomatic efforts on the Iran nuclear issue over sanctions. “Dialogue and negotiations are the right ways of properly solving the Iran nuclear issue, and there is still room for diplomatic efforts,” said Chinese spokesperson Jiang Yu. “We hope the relevant parties take more flexible and pragmatic measures and step up diplomatic efforts in a bid to resume talks as soon as possible,” said Jiang.[207]

In September 2011 Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported several statements about Iran’s nuclear program and China’s foreign policy in the Middle East, made by independent Chinese expert on the Middle East who recently visited Israel at the invitation of “Signal”, an organization that furthers academic ties between Israel and China. Yin Gang of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has expressed his opinion on China policies toward region, and according to Haaretz he made surprising statement: “China is opposed to any military action against Iran that would damage regional stability and interfere with the flow of oil. But China will not stop Israel if it decides to attack Iran. For all these reasons, Israel and the Middle East need a country like China. Israel needs China’s power.”[208]

In March 2012, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said that “China is opposed to any country in the Middle East, including Iran, developing and possessing nuclear weapons.”, adding that Iran nonetheless has the right to pursue nuclear activities for peaceful purposes.[209]

France

On 16 February 2006 French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said “No civilian nuclear programme can explain the Iranian nuclear programme. It is a clandestine military nuclear programme.”[210]

In January 2007, former French President Jacques Chirac, speaking “off the record” to reporters from The New York Times, indicated that if Iran possessed a nuclear weapon, the weapon could not be used. Chirac alluded to mutually assured destruction when he stated:[211]

“Where will it drop it, this bomb? On Israel? It would not have gone 200 meters into the atmosphere before Tehran would be razed.”

Russia

In 2005, Russian Advisor to Minister of Atomic Energy Lev Ryabev asserted that “neither the signing by Iran of the NPT, the adoption of the Additional Protocol (which provides for the right of inspection of any facility at any time with no prior notice), placement of nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, nor Russia’s and Iran’s commitments to repatriate spent nuclear fuel to Russia is seen as a good enough argument by the United States.” Ryabev argued that “at the same time, such requirements are not imposed on, for example, Brazil, which has been developing its nuclear power industry and nuclear fuel cycle, including uranium enrichment.”[212]

On 5 December 2007 Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he had seen no evidence of any nuclear weapons program in Iran, no matter how old.[213] On 16 October 2007 Vladimir Putin visited Tehran, Iran to participate in the Second Caspian Summit, where he met with Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.[214] At a press conference after the summit Putin said that “Iran has the right to develop their peaceful nuclear programs without any restrictions”.[215]

In 2009, Russian Major-General Pavel S. Zolotarev argued Iran’s security could be partially be assured by supplying Iran with modern missile and air defense systems and offering for Iran to take part in the work of one of the data exchange centers in exchange for “concrete non-proliferation obligations”.[216]

In May 2009, the EastWest Institute released a joint U.S.-Russian Threat Assessment on Iran’s Nuclear and Missile Potential. The report concluded that there was “no IRBM/ICBM threat from Iran and that such a threat, even if it were to emerge, is not imminent.” The report said there was no specific evidence that Iran was seeking the ability to attack Europe and that “it is indeed difficult to imagine the circumstances in which Iran would do so.” The report said if Iran did pursue this capability, it would need six to eight years to develop a missile capable of carrying a 1,000 kilogram warhead 2,000 kilometers. The report said Iran ending “IAEA containment and surveillance of the nuclear material and all installed cascades at the Fuel Enrichment Plan” might serve as an early warning of Iranian intentions.[217]

In December 2009, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the Iran nuclear issue would be resolved by diplomatic methods exclusively. “It is absolutely clear that the problem can be settled exclusively by political and diplomatic methods and any other scenarios, especially use-of-force scenarios, are completely unacceptable,” Lavrov said.[218] Yevgeny Primakov, a former Russian prime minister considered the doyen of Moscow’s Middle East experts, said he did “not believe that Iran had made a decision to acquire nuclear weapons. Russia has no concrete information that Iran is planning to construct a weapon. It may be more like Japan, which has nuclear readiness but does not have a bomb,” Primakov said.[120]

In February 2012, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that Russia opposes Iran developing nuclear-weapons capability. “Russia is not interested in Iran becoming a nuclear power. It would lead to greater risks to international stability.”, Putin said.[219]

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is part of the EU3+3 (UK, France, Germany, US, China and Russia) group of countries that are engaged in ongoing discussions with Iran.[220] The UK is therefore one of the countries that has stated that Iran would be provided with enriched fuel and support to develop a modern nuclear power program if it, in the words of the Foreign Office spokesperson “suspends all enrichment related activities, answer all the outstanding issues relating to Iran’s nuclear programme and implement the additional protocol agreed with the IAEA“.[221] The UK (with China, France, Germany and Russia) put forward the three Security Council resolutions that have been passed in the UN.

On 8 May 2006, Former Deputy Commander-in-Chief of British Land Forces, General Sir Hugh Beach, former Cabinet Ministers, scientists and campaigners joined a delegation to Downing Street opposing military intervention in Iran. The delegation delivered two letters to Prime Minister Tony Blair from 1,800 physicists warning that the military intervention and the use of nuclear weapons would have disastrous consequences for the security of Britain and the rest of world. The letters carried the signatures of academics, politicians and scientists including some of 5 physicists who are Nobel Laureates. CASMII delegation

Israel

Israel, which is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and which is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons,[222] has frequently claimed that Iran is actively pursuing a nuclear weapons program.[223] Arguing an “existential threat from Iran”, Israel has issued several veiled and explicit threats to attack Iran.[224][225][226] Mike Mullen, former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, has cautioned that an Israeli air attack on Iran would be high-risk and warned against Israel striking Iran.[227]

George Friedman, head of the global intelligence company Stratfor, has said Iran is “decades away” from developing any credible nuclear-arms capacity and that an attack on Iran would have grave repercussions for the global economy.[71] If Iran ever did develop nuclear weapons, Israeli academic Avner Cohen has observed “that the prospect of a deliberate Iranian first nuclear strike on Israel, an out-of the-blue scenario, is virtually nonexistent… [T]he chances of Iran – or for that matter any other nuclear power – unleashing a nuclear strike against Israel, which has nuclear capabilities itself, strike me as close to zero.”[228]

Walter Pincus of the Washington Post has written that Israel’s stance on nuclear arms complicates efforts against Iran.[229] Gawdat Bahgat of the National Defense University believes Iran’s nuclear program is partially formed on the potential threat of a nuclear Israel.[46]Iran and the Arab League have proposed that the Middle East be established as a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone.[25][205] Israel said in May 2010 it would not consider taking part in nuclear weapon-free zone discussions or joining the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.[230] The UN Security Council has also pushed for a nuclear-weapon free zone in the Middle East, and has urged all countries to sign and adhere the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.[231]

In May 2010, Israel reportedly deployed Dolphin class submarines with nuclear missiles capable of reaching any target in Iran in the Persian Gulf. Their reported missions were to deter Iran, gather intelligence, and to potentially land Mossad agents on the Iranian coast.[232] In 2018, the Israeli Prime Minister said that the Mossad seized about one hundred thousand documents of Iran’s nuclear program.[233]

Netherlands

According to a Dutch newspaper, the Netherlands had launched an operation to infiltrate and sabotage the Iranian weapons industry, but ended the operation due to increasing fears of an American or Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.[234]

Muslim countries

The A.Q. Khan network, established to procure equipment and material for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program (gas-centrifuge-based programme), also supplied Iran with critical technology for its uranium enrichment program, and helped “put Iran on a fast track toward becoming a nuclear weapons power.”[235]

World map with nuclear weapons development status represented by color.

  Five “nuclear weapons states” from the NPT
  Other states known to possess nuclear weapons
  States formerly possessing nuclear weapons
  States suspected of being in the process of developing nuclear weapons and/or nuclear programs
  States which at one point had nuclear weapons and/or nuclear weapons research programs
  States that possess nuclear weapons, but have not widely adopted them

The 2008 Annual Arab Public Opinion Poll, Survey of the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, College Park conducted in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the UAEin March 2008 noted the following as a key finding.[236]

“In contrast with the fears of many Arab governments, the Arab public does not appear to see Iran as a major threat. Most believe that Iran has the right to its nuclear program and do not support international pressure to force it to curtail its program. A plurality of Arabs (44%) believes that if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, the outcome would be more positive for the region than negative.”

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation and a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council abstained from a vote in March 2008 on a U.N. resolution to impose a third set of sanctions on Iran.[237] It was the only country out of the 10 non-permanent members to abstain. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono speaking at a joint news conference with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran in March 2008 said[238]

“Iran’s nuclear program is of a peaceful nature and must not be politicized”

Pakistan, which has the second largest Muslim population in the world is not a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and already possesses nuclear weapons.

On 12 May 2006 AP published an interview with Pakistan’s former Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan Army General Mirza Aslam Beg In the AP interview, Beg detailed nearly 20 years of Iranian approaches to obtain conventional arms and then technology for nuclear weapons. He described an Iranian visit in 1990, when he was Chief of Army Staff.

They didn’t want the technology. They asked: ‘Can we have a bomb?’ My answer was: By all means you can have it but you must make it yourself. Nobody gave it to us.

Beg said he is sure Iran has had enough time to develop them. But he insists the Pakistani government didn’t help, even though he says former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto once told him the Iranians offered more than $4 billion for the technology. [1]

In an article in 2005 about nuclear proliferation he stated

I would not like my future generations to live in the neighborhood of “nuclear capable Israel.”
Countries acquire the (nuclear) capability on their own, as we have done it. Iran will do the same, because they are threatened by Israel.[239]

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on 31 October 2003, that Grand Ayatollahs, like Ayatollah Yousef Sanei, and Iranian clerics led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have repeatedly declared that Islam forbids the development and use of all weapons of mass destruction. SFGate.com quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying:

The Islamic Republic of Iran, based on its fundamental religious and legal beliefs, would never resort to the use of weapons of mass destruction. In contrast to the propaganda of our enemies, fundamentally we are against any production of weapons of mass destruction in any form.[6]

On 21 April 2006, at a Hamas rally in Damascus, Anwar Raja, the Lebanon-based representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a party that achieved 4.25% of the votes and holds 3 out the 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council following the election declared:

The Muslim, Iranian, fighting people now possess nuclear capabilities. My brother, the Iranian representative sitting here, let me tell you that we, the Palestinian people, are in favour of Iran having a nuclear bomb, not just energy for peaceful purposes.[240]

On 3 May 2006 Iraqi Shia cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Husseini Al Baghdadi, who opposes the presence of US forces in Iraq and is an advocate of violent jihad was interviewed on Syrian TV. In his interview he said:[241]

How can they face Iran? How come Israel has 50 nuclear bombs? Why are they selective? Why shouldn’t an Islamic or Arab country have a nuclear bomb? I am not referring to the Iranian program, which the Iranians say is for peaceful purposes. I am talking about a nuclear bomb.
This Arab Islamic nation must obtain a nuclear bomb. Without a nuclear bomb, we will continue to be oppressed,

Baku declaration

A declaration signed on 20 June 2006 by the foreign ministers of 56 nations of the 57-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference stated that “the only way to resolve Iran’s nuclear issue is to resume negotiations without any preconditions and to enhance co-operation with the involvement of all relevant parties”.

Qatar and Arab vote against the U.N. Security Council resolution

31 July 2006: The UN Security Council gives until 31 August 2006 for Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment and related activities or face the prospect of sanctions.[242] The draft passed by a vote of 14–1 (Qatar, which represents Arab states on the council, opposing). The same day, Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Javad Zarif qualified the resolution as “arbitrary” and illegal because the NTP protocol explicitly guarantees under international law Iran’s right to pursue nuclear activities for peaceful purposes. In response to today’s vote at the UN, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that his country will revise his position vis-à-vis the economic/incentive package offered previously by the G-6 (5 permanent Security council members plus Germany.)[243]

In December 2006, the Gulf Cooperation Council called for a nuclear weapons free Middle East and recognition of the right of a country to expertise in the field of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.[244]

Non-Aligned Movement

The Non-Aligned Movement has said that the present situation whereby Nuclear Weapon States monopolise the right to possess nuclear weapons is “highly discriminatory”, and they have pushed for steps to accelerate the process of nuclear disarmament.[130]

On 16 September 2006 in Havana, Cuba, all of the 118 Non-Aligned Movement member countries, at the summit level, declared supporting Iran’s nuclear program for civilian purposes in their final written statement.[245] That is a clear majority of the 192 countries comprising the entire United Nations, which comprise 55% of the world population.

On 11 September 2007 the Non-Aligned Movement rejected any “interference” in Iran’s nuclear transparency deal with U.N. inspectors by Western countries through the UN Security Council.[37]

On 30 July 2008 the Non-Aligned Movement welcomed the continuing cooperation of Iran with the IAEA and reaffirmed Iran’s right to the peaceful uses of nuclear technology. The movement further called for the establishment of a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East and called for a comprehensive multilaterally negotiated instrument which prohibits threats of attacks on nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.[246]

Biological weapons

Iran ratified the Biological Weapons Convention on 22 August 1973.[1]

Iran has advanced biology and genetic engineering research programs supporting an industry that produces world-class vaccines for both domestic use and export.[247] The dual-use nature of these facilities means that Iran, like any country with advanced biological research programs, could easily produce biological warfare agents.

A 2005 report from the United States Department of State claimed that Iran began work on offensive biological weapons during the Iran–Iraq War, and that their large legitimate bio-technological and bio-medical industry “could easily hide pilot to industrial-scale production capabilities for a potential BW program, and could mask procurement of BW-related process equipment”. The report further said that “available information about Iranian activities indicates a maturing offensive program with a rapidly evolving capability that may soon include the ability to deliver these weapons by a variety of means”.[248]

According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Iran is known to possess cultures of the many biological agents for legitimate scientific purposes which have been weaponised by other nations in the past, or could theoretically be weaponised. Although they do not allege that Iran has attempted to weaponise them, Iran possesses sufficient biological facilities to potentially do so.[249]

Chemical weapons

Iranian soldier with gas mask under chemical bombardment by Iraqi forces in the battlefield during the Iran–Iraq War.

Iran has experienced attack by chemical warfare (CW) on the battlefield and suffered hundreds of thousands of casualties, both civilian and military, in such attacks during the 1980–88 Iran–Iraq War. Iran was completely unprepared for chemical warfare and did not even have sufficient gas masks for its troops. Due to sanctions, Iran had to purchase gas masks from North Korea or commercial painting respirator masks bought from the West. Iran is not known to have resorted to using chemical weapons in retaliation for Iraqi chemical weapons attacks during the Iran–Iraq War despite the fact it would have been legally entitled to do so under the then-existing international treaties on the use of chemical weapons which only prohibited the first use of such weapons.[250] Still Iran did develop a chemical-weapons-program during the latter part of that war, and in 1989, The New York Times reported that Iran started a major campaign to produce and stockpile chemical weapons after a truce was agreed with Iraq.[251]

On 13 January 1993 Iran signed the Chemical Weapons Convention and ratified it on 3 November 1997. In the official declaration submitted to OPCW Iranian government acknowledged that it had developed a chemical-weapons-program in the 1980s but asserted that it had since ceased the program and destroyed the stockpiles of operational weapons.[252]

In an interview with Gareth PorterMohsen Rafighdoost, the Minister of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps throughout the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, described how supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini had twice blocked his proposal to begin working on both nuclear and chemical weapons to counter Iraqi chemical attacks, which Rafighdoost interpreted as a fatwa against their use and production, because it was issued by the “guardian jurist“.[253]

A U.S. Central Intelligence Agency report dated January 2001 speculated that Iran had manufactured and stockpiled chemical weapons – including blisterbloodchoking, and probably nerve agents, and the bombs and artillery shells to deliver them. It further claimed that during the first half of 2001, Iran continued to seek production technology, training, expertise, equipment, and chemicals from entities in Russia and China that could be used to help Iran reach its goal of having indigenous nerve agent production capability.[254] However the certainty of this assessment declined and in 2007 the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency limited its public assessment to just noting that “Iran has a large and growing commercial chemical industry that could be used to support a chemical agent mobilization capability.”[255]

Iran is a signatory of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans chemical weapons, delivery systems, and production facilities.[2] Iran has reiterated its commitment to the CWC and its full support for the work of the OPCW, in particular in view of the considerable suffering these weapons have caused to the Iranian people.[256] Iran has not made any declaration of a weapons stockpile under the treaty.[257]

In 2013 Ahmet Uzumcu, the Director-General of the OPCW, hailed Iran as an effective and active member-state of the OPCW.[258] In 2016 Iranian chemists synthesised five Novichok nerve agents, originally developed in the Soviet Union, for analysis and produced detailed mass spectral data which was added to the OPCW Central Analytical Database.[259][260] Previously there had been no detailed descriptions of their spectral properties in open scientific literature.[261][259]

Delivery systems

Missiles

Shahab-4 with a range of 2,000 km and a payload of 1,000 kg is believed to be under development. Iran has stated the Shahab-3 is the last of its war missiles and the Shahab-4 is being developed to give the country the capability of launching communications and surveillance satellites. A Shahab-5, an intercontinental ballistic missile with a 10,000 km range, has been alleged but not proven to be under development.[262]

In 2017, Iran tested the Khorramshahr, an MRBM that can carry an 1800 kg payload over 2000 km.[263]

Iran has 12 X-55 long range cruise missiles purchased without nuclear warheads from Ukraine in 2001. The X-55 has a range of 2,500 to 3,000 kilometers.[264]

Iran’s most advanced missile, the Fajr-3, has an unknown range but is estimated to be 2,500 km. The missile is radar evading and can strike targets simultaneously using multiple warheads.[265]

On 2 November 2006, Iran fired unarmed missiles to begin 10 days of military war games. Iranian state television reported “dozens of missiles were fired including Shahab-2 and Shahab-3 missiles. The missiles had ranges from 300 km to up to 2,000 km…Iranian experts have made some changes to Shahab-3 missiles installing cluster warheads in them with the capacity to carry 1,400 bombs.” These launches come after some United States-led military exercises in the Persian Gulf on 30 October 2006, meant to train for blocking the transport of weapons of mass destruction.[266]

The Sejil is a two-stage, solid-propellant, surface-to-surface missile (SSM) produced by Iran with a reported 1,930 km (1,200 mi) range. A successful test launch took place on 12 November 2008.[267]

According to Jane’s Information Group, details of the design other than the number of stages and that it uses solid fuel have not been released. Uzi Ruben, former director of Israel’s Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, indicated that, “Unlike other Iranian missiles, the Sajil bears no resemblance to any North Korean, Russian, Chinese or Pakistani (missile technology). It demonstrates a significant leap in Iran’s missile capabilities.” Ruben went on to state that the Sejil-1 ” … places Iran in the realm of multiple-stage missiles, which means that they are on the way to having intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capabilities …”[268] As a weapon, the Sejil-1 presents much more challenge to Iran’s potential enemies, as solid-fuel missiles can be launched with much less notice than liquid-fueled missiles, making them more difficult to strike prior to launch.[269]

Sejil-2 is an upgraded version of the Sejil. The Sejil-2 two-stage solid-fuel missile has a 2,000 km range and was first test fired on 20 May 2009.[270] The Sejil-2 surface-to-surface medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) was first tested eight months prior to the actual test launch, which took place in the central Iranian province of Semnan.[271] Improvements include better navigation system, better targeting system, more payload, longer range, faster lift-off, longer storage time, quicker launch, and lower detection possibility.[272]

Iran’s Nuclear Capable Missiles
Name/Designation Class Range
(varies with payload weight)
Payload Status
Fajr-3 MRBM 2,000 km 800 kg Operational
Shahab-2 SRBM 300–2,000 km 1200 kg Operational
Shahab-3//Emad/Ghadr-110 MRBM 2,100 km 990 kg Operational
Shahab-4 MRBM 2,000 km 2,000 kg Under Development
Sejil-1 MRBM 1,930 km Unknown Operational
Sejil-2 MRBM 2,000 km Unknown Operational
Khorramshahr MRBM 2,000 km 1800 kg Testing phase

Aircraft

Any aircraft could potentially be used to host some form of WMD distribution system.[citation needed] Iran has a varied air force with aircraft purchased from many countries, including the United States. Due to sanctions, the Iranian government has encouraged the domestic production of aircraft and, since 2002, has built its own transport aircraft, fighters, and gunship helicopters.

