• Dropify AI Review | Activate Your 5-Step Dropshipping System Now

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    San Francisco, a city that prides itself on leading technological and environmental frontiers, is now embracing a silent yet powerful revolution: the rise of Building Automation Systems (BAS). These systems, integral to the modern built environment, are redefining energy efficiency and operational functionality within the city’s diverse architectural landscape. Click here to read more: https://vertenergygroup.com/the-role-of-building-automation-systems-in-san-franciscos-energy-future/
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  • When Israel Bombed AP’s Gaza Office

    All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the Translate Website button below the author’s name (only available in desktop version).

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    ***

    Wednesday was Nakba Day—the day commemorating the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians with the creation of Israel, in 1948—but there was another anniversary worth remembering. The day a foreign country bombed the offices of a major U.S. press outlet, accusing it, without evidence, of harboring terrorists. And a significant portion of the US media spun the story to support the foreign country.

    On May 15, 2021, as part of its “Operation Guardian of the Walls” military campaign in Gaza, Israel bombed the Associated Press offices’ building, based on the still evidence-free claim that the AP headquarters “housed Hamas”. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the week prior, IDF bombed two other office buildings that “housed more than a dozen international and local media outlets.”



    Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) gave the tenants of the al-Jalaa Building in Gaza—which included AP, other news agencies including Al-Jazeera, and residential homes—a stern warning. IDF informed them they had one hour to evacuate their homes before the building would be bombed by Israeli missiles. Sixty minutes and three Israeli missiles later, the 12-story building was leveled to the ground.

    The IDF posted a short vague statement that provided no evidence for their claim the building was being used by terrorists but made sure to repeat the term “Hamas terror organization” four times, in just four sentences—five times if you count “Hamas military intelligence” in the headline.



    The AP’s CEO at the time, Gary Pruitt, said the news agency had been in the building for 15 years and “we have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building.”

    So could Israel have been lying? Well, retired US Army colonel and former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Lawrence Wilkerson seems to think so.



    Let me let me preface these remarks with I never, never, ever believe Israeli figures. I’ve been in the government too long to know that the Israelis are patent liars in their intelligence community, in their propaganda community, certainly, and in their leadership. They are inveterate liars. Let me say that again. They are liars. So you can’t believe anything that comes out of Jerusalem. It’s all propaganda.

    The fact that Israel lied to the international press just one week prior about a fake ground invasion, to trick Hamas into giving up their positions, doesn’t help Israel’s case. On the contrary, it clearly shows that Israel puts military victory over truth, and has no respect for the press.



    Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus claimed that “Hamas used the building for a military intelligence office and weapons development” but “could not provide evidence” to back up the claims without “compromising” intelligence efforts.

    This “trust me I have the evidence” bullshit is reminiscent of the false narrative that fueled the 2003 Iraq War and the more recent Trump/Russia hoax. Such a pathetic cover story is enough to make most conservatives cringe but ultimately, many conservatives were tricked into celebrating anti-American terrorism—the bombing of civilian infrastructure that housed an American news outlet.

    A pro-Israel disinformation campaign, attempting to justify the bombing, began at the Washington Free Beacon before spreading across conservative media. The Republican-aligned Beacon has a history of lying and smear campaigns. It was founded by Bil Kristol, famous for helping the Bush admin lie America into the disastrous Iraq War. It went on to fund the Fusion GPS anti-Trump research that would later, under Democrat tutelage, hire Christopher Steele, a crucial source of the Trump/Russia investigation hoax, and more recently, the Beacon reported the Jewish girl “Stabbed in the Eye” hoax as fact.

    On the same day of the AP building bombing, the Beacon published an “exclusive” to defend IDF’s missile attack on the American press in Gaza. It cited two sources: (1) a Twitter post of Beacon contributor Noah Pollak, and (2) an old article published seven years prior in 2014 by Matti Friedman, a former AP reporter, and former IDF soldier.

    Pollack’s Twitter post cited an anonymous source he described as, “a well-placed friend in the IDF,” claiming that the AP office building “contained multiple Hamas operations & offices including weapons manufacturing and military intelligence,” adding that, “The building also housed an Islamic Jihad office. And AP’s local reporters knew about it.”



    “This info will come out soon,” he said.



    Yes, that’s right. He said, “This info will come out soon.” Over three years later now, “this info” supporting his claims still hasn’t come out.

    That alone is enough to completely discredit Pollak. But he’d already proven himself uncredible. He ran the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) (another “clown show” created by Kristol) which even the President of the Anti-Defanation League—not exactly an anti-Israel organization—called “misleading, distorted, inaccurate”. He was also caught leading an astroturfed pro-Israel counterprotest on a college campus. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?)

    Nevertheless, Pollak’s completely unsubstantiated claims were published immediately by the usual suspects—Fox News, Newsmax, New York Post, etc. The Republican party-aligned outlets also followed the Beacon’s lead, citing its second source, Friedman’s 2014 article.

    Like Pollak, Friedman also had a “well-placed friend” who “suggests there were indeed Hamas offices” in the AP building.




    Oh boy, another anonymous “friend”! Despite sounding so sure of his “intimately familiar with military decision-making” friend’s secret information, Friedman also wrote on Twitter that “Contrary to what I’ve seen attributed to me today, I didn’t write [in 2014] that Hamas operated out of the same building, and don’t know if that’s true”.




    The media citing Friedman typically omitted this. And I couldn’t help but notice that the media sharing his 2014 piece in The Atlantic accusing the AP of bias, and the piece itself failed to mention his own bias—his years of service in the IDF, and his “slightly rosier view of the IDF”, according to The Times of Israel.

    Now pause for just a moment to ponder how insane it is—even if all of Friedman’s disputed 2014 claims were true—to rely on an article written in 2014 by an IDF vet, who worked at AP in 2006-2011, to justify the IDF bombing Associated Press in 2021, for which the IDF itself provided no evidence to justify.

    This is the following 2014 excerpt that made the media rounds after the 2021 bombing:

    “The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby—and the AP wouldn’t report it, not even in AP articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas. (This happened.) Hamas fighters would burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff—and the AP wouldn’t report it. (This also happened.) Cameramen waiting outside Shifa Hospital in Gaza City would film the arrival of civilian casualties and then, at a signal from an official, turn off their cameras when wounded and dead fighters came in, helping Hamas maintain the illusion that only civilians were dying. (This too happened; the information comes from multiple sources with firsthand knowledge of these incidents.)”

    AP’s Director of Media Relations Paul Colford said Friedman’s story was “filled with distortions, half-truths and inaccuracies”, arguing that Israel challenged the AP with as many dangerous obstacles as Hamas and that AP covered both sides of the conflict.

    [Friedman’s] arguments have been filled with distortions, half-truths and inaccuracies…

    Like other media covering this story, we dealt with numerous obstacles, including Hamas intimidation, Israeli military censorship, anti-media incitement on both sides of the border, Hamas rocket fire and intense Israeli airstrikes that made it dangerous and difficult to get around Gaza during the fighting.

    Courageous AP staffers worked around the clock in Gaza, often at the risk of great personal harm. Intense Israeli airstrikes literally shook the high-rise building housing the AP’s office. Two AP employees were ultimately killed in Gaza, and a third critically wounded and maimed. Our body of work included images and stories about Hamas rocket fire from civilian areas, the suffering of the residents of southern Israel living under the threat of rocket, mortar and tunnel-based attacks, Hamas’ summary executions of suspected collaborators, the fears of Gazans to criticize the group, Hamas’ use of civilian areas for cover and the devastation wreaked on Gazan civilians by Israeli airstrikes and artillery attacks.

    Colford confirmed that armed militants entered AP’s offices in the early days of the 2008-2009 Gaza War to intimidate AP but said that AP did not give in to the intimidation.

    Regarding a few specific issues that Mr. Friedman has raised most recently:

    The AP published numerous photos and TV footage of rockets being launched from Gaza City. AP’s Josef Federman and Hamza Hendawi collaborated on an investigation into Hamas’ use of civilian areas for rocket launches, comparing maps obtained from Israeli military intelligence to facts on the ground.

    In the early days of the war, armed militants entered the AP’s offices in Gaza to complain about a photo showing the location of a specific rocket launch. The AP immediately contacted Hamas, which insisted the men did not represent the group. The photo was not withdrawn and the men were never heard from again. Subsequent videos similarly showed rocket launches from within the urban area. Such intimidation is common in trouble spots. The AP does not report many interactions with militias, armies, thugs or governments. These incidents are part of the challenge of getting out the news — and generally not themselves news.

    The Beacon’s “exclusive” was just the beginning. The “trust us we have secret evidence” disinformation campaign continued as the pro-Israel media eagerly forwarded another empty Israeli government claim, from a nameless “senior diplomatic source”, who told the Jerusalem Post of “smoking gun” evidence that Hamas was using the same Gaza building as AP.

    “We showed [the US] the smoking gun proving Hamas worked out of that building,” a senior diplomatic source said. “I understand they found the explanation satisfactory.”

    What evidence? Who exactly did they “show”? I guess we’ll never know!

    If there’s a satisfactory explanation for why IDF bombed an American news agency, you’d think Israel and the US might want to make that known. But they haven’t.

    Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu repeated the claim of secret “smoking gun” evidence on CBS’s Face the Nation, saying, “We share with our American friends all that intelligence”.

    Hmmm. Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken appear friendly…

    But no, Blinken said he “had not seen any evidence”.

    When asked the next day if he’d received any evidence, Blinken didn’t quite confirm receiving anything. He said, “Um…uh…it’s my understanding that uh, we’ve uh, uh received uh, some further information through, uh, uh intelligence channels.” The only thing he actually confirmed was that it’s “not something that [he] can comment on.”

    WAPO: Yesterday you said the US requested an explanation from Israel about its bombing of a high rise building containing U.S. and foreign media offices. Have you received anything? And what’s your assessment of that?

    BLINKEN: Um. We uh. Did uh. Seek uh. Further information from, uh, Israel on this question. Uh, it’s my understanding that uh, we’ve uh, uh received uh, some further information through, uh, uh intelligence channels. And that’s not something that, that I can comment on.



    Click here to watch the video

    The following month, in June 2021, Israel’s Channel 12 news reported that IDF Lieutenant-General Aviv Kohavi said that the AP’s journalists drank coffee with Hamas each morning in the building’s cafeteria, whether they knew it or not. The AP called the comments “patently false”, noting “there was not even a cafeteria in the building”. Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz told AP that the IDF General was speaking figuratively. However, Gantz, like all the Israeli officials before him, offered AP no evidence to support IDF’s bombing of the news agencies.

    Gantz said Israel has shared its intelligence with the U.S. government. But he indicated that Israel has no intention of making the information public, saying it did not want to divulge its sources.

    As usual, the propaganda was not limited to conservative media. The Democrat Party-aligned television network CNN platformed IDF Spokesperson, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. Asked, “Can you show us the evidence?” Cornicus replied, “That’s in process, and I’m sure that, in due time, that information will be presented.”

    It’s due time to come to grips with the reality that there is no evidence to justify the attack. Israel bombed an American news agency (with an American bomb), and the American government continues to cover for Israel and continues to fund continued death and destruction in Gaza.

    *

    Note to readers: Please click the share button above. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter and subscribe to our Telegram Channel. Feel free to repost and share widely Global Research articles.

