Friday, May 31, 2019

U.S. Flooding Crisis:

US flooding crisis: Two new levee breaches along the swollen Arkansas and Mississippi rivers prompt evacuations in Dardanelle, Arkansas, and Quincy, Missouri

Two new levee breaches along the swollen Arkansas and Mississippi rivers have prompted evacuations in Dardanelle, Arkansas, and Quincy, Missouri.

A levee along the swollen Arkansas River breached early Friday. Residents in about 160 homes in Dardanelle, Arkansas, were urged to evacuate. Residents in three towns were urged to evacuate after a levee breached in Missouri. Officials say flooding will not be over anytime soon.

A breach early Friday on the Holla Bend levee in Dardanelle, home to about 4,700 people and located 60 miles northwest of Little Rock, prompted Yell County officials to go door-to-door to encourage residents in about 160 homes to evacuate.
In Missouri, a levee breach along the Durgens Creek, which flows into the Mississippi River, officials ordered mandatory evacuations Thursday evening in West Quincy, Taylor and Fabius Village.
Emergency management reported flooding along the Durgens Creek in Lewis County. Water is expected to flow south into West Quincy. Move to higher ground now. Act quickly to protect your life,” the National Weather Service office in St. Louis said in a flash flood warning that was issued for the area.
Even as the Arkansas River slowly begins to recede in some areas after record-levels, officials say flooding will not be over anytime soon.
Nathan Spicer, emergency management specialist in Little Rock — where the river is expected to crest at 28 feet on Monday — told the city board the rain will prolong the flood’s effects.
This flood event could last for two, three weeks, maybe a month,” Spicer said, according to a report by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
The Arkansas River is expected to crest Friday near Fort Smith, Arkansas, at 40.8 feet, well above the previous record of 38.1 feet there but less than the 42.5 feet that had been expected.
It will be over 40 feet for several days,” Michael Biggs, chief of the hydraulics and technical services branch for the Little Rock District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, told the Democrat Gazette. “That’s better than 42.5 feet.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump declared an emergency in several Arkansas counties to provide assistance for emergency protective measures.
Melody Daniel, the state’s emergency management spokeswoman, told CNN more than 500 Arkansas homes have been directly impacted by flooding.
Flooding across the region has forced Amtrak to suspend service between St. Louis and Fort Worth, Texas, until June 7.


In neighboring Oklahoma, more than 2,400 people have been evacuated and more than 1,000 homes have been flooded by this long-lasting event.
Officials announced Thursday the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will gradually decrease the outflow of water from Keystone Dam through Monday, which should alleviate some flooding, the Tulsa World reported.
Authorities in the Tulsa region continue to warn people drawn to the river out of curiosity to stay away.
What it’s going to cause and what it has caused is the attempt to rescue somebody. We’re going to have a first responder put their lives in harm’s way to save you because you chose not to listen to a very simple warning and put your life at risk,” Sgt. Shane Tuell with Tulsa police told KTUL.
Tuell noted that even if “the water” or a “sinkhole doesn’t get you,” the water is unsanitary and could cause illness. “There are snakes that have been displaced and are not very happy,” Tuell added.
Meanwhile, according to a new annual report, 7.3 million homes at risk of hurricane storm surge on the US East Coast. Get prepared and be ready for this new burst of extreme weather.

U.S. Has Officially Changed Maps To Show Golan Heights As Israeli

US Confirms It Updated Maps To Show Disputed Golan Heights As Israeli

After Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday showed off a map of Israel he received from the White House signed by President Trump, the State Department has confirmed it has officially changed its maps to show the disputed Golan Heights as Israeli territory.
The Netanyahu photo immediately generated controversy, given the US president had written the word "Nice" beside an arrow pointing to the Golan, which appeared as part of Israel. The prime minister boasted this was one of the early "updated" versions which the president had autographed. 

Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner gifted him the map while touring the region ahead of a US-sponsored economic peace summit set to be held in Bahrain in late June, during which Trump's so-called "Deal of the Century" plan will be unveiled, designed to achieve economic stability for the Palestinians as part of a peace plan. 
The Palestinians under President Mahmoud Abbas have declared their intent to boycott the summit, saying they weren't even consulted and don't agree with what's on the agenda. And crucially, China and Russia will also stay away in solidarity with the Palestinian side, but also presumably to flex their muscles in the Middle East. 
“I know we have for sure... we updated the maps,” a State Department spokesperson said later in the day when pressed on if the US has formally changed the maps.
The White House bestowed US formal recognition on the disputed Syrian-claimed Golan as Israeli territory in late March days after Trump issued a single bombshell tweet which announced "it is time" for the US to "fully recognize Israel's sovereignty" over the Golan Heights. 

Israel fully annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 after capturing it from Syria during the Six-Day War of 1967. The United Nations has never recognized Israeli annexation and settlement there, but has repeatedly condemned it — all of which has resulted in a Syria-Israel state of war ever since. 

Persecution In China

WSJ Op-Ed: China Stepping Up Christian Repression

China has tightened its grip on Christians, where two-thirds of an estimated 100 million practice their faith in secret, according to an op-ed published by The Wall Street Journal.
Hudson Institute fellow Nina Shea and pastor Bob Fu, founder of the Christian human rights nonprofit ChinaAid, wrote the article, which notes that Chinese “President Xi Jinping last year began enforcing religious regulations to rein in church growth and bend Christian belief to party dictates,” by handing control of churches to the Communist Party, which is officially atheistic.
“Some urban underground megachurches were shut down. Thousands of congregants were arrested and several prominent Protestant pastors received lengthy prison sentences. Earlier this month, the regime launched a nationwide campaign to eradicate unregistered churches.”
The authors note that Xi’s policy, which he calls “sinicization,” is intended to turn religions into “instruments of the Party,” according to the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions. ChinaAid confirmed this plan when the Chinese government accidentally released internal documents that showed its intent to “contain the overheated growth of Christianity.”
Thousands of Protestant churches were forced to close in Henan province last year despite most having been registered with the state. In that year, over one million Christians faced threats or prosecution, while 5,000 were arrested, including a pastor who is serving seven years to “organizing illegal border crossings” to bring aid to the nearby country of Myanmar.

Ebola Concerns At U.S. Border

Breaking: EBOLA CONCERNS in Texas after Illegals from Congo Cross Border into US

by Jim Hoft

According to sources in Texas US Border Patrol Agents have apprehended illegal aliens crossing into the US from Congo.

There currently is a deadly Ebola outbreak in Congo.

** Travelers to this area could be infected with Ebola if they come into contact with an infected person’s blood or other body fluids.
** Travelers should seek medical care immediately if they develop fever, headache, body aches, sore throat, diarrhea, weakness, vomiting, stomach pain, rash, or red eyes during or after travel.

The UN was urged earlier this week to ramp up Ebola prevention work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the highest level of emergency response.
Brian Kolfage told The Gateway Pundit that the “We Build the Wall” organization was told of these developments earlier this week during their construction project near El Paso.

Facebook Lawyer: Users Have 'No Expectation Of Privacy'

Facebook Lawyer Says Users ‘Have No Expectation Of Privacy’

Mikael Thalen

A lawyer for Facebook argued in court Wednesday that the social media site’s users “have no expectation of privacy.”
According to Law360, Facebook attorney Orin Snyder made the comment while defending the company against a class-action lawsuit over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
“There is no invasion of privacy at all, because there is no privacy,” Snyder said.
In an attempt to have the lawsuit thrown out, Snyder further claimed that Facebook was nothing more than a “digital town square” where users voluntarily give up their private information.
“You have to closely guard something to have a reasonable expectation of privacy,” Snyder added.
Although Snyder said that the social media site would be focusing more on privacy in the future, U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria reportedly pushed back on Facebook’s argument.
“What you are saying now sounds contrary to the message that Facebook itself disseminates about privacy,” Chhabria said, according to
The Daily Dot reached out to Facebook for comment but did not receive a reply.
Synder’s statement came just hours before Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told company shareholders during their annual meeting Thursday that Facebook would become a “privacy-focused social platform.”
The meeting, held at Hotel Nia in Palo Alto, California, was also met with protest by civil liberties groups calling for the CEO’s firing.
A proposal at the meeting to have Zuckerberg step down as CEO was voted down, however, given that the Facebook co-founder currently controls the majority of voting shares.