See also

References …

External links

Analysis
Political statements

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1278, June 20, 2019, Part 1– Story 1: President Trump: “Iran made a very big mistake” — Option A: Strong Message and Done , Option B: One Missile Attack and Done, Option C: Total War With Iran and World Recession Due To Spike in Oil and Gas Prices — Videos — Story 2: Federal Reserve Board Votes To Keep Federal Funds Target Range of 2.25% to 2.5% Waiting For July 2019 Jobs Report and Second Quarter Real GDP Growth Rate Number — Videos — Story 3: Creepy, Sleepy, Dopey Joey Biden in Praise of Civility of Democrat Segregationist Senators — Radical Extremist Democrats (REDS) Attack Biden — Videos — Part 2– Story 4: President Trump Pushes All The Right Buttons in 2020 Stump Speech in Orlando, Florida — Boom Boom Boom — Send Them Home — MAGA MAGA MAGA — Lock Them Up — Four More Years — Keep America Great — Win Win Win — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1278 June 20, 2019 

Pronk Pops Show 1277 June 19, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1276 June 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1275 June 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1274 June 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1273 June 12, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1272 June 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1271 June 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1270 June 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1269 June 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1268 June 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1267 May 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1266 May 29, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1265 May 28, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1264 May 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1263 May 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1262 May 22, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1261 May 21, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1260 May 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1259 May 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1258 May 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1257 May 14, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1256 May 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1255 May 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1254 May 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1253 May 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1252 May 7, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1251 May 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1250 May 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1249 May 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1248 May 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1247 April 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1246 April 29, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1245 April 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1244 April 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1243 April 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1242 April 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1241 April 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1240 April 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1239 April 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1238 April 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1237 April 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1236 April 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1235 April 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1234 April 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1233 April 4, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1232 April 1, 2019 Part 2

Pronk Pops Show 1232 March 29, 2019 Part 1

Pronk Pops Show 1231 March 28, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1230 March 27, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1229 March 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1228 March 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1227 March 21, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1226 March 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1225 March 19, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1224 March 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1223 March 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1222 March 7, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1221 March 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1220 March 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1219 March 4, 2019

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Story 1: President Trump: “Iran made a very big mistake” — Option A: Strong Message and Done, Option B: One Missile Attack and Done, Option C: Total War With Iran and World Recession Due To Spike in Oil and Gas Prices — Videos —

Tucker: Washington is war-hungry

Pentagon releases footage of US drone being shot down by Iran

LIVE: President Trump first comments after Iran shoots down US Drone | June 20th 2019

US is bringing the Iranian economy to its knees: Nile Gardiner

Oil prices rise after Iran shoots down US drone

40% Chance of 2020 U.S.-Iran Military Conflict: Eurasia CEO

Iran shoots down US drone as tensions escalate

Video shows Iran shooting down US drone

Iran says it shot down US drone ‘violating Iranian air space’ amid growing tensions

Iran Shot Down U.S. Drone to Disrupt Trade in Persian Gulf, Senior U.S. Military Official Says

President Trump makes first comments after Iran shoots down U.S. Drone | ABC News Special Report

Iran says it’s ‘ready for war’

Iran shoots down US military spy drone | DW News

Iran says it will breach nuclear deal ‘in days’ as its uranium stockpile limit nears

Is The U.S. Going To War With Iran? | AJ+

Iran’s foreign minister accuses US, Mideast of provoking conflict

Iran’s Zarif thrashes Trump, “US driven by pathological obsession” (Munich Security Conference 2019)

Can air strikes take out Iran’s nuclear facilities?

Did Trump Just Blink or Bluff in Standoff With Iran?

Anthony Halpin

Bloomberg

Was it all a bluff? After news leaked that President Donald Trump approved and then called off U.S. airstrikes on Iran last night, it emerged he’d warned Tehran about an imminent attack while insisting he was against a war.

Today, as airlines began re-routing flights away from the Strait of Hormuz, Iran’s Foreign Ministry called in the Swiss ambassador, who also represents U.S. interests, for talks.

Was the outreach why Trump abandoned the strikes? Or was this the latest example of the whipsaw approach from a president who’s twice attacked Syria but also backed away from using force after lashing out at Iran and North Korea?

The leak of Trump’s about-face also speaks volumes about the battle for influence in the White House. Hardliners clearly thought they’d convinced him to back a tough response to Iran’s downing of a U.S. Navy drone. Yet Trump was elected on a pledge to pull out of Middle East wars.

The president, who governs with the cliffhanger style of his Apprentice TV show, thrives on keeping supporters hooked on dramatic twists.

But as his 2020 re-election campaign gains steam, the stakes now include the prospect of armed conflict and instability in a region that supplies a third of the world’s oil.

Global Headlines

Biden’s burden | Democratic front-runner Joe Biden is encountering the same pitfalls as other seasoned politicians who’ve found their experience and record can be a liability. The former Delaware senator’s struggles to defend his remarks this week about finding common ground with two segregationists is an early sign of the trouble he could have explaining a complicated voting record and his nostalgia for a Washington collegiality that has steadily diminished since he was first elected in 1972.

Border control | Trump praised Mexico’s efforts to crack down on migrants crossing the border into the U.S. after the two countries entered an agreement aimed at stemming the flow of people entering Mexico from Central America. Mexico will take greater control of its southern border and ask foreigners to register their arrival.

Osaka drama | Before Trump, Group of 20 summits were dull if worthy affairs. This year’s gathering in Osaka, Japan next week promises to be anything but, as the U.S. president holds talks with China’s Xi Jinping after threatening to escalate their trade conflict. The best-case scenario would be a pause in new U.S. tariffs and a resumption of negotiations that broke down in May. The worst-case would be a new Cold War between the two largest economies.

Favorites flushed | European Union leaders cast aside the candidates who’ve dominated the race to head the next EU Commission and will start from scratch less than two weeks before a self-imposed deadline. The decision at a summit in Brussels extends gridlock that has left investors in the dark over a series of critical posts including the next president of the European Central Bank.

Bad air | As climate change tops political agendas from Washington to New Delhi, there’s no solution in sight for the bad air choking Europe’s poorest countries. While the EU has focused mostly on stability in the volatile Balkans, health problems and lost productivity from air pollution cost the continent more than 10 billion euros a year. Obsolete coal plants and cars spew smog and hundreds of thousands of people burn tires, wood and trash to stay warm.

What to Watch

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt will go head-to-head in the contest to become the U.K.’s next prime minister as they seek votes from the Conservative Party’s 160,000 grassroots members over the next month. Ukraine’s Constitutional Court threw out a challenge to a decree by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy ordering early parliamentary elections. The ruling confirmed a vote will take place next month and a new government should be in place by the fall. Turkey reruns the election for mayor of Istanbul on Sunday, pitting former prime minister and ruling AK Party candidate Binali Yildirim against opposition challenger Ekrem Imamoglu, who was stripped of his narrow victory in the March 31 ballot.

And finally…The U.K. is poised to generate more energy from low-carbon sources than from fossil fuels for the first time since the Industrial Revolution. Wind, solar, hydro and nuclear plants provided 48% of the nation’s power in the first five months of this year. The U.K. has gone without burning coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, for the equivalent of 80 days so far in 2019, including one stretch of 18 days in a row.

–With assistance from Kathleen Hunter and Daniel Ten Kate.

https://news.yahoo.com/did-trump-just-blink-bluff-100815556.html

Trump says Iran made ‘big mistake’ by taking down US drone

today

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, June 20, 2019, in Washington. Trump declared Thursday that “Iran made a very big mistake” in shooting down a U.S. drone but suggested it was an accident rather than a strategic error. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump declared Thursday that “Iran made a very big mistake” by shooting down a U.S. surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz but suggested it was a foolish error rather than an intentional escalation of the tensions that have led to rising fears of open military conflict.

Asked about a U.S. response, the president said pointedly, “You’ll soon find out.”

The downing of the huge, unmanned aircraft , which Iran portrayed as a deliberate defense of its territory rather than a mistake, was a stark reminder of the risk of military conflict between U.S. and Iranian forces as the Trump administration combines a “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions against Iran with a buildup of American forces in the region.

The drone — which has a wingspan wider than a Boeing 737 — entered Iranian airspace “despite repeated radio warnings” and was shot down by Iran, acting under the U.N. Charter which allows self-defense action “if an armed attack occurs,” Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi said in a letter to the U.N. secretary-general.

Donald Trump is playing down Iran's downing of an American drone, saying that it might have been a mistake executed by someone just being "loose and stupid." He said it was a "new wrinkle" in escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran. (June 20)

Trump, who has said he wants to avoid war and negotiate with Iran over its nuclear ambitions, appeared to play down the significance of the shootdown.

He cast it as “a new wrinkle … a new fly in the ointment.” Yet he also said that “this country will not stand for it, that I can tell you.”

Shortly before Trump spoke, Air Force Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, commander of U.S. Central Command air forces in the region, took a more pointed view of the shootdown in an area where Trump has blamed Iran for attacking shipping vessels.

“This attack is an attempt to disrupt our ability to monitor the area following recent threats to international shipping and free flow of commerce,” he said.

The Trump administration has been putting increasing economic pressure on Iran for more than a year. It reinstated punishing sanctions following Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of an international agreement intended to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from earlier sanctions.

The other world powers who remain signed on to the nuclear deal have set a meeting to discuss the U.S. withdrawal and Iran’s announced plans to increase its uranium stockpile for June 28, a date far enough in the future to perhaps allow tensions to cool.

Citing Iranian threats, the U.S. recently sent an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf region and deployed additional troops alongside the tens of thousands already there. All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the U.S. and Iran into an open conflict 40 years after Tehran’s Islamic Revolution.

“We do not have any intention for war with any country, but we are fully ready for war,” Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami said in a televised address.

The paramilitary Guard, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said it shot down the drone at 4:05 a.m. Thursday when it entered Iranian airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in southern Iran’s Hormozgan province. Kouhmobarak is about 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) southeast of Tehran.

The first U.S. reaction was Trump’s Thursday morning tweet of six forceful words: “Iran made a very big mistake.”

But later, while meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump said, “I would imagine it was a general or somebody that made a mistake in shooting that drone down.

He said the American drone was unarmed and unmanned and “clearly over international waters.” It would have “made a big, big difference” if someone had been inside, he said.

“I find it hard to believe it was intentional, if you want to know the truth,” Trump said. “I think that it could have been somebody who was loose and stupid that did it.”

Taking issue with the U.S. version of where the attack occurred, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that his country had retrieved sections of the military drone “in OUR territorial waters where it was shot down.” He said, “We don’t seek war but will zealously defend our skies, land & waters.”

U.S. Gen. Guastella disputed that contention, telling reporters that the aircraft was 34 kilometers (21 miles) from the nearest Iranian territory and flying at high altitude when struck by a surface-to-air missile. The U.S. military has not commented on the mission of the remotely piloted aircraft that can fly higher than 10 miles in altitude and stay in the air for over 24 hours at a time.

One U.S. official said there was a second American aircraft in the area that was able to get video and imagery of the drone when it was shot down.

Congressional leaders came to the White House for an hour-long briefing in the Situation Room late Thursday with top national security officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, CIA Director Gina Haspel, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Army Secretary Mark Esper, whom Trump has said he’ll nominate as Pentagon chief.

The Senate’s top Democrat called the downing of the American drone “deeply concerning” and accused the administration of not having an Iran strategy and keeping Congress and the rest of the nation in the dark.

“The president needs to explain to the American people why he’s driving us toward another endless conflict in the Middle East,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she didn’t think Trump wanted war with Iran and the American people have “no appetite” for it either. She said the U.S. needs to be “strong and strategic” about protecting its interests but “cannot be reckless.”

Talking tougher, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called Iran a “murderous regime” and said, “If they’re itching for a fight they’re going to get one.”

“We’re a lot closer today than we were yesterday, and only God knows what tomorrow brings,” said Graham, a Trump ally who talked with the president by telephone.

The senator also focused on the issue of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, saying its leaders have refused to negotiate after Trump withdrew the U.S. from the international agreement to limit Iranian development of nuclear weapons.

Graham said it’s imperative that the U.S. clearly tell the Iranians that any attempt to increase uranium enrichment will be seen as a “hostile act against the United States and our allies in Israel and will not go unanswered.”

Another factor: This all comes as Trump is launching his re-election campaign. He ran for president promising to bring American troops home from the Middle East and Afghanistan and has repeatedly said he wants to keep America out of “endless wars.”

Ari Fleischer, who was press secretary for President George W. Bush, cautioned against thinking about politics when weighing any response to Iran.

“I suspect a successful limited counter-strike, such as taking out the missile battery that fired at the drone or the sinking of an unmanned Iranian vessel, would be seen as a well-calibrated show of resolve and discipline,” Fleischer said in an interview. He added that “if we do nothing, Iran may strike again thinking it has impunity.”

https://apnews.com/84ad15edb7324472bb867852059a0a7a

Iran shoots down US surveillance drone, heightening tensions

29 minutes ago

In this Oct. 24, 2018, photo released by the U.S. Air Force, members of the 7th Reconnaissance Squadron prepare to launch an RQ-4 Global Hawk at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down a U.S. RQ-4 Global Hawk on Thursday, June 20, 2019, amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington over its collapsing nuclear deal with world powers, American and Iranian officials said, though they disputed the circumstances of the incident. (Staff Sgt. Ramon A. Adelan/U.S. Air Force via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down a U.S. surveillance drone Thursday in the Strait of Hormuz, marking the first time the Islamic Republic directly attacked the American military amid tensions over Tehran’s unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

The two countries disputed the circumstances leading up to an Iranian surface-to-air missile bringing down the U.S. Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk, an unmanned aircraft with a wingspan larger than a Boeing 737 jetliner and costing over $100 million.

Iran said the drone “violated” its territorial airspace, while the U.S. called the missile fire “an unprovoked attack” in international airspace over the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf and President Donald Trump tweeted that “Iran made a very big mistake!”

Trump later appeared to play down the incident, telling reporters in the Oval Office that he had a feeling that “a general or somebody” being “loose and stupid” made a mistake in shooting down the drone.

AP Graphic

The incident immediately heightened the crisis already gripping the wider region, which is rooted in Trump withdrawing the U.S. a year ago from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal and imposing crippling new sanctions on Tehran. Recently, Iran quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium to be on pace to break one of the deal’s terms by next week while threatening to raise enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels on July 7 if Europe doesn’t offer it a new deal.

Citing unspecified Iranian threats, the U.S. has sent an aircraft carrier to the Middle East and deployed additional troops alongside the tens of thousands already there. All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the U.S. and Iran into an open conflict 40 years after Tehran’s Islamic Revolution.

“We do not have any intention for war with any country, but we are fully ready for war,” Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami said in a televised address.

The paramilitary Guard, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said it shot down the drone at 4:05 a.m. Thursday when it entered Iranian airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in southern Iran’s Hormozgan province. Kouhmobarak is about 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) southeast of Tehran.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami. (Sepahnews via AP)

The drone took off from the southern Persian Gulf and collected data from Iranian territory, including the southern port of Chahbahar near Iran’s border with Pakistan, the Guard said in comments that appeared aimed at showing it could track the aircraft.

The U.S. military has not commented on the mission of the remotely piloted aircraft that can fly higher than 10 miles in altitude and stay in the air for over 24 hours at a time.

Iran used its air defense system known as Third of Khordad to shoot down the drone — a truck-based missile system that can fire up to 18 miles (30 kilometers) into the sky, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Iranian state TV later broadcast video it described as the moment the Guard launched the surface-to-air missile that struck the U.S. drone. Chants of “God is great!” could be heard as a fireball appeared in the darkened sky.

Typically, militaries worldwide call out to errant aircraft entering their airspace before firing. It’s unclear whether Iran gave any warning before opening fire. The U.S. military says Iran fired on and missed another drone last week near the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of all global oil moves.

The U.S. has been worried about international shipping through the strategic waterway since tankers were damaged in May and June in what Washington has blamed on limpet mines from Iran, although Tehran denied involvement.. On Wednesday in the United Arab Emirates, the U.S. Navy showed fragments of mines that it said bore “a striking resemblance” to those seen in Iran

The RQ-4 Global Hawk was at least 34 kilometers from Iranian territory when it was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, commander of the U.S. Central Command. He said it was an attempt to disrupt U.S. efforts to monitor the Persian Gulf region.

But Salami, speaking to a crowd in the western city of Sanandaj, described the American drone as “violating our national security border.”

“Borders are our red line,” the Revolutionary Guard general said. “Any enemy that violates the borders will be annihilated.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry also said the drone entered Iranian airspace, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted it would take its case to the U.N. He later tweeted that Iran retrieved parts of the drone in its territorial waters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin urged caution, warning any war between Iran and the U.S. would be a “catastrophe for the region as a minimum.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged support for U.S. efforts to halt what he called escalating Iranian provocations.

“In the last 24 hours, Iran has intensified its aggression against the United States and against all of us,” he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern and urged all parties to “avoid any action that could inflame the situation,” said U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

America stations some RQ-4 Global Hawks at the Al-Dhafra Air Base in the UAE, near the capital of Abu Dhabi. Associated Press journalists saw the drones on the base’s tarmac during a March 2016 visit by then-Vice President Joe Biden. The U.S. military occasionally publishes images from there of the drones, which have a distinctive hump-shaped front and an engine atop the fuselage.

Iran has claimed to have shot down U.S. drones before. In the most famous incident, in December 2011, Iran seized an RQ-170 Sentinel flown by the CIA to monitor Iranian nuclear sites after it entered Iranian airspace from neighboring Afghanistan. Iran later reverse-engineered the drone to create their own variants.

Elsewhere in the region Thursday, Saudi Arabia said Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels fired a rocket at a desalination plant in al-Shuqaiq, a city in the kingdom’s Jizan province. The state-run Saudi Press Agency quoted military spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki as saying it caused no damage or casualties.

The Yemeni rebel Al-Masirah satellite news channel earlier said the Houthis targeted a power plant in Jizan, near the kingdom’s border with Yemen, with a cruise missile.

A coalition led by Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally, has been battling the Houthis since March 2015 in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation now pushed to the brink of famine by the conflict. In recent weeks, the Houthis have launched a new campaign sending missiles and bomb-laden drones into Saudi Arabia.

https://apnews.com/e4316eb989d5499c9828350de8524963

 

 

Story 2: Federal Reserve Board Votes To Keep Federal Funds Target Range of 2.25% to 2.5% Waiting For July 2019 Jobs Report and Second Quarter Real GDP Growth Rate Number — Videos

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Trump slams Fed over interest rate policy

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Sen. Tillis Says Fed Made Mistake in December, Defers to Trump on Powell Demotion

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Trump expected Powell to be a ‘cheap-money’ Fed chairman

S&P 500 closes at new record as Wall Street bets Fed will lower rates, Dow surges nearly 250 points

VIDEO02:12
The S&P 500 just closed at a record high — Here’s what four experts say to watch

Stocks rallied on Thursday, led by strong gains in tech and energy shares, as Wall Street cheered the possibility that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates next month.

The S&P 500 surged 1% to 2,954.18, a record close. The broad index also hit an intraday record of 2,958.06. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 249.17 points higher at 26,753.17. The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.8% to end the day at 8,051.34.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell below 2% for the first time since November 2016. Investors cheered the decline in the benchmark for mortgage rates and corporate bonds.

The energy sector rose more than 2% to lead all 11 S&P 500 sectors higher as oil prices jumped. Tech gained 1.4% after shares of Oracle surged more than 8% on stronger-than-forecast earnings. General Electric’s 2.8% rise pushed the industrials sector up more than 1.6% on the day.