    All images in this article are from the author
    When Israel Bombed AP’s Gaza Office All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the Translate Website button below the author’s name (only available in desktop version). To receive Global Research’s Daily Newsletter (selected articles), click here. Click the share button above to email/forward this article to your friends and colleagues. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter and subscribe to our Telegram Channel. Feel free to repost and share widely Global Research articles. Global Research Wants to Hear From You! *** Wednesday was Nakba Day—the day commemorating the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians with the creation of Israel, in 1948—but there was another anniversary worth remembering. The day a foreign country bombed the offices of a major U.S. press outlet, accusing it, without evidence, of harboring terrorists. And a significant portion of the US media spun the story to support the foreign country. On May 15, 2021, as part of its “Operation Guardian of the Walls” military campaign in Gaza, Israel bombed the Associated Press offices’ building, based on the still evidence-free claim that the AP headquarters “housed Hamas”. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the week prior, IDF bombed two other office buildings that “housed more than a dozen international and local media outlets.” Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) gave the tenants of the al-Jalaa Building in Gaza—which included AP, other news agencies including Al-Jazeera, and residential homes—a stern warning. IDF informed them they had one hour to evacuate their homes before the building would be bombed by Israeli missiles. Sixty minutes and three Israeli missiles later, the 12-story building was leveled to the ground. The IDF posted a short vague statement that provided no evidence for their claim the building was being used by terrorists but made sure to repeat the term “Hamas terror organization” four times, in just four sentences—five times if you count “Hamas military intelligence” in the headline. The AP’s CEO at the time, Gary Pruitt, said the news agency had been in the building for 15 years and “we have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building.” So could Israel have been lying? Well, retired US Army colonel and former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Lawrence Wilkerson seems to think so. Let me let me preface these remarks with I never, never, ever believe Israeli figures. I’ve been in the government too long to know that the Israelis are patent liars in their intelligence community, in their propaganda community, certainly, and in their leadership. They are inveterate liars. Let me say that again. They are liars. So you can’t believe anything that comes out of Jerusalem. It’s all propaganda. The fact that Israel lied to the international press just one week prior about a fake ground invasion, to trick Hamas into giving up their positions, doesn’t help Israel’s case. On the contrary, it clearly shows that Israel puts military victory over truth, and has no respect for the press. Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus claimed that “Hamas used the building for a military intelligence office and weapons development” but “could not provide evidence” to back up the claims without “compromising” intelligence efforts. This “trust me I have the evidence” bullshit is reminiscent of the false narrative that fueled the 2003 Iraq War and the more recent Trump/Russia hoax. Such a pathetic cover story is enough to make most conservatives cringe but ultimately, many conservatives were tricked into celebrating anti-American terrorism—the bombing of civilian infrastructure that housed an American news outlet. A pro-Israel disinformation campaign, attempting to justify the bombing, began at the Washington Free Beacon before spreading across conservative media. The Republican-aligned Beacon has a history of lying and smear campaigns. It was founded by Bil Kristol, famous for helping the Bush admin lie America into the disastrous Iraq War. It went on to fund the Fusion GPS anti-Trump research that would later, under Democrat tutelage, hire Christopher Steele, a crucial source of the Trump/Russia investigation hoax, and more recently, the Beacon reported the Jewish girl “Stabbed in the Eye” hoax as fact. On the same day of the AP building bombing, the Beacon published an “exclusive” to defend IDF’s missile attack on the American press in Gaza. It cited two sources: (1) a Twitter post of Beacon contributor Noah Pollak, and (2) an old article published seven years prior in 2014 by Matti Friedman, a former AP reporter, and former IDF soldier. Pollack’s Twitter post cited an anonymous source he described as, “a well-placed friend in the IDF,” claiming that the AP office building “contained multiple Hamas operations & offices including weapons manufacturing and military intelligence,” adding that, “The building also housed an Islamic Jihad office. And AP’s local reporters knew about it.” “This info will come out soon,” he said. Yes, that’s right. He said, “This info will come out soon.” Over three years later now, “this info” supporting his claims still hasn’t come out. That alone is enough to completely discredit Pollak. But he’d already proven himself uncredible. He ran the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) (another “clown show” created by Kristol) which even the President of the Anti-Defanation League—not exactly an anti-Israel organization—called “misleading, distorted, inaccurate”. He was also caught leading an astroturfed pro-Israel counterprotest on a college campus. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) Nevertheless, Pollak’s completely unsubstantiated claims were published immediately by the usual suspects—Fox News, Newsmax, New York Post, etc. The Republican party-aligned outlets also followed the Beacon’s lead, citing its second source, Friedman’s 2014 article. Like Pollak, Friedman also had a “well-placed friend” who “suggests there were indeed Hamas offices” in the AP building. Oh boy, another anonymous “friend”! Despite sounding so sure of his “intimately familiar with military decision-making” friend’s secret information, Friedman also wrote on Twitter that “Contrary to what I’ve seen attributed to me today, I didn’t write [in 2014] that Hamas operated out of the same building, and don’t know if that’s true”. The media citing Friedman typically omitted this. And I couldn’t help but notice that the media sharing his 2014 piece in The Atlantic accusing the AP of bias, and the piece itself failed to mention his own bias—his years of service in the IDF, and his “slightly rosier view of the IDF”, according to The Times of Israel. Now pause for just a moment to ponder how insane it is—even if all of Friedman’s disputed 2014 claims were true—to rely on an article written in 2014 by an IDF vet, who worked at AP in 2006-2011, to justify the IDF bombing Associated Press in 2021, for which the IDF itself provided no evidence to justify. This is the following 2014 excerpt that made the media rounds after the 2021 bombing: “The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby—and the AP wouldn’t report it, not even in AP articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas. (This happened.) Hamas fighters would burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff—and the AP wouldn’t report it. (This also happened.) Cameramen waiting outside Shifa Hospital in Gaza City would film the arrival of civilian casualties and then, at a signal from an official, turn off their cameras when wounded and dead fighters came in, helping Hamas maintain the illusion that only civilians were dying. (This too happened; the information comes from multiple sources with firsthand knowledge of these incidents.)” AP’s Director of Media Relations Paul Colford said Friedman’s story was “filled with distortions, half-truths and inaccuracies”, arguing that Israel challenged the AP with as many dangerous obstacles as Hamas and that AP covered both sides of the conflict. [Friedman’s] arguments have been filled with distortions, half-truths and inaccuracies… Like other media covering this story, we dealt with numerous obstacles, including Hamas intimidation, Israeli military censorship, anti-media incitement on both sides of the border, Hamas rocket fire and intense Israeli airstrikes that made it dangerous and difficult to get around Gaza during the fighting. Courageous AP staffers worked around the clock in Gaza, often at the risk of great personal harm. Intense Israeli airstrikes literally shook the high-rise building housing the AP’s office. Two AP employees were ultimately killed in Gaza, and a third critically wounded and maimed. Our body of work included images and stories about Hamas rocket fire from civilian areas, the suffering of the residents of southern Israel living under the threat of rocket, mortar and tunnel-based attacks, Hamas’ summary executions of suspected collaborators, the fears of Gazans to criticize the group, Hamas’ use of civilian areas for cover and the devastation wreaked on Gazan civilians by Israeli airstrikes and artillery attacks. Colford confirmed that armed militants entered AP’s offices in the early days of the 2008-2009 Gaza War to intimidate AP but said that AP did not give in to the intimidation. Regarding a few specific issues that Mr. Friedman has raised most recently: The AP published numerous photos and TV footage of rockets being launched from Gaza City. AP’s Josef Federman and Hamza Hendawi collaborated on an investigation into Hamas’ use of civilian areas for rocket launches, comparing maps obtained from Israeli military intelligence to facts on the ground. In the early days of the war, armed militants entered the AP’s offices in Gaza to complain about a photo showing the location of a specific rocket launch. The AP immediately contacted Hamas, which insisted the men did not represent the group. The photo was not withdrawn and the men were never heard from again. Subsequent videos similarly showed rocket launches from within the urban area. Such intimidation is common in trouble spots. The AP does not report many interactions with militias, armies, thugs or governments. These incidents are part of the challenge of getting out the news — and generally not themselves news. The Beacon’s “exclusive” was just the beginning. The “trust us we have secret evidence” disinformation campaign continued as the pro-Israel media eagerly forwarded another empty Israeli government claim, from a nameless “senior diplomatic source”, who told the Jerusalem Post of “smoking gun” evidence that Hamas was using the same Gaza building as AP. “We showed [the US] the smoking gun proving Hamas worked out of that building,” a senior diplomatic source said. “I understand they found the explanation satisfactory.” What evidence? Who exactly did they “show”? I guess we’ll never know! If there’s a satisfactory explanation for why IDF bombed an American news agency, you’d think Israel and the US might want to make that known. But they haven’t. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu repeated the claim of secret “smoking gun” evidence on CBS’s Face the Nation, saying, “We share with our American friends all that intelligence”. Hmmm. Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken appear friendly… But no, Blinken said he “had not seen any evidence”. When asked the next day if he’d received any evidence, Blinken didn’t quite confirm receiving anything. He said, “Um…uh…it’s my understanding that uh, we’ve uh, uh received uh, some further information through, uh, uh intelligence channels.” The only thing he actually confirmed was that it’s “not something that [he] can comment on.” WAPO: Yesterday you said the US requested an explanation from Israel about its bombing of a high rise building containing U.S. and foreign media offices. Have you received anything? And what’s your assessment of that? BLINKEN: Um. We uh. Did uh. Seek uh. Further information from, uh, Israel on this question. Uh, it’s my understanding that uh, we’ve uh, uh received uh, some further information through, uh, uh intelligence channels. And that’s not something that, that I can comment on. Click here to watch the video The following month, in June 2021, Israel’s Channel 12 news reported that IDF Lieutenant-General Aviv Kohavi said that the AP’s journalists drank coffee with Hamas each morning in the building’s cafeteria, whether they knew it or not. The AP called the comments “patently false”, noting “there was not even a cafeteria in the building”. Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz told AP that the IDF General was speaking figuratively. However, Gantz, like all the Israeli officials before him, offered AP no evidence to support IDF’s bombing of the news agencies. Gantz said Israel has shared its intelligence with the U.S. government. But he indicated that Israel has no intention of making the information public, saying it did not want to divulge its sources. As usual, the propaganda was not limited to conservative media. The Democrat Party-aligned television network CNN platformed IDF Spokesperson, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. Asked, “Can you show us the evidence?” Cornicus replied, “That’s in process, and I’m sure that, in due time, that information will be presented.” It’s due time to come to grips with the reality that there is no evidence to justify the attack. Israel bombed an American news agency (with an American bomb), and the American government continues to cover for Israel and continues to fund continued death and destruction in Gaza. * Note to readers: Please click the share button above. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter and subscribe to our Telegram Channel. Feel free to repost and share widely Global Research articles. All images in this article are from the author
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  • Israeli fighter jets struck the Iranian embassy/consulate in the heart of Damascus, Syria, assassinating an IRGC commander, and flattening the building to the ground.

    Iran has promised a swift and strong response.
    There have been several assassinations of since Oct 7.

    Israel is baiting Hezbollah to engage.
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  • Pre-emptive Nuclear War: The Role of Israel in Triggering an Attack on Iran
    Chapter III of "The Globalization of War" by Michel Chossudovsky


    Firmly All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the Translate Website button below the author’s name.

    To receive Global Research’s Daily Newsletter (selected articles), click here.

    Click the share button above to email/forward this article to your friends and colleagues. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter and subscribe to our Telegram Channel. Feel free to repost and share widely Global Research articles.

    Author’s Introduction and Update

    In a recent article entitled “A Planned US-Israeli Attack on Iran is Contemplated” I focussed on how Israel’s criminal attack on the People of Palestine could evolve towards an extended Middle East War.

    At the time of writing, US-NATO war ships –including two aircraft carriers, combat planes, not to mention a nuclear submarine– are deployed in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Red Sea, all of which are intended to confront what both Western politicians and the media casually describe as “Palestine’s Aggression against the Jewish State”.

    “Israel ranks” as “the 4th strongest military” after Russia, the U.S and China. Ask yourself: Why on earth would Israel need the support of U.S. aircraft carriers to lead a genocide against the Palestinians who are fighting for their lives with limited military capabilities.

    Is the U.S. intent upon triggering a broader war?

    “U.S. Warns Hezbollah, Iran. It Will intervene if they Escalate”

    Who is “Escalating”? The Pentagon has already intimated that it will attack Iran and Lebanon, “If they Escalate”. Is the Pentagon Seeking to Trigger one or more “False Flags”?



    Times of Israel, November 9, 2023

    Also of significance (less than 4 months prior to October 7, 2023) is the adoption on June 27, 2023 of the US Congress Resolution (H. RES. 559) which Accuses Iran of Possessing Nuclear Weapons. H.RES 559 allows the use of force against Iran, intimating that Iran has Nuclear Weapons.

    Whereas Iran is tagged (without a shred of evidence) as a Nuclear Power by the U.S. Congress, Washington fails to acknowledge that Israel is an undeclared nuclear power.





    The article below was first published in my book entitled “The Globalization of War. America’s Long War against Humanity” (2015).

    I remain indebted to the former Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who took the initiative of launching my book in Kuala Lumpur. (image right).

    Firmly committed to “the criminalization of war”, Tun Mahathir is a powerful voice in support of Palestine.

    The article below (Chapter III of “Globalization of War”) provides analysis in a historical perspective of U.S. war plans directed against Iran.

    Numerous “war theater scenarios” for an all-out attack on Iran have been contemplated.

    Dangerous Crossroads in our History

    The current and ongoing US-NATO military deployment in The Middle East — casually presented by the media as a means to coming to the rescue of Israel– is the pinnacle of U.S. war preparations extending over a period of more than 20 years.

    Contemplated by the Pentagon in 2005 was a scenario whereby an attack by Israel would be conducted on behalf of Washington:

    “An attack by Israel could, however, be used as “the trigger mechanism” which would unleash an all-out war against Iran, as well as retaliation by Iran directed against Israel.” (quoted from text below)

    At the outset of Bush’s second term

    “Vice President Dick Cheney had hinted, in no uncertain terms, that Iran was “right at the top of the list” of the “rogue enemies” of America, and that Israel would, so to speak, “be doing the bombing for us” (Ibid)

    The article also focusses on the dangers of a US-Israel nuclear attack against Iran which has been contemplated by the Pentagon since 2004.

    The US Israel “Partnership”: “Signed” Military Agreement

    Amply documented, the U.S. Military and Intelligence apparatus is firmly behind Israel’s genocide. In the words of Lt General Richard Clark:

    Americans Troops are “prepared to die for the Jewish State”.

    What should be understood by this statement is that the US and Israel have a longstanding Military “Partnership” as well as (Jerusalem Post) a “Signed” Military Agreement (classified) regarding Israel’s attack on Gaza.

    Lt. General Richard Clark is U.S. Third Air Force Commander, among the highest-ranking military officers in the U.S. Armed Forces. While he refers to Juniper Cobra, “a joint military exercise that has been conducted for almost a decade”, his statement points to a much broader “signed” military-intelligence agreement (classified) with Israel which no doubt includes the extension of the Israeli-US bombing of Gaza to the broader Middle East.

    While this so-called “signed” military agreement remains classified (not in the public domain), it would appear that Biden is obeying the orders of the perpetrators of this diabolical military agenda.

    Does President Biden have the authority (under this “Signed” Agreement with Israel) to save the lives of innocent civilians including the children of Palestine:

    Q (Inaudible) Gaza ceasefire, Mr. President?

    THE PRESIDENT: Pardon me?

    Q What are the chances of a Gaza ceasefire?

    THE PRESIDENT: None. No possibility.

    White House Press Conference, November 9, 2023

    Lt. General Clark confirms that:

    “U.S. troops could be put under Israeli commanders in the battlefield”, which suggests that the genocide is implemented by Netanyahu on behalf of the United States.

    Everything indicates that the US military and intelligence apparatus are behind Israel’s criminal bombing and invasion of Gaza.

    We stand firmly in Solidarity with Palestine and the People of the Middle East.

    It is my intent and sincere hope that my writings (including the text below) will contribute to “Revealing the Truth” as well “Reversing the Tide of Global Warfare”.

    Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, November 17, 2023, March 10, 2024

    Pre-emptive Nuclear War:

    The Role of Israel in Triggering an Attack on Iran

    by

    Michel Chossudovsky



    Introduction

    While one can conceptualize the loss of life and destruction resulting from present-day wars including Iraq and Afghanistan, it is impossible to fully comprehend the devastation which might result from a Third World War, using “new technologies” and advanced weapons, until it occurs and becomes a reality.

    The international community has endorsed nuclear war in the name of world peace. “Making the world safer” is the justification for launching a military operation which could potentially result in a nuclear holocaust.”

    The stockpiling and deployment of advanced weapons systems directed against Iran started in the immediate wake of the 2003 bombing and invasion of Iraq. From the outset, these war plans were led by the U.S. in liaison with NATO and Israel.

    Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration identified Iran and Syria as the next stage of “the road map to war”. U.S. military sources intimated at the time that an aerial attack on Iran could involve a large scale deployment comparable to the U.S. “shock and awe” bombing raids on Iraq in March 2003:

    American air strikes on Iran would vastly exceed the scope of the 1981 Israeli attack on the Osiraq nuclear center in Iraq, and would more resemble the opening days of the 2003 air campaign against Iraq.1

    “Theater Iran Near Term” (TIRANNT)

    Code named by U.S. military planners as TIRANNT, “Theater Iran Near Term”, simulations of an attack on Iran were initiated in May 2003 “when modelers and intelligence specialists pulled together the data needed for theater-level (meaning large-scale) scenario analysis for Iran.”2

    The scenarios identified several thousand targets inside Iran as part of a “Shock and Awe” Blitzkrieg:

    The analysis, called TIRANNT, for “Theater Iran Near Term,” was coupled with a mock scenario for a Marine Corps invasion and a simulation of the Iranian missile force. U.S. and British planners conducted a Caspian Sea war game around the same time. And Bush directed the U.S. Strategic Command to draw up a global strike war plan for an attack against Iranian weapons of mass destruction. All of this will ultimately feed into a new war plan for “major combat operations” against Iran that military sources confirm now [April 2006] exists in draft form.

    … Under TIRANNT, Army and U.S. Central Command planners have been examining both near-term and out-year scenarios for war with Iran, including all aspects of a major combat operation, from mobilization and deployment of forces through postwar stability operations after regime change.3

    Different “theater scenarios” for an all-out attack on Iran had been contemplated:

    The U.S. army, navy, air force and marines have all prepared battle plans and spent four years building bases and training for “Operation Iranian Freedom”. Admiral Fallon, the new head of U.S. Central Command, has inherited computerized plans under the name TIRANNT (Theatre Iran Near Term).4

    In 2004, drawing upon the initial war scenarios under TIRANNT, Vice President Dick Cheney instructed U.S. Strategic Command (U.S.STRATCOM) to draw up a “contingency plan” of a large scale military operation directed against Iran “to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States” on the presumption that the government in Tehran would be behind the terrorist plot. The plan included the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state:

    The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than four hundred fifty major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program develop- ment sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of ter- rorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing –that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack– but no one is prepared to dam- age his career by posing any objections.5

    The Military Road Map: “First Iraq, then Iran”

    The decision to target Iran under TIRANNT was part of the broader process of military planning and sequencing of military operations. Already under the Clinton administration (1995), U.S. Central Command (U.S.CENTCOM) had formulated “in war theater plans” to invade first Iraq and then Iran. Access to Middle East oil was the stated strategic objective:

    The broad national security interests and objectives expressed in the President’s National Security Strategy (NSS) and the Chairman’s National Military Strategy (NMS) form the foundation of the United States Central Command’s theater strategy. The NSS directs implementation of a strategy of dual containment of the rogue states of Iraq and Iran as long as those states pose a threat to U.S. interests, to other states in the region, and to their own citizens. Dual containment is designed to maintain the balance of power in the region without depending on either Iraq or Iran. U.S.CENTCOM’s theater strategy is interest-based and threat-focused. The purpose of U.S. engagement, as espoused in the NSS, is to protect the United States’ vital interest in the region – uninterrupted, secure U.S./Allied access to Gulf oil.6

    The war on Iran was viewed as part of a succession of military operations. According to (former) NATO Commander General Wesley Clark, the Pentagon’s military road-map consisted of a sequence of countries:

    [The] Five-year campaign plan [includes]… a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.6 (For further details, see Chapter I)

    The Role of Israel

    There has been much debate regarding the role of Israel in initiating an attack against Iran.

    Israel is part of a military alliance. Tel Aviv is not a prime mover. It does not have a separate and distinct military agenda.

    Israel is integrated into the “war plan for major combat operations” against Iran formulated in 2006 by U.S. Strategic Command (U.S.STRATCOM). In the context of large scale military operations, an uncoordinated unilateral military action by one coalition partner, namely Israel, is from a military and strategic point almost an impossibility. Israel is a de facto member of NATO. Any action by Israel would require a “green light” from Washington.

    An attack by Israel could, however, be used as “the trigger mechanism” which would unleash an all-out war against Iran, as well as retaliation by Iran directed against Israel.

    In this regard, there are indications going back to the Bush administration that Washington had indeed contemplated the option of an initial (U.S. backed) attack by Israel rather than an outright U.S.-led military operation directed against Iran.

    The Israeli attack –although led in close liaison with the Pentagon and NATO– would have been presented to public opinion as a unilateral decision by Tel Aviv. It would then have been used by Washington to justify, in the eyes of World opinion, a military intervention of the U.S. and NATO with a view to “defending Israel”, rather than attacking Iran. Under existing military cooperation agreements, both the U.S. and NATO would be “obligated” to “defend Israel” against Iran and Syria.