    Iran: 'Any War On Iran And Whole Region Will Erupt'

    Hezbollah chief warns US that war against Iran would engulf region

    The head of Hezbollah warned on Friday that if there was war against Iran the whole Middle East region would “erupt,” amid escalating US-Iranian tensions.
    US President Donald Trump, “his administration, and his intelligence know well that any war on Iran will not remain confined to Iran’s borders,” Hassan Nasrallah said.
    “Any war on Iran will mean the whole region will erupt,” said the head of the Iran-backed terrorist group in a televised speech.

    “And any American forces and American interests will be permissible” as a target, he said.
    Hezbollah is listed as a terrorist group by the United States.

    Nasrallah on Friday also slammed a proposed US peace deal to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that Trump has dubbed “the deal of the century.”
    “It’s a void deal… a historic crime,” he said of the plan, that has already been rejected by the Palestinians.
    “This deal is a loss of Palestinian, Arab, and Islamic rights,” Nasrallah said.
    Thousands of Iranians joined annual rallies in support of the Palestinians on Friday, also rejecting the US peace plan.
    Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has been drafting the long-awaited peace plan, the economic aspects of which are to be presented at a conference in Bahrain next month.
    The United Nations earlier on Friday said it would not be taking part in that meeting on June 25 and 26 in Manama.
    In December 2017, US President Donald Trump broke with decades of bipartisan policy to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in a move that prompted the Palestinians to cut all contacts with his administration.
    Israel insists the whole of Jerusalem is its “eternal, indivisible capital”. The Palestinians demand the city’s eastern sector as the capital of their long promised state.

    French Secret Service Threatening Journalists Who Expose Wrongdoing

    Macron's Security Service Threatens French Journalists With Prison And Fines

    France has been turning up the heat on journalists who expose government wrongdoing, according to AFP
    The latest, Le Monde journalist Ariane Chemin, said was questioned by French security services for 45 minutes after she refused to reveal her sources for a report exposing alleged corruption and cronyism within President Emmanuel Macron's inner circle. 
    "They asked me many questions on the manner in which I checked my information, which was an indirect way of asking me about my sources," said Chemin - who wrote a series of articles on Macron's former bodyguard Alexandre Benalla, who was fired after video emerged of Benalla roughing up a protester. The incident, and Chemin's ongoing reporting, resulted in a spate of resignations by government officials.

    According to AFPLe Monde's managing director, Louis Dreyfus, was also questioned by the General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI) on Wednesday. "Everything is done to make it intimidating," Dreyfus wrote in an editorial describing his own DGSI interrogation. 
    "I explained that I never read the articles before they were published, and that I was not meant to do so. And they kept telling me that the offense was punishable by five years in prison and a fine of €75,000.
    In total, the French secret service has summoned eight reporters who have published negative stories on the government, including French arms being sold to Saudi Arabia and the UAE used in Yemen's civil war. Aside from Chemin, the others involved are Geoffrey LivolsiMathias Destal and Michel Despratx of the investigative news site Disclose; France Inter’s Benoît Collombat; and Valentine Oberti of the TV news show Quotidien along with a Quotidien cameraman and a Quotidien sound technician, according to Reporters Without Borders
    DGSI interrogated the Disclose journalists earlier this month - threatening them with five-year prison sentences under a 2009 law prohibiting "attacks on national defense secrets" over the publication of a classified document suggesting that the French government was willingly violating a 2014 arms treaty. 
    "We fear that the authorities are using these summonses in an attempt to intimidate the journalists and their news organizations and to identify their sources so as to punish them or deter them," said RSH secretary-general Christophe Deloire. 
    "Investigative journalism is now in danger in France because it is under attack and, in particular, it is threatened with legal proceedings. If the confidentiality of journalists’ sources is not guaranteed in a country, if it is undermined by such actions as these, its citizens will be deprived of their right to non-official information. We call on the government to explain the domestic intelligence agency’s apparent attempts to intimidate the media."
    In response to the investigations, the SNJ-CGT union called for a demonstration outside of the DGSI headquarters Wednesday "in support of those journalists summoned by the French state in violation of the law on press freedom." 