“Markets are based on numbers and perception. If the perception is rates are getting cut, that’s going to drive markets higher,” said Kathy Entwistle, senior vice president of wealth management at UBS. “UBS’ stance up until yesterday was we wouldn’t see any rate cuts this year. Now we see a much larger chance of a 50-basis-point cut.”

The Fed said Wednesday it stands ready to battle growing global and domestic economic risks as they took stock of intensifying trade tensions and growing concerns about inflation. Most Fed policymakers slashed their rate outlook for the rest of the calendar year by approximately half a percentage point in the previous session, while Chairman Jerome Powell said others agree the case for lower rates is building.

Policymakers also dropped “patient” from the Fed’s statement and acknowledged that inflation is “running below” its 2% objective.

Market participants viewed the overall tone from the U.S. central bank as more dovish than expected. Traders are now pricing in a 100% chance of a rate cutnext month, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

With Thursday’s gains, the market has now erased the steep losses recorded by the major indexes in May, which were sparked by trade fears. The S&P 500 and Dow both fell more than 6% while the Nasdaq lost 7.9% last month. The three indexes were up more than 7% for June.

China and the U.S. hiked tariffs on billions of dollars worth of their goods in May. Stocks turned around this month as traders bet the rising trade tensions, coupled with weaker economic data, would lead the Fed to ease its monetary policy stance.

The Fed’s message on Wednesday sent the 10-year Treasury yield to as low as 1.974% before ending the day around 2.02%. The yield stood at 2.8% in January.

“The FOMC reinforced the market’s conviction,” said Steve Blitz, chief U.S. economist at TS Lombard, in a note. “Barring a dramatic turnaround in the data, the next move is a cut – perhaps even a 50bp reduction.”

The dollar also took a hit against other major currencies. The dollar index dropped 0.5% to 96.65, led by a 0.6% slide in the euro. The yen and Canadian dollar also rose against the U.S. currency.

Energy shares got a boost from higher oil prices. The Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE) climbed 2.2% as shares of Exxon Mobil gained 1.7%. Oil prices surged 5.4% after a U.S. official said a drone was shot down over Iranian airspace.

Meanwhile, Slack shares surged more than 40% in their first day of trading. The stock closed above $38 after setting a reference price of $26.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/20/stock-market-dow-futures-higher-after-fed-raises-rate-cut-hopes.html

Federal Open Market Committee

About the FOMC

Recent FOMC press conference

June 19, 2019

FOMC Transcripts and other historical materials

The term “monetary policy” refers to the actions undertaken by a central bank, such as the Federal Reserve, to influence the availability and cost of money and credit to help promote national economic goals. The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 gave the Federal Reserve responsibility for setting monetary policy.

The Federal Reserve controls the three tools of monetary policy–open market operationsthe discount rate, and reserve requirements. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System is responsible for the discount rate and reserve requirements, and the Federal Open Market Committee is responsible for open market operations. Using the three tools, the Federal Reserve influences the demand for, and supply of, balances that depository institutions hold at Federal Reserve Banks and in this way alters the federal funds rate. The federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions lend balances at the Federal Reserve to other depository institutions overnight.

Changes in the federal funds rate trigger a chain of events that affect other short-term interest rates, foreign exchange rates, long-term interest rates, the amount of money and credit, and, ultimately, a range of economic variables, including employment, output, and prices of goods and services.

Structure of the FOMC

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) consists of twelve members–the seven members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; and four of the remaining eleven Reserve Bank presidents, who serve one-year terms on a rotating basis. The rotating seats are filled from the following four groups of Banks, one Bank president from each group: Boston, Philadelphia, and Richmond; Cleveland and Chicago; Atlanta, St. Louis, and Dallas; and Minneapolis, Kansas City, and San Francisco. Nonvoting Reserve Bank presidents attend the meetings of the Committee, participate in the discussions, and contribute to the Committee’s assessment of the economy and policy options.

The FOMC holds eight regularly scheduled meetings per year. At these meetings, the Committee reviews economic and financial conditions, determines the appropriate stance of monetary policy, and assesses the risks to its long-run goals of price stability and sustainable economic growth.

For more detail on the FOMC and monetary policy, see section 2 of the brochure on the structure of the Federal Reserve Systemand chapter 2 of Purposes & Functions of the Federal Reserve System. FOMC Rules and Authorizations are also available online.

2019 Committee Members

Alternate Members

Federal Reserve Bank Rotation on the FOMC

Committee membership changes at the first regularly scheduled meeting of the year.

2020 2021 2022
Members New York
Cleveland
Philadelphia
Dallas
Minneapolis
New York
Chicago
Richmond
Atlanta
San Francisco
New York
Cleveland
Boston
St. Louis
Kansas City
Alternate
Members
New York
Chicago
Richmond
Atlanta
San Francisco
New York
Cleveland
Boston
St. Louis
Kansas City
New York
Chicago
Philadelphia
Dallas
Minneapolis

 †For the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the First Vice President is the alternate for the President. Return to table

For additional information, please use the FOMC FOIA request form.

https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/fomc.htm

 

Fed holds rates steady, but opens the door for a rate cut in the future

The action sets up a possible confrontation between Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and President Donald Trump, who has been pressuring the Fed to cut rates. Just Tuesday, Trump said “let’s see what he does” at the Fed meeting when asked if he still wants to demote Powell.

At the post-statement news conference, Powell was asked about his future as chairman. “I think the law is clear that I have a four year term, and I fully intend to serve it,” he said.

The strong majority for this month’s decision contrasted with a sharp difference of opinion on what happens next.

The committee provided an important nod to those worried about slower growth: It dropped the word “patient” in  describing its approach to policy. The characterization was a key part of the Fed “pivot” earlier this year that signaled to the market a more dovish approach to rates.

“The Fed didn’t surprise investors with the decision to maintain rates, but the split vote tells us that a cut is on the way and it’s increasingly likely that will be in July, as bond markets have been hoping,” said Neil Birrell, chief investment officer at Premier Asset Management.

“This was probably the compromise decision — it wasn’t shocking and should offer some reassurance,” Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group, said in a note. “The FOMC will still want to closely monitor the stress fractures from the bond market, middling housing and auto sales numbers, and an increasingly uncertain global economic landscape in the coming months.”

The statement also changed wording to concede that inflation is “running below” the Fed’s 2% objective. In their forecast for headline inflation this year, officials slashed the estimate to 1.5% from March’s 1.8%. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, is likely now to be 1.8% from March’s 2%, according to the quarterly summary of economic projections also released Wednesday.

‘In light of these uncertainties’

The committee changed language from its May statement to indicate that economic activity is “rising at a moderate rate,” a downgrade from “solid.”

In their baseline scenario, FOMC members said they still expect “sustained expansion of economic activity” and a move toward 2% inflation, but realize that “uncertainties about this outlook have increased.”

“In light of these uncertainties and muted inflation pressures, the Committee will closely monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion, with a strong labor market and inflation near its symmetric 2 percent objective,” the statement said. The “act as appropriate to sustain the expansion” language mirrors a statement from Powell in early June.

Very reasonable to think Fed will cut rates twice this year: Strategist

The committee characterized the labor market as “strong” with “solid” jobs growth, despite May’s disappointing nonfarm payrolls growth of 75,000. The statement further said that household spending “appears to have picked up from earlier in the year.”

The changes came amid what appeared to be little consensus among the committee about where rates go next.

Divided Fed

According to the “dot plot” of individual members’ expectations, eight members favor one cut this year while the same number voted in favor of the status quo and one still wants a rate hike. Bullard and Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari have led the public discussion about the potential for rate cuts, while other members have been less firm.

Into 2020, the Fed consensus was a bit stronger, with nine members wanting a cut to a funds rate around 2.1%. The direction changes, though, in 2021, with indications of an increase of about a quarter-point, culminating in an expected long-run value of 2.5%. The funds rate most recently was trading at 2.37%.

Traders in the thin and volatile funds market had been pricing in a 26% chance of a cut at this week’s meeting. Later in the year, though, the probability for a July easing rose to 82.5% and the chances of a second cut in December were most recently at 60.4%. The market expects a third cut to come around March of 2020.

While the statement language offered some significant changes, estimates in the summary of economic projections, other than inflation, moved little from March. GDP growth is still expected to be 2.1% for the year – it was 3.1% in the first quarter, and the Atlanta Fed is forecasting a 2% gain in the second quarter. The unemployment rate is now expected to hold at a 50-year low of 3.6%, against the March forecast of 3.7%.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/19/fed-decision-fed-leaves-rates-unchanged.html

10-year Treasury yield drops below 2% for first time since November 2016

Federal funds rate

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Federal Funds Rate compared to U.S. Treasury interest rates

2 to 10 year treasury yield spread

Inflation (blue) compared to federal funds rate (red)

Quarterly gross domestic product compared to Federal Funds Rate.

Federal Funds Rate and Treasury interest rates from 2002-2019

In the United States, the federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions (banks and credit unions) lend reserve balances to other depository institutions overnight, on an uncollateralized basis. Reserve balances are amounts held at the Federal Reserve to maintain depository institutions’ reserve requirements. Institutions with surplus balances in their accounts lend those balances to institutions in need of larger balances. The federal funds rate is an important benchmark in financial markets.[1][2]

The interest rate that the borrowing bank pays to the lending bank to borrow the funds is negotiated between the two banks, and the weighted average of this rate across all such transactions is the federal funds effective rate.

The federal funds target rate is determined by a meeting of the members of the Federal Open Market Committee which normally occurs eight times a year about seven weeks apart. The committee may also hold additional meetings and implement target rate changes outside of its normal schedule.

The Federal Reserve uses open market operations to make the federal funds effective rate follow the federal funds target rate. The target rate is chosen in part to influence the money supply in the U.S. economy[3]

Contents

Mechanism

Financial institutions are obligated by law to maintain certain levels of reserves, either as reserves with the Fed or as vault cash. The level of these reserves is determined by the outstanding assets and liabilities of each depository institution, as well as by the Fed itself, but is typically 10%[4] of the total value of the bank’s demand accounts (depending on bank size). In the range of $9.3 million to $43.9 million, for transaction deposits (checking accountsNOWs, and other deposits that can be used to make payments) the reserve requirement in 2007–2008 was 3 percent of the end-of-the-day daily average amount held over a two-week period. Transaction deposits over $43.9 million held at the same depository institution carried a 10 percent reserve requirement.

For example, assume a particular U.S. depository institution, in the normal course of business, issues a loan. This dispenses money and decreases the ratio of bank reserves to money loaned. If its reserve ratio drops below the legally required minimum, it must add to its reserves to remain compliant with Federal Reserve regulations. The bank can borrow the requisite funds from another bank that has a surplus in its account with the Fed. The interest rate that the borrowing bank pays to the lending bank to borrow the funds is negotiated between the two banks, and the weighted average of this rate across all such transactions is the federal funds effective rate.

The federal funds target rate is set by the governors of the Federal Reserve, which they enforce by open market operations and adjustments in the interest rate on reserves.[5] The target rate is almost always what is meant by the media referring to the Federal Reserve “changing interest rates.” The actual federal funds rate generally lies within a range of that target rate, as the Federal Reserve cannot set an exact value through open market operations.

Another way banks can borrow funds to keep up their required reserves is by taking a loan from the Federal Reserve itself at the discount window. These loans are subject to audit by the Fed, and the discount rate is usually higher than the federal funds rate. Confusion between these two kinds of loans often leads to confusion between the federal funds rate and the discount rate. Another difference is that while the Fed cannot set an exact federal funds rate, it does set the specific discount rate.

The federal funds rate target is decided by the governors at Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings. The FOMC members will either increase, decrease, or leave the rate unchanged depending on the meeting’s agenda and the economic conditions of the U.S. It is possible to infer the market expectations of the FOMC decisions at future meetings from the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) Fed Funds futures contracts, and these probabilities are widely reported in the financial media.

Applications

Interbank borrowing is essentially a way for banks to quickly raise money. For example, a bank may want to finance a major industrial effort but may not have the time to wait for deposits or interest (on loan payments) to come in. In such cases the bank will quickly raise this amount from other banks at an interest rate equal to or higher than the Federal funds rate.

Raising the federal funds rate will dissuade banks from taking out such inter-bank loans, which in turn will make cash that much harder to procure. Conversely, dropping the interest rates will encourage banks to borrow money and therefore invest more freely.[6] This interest rate is used as a regulatory tool to control how freely the U.S. economy operates.

By setting a higher discount rate the Federal Bank discourages banks from requisitioning funds from the Federal Bank, yet positions itself as a lender of last resort.

Comparison with LIBOR

Though the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and the federal funds rate are concerned with the same action, i.e. interbank loans, they are distinct from one another, as follows:

  • The target federal funds rate is a target interest rate that is set by the FOMC for implementing U.S. monetary policies.
  • The (effective) federal funds rate is achieved through open market operations at the Domestic Trading Desk at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York which deals primarily in domestic securities (U.S. Treasury and federal agencies’ securities).[7]
  • LIBOR is based on a questionnaire where a selection of banks guess the rates at which they could borrow money from other banks.
  • LIBOR may or may not be used to derive business terms. It is not fixed beforehand and is not meant to have macroeconomic ramifications.[8]

Predictions by the market

Considering the wide impact a change in the federal funds rate can have on the value of the dollar and the amount of lending going to new economic activity, the Federal Reserve is closely watched by the market. The prices of Option contracts on fed funds futures (traded on the Chicago Board of Trade) can be used to infer the market’s expectations of future Fed policy changes. Based on CME Group 30-Day Fed Fund futures prices, which have long been used to express the market’s views on the likelihood of changes in U.S. monetary policy, the CME Group FedWatch tool allows market participants to view the probability of an upcoming Fed Rate hike. One set of such implied probabilities is published by the Cleveland Fed.

Historical rates

As of 19 December 2018 the target range for the Federal Funds Rate is 2.25–2.50%.[9] This represents the ninth increase in the target rate since tightening began in December 2015.[10]

The last full cycle of rate increases occurred between June 2004 and June 2006 as rates steadily rose from 1.00% to 5.25%. The target rate remained at 5.25% for over a year, until the Federal Reserve began lowering rates in September 2007. The last cycle of easing monetary policy through the rate was conducted from September 2007 to December 2008 as the target rate fell from 5.25% to a range of 0.00–0.25%. Between December 2008 and December 2015 the target rate remained at 0.00–0.25%, the lowest rate in the Federal Reserve’s history, as a reaction to the Financial crisis of 2007–2008 and its aftermath. According to Jack A. Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank, one reason for this unprecedented move of having a range, rather than a specific rate, was because a rate of 0% could have had problematic implications for money market funds, whose fees could then outpace yields.[11]

Federal funds rate history and recessions.png

Explanation of federal funds rate decisions

When the Federal Open Market Committee wishes to reduce interest rates they will increase the supply of money by buying government securities. When additional supply is added and everything else remains constant, the price of borrowed funds – the federal funds rate – falls. Conversely, when the Committee wishes to increase the federal funds rate, they will instruct the Desk Manager to sell government securities, thereby taking the money they earn on the proceeds of those sales out of circulation and reducing the money supply. When supply is taken away and everything else remains constant, the interest rate will normally rise.[12]

The Federal Reserve has responded to a potential slow-down by lowering the target federal funds rate during recessions and other periods of lower growth. In fact, the Committee’s lowering has recently predated recessions,[13] in order to stimulate the economy and cushion the fall. Reducing the federal funds rate makes money cheaper, allowing an influx of credit into the economy through all types of loans.

The charts linked below show the relation between S&P 500 and interest rates.

  • July 13, 1990 — Sept 4, 1992: 8.00%–3.00% (Includes 1990–1991 recession)[14][15]
  • Feb 1, 1995 — Nov 17, 1998: 6.00–4.75 [16][17][18]
  • May 16, 2000 — June 25, 2003: 6.50–1.00 (Includes 2001 recession)[19][20][21]
  • June 29, 2006 — (Oct. 29 2008): 5.25–1.00[22]
  • Dec 16, 2008 — 0.0–0.25[23]
  • Dec 16, 2015 — 0.25–0.50[24]
  • Dec 14, 2016 — 0.50–0.75[25]
  • Mar 15, 2017 — 0.75–1.00[26]
  • Jun 14, 2017 — 1.00–1.25[27]
  • Dec 13, 2017 — 1.25–1.50[28]
  • Mar 21, 2018 — 1.50–1.75[29]
  • Jun 13, 2018 — 1.75–2.00[30]
  • Sep 26, 2018 — 2.00–2.25[9]
  • Dec 19, 2018 — 2.25–2.50[31]

Bill Gross of PIMCO suggested that in the prior 15 years ending in 2007, in each instance where the fed funds rate was higher than the nominal GDP growth rate, assets such as stocks and housing fell.[32]

International effects

A low federal funds rate makes investments in developing countries such as China or Mexico more attractive. A high federal funds rate makes investments outside the United States less attractive. The long period of a very low federal funds rate from 2009 forward resulted in an increase in investment in developing countries. As the United States began to return to a higher rate in 2013 investments in the United States became more attractive and the rate of investment in developing countries began to fall. The rate also affects the value of currency, a higher rate increasing the value of the U.S. dollar and decreasing the value of currencies such as the Mexican peso.[33]

See also

References

  1. ^ “Fedpoints: Federal Funds”Federal Reserve Bank of New York. August 2007. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
  2. ^ “The Implementation of Monetary Policy”. The Federal Reserve System: Purposes & Functions(PDF). Washington, D.C.: Federal Reserve Board. August 24, 2011. p. 4. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
  3. ^ “Monetary Policy, Open Market Operations”. Federal Reserve Bank. January 30, 2008. Archived from the original on April 13, 2001. Retrieved January 30, 2008.
  4. ^ “Reserve Requirements”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2015.
  5. ^ Stefan Homburg (2017) A Study in Monetary Macroeconomics, Oxford University Press, ISBN978-0-19-880753-7.
  6. ^ “Fed funds rate”. Bankrate, Inc. March 2016.
  7. ^ Cheryl L. Edwards (November 1997). Gerard Sinzdak. “Open Market Operations in the 1990s”(PDF)Federal Reserve Bulletin (PDF).
  8. ^ “BBA LIBOR – Frequently asked questions”. British Bankers’ Association. March 21, 2006. Archived from the original on February 16, 2007.
  9. Jump up to:ab “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement” (Press release). Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. December 19, 2018. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  10. ^ Tankersley, Jim (March 21, 2018). “Fed Raises Interest Rates for Sixth Time Since Financial Crisis”The New York Times. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  11. ^ “4:56 p.m. US-Closing Stocks”. Associated Press. December 16, 2008. Archived from the original on July 18, 2012.
  12. ^ David Waring (February 19, 2008). “An Explanation of How The Fed Moves Interest Rates”. InformedTrades.com. Archived from the original on May 5, 2015. Retrieved July 20, 2009.
  13. ^ “Historical Changes of the Target Federal Funds and Discount Rates, 1971 to present”. New York Federal Reserve Branch. February 19, 2010. Archived from the original on December 21, 2008.
  14. ^ “$SPX 1990-06-12 1992-10-04 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  15. ^ “$SPX 1992-08-04 1995-03-01 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  16. ^ “$SPX 1995-01-01 1997-01-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  17. ^ “$SPX 1996-12-01 1998-10-17 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  18. ^ “$SPX 1998-09-17 2000-06-16 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  19. ^ “$SPX 2000-04-16 2002-01-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  20. ^ “$SPX 2002-01-01 2003-07-25 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  21. ^ “$SPX 2003-06-25 2006-06-29 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  22. ^ “$SPX 2006-06-29 2008-06-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  23. ^ “Press Release”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2008.
  24. ^ “Open Market Operations”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2015.
  25. ^ “Decisions Regarding Monetary Policy Implementation”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. Archived from the original on December 15, 2016.
  26. ^ Cox, Jeff (March 15, 2017). “Fed raises rates at March meeting”CNBC. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  27. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. June 14, 2017.
  28. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 13, 2017.
  29. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. March 21, 2018.
  30. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. June 13, 2018.
  31. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 19, 2018.
  32. ^ Shaw, Richard (January 7, 2007). “The Bond Yield Curve as an Economic Crystal Ball”. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  33. ^ Peter S. Goodman, Keith Bradsher and Neil Gough (March 16, 2017). “The Fed Acts. Workers in Mexico and Merchants in Malaysia Suffer”The New York Times. Retrieved March 18,2017Rising interest rates in the United States are driving money out of many developing countries, straining governments and pinching consumers around the globe.