    It is worth noting, in this regard, that at the outset of Bush’s second term, (former) Vice President Dick Cheney had hinted, in no uncertain terms, that Iran was “right at the top of the list” of the “rogue enemies” of America, and that Israel would, so to speak, “be doing the bombing for us”, without U.S. military involvement and without us putting pressure on them “to do it.”8

    According to Cheney:

    One of the concerns people have is that Israel might do it without being asked. …Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards.9

    Commenting the Vice President’s assertion, former National Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in an interview on PBS, confirmed with some apprehension, yes: Cheney wants Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to act on America’s behalf and “do it” for us:

    Iran I think is more ambiguous. And there the issue is certainly not tyranny; it’s nuclear weapons. And the vice president today in a kind of a strange parallel statement to this declaration of freedom hinted that the Israelis may do it and in fact used language which sounds like a justification or even an encouragement for the Israelis to do it.10

    What we are dealing with is a process of joint U.S.-NATO-Israel military planning. An operation to bomb Iran has been in the active planning stage since 2004. Officials in the Defense Department, under Bush and Obama, have been working assiduously with their Israeli military and intelligence counterparts, carefully identifying targets inside Iran. In practical military terms, any action by Israel would have to be planned and coordinated at the highest levels of the U.S. led coalition.

    Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Vice President Dick Cheney discuss a vision of peace for Israel and Palestine as they conduct a press briefing in Jerusalem, Israel, March 19, 2002.

    Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Vice President Dick Cheney discuss a vision of peace for Israel and Palestine as they conduct a press briefing in Jerusalem, Israel, March 19, 2002. “It is our hope that the current violence and terrorism will be replaced by reconciliation and the rebuilding of mutual trust,” said the Vice President. (Source)

    An attack by Israel against Iran would also require coordinated U.S.-NATO logistical support, particularly with regard to Israel’s air defense system, which since January 2009 is fully integrated into that of the U.S. and NATO.11

    Israel’s X band radar system established in early 2009 with U.S. technical support has “integrate[d] Israel’s missile defenses with the U.S. global missile [Space-based] detection network, which includes satellites, Aegis ships on the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf and Red Sea, and land-based Patriot radars and interceptors.”12

    What this means is that Washington ultimately calls the shots. The U.S. rather than Israel controls the air defense system:

    This is and will remain a U.S. radar system,’ Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

    ‘So this is not something we are giving or selling to the Israelis and it is something that will likely require U.S. personnel on-site to operate.13

    The U.S. military oversees Israel’s Air Defense system, which is integrated into the Pentagon’s global system. In other words, Israel cannot launch a war against Iran without Washington’s consent. Hence the importance of the so-called “Green Light” legislation in the U.S. Congress sponsored by the Republican party under House Resolution 1553, which explicitly supported an Israeli attack on Iran:

    The measure, introduced by Texas Republican Louie Gohmert and 46 of his colleagues, endorses Israel’s use of “all means necessary” against Iran “including the use of military force.” … “We’ve got to get this done. We need to show our support for Israel. We need to quit playing games with this critical ally in such a difficult area”.14

    In practice, the proposed legislation serves as a “Green Light” to the White House and the Pentagon rather than to Israel. It constitutes a rubber stamp to a U.S. sponsored war on Iran which uses Israel as a convenient military launch pad. It also serves as a justification to wage war with a view to defending Israel.

    In this context, Israel could indeed provide the pretext to wage war, in response to alleged Hamas or Hezbollah attacks and/or the triggering of hostilities on the border of Israel with Lebanon. What is crucial to understand is that a minor “incident” could be used as a pretext to spark off a major military operation against Iran.

    Known to U.S. military planners, Israel (rather than the U.S.A) would be the first target of military retaliation by Iran. Broadly speaking, Israelis would be the victims of the machinations of both Washington and their own government. It is, in this regard, absolutely crucial that Israelis forcefully oppose any action by the Netanyahu government to attack Iran.

    Global Warfare: The Role of U.S. Strategic Command (U.S.STRATCOM)

    In January 2005, at the outset of the military deployment and build-up directed against Iran, U.S.STRATCOM was identified as “the lead Combatant Command for integration and synchronization of DoD-wide efforts in combating weapons of mass destruction.”15 What this means is that the coordination of a large scale attack on Iran, including the various scenarios of escalation in and beyond the broader Middle East Central Asian region would be coordinated by U.S.STRATCOM. (See Chapter I).

    Confirmed by military documents as well as official statements, both the U.S. and Israel contemplate the use of nuclear weapons directed against Iran. In 2006, U.S. Strategic Command (U.S.STRATCOM) announced it had achieved an operational capability for rapidly striking targets around the globe using nuclear or conventional weapons. This announcement was made after the conduct of military simulations pertaining to a U.S. led nuclear attack against a fictional country.16

    Continuity in Relation to the Bush-Cheney Era

    President Obama has largely endorsed the doctrine of pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons formulated by the previous administration. Under the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the Obama administration confirmed “that it is reserving the right to use nuclear weapons against Iran” for its non-compliance with U.S. demands regarding its alleged (nonexistent) nuclear weapons program.17 The Obama administration has also intimated that it would use nukes in the case of an Iranian response to an Israeli attack on Iran. Israel has also drawn up its own “secret plans” to bomb Iran with tactical nuclear weapons:

    Israeli military commanders believe conventional strikes may no longer be enough to annihilate increasingly well-defended enrichment facilities. Several have been built beneath at least 70ft of concrete and rock. However, the nuclear-tipped bunker-busters would be used only if a conventional attack was ruled out and if the United States declined to intervene, senior sources said.18

    Obama’s statements on the use of nuclear weapons against Iran and North Korea are consistent with post-9/11 U.S. nuclear weapons doctrine, which allows for the use of tactical nuclear weapons in the conventional war theater.

    Through a propaganda campaign which has enlisted the support of “authoritative” nuclear scientists, mini-nukes are upheld as an instrument of peace, namely a means to combating “Islamic terrorism” and instating Western style “democracy” in Iran. The low-yield nukes have been cleared for “battlefield use”. They are slated to be used against Iran and Syria in the next stage of America’s “War on Terrorism” alongside conventional weapons:

    Administration officials argue that low-yield nuclear weapons are needed as a credible deterrent against rogue states. [Iran, Syria, North Korea] Their logic is that existing nuclear weapons are too destructive to be used except in a full-scale nuclear war. Potential enemies realize this, thus they do not consider the threat of nuclear retaliation to be credible. However, low-yield nuclear weapons are less destructive, thus might conceivably be used. That would make them more effective as a deterrent.19

    The preferred nuclear weapon to be used against Iran are tactical nuclear weapons (Made in America), namely bunker buster bombs with nuclear warheads (for example, B61-11), with an explosive capacity between one third to six times a Hiroshima bomb.

    The B61-11 is the “nuclear version” of the “conventional” BLU 113. or Guided Bomb Unit GBU-28. It can be delivered in much same way as the conventional bunker buster bomb.20 While the U.S. does not contemplate the use of strategic thermonuclear weapons against Iran, Israel’s nuclear arsenal is largely composed of thermonuclear bombs which are deployed and could be used in a war with Iran. Under Israel’s Jericho III missile system with a range between 4,800 km to 6,500 km, all Iran would be within reach.

    Radioactive Fallout

    The issue of radioactive fallout and contamination, while casually dismissed by U.S.-NATO military analysts, would be devastating, potentially affecting a large area of the broader Middle East (including Israel) and Central Asian region.

    In an utterly twisted logic, nuclear weapons are presented as a means to building peace and preventing “collateral damage”. Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons are a threat to global security, whereas those of the U.S. and Israel are instruments of peace “harmless to the surrounding civilian population.”

    “The Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) Slated to be Used against Iran?

    Of military significance within the U.S. conventional weapons arsenal is the 21,500-pound “monster weapon” nicknamed the “mother of all bombs” The GBU-43/B or Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB) was categorized “as the most powerful non-nuclear weapon ever designed” with the the largest yield in the U.S. conventional arsenal. The MOAB was tested in early March 2003 before being deployed to the Iraq war theater. According to U.S. military sources, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had advised the government of Saddam Hussein prior to launching the 2003 that the “mother of all bombs” was to be used against Iraq. (There were unconfirmed reports that it had been used in Iraq).

    The U.S. Department of Defense already confirmed in 2009 that it intends to use the “Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) against Iran. The MOAB is said to be ”ideally suited to hit deeply buried nuclear facilities such as Natanz or Qom in Iran”21. The truth of the matter is that the MOAB, given its explosive capacity, would result in significant civilian casualties. It is a conventional “killing machine” with a nuclear type mushroom cloud.



    The procurement of four MOABs was commissioned in October 2009 at the hefty cost of $58.4 million, ($14.6 million for each bomb). This amount includes the costs of development and testing as well as integration of the MOAB bombs onto B-2 stealth bombers. This procurement is directly linked to war preparations in relation to Iran. The notification was contained in a ninety-three-page “reprograming memo” which included the following instructions:

    “The Department has an Urgent Operational Need (UON) for the capability to strike hard and deeply buried targets in high threat environments. The MOAB [Mother of All Bombs] is the weapon of choice to meet the requirements of the UON [Urgent Operational Need].” It further states that the request is endorsed by Pacific Command (which has responsibility over North Korea) and Central Command (which has responsibility over Iran).23

    The Pentagon is planning on a process of extensive destruction of Iran’s infrastructure and mass civilian casualties through the combined use of tactical nukes and monster conventional mushroom cloud bombs, including the MOAB and the larger GBU-57A/B or Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), which surpasses the MOAB in terms of explosive capacity.

    The MOP is described as “a powerful new bomb aimed squarely at the underground nuclear facilities of Iran and North Korea. The gargantuan bomb–longer than eleven persons standing shoulder-to-shoulder or more than twenty feet base to nose”.24

    These are WMDs in the true sense of the word. The not so hidden objective of the MOAB and MOP, including the American nickname used to casually describe the MOAB (“Mother of all Bombs”), is “mass destruction” and mass civilian casualties with a view to instilling fear and despair.

    State of the Art Weaponry: “War Made Possible Through New Technologies”

    The process of U.S. military decision making in relation to Iran is supported by Star Wars, the militarization of outer space and the revolution in communications and information systems. Given the advances in military technology and the development of new weapons systems, an attack on Iran could be significantly different in terms of the mix of weapons systems, when compared to the March 2003 Blitzkrieg launched against Iraq. The Iran operation is slated to use the most advanced weapons systems in support of its aerial attacks. In all likelihood, new weapons systems will be tested.

    The 2000 Project for the New American Century (PNAC) document entitled Rebuilding American Defenses, outlined the mandate of the U.S. military in terms of large scale theater wars, to be waged simultaneously in different regions of the World: “Fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars”. (See Chapter I)



    This formulation is tantamount to a global war of conquest by a single imperial superpower.

    The PNAC document also called for the transformation of U.S. forces to exploit the “revolution in military affairs”, namely the implementation of “war made possible through new technologies”.25 The latter consists in developing and perfecting a state of the art global killing machine based on an arsenal of sophisticated new weaponry, which would eventually replace the existing paradigms.

    Thus, it can be foreseen that the process of transformation will in fact be a two-stage process: first of transition, then of more thoroughgoing transformation. The breakpoint will come when a preponderance of new weapons systems begins to enter service, perhaps when, for example, unmanned aerial vehicles begin to be as numerous as manned aircraft. In this regard, the Pentagon should be very wary of making large investments in new programs –tanks, planes, aircraft carriers, for example– that would commit U.S. forces to current paradigms of warfare for many decades to come.26

    The war on Iran could indeed mark this crucial break-point, with new space-based weapons systems being applied with a view to disabling an enemy which has significant conventional military capabilities including more than half a million ground forces.

    Electromagnetic Weapons

    Electromagnetic weapons could be used to destabilize Iran’s communications systems, disable electric power generation, undermine and destabilize command and control, government infrastructure, transportation, energy, etc. Within the same family of weapons, environmental modifications techniques (ENMOD) (weather warfare) developed under the HAARP program could also be applied.27 These weapons systems are fully operational. In this context, the U.S. Air Force document AF 2025 explicitly acknowledged the military applications of weather modification technologies:

    Weather modification will become a part of domestic and international security and could be done unilaterally. … It could have offensive and defensive applications and even be used for deterrence purposes. The ability to generate precipitation, fog, and storms on earth or to modify space weather, improve communications through ionospheric modification (the use of ionospheric mirrors), and the production of artificial weather all are a part of an integrated set of technologies which can provide substantial increase in U.S., or degraded capability in an adversary, to achieve global awareness, reach, and power.28

    Electromagnetic radiation enabling “remote health impairment” might also be envisaged in the war theater.29 In turn, new uses of biological weapons by the U.S. military might also be envisaged as suggested by the PNAC: “[A]dvanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.”30

    Iran’s Military Capabilities: Medium and Long-range Missiles

    Iran has advanced military capabilities, including medium and long-range missiles capable of reaching targets in Israel and the Gulf States. Hence the emphasis by the U.S.-NATO Israel alliance on the use of nuclear weapons, which are slated to be used either pre-emptively or in response to an Iranian retaliatory missile attack.

    In November 2006, Iran tests of surface missiles two were marked by precise planning in a carefully staged operation. According to a senior American missile expert, “the Iranians demonstrated up-to-date missile-launching technology which the West had not known them to possess.”31 Israel acknowledged that “the Shehab-3, whose 2,000-km range brings Israel, the Middle East and Europe within reach”.32

    According to Uzi Rubin, former head of Israel’s anti-ballistic missile program, “the intensity of the military exercise was unprecedented… It was meant to make an impression – and it made an impression.”33

    The 2006 exercises, while creating a political stir in the U.S. and Israel, did not in any way modify U.S.-NATO-Israeli resolve to wage war on Iran.

    Tehran has confirmed in several statements that it will respond if it is attacked. Israel would be the immediate object of Iranian missile attacks as confirmed by the Iranian government. The issue of Israel’s air defense system is therefore crucial. U.S. and allied military facilities in the Gulf states, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iraq could also be targeted by Iran.

    Iran’s Ground Forces

    While Iran is encircled by U.S. and allied military bases, the Islamic Republic has significant military capabilities. What is important to acknowledge is the sheer size of Iranian forces in terms of personnel (army, navy, air force) when compared to U.S. and NATO forces serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Confronted with a well-organized insurgency, coalition forces are already overstretched in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Would these forces be able to cope if Iranian ground forces were to enter the existing battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan? The potential of the Resistance movement to U.S. and allied occupation would inevitably be affected.

    Iranian ground forces are of the order of 700,000 of which 130,000 are professional soldiers, 220,000 are conscripts and 350,000 are reservists.34 There are 18,000 personnel in Iran’s Navy and 52,000 in the Air Force. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, “the Revolutionary Guards has an estimated 125,000 personnel in five branches: Its own Navy, Air Force, and Ground Forces; and the Quds Force (Special Forces).”

    According to the CISS, Iran’s Basij paramilitary volunteer force controlled by the Revolu- tionary Guards “has an estimated 90,000 active-duty full-time uniformed members, 300,000 reservists, and a total of 11 million men that can be mobilized if need be”35, In other words, Iran can mobilize up to half a million regular troops and several million militia. Its Quds special forces are already operating inside Iraq.

    U.S. Military and Allied Facilities Surrounding Iran

    For several years now, Iran has been conducting its own war drills and exercises. While its Air Force has weaknesses, its intermediate and long-range missiles are fully operational. Iran’s military is in a state of readiness. Iranian troop concentrations are currently within a few kilometers of the Iraqi and Afghan borders, and within proximity of Kuwait. The Iranian Navy is deployed in the Persian Gulf within proximity of U.S. and allied military facilities in the United Arab Emirates.

    It is worth noting that in response to Iran’s military build-up, the U.S. has been transferring large amounts of weapons to its non-NATO allies in the Persian Gulf including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

    While Iran’s advanced weapons do not measure up to those of the U.S. and NATO, Iranian forces would be in a position to inflict substantial losses to coalition forces in a conventional war theater, on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan. Iranian ground troops and tanks in December 2009 crossed the border into Iraq without being confronted or challenged by allied forces and occupied a disputed territory in the East Maysan oil field.

    Even in the event of an effective Blitzkrieg, which targets Iran’s military facilities, its communications systems etc., through massive aerial bombing, using cruise missiles, conventional bunker buster bombs and tactical nuclear weapons, a war with Iran, once initiated, could eventually lead into a ground war. This is something which U.S. military planners have no doubt contemplated in their simulated war scenarios.

    An operation of this nature would result in significant military and civilian casualties, particularly if nuclear weapons are used.

    Within a scenario of escalation, Iranian troops could cross the border into Iraq and Afghanistan.

    In turn, military escalation using nuclear weapons could lead us into a World War III scenario, extending beyond the Middle-East – Central Asian region.

    In a very real sense, this military project, which has been on the Pentagon’s drawing board for more than ten years, threatens the future of humanity.

    Our focus in this chapter has been on war preparations. The fact that war preparations are in an advanced state of readiness does not imply that these war plans will be carried out.