    Not a threat?

    French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet told the French Senate on Wednesday that the summons should "in no way be seen as an attempt at intimidation or a threat," and that the summons of Chemin was simply part of a preliminary inquiry following a complaint by a special forces member whose identity was revealed by the paper. 
    Senior journalists from 37 French media outlets, including Agence France-Presse, Le Figaro daily, France 2 TV and Mediapart, signed a statement supporting the journalists who were questioned over the Yemen controversy, saying they were "just doing their jobs". -AFP
    Disclose, meanwhile, has pressed ahead with its Yemen reporting, claiming that a shipment of munitions for French Caesar cannons would be loaded onto a Saudi ship through a Mediterranean port
    Last year, France passed a law allowing the government to shut down any news agency for four months before an election if it could be deemed "under foreign influence."

    Un Expert: Assange Showing Symptoms Of 'Intense Psychological Trauma'

    UN Torture Expert: Assange Showing Symptoms Of "Intense Psychological Trauma"

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is suffering from "intense psychological trauma" in a British prison and should not be extradited to the United Sates to face a "politicized show trial," according to a UN human rights investigator. 

    UN torture expert Nils Melzer visited Assange in a high-security London prison on May 9 along with two medical experts, only to find the journalist under severe stress, agitated, and unable to cope with his complex legal case amid chronic anxiety, according to Reuters
    "Our finding was that Mr. Assange shows all the symptoms of a person who has been exposed to psychological torture for a prolonged period of time. The psychiatrist who accompanied my mission said that his state of health was critical," he told Reuters in an interview in Geneva, adding "But my understanding is that he has now been hospitalized and that he is not able to stand trial." 
    Melzer's comments come after Assange's attorney said he was unwell when he failed to show up for a London court hearing Thursday regarding his extradition battle. The 47-year-old is currently serving a 50-week sentence in the UK's Belmarsh jail for skipping bail. According to WikiLeaks he has been moved to the prison's health ward. 
    "Mr. Assange has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture," said Melzer. 
    Melzer, a Swiss law professor, did not say which judges or senior politicians had been defaming Assange, but that "dozens if not hundreds of individuals” had expressed themselves inappropriately."
    "Here we are not speaking of prosecution but of persecution. That means that judicial power, institutions and proceedings are being deliberately abused for ulterior motives," he added. 
    British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt, in a tweet posted within minutes of Melzer’s statement, said: “This is wrong. Assange chose to hide in the embassy and was always free to leave and face justice.
    “The UN Special Rapporteur should allow British courts to make their judgments without his interference or inflammatory accusations,” he said. -Reuters
    Assange was charged by the United States last week with 18 new counts related to conspiring to obtain and disclose classified information, endangering national security. He has been accused of unlawfully publishing the names of classified sources, and conspiring and with ex-Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to obtain the classified information. He faces decades in prison if convicted. 
    "I am seriously, gravely concerned that if this man were to be extradited to the United States, he would be exposed to a politicized show trial and grave violations of his human rights," said Melzer, adding "The main narrative in this affair really is the United States wanting to make an example of Mr. Assange in order to deter other people from following his example." 
    Melzer also said that he didn't expect Assange to be tortured using traditional methods
    "I would much more expect him to be subjected to prolonged solitary confinement, to very harsh detention conditions and to a psychological environment which would break him eventually."