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_funds_rate

The Impact of an Inverted Yield Curve

The term yield curve refers to the relationship between the short- and long-term interest rates of fixed-income securities issued by the U.S. Treasury. An inverted yield curve occurs when short-term interest rates exceed long-term rates.

From an economic perspective, an inverted yield curve is a noteworthy event. Below, we explain this rare phenomenon, discuss its impact on consumers and investors, and tell you how to adjust your portfolio to account for it.

Interest Rates and Yield Curves

Typically, short-term interest rates are lower than long-term rates, so the yield curve slopes upwards, reflecting higher yields for longer-term investments. This is referred to as a normal yield curve. When the spread between short-term and long-term interest rates narrows, the yield curve begins to flatten. A flat yield curve is often seen during the transition from a normal yield curve to an inverted one.

Normal Yield Curve

Figure 1 – A normal yield curve

What Does an Inverted Yield Curve Suggest?

Historically, an inverted yield curve has been viewed as an indicator of a pending economic recession. When short-term interest rates exceed long-term rates, market sentiment suggests that the long-term outlook is poor and that the yields offered by long-term fixed income will continue to fall.

More recently, this viewpoint has been called into question, as foreign purchases of securities issued by the U.S. Treasury have created a high and sustained level of demand for products backed by U.S. government debt. When investors are aggressively seeking debt instruments, the debtor can offer lower interest rates. When this occurs, many argue that it is the laws of supply and demand, rather than impending economic doom and gloom, that enable lenders to attract buyers without having to pay higher interest rates.

Inverted Yield Curve

Figure 2 – An inverted yield curve: note the inverse relationship between yield and maturity

Inverted yield curves have been relatively rare, due in large part to longer-than-average periods between recessions since the early 1990s. For example, the economic expansions that began in March 1991, November 2001 and June 2009 were three of the four longest economic expansions since World War II. During these long periods, the question often arises as to whether an inverted yield curve can happen again.

Economic cycles, regardless of their length, have historically transitioned from growth to recession and back again. Inverted yield curves are an essential element of these cycles, preceding every recession since 1956. Considering the consistency of this pattern, an inverted yield will likely form again if the current expansion fades to recession.

Upward sloping yield curves are a natural extension of the higher risks associated with long maturities. In a growing economy, investors also demand higher yields at the long end of the curve to compensate for the opportunity cost of investing in bonds versus other asset classes, and to maintain an acceptable spread over inflation rates.

As the economic cycle begins to slow, perhaps due to interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve Bank, the upward slope of the yield curve tends to flatten as short-term rates increase and longer yields stay stable or decline slightly. In this environment, investors see long-term yields as an acceptable substitute for the potential of lower returns in equities and other asset classes, which tend to increase bond prices and reduce yields.

Inverted Yield Curve Impact on Consumers

In addition to its impact on investors, an inverted yield curve also has an impact on consumers. For example, homebuyers financing their properties with adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) have interest-rate schedules that are periodically updated based on short-term interest rates. When short-term rates are higher than long-term rates, payments on ARMs tend to rise. When this occurs, fixed-rate loans may be more attractive than adjustable-rate loans.

Lines of credit are affected in a similar manner. In both cases, consumers must dedicate a larger portion of their incomes toward servicing existing debt. This reduces expendable income and has a negative effect on the economy as a whole.

The Formation of an Inverted Yield Curve

As concerns of an impending recession increase, investors tend to buy long Treasury bonds based on the premise that they offer a safe harbor from falling equities markets, provide preservation of capital and have potential for appreciation in value as interest rates decline. As a result of the rotation to long maturities, yields can fall below short-term rates, forming an inverted yield curve. Since 1956, equities have peaked six times after the start of an inversion, and the economy has fallen into recession within seven to 24 months.

As of 2017, the most recent inverted yield curve first appeared in August 2006, as the Fed raised short-term interest rates in response to overheating equity, real estate and mortgage markets. The inversion of the yield curve preceded the peak of the Standard & Poor’s 500 in October 2007 by 14 months and the official start of the recession in December 2007 by 16 months. However, a growing number of 2018 economic outlooks from investment firms are suggesting that an inverted yield curve could be on the horizon, citing the narrowing spread between short- and long-dated Treasuries.

If history is any precedent, the current business cycle will progress, and slowing in the economy may eventually become evident. If concerns of the next recession rise to the point where investors see the purchase of long-dated Treasuries as the best option for their portfolios, there is a high likelihood that the next inverted yield curve will take shape.

Inverted Yield Curve Impact on Fixed-Income Investors

A yield curve inversion has the greatest impact on fixed-income investors. In normal circumstances, long-term investments have higher yields; because investors are risking their money for longer periods of time, they are rewarded with higher payouts. An inverted curve eliminates the risk premium for long-term investments, allowing investors to get better returns with short-term investments.

When the spread between U.S. Treasuries (a risk-free investment) and higher-risk corporate alternatives is at historical lows, it is often an easy decision to invest in lower-risk vehicles. In such cases, purchasing a Treasury-backed security provides a yield similar to the yield on junk bondscorporate bondsreal estate investment trusts (REITs) and other debt instruments, but without the risk inherent in these vehicles. Money market funds and certificates of deposit (CDs) may also be attractive – particularly when a one-year CD is paying yields comparable to those on a 10-year Treasury bond.

Inverted Yield Curve Impact on Equity Investors

When the yield curve becomes inverted, profit margins fall for companies that borrow cash at short-term rates and lend at long-term rates, such as community banks. Likewise, hedge funds are often forced to take on increased risk in order to achieve their desired level of returns.

In fact, a bad bet on Russian interest rates is largely credited for the demise of Long-Term Capital Management, a well-known hedge fund run by bond trader John Meriwether.

Despite their consequences for some parties, yield-curve inversions tend to have less impact on consumer staples and healthcare companies, which are not interest-rate dependent. This relationship becomes clear when an inverted yield curve precedes a recession. When this occurs, investors tend to turn to defensive stocks, such as those in the food, oil and tobacco industries, which are often less affected by downturns in the economy.

The Bottom Line

While experts question whether or not an inverted yield curve remains a strong indicator of pending economic recession, keep in mind that history is littered with portfolios that were devastated when investors blindly followed predictions about how “it’s different this time.” Most recently, shortsighted equity investors spouting this mantra participated in the “tech wreck,” snapping up shares in tech companies at inflated prices even though these firms had no hope of ever making a profit.

If you want to be a smart investor, ignore the noise. Instead of spending time and effort trying to figure out what the future will bring, construct your portfolio based on long-term thinking and long-term convictions – not short-term market movements.

For your short-term income needs, do the obvious: choose the investment with the highest yield, but keep in mind that inversions are an anomaly and they don’t last forever. When the inversion ends, adjust your portfolio accordingly.

Story 3: Creepy, Sleepy, Dopey, Joey Biden in Praise of Civility of Democrat Segregationist Senators Eastland (Mississippi) and Talmadge (Georgia) Who Got Things Done — Radical Extremist Democrats (REDS) Attack Biden — Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers and Big Lie Media Playing Identity Politics and Divide and Conquer — Videos —

Biden’s ties to segregationist senator spark campaign tension

Biden’s ties to segregationist senator spark campaign tension

SUSAN WALSH / AP

Joe Biden was a freshman senator, the youngest member of the august body, when he reached out to an older colleague for help on one of his early legislative proposals: The courts were ordering racially segregated school districts to bus children to create more integrated classrooms, a practice Biden opposed and wanted to change.

“I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s Committee meeting in attemptingto bring my antibusing legislation to a vote,” Biden wrote on June 30, 1977.

The recipient of Biden’s entreaty was Sen. James Eastland, at the time a well-known segregationist who had called blacks “an inferior race” and once vowed to prevent blacks and whites from eating together in Washington. The exchange, revealed in a series of letters, offers a new glimpse into an old relationship that erupted this week as a major controversy for Biden’s presidential campaign.Biden on Wednesday night described his relationship with Eastland as one he “had to put up with.” He said of his relationships with Eastland and another staunch segregationist and southern Democrat, Sen. Herman Talmadge of Georgia, that “the fact of the matter is that we were able to do it because we were able to win — we were able to beat them on everything they stood for.”

But the letters show a different type of relationship, one in which they were aligned on a legislative issue. Biden said at the time that he did not think that busing was the best way to integrate schools in Delaware and that systemic racism should be dealt with by investing in schools and improving housing policies.

The letters were provided Thursday to the Washington Post by the University of Mississippi, which houses Eastland’s archived papers. They were reported in April by CNN.

Biden’s campaign late Thursday issued a statement saying that “the insinuation that Joe Biden shared the same views as Eastland on segregation is a lie.”

“Plain and simple. Joe Biden has dedicated his career to fighting for civil rights,” the statement said.

The controversy over Biden’s comments this week have continued to reverberate at a crucial time in the campaign, with matters of race dominating the political discussion ahead of several prominent gatherings, including the first presidential debate next week and a multicandidate event before black voters in South Carolina on Friday. It has emerged as a complex political problem for Biden, who has been trying to campaign as a civil rights champion while explaining past views that are out of step with today’s Democratic base.

Biden’s Wednesday remarks sparked one of the sharpest intra-Democrat exchanges of the campaign, when Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, one of his black 2020 rivals, criticized both Biden’s work with segregationists and the language that he used in describing it.

On Wednesday, Biden called Booker. Biden’s campaign also distributed talking points to supporters, emphasizing that Eastland and Talmadge “were people who he fundamentally disagreed with on the issue of civil rights.”

Late Thursday, the former vice president met with a small group that included black members of Congress, one of the participants said.

Divisions also emerged in Biden’s campaign over how he should handle such situations. Aides alternately argued that he simply misspoke in telling the anecdote, that he shouldn’t be telling it at all or that his remarks demonstrate his ability to work with those with whom he disagrees and the words were being purposefully twisted for political gain.

The letters show that Biden’s courtship of Eastland started in 1972, before he had taken office, and that he wrote to the older senator listing his top six committee assignment requests, with Foreign Relations and Judiciary at the top. A few weeks later, Biden thanked Eastland, writing that he was “flattered and grateful” for his help. He also referred to the December 1972 car crash that killed his wife and daughter and injured his two sons.

“Despite my preoccupation with family matters at this time, I intend to place the highest priority on attending to my committee responsibilities,” Biden wrote.

Biden supporters have repeatedly pointed to his efforts on civil rights issues to cast him as a champion of equality. Not only did he share an eight-year partnership with the first black president, he also worked alongside black leaders throughout his career on extending the Voting Rights Act, amending the Fair Housing Act and creating the holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.et in the debate over the merits of busing as a solution to greater integration, Biden’s avowed stance against it put him at odds with some civil rights leaders.

 

 

It was in that context that he courted the support of Eastland — at the time the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — as well as other senators.

In one letter, on March 2, 1977, Biden outlined legislation he was filing to restrict busing practices.

“My bill strikes at the heart of the injustice of court ordered busing,” he wrote to Eastland. “It prohibits the federal courts from disrupting our educational system in the name of the constitution where there is no evidence that the governmental officials intended to discriminate.”

“I believe there is growing sentiment in the Congress to curb unnecessary busing,” he added. The Senate two years earlier had passed a Biden amendment that prohibited the federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare from ordering busing to achieve school integration.

 

“That was the first time the U.S. Senate took a firm stand in opposition to busing,” Biden wrote. “The Supreme Court seems to have recognized that busing simply cannot be justified in cases where state and local officials intended no discrimination.”

In later letters to Eastland, Biden continued pushing his legislation.

“I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s Committee meeting in attempting to bring my antibusing legislation to a vote,” Biden wrote on June 30, 1977.

The next year, he continued to push for antibusing legislation and again wrote to Eastland.

“Since your support was essential to having our bill reported out by the Judiciary Committee, I want to personally ask your continued support and alert you to our intentions,” Biden wrote on Aug 22, 1978. “Your participation in floor debate would be welcomed.”

After Biden’s remarks at the Wednesday night fund-raiser, advisers played down his comments about Eastland as a garbled rendition of a familiar Biden anecdote. In particular, they sought to excuse Biden for saying that Eastland didn’t refer to him as “boy” — an insult leveled at black men — but as “son.”

“He just misspoke,” said one Biden adviser. “The way Biden usually tells the story, he says Eastland didn’t call him ‘senator,’ he called him ‘son,’ ” the adviser said. “Eastland called him ‘boy’ and ‘son’ also. This was Eastland’s way of diminishing young senators.”

In the campaign statement Thursday, Biden’s national press secretary, Jamal Brown, said Biden’s “strong support for equal housing, equal education and equal job opportunities were clear to all Delawareans in the 1970s.”

Biden sought to ensure that black students received “the resources necessary to deliver the quality education they deserved,” he said.

Brown added that throughout his public life, Biden “fought the institutional problems that created de facto segregated school systems and neighborhoods in the first place: redlining, school lines drawn to keep races and classes separate and housing patterns and discrimination.”

Almost the entire Democratic field is set to attend a fish fry Friday night hosted by House Majority Whip James Clyburn, a leading black figure in the state and one who has remained supportive of Biden.

It would be the first public appearance Biden is making with the same Democratic presidential hopefuls who have heaped criticism on him for the comment.

In demanding an apology, Booker said Wednesday that Biden’s “relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone.”

Asked about Booker’s remarks by reporters, Biden declined to offer an apology and instead demanded one from Booker. The two men later spoke privately.

“Cory shared directly what he said publicly — including helping Vice President Biden understand why the word ‘boy’ is painful to so many,” said Sabrina Singh, a Booker campaign spokeswoman. “Cory believes that Vice President Biden should take responsibility for what he said and apologize to those who were hurt.”

Biden’s campaign would not elaborate on the call, but it is clear the topic could linger over the coming days.

Biden has scheduled a sit-down interview with MSNBC, his campaign has been sending out talking points to surrogates, and some black supporters are eager to hear the former vice president offer a fuller explanation.

“I think he’s got to address it head on and show people what his line of thinking was,” said Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist in South Carolina who is close with Biden’s team. “I don’t think they need to get off course with their strategy. I just think they have to address it as it comes up and move on.”

Other Biden supporters, however, think he’s taking just the right approach and standing by his long-held beliefs.

I encouraged campaign staff that I know to say: ‘Don’t back off on this. This is precisely why you’re the right guy in the right place at the right time.’ And I was glad to see that he didn’t,” said Dave O’Brien, a longtime Biden supporter in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“You know that some of the other issues, he’s got to evolve with the times, which he has,” O’Brien added. “But there are points where you need to make a stand, so I was very glad to see him not back off on this issue.”

https://www.inquirer.com/politics/nation/joe-biden-james-eastland-segregation-democratic-primary-20190621.htmlPosted: June 20, 2019 – 10:59 PM

Biden not apologizing for remarks on segregationist senators

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Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, speaks at the Poor People’s Moral Action Congress presidential forum in Washington, Monday, June 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Joe Biden refused calls to apologize Wednesday for saying that the Senate “got things done” with “civility” even when the body included segregationists with whom he disagreed.

His rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, including the two major black candidates in the contest, roundly criticized Biden’s comments. But Biden didn’t back down and was particularly defiant in the face of criticism from New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who said the former vice president should apologize for his remarks.

Biden countered that it was Booker who should apologize because the senator “should know better” than to question his commitment to civil rights.

“There’s not a racist bone in my body,” Biden said. “I’ve been involved in civil rights my whole career.”

Speaking on CNN, Booker responded: “I was raised to speak truth to power and that I shall never apologize for doing that. And Vice President Biden shouldn’t need this lesson.”

The firestorm is quickly becoming one of the most intense disputes of the Democratic presidential primary, underscoring the hazards for Biden as he tries to turn his decades of Washington experience into an advantage. Instead, he’s infuriating Democrats who say he’s out of step with the diverse party of the 21st century and potentially undermining his argument that he’s the most electable candidate in the race.

The controversy began at a New York fundraiser Tuesday when Biden pointed to long-dead segregationist senators James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia to argue that Washington functioned more smoothly a generation ago than under today’s “broken” hyperpartisanship.

“We didn’t agree on much of anything,” Biden said of the two men, who were prominent senators when Biden was elected in 1972. Biden described Talmadge as “one of the meanest guys I ever knew” and said Eastland called him “son,” though not “boy,” a reference to the racist way many whites addressed black men at the time.

Yet even in that Senate, Biden said, “At least there was some civility. We got things done.”

A pile on from Biden’s rivals quickly ensued. Booker said he was disappointed by Biden’s remarks.

“I have to tell Vice President Biden, as someone I respect, that he is wrong for using his relationships with Eastland and Talmadge as examples of how to bring our country together,” said Booker, who is African American.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow Democratic presidential candidate and a white man who is married to a black woman, tweeted: “It’s 2019 & @JoeBiden is longing for the good old days of ‘civility’ typified by James Eastland. Eastland thought my multiracial family should be illegal.”

California Sen. Kamala Harris, a black presidential candidate, said Biden was “coddling” segregationists in a way that “suggests to me that he doesn’t understand … the dark history of our country” — a characterization Biden’s campaign rejects.

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, another 2020 candidate, said, “For the vice president to somehow say that what we’re seeing in this country today is a function of partisanship or a lack of bipartisanship completely ignores the legacy of slavery and the active suppression of African Americans and communities of color right now.”

The tumult comes at a crucial point in the campaign. Biden is still recovering from controversy he sparked earlier this month when he angered many Democrats by saying he didn’t support federal taxpayer money supporting abortion. He later reversed his position.

He’s among the more than 20 candidates who will descend on South Carolina this weekend to make their case to black voters at a series of Democratic events.

Meanwhile, most Democratic White House hopefuls will again gather in Miami next week for the first presidential debate of the primary season. Biden will almost certainly come under fire there for his comments this week.

He sought to defuse the tension on Wednesday by saying he was trying to argue that leaders sometimes have to work with people they disagree with to achieve goals, such as renewing the Voting Rights Act.

“The point I’m making is you don’t have to agree. You don’t have to like the people in terms of their views,” he said Wednesday. “But you just simply make the case and you beat them without changing the system.”

He has received support from some black leaders. Cedric Richmond, Biden’s campaign co-chairman and former Congressional Black Caucus chairman, said Biden’s opponents deliberately ignored the full context of his argument for a more functional government.

“Maybe there’s a better way to say it, but we have to work with people, and that’s a fact,” Richmond said, noting he dealt recently with President Donald Trump to pass a long-sought criminal justice overhaul. “I question (Trump’s) racial sensitivity, a whole bunch of things about his character … but we worked together.”

Likewise, Richmond said, Biden mentioned Jim Crow-era senators to emphasize the depths of disagreements elected officials sometimes navigate. “If he gets elected president, we don’t have 60 votes in the Senate” to overcome filibusters, Richmond noted. “He could be less genuine and say, ‘We’re just going to do all these things.’ But we already have a president like that. (Biden) knows we have to build consensus.”

Biden also drew a qualified defense from Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black senator from his party. Scott said that Biden “should have used a different group of senators” to make his point but that his remarks “have nothing to do with his position on race” issues. Scott said the reaction reflects an intense environment for Democrats in which the desire to defeat Trump means “anything the front-runner says that is off by a little bit” will be magnified.

https://apnews.com/5b57473cfcda44e4b35c8a40759a26fc

The gloves come off in the Democratic primary

This was the week that the battle for the nomination got real.

The tenor of the Democratic presidential primary has verged on courteous from the start: To the extent that Democrats went after Joe Biden, it was usually not by name. And Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren kept their rivalry decidedly civil.

This week, with the first debates of the election season days away, the gentility came to an end.

Biden’s remarks at a New York fundraiser that “at least there was some civility” when he worked with segregationists in the Senate unleashed a torrent of criticism from his rivals and the left. And a story in POLITICO about centrists coming around to Warren as an “anybody but Bernie” alternative set off Sanders and his allies.