    The U.S.-NATO-Israel alliance realizes that the enemy has significant capabilities to respond and retaliate. This factor in itself has been crucial in the decision by the U.S. and its allies to postpone an attack on Iran.

    Another crucial factor is the structure of military alliances. Whereas NATO has become a formidable force, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which constitutes an alliance between Russia and China and a number of former Soviet Republics has been significantly weakened.

    The ongoing U.S. military threats directed against China and Russia are intended to weaken the SCO and discourage any form of military action on the part of Iran’s allies in the case of a U.S. NATO Israeli attack.

    Video Interview: Michel Chossudovsky and Caroline Mailloux

    November 2023 Interview

    Notes

    1. See Target Iran – Air Strikes, Globalsecurity.org, undated.

    2. William Arkin, Washington Post, April 16, 2006.

    3. Ibid.

    4. New Statesman, February 19, 2007.

    5. Philip Giraldi, Deep Background,The American Conservative August 2005.

    6. U.S.CENTCOM, http://www.milnet.com/milnet/pentagon/centcom/chap1/stratgic.htm#U.S.Policy, link no longer active,

    archived at http://tinyurl.com/37gafu9.

    7. General Wesley Clark, for further details see Chapter I.

    8. See Michel Chossudovsky, Planned U.S.-Israeli Attack on Iran, Global Research, May 1, 2005.

    9. Dick Cheney, quoted from an MSNBC Interview, January 2005.

    10. According to Zbigniew Brzezinski.

    11. Michel Chossudovsky, Unusually Large U.S. Weapons Shipment to Israel: Are the U.S. and Israel Planning a Broader Middle East War? Global Research, January 11, 2009.

    12. Defense Talk.com, January 6, 2009.

    13. Quoted in Israel National News, January 9, 2009.

    14. Webster Tarpley, Fidel Castro Warns of Imminent Nuclear War; Admiral Mullen Threatens Iran; U.S.-Israel versus Iran-Hezbollah Confrontation Builds On, Global Research, August 10, 2010.

    15. Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, Global Research, January 3, 2006.

    16. David Ruppe, Pre-emptive Nuclear War in a State of Readiness: U.S. Command Declares Global Strike Ca- pability, Global Security Newswire, December 2, 2005.

    17. U.S. Nuclear Option on Iran Linked to Israeli Attack Threat – IPS ipsnews.net, April 23, 2010.

    18. Revealed: Israel plans nuclear strike on Iran – Times Online, January 7, 2007.

    19. Opponents Surprised By Elimination of Nuke Research Funds, Defense News, November 29, 2004.

    20. See Michel Chossudovsky, “Tactical Nuclear Weapons” against Afghanistan?, Global Research, December 5, 2001. See also http://www.thebulletin.org/article_nn.php?art_ofn=jf03norris.

    21. Jonathan Karl, Is the U.S. Preparing to Bomb Iran? ABC News, October 9, 2009.

    22. Ibid.

    23. ABC News, op cit, emphasis added. To consult the reprogramming request (pdf) click here.

    24. See Edwin Black, “Super Bunker-Buster Bombs Fast-Tracked for Possible Use Against Iran and North Korea Nuclear Programs”, Cutting Edge, September 21, 2009.

    25. See Project for a New American Century, Rebuilding America’s Defenses Washington DC, September 2000, pdf.

    26. Ibid, emphasis added.

    27. See Michel Chossudovsky, “Owning the Weather” for Military Use, Global Research, September 27, 2004. 28. Air
    Force 2025 Final Report, See also U.S. Air Force: Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025, AF2025
    v3c15-1.

    29. See Mojmir Babacek, Electromagnetic and Informational Weapons:, Global Research, August 6, 2004.

    30. Project for a New American Century, op cit., p. 60.

    31. See Michel Chossudovsky, Iran’s “Power of Deterrence” Global Research, November 5, 2006.

    32. Debka, November 5, 2006.

    33. www.cnsnews.com November 3, 2006.

    34. See Islamic Republic of Iran Army – Wikipedia.

    Featured image is from The Libertarian Institute

    The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity

    Michel Chossudovsky

    The “globalization of war” is a hegemonic project. Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The U.S. military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.

    ISBN Number: 978-0-9879389-0-9

    Year: 2015
    Pages: 240 Pages
    Price: $9.40

    Click here to order.
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    https://www.globalresearch.ca/pre-emptive-nuclear-war-the-role-of-israel-in-triggering-an-attack-on-iran/5840256