    Islamic Jihad: Can Fire 1,000 Rockets A Day At Israel, Hamas Leader Thanks Iran For Long-Range Rockets

    Islamic Jihad chief says Gaza groups can fire 1,000 rockets a day at Israel

    The head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza warned Friday that terror groups in the Strip have the ability to fire 1,000 rockets a day into Israel for a month and even have some missiles that can carry a half-ton explosive warhead.
    Speaking in an interview with the Lebanese Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television station, Ziad Nakhaleh said that his group and Hamas were improving their capabilities on a daily basis, giving the large warheads as an example.
    “In the last round of fighting we restrained ourselves and only fired 700 rockets into Israel over two days,” Nakhaleh said, adding that they also held back from targeting some cities deep in Israel.

    “In the next round of fighting, we will not only fire at Tel Aviv, but at all the cities, whatever may happen,” he said, claiming they could sustain a rate of fire of 1,000 rockets per day for a full month.

    A tense calm has prevailed since the weekend of violence at the beginning of the month, during which Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired nearly 700 rockets at Israel.
    A ceasefire deal was brokered as Israel sought to end the fighting before its Independence Day celebrations and the hosting of the Eurovision song contest.
    Since then Israel has sought to ease or impose restrictions depending on the level of violence emanating from the Strip, particularly arson balloons.
    Israel announced Wednesday it had tightened restrictions on Palestinian fishing off the Strip after more balloons fitted with firebombs were floated from the enclave into its territory.
    The zone it allows Gaza fishermen was reduced to a maximum of 10 nautical miles from 15, COGAT, the Israeli Defence Ministry unit that oversees such regulations, said. The move came just days after Israel restored the fishing limit to the 15 nautical mile maximum after a previous cut in response to fire balloons last week.
    Three fires were started Friday by the incendiary devices, including a blaze in the Be’eri Forest near the Gaza border. Fire fighters were working to get it under control.
    Since last March, incendiary balloons have caused fires that destroyed thousands of acres of farmland and nature reserves in southern Israel, in particular in the areas bordering Gaza.
    The balloons were launched during the weekly Friday protests and riots along the Gaza border.
    Some 7,000 Palestinians gathered along the border in five places Friday, with some rioting and throwing rocks and explosive devices at Israeli troops who responded with tear gas and occasional live fire.
    The Hamas-run Gaza health  ministry said 11 people were wounded.

    Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar on Thursday thanked Iran for providing his terror group the rockets it used to strike deep into Israel and warned the Jewish state that Tel Aviv would be struck again in response to any offensive against the Gaza Strip.
    “Iran provided us with rockets, and we surprised the world when our resistance targeted Beersheba,” Sinwar said in a live TV address, referring to the weekend of violence at the beginning of the month, during which Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired nearly 700 rockets at Israel.
    “Had it not been for Iran, the resistance in Palestine would not have possessed its current capabilities,” Sinwar said.

    The Hamas leader then went on to warn that if Israel “resumes its aggression,” his group would strike Tel Aviv and other cities with twice as many rockets.
    Israel has long charged Iran with trying to arm Palestinian terror groups in Gaza and maintains a blockade of the Strip to try and stop the import of sophisticated weapons systems.
    Iran has also supplied tens of thousands of rockets to the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.
    Sinwar also blasted the Trump administration’s not-yet released Mideast peace plan, saying Washington’s proposal is bound to fail. “The conflict will not be over until the occupation is removed from all of our land.”
    He criticized Bahrain for hosting the rollout of the economic stage of Washington’s plan in June and called on citizens of the kingdom to protest against their government.
    Separately, the Israel Fire and Rescue Services reported that an incendiary balloon launched from Gaza sparked a fire in an open field near the border with the coastal enclave.
    This was the 45th such fire in May, which has seen ceasefire of rockets since May 6, but a near daily onslaught of incendiary objects flown from the Strip toward Israel, burning dozens of acres of land.
    Israel announced Saturday night that, as of Sunday, the fishing zone off the coast of the Gaza Strip will be expanded to 15 nautical miles (27.8 kilometers), four days after it was reduced to 10 nautical miles (18.5 kilometers) amid a rash of incendiary balloon attacks from the coastal Palestinian territory.