“We knew the primary wouldn’t be all puppies and rainbows forever,” said Ben LaBolt, a former adviser to Barack Obama. “And as the debates approach you can see a new dynamic emerging.”

The reaction from Biden’s rivals to his comments was fierce.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose wife is African American, noted that one of the segregationists Biden invoked, James Eastland of Mississippi, would have outlawed his marriage. Sen. Cory Booker, who is black, took offense that Biden seemed to make light of Eastland calling him “son” but not “boy.”

“You don’t joke about calling black men ‘boys’,” Booker said.

Booker called on Biden to apologize but Biden took a different path. Outside a fundraiser Wednesday night, a defiant Biden said he had nothing to be sorry for and that it’s Booker who should apologize for questioning someone without “a racist bone in my body.”

“He knows better,” Biden said.

The crossfire marked some of the most direct and intense exchanges so far of the 2020 primary campaign. And it signals that with less than a week until the first televised debate, the field is done tiptoeing around.

“Running for president is no tea party. It’s a battle. And it is customary for candidates to begin to engage at this stage. The polite preliminaries are over,” said Democratic strategist and former Obama hand David Axelrod. “And since there is generally broad agreement on issues, if not solutions, the disputes necessarily turn on other things.”

In a separate episode, Sanders dispatched a tweet that was viewed as a sideswipe of Warren.

“The cat is out of the bag. The corporate wing of the Democratic Party is publicly ‘anybody but Bernie,’” Sanders wrote on Twitter, sharing a POLITICO storyheadlined: “Warren emerges as potential compromise nominee.”

Sanders faced his own backlash over the remark.

“If we had a multi-party parliament, it’d be pretty normal for Sanders and Warren to campaign against each other for leadership in a Social Democratic Party. That said, I still find this move pretty dissapointing [sic] and unnecessary. Draw contrasts if you want, but not like this,” tweeted Waleed Shadid, communications director of the progressive group Justice Democrats.

Shadid later noted that Sanders on CNN said his remark was targeted at the moderate think tank Third Way, and not Warren.

Still, the escalating tensions come as Warren is gaining on Sanders in polls. She leapfrogged him in recent surveys in Nevada and California. And a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday showed Warren and Sanders virtually tied for second, with Warren, at 15 percent, gaining five points in one month. Biden still led the field at 32 percent.

“Biden’s numbers have held up higher than expected and a number of challengers are going after his gaffes more aggressively than before,” LaBolt said. “Warren has begun eating into Bernie’s numbers and he is trying to fend her off.”

Still, one Democratic veteran of the 2016 campaign, ex-Sanders adviser Mark Longabaugh, said the current tangles are nothing like what he experienced in that campaign. There’s plenty of time for it to get there, but it hasn’t happened yet.

“I don’t know if the gloves are off. I think the gloves may be getting a little loose — pulling out the fingertips to take the gloves off.” Longabaugh said. “Having been through the 2015-16 experience, I gotta tell ya, that was much more combative than anything you’ve seen in this race — not anything close.”

Not far from anyone’s mind are the first debates in Miami on Wednesday and Thursday next week.

“While this type of engagement is expected,” LaBolt said, “candidates should be careful not to cross any lines that could significantly damage potential nominees for the general.”

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/20/2020-election-democratic-primary-1373202

 

 

Part 2– Story 4: President Trump Pushes All The Right Buttons in 2020 Stump Speech in Orlando, Florida –Send Them Home — Lock Them Up — Four More Years — Videos

TRUMP 2020: President Trump Re-Election Campaign Rally – FULL SPEECH

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With Florida rally, Trump aims for a 2020 campaign ‘reset’

Trump to launch 2020 re-election bid in Florida

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Crowds grow for Trump rally in Orlando

People are lining up for President Trump’s event on Tuesday

THE PRESIDENT IS BACK: President Trump Returns From MASSIVE Orlando Rally

The Memo: Can Trump run as an outsider?

President Trump is running for reelection as an outsider candidate. But it’s a knotty challenge for someone who holds the world’s most powerful office.

Trump’s speech in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday, which officially launched his 2020 bid, was rife with rhetoric portraying himself — and by extension his supporters — as victims of nefarious elites.

The president said that he and his allies were besieged by a “permanent political class” and “an unholy alliance of lobbyists and donors and special interests.”

“Our patriotic movement has been under assault from the very first day,” Trump insisted at one point. Moments before, he told the crowd, “the swamp is fighting back so viciously and violently.”

It’s the kind of language that makes Democrats roll their eyes. Trump, they note, is a billionaire property developer, born into wealth, who won the presidency on his first attempt — yet he portrays himself as the tribune of “the forgotten men and women of our country” whom he invoked in his January 2017 inaugural address.

But Trump’s unconventionality might, in itself, help him retain some kind of outsider cachet in a way that is unusual for an incumbent president.

“For any other president, yes, it is a challenge,” said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist who worked for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in the 2016 presidential primaries.

“But Trump is unlike any other president. Trump has been at war with the establishment since the moment he set foot in the White House,” he said.

It is certainly true that Trump was viewed with suspicion by the Republican Party from the time he began his presidential run — and that his language and attitudes are viewed with distaste by much of the Beltway political class.

But dislike for Trump’s personal antics is hardly confined to D.C. elites.

A Pew Research Center poll in March showed pluralities of the public believing that he was not “trustworthy,” “even-tempered” or “well-informed.”

For all Trump’s supposed concern with less affluent Americans, 56 percent of the respondents in the Pew poll said they did not believe he cared about “people like me,” whereas just 40 percent said he did care.

The GOP has largely made peace with him, with former rivals including Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Rand Paul (Ky.) becoming enthusiastic supporters, congressional dissenters such as former Rep. Mark Sanford(R-S.C.) having been defeated in primaries and Trump now in firm control of the party apparatus.

Skeptics also point to both policies and personnel — from the steep cut in the corporate tax rate in 2017 to the 16-month run of the ethically challenged Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency — as evidence that the swamp has remained undrained under Trump.

But Trump allies are insistent that the president’s feel for the cultural mores of blue-collar America remains a potent and underrated political weapon.

“He is certainly an outsider to the political establishment. They still don’t get him and he is not coming around to their way of thinking,” said Barry Bennett, who worked as a senior adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign. “He may live inside the gates but he does not live inside the establishment. … I don’t know anyone who believes he has become some kind of Georgetown socialite.”

Michael Caputo, a longtime Trump friend, insisted, “I have never ever met anyone, any Trump supporter, who believes anything else besides the fact that he’s an outsider.”

There is clearly a political dividend to be gained if Trump can hold onto his outsider image.

In the recent past, voters in presidential elections have often chosen the candidate seen as less steeped in the ways of Washington.

Former President Obama won election twice as a change agent, initially winning the White House as the first black president and then securing a second term over GOP nominee Mitt Romney, the personification of a genteel Republican establishment.

Former President George W. Bush had only a tenuous claim to outsider status, given he was the son of a president — yet his campaign was able to paint then-Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) as a creature of Washington in the 2004 presidential election.

Before that, former President Clinton used his down-home Arkansas image as a weapon against an incumbent president, Bush’s father, George H.W Bush, and then won a second term over another GOP establishment favorite, then-Sen. Bob Dole (Kan.).

Independent observers acknowledge that Trump’s style, divisive though it is, could help him be seen as much more of a disruptor even than these recent predecessors.

“It’s almost impossible for an incumbent to run as an outsider, but Trump has held onto that credential,” said Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University professor who specializes in political communications. “He is parlaying that into how he sees himself — running against the Democrats, the media, the elites.”

Republicans, meanwhile, argue that Trump’s outsider image could be especially useful if Democrats pick former Vice President Joe Biden as their nominee.

Biden, in their telling, is much easier to brand as a creature of Washington given his decades in the Senate. There will be a different challenge if Democrats instead choose one of Biden’s rivals who is a fresher face on the national political scene, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) or Sen Kamala Harris (D-Calif.); or more radical, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders(I-Vt.).

Trump, billionaire Manhattanite though he may be, has long used the idea that he is sneered at by a snobbish elite to his own advantage.

On Tuesday, he told his supporters that Democrats “want to destroy you.”

It was a stark and visceral remark even by Trump’s standards.

But, after his 2016 victory, even his critics can’t be so sure it won’t work.

https://thehill.com/homenews/the-memo/449436-the-memo-can-trump-run-as-an-outsider

A Second Term for What?

Trump can’t win by relitigating 2016 and playing only to his base.

President Donald Trump looks on during a rally at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida to officially launch his 2020 campaign on June 18.PHOTO: MANDEL NGAN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

President Trump announced his campaign for a second term at a rally in Orlando on Tuesday evening that recounted his first-term record and 2016 victory before thousands of rapturous supporters. The only thing missing was an agenda for 2020.

The most striking fact of his speech was how backward looking it was. Every incumbent needs to remind voters of his record, Mr. Trump more than most because the media are so hostile.

Donald Trump Launches Campaign

The President is also right that his opponents have refused to recognize the legitimacy of his election. House Democrats may still try to impeach him for not obstructing an investigation into what wasn’t a conspiracy with Russia. His sense of “grievance,” to quote the media meme about his speech, on that point is entirely justified.

Yet Mr. Trump is asking for four more years, and his preoccupation with vindicating 2016 won’t resonate much beyond his core supporters. Most voters have moved on from 2016, which is why a majority opposes impeachment in every poll. They don’t much care about Mr. Trump’s greatest hits about Hillary Clinton, who alas for the President will not be on the ballot in 2020. They want to know why they should take a risk on Mr. Trump and his volatile character for another term.

This is all the more important given the way his first term has evolved on policy. One paradox is that his main policy successes have come from pursuing a conventional conservative agenda. The failures have been on the issues like trade and immigration that are the most identified with Trumpian disruption.

The economy’s renewed growth spurt came from tax reform, deregulation, liberating energy production and ending the anti-business harassment of the Obama years. His remaking of the judiciary and rebuilding of the military unite Republicans of all stripes. Criminal justice reform was the result of years of spade work on the right and left.

Mr. Trump deserves credit for pursuing all of this despite often ferocious opposition that might have intimidated a different GOP President. That’s true in particular of his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord, where U.S. Democratic and media opinion is aligned with Europe’s elites.

On immigration, however, the President missed a chance to strike a deal trading more border security (including his wall) for legalizing Dreamers. He must now confront the asylum crisis at the border with no help from Democrats. On trade, Mr. Trump has disrupted global rules but has put nothing new and stable in their place. Asking voters to believe he’ll do better on these issues in a second term isn’t likely to turn many swing voters his way.

The other paradox of the Trump Presidency is his low approval rating despite a stronger economy. The polls show his approval rating on the economy is above 50% but his overall approval is 44.3% in the Real Clear Politics average. The difference is best explained by Mr. Trump’s polarizing behavior, which has alienated in particular college-educated voters and Republican women. In the latest Wall Street Journal-NBC poll, Mr. Trump is underwater with white college-educated women by a remarkable 20 percentage points.

Mr. Trump may figure he can persuade some of those skeptics by making the Democratic nominee even more unpopular than he is. If the Democrats oblige by nominating Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, that might be possible. But that is making a bet on the other party’s mistake, and a re-election campaign is typically a referendum on the incumbent.

Which is all the more reason to offer voters something more for a second term. He could put Democrats on the spot for high housing prices and homelessness by talking about restrictive zoning for elites and high property taxes. He could offer to reform higher education by making schools responsible for some of the debt of students who can’t repay loans, or invigorate vocational education to help young people who can’t go to college.

He could package health-care proposals to expand choice, reduce prices and make insurance portable; his administration has already proposed some of them. He could advance his theme of “draining the swamp” by offering ideas to reform the civil service. We’d include entitlement reform, but then Mr. Trump has shown no interest and we don’t believe in political miracles.

This is far from an exhaustive list, and Mr. Trump won’t win as a policy wonk in any case. But Mr. Trump also won’t win by relitigating the 2016 election or playing only to his political base. He needs more than he offered voters on Tuesday night.

Opinion: Countering Trump With Reliability, Not Bold Agenda

Opinion: Countering Trump With Reliability, Not Bold Agenda
A Fox News poll has found that Democrats prefer a “steady” candidate to a “big agenda” candidate. But going up against the scale of Donald Trump will be tough, so how do frontrunners Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren compare? Image: Getty

‘This election is about you. Your family, your future & the fate of YOUR country’: Trump lays it on the line at 20,000-strong Orlando rally as he kicks off 2020 re-election campaign with his entire family and obligatory digs at ‘Crooked Hillary’

  • The president spent the first half-hour of a Tuesday night rally hammering his old foe Hillary Clinton 
  • Trump said his team wondered if it should hold the rally in a venue which can hold 20,000 people
  • ‘Not only did we fill it up, but we had 120,000 requests… Congratulations!’ the president said to cheers
  • The president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, invited the criticism when she wound up an arena of supporters
  • Husband Eric, who spoke after her, had a crowd of more than 20,000 screaming, ‘CNN Sucks!’ 
  • ‘He loves this country and we, as a family, love this country. We’re going to fight like hell,’ Eric said 
  •  Donald Trump Jr. mocked Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited in the heat and rain for hours
  • ‘He gets up on the stump. It’s so stupid,’ he said, claiming the ex-VP has four-person crowds 

President Trump spent a Tuesday night rally he’d advertised as a 2020 kickoff hammering his old foe Hillary Clinton for acid washing her emails and failing to deliver on her pledge to beat him, while Democrats vying for the party’s nomination now escaped his wrath.

Noting that he’s under constant media scrutiny, Trump said that he’d be sent to the slammer if he ordered aides to destroy potential evidence.

‘But, can you imagine if I got a subpoena, think of this, if I got a subpoena for emails, if I deleted one email like a love note to Melania, it’s the electric chair for Trump,’ he claimed in a campaign speech in Orlando.

Trump said subpoenas he’s receiving are not about Democratic claims that his campaign may have colluded with Russia.

‘The Democrats don’t care about Russia, they only care about their own political power. They went after my family, my business, my finances, my employees, almost everyone that I’ve ever known or worked with,’ he argued. ‘But they are really going after you. That’s what it’s all about. It’s not about us, it’s about you. They tried to erase your vote, erase your legacy of the greatest campaign and the greatest election probably in the history of our country.’

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive on stage to formally kick off his re-election bid with a campaign rally in Orlando. He kicked off first official 2020 rally by claiming 120,000 people submitted requests to attend

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive on stage to formally kick off his re-election bid with a campaign rally in Orlando. He kicked off first official 2020 rally by claiming 120,000 people submitted requests to attend
First lady Melania Trump speaks as Trump looks on. Trump's first official campaign rally of 2020 opened much the way his 2016 candidacy ended - with his audience chanting 'Lock her Up!' in a slam on former Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton

First lady Melania Trump speaks as Trump looks on. Trump’s first official campaign rally of 2020 opened much the way his 2016 candidacy ended – with his audience chanting ‘Lock her Up!’ in a slam on former Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton

Trump's campaign turned the area outside the arena that can seat 20,000 people into a festival-like atmosphere with music and food trucks to help supporters pass the time

Trump’s campaign turned the area outside the arena that can seat 20,000 people into a festival-like atmosphere with music and food trucks to help supporters pass the time

Michael Boulos, Tiffany Trump, Lara Trump, Eric Trump, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Donald Trump Jr. arrive at a rally for US President Donald Trump

FLOTUS Melania introduces her husband at Trump 2020 rally

The president said, ‘They wanted to deny you the future you demanded and the future that America deserved and that now America is getting. Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage. They want to destroy you, and they want to destroy our country as we know it. Not acceptable, it’s not going to happen. Not gonna happen.’

Trump claimed that Democrats as a party would use the ‘power of the law to punish their opponents’ if they’re handed the reigns to the country.

‘Imagine if we had a Democrat president and a Democrat Congress in 2020. They would shut down your free speech, use the power of the law to punish their opponents – which they’re trying to do now anyway – they’ll always be trying to shield themselves,’ he claimed. ‘They will strip Americans of their Constitutional rights while flooding the country with illegal immigrants in the hopes it will expand their political base and they’ll get votes someplace down the future. That’s what it’s about.’

Broad attacks on the Democratic Party and ‘radical socialism’ were the most stringent assaults that Trump would levy all night.

He said, ‘More than 120 Democrats in Congress have also signed up to support “Crazy Bernie Sanders” socialist government takeover of health care.

‘He seems not to be doing too well lately,’ the president said as an aside. ‘They want to end Medicare as we know it and terminate the private health insurance of 180 million Americans who love their health insurance. America will never be a socialist country.’

It was his only mention at the rally of one of his most formidable opponents. Former Democratic President Joe Biden was also a footnote in the speech, earning two mentions, as a part of the ‘Obama-Biden’ duo that Trump said ruined American foreign policy and drove down the nation’s economy.

‘Remember the statement from the previous administration? Would need a magic wand to bring back manufacturing? Well, tell “Sleepy Joe” that we found the magic wand. That’s a sleepy guy,’ the president added.

Trump outlined his vision tweeting: ‘Don’t ever forget – this election is about YOU. It is about YOUR family, YOUR future, & the fate of YOUR COUNTRY. We begin our campaign with the best record, the best results, the best agenda, & the only positive VISION for our Country’s future! #Trump2020’

The Trumps said their family has been under attack since the family patriarch declared his candidacy for president in 2015. Jared Kushner, left, Ivanka Trump arrive for the official launch of the Trump 2020 campaign

The Trumps said their family has been under attack since the family patriarch declared his candidacy for president in 2015. Jared Kushner, left, Ivanka Trump arrive for the official launch of the Trump 2020 campaign

Donald Trump Jr. channeled his attacks to his father’s current opponents, mocking leading Democratic candidate Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited in the heat and rain for hours, and days in some cases, to see the sitting president. Kimberly Guilfoyle, left, and Donald Trump Jr. pictured

Donald Trump Jr. channeled his attacks to his father’s current opponents, mocking leading Democratic candidate Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited in the heat and rain for hours, and days in some cases, to see the sitting president. Kimberly Guilfoyle, left, and Donald Trump Jr. pictured

Senior adviser Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, watch as President Donald Trump speaks at his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center

Senior adviser Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, watch as President Donald Trump speaks at his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center

Trump rails against Democrats, Mueller and ‘fake news’ at 2020 rally
Trump’s first official campaign rally of 2020 opened much the way his 2016 candidacy ended – with his audience chanting ‘Lock her Up!’ in a slam on former Democratic opponent Clinton.

The president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, invited the criticism first. She wound up an arena of supporters with a claim that the media was saying Clinton was going to be the 45th President of the United States days before the election. ‘They have always been wrong,’ she declared.

Attacks on the media as ‘fake news’ and ‘dishonest’ from Lara and her husband Eric, who spoke after her, had a crowd of more than 20,000 screaming ‘CNN Sucks!’ minutes later.

The Trumps said their family has been under attack from one group or another since the family patriarch declared his candidacy for president in 2015.

‘He loves this country and we, as a family, love this country. And guys we are going to fight like hell – our family is going to fight like hell for this country. We will never ever stop fighting, and we will never ever, ever stop winning,’ the president’s son said. ‘And guys, we love you very much. We’re all going to be spending a lot of time in Florida. We’re going to be spending a lot of time in Florida. So we’re going to see you.’

Donald Trump Jr. channeled his attacks to his father’s current opponents, mocking Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited in the heat and rain for hours, and days in some cases, to see the sitting president.

‘I don’t know about you, but I look around this room and when Joe Biden’s putting about seven people in an audience, I’m saying, “I think they may be a little wrong with the polling.” But what they hell do I know?’ he said.

National polls show Biden beating Trump in a general election. A Quinnipiac University survey that came out Tuesday found that the former vice president would beat Trump by nine points, 50 – 41, the newly-released poll showed.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would win by a similar margin, 48 – 42, while other top Democrats would perform in the poll’s margin of error.

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale told DailyMail.com inside the rally that Quinnipiac is ‘c**p’ in response to the latest poll showing bad news in a critical swing state for the controversial president.