    https://telegra.ph/Nuclear-war-03-10
    Pre-emptive Nuclear War: The Role of Israel in Triggering an Attack on Iran Chapter III of "The Globalization of War" by Michel Chossudovsky Firmly All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the Translate Website button below the author’s name. To receive Global Research’s Daily Newsletter (selected articles), click here. Click the share button above to email/forward this article to your friends and colleagues. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter and subscribe to our Telegram Channel. Feel free to repost and share widely Global Research articles. Author’s Introduction and Update In a recent article entitled “A Planned US-Israeli Attack on Iran is Contemplated” I focussed on how Israel’s criminal attack on the People of Palestine could evolve towards an extended Middle East War. At the time of writing, US-NATO war ships –including two aircraft carriers, combat planes, not to mention a nuclear submarine– are deployed in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Red Sea, all of which are intended to confront what both Western politicians and the media casually describe as “Palestine’s Aggression against the Jewish State”. “Israel ranks” as “the 4th strongest military” after Russia, the U.S and China. Ask yourself: Why on earth would Israel need the support of U.S. aircraft carriers to lead a genocide against the Palestinians who are fighting for their lives with limited military capabilities. Is the U.S. intent upon triggering a broader war? “U.S. Warns Hezbollah, Iran. It Will intervene if they Escalate” Who is “Escalating”? The Pentagon has already intimated that it will attack Iran and Lebanon, “If they Escalate”. Is the Pentagon Seeking to Trigger one or more “False Flags”? Times of Israel, November 9, 2023 Also of significance (less than 4 months prior to October 7, 2023) is the adoption on June 27, 2023 of the US Congress Resolution (H. RES. 559) which Accuses Iran of Possessing Nuclear Weapons. H.RES 559 allows the use of force against Iran, intimating that Iran has Nuclear Weapons. Whereas Iran is tagged (without a shred of evidence) as a Nuclear Power by the U.S. Congress, Washington fails to acknowledge that Israel is an undeclared nuclear power. The article below was first published in my book entitled “The Globalization of War. America’s Long War against Humanity” (2015). I remain indebted to the former Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who took the initiative of launching my book in Kuala Lumpur. (image right). Firmly committed to “the criminalization of war”, Tun Mahathir is a powerful voice in support of Palestine. The article below (Chapter III of “Globalization of War”) provides analysis in a historical perspective of U.S. war plans directed against Iran. Numerous “war theater scenarios” for an all-out attack on Iran have been contemplated. Dangerous Crossroads in our History The current and ongoing US-NATO military deployment in The Middle East — casually presented by the media as a means to coming to the rescue of Israel– is the pinnacle of U.S. war preparations extending over a period of more than 20 years. Contemplated by the Pentagon in 2005 was a scenario whereby an attack by Israel would be conducted on behalf of Washington: “An attack by Israel could, however, be used as “the trigger mechanism” which would unleash an all-out war against Iran, as well as retaliation by Iran directed against Israel.” (quoted from text below) At the outset of Bush’s second term “Vice President Dick Cheney had hinted, in no uncertain terms, that Iran was “right at the top of the list” of the “rogue enemies” of America, and that Israel would, so to speak, “be doing the bombing for us” (Ibid) The article also focusses on the dangers of a US-Israel nuclear attack against Iran which has been contemplated by the Pentagon since 2004. The US Israel “Partnership”: “Signed” Military Agreement Amply documented, the U.S. Military and Intelligence apparatus is firmly behind Israel’s genocide. In the words of Lt General Richard Clark: Americans Troops are “prepared to die for the Jewish State”. What should be understood by this statement is that the US and Israel have a longstanding Military “Partnership” as well as (Jerusalem Post) a “Signed” Military Agreement (classified) regarding Israel’s attack on Gaza. Lt. General Richard Clark is U.S. Third Air Force Commander, among the highest-ranking military officers in the U.S. Armed Forces. While he refers to Juniper Cobra, “a joint military exercise that has been conducted for almost a decade”, his statement points to a much broader “signed” military-intelligence agreement (classified) with Israel which no doubt includes the extension of the Israeli-US bombing of Gaza to the broader Middle East. While this so-called “signed” military agreement remains classified (not in the public domain), it would appear that Biden is obeying the orders of the perpetrators of this diabolical military agenda. Does President Biden have the authority (under this “Signed” Agreement with Israel) to save the lives of innocent civilians including the children of Palestine: Q (Inaudible) Gaza ceasefire, Mr. President? THE PRESIDENT: Pardon me? Q What are the chances of a Gaza ceasefire? THE PRESIDENT: None. No possibility. White House Press Conference, November 9, 2023 Lt. General Clark confirms that: “U.S. troops could be put under Israeli commanders in the battlefield”, which suggests that the genocide is implemented by Netanyahu on behalf of the United States. Everything indicates that the US military and intelligence apparatus are behind Israel’s criminal bombing and invasion of Gaza. We stand firmly in Solidarity with Palestine and the People of the Middle East. It is my intent and sincere hope that my writings (including the text below) will contribute to “Revealing the Truth” as well “Reversing the Tide of Global Warfare”. Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, November 17, 2023, March 10, 2024 Pre-emptive Nuclear War: The Role of Israel in Triggering an Attack on Iran by Michel Chossudovsky Introduction While one can conceptualize the loss of life and destruction resulting from present-day wars including Iraq and Afghanistan, it is impossible to fully comprehend the devastation which might result from a Third World War, using “new technologies” and advanced weapons, until it occurs and becomes a reality. The international community has endorsed nuclear war in the name of world peace. “Making the world safer” is the justification for launching a military operation which could potentially result in a nuclear holocaust.” The stockpiling and deployment of advanced weapons systems directed against Iran started in the immediate wake of the 2003 bombing and invasion of Iraq. From the outset, these war plans were led by the U.S. in liaison with NATO and Israel. Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration identified Iran and Syria as the next stage of “the road map to war”. U.S. military sources intimated at the time that an aerial attack on Iran could involve a large scale deployment comparable to the U.S. “shock and awe” bombing raids on Iraq in March 2003: American air strikes on Iran would vastly exceed the scope of the 1981 Israeli attack on the Osiraq nuclear center in Iraq, and would more resemble the opening days of the 2003 air campaign against Iraq.1 “Theater Iran Near Term” (TIRANNT) Code named by U.S. military planners as TIRANNT, “Theater Iran Near Term”, simulations of an attack on Iran were initiated in May 2003 “when modelers and intelligence specialists pulled together the data needed for theater-level (meaning large-scale) scenario analysis for Iran.”2 The scenarios identified several thousand targets inside Iran as part of a “Shock and Awe” Blitzkrieg: The analysis, called TIRANNT, for “Theater Iran Near Term,” was coupled with a mock scenario for a Marine Corps invasion and a simulation of the Iranian missile force. U.S. and British planners conducted a Caspian Sea war game around the same time. And Bush directed the U.S. Strategic Command to draw up a global strike war plan for an attack against Iranian weapons of mass destruction. All of this will ultimately feed into a new war plan for “major combat operations” against Iran that military sources confirm now [April 2006] exists in draft form. … Under TIRANNT, Army and U.S. Central Command planners have been examining both near-term and out-year scenarios for war with Iran, including all aspects of a major combat operation, from mobilization and deployment of forces through postwar stability operations after regime change.3 Different “theater scenarios” for an all-out attack on Iran had been contemplated: The U.S. army, navy, air force and marines have all prepared battle plans and spent four years building bases and training for “Operation Iranian Freedom”. Admiral Fallon, the new head of U.S. Central Command, has inherited computerized plans under the name TIRANNT (Theatre Iran Near Term).4 In 2004, drawing upon the initial war scenarios under TIRANNT, Vice President Dick Cheney instructed U.S. Strategic Command (U.S.STRATCOM) to draw up a “contingency plan” of a large scale military operation directed against Iran “to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States” on the presumption that the government in Tehran would be behind the terrorist plot. The plan included the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state: The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than four hundred fifty major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program develop- ment sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of ter- rorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing –that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack– but no one is prepared to dam- age his career by posing any objections.5 The Military Road Map: “First Iraq, then Iran” The decision to target Iran under TIRANNT was part of the broader process of military planning and sequencing of military operations. Already under the Clinton administration (1995), U.S. Central Command (U.S.CENTCOM) had formulated “in war theater plans” to invade first Iraq and then Iran. Access to Middle East oil was the stated strategic objective: The broad national security interests and objectives expressed in the President’s National Security Strategy (NSS) and the Chairman’s National Military Strategy (NMS) form the foundation of the United States Central Command’s theater strategy. The NSS directs implementation of a strategy of dual containment of the rogue states of Iraq and Iran as long as those states pose a threat to U.S. interests, to other states in the region, and to their own citizens. Dual containment is designed to maintain the balance of power in the region without depending on either Iraq or Iran. U.S.CENTCOM’s theater strategy is interest-based and threat-focused. The purpose of U.S. engagement, as espoused in the NSS, is to protect the United States’ vital interest in the region – uninterrupted, secure U.S./Allied access to Gulf oil.6 The war on Iran was viewed as part of a succession of military operations. According to (former) NATO Commander General Wesley Clark, the Pentagon’s military road-map consisted of a sequence of countries: [The] Five-year campaign plan [includes]… a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.6 (For further details, see Chapter I) The Role of Israel There has been much debate regarding the role of Israel in initiating an attack against Iran. Israel is part of a military alliance. Tel Aviv is not a prime mover. It does not have a separate and distinct military agenda. Israel is integrated into the “war plan for major combat operations” against Iran formulated in 2006 by U.S. Strategic Command (U.S.STRATCOM). In the context of large scale military operations, an uncoordinated unilateral military action by one coalition partner, namely Israel, is from a military and strategic point almost an impossibility. Israel is a de facto member of NATO. Any action by Israel would require a “green light” from Washington. An attack by Israel could, however, be used as “the trigger mechanism” which would unleash an all-out war against Iran, as well as retaliation by Iran directed against Israel. In this regard, there are indications going back to the Bush administration that Washington had indeed contemplated the option of an initial (U.S. backed) attack by Israel rather than an outright U.S.-led military operation directed against Iran. The Israeli attack –although led in close liaison with the Pentagon and NATO– would have been presented to public opinion as a unilateral decision by Tel Aviv. It would then have been used by Washington to justify, in the eyes of World opinion, a military intervention of the U.S. and NATO with a view to “defending Israel”, rather than attacking Iran. Under existing military cooperation agreements, both the U.S. and NATO would be “obligated” to “defend Israel” against Iran and Syria. It is worth noting, in this regard, that at the outset of Bush’s second term, (former) Vice President Dick Cheney had hinted, in no uncertain terms, that Iran was “right at the top of the list” of the “rogue enemies” of America, and that Israel would, so to speak, “be doing the bombing for us”, without U.S. military involvement and without us putting pressure on them “to do it.”8 According to Cheney: One of the concerns people have is that Israel might do it without being asked. …Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards.9 Commenting the Vice President’s assertion, former National Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in an interview on PBS, confirmed with some apprehension, yes: Cheney wants Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to act on America’s behalf and “do it” for us: Iran I think is more ambiguous. And there the issue is certainly not tyranny; it’s nuclear weapons. And the vice president today in a kind of a strange parallel statement to this declaration of freedom hinted that the Israelis may do it and in fact used language which sounds like a justification or even an encouragement for the Israelis to do it.10 What we are dealing with is a process of joint U.S.-NATO-Israel military planning. An operation to bomb Iran has been in the active planning stage since 2004. Officials in the Defense Department, under Bush and Obama, have been working assiduously with their Israeli military and intelligence counterparts, carefully identifying targets inside Iran. In practical military terms, any action by Israel would have to be planned and coordinated at the highest levels of the U.S. led coalition. Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Vice President Dick Cheney discuss a vision of peace for Israel and Palestine as they conduct a press briefing in Jerusalem, Israel, March 19, 2002. Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Vice President Dick Cheney discuss a vision of peace for Israel and Palestine as they conduct a press briefing in Jerusalem, Israel, March 19, 2002. “It is our hope that the current violence and terrorism will be replaced by reconciliation and the rebuilding of mutual trust,” said the Vice President. (Source) An attack by Israel against Iran would also require coordinated U.S.-NATO logistical support, particularly with regard to Israel’s air defense system, which since January 2009 is fully integrated into that of the U.S. and NATO.11 Israel’s X band radar system established in early 2009 with U.S. technical support has “integrate[d] Israel’s missile defenses with the U.S. global missile [Space-based] detection network, which includes satellites, Aegis ships on the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf and Red Sea, and land-based Patriot radars and interceptors.”12 What this means is that Washington ultimately calls the shots. The U.S. rather than Israel controls the air defense system: This is and will remain a U.S. radar system,’ Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said. ‘So this is not something we are giving or selling to the Israelis and it is something that will likely require U.S. personnel on-site to operate.13 The U.S. military oversees Israel’s Air Defense system, which is integrated into the Pentagon’s global system. In other words, Israel cannot launch a war against Iran without Washington’s consent. Hence the importance of the so-called “Green Light” legislation in the U.S. Congress sponsored by the Republican party under House Resolution 1553, which explicitly supported an Israeli attack on Iran: The measure, introduced by Texas Republican Louie Gohmert and 46 of his colleagues, endorses Israel’s use of “all means necessary” against Iran “including the use of military force.” … “We’ve got to get this done. We need to show our support for Israel. We need to quit playing games with this critical ally in such a difficult area”.14 In practice, the proposed legislation serves as a “Green Light” to the White House and the Pentagon rather than to Israel. It constitutes a rubber stamp to a U.S. sponsored war on Iran which uses Israel as a convenient military launch pad. It also serves as a justification to wage war with a view to defending Israel. In this context, Israel could indeed provide the pretext to wage war, in response to alleged Hamas or Hezbollah attacks and/or the triggering of hostilities on the border of Israel with Lebanon. What is crucial to understand is that a minor “incident” could be used as a pretext to spark off a major military operation against Iran. Known to U.S. military planners, Israel (rather than the U.S.A) would be the first target of military retaliation by Iran. Broadly speaking, Israelis would be the victims of the machinations of both Washington and their own government. It is, in this regard, absolutely crucial that Israelis forcefully oppose any action by the Netanyahu government to attack Iran. Global Warfare: The Role of U.S. Strategic Command (U.S.STRATCOM) In January 2005, at the outset of the military deployment and build-up directed against Iran, U.S.STRATCOM was identified as “the lead Combatant Command for integration and synchronization of DoD-wide efforts in combating weapons of mass destruction.”15 What this means is that the coordination of a large scale attack on Iran, including the various scenarios of escalation in and beyond the broader Middle East Central Asian region would be coordinated by U.S.STRATCOM. (See Chapter I). Confirmed by military documents as well as official statements, both the U.S. and Israel contemplate the use of nuclear weapons directed against Iran. In 2006, U.S. Strategic Command (U.S.STRATCOM) announced it had achieved an operational capability for rapidly striking targets around the globe using nuclear or conventional weapons. This announcement was made after the conduct of military simulations pertaining to a U.S. led nuclear attack against a fictional country.16 Continuity in Relation to the Bush-Cheney Era President Obama has largely endorsed the doctrine of pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons formulated by the previous administration. Under the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the Obama administration confirmed “that it is reserving the right to use nuclear weapons against Iran” for its non-compliance with U.S. demands regarding its alleged (nonexistent) nuclear weapons program.17 The Obama administration has also intimated that it would use nukes in the case of an Iranian response to an Israeli attack on Iran. Israel has also drawn up its own “secret plans” to bomb Iran with tactical nuclear weapons: Israeli military commanders believe conventional strikes may no longer be enough to annihilate increasingly well-defended enrichment facilities. Several have been built beneath at least 70ft of concrete and rock. However, the nuclear-tipped bunker-busters would be used only if a conventional attack was ruled out and if the United States declined to intervene, senior sources said.18 Obama’s statements on the use of nuclear weapons against Iran and North Korea are consistent with post-9/11 U.S. nuclear weapons doctrine, which allows for the use of tactical nuclear weapons in the conventional war theater. Through a propaganda campaign which has enlisted the support of “authoritative” nuclear scientists, mini-nukes are upheld as an instrument of peace, namely a means to combating “Islamic terrorism” and instating Western style “democracy” in Iran. The low-yield nukes have been cleared for “battlefield use”. They are slated to be used against Iran and Syria in the next stage of America’s “War on Terrorism” alongside conventional weapons: Administration officials argue that low-yield nuclear weapons are needed as a credible deterrent against rogue states. [Iran, Syria, North Korea] Their logic is that existing nuclear weapons are too destructive to be used except in a full-scale nuclear war. Potential enemies realize this, thus they do not consider the threat of nuclear retaliation to be credible. However, low-yield nuclear weapons are less destructive, thus might conceivably be used. That would make them more effective as a deterrent.19 The preferred nuclear weapon to be used against Iran are tactical nuclear weapons (Made in America), namely bunker buster bombs with nuclear warheads (for example, B61-11), with an explosive capacity between one third to six times a Hiroshima bomb. The B61-11 is the “nuclear version” of the “conventional” BLU 113. or Guided Bomb Unit GBU-28. It can be delivered in much same way as the conventional bunker buster bomb.20 While the U.S. does not contemplate the use of strategic thermonuclear weapons against Iran, Israel’s nuclear arsenal is largely composed of thermonuclear bombs which are deployed and could be used in a war with Iran. Under Israel’s Jericho III missile system with a range between 4,800 km to 6,500 km, all Iran would be within reach. Radioactive Fallout The issue of radioactive fallout and contamination, while casually dismissed by U.S.-NATO military analysts, would be devastating, potentially affecting a large area of the broader Middle East (including Israel) and Central Asian region. In an utterly twisted logic, nuclear weapons are presented as a means to building peace and preventing “collateral damage”. Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons are a threat to global security, whereas those of the U.S. and Israel are instruments of peace “harmless to the surrounding civilian population.” “The Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) Slated to be Used against Iran? Of military significance within the U.S. conventional weapons arsenal is the 21,500-pound “monster weapon” nicknamed the “mother of all bombs” The GBU-43/B or Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB) was categorized “as the most powerful non-nuclear weapon ever designed” with the the largest yield in the U.S. conventional arsenal. The MOAB was tested in early March 2003 before being deployed to the Iraq war theater. According to U.S. military sources, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had advised the government of Saddam Hussein prior to launching the 2003 that the “mother of all bombs” was to be used against Iraq. (There were unconfirmed reports that it had been used in Iraq). The U.S. Department of Defense already confirmed in 2009 that it intends to use the “Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) against Iran. The MOAB is said to be ”ideally suited to hit deeply buried nuclear facilities such as Natanz or Qom in Iran”21. The truth of the matter is that the MOAB, given its explosive capacity, would result in significant civilian casualties. It is a conventional “killing machine” with a nuclear type mushroom cloud. The procurement of four MOABs was commissioned in October 2009 at the hefty cost of $58.4 million, ($14.6 million for each bomb). This amount includes the costs of development and testing as well as integration of the MOAB bombs onto B-2 stealth bombers. This procurement is directly linked to war preparations in relation to Iran. The notification was contained in a ninety-three-page “reprograming memo” which included the following instructions: “The Department has an Urgent Operational Need (UON) for the capability to strike hard and deeply buried targets in high threat environments. The MOAB [Mother of All Bombs] is the weapon of choice to meet the requirements of the UON [Urgent Operational Need].” It further states that the request is endorsed by Pacific Command (which has responsibility over North Korea) and Central Command (which has responsibility over Iran).23 The Pentagon is planning on a process of extensive destruction of Iran’s infrastructure and mass civilian casualties through the combined use of tactical nukes and monster conventional mushroom cloud bombs, including the MOAB and the larger GBU-57A/B or Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), which surpasses the MOAB in terms of explosive capacity. The MOP is described as “a powerful new bomb aimed squarely at the underground nuclear facilities of Iran and North Korea. The gargantuan bomb–longer than eleven persons standing shoulder-to-shoulder or more than twenty feet base to nose”.24 These are WMDs in the true sense of the word. The not so hidden objective of the MOAB and MOP, including the American nickname used to casually describe the MOAB (“Mother of all Bombs”), is “mass destruction” and mass civilian casualties with a view to instilling fear and despair. State of the Art Weaponry: “War Made Possible Through New Technologies” The process of U.S. military decision making in relation to Iran is supported by Star Wars, the militarization of outer space and the revolution in communications and information systems. Given the advances in military technology and the development of new weapons systems, an attack on Iran could be significantly different in terms of the mix of weapons systems, when compared to the March 2003 Blitzkrieg launched against Iraq. The Iran operation is slated to use the most advanced weapons systems in support of its aerial attacks. In all likelihood, new weapons systems will be tested. The 2000 Project for the New American Century (PNAC) document entitled Rebuilding American Defenses, outlined the mandate of the U.S. military in terms of large scale theater wars, to be waged simultaneously in different regions of the World: “Fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars”. (See Chapter I) This formulation is tantamount to a global war of conquest by a single imperial superpower. The PNAC document also called for the transformation of U.S. forces to exploit the “revolution in military affairs”, namely the implementation of “war made possible through new technologies”.25 The latter consists in developing and perfecting a state of the art global killing machine based on an arsenal of sophisticated new weaponry, which would eventually replace the existing paradigms. Thus, it can be foreseen that the process of transformation will in fact be a two-stage process: first of transition, then of more thoroughgoing transformation. The breakpoint will come when a preponderance of new weapons systems begins to enter service, perhaps when, for example, unmanned aerial vehicles begin to be as numerous as manned aircraft. In this regard, the Pentagon should be very wary of making large investments in new programs –tanks, planes, aircraft carriers, for example– that would commit U.S. forces to current paradigms of warfare for many decades to come.26 The war on Iran could indeed mark this crucial break-point, with new space-based weapons systems being applied with a view to disabling an enemy which has significant conventional military capabilities including more than half a million ground forces. Electromagnetic Weapons Electromagnetic weapons could be used to destabilize Iran’s communications systems, disable electric power generation, undermine and destabilize command and control, government infrastructure, transportation, energy, etc. Within the same family of weapons, environmental modifications techniques (ENMOD) (weather warfare) developed under the HAARP program could also be applied.27 These weapons systems are fully operational. In this context, the U.S. Air Force document AF 2025 explicitly acknowledged the military applications of weather modification technologies: Weather modification will become a part of domestic and international security and could be done unilaterally. … It could have offensive and defensive applications and even be used for deterrence purposes. The ability to generate precipitation, fog, and storms on earth or to modify space weather, improve communications through ionospheric modification (the use of ionospheric mirrors), and the production of artificial weather all are a part of an integrated set of technologies which can provide substantial increase in U.S., or degraded capability in an adversary, to achieve global awareness, reach, and power.28 Electromagnetic radiation enabling “remote health impairment” might also be envisaged in the war theater.29 In turn, new uses of biological weapons by the U.S. military might also be envisaged as suggested by the PNAC: “[A]dvanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.”30 Iran’s Military Capabilities: Medium and Long-range Missiles Iran has advanced military capabilities, including medium and long-range missiles capable of reaching targets in Israel and the Gulf States. Hence the emphasis by the U.S.-NATO Israel alliance on the use of nuclear weapons, which are slated to be used either pre-emptively or in response to an Iranian retaliatory missile attack. In November 2006, Iran tests of surface missiles two were marked by precise planning in a carefully staged operation. According to a senior American missile expert, “the Iranians demonstrated up-to-date missile-launching technology which the West had not known them to possess.”31 Israel acknowledged that “the Shehab-3, whose 2,000-km range brings Israel, the Middle East and Europe within reach”.32 According to Uzi Rubin, former head of Israel’s anti-ballistic missile program, “the intensity of the military exercise was unprecedented… It was meant to make an impression – and it made an impression.”33 The 2006 exercises, while creating a political stir in the U.S. and Israel, did not in any way modify U.S.-NATO-Israeli resolve to wage war on Iran. Tehran has confirmed in several statements that it will respond if it is attacked. Israel would be the immediate object of Iranian missile attacks as confirmed by the Iranian government. The issue of Israel’s air defense system is therefore crucial. U.S. and allied military facilities in the Gulf states, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iraq could also be targeted by Iran. Iran’s Ground Forces While Iran is encircled by U.S. and allied military bases, the Islamic Republic has significant military capabilities. What is important to acknowledge is the sheer size of Iranian forces in terms of personnel (army, navy, air force) when compared to U.S. and NATO forces serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Confronted with a well-organized insurgency, coalition forces are already overstretched in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Would these forces be able to cope if Iranian ground forces were to enter the existing battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan? The potential of the Resistance movement to U.S. and allied occupation would inevitably be affected. Iranian ground forces are of the order of 700,000 of which 130,000 are professional soldiers, 220,000 are conscripts and 350,000 are reservists.34 There are 18,000 personnel in Iran’s Navy and 52,000 in the Air Force. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, “the Revolutionary Guards has an estimated 125,000 personnel in five branches: Its own Navy, Air Force, and Ground Forces; and the Quds Force (Special Forces).” According to the CISS, Iran’s Basij paramilitary volunteer force controlled by the Revolu- tionary Guards “has an estimated 90,000 active-duty full-time uniformed members, 300,000 reservists, and a total of 11 million men that can be mobilized if need be”35, In other words, Iran can mobilize up to half a million regular troops and several million militia. Its Quds special forces are already operating inside Iraq. U.S. Military and Allied Facilities Surrounding Iran For several years now, Iran has been conducting its own war drills and exercises. While its Air Force has weaknesses, its intermediate and long-range missiles are fully operational. Iran’s military is in a state of readiness. Iranian troop concentrations are currently within a few kilometers of the Iraqi and Afghan borders, and within proximity of Kuwait. The Iranian Navy is deployed in the Persian Gulf within proximity of U.S. and allied military facilities in the United Arab Emirates. It is worth noting that in response to Iran’s military build-up, the U.S. has been transferring large amounts of weapons to its non-NATO allies in the Persian Gulf including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. While Iran’s advanced weapons do not measure up to those of the U.S. and NATO, Iranian forces would be in a position to inflict substantial losses to coalition forces in a conventional war theater, on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan. Iranian ground troops and tanks in December 2009 crossed the border into Iraq without being confronted or challenged by allied forces and occupied a disputed territory in the East Maysan oil field. Even in the event of an effective Blitzkrieg, which targets Iran’s military facilities, its communications systems etc., through massive aerial bombing, using cruise missiles, conventional bunker buster bombs and tactical nuclear weapons, a war with Iran, once initiated, could eventually lead into a ground war. This is something which U.S. military planners have no doubt contemplated in their simulated war scenarios. An operation of this nature would result in significant military and civilian casualties, particularly if nuclear weapons are used. Within a scenario of escalation, Iranian troops could cross the border into Iraq and Afghanistan. In turn, military escalation using nuclear weapons could lead us into a World War III scenario, extending beyond the Middle-East – Central Asian region. In a very real sense, this military project, which has been on the Pentagon’s drawing board for more than ten years, threatens the future of humanity. Our focus in this chapter has been on war preparations. The fact that war preparations are in an advanced state of readiness does not imply that these war plans will be carried out. The U.S.-NATO-Israel alliance realizes that the enemy has significant capabilities to respond and retaliate. This factor in itself has been crucial in the decision by the U.S. and its allies to postpone an attack on Iran. Another crucial factor is the structure of military alliances. Whereas NATO has become a formidable force, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which constitutes an alliance between Russia and China and a number of former Soviet Republics has been significantly weakened. The ongoing U.S. military threats directed against China and Russia are intended to weaken the SCO and discourage any form of military action on the part of Iran’s allies in the case of a U.S. NATO Israeli attack. Video Interview: Michel Chossudovsky and Caroline Mailloux November 2023 Interview Notes 1. See Target Iran – Air Strikes, Globalsecurity.org, undated. 2. William Arkin, Washington Post, April 16, 2006. 3. Ibid. 4. New Statesman, February 19, 2007. 5. Philip Giraldi, Deep Background,The American Conservative August 2005. 6. U.S.CENTCOM, http://www.milnet.com/milnet/pentagon/centcom/chap1/stratgic.htm#U.S.Policy, link no longer active, archived at http://tinyurl.com/37gafu9. 7. General Wesley Clark, for further details see Chapter I. 8. See Michel Chossudovsky, Planned U.S.-Israeli Attack on Iran, Global Research, May 1, 2005. 9. Dick Cheney, quoted from an MSNBC Interview, January 2005. 10. According to Zbigniew Brzezinski. 11. Michel Chossudovsky, Unusually Large U.S. Weapons Shipment to Israel: Are the U.S. and Israel Planning a Broader Middle East War? Global Research, January 11, 2009. 12. Defense Talk.com, January 6, 2009. 13. Quoted in Israel National News, January 9, 2009. 14. Webster Tarpley, Fidel Castro Warns of Imminent Nuclear War; Admiral Mullen Threatens Iran; U.S.-Israel versus Iran-Hezbollah Confrontation Builds On, Global Research, August 10, 2010. 15. Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, Global Research, January 3, 2006. 16. David Ruppe, Pre-emptive Nuclear War in a State of Readiness: U.S. Command Declares Global Strike Ca- pability, Global Security Newswire, December 2, 2005. 17. U.S. Nuclear Option on Iran Linked to Israeli Attack Threat – IPS ipsnews.net, April 23, 2010. 18. Revealed: Israel plans nuclear strike on Iran – Times Online, January 7, 2007. 19. Opponents Surprised By Elimination of Nuke Research Funds, Defense News, November 29, 2004. 20. See Michel Chossudovsky, “Tactical Nuclear Weapons” against Afghanistan?, Global Research, December 5, 2001. See also http://www.thebulletin.org/article_nn.php?art_ofn=jf03norris. 21. Jonathan Karl, Is the U.S. Preparing to Bomb Iran? ABC News, October 9, 2009. 22. Ibid. 23. ABC News, op cit, emphasis added. To consult the reprogramming request (pdf) click here. 24. See Edwin Black, “Super Bunker-Buster Bombs Fast-Tracked for Possible Use Against Iran and North Korea Nuclear Programs”, Cutting Edge, September 21, 2009. 25. See Project for a New American Century, Rebuilding America’s Defenses Washington DC, September 2000, pdf. 26. Ibid, emphasis added. 27. See Michel Chossudovsky, “Owning the Weather” for Military Use, Global Research, September 27, 2004. 28. Air Force 2025 Final Report, See also U.S. Air Force: Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025, AF2025 v3c15-1. 29. See Mojmir Babacek, Electromagnetic and Informational Weapons:, Global Research, August 6, 2004. 30. Project for a New American Century, op cit., p. 60. 31. See Michel Chossudovsky, Iran’s “Power of Deterrence” Global Research, November 5, 2006. 32. Debka, November 5, 2006. 33. www.cnsnews.com November 3, 2006. 34. See Islamic Republic of Iran Army – Wikipedia. Featured image is from The Libertarian Institute The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity Michel Chossudovsky The “globalization of war” is a hegemonic project. Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The U.S. military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states. ISBN Number: 978-0-9879389-0-9 Year: 2015 Pages: 240 Pages Price: $9.40 Click here to order. Related Articles from our Archives https://www.globalresearch.ca/pre-emptive-nuclear-war-the-role-of-israel-in-triggering-an-attack-on-iran/5840256 https://telegra.ph/Nuclear-war-03-10
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  • The WHO Pandemic Agreement: A Guide
    By David Bell, Thi Thuy Van Dinh March 22, 2024 Government, Society 30 minute read
    The World Health Organization (WHO) and its 194 Member States have been engaged for over two years in the development of two ‘instruments’ or agreements with the intent of radically changing the way pandemics and other health emergencies are managed.