    Since last March, incendiary balloons have caused fires that destroyed thousands of acres of farmland and nature reserves in southern Israel, in particular in the areas bordering Gaza.
    Recent weeks have seen tensions in the Strip soar, following a massive two-day escalation of violence earlier this month between Israel and terror groups in the Palestinian enclave.

    China And Russia Rapidly Expanding Nuclear Forces

    DIA: China Doubling Nuclear Warhead Arsenal

    China is rapidly expanding its nuclear forces with new missiles, submarines, and bombers and will double its warhead stockpile in the coming decade, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency said this week.
    DIA director Army Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley also said in a speech Wednesday that Russia is building large numbers of tactical nuclear weapons in addition to new strategic weapons, including an earth-penetrating nuclear warhead similar to a weapon canceled by the United States years ago under pressure from anti-nuclear activists in Congress.

    On China's nuclear forces, Ashley stated: "Over the next decade, China is likely to at least double the size of its nuclear stockpile in the course of implementing the most rapid expansion and diversification of its nuclear arsenal in China's history."
    The three-star general noted that last year alone China conducted more ballistic missile tests in developing and training than those carried out by the rest of the world combined.
    "We expect this modernization to continue, and this trajectory is consistent with Chinese president Xi's vision for China's military, which he laid out at the 19th Party Congress and stated that China's military will be ‘fully transformed into a first tier force' by 2050," Ashely said in a speech to a Washington think tank.
    China's warhead totals are not fully known as a result of military secrecy, but Ashley said the estimate is that the current arsenal includes "low, couple hundred" warheads.
    Other estimates have put the number of warheads hidden in underground bunkers to be from several hundred to as many as a thousand.
    China's nuclear forces are shrouded in secrecy and include a network of nuclear storage and production facilities dubbed the Great Underground Wall that is estimated to be some 3,000 miles long.
    The DIA director also stated, in a setback for arms control advocates who have pushed for U.S. ratification of a nuclear test ban treaty, that intelligence indicates both China and Russia have facilities and have conducted small nuclear tests in apparent violation of a commitment to zero nuclear tests under the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, or CTBT.
    Asked if Chinese nuclear modernization is not in compliance with CTBT curbs, Ashley said: "That's our belief in terms of what we're seeing with the testing regime."
    China's military is attempting to rapidly advance its nuclear forces, which in the past were limited. The first Chinese mobile intercontinental-range missile was deployed around 2000, he said.
    "So part of that rapid growth is because the capability did not exist in the kind of capacity that Russia or the U.S. has had in the past," Ashely said. "So that has been a significant investment that they've made in terms of them catching up [with] capacity over the course of the last 15 years."
    China's new strategic arms include a new road-mobile ICBM, a new multi-warhead variant of its silo-based ICBMs, and new submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
    The Chinese also are building a new strategic bomber that will give Beijing its first triad of weapons—land-based, sea-based, and bomber-delivered strike weapons.
    Ashley said the buildup shows "China's commitment to expanding the role and centrality of nuclear forces in Beijing's military aspirations."
    Its forces also include nuclear-tipped short-range precision strike weapons similar to those being developed by the Russians.
    "While China's overall arsenal is assessed to be much smaller than Russia's, that does not make this trend any less concerning," Ashley said.
    China has announced it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict and also would not use nuclear arms against non-nuclear states.
    China is also increasing the reliance in their strategy on using nuclear weapons.
    "And it's not just in the nuclear," he said. "If you look at all the domains, what they have done in terms of modernizing the military across aviation, and a big area not the subject of this topic is really the space/counterpace aspect of how the Chinese are approaching warfighting from every domain. But there is a significant investment in their nuclear forces."
    Of their main nuclear testing facility, known as Lop Nur, in western China, Ashley revealed the Chinese are preparing to operate the site year round—an indication of "China's growing goals for its nuclear forces."