Trump had already warned the public that this official launch of 2020 campaign would be 'wild,' after supporters camped out in tents for more than 30 hours to save their places at the front of a massive line that would ensure them floor seats

US First Lady Melania Trump greets US Vice President Mike Pence. Trump set the tone for the monster rally in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour

US First Lady Melania Trump greets US Vice President Mike Pence. Trump set the tone for the monster rally in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour

Lara Trump takes to the stage before her father-in-law United States President Donald Trump arrives on stage to announce his candidacy for a second presidential term at the Amway Center

Lara Trump takes to the stage before her father-in-law United States President Donald Trump arrives on stage to announce his candidacy for a second presidential term at the Amway Center

Donald Trump Jr. throws hats to supporters at the rally. He mocked Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited for hours

Donald Trump Jr. throws hats to supporters at the rally. He mocked Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited for hours

Trump attacks Democrats at his Orlando rally
Don Jr. brushed off the threat from Biden, 76, as he campaigned for his father, 73, on Tuesday in Orlando. He called Biden and his competitors a ‘clown show’ and gave the Democrat a new nickname. ‘Sloppy Joe,’ he called him, as he hit Biden for flip-flopping.

‘He gets up on the stump. It’s so stupid,’ he said. ‘To his group of about four people in the audience, “Government has failed you.” Usually, as he’s groping someone. It ain’t pretty, but there’s something off with that guy.’

The president’s son said he agrees that government is broken and it’s a problem. ‘The problem is Joe, you’ve been in government for almost 50 years. If government failed you, maybe you’re the problem Joe Biden,’ he said. ‘It’s not rocket science.’

Trump warned the public that the campaign rally would be ‘wild,’ and Don Jr. helped him deliver on the pledge.

He mocked Biden’s pledge to cure cancer, asking, ‘Why the hell didn’t you do that over the last 50 years, Joe?’

Don Jr. blamed the media for giving Biden a pass. ‘Why did not one of them say, “Well, Joe, how exactly are you going to do that?” And why didn’t you do that in the last eight years as vice president and the prior 40 years in government and the Senate?’

His father later claimed that he’d cure cancer in remarks that followed. ‘We will push onward with new medical frontiers. We will come up with the cures to many, many problems, to many, many diseases, including cancer and others and we’re getting closer all the time,’ he said.

Attacks on Clinton and media were a common theme throughout the night, with Trump pausing and waiting for his supporters to cheer, ‘CNN SUCKS!’ and ‘Lock her Up!’ as he talked about the former secretary of state’s acid-washed emails and her loss to him in the last election.

‘It was all an illegal attempt to overturn the results of our election, spy on our campaign, which is what they did,’ he complained.

Trump meets fans after stepping off Air Force One upon arrival at Miami International Airport in Miami

Trump meets fans after stepping off Air Force One upon arrival at Miami International Airport in Miami

Vice President Mike Pence, escorted in by Karen Pence, speaks before Trump takes the stage on Tuesday evening

A man holds up a sign as the crowd waits for US President Donald Trump to arrive at a rally at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida to officially launch his 2020 campaign

A man holds up a sign as the crowd waits for US President Donald Trump to arrive at a rally at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida to officially launch his 2020 campaign

Melania's spokesperson Stephanie Grisham speaks with White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway at the campaign rally

Melania’s spokesperson Stephanie Grisham speaks with White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway at the campaign rally

President Trump said as he opened the event that he could feel the ‘magic’ in Orlando – a play on the name of the city’s professional basketball team.

He spoke to supporters in the same arena that the team plays in, which is a venue that can hold roughly 20,000 people.

‘You know, I said, “This is a very big arena for a Tuesday night.” I said, “You know, if we have about three or four empty seats, the fake news will say – headlines: he didn’t fill up the arena.” So I said maybe we shouldn’t take the chance, maybe we shouldn’t go to Orlando, maybe we should go someplace else,’ Trump said in his opening remarks. ‘I said, “No, I think we’ll go to Orlando.” And, not only did we fill it up, but we had 120,000 requests. That means you folks have come out very, very good.’

Supporters camped out in tents for more than 30 hours to save their places at the front of a massive line that would ensure them floor seats at Tuesday evening’s show.

Saundra Kiczenski, a Michigan native who works in retail, waited from 7am on Monday. She said she’d been to rallies in support of the president in 15 states. She spent Monday night on the pavement in a sleeping bag.

‘I took the hotel pillow and slept on the ground,’ she told DailyMail.com on Tuesday afternoon as she waited to get in.

The Republican incumbent set the tone for the monster rally in Florida he’d be appearing at in the evening in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour.

‘The Fake News doesn’t report it, but Republican enthusiasm is at an all time high. Look what is going on in Orlando, Florida, right now! People have never seen anything like it (unless you play a guitar). Going to be wild – See you later!’ he tweeted on Tuesday morning.

A cover band with aging rockers who call themselves ‘The Guzzlers’ revved up the crowd under a beating sun at a ‘festival’ the campaign held in an outdoor parking lot, where vendors sold a captive and cramped group sodas, snow cones and Trump umbrellas.

Sweltering heat that topped 87 degrees soon turned to pouring rain, giving the umbrellas a dual purpose for supporters like Richard Snowden who chose to remain.

A resident of Las Vegas, Nevada, Snowden said he’d be ‘remiss’ to have skipped the kickoff. He told DailyMail.com from the comfort of a party-style tent his group had pitched that he’d attended 54 rallies since Trump announced his candidacy for office in 2015.

But even Snowden called himself a pragmatist and said of the president’s reelection odds, ‘I don’t think it’s going to be a cakewalk.’

‘The incumbency will help. He won’t catch them flat-footed this time,’ he observed, as he waited for the rally to begin. ‘And he won’t have the dislike of Hillary working in his favor,’ he said in remarks that proved to prescient.

The Republican incumbent set the tone for the monster rally in Florida he'd be appearing at in the evening in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour

 

The US President and First Lady Melania Trump are pictured stepping off Air Force One upon arrival at Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Florida Tuesday

The US President and First Lady Melania Trump are pictured stepping off Air Force One upon arrival at Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Florida Tuesday

Special advisor to the US president Jared Kushner and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wait for the arrival of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at Orlando International Airport

Michael Boulos and Tiffany Trump wait for the arrival of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at Orlando International Airport in Orlando

Special advisor to the US president Jared Kushner and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, left, and Michael Boulos and Tiffany Trump, right, wait for the arrival of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at Orlando International Airport on Tuesday

Donald Trump is putting an advisory on his Orlando rally, saying the official launch of 2020 campaign will be 'wild,' after supporters camped out in tents to save their places in line like they were waiting in line for a free concert with Rihanna

Donald Trump is putting an advisory on his Orlando rally, saying the official launch of 2020 campaign will be ‘wild,’ after supporters camped out in tents to save their places in line like they were waiting in line for a free concert with Rihanna

Supporters of President Donald Trump wait in line hours before the arena doors open for a campaign rally Tuesday

Supporters of President Donald Trump wait in line hours before the arena doors open for a campaign rally Tuesday

Patriotic colors: Trump supporters came in red white and blue for the campaign kick-off

Patriotic colors: Trump supporters came in red white and blue for the campaign kick-off

Determined: The early start was an attempt by the fanatical Trump backers to be at the front of the crowd for the campaign kick-off

Determined: The early start was an attempt by the fanatical Trump backers to be at the front of the crowd for the campaign kick-off

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7156179/Trumps-2020-kickoff-features-media-bashing-attacks-Joe-Biden-old-foe-Hillary-Clinton.html

 

Trump, in 2020 campaign mode, calls Democrats ‘radical’

today

President Donald Trump jabbed at the press and poked the political establishment he ran against in 2016 as he kicked off his reelection campaign with a grievance-filled rally focused more on settling scores than laying out his agenda for a possible second term.

Addressing a crowd of thousands at Orlando’s Amway Center on Tuesday night, Trump complained he was “under assault from the very first day” of his presidency by a “fake news media” and an “illegal witch hunt” that had tried to keep him and his supporters down.

He painted a disturbing picture of what life would look like if he loses in 2020, accusing his critics of “un-American conduct” and saying Democrats “want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.”

“A vote for any Democrat in 2020 is a vote for the rise of radical socialism and the destruction of the American dream,” he said. Trump made only passing mention of any of the Democrats running to replace him even as he tossed out “radical” and “unhinged” to describe the rival party.

Trump has long railed against the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the ongoing probes by House Democrats in the aftermath of Robert Mueller’s report .

President Donald Trump officially kicked off his re-election campaign Tuesday with a grievance-filled Florida rally. "We're going to keep it better than ever before," he declared. (June 18)

The apocalyptic language and finger-pointing made clear that Trump’s 2020 campaign will probably look a whole lot like his run three years ago. Even after two-and-a-half years in the Oval Office, Trump remains focused on energizing his base and offering himself as a political outsider running against Washington.

Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted Wednesday morning that Trump had raised $24.8 million in less than 24 hours for his reelection.

In his speech, Trump spent considerably more time focused on former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton than on his current 2020 challengers, even though she is not on the ballot.

Thousands of Trump supporters began gathering outside the arena on Monday.

“Trump has been the best president we’ve ever had,” said Ron Freitas, a retired Merchant Marine and registered Democrat from Orlando.

Hundreds of anti-Trump protesters clapped and took photos when a 20-foot (6-meter) blimp of a snarling Trump baby in a diaper was inflated. Some members of the far-right hate group Proud Boys were also spotted marching outside the rally.

Trump aides scheduled the kickoff near the four-year anniversary of the day when the former reality television star and New York tabloid fixture launched his longshot campaign for president with a famous escalator ride in front of a crowd that included paid actors.

Trump spoke fondly of his 2016 race, calling it “a defining moment in American history.” He said that in the years since, he had upended Washington, staring down “a corrupt and broken political establishment” and restoring a government “of, for and by the people.”

He never has really stopped running. He filed for reelection on Jan. 20, 2017, the day of his inauguration, and held his first 2020 rally in February, 2017, in nearby Melbourne. He has continued holding his signature “Make America Great Again” rallies in the months since.

Trump asked the crowd whether he should stick with “Make America Great Again” or upgrade his slogan. His new one — “Keep America Great” — was greeted with boisterous cheers.

Trump is hoping to replicate the dynamics that allowed him to take charge of the Republican Party and then the presidency as an insurgent intent on disrupting the status quo. In 2016, he successfully appealed to disaffected voters who felt left behind by economic dislocation and demographic shifts. He has no intention of abandoning that mantle, even if he is the face of the institutions he looks to disrupt.

The president underscored that on the eve of the rally in must-win Florida, returning to the hardline immigration themes of his first campaign by tweeting that next week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement “will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.”

That promise, which came with no details and sparked Democratic condemnation, seemed to offer a peek into a campaign that will largely be fought along the same lines as his first bid, with very few new policy proposals for a second term.

Early Democratic front-runner Joe Biden said Trump’s politics are “all about dividing us” in ways that are “dangerous — truly, truly dangerous.”

Another leading Democratic contender, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, said Trump had delivered “an hour-and-a-half speech of lies, distortions and total, absolute nonsense.”

But those involved in the president’s reelection effort believe his version of populism, combined with his mantra to “Drain the Swamp,” still resonates, despite his administration’s ties with lobbyists and corporations and the Trump family’s apparent efforts to profit off the presidency.Critics have pointed out his constant promotion for his golf courses, both at home and abroad, and note that this daughter, White House senior aide Ivanka Trump, made $4 million last year from her stake in the president’s Washington hotel, which has become a favored destination for foreign nationals looking to curry favor with the administration.

Advisers believe that, in an age of extreme polarization, many Trump backers view their support for the president as part of their identity, one not easily shaken. They point to his seemingly unmovable support with his base supporters as evidence that he is still viewed the same way he was as a candidate: a political rebel.

Trump tried to make the case that he had made good on his 2016 promises, including cracking down on illegal immigration and boosting jobs.

Near the rally’s end, Trump ran through a list of promises for a second term, pledging a new immigration system, new trade deals, a health care overhaul and a cure for cancer and “many diseases,” including eradicating AIDS in America.

https://apnews.com/947182a691e6498ca4488e9fc8f9e4b5

President Trump spent a Tuesday night rally he’d advertised as a 2020 kickoff hammering his old foe Hillary Clinton for acid washing her emails and failing to deliver on her pledge to beat him, while Democrats vying for the party’s nomination now escaped his wrath.

Noting that he’s under constant media scrutiny, Trump said that he’d be sent to the slammer if he ordered aides to destroy potential evidence.

‘But, can you imagine if I got a subpoena, think of this, if I got a subpoena for emails, if I deleted one email like a love note to Melania, it’s the electric chair for Trump,’ he claimed in a campaign speech in Orlando.

Trump said subpoenas he’s receiving are not about Democratic claims that his campaign may have colluded with Russia.

 

A sunshine state of mind! Melania and Donald Trump gaze lovingly at one another as they leave the White House hand-in-hand and head to Florida for the president’s 2020 rally

  • Trump, 73, and Melania, 49, departed the White House together on Tuesday to fly to Florida
  • The President will be officially launching his 2020 campaign with a rally at the Amway Center
  • The first lady wore a summery $2,290 white eyelet Andrew Gin dress with a pair of red and white polka-dot heels
  • She grinned at her husband as they walked hand-in-hand to Marine One
  • Melania is not expected to speak at the event, which will include an estimated 20,000 people

Donald and Melania Trump had a rare romantic public moment on Tuesday as the two left the White House for Orlando, Florida.

The President and first lady walked hand-in-hand across the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One on their way to Trump’s 2020 campaign kickoff rally.

Cameras caught the couple sharing a warm smile as they held onto each other, Trump, 73, dressed in a navy suit and red tie and his 49-year-old wife took advantage of the June heat in a $2,290 summery white eyelet dress from Andrew Gin, and red polka-dot heels.

All smiles: Donald and Melania Trump held hands and beamed at one another as they walked across the White House lawn to begin their trip to Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday

All smiles: Donald and Melania Trump held hands and beamed at one another as they walked across the White House lawn to begin their trip to Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday

Ready to get away! The 49-year-old first lady couldn't wipe the smile off her face as she and the president strolled across the South Lawn

Ready to get away! The 49-year-old first lady couldn’t wipe the smile off her face as she and the president strolled across the South Lawn

On their way: They appeared to be in good spirits as they set out for Orlando, Florida+19

On their way: They appeared to be in good spirits as they set out for Orlando, Florida

Hands on: At one point, Trump clasped one of Melania's hands in both of his own+19

Hands on: At one point, Trump clasped one of Melania’s hands in both of his own

The couple isn’t typically much for PDA but shared an intimate smile as they walked passed photographers.

They held each other’s hands, with Trump stopping at one point in order to clasp Melania’s left hand in both of his own.

Melania beat the heat, which is hovering in the mid-to-high 80s in Washington, D.C. today, in a breezy but figure-flaunting white sleeveless dress, which featured a seasonally appropriate eyelet patter with floral cutouts on the top.

She accessorized with a pair of dark sunglasses and red and white pointy-toe pumps. while wearing her brown hair blown out around her shoulders.

The couple, who married in 2005, celebrated their 14th wedding anniversary in January, just one year less than he was married to his first wife Ivana.

The couple grinned as they boarded Marine One and then switched planes for Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

Hot out here: Melania wore a summery white eyelet dress for the occasion, as temperatures soared into the high 80s+19

Hot out here: Melania wore a summery white eyelet dress for the occasion, as temperatures soared into the high 80s

Protection: She shielded her eyes behind a pair of sunglasses+19

Protection: She shielded her eyes behind a pair of sunglasses

High heels: On her feet were a pair of red polka dot pointy-toe pumps+19

High heels: On her feet were a pair of red polka dot pointy-toe pumps

Ready to go: The well-coiffed first lady had her hair and nails done+19

Ready to go: The well-coiffed first lady had her hair and nails done

They’re flying down not to Mar-a-Lago but Orlando, where Trump is kicking off his 2020 presidential campaign at the Amway Center in front of an estimated 20,000 people.

Trump’s campaign is transforming the area outside the arena to have a festival-like atmosphere, with music and food trucks to help supporters pass the time.

The most coveted positions are not seats at all, but standing positions near the front of the stage. Backers of the president in that area are likely to get a handshake, a selfie or Trump’s autograph at the event that formally marks the beginning of his campaign for a second term.

All of Trump’s children and his wife Melania will be with him at the event, sources told DailyMail.com, as will the Mike Pence, the president’s running mate and the nation’s vice president.

The first lady does not plan to make formal remarks on Tuesday night, her office said, but given the president’s tendency to call on people to speak, she could end up addressing the crowd.

Donald Trump, Jr., on the other hand is expected to give remarks before the rally.

Beat the heat: Melania kept breezy in the lightweight dress+19

It will likely also serve her well in the Florida heat+19

Beat the heat: Melania kept breezy in the lightweight dress, which will likely also serve her well in the Florida heat

Staying behind: The first lady does not plan to make formal remarks on Tuesday night, her office said+19

Staying behind: The first lady does not plan to make formal remarks on Tuesday night, her office said

Change of plan? The couple's 13-year-old son Barron is also expected to be at the rally, but was not seen traveling with them+19

Change of plan? The couple’s 13-year-old son Barron is also expected to be at the rally, but was not seen traveling with them

Family affair: Trump's adult children — Ivanka, Don Jr., Eric, and Tiffany — are also expected to be there+19

Family affair: Trump’s adult children — Ivanka, Don Jr., Eric, and Tiffany — are also expected to be there

Melania continued to smile at her husband as they switched planes at Joint Base Andrews+19

Melania continued to smile at her husband as they switched planes at Joint Base Andrews

See ya! Trump waved goodbye as they boarded the plane together+19

See ya! Trump waved goodbye as they boarded the plane together

The president’s eldest son is a frequent presence at campaign events — with and without his father — and often serves as a warm-up act for the president’s supporters. He’s also campaigned and raised money for other Republican candidates since his father entered politics.

His girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News personality, is also scheduled to be at the rally. She serves as a senior adviser to the president’s reelection campaign.

Senior advisers and family members to the president Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are also expected to be at the rally.

It’s unclear if Lara Trump, wife of Eric Trump, will be in Orlando. She serves as a senior adviser to the president’s campaign, but is also pregnant with the couple’s second child. She made a state trip to the UK in early June.

It will be 13-year-old Barron Trump’s first appearance at a campaign rally since his father took office.

Trump’s youngest daughter Tiffany, who has been less involved than her older siblings in her father’s campaigns and administration, will also be there.

Orlando Trump supporters stakeout spots ahead of rally

Waiting for him: The rally will mark the official launch of 2020 campaign+19

Waiting for him: The rally will mark the official launch of 2020 campaign

Patience: Supporters waited in line hours before the arena doors opened on Tuesday+19

Patience: Supporters waited in line hours before the arena doors opened on Tuesday

Patriotic colors: Trump supporters came in red white and blue for the campaign kick-off

Wild: The Republican incumbent set the tone in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour

President Trump release his 2020 campaign ad for re-election

The Republican incumbent set the tone for the monster rally in Florida he’d be appearing at this evening in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour.

‘The Fake News doesn’t report it, but Republican enthusiasm is at an all time high. Look what is going on in Orlando, Florida, right now! People have never seen anything like it (unless you play a guitar). Going to be wild – See you later!’ he said.

Trump had apparently dropped a claim that ‘thousands’ turned up on Monday, with about 250 people camping overnight. But the numbers grew steadily as temperatures soared in Orlando Tuesday, reaching 87 degrees before an hour-long downpour that soaked a waiting crowd.