    One, consisting of draft amendments to the existing International health Regulations (IHR), seeks to change the current IHR non-binding recommendations into requirements or binding recommendations, by having countries “undertake” to implement those given by the WHO in future declared health emergencies. It covers all ‘public health emergencies of international concern’ (PHEIC), with a single person, the WHO Director-General (DG) determining what a PHEIC is, where it extends, and when it ends. It specifies mandated vaccines, border closures, and other directives understood as lockdowns among the requirements the DG can impose. It is discussed further elsewhere and still under negotiation in Geneva.

    A second document, previously known as the (draft) Pandemic Treaty, then Pandemic Accord, and more recently the Pandemic Agreement, seeks to specify governance, supply chains, and various other interventions aimed at preventing, preparing for, and responding to, pandemics (pandemic prevention, preparedness and response – PPPR). It is currently being negotiated by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB).

    Both texts will be subject to a vote at the May 2024 World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland. These votes are intended, by those promoting these projects, to bring governance of future multi-country healthcare emergencies (or threats thereof) under the WHO umbrella.

    The latest version of the draft Pandemic Agreement (here forth the ‘Agreement’) was released on 7th March 2024. However, it is still being negotiated by various committees comprising representatives of Member States and other interested entities. It has been through multiple iterations over two years, and looks like it. With the teeth of the pandemic response proposals in the IHR, the Agreement looks increasingly irrelevant, or at least unsure of its purpose, picking up bits and pieces in a half-hearted way that the IHR amendments do not, or cannot, include. However, as discussed below, it is far from irrelevant.

    Historical Perspective

    These aim to increase the centralization of decision-making within the WHO as the “directing and coordinating authority.” This terminology comes from the WHO’s 1946 Constitution, developed in the aftermath of the Second World War as the world faced the outcomes of European fascism and the similar approaches widely imposed through colonialist regimes. The WHO would support emerging countries, with rapidly expanding and poorly resourced populations struggling under high disease burdens, and coordinate some areas of international support as these sovereign countries requested it. The emphasis of action was on coordinating rather than directing.

    In the 80 years prior to the WHO’s existence, international public health had grown within a more directive mindset, with a series of meetings by colonial and slave-owning powers from 1851 to manage pandemics, culminating in the inauguration of the Office Internationale d’Hygiene Publique in Paris in 1907, and later the League of Nations Health Office. World powers imposed health dictates on those less powerful, in other parts of the world and increasingly on their own population through the eugenics movement and similar approaches. Public health would direct, for the greater good, as a tool of those who wish to direct the lives of others.

    The WHO, governed by the WHA, was to be very different. Newly independent States and their former colonial masters were ostensibly on an equal footing within the WHA (one country – one vote), and the WHO’s work overall was to be an example of how human rights could dominate the way society works. The model for international public health, as exemplified in the Declaration of Alma Ata in 1978, was to be horizontal rather than vertical, with communities and countries in the driving seat.

    With the evolution of the WHO in recent decades from a core funding model (countries give money, the WHO decides under the WHA guidance how to spend it) to a model based on specified funding (funders, both public and increasingly private, instruct the WHO on how to spend it), the WHO has inevitably changed to become a public-private partnership required to serve the interests of funders rather than populations.

    As most funding comes from a few countries with major Pharma industrial bases, or private investors and corporations in the same industry, the WHO has been required to emphasize the use of pharmaceuticals and downplay evidence and knowledge where these clash (if it wants to keep all its staff funded). It is helpful to view the draft Agreement, and the IHR amendments, in this context.

    Why May 2024?

    The WHO, together with the World Bank, G20, and other institutions have been emphasizing the urgency of putting the new pandemic instruments in place earnestly, before the ‘next pandemic.’ This is based on claims that the world was unprepared for Covid-19, and that the economic and health harm would be somehow avoidable if we had these agreements in place.

    They emphasize, contrary to evidence that Covid-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) origins involve laboratory manipulation, that the main threats we face are natural, and that these are increasing exponentially and present an “existential” threat to humanity. The data on which the WHO, the World Bank, and G20 base these claims demonstrates the contrary, with reported natural outbreaks having increased as detection technologies have developed, but reducing in mortality rate, and in numbers, over the past 10 to 20 years..

    A paper cited by the World Bank to justify urgency and quoted as suggesting a 3x increase in risk in the coming decade actually suggests that a Covid-19-like event would occur roughly every 129 years, and a Spanish-flu repetition every 292 to 877 years. Such predictions are unable to take into account the rapidly changing nature of medicine and improved sanitation and nutrition (most deaths from Spanish flu would not have occurred if modern antibiotics had been available), and so may still overestimate risk. Similarly, the WHO’s own priority disease list for new outbreaks only includes two diseases of proven natural origin that have over 1,000 historical deaths attributed to them. It is well demonstrated that the risk and expected burden of pandemics is misrepresented by major international agencies in current discussions.

    The urgency for May 2024 is clearly therefore inadequately supported, firstly because neither the WHO nor others have demonstrated how the harms accrued through Covid-19 would be reduced through the measures proposed, and secondly because the burden and risk is misrepresented. In this context, the state of the Agreement is clearly not where it should be as a draft international legally binding agreement intended to impose considerable financial and other obligations on States and populations.

    This is particularly problematic as the proposed expenditure; the proposed budget is over $31 billion per year, with over $10 billion more on other One Health activities. Much of this will have to be diverted from addressing other diseases burdens that impose far greater burden. This trade-off, essential to understand in public health policy development, has not yet been clearly addressed by the WHO.

    The WHO DG stated recently that the WHO does not want the power to impose vaccine mandates or lockdowns on anyone, and does not want this. This begs the question of why either of the current WHO pandemic instruments is being proposed, both as legally binding documents. The current IHR (2005) already sets out such approaches as recommendations the DG can make, and there is nothing non-mandatory that countries cannot do now without pushing new treaty-like mechanisms through a vote in Geneva.

    Based on the DG’s claims, they are essentially redundant, and what new non-mandatory clauses they contain, as set out below, are certainly not urgent. Clauses that are mandatory (Member States “shall”) must be considered within national decision-making contexts and appear against the WHO’s stated intent.

    Common sense would suggest that the Agreement, and the accompanying IHR amendments, be properly thought through before Member States commit. The WHO has already abandoned the legal requirement for a 4-month review time for the IHR amendments (Article 55.2 IHR), which are also still under negotiation just 2 months before the WHA deadline. The Agreement should also have at least such a period for States to properly consider whether to agree – treaties normally take many years to develop and negotiate and no valid arguments have been put forward as to why these should be different.

    The Covid-19 response resulted in an unprecedented transfer of wealth from those of lower income to the very wealthy few, completely contrary to the way in which the WHO was intended to affect human society. A considerable portion of these pandemic profits went to current sponsors of the WHO, and these same corporate entities and investors are set to further benefit from the new pandemic agreements. As written, the Pandemic Agreement risks entrenching such centralization and profit-taking, and the accompanying unprecedented restrictions on human rights and freedoms, as a public health norm.

    To continue with a clearly flawed agreement simply because of a previously set deadline, when no clear population benefit is articulated and no true urgency demonstrated, would therefore be a major step backward in international public health. Basic principles of proportionality, human agency, and community empowerment, essential for health and human rights outcomes, are missing or paid lip-service. The WHO clearly wishes to increase its funding and show it is ‘doing something,’ but must first articulate why the voluntary provisions of the current IHR are insufficient. It is hoped that by systematically reviewing some key clauses of the agreement here, it will become clear why a rethink of the whole approach is necessary. The full text is found below.

    The commentary below concentrates on selected draft provisions of the latest publicly available version of the draft agreement that seem to be unclear or potentially problematic. Much of the remaining text is essentially pointless as it reiterates vague intentions to be found in other documents or activities which countries normally undertake in the course of running health services, and have no place in a focused legally-binding international agreement.

    REVISED Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement. 7th March, 2024

    Preamble

    Recognizing that the World Health Organization…is the directing and coordinating authority on international health work.

    This is inconsistent with a recent statement by the WHO DG that the WHO has no interest or intent to direct country health responses. To reiterate it here suggests that the DG is not representing the true position regarding the Agreement. “Directing authority” is however in line with the proposed IHR Amendments (and the WHO’s Constitution), under which countries will “undertake” ahead of time to follow the DG’s recommendations (which thereby become instructions). As the HR amendments make clear, this is intended to apply even to a perceived threat rather than actual harm.

    Recalling the constitution of the World Health Organization…highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.

    This statement recalls fundamental understandings of public health, and is of importance here as it raises the question of why the WHO did not strongly condemn prolonged school closures, workplace closures, and other impoverishing policies during the Covid-19 response. In 2019, WHO made clear that these dangers should prevent actions we now call ‘lockdowns’ from being imposed.

    Deeply concerned by the gross inequities at national and international levels that hindered timely and equitable access to medical and other Covid-19 pandemic-related products, and the serious shortcomings in pandemic preparedness.

    In terms of health equity (as distinct from commodity of ‘vaccine’ equity), inequity in the Covid-19 response was not in failing to provide a vaccine against former variants to immune, young people in low-income countries who were at far higher risk from endemic diseases, but in the disproportionate harm to them of uniformly-imposed NPIs that reduced current and future income and basic healthcare, as was noted by the WHO in 2019 Pandemic Influenza recommendations. The failure of the text to recognize this suggests that lessons from Covid-19 have not informed this draft Agreement. The WHO has not yet demonstrated how pandemic ‘preparedness,’ in the terms they use below, would have reduced impact, given that there is poor correlation between strictness or speed of response and eventual outcomes.

    Reiterating the need to work towards…an equitable approach to mitigate the risk that pandemics exacerbate existing inequities in access to health services,

    As above – in the past century, the issue of inequity has been most pronounced in pandemic response, rather than the impact of the virus itself (excluding the physiological variation in risk). Most recorded deaths from acute pandemics, since the Spanish flu, were during Covid-19, in which the virus hit mainly sick elderly, but response impacted working-age adults and children heavily and will continue to have effect, due to increased poverty and debt; reduced education and child marriage, in future generations.

    These have disproportionately affected lower-income people, and particularly women. The lack of recognition of this in this document, though they are recognized by the World Bank and UN agencies elsewhere, must raise real questions on whether this Agreement has been thoroughly thought through, and the process of development been sufficiently inclusive and objective.

    Chapter I. Introduction

    Article 1. Use of terms

    (i) “pathogen with pandemic potential” means any pathogen that has been identified to infect a human and that is: novel (not yet characterized) or known (including a variant of a known pathogen), potentially highly transmissible and/or highly virulent with the potential to cause a public health emergency of international concern.

    This provides a very wide scope to alter provisions. Any pathogen that can infect humans and is potentially highly transmissible or virulent, though yet uncharacterized means virtually any coronavirus, influenza virus, or a plethora of other relatively common pathogen groups. The IHR Amendments intend that the DG alone can make this call, over the advice of others, as occurred with monkeypox in 2022.

    (j) “persons in vulnerable situations” means individuals, groups or communities with a disproportionate increased risk of infection, severity, disease or mortality.

    This is a good definition – in Covid-19 context, would mean the sick elderly, and so is relevant to targeting a response.

    “Universal health coverage” means that all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship.

    While the general UHC concept is good, it is time a sensible (rather than patently silly) definition was adopted. Society cannot afford the full range of possible interventions and remedies for all, and clearly there is a scale of cost vs benefit that prioritizes certain ones over others. Sensible definitions make action more likely, and inaction harder to justify. One could argue that none should have the full range until all have good basic care, but clearly the earth will not support ‘the full range’ for 8 billion people.

    Article 2. Objective

    This Agreement is specifically for pandemics (a poorly defined term but essentially a pathogen that spreads rapidly across national borders). In contrast, the IHR amendments accompanying it are broader in scope – for any public health emergencies of international concern.

    Article 3. Principles

    2. the sovereign right of States to adopt, legislate and implement legislation

    The amendments to the IHR require States to undertake to follow WHO instructions ahead of time, before such instruction and context are known. These two documents must be understood, as noted later in the Agreement draft, as complementary.

    3. equity as the goal and outcome of pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, ensuring the absence of unfair, avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people.

    This definition of equity here needs clarification. In the pandemic context, the WHO emphasized commodity (vaccine) equity during the Covid-19 response. Elimination of differences implied equal access to Covid-19 vaccines in countries with large aging, obese highly vulnerable populations (e.g. the USA or Italy), and those with young populations at minimal risk and with far more pressing health priorities (e.g. Niger or Uganda).

    Alternatively, but equally damaging, equal access to different age groups within a country when the risk-benefit ratio is clearly greatly different. This promotes worse health outcomes by diverting resources from where they are most useful, as it ignores heterogeneity of risk. Again, an adult approach is required in international agreements, rather than feel-good sentences, if they are going to have a positive impact.

    5. …a more equitable and better prepared world to prevent, respond to and recover from pandemics

    As with ‘3’ above, this raises a fundamental problem: What if health equity demands that some populations divert resources to childhood nutrition and endemic diseases rather than the latest pandemic, as these are likely of far higher burden to many younger but lower-income populations? This would not be equity in the definition implied here, but would clearly lead to better and more equal health outcomes.

    The WHO must decide whether it is about uniform action, or minimizing poor health, as these are clearly very different. They are the difference between the WHO’s commodity equity, and true health equity.

    Chapter II. The world together equitably: achieving equity in, for and through pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

    Equity in health should imply a reasonably equal chance of overcoming or avoiding preventable sickness. The vast majority of sickness and death is due to either non-communicable diseases often related to lifestyle, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus, undernutrition in childhood, and endemic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. Achieving health equity would primarily mean addressing these.

    In this chapter of the draft Pandemic Agreement, equity is used to imply equal access to specific health commodities, particularly vaccines, for intermittent health emergencies, although these exert a small fraction of the burden of other diseases. It is, specifically, commodity-equity, and not geared to equalizing overall health burden but to enabling centrally-coordinated homogenous responses to unusual events.