    Moscow is currently developing several new types of nuclear warheads and delivery systems that are 70 percent completed.
    "Russia's development of new warhead designs and overall stockpile management efforts have been enhanced by its approach to nuclear testing," Ashely said. "The United States believes that Russia probably is not adhering to its nuclear testing moratorium in a manner consistent with the ‘zero-yield' standard."
    The Senate rejected ratifying the CTBT in October 1999 over concerns its anti-testing provisions could not be verified and concerns about cheating. The treaty ratification battle was led by then-Sen. Joseph Biden who later became vice president in the Obama administration and is leading Democratic candidates in the 2020 presidential race.
    "After working together for decades to achieve real nuclear reductions, Russia is upgrading the capacity of its nuclear forces," Ashley said. "We assess its overall nuclear stockpile is likely to grow significantly over the next decade."
    A major worry is the large increases in smaller or non-strategic nuclear warheads that can be fired from ships, aircraft, and ground forces designed, Ashley said, to deter and defeat either the NATO alliance or China in a conflict.
    "Russia's stockpile of non-strategic nuclear weapons—already large and diverse—is being modernized with an eye towards greater accuracy, longer ranges, and lower yields to suit their potential warfighting role," he said.
    Dozens of small nuclear weapons systems have been deployed or are in development including short- and close-range ballistic missiles, ground-launched cruise missiles, including the 9M729 missile, which violates the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces or INF Treaty. Russian small nuclear forces also are being prepared for firing from antiship and antisubmarine missiles, torpedoes, and depth charges. The total Russian small warhead stockpile is around 2,000 weapons.
    By comparison, the United States has deployed a single non-strategic nuclear weapon, the B-61 gravity bomb.

    "In addition to the anticipated growth in non-strategic nuclear weapons, Russia claims to be developing new warhead designs for strategic systems, such as new high-yield and earth-penetrating warheads to attack hardened military targets like U.S., allied, and Chinese command and control facilities," Ashley said.
    U.S. plans for an earth-penetrating nuclear weapon needed to penetrate deep underground targets like those used by the militaries in China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran, were scrapped in 2005 after anti-nuclear activists pressed Congress to cut off funding for the weapon.
    As a result, U.S. military forces lack weapons needed for deterrence against deep hardened underground targets.
    Ashely said Russia's nuclear forces are being greatly enhanced by the modernization of the past several years. The new weapons include multiple warhead SS-27s that provide Moscow with the ability to upload or increase the number of warheads in a time of crisis. A new Sarmat ICBM will carry more than 10 warheads on each missile and will be capable of launching a new hypersonic strike vehicle called the Avanguard.
    New strategic weapons unveiled by Russian president Vladimir Putin in March 2018 include the Kanyon, a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed intercontinental-range cruise missile, and an air-launched ballistic missile.
    Additionally, Russia is modernizing an automated nuclear command and control launch system called Perimeter. The Cold War-era system was also known as the "Dead Hand" system that is capable of launching an all-out nuclear strike without human intervention in the event Russian leaders were killed in a nuclear first-strike.

    Ashley said by ignoring the zero-yield limit, the Russians will be able to upgrade their warheads with modern weapons designs.
    A reporter for Reuters asked Ashley if China and Russia were building up their nuclear forces as a result of what the reporter termed a "massive" U.S. modernization.
    The DIA chief said both China and Russia regard the United States as a competitor and are working on developing nuclear deterrence against U.S. or allied forces.
    "So I think it's a natural evolution that they have those capabilities that they shore up their defenses and it's not just on the nuclear side of the house," he said. "It's maritime, it's space/counterspace. Really it's a whole modernization across multiple domains."