A new Quinnipiac poll showed Trump losing Florida to Democratic nemesis Joe Biden. The former vice president would beat Trump by nine points, 50 – 41 per cent, the newly-released survey showed.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would win by a similar margin, 48 – 42, while other top Democrats would perform in the poll’s margin of error

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-7155853/Melania-Trump-smiles-warmly-husband-depart-Orlando-campaign-kickoff-rally.html

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1272, June 11, 2019, Story 1: President Trump vs. Creepy Sleepy Dummy 1% Biden vs. Radical Extremist Democrats (REDS) (Booker, Buttigieg, Gillibrand, Harris, Klbuchar, O’Rourke, Sanders, Warren) — Videos — Story 2: Trump’s Political Pander to Corn Farmers With Enthanol Policy — Videos — Story 3: Stock Market Heading For Historic High — Videos

Posted on June 11, 2019. Filed under: 2020 Democrat Candidates, 2020 President Candidates, 2020 Republican Candidates, Addiction, Addiction, American History, Barack H. Obama, Bill Clinton, Blogroll, Breaking News, Bribery, Bribes, Budgetary Policy, Cartoons, Central Intelligence Agency, China, Coal, Communications, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Deep State, Diet, Disasters, Diseases, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Drugs, Ebola, Economics, Education, Empires, Employment, Environment, European History, European Union, Exercise, Extortion, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, First Amendment, Fiscal Policy, Food, Food, Former President Barack Obama, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Freud, Gangs, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Health, Health Care, Health Care Insurance, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Drugs, Illegal Drugs, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, James Comey, Japan, Joe Biden, Language, Law, Legal Drugs, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Media, Medicare, Mental Illness, Mexico, Middle East, Mike Pompeo, Military Spending, Monetary Policy, National Interest, National Security Agency, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, News, North Korea, Nuclear Weapons, Nutrition, Oil, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, Progressives, Public Corruption, Public Relations, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Resources, Robert S. Mueller III, Rule of Law, Scandals, Senate, Social Security, South Korea, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP_, Tax Policy, Trade Policy, Unemployment, United States Constitution, Videos, Violence, Wall Street Journal, Wealth, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: President Trump vs. Creepy Sleepy 1% Biden vs. Radical Extremist Democrats (REDS) (Booker, Buttigieg, Gillibrand, Harris, Klbuchar, O’Rourke, Sanders, Warren) — Videos —

 

MENTALLY WEAK: President Trump SLAMS Joe Biden in BLISTERING News Conference

Trump calls Biden a ‘dummy’ as he heads to Iowa

Trump takes aim at Biden ahead of dueling Iowa rallies

Daily Presidential Tracking Poll

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Tuesday shows that 49% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Forty-nine percent (49%) disapprove.

The latest figures include 36% who Strongly Approve of the job Trump is doing and 40% who Strongly Disapprove. This gives him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -4. (see trends).

Regular updates are posted Monday through Friday at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily email update).

Now that Gallup has quit the field, Rasmussen Reports is the only nationally recognized public opinion firm that still tracks President Trump’s job approval ratings on a daily basis. If your organization is interested in a weekly or longer sponsorship of Rasmussen Reports’ Daily Presidential Tracking Poll, please send e-mail to beth@rasmussenreports.com.

20-Jan-1705-May-1721-Aug-1706-Dec-1727-Mar-1812-Jul-1825-Oct-1819-Feb-1911-Jun-190%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%www.RasmussenReports.comTotal Approve (Trump)Total Approve (Obama)

-420-Jan-1705-May-1721-Aug-1706-Dec-1727-Mar-1812-Jul-1825-Oct-1819-Feb-1911-Jun-1910%20%30%40%50%60%www.RasmussenReports.comStrongly DisapproveStrongly Approve

Some readers wonder how we come up with our job approval ratings for the president since they often don’t show as dramatic a change as some other pollsters do. It depends on how you ask the question and whom you ask.

To get a sense of longer-term job approval trends for the president, Rasmussen Reports compiles our tracking data on a full month-by-month basis.

Rasmussen Reports has been a pioneer in the use of automated telephone polling techniques, but many other firms still utilize their own operator-assisted technology (see methodology).

Daily tracking results are collected via telephone surveys of 500 likely voters per night and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. To reach those who have abandoned traditional landline telephones, Rasmussen Reports uses an online survey tool to interview randomly selected participants from a demographically diverse panel. The margin of sampling error for the full sample of 1,500 Likely Voters is +/- 2.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Results are also compiled on a full-week basis and crosstabs for full-week results are available for Platinum Members.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/trump_administration/prez_track_jun11

 

Right Direction or Wrong Track

40% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

Monday, June 10, 2019

Forty percent (40%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending June 6.

This week’s finding remains unchanged from a week ago. Prior to this, that number had been on the decline week-over-week from 43% in early December to 31% by the end of January. It ran in the mid- to upper 20s for much of 2016, President Obama’s last full year in office.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The national telephone survey of 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from June 2-6, 2019. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/mood_of_america/right_direction_wrong_track_jun10

 

Tldr: Biden leads in Iowa, but Buttigieg and Warren show strength

Our new CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom’s new Iowa caucuses poll conducted by Selzer and Co. shows Joe Biden at 24%, Bernie Sanders at 16%, Elizabeth Warren at 15%, Pete Buttigieg at 14% and Kamala Harris at 7% among likely caucusgoers.

It’s the first high quality Iowa poll conducted since Biden entered the race and shows him in a tenuous position. Buttigieg and Warren are doing better than other polls in the state have suggested.

Sanders is not in great shape for someone with near universal name recognition.

Here are a few other takeaways from the poll:

  • This is our first poll taken that weighs in-person and virtual caucusgoers as 90% and 10% of the total respectively. This follows a rule change that allows for caucusgoers to vote virtually.
  • No candidate greatly seems to benefit from this change, though virtual caucusgoers are allotted fewer delegates (10%) than the expected percentage of caucusgoers who say they will virtually caucus at this point (28%).
  • It’s not just the topline that’s good for Buttigieg and Warren. Among those who can form an opinion of a given candidate, both are tied for the best very favorable rating among in-person caucusgoers.
  • Biden’s very favorable rating among caucusgoers is 34% among in-person caucusgoers, which actually trails Warren’s 38%.
  • A look back previous Democratic caucuses (1988, 2004 and 2008) with polling at this point similar to what it is now shows the eventual winner was ahead one of three times. This suggests we have a long way to go.

https://www.cnn.com/politics/live-news/cnn-poll-iowa-joe-biden-2020-democrats/index.html

 

Story 2: Trump’s Political Pander to Corn Farmers With Enthanol Subsidies and Mandates — End All Subsidies and Mandates — Videos

See the source image

President Trump visiting Iowa ethanol plant

Trump Speaks At An Ethanol Production Plant In Iowa | NowThis

After Corn Ethanol’s Crushing Defeat, Will Congress Repeal Mandate?

Can you afford the Ethanol Tax?

Ethanol Pig

Can 100% renewable energy power the world? – Federico Rosei and Renzo Rosei

Renewable Energy Explained in 2 1/2 Minutes

The Renewable Fuel Standard – What is it?

What can we do to fight the ethanol mandate?

Farm State Senators Questioning the White House RFS Strategy

The RFS Hurts Small Businesses

Small Retailers Coalition – RINs, the RFS, and EPA

An Update on the Renewable Fuel Standard

Ten years of the Renewable Fuel Standard

Why We Need The Renewable Fuel Standard, In 60 Seconds

President Trump promised to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard

Is the Renewable Fuel Standard working for America?

Repeal the RFS

WDBJ7: Goodlatte calls for repeal of Renewable Fuel Standard

AMERICA FIRST DINNER: President Trump Full Remarks in West Des Moines, IA

For farmers, record flooding and a wet spring mean many fields can’t be planted

ETHANOL – GOOD OR BAD? – How it Works | SCIENCE GARAGE

Trump’s New $12 Billion Farm Subsidies and My Thoughts

Farmers in Trump country protest Pruitt’s ethanol policies

Clearing the Air on the Ethanol Mandates

Pros and Cons of Ethanol in Motor Vehicle Gas Explored

Inconvenient Fact: Support for Ethanol Mandates Crumbling

Who Gets More Subsidies? | The Ethanol Effect

Ethanol vs Gasoline – Which Type of Fuel is Best for Your Car

Never Go to This Gas Station

The Ethanol Effect

Trump’s ethanol moves: good policy or corn country politics?

Why Ethanol Is Worse Than Gasoline

Is Ethanol Bad For Your Car’s Engine?

Trump Hearts Ethanol | The Ethanol Effect

 

Trump’s ethanol move delivers gift to corn country

Updated 

President Donald Trump ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to expand sales of corn ethanol on Tuesday, delivering a gift to farm state Republicans a month before the midterm elections.

The move ends months of bitter behind-the-scenes fighting between corn backers and the oil industry over Trump’s calls to increase ethanol sales, and it could benefit Iowa’s Republican governor, who is trailing her Democratic challenger in the polls, as well as at least two Iowa House incumbents who are also vulnerable. But the oil industry’s most powerful trade group immediately said it will fight to block the action.

“We want to get more fuel into the system,” Trump told reporters before boarding Marine One to travel to a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa. “This is great for our farmers, and it’s a promise I made during the campaign, and as you know I keep my promises.”

EPA expects to finish a rule by the beginning of June to allow year-round sales of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol content, an increase over the 10 percent blends that are sold at most gas stations around the nation. The sale of the blends, known as “E15,” is currently prohibited during the summer months in several states because of Clean Air Act restrictions, and corn growers have long sought to expand sales of the higher concentrations.

“This is a big deal,” said Jeff Navin, a Democratic former aide to ex-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and former chief of staff in the Obama administration’s Energy Department. “It’s not something that makes a front page of East and West Coast newspapers, but it’s something that farmers watch closely. I’m sure the political team and elected officials in Iowa told [Trump] he has to do something to staunch bleeding.”

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), along with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Rep. David Young (R-Iowa) joined Trump in the Oval Office for his announcement, which the White House did not publicly broadcast.

“This is a very good victory for agriculture, a very good victory for workers at our 50 ethanol plants in Iowa and other states. it’s a very good victory for the environment and everything about this is good, good, good,” Grassley said in a video posted on Instagram.

Trump has previously called for increased sales of ethanol, which consumes about 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop. He strongly backed the biofuel during the 2016 campaign, a stance that appealed to Midwestern farmers who helped carry him to victory but who have been battered by his trade war and retaliatory tariffs from countries angry over his steel and aluminum tariffs.

But the U.S. oil industry has staunchly opposed increasing ethanol sales, and it has pressed for EPA and Congress to overhaul the federal biofuels mandate that Congress first created in 2005 to help reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil. The mandate requires oil refiners to blend specified volumes of biofuels into the nation’s gasoline supply, and to purchase biofuels credits that are traded in a market that has been plagued by fraud.

Trump has personally sought to mediate the dispute, which has pitted ethanol backers like Iowa Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has pressed the president to grant concessions to the oil industry. But despite a half dozen Oval Office meetings with Trump and several months of study by EPA and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, oil refiners will receive only modest changes in how regulators handle the biofuel credits.

“The president has repeatedly stated his support for the [ethanol program],” the White House official told reporters Monday. “He thinks that it’s good to have domestically produced energy here and he thinks it will be good for the agriculture industry as well as the economy overall.”

The oil industry had benefited from the more than two dozen waivers that former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt granted to refineries that allowed them to ignore the mandate that they blend the corn-based fuel with gasoline. But that angered farm groups, who said it reduced the requirement for ethanol by billions of gallons.

Now, Trump may be trying to make it up to Iowans and come to the aid of a friendly governor before the 2020 Iowa caucuses. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who took the post after Gov. Terry Branstad became Trump’s ambassador to China, is currently trailing her Democratic challenger, businessman Fred Hubbell, by 3.5 points, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.

Trump has twice before promised to expand E15 sales, most recently in July, and Tuesday’s move was warmly welcomed by the industry.

“It’s hard to find the proper adjectives to describe how exciting it is to see year-round E15 move forward,” said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. “We have worked non-stop on this issue for seven years while the unjustified restrictions hampered retailers from offering E15.”

Most U.S. gasoline sold in the U.S. is E10, meaning it contains 10 percent ethanol, though the 15 percent ethanol is sold by many retailers, particularly in big corn-producing states. Trump, who cannot change the policy through an executive order, has now ordered acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to issue a waiver to the rules specifically for E15 to allow year-round sales.

The White House sought to mollify refiners by ordering Wheeler to alter the trade of biofuels credits, called Renewable Identification Numbers, that oil processors must purchase to show they are complying with the law. Independent refiners have long looked for ways to lower the cost of compliance and to increase transparency in that market. The new measures include limiting the credit purchases to refiners and ethanol importers, as well as requiring individuals holding more than a certain number of credits to disclose their holdings publicly.

Refiners will also now have to prove compliance with the program quarterly rather than annually, and EPA will limit how long companies other than refiners and importers can hold credits.

“President Trump has made strengthening the Renewable Fuel Standard an important priority of this administration,” EPA spokesman John Konkus said in a statement, referring to the ethanol program by its formal name. “He is fulfilling his promise by providing clear policy direction that will expand opportunities for our nation’s farmers, provide certainty to our refiners and bolster the United States’ role as a biofuels powerhouse. EPA will follow the president’s direction and proceed as expeditiously as practicable.”

Ethanol proponents say the rule will give gas station owners the incentive to install the equipment to sell the higher biofuel blends, which would increase sales of ethanol.

“We’re very excited to hear the president’s upcoming announcement,” Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, an ethanol trade association, said in a statement. “He knows farmers are hurting and they want action on E15 in time for the next summer driving season. Year-round sales of E15 nationwide could deliver demand for two billion bushels of American corn and help restore growth in rural communities.”

Oil companies, who would prefer to see congressional efforts led by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) develop a comprehensive legislative overhaul to the mandate, believe Trump’s new policy is “wrongheaded” and the transparency policies don’t compensate them enough.

“We just don’t think it rises to the significance of issuing the E15 waiver, and therefore it’s no deal at all, from our standpoint,” said Frank Macchiarola, vice president of downstream and operations for the American Petroleum Institute. “From a legal standpoint, we don’t think EPA has the authority to issue the E15 waiver, [and] we will aggressively be looking at all of our potential options moving forward with respect to challenging this decision.”

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/10/08/trump-ethanol-corn-831493

 

 

Time to Repeal Ethanol Subsidies

The federal government provides an array of subsidies to increase the consumption of biofuels such as corn ethanol. The subsidies include tax breaks, grants, loans, and loan guarantees. The government also imposes a mandate to blend biofuels into gasoline and diesel fuels.

A new study at DownsizingGovernment.org describes the damage caused by these policies. Subsidies and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) harm taxpayers, motorists, consumers, and the environment.

The study by Nicolas Loris argues that Congress should end its intervention in the biofuels industry. It should terminate subsidies and repeal the RFS. Individuals and markets can make more efficient and environmentally sound decisions regarding biofuels without subsidies and mandates.

Investor Carl Icahn said that the RFS has created a bureaucratic market in tradable credits full of “manipulation, speculation and fraud” with the potential to “destroy America’s oil refineries, send gasoline prices skyward and devastate the U.S. economy.”

That language is probably too strong, but federal ethanol policies really are stupid. President Trump says that he wants to cut unneeded regulations and wasteful subsidies. The RFS and biofuel hand-outs would be good policies to target.

So for an interesting read illustrating the craziness of special-interest policies in Washington, check out “Ethanol and Biofuel Policies.” The next time you are at the gas station and see that “E10” sticker on the pump, remember that a tag team of D.C. politicians and corn farmers are picking your pocket.

https://www.cato.org/blog/time-repeal-ethanol-subsidies

Downsizing the Federal Government

YOUR GUIDE TO CUTTING FEDERAL SPENDING

Ethanol and Biofuel Policies

  • Nicolas Loris
February 9, 2017

The federal government provides an array of subsidies to increase the consumption of biofuels such as corn ethanol. The subsidies include tax breaks, grants, loans, and loan guarantees. The government also imposes a mandate to blend biofuels into gasoline and diesel fuels. Biofuel supporters said that these policies would reduce gas prices, strengthen the economy, and benefit the environment, but none of those promises have turned out to be true.

The problem is not with the voluntary use of biofuels in the marketplace, but rather policies that mandate and subsidize biofuels. That top-down approach has harmed consumers, damaged the economy, and produced negative environmental effects. Even within the agricultural community, federal biofuel policies have adversely affected livestock producers and other businesses.

Congress should end its intervention in the biofuels industry. It should terminate subsidies and repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard. Individuals and markets can make more efficient and environmentally sound decisions regarding biofuels without subsidies and mandates.

What Are Biofuels?

Biofuels are derived from biological matter. Producers ferment sugar (sugarcane and sugar beets) and starch products (corn and potatoes) to create bioalcohols, and they ferment oilseed crops (soybeans and sunflower seeds) and animal fats to create biodiesel.

Ethanol, the most common biofuel, is mainly made from corn in the United States. Before federal subsidies and mandates were put in place, ethanol was already used as an additive to gasoline, allowing it to burn cleaner and more efficiently. The use of biofuels is not new, and it did not originally stem from government policies. A century ago, Henry Ford had planned for the Model T to run on ethanol, and Rudolf Diesel showcased a diesel engine that ran on peanut oil.1

Today, fuel suppliers mix biofuels into gasoline and diesel at blending stations. Most vehicles can handle gasoline blended with at most 10 percent ethanol (E10). In 2011 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved a blend of up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) for vehicles in model year 2001 and newer, but that mix is damaging to engines in older vehicles.2 Possible engine harm, automobile warranty concerns, and a lack of infrastructure have delayed adoption of E15.3 A further concern is that higher ethanol blends are harmful to the smaller engines in lawnmowers, motorcycles, and boats.4Another fuel blend is E85, which contains from 51 percent to 83 percent ethanol and is used in flexible-fuel vehicles.5

The federal government distinguishes between conventional (first-generation) biofuels and advanced (second-generation) biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol. Producers create advanced biofuels from nonfood parts of crops and other biomass such as leaves, switchgrass, algae, and woodchips. However, developing commercially viable fuel from these sources has proven to be very difficult.

Federal Biofuel Policies

The federal government has supported biofuels for decades. Republican and Democratic administrations and congresses have put in place a variety of subsidies—including tax credits, import tariffs, grants, loans, and mandates—to increase the production, sale, and use of biofuels.

In response to the oil crisis of the 1970s, Congress passed the first ethanol tax credit in the Energy Tax Act of 1978. Later legislation, including the Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000, the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003, and the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, introduced or expanded subsidies for biofuels. Farm bills in 2002, 2008, and 2014 also added and expanded biofuel programs. Today, there are at least 11 different federal subsidy programs for biofuels providing loans, grants, and other benefits.6

However, the most important component of federal biofuel policy is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). It mandates that billions of gallons of ethanol be blended into gasoline and diesel fuel each year. The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 mandated the sale of oxygenated fuels in some regions of the country, and that “kicked off the modern U.S. ethanol industry growth.”7 Then the Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandated that increasing amounts of renewable fuels be mixed into America’s fuel supplies over time, primarily corn-based ethanol. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 greatly increased the mandated quantities.

Under the 2007 law, there must be 36 billion gallons of biofuels blended into the nation’s fuel supplies by 2022. No more than 15 billion gallons of that can be corn-based ethanol, and 21 billion gallons must be from advanced biofuels. After 2022 the EPA is granted authority to set annual targets.

The RFS is causing major economic and compliance problems. One problem is that cellulosic biofuel is supposed to be 44 percent of the total mandate by 2022, but actual production of these advanced fuels is far below expectations and running into major technical setbacks.8 In 2017 production of cellulosic biofuel will be just 1.6 percent of the 19 billion gallons of the overall biofuels mandated under the RFS.9

A broad range of groups oppose the RFS mandate, including environmental groups, anti-poverty groups, most economists, energy companies, and many farm groups. The RFS is opposed by the National Chicken Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, Milk Producers Council, and others.10It is also opposed by the American Petroleum Institute, National Resource Defense Council, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, Environmental Working Group, and Oxfam.11

Despite the opposition, the biofuel lobbies have so far held sway in Congress. Over time, however, opposition to the RFS has increased as the negative economic, technical, and environmental effects have become more obvious. The RFS is a failed experiment. Congress should recognize its mistake before more damage is done and repeal the mandate.