    Article 4. Pandemic prevention and surveillance

    2. The Parties shall undertake to cooperate:

    (b) in support of…initiatives aimed at preventing pandemics, in particular those that improve surveillance, early warning and risk assessment; .…and identify settings and activities presenting a risk of emergence and re-emergence of pathogens with pandemic potential.

    (c-h) [Paragraphs on water and sanitation, infection control, strengthening of biosafety, surveillance and prevention of vector-born diseases, and addressing antimicrobial resistance.]

    The WHO intends the Agreement to have force under international law. Therefore, countries are undertaking to put themselves under force of international law in regards to complying with the agreement’s stipulations.

    The provisions under this long article mostly cover general health stuff that countries try to do anyway. The difference will be that countries will be assessed on progress. Assessment can be fine if in context, less fine if it consists of entitled ‘experts’ from wealthy countries with little local knowledge or context. Perhaps such compliance is best left to national authorities, who are more in use with local needs and priorities. The justification for the international bureaucracy being built to support this, while fun for those involved, is unclear and will divert resources from actual health work.

    6. The Conference of the Parties may adopt, as necessary, guidelines, recommendations and standards, including in relation to pandemic prevention capacities, to support the implementation of this Article.

    Here and later, the COP is invoked as a vehicle to decide on what will actually be done. The rules are explained later (Articles 21-23). While allowing more time is sensible, it begs the question of why it is not better to wait and discuss what is needed in the current INB process, before committing to a legally-binding agreement. This current article says nothing not already covered by the IHR2005 or other ongoing programs.

    Article 5. One Health approach to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

    Nothing specific or new in this article. It seems redundant (it is advocating a holistic approach mentioned elsewhere) and so presumably is just to get the term ‘One Health’ into the agreement. (One could ask, why bother?)

    Some mainstream definitions of One Health (e.g. Lancet) consider that it means non-human species are on a par with humans in terms of rights and importance. If this is meant here, clearly most Member States would disagree. So we may assume that it is just words to keep someone happy (a little childish in an international document, but the term ‘One Health’ has been trending, like ‘equity,’ as if the concept of holistic approaches to public health were new).

    Article 6. Preparedness, health system resilience and recovery

    2. Each Party commits…[to] :

    (a) routine and essential health services during pandemics with a focus on primary health care, routine immunization and mental health care, and with particular attention to persons in vulnerable situations

    (b) developing, strengthening and maintaining health infrastructure

    (c) developing post-pandemic health system recovery strategies

    (d) developing, strengthening and maintaining: health information systems

    This is good, and (a) seems to require avoidance of lockdowns (which inevitably cause the harms listed). Unfortunately other WHO documents lead one to assume this is not the intent…It does appear therefore that this is simply another list of fairly non-specific feel-good measures that have no useful place in a new legally-binding agreement, and which most countries are already undertaking.

    (e) promoting the use of social and behavioural sciences, risk communication and community engagement for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

    This requires clarification, as the use of behavioral science during the Covid-19 response involved deliberate inducement of fear to promote behaviors that people would not otherwise follow (e.g. Spi-B). It is essential here that the document clarifies how behavioral science should be used ethically in healthcare. Otherwise, this is also a quite meaningless provision.

    Article 7. Health and care workforce

    This long Article discusses health workforce, training, retention, non-discrimination, stigma, bias, adequate remuneration, and other standard provisions for workplaces. It is unclear why it is included in a legally binding pandemic agreement, except for:

    4. [The Parties]…shall invest in establishing, sustaining, coordinating and mobilizing a skilled and trained multidisciplinary global public health emergency workforce…Parties having established emergency health teams should inform WHO thereof and make best efforts to respond to requests for deployment…

    Emergency health teams established (within capacity etc.) – are something countries already do, when they have capacity. There is no reason to have this as a legally-binding instrument, and clearly no urgency to do so.

    Article 8. Preparedness monitoring and functional reviews

    1. The Parties shall, building on existing and relevant tools, develop and implement an inclusive, transparent, effective and efficient pandemic prevention, preparedness and response monitoring and evaluation system.

    2. Each Party shall assess, every five years, with technical support from the WHO Secretariat upon request, the functioning and readiness of, and gaps in, its pandemic prevention, preparedness and response capacity, based on the relevant tools and guidelines developed by WHO in partnership with relevant organizations at international, regional and sub-regional levels.

    Note that this is being required of countries that are already struggling to implement monitoring systems for major endemic diseases, including tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, and nutritional deficiencies. They will be legally bound to divert resources to pandemic prevention. While there is some overlap, it will inevitably divert resources from currently underfunded programs for diseases of far higher local burdens, and so (not theoretically, but inevitably) raise mortality. Poor countries are being required to put resources into problems deemed significant by richer countries.

    Article 9. Research and development

    Various general provisions about undertaking background research that countries are generally doing anyway, but with an ’emerging disease’ slant. Again, the INB fails to justify why this diversion of resources from researching greater disease burdens should occur in all countries (why not just those with excess resources?).

    Article 10. Sustainable and geographically diversified production

    Mostly non-binding but suggested cooperation on making pandemic-related products available, including support for manufacturing in “inter-pandemic times” (a fascinating rendering of ‘normal’), when they would only be viable through subsidies. Much of this is probably unimplementable, as it would not be practical to maintain facilities in most or all countries on stand-by for rare events, at cost of resources otherwise useful for other priorities. The desire to increase production in ‘developing’ countries will face major barriers and costs in terms of maintaining quality of production, particularly as many products will have limited use outside of rare outbreak situations.

    Article 11. Transfer of technology and know-how

    This article, always problematic for large pharmaceutical corporations sponsoring much WHO outbreak activities, is now watered down to weak requirements to ‘consider,’ promote,’ provide, within capabilities’ etc.

    Article 12. Access and benefit sharing

    This Article is intended to establish the WHO Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing System (PABS System). PABS is intended to “ensure rapid, systematic and timely access to biological materials of pathogens with pandemic potential and the genetic sequence data.” This system is of potential high relevance and needs to be interpreted in the context that SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen causing the recent Covid-19 outbreak, was highly likely to have escaped from a laboratory. PABS is intended to expand the laboratory storage, transport, and handling of such viruses, under the oversight of the WHO, an organization outside of national jurisdiction with no significant direct experience in handling biological materials.

    3. When a Party has access to a pathogen [it shall]:

    (a) share with WHO any pathogen sequence information as soon as it is available to the Party;

    (b) as soon as biological materials are available to the Party, provide the materials to one or more laboratories and/or biorepositories participating in WHO-coordinated laboratory networks (CLNs),

    Subsequent clauses state that benefits will be shared, and seek to prevent recipient laboratories from patenting materials received from other countries. This has been a major concern of low-and middle-income countries previously, who perceive that institutions in wealthy countries patent and benefit from materials derived from less-wealthy populations. It remains to be seen whether provisions here will be sufficient to address this.

    The article then becomes yet more concerning:

    6. WHO shall conclude legally binding standard PABS contracts with manufacturers to provide the following, taking into account the size, nature and capacities of the manufacturer:

    (a) annual monetary contributions to support the PABS System and relevant capacities in countries; the determination of the annual amount, use, and approach for monitoring and accountability, shall be finalized by the Parties;

    (b) real-time contributions of relevant diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccines produced by the manufacturer, 10% free of charge and 10% at not-for-profit prices during public health emergencies of international concern or pandemics, …

    It is clearly intended that the WHO becomes directly involved in setting up legally binding manufacturing contracts, despite the WHO being outside of national jurisdictional oversight, within the territories of Member States. The PABS system, and therefore its staff and dependent entities, are also to be supported in part by funds from the manufacturers whom they are supposed to be managing. The income of the organization will be dependent on maintaining positive relationships with these private entities in a similar way in which many national regulatory agencies are dependent upon funds from pharmaceutical companies whom their staff ostensibly regulate. In this case, the regulator will be even further removed from public oversight.

    The clause on 10% (why 10?) products being free of charge, and similar at cost, while ensuring lower-priced commodities irrespective of actual need (the outbreak may be confined to wealthy countries). The same entity, the WHO, will determine whether the triggering emergency exists, determine the response, and manage the contracts to provide the commodities, without direct jurisdictional oversight regarding the potential for corruption or conflict of interest. It is a remarkable system to suggest, irrespective of political or regulatory environment.

    8. The Parties shall cooperate…public financing of research and development, prepurchase agreements, or regulatory procedures, to encourage and facilitate as many manufacturers as possible to enter into standard PABS contracts as early as possible.

    The article envisions that public funding will be used to build the process, ensuring essentially no-risk private profit.

    10. To support operationalization of the PABS System, WHO shall…make such contracts public, while respecting commercial confidentiality.

    The public may know whom contracts are made with, but not all details of the contracts. There will therefore be no independent oversight of the clauses agreed between the WHO, a body outside of national jurisdiction and dependent of commercial companies for funding some of its work and salaries, and these same companies, on ‘needs’ that the WHO itself will have sole authority, under the proposed amendments to the IHR, to determine.

    The Article further states that the WHO shall use its own product regulatory system (prequalification) and Emergency Use Listing Procedure to open and stimulate markets for the manufacturers of these products.

    It is doubtful that any national government could make such an overall agreement, yet in May 2024 they will be voting to provide this to what is essentially a foreign, and partly privately financed, entity.

    Article 13. Supply chain and logistics

    The WHO will become convenor of a ‘Global Supply Chain and Logistics Network’ for commercially-produced products, to be supplied under WHO contracts when and where the WHO determines, whilst also having the role of ensuring safety of such products.

    Having mutual support coordinated between countries is good. Having this run by an organization that is significantly funded directly by those gaining from the sale of these same commodities seems reckless and counterintuitive. Few countries would allow this (or at least plan for it).

    For this to occur safely, the WHO would logically have to forgo all private investment, and greatly restrict national specified funding contributions. Otherwise, the conflicts of interest involved would destroy confidence in the system. There is no suggestion of such divestment from the WHO, but rather, as in Article 12, private sector dependency, directly tied to contracts, will increase.

    Article 13bis: National procurement- and distribution-related provisions

    While suffering the same (perhaps unavoidable) issues regarding commercial confidentiality, this alternate Article 13 seems far more appropriate, keeping commercial issues under national jurisdiction and avoiding the obvious conflict of interests that underpin funding for WHO activities and staffing.

    Article 14. Regulatory systems strengthening

    This entire Article reflects initiatives and programs already in place. Nothing here appears likely to add to current effort.

    Article 15. Liability and compensation management

    1. Each Party shall consider developing, as necessary and in accordance with applicable law, national strategies for managing liability in its territory related to pandemic vaccines…no-fault compensation mechanisms…

    2. The Parties…shall develop recommendations for the establishment and implementation of national, regional and/or global no-fault compensation mechanisms and strategies for managing liability during pandemic emergencies, including with regard to individuals that are in a humanitarian setting or vulnerable situations.

    This is quite remarkable, but also reflects some national legislation, in removing any fault or liability specifically from vaccine manufacturers, for harms done in pushing out vaccines to the public. During the Covid-19 response, genetic therapeutics being developed by BioNtech and Moderna were reclassified as vaccines, on the basis that an immune response is stimulated after they have modified intracellular biochemical pathways as a medicine normally does.

    This enabled specific trials normally required for carcinogenicity and teratogenicity to be bypassed, despite raised fetal abnormality rates in animal trials. It will enable the CEPI 100-day vaccine program, supported with private funding to support private mRNA vaccine manufacturers, to proceed without any risk to the manufacturer should there be subsequent public harm.

    Together with an earlier provision on public funding of research and manufacturing readiness, and the removal of former wording requiring intellectual property sharing in Article 11, this ensures vaccine manufacturers and their investors make profit in effective absence of risk.

    These entities are currently heavily invested in support for WHO, and were strongly aligned with the introduction of newly restrictive outbreak responses that emphasized and sometimes mandated their products during the Covid-19 outbreak.

    Article 16. International collaboration and cooperation

    A somewhat pointless article. It suggests that countries cooperate with each other and the WHO to implement the other agreements in the Agreement.

    Article 17. Whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches

    A list of essentially motherhood provisions related to planning for a pandemic. However, countries will legally be required to maintain a ‘national coordination multisectoral body’ for PPPR. This will essentially be an added burden on budgets, and inevitably divert further resources from other priorities. Perhaps just strengthening current infectious disease and nutritional programs would be more impactful. (Nowhere in this Agreement is nutrition discussed (essential for resilience to pathogens) and minimal wording is included on sanitation and clean water (other major reasons for reduction in infectious disease mortality over past centuries).

    However, the ‘community ownership’ wording is interesting (“empower and enable community ownership of, and contribution to, community readiness for and resilience [for PPPR]”), as this directly contradicts much of the rest of the Agreement, including the centralization of control under the Conference of Parties, requirements for countries to allocate resources to pandemic preparedness over other community priorities, and the idea of inspecting and assessing adherence to the centralized requirements of the Agreement. Either much of the rest of the Agreement is redundant, or this wording is purely for appearance and not to be followed (and therefore should be removed).

    Article 18. Communication and public awareness

    1. Each Party shall promote timely access to credible and evidence-based information …with the aim of countering and addressing misinformation or disinformation…

    2. The Parties shall, as appropriate, promote and/or conduct research and inform policies on factors that hinder or strengthen adherence to public health and social measures in a pandemic, as well as trust in science and public health institutions and agencies.

    The key word is as appropriate, given that many agencies, including the WHO, have overseen or aided policies during the Covid-19 response that have greatly increased poverty, child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and education loss.

    As the WHO has been shown to be significantly misrepresenting pandemic risk in the process of advocating for this Agreement and related instruments, its own communications would also fall outside the provision here related to evidence-based information, and fall within normal understandings of misinformation. It could not therefore be an arbiter of correctness of information here, so the Article is not implementable. Rewritten to recommend accurate evidence-based information being promoted, it would make good sense, but this is not an issue requiring a legally binding international agreement.

    Article 19. Implementation and support

    3. The WHO Secretariat…organize the technical and financial assistance necessary to address such gaps and needs in implementing the commitments agreed upon under the Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005).

    As the WHO is dependent on donor support, its ability to address gaps in funding within Member States is clearly not something it can guarantee. The purpose of this article is unclear, repeating in paragraphs 1 and 2 the earlier intent for countries to generally support each other.

    Article 20. Sustainable financing

    1. The Parties commit to working together…In this regard, each Party, within the means and resources at its disposal, shall:

    (a) prioritize and maintain or increase, as necessary, domestic funding for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, without undermining other domestic public health priorities including for: (i) strengthening and sustaining capacities for the prevention, preparedness and response to health emergencies and pandemics, in particular the core capacities of the International Health Regulations (2005);…

    This is silly wording, as countries obviously have to prioritize within budgets, so that moving funds to one area means removing from another. The essence of public health policy is weighing and making such decisions; this reality seems to be ignored here through wishful thinking. (a) is clearly redundant, as the IHR (2005) already exists and countries have agreed to support it.

    3. A Coordinating Financial Mechanism (the “Mechanism”) is hereby established to support the implementation of both the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005)

    This will be in parallel to the Pandemic Fund recently commenced by the World Bank – an issue not lost on INB delegates and so likely to change here in the final version. It will also be additive to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and other health financing mechanisms, and so require another parallel international bureaucracy, presumably based in Geneva.

    It is intended to have its own capacity to “conduct relevant analyses on needs and gaps, in addition to tracking cooperation efforts,” so it will not be a small undertaking.

    Chapter III. Institutional and final provisions

    Article 21. Conference of the Parties

    1. A Conference of the Parties is hereby established.

    2. The Conference of the Parties shall keep under regular review, every three years, the implementation of the WHO Pandemic Agreement and take the decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation.

    This sets up the governing body to oversee this Agreement (another body requiring a secretariat and support). It is intended to meet within a year of the Agreement coming into force, and then set its own rules on meeting thereafter. It is likely that many provisions outlined in this draft of the Agreement will be deferred to the COP for further discussion.

    Articles 22 – 37

    These articles cover the functioning of the Conference of Parties (COP) and various administrative issues.

    Of note, ‘block votes’ will be allowed from regional bodies (e.g. the EU).

    The WHO will provide the secretariat.

    Under Article 24 is noted:

    3. Nothing in the WHO Pandemic Agreement shall be interpreted as providing the Secretariat of the World Health Organization, including the WHO Director-General, any authority to direct, order, alter or otherwise prescribe the domestic laws or policies of any Party, or to mandate or otherwise impose any requirements that Parties take specific actions, such as ban or accept travellers, impose vaccination mandates or therapeutic or diagnostic measures, or implement lockdowns.

    These provisions are explicitly stated in the proposed amendments to the IHR, to be considered alongside this agreement. Article 26 notes that the IHR is to be interpreted as compatible, thereby confirming that the IHR provisions including border closures and limits on freedom of movement, mandated vaccination, and other lockdown measures are not negated by this statement.