Such a reform would not end the biofuels industry. Some biofuels are cost competitive with traditional fuels and make a useful addition to gasoline mixed in at small levels. In the year before the government mandated ethanol use, American companies produced more than 81 million barrels of ethanol.12 Used at a modest level, ethanol is a cost-effective oxygenate for gasoline, meaning an additive that improves efficiency and helps meet fuel emissions requirements. A study by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture estimated that with no RFS and no ethanol tax credit, demand for corn ethanol would have been 4.3 billion gallons in 2014, or about 30 percent of actual corn ethanol production that year.13

By ending federal subsidies and mandates, biofuels use would decline to efficient levels that maximized consumer benefits. Agriculture and food markets would benefit from the elimination of distortions that biofuel mandates are creating. The most competitive elements of the biofuels industry would survive and thrive in a free market.

The following sections discuss how current biofuels policies increase costs for drivers, raise food prices, and harm the environment.

Increase Costs for Drivers

Ethanol is not a good substitute for regular gasoline because it contains less energy. Ethanol has only two-thirds the energy content of regular gasoline.14 Drivers get fewer miles per gallon the higher the share of ethanol and other biofuels mixed into their tanks.

During times of high gas prices, ethanol may appear less expensive. But after adjusting for the energy content difference, higher concentrations of ethanol in fuel costs more. As an example, the national average price of regular gasoline in February 2016 was $1.71 per gallon and E85 was $1.52 per gallon.15 But adjusting for E85’s lower energy content pushed the price up to the equivalent of $1.99 per gallon at the time. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that the overall energy content of fuel at the pump fell 3 percent between 1993 and 2013 as mandated ethanol use increased.16

The additional cost of ethanol varies depending on current ethanol and gasoline prices. But, in general, the higher the ethanol content, the lower is gas mileage, and the more drivers must spend to go the same distance. Motorists can spend hundreds of dollars more per year running common flexible-fuel vehicles on E85 instead of regular gasoline blended with E10.17

Raise Food Prices

Ethanol production uses a large share of America’s corn crop and diverts valuable crop land away from food production. The resulting increases in food prices have hurt both urban and rural families. Families with moderate incomes are particularly burdened by the higher food prices created by federal biofuel policies. Higher corn prices also hurt farmers and ranchers who use corn for animal feed. Higher food prices caused by biofuel policies also hurt low-income families in other countries that rely on U.S. food imports. U.S. corn accounts for more than half of the world’s corn exports.18

Almost 40 percent of the entire U.S. corn crop has been used for ethanol in recent years, up from about 13 percent when Congress mandated the original quota in 2005.19 The remaining 60 percent is used for food, animal feed, and exports. In 2012 the amount of corn used to produce ethanol in the United States exceeded the entire corn consumption of the continent of Africa and of any single country except China.20

The U.S. Department of Agriculture noted that “increased corn prices draw land away from competing crops, raise input prices for livestock producers, and put moderate upward pressure on retail food prices.”21 These negative effects were particularly apparent during the 2012 drought in the United States, which destroyed crops, drove corn prices up 33 percent, and heightened concerns that the RFS was diverting food to fuel.22Since corn is an ingredient in many foods, and an important feedstock for animals, many in the food industry (from cattle and chicken farmers to restaurant associations) complained about the mandate’s effect on food prices.

In 2012 the governors of Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming petitioned the EPA for a waiver of the RFS in order to reduce corn prices, but the EPA denied the request.23 Yet according to a study by economists at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, the drought’s impact on corn prices could have been “fully negated” by reducing the RFS by 23 percent that year.24

A number of studies have examined the link between biofuels policies and global food prices, as well as the adverse consequences on the world’s poorest citizens. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, ActionAid, World Resources Institute, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the World Bank have all identified higher food prices as a negative effect of biofuel policies.25

The magnitude of the RFS’s effect on the prices of corn and other farm products is difficult to determine precisely, but the direction of the impact is clear. The RFS has increased demand for corn and pushed up prices. One study by University of California at Davis economists found that the RFS increases corn prices by 30 percent, while a Heritage Foundation study found the increase to be 68 percent.26 The Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports that economists “are nearly universally agreed that the strong, steady growth in ethanol demand for corn has had an important and sustained upward price effect, not just on the price of corn, but in other agricultural markets including food, feed, fuel, and land.”27

Proponents of the RFS and biofuel subsidies argue that the policies support economic growth in rural communities. Actually, the policies support corn growers at the expense of other rural industries such as livestock production, which use corn as animal feed.

In the future, biofuels may make more economic sense than they do today and become a preferred fuel choice by Americans in open markets. But current policies that mandate the increasing use of biofuels are imposing large costs on motorists, harming food consumers and livestock producers, and damaging the overall economy.

Harm the Environment

Supporters of biofuel subsidies and the RFS claim that the policies create environmental benefits, including a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. But most evidence now indicates that biofuel policies do not reduce such emissions or benefit the environment overall.

Here are some of the factors to consider regarding biofuels and the environment:

  • Biofuel policies draw additional land into agricultural production. After accounting for this land-use conversion, the additional use of fertilizers, insecticides, and pesticides, as well as the fossil fuels used for production and distribution, biofuel production is quite carbon intensive.28
  • The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found that converting noncropland to production of corn ethanol released at least 17 times more emissions than the amount of reduced carbon dioxide emissions by the use of biofuels.29
  • University of Michigan Professor John DeCicco found that even without accounting for indirect land use changes, biofuels increase the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere compared to regular gasoline.30
  • Despite once hailing biofuels as a tool to mitigate climate change, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change now acknowledges that biofuels policies negatively affect the lives of the poor, distort land use, and may have negative environmental consequences.31
  • A study by Iowa State University researchers concluded that the increased production of biofuels generated by government policies has led to environmental harm from the use of fertilizers and land-use conversion for agricultural production, which can result in increased soil erosion, sedimentation, and nitrogen and phosphorous runoff into lakes and streams.32

Ethanol does have benefits as a fuel additive to help gasoline burn more cleanly and efficiently. However, in a report to Congress on the issue, the EPA projected that nitrous oxides, hydrocarbons, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, ground-level ozone, and ethanol-vapor emissions, among other pollutants, would increase at different points in the production and use of ethanol.33

Many types of agricultural production affect the natural environment, both positively and negatively. Almost all industrial output has some unwanted effects, whether air pollutants or discharges into water systems. But those effects are not a reason to eliminate market activities that generate net value overall. The problem with biofuel policies is that they are both harmful to the economy and they have negative environmental effects. Biofuel policies were sold as being “green,” but today’s high levels of subsidized biofuel use does not benefit the environment.

Renewable Fuel Standard

The RFS illustrates the folly of trying to centrally plan energy markets. Current rules require a steadily increasing share of biofuels in gasoline until 2022. In 2016 ethanol exceeded 10 percent of all U.S. gasoline sales for the first time. Petroleum refiners are now coming up against a “blend wall” such that further biofuel increases will begin causing harm to vehicle performance and damage to engines and catalytic converters.

The RFS is also a bureaucratic nightmare. The 2007 law created separate requirements for different classes of biofuels, including conventional, advanced, cellulosic, and biomass. It also created a greenhouse gas accounting system because each fuel generates different lifecycle emission amounts. There are special rules for crops on forested areas and federal land, and there are complex procedures for the EPA to follow in setting each year’s mandated amounts.

For fuel refiners, the RFS has created a complicated system of credits and credit trading. Each refiner in the United States must have a certain percentage of its domestic sales contain blended ethanol, called a renewable volume obligation (RVO).34 But refiners have an option to meet part of their requirement by buying credits rather than blending more ethanol. In order to track this, the EPA requires a renewable identification number (RIN) to account for the amount of biofuel reaching the market and to make sure refiners blend enough ethanol. Refiners can hold on to these credits to meet their RFS requirement or they can purchase RIN credits from other refiners. Different RIN prices exist for different forms of biofuels.

Since refineries now face the blend wall, increased trading for RIN credits has caused the price of the credits to spike from pennies previously to more than a dollar in 2013 and then back up to nearly a dollar in 2016.35 The system also generates abuse as refineries buy fake credits with made-up RINs. Investor Carl Icahn says that “RINs have turned into a $15 billion market full of manipulation, speculation and fraud.”36 A report by a former head of EPA’s criminal investigations, Doug Parker, found that fraud in the RINs market could be as high as $1 billion.37 Parker concluded that the RFS program was “a ripe target for massive fraud and illicit gain.”38

Overmandating—requiring the use of more ethanol than can be blended—and forcing the purchase of RINs, could cost consumers billions of dollars at the pump.39 The consulting firm NERA warned that attempting to hit the original RFS targets in 2022 would result in severe economic harm:

When the required biofuel volume standards are too severe, as with the statute scenario, the market becomes disrupted because there are an insufficient number of RINs to allow compliance. “Forcing” additional volumes of biofuels into the market beyond those that would be “absorbed” by the market based on economics alone at the levels required by the statute scenario will result in severe economic harm.40

Federal mandates to continually increase biofuel use make no sense partly because we do not know the overall level of fuel demand in the future. If fuel demand is flat due to higher vehicle fuel efficiency, the blend wall problem will persist. Flexible-fuel vehicles capable of using E85 offer little economic relief for the blend wall. Demand for these vehicles is very low, and drivers who own flexible-fuel vehicles often fill their tanks with E10 because the energy content is higher than E85.

Proponents of the RFS pointed to oil price volatility as a reason to support federal policies. But in free markets there is nothing wrong with energy price changes, which work to balance supplies and demands. Besides, the passage of the RFS has done little to curb the effects of oil price volatility. And furthermore, ethanol is subject to its own price volatility. As CRS noted of a 2008 price spike, “The experience of $7.00-per-bushel corn, albeit temporary, shattered the idea that biofuels were a panacea for solving the nation’s energy security problems and left concerns about the potential for unintended consequences from future biofuels expansion.”41

While corn-based ethanol has kept up with mandates so far, the production of other biofuels has not. The production of cellulosic ethanol, made from nonfood sources, is nowhere near meeting targets, even though the RFS mandates 16 billion gallons to be used by 2022. High capital costs and difficulty in scaling up cellulosic biofuel conversion plants have prevented advanced biofuels from becoming economically viable.

The EPA has had to reduce Congress’s original annual quotas for cellulosic ethanol because not enough was available on the market. The EPA adjusted Congress’s first cellulosic target from 100 million gallons in 2010 to just 6.5 million. However, even the adjusted mandate was a stretch compared with reality; in fact, zero gallons were produced that year and the following one.42 For 2017 the EPA has set the target for cellulosic ethanol at 311 million gallons and total advanced biofuels at 4.28 billion gallons.43

Refiners have had to pay millions of dollars in waiver credits or surcharges for failure to comply with the EPA’s minimum volume requirements. Refiners pass these costs onto consumers. In January 2013 the Washington, D.C., Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the EPA “let its aspirations for a self-fulfilling prophecy divert it from a neutral methodology,” and that the RFS target was an “unreasonable exercise of agency discretion.”44 It vacated the cellulosic ethanol requirement required by the RFS for the year 2012. The EPA has since proposed future cellulosic mandates that are equally out of touch with market realities.

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2016 that the RFS was creating big winners and big losers among companies because of the buying and selling of RINs:

Environmental regulations designed to boost the amount of ethanol blended into the U.S. gasoline supply have inadvertently become a multibillion-dollar windfall for some of the world’s biggest oil companies.

Companies including Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, and BP PLC could reap a total of more than $1 billion this year by selling the renewable fuel credits associated with the ethanol program…

For other companies, especially smaller refiners, the rules have had the opposite effect, forcing them to spend hundreds of millions to buy credits to comply.45

Carl Icahn, who is a part owner of a refinery that is bearing heavy costs, complained that “a shadowy, unregulated trade in electronic credits called Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) threatens to destroy America’s oil refineries, send gasoline prices skyward and devastate the U.S. economy.”46 Icahn wants policymakers to reform the RFS, but for all the reasons discussed here, it should be completely repealed.

Policy Reforms  

The political tide is turning against ethanol and biofuels as more experts and policymakers are recognizing the shortcomings of federal policies. Biofuel policies promised a lot of benefits, but they have delivered more harm than good. While some farmers and agribusinesses gained, taxpayers, motorists, food consumers, livestock producers, and the environment have been harmed. Furthermore, the federal mandate is generating vast bureaucracy, imposing major losses on some refiners, and generating widespread fraud and abuse.

The administration should work with Congress to:

  • Repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard. Biofuels existed before the RFS, and biofuels would remain after repealing it to the extent that they were economically viable. Repealing the mandate would create a more efficient biofuels market based on entrepreneurial initiative rather than government dependence.
  • Eliminate biofuels subsidy programs. Congress should repeal all the biofuels spending programs that have been included in farm bills and other bills, including grant and loan programs.
  • Allow producers and consumers to drive innovation. Make broad reforms to the energy sector to level the playing field between producers, fuels, and technologies. Congress should allow consumers to choose their favored fuels for transportation and other uses within open and competitive markets.

 


Nicolas Loris is an economist at the Heritage Foundation.

https://www.downsizinggovernment.org/ethanol-and-biofuel-policies

Ethanol fuel in the United States

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Blender fuels pump in 2012 selling the standard E10 ethanol blend together with E15, E30 and E85 in East Lansing, Michigan

Ethanol fuel production by state

The United States became the world’s largest producer of ethanol fuel in 2005. The U.S. produced 13.9 billion U.S. liquid gallons (52.6 billion liters) of ethanol fuel in 2011,[1] an increase from 13.2 billion U.S. liquid gallons (49.2 billion liters) in 2010, and up from 1.63 billion gallons in 2000.[2] Brazil and U.S. production accounted for 87.1% of global production in 2011.[1] In the U.S, ethanol fuel is mainly used as an oxygenate in gasoline in the form of low-level blends up to 10 percent, and to an increasing extent, as E85 fuel for flex-fuel vehicles.[3]

The ethanol market share in the U.S. gasoline supply grew by volume from just over 1 percent in 2000 to more than 3 percent in 2006 to 10 percent in 2011.[1][4][5] Domestic production capacity increased fifteen times after 1990, from 900 million US gallons to 1.63 billion US gal in 2000, to 13.5 billion US gallons in 2010.[4][6] The Renewable Fuels Association reported 209 ethanol distilleries in operation located in 29 states in 2011, and 140 under construction or expansion as of December 2011, that upon completion, would bring U.S. total installed capacity to 15.0 billion US gallons. Most expansion projects are aimed to update the refinery’s technology to improve ethanol production, energy efficiency, and the quality of the livestock feed they produce.[1]

By 2011 most cars on U.S. roads could run on blends of up to 10% ethanol(E10), and manufacturers had begun producing vehicles designed for much higher percentages. However, the fuel systems of cars, trucks, and motorcycles sold before the ethanol mandate may suffer substantial damage from the use of 10% ethanol blends. Flexible-fuel cars, trucks, and minivans use gasoline/ethanol blends ranging from pure gasoline up to 85% ethanol (E85). By early 2013 there were around 11 million E85-capable vehicles on U.S. roads.[7][8] Regular use of E85 is low due to lack of fueling infrastructure, but is common in the Midwest.[9][10] In January 2011 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted a waiver to allow up to 15% of ethanol blended with gasoline (E15) to be sold only for cars and light pickup trucks with a model year of 2001 or later. The EPA waiver authorizes, but does not require stations to offer E15. Like the limitations suffered by sales of E85, commercialization of E15 is constrained by the lack of infrastructure as most fuel stations do not have enough pumps to offer the new E15 blend, few existing pumps are certified to dispense E15, and no dedicated tanks are readily available to store E15.[11][12][13]

Ethanol production was expected to continue to grow over the next several years, since the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 required 36 billion US gallons of renewable fuel use by 2022. The target for ethanol production from cellulosic feedstocks was 16 billion US gallons a year. The corn ethanol target was 15 billion US gallons by 2015.[14][15] Ethanol industries provided jobs in agriculture, construction, operations and maintenance, mostly in rural communities.[16]

In early 2009 the industry experienced financial stress due to the effects of the economic crisis of 2008. Motorists drove less, gasoline prices dropped sharply, capacity rose and less financing was available.[17][18][19]

Historically most U.S. ethanol has come from corn and the required electricity for many distilleries came mainly from coal. Debate ensued about ethanol’s sustainability. The primary issues related to the large amount of arable land required for crops and ethanol production’s impact on grain supplyindirect land use change (ILUC) effects, as well as issues regarding its energy balance and carbon intensity considering its full life cycle.[20][21][22][23][24][25] Recent developments with cellulosic ethanol production and commercialization may allay some of these concerns.[26]

Contents

History

Typical label at the gas pumps warning drivers of ethanol content up to 10%, used as oxygenate additive instead of MTBEMiamiFlorida.

In 1826 Samuel Morey experimented with an internal combustion chemical mixture that used ethanol (combined with turpentine and ambient air then vaporized) as fuel. At the time, his discovery was overlooked, mostly due to the success of steam power. Ethanol fuel received little attention until 1860 when Nicholas Otto began experimenting with internal combustion engines. In 1859, oil was found in Pennsylvania, which decades later provided a new kind of fuel. A popular fuel in the U.S. before petroleum was a blend of alcohol and turpentine called “camphene“, also known as “burning fluid.”[citation needed] The discovery of a ready supply of oil and unfavorable taxation on burning fluid made kerosene a more popular fuel.

In 1896, Henry Ford designed his first car, the “Quadricycle” to run on pure ethanol.[27] In 1908, the revolutionary Ford Model T was capable of running on gasolineethanol or a combination.[27][28][29] Ford continued to advocate for ethanol fuel even during the prohibition, but lower prices caused gasoline to prevail.[27]

Typical manufacture’s warning placed in the fuel filler of U.S. vehicles regarding the capability of using up to E10, and warning against the use of blends between E20 and E85.

Gasoline containing up to 10% ethanol began a decades-long growth in the United States in the late 1970s. The demand for ethanol produced from field corn was spurred by the discovery that methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) was contaminating groundwater.[27][30] MTBE’s use as an oxygenate additive was widespread due to mandates in the Clean Air Act amendments of 1992 to reduce carbon monoxide emissions. MTBE in gasoline had been banned in almost 20 states by 2006. Suppliers were concerned about potential litigation and a 2005 court decision denying legal protection for MTBE.[citation needed] MTBE’s fall from grace opened a new market for ethanol, its primary substitute.[27] Corn prices at the time were around US$2 a bushel.[citation needed] Farmers saw a new market and increased production. This demand shift took place at a time when oil prices were rising.

The steep growth in twenty-first century ethanol consumption was driven by federal legislation aimed to reduce oil consumption and enhance energy security. The Energy Policy Act of 2005required use of 7.5×109 US gal (28×106 m3) of renewable fuel by 2012, and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 raised the standard, to 36×109 US gal (140×106 m3) of annual renewable fuel use by 2022. Of this requirement, 21×109 US gal (79×106 m3) had to be advanced biofuels, defined as renewable fuels that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50%.[15][31][32]

Recent trends

U.S. fuel ethanol
production and imports
(2000–2011)[1][33]
(Millions of U.S. liquid gallons)
Year Production Imports Demand
2000 1,630 n/a n/a
2001 1,770 n/a n/a
2002 2,130 46 2,085
2003 2,800 61 2,900
2004 3,400 161 3,530
2005 3,904 135 4,049
2006 4,855 653 5,377
2007 6,500 450 6,847
2008 9,000 556 9,637
2009 10,600 193 10,940
2010 13,230 10 13,184
2011 13,900 160 n/a(1)
Note: Demand figures includes stocks change and
small exports in 2005.
(1) Exports in 2011 reached a record 1,100 billion gal.[1]

Graph of monthly production and net imports of fuel ethanol in the U.S. 1993–2012. Data from EIA

The world’s top ethanol fuel producer in 2010 was the United States with 13.2 billion U.S. gallons (49.95 billion liters) representing 57.5% of global production, followed by Brazil with 6.92 billion U.S. gallons (26.19 billion liters), and together both countries accounted for 88% of the world production of 22.95 billion U.S. gallons (86.85 billion liters).[2] By December 2010 the U.S. ethanol production industry consisted of 204 plants operating in 29 states,[4][6] and 9 plants under construction or expansion, adding 560 million gallons of new capacity and bringing total U.S. installed capacity to 14.6 billion U.S. gallons (55.25 billion liters).[6] At the end of 2010 over 90 percent of all gasoline sold in the U.S. was blended with ethanol.[4]

Production[