    As Article 26 states: “The Parties recognize that the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations should be interpreted so as to be compatible.”

    Some would consider this subterfuge – The Director-General recently labeled as liars those who claimed the Agreement included these powers, whilst failing to acknowledge the accompanying IHR amendments. The WHO could do better in avoiding misleading messaging, especially when this involves denigration of the public.

    Article 32 (Withdrawal) requires that, once adopted, Parties cannot withdraw for a total of 3 years (giving notice after a minimum of 2 years). Financial obligations undertaken under the agreement continue beyond that time.

    Finally, the Agreement will come into force, assuming a two-thirds majority in the WHA is achieved (Article 19, WHO Constitution), 30 days after the fortieth country has ratified it.

    Further reading:

    WHO Pandemic Agreement Intergovernmental Negotiating Board website:

    https://inb.who.int/

    International Health Regulations Working Group website:

    https://apps.who.int/gb/wgihr/index.html

    On background to the WHO texts:

    Amendments to WHO’s International Health Regulations: An Annotated Guide
    An Unofficial Q&A on International Health Regulations
    On urgency and burden of pandemics:

    https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/downloads/download/228/rational-policy-over-panic

    Disease X and Davos: This is Not the Way to Evaluate and Formulate Public Health Policy
    Before Preparing for Pandemics, We Need Better Evidence of Risk
    Revised Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement:

    Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
    For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author.

    Authors

    David Bell
    David Bell, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is a public health physician and biotech consultant in global health. He is a former medical officer and scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Programme Head for malaria and febrile diseases at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva, Switzerland, and Director of Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in Bellevue, WA, USA.

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    Thi Thuy Van Dinh
    Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings.

    View all posts
    Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work.

    https://brownstone.org/articles/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide/

    https://www.minds.com/donshafi911/blog/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide-1621719398509187077
    The WHO Pandemic Agreement: A Guide By David Bell, Thi Thuy Van Dinh March 22, 2024 Government, Society 30 minute read The World Health Organization (WHO) and its 194 Member States have been engaged for over two years in the development of two ‘instruments’ or agreements with the intent of radically changing the way pandemics and other health emergencies are managed. One, consisting of draft amendments to the existing International health Regulations (IHR), seeks to change the current IHR non-binding recommendations into requirements or binding recommendations, by having countries “undertake” to implement those given by the WHO in future declared health emergencies. It covers all ‘public health emergencies of international concern’ (PHEIC), with a single person, the WHO Director-General (DG) determining what a PHEIC is, where it extends, and when it ends. It specifies mandated vaccines, border closures, and other directives understood as lockdowns among the requirements the DG can impose. It is discussed further elsewhere and still under negotiation in Geneva. A second document, previously known as the (draft) Pandemic Treaty, then Pandemic Accord, and more recently the Pandemic Agreement, seeks to specify governance, supply chains, and various other interventions aimed at preventing, preparing for, and responding to, pandemics (pandemic prevention, preparedness and response – PPPR). It is currently being negotiated by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB). Both texts will be subject to a vote at the May 2024 World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland. These votes are intended, by those promoting these projects, to bring governance of future multi-country healthcare emergencies (or threats thereof) under the WHO umbrella. The latest version of the draft Pandemic Agreement (here forth the ‘Agreement’) was released on 7th March 2024. However, it is still being negotiated by various committees comprising representatives of Member States and other interested entities. It has been through multiple iterations over two years, and looks like it. With the teeth of the pandemic response proposals in the IHR, the Agreement looks increasingly irrelevant, or at least unsure of its purpose, picking up bits and pieces in a half-hearted way that the IHR amendments do not, or cannot, include. However, as discussed below, it is far from irrelevant. Historical Perspective These aim to increase the centralization of decision-making within the WHO as the “directing and coordinating authority.” This terminology comes from the WHO’s 1946 Constitution, developed in the aftermath of the Second World War as the world faced the outcomes of European fascism and the similar approaches widely imposed through colonialist regimes. The WHO would support emerging countries, with rapidly expanding and poorly resourced populations struggling under high disease burdens, and coordinate some areas of international support as these sovereign countries requested it. The emphasis of action was on coordinating rather than directing. In the 80 years prior to the WHO’s existence, international public health had grown within a more directive mindset, with a series of meetings by colonial and slave-owning powers from 1851 to manage pandemics, culminating in the inauguration of the Office Internationale d’Hygiene Publique in Paris in 1907, and later the League of Nations Health Office. World powers imposed health dictates on those less powerful, in other parts of the world and increasingly on their own population through the eugenics movement and similar approaches. Public health would direct, for the greater good, as a tool of those who wish to direct the lives of others. The WHO, governed by the WHA, was to be very different. Newly independent States and their former colonial masters were ostensibly on an equal footing within the WHA (one country – one vote), and the WHO’s work overall was to be an example of how human rights could dominate the way society works. The model for international public health, as exemplified in the Declaration of Alma Ata in 1978, was to be horizontal rather than vertical, with communities and countries in the driving seat. With the evolution of the WHO in recent decades from a core funding model (countries give money, the WHO decides under the WHA guidance how to spend it) to a model based on specified funding (funders, both public and increasingly private, instruct the WHO on how to spend it), the WHO has inevitably changed to become a public-private partnership required to serve the interests of funders rather than populations. As most funding comes from a few countries with major Pharma industrial bases, or private investors and corporations in the same industry, the WHO has been required to emphasize the use of pharmaceuticals and downplay evidence and knowledge where these clash (if it wants to keep all its staff funded). It is helpful to view the draft Agreement, and the IHR amendments, in this context. Why May 2024? The WHO, together with the World Bank, G20, and other institutions have been emphasizing the urgency of putting the new pandemic instruments in place earnestly, before the ‘next pandemic.’ This is based on claims that the world was unprepared for Covid-19, and that the economic and health harm would be somehow avoidable if we had these agreements in place. They emphasize, contrary to evidence that Covid-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) origins involve laboratory manipulation, that the main threats we face are natural, and that these are increasing exponentially and present an “existential” threat to humanity. The data on which the WHO, the World Bank, and G20 base these claims demonstrates the contrary, with reported natural outbreaks having increased as detection technologies have developed, but reducing in mortality rate, and in numbers, over the past 10 to 20 years.. A paper cited by the World Bank to justify urgency and quoted as suggesting a 3x increase in risk in the coming decade actually suggests that a Covid-19-like event would occur roughly every 129 years, and a Spanish-flu repetition every 292 to 877 years. Such predictions are unable to take into account the rapidly changing nature of medicine and improved sanitation and nutrition (most deaths from Spanish flu would not have occurred if modern antibiotics had been available), and so may still overestimate risk. Similarly, the WHO’s own priority disease list for new outbreaks only includes two diseases of proven natural origin that have over 1,000 historical deaths attributed to them. It is well demonstrated that the risk and expected burden of pandemics is misrepresented by major international agencies in current discussions. The urgency for May 2024 is clearly therefore inadequately supported, firstly because neither the WHO nor others have demonstrated how the harms accrued through Covid-19 would be reduced through the measures proposed, and secondly because the burden and risk is misrepresented. In this context, the state of the Agreement is clearly not where it should be as a draft international legally binding agreement intended to impose considerable financial and other obligations on States and populations. This is particularly problematic as the proposed expenditure; the proposed budget is over $31 billion per year, with over $10 billion more on other One Health activities. Much of this will have to be diverted from addressing other diseases burdens that impose far greater burden. This trade-off, essential to understand in public health policy development, has not yet been clearly addressed by the WHO. The WHO DG stated recently that the WHO does not want the power to impose vaccine mandates or lockdowns on anyone, and does not want this. This begs the question of why either of the current WHO pandemic instruments is being proposed, both as legally binding documents. The current IHR (2005) already sets out such approaches as recommendations the DG can make, and there is nothing non-mandatory that countries cannot do now without pushing new treaty-like mechanisms through a vote in Geneva. Based on the DG’s claims, they are essentially redundant, and what new non-mandatory clauses they contain, as set out below, are certainly not urgent. Clauses that are mandatory (Member States “shall”) must be considered within national decision-making contexts and appear against the WHO’s stated intent. Common sense would suggest that the Agreement, and the accompanying IHR amendments, be properly thought through before Member States commit. The WHO has already abandoned the legal requirement for a 4-month review time for the IHR amendments (Article 55.2 IHR), which are also still under negotiation just 2 months before the WHA deadline. The Agreement should also have at least such a period for States to properly consider whether to agree – treaties normally take many years to develop and negotiate and no valid arguments have been put forward as to why these should be different. The Covid-19 response resulted in an unprecedented transfer of wealth from those of lower income to the very wealthy few, completely contrary to the way in which the WHO was intended to affect human society. A considerable portion of these pandemic profits went to current sponsors of the WHO, and these same corporate entities and investors are set to further benefit from the new pandemic agreements. As written, the Pandemic Agreement risks entrenching such centralization and profit-taking, and the accompanying unprecedented restrictions on human rights and freedoms, as a public health norm. To continue with a clearly flawed agreement simply because of a previously set deadline, when no clear population benefit is articulated and no true urgency demonstrated, would therefore be a major step backward in international public health. Basic principles of proportionality, human agency, and community empowerment, essential for health and human rights outcomes, are missing or paid lip-service. The WHO clearly wishes to increase its funding and show it is ‘doing something,’ but must first articulate why the voluntary provisions of the current IHR are insufficient. It is hoped that by systematically reviewing some key clauses of the agreement here, it will become clear why a rethink of the whole approach is necessary. The full text is found below. The commentary below concentrates on selected draft provisions of the latest publicly available version of the draft agreement that seem to be unclear or potentially problematic. Much of the remaining text is essentially pointless as it reiterates vague intentions to be found in other documents or activities which countries normally undertake in the course of running health services, and have no place in a focused legally-binding international agreement. REVISED Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement. 7th March, 2024 Preamble Recognizing that the World Health Organization…is the directing and coordinating authority on international health work. This is inconsistent with a recent statement by the WHO DG that the WHO has no interest or intent to direct country health responses. To reiterate it here suggests that the DG is not representing the true position regarding the Agreement. “Directing authority” is however in line with the proposed IHR Amendments (and the WHO’s Constitution), under which countries will “undertake” ahead of time to follow the DG’s recommendations (which thereby become instructions). As the HR amendments make clear, this is intended to apply even to a perceived threat rather than actual harm. Recalling the constitution of the World Health Organization…highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition. This statement recalls fundamental understandings of public health, and is of importance here as it raises the question of why the WHO did not strongly condemn prolonged school closures, workplace closures, and other impoverishing policies during the Covid-19 response. In 2019, WHO made clear that these dangers should prevent actions we now call ‘lockdowns’ from being imposed. Deeply concerned by the gross inequities at national and international levels that hindered timely and equitable access to medical and other Covid-19 pandemic-related products, and the serious shortcomings in pandemic preparedness. In terms of health equity (as distinct from commodity of ‘vaccine’ equity), inequity in the Covid-19 response was not in failing to provide a vaccine against former variants to immune, young people in low-income countries who were at far higher risk from endemic diseases, but in the disproportionate harm to them of uniformly-imposed NPIs that reduced current and future income and basic healthcare, as was noted by the WHO in 2019 Pandemic Influenza recommendations. The failure of the text to recognize this suggests that lessons from Covid-19 have not informed this draft Agreement. The WHO has not yet demonstrated how pandemic ‘preparedness,’ in the terms they use below, would have reduced impact, given that there is poor correlation between strictness or speed of response and eventual outcomes. Reiterating the need to work towards…an equitable approach to mitigate the risk that pandemics exacerbate existing inequities in access to health services, As above – in the past century, the issue of inequity has been most pronounced in pandemic response, rather than the impact of the virus itself (excluding the physiological variation in risk). Most recorded deaths from acute pandemics, since the Spanish flu, were during Covid-19, in which the virus hit mainly sick elderly, but response impacted working-age adults and children heavily and will continue to have effect, due to increased poverty and debt; reduced education and child marriage, in future generations. These have disproportionately affected lower-income people, and particularly women. The lack of recognition of this in this document, though they are recognized by the World Bank and UN agencies elsewhere, must raise real questions on whether this Agreement has been thoroughly thought through, and the process of development been sufficiently inclusive and objective. Chapter I. Introduction Article 1. Use of terms (i) “pathogen with pandemic potential” means any pathogen that has been identified to infect a human and that is: novel (not yet characterized) or known (including a variant of a known pathogen), potentially highly transmissible and/or highly virulent with the potential to cause a public health emergency of international concern. This provides a very wide scope to alter provisions. Any pathogen that can infect humans and is potentially highly transmissible or virulent, though yet uncharacterized means virtually any coronavirus, influenza virus, or a plethora of other relatively common pathogen groups. The IHR Amendments intend that the DG alone can make this call, over the advice of others, as occurred with monkeypox in 2022. (j) “persons in vulnerable situations” means individuals, groups or communities with a disproportionate increased risk of infection, severity, disease or mortality. This is a good definition – in Covid-19 context, would mean the sick elderly, and so is relevant to targeting a response. “Universal health coverage” means that all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship. While the general UHC concept is good, it is time a sensible (rather than patently silly) definition was adopted. Society cannot afford the full range of possible interventions and remedies for all, and clearly there is a scale of cost vs benefit that prioritizes certain ones over others. Sensible definitions make action more likely, and inaction harder to justify. One could argue that none should have the full range until all have good basic care, but clearly the earth will not support ‘the full range’ for 8 billion people. Article 2. Objective This Agreement is specifically for pandemics (a poorly defined term but essentially a pathogen that spreads rapidly across national borders). In contrast, the IHR amendments accompanying it are broader in scope – for any public health emergencies of international concern. Article 3. Principles 2. the sovereign right of States to adopt, legislate and implement legislation The amendments to the IHR require States to undertake to follow WHO instructions ahead of time, before such instruction and context are known. These two documents must be understood, as noted later in the Agreement draft, as complementary. 3. equity as the goal and outcome of pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, ensuring the absence of unfair, avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people. This definition of equity here needs clarification. In the pandemic context, the WHO emphasized commodity (vaccine) equity during the Covid-19 response. Elimination of differences implied equal access to Covid-19 vaccines in countries with large aging, obese highly vulnerable populations (e.g. the USA or Italy), and those with young populations at minimal risk and with far more pressing health priorities (e.g. Niger or Uganda). Alternatively, but equally damaging, equal access to different age groups within a country when the risk-benefit ratio is clearly greatly different. This promotes worse health outcomes by diverting resources from where they are most useful, as it ignores heterogeneity of risk. Again, an adult approach is required in international agreements, rather than feel-good sentences, if they are going to have a positive impact. 5. …a more equitable and better prepared world to prevent, respond to and recover from pandemics As with ‘3’ above, this raises a fundamental problem: What if health equity demands that some populations divert resources to childhood nutrition and endemic diseases rather than the latest pandemic, as these are likely of far higher burden to many younger but lower-income populations? This would not be equity in the definition implied here, but would clearly lead to better and more equal health outcomes. The WHO must decide whether it is about uniform action, or minimizing poor health, as these are clearly very different. They are the difference between the WHO’s commodity equity, and true health equity. Chapter II. The world together equitably: achieving equity in, for and through pandemic prevention, preparedness and response Equity in health should imply a reasonably equal chance of overcoming or avoiding preventable sickness. The vast majority of sickness and death is due to either non-communicable diseases often related to lifestyle, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus, undernutrition in childhood, and endemic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. Achieving health equity would primarily mean addressing these. In this chapter of the draft Pandemic Agreement, equity is used to imply equal access to specific health commodities, particularly vaccines, for intermittent health emergencies, although these exert a small fraction of the burden of other diseases. It is, specifically, commodity-equity, and not geared to equalizing overall health burden but to enabling centrally-coordinated homogenous responses to unusual events. Article 4. Pandemic prevention and surveillance 2. The Parties shall undertake to cooperate: (b) in support of…initiatives aimed at preventing pandemics, in particular those that improve surveillance, early warning and risk assessment; .…and identify settings and activities presenting a risk of emergence and re-emergence of pathogens with pandemic potential. (c-h) [Paragraphs on water and sanitation, infection control, strengthening of biosafety, surveillance and prevention of vector-born diseases, and addressing antimicrobial resistance.] The WHO intends the Agreement to have force under international law. Therefore, countries are undertaking to put themselves under force of international law in regards to complying with the agreement’s stipulations. The provisions under this long article mostly cover general health stuff that countries try to do anyway. The difference will be that countries will be assessed on progress. Assessment can be fine if in context, less fine if it consists of entitled ‘experts’ from wealthy countries with little local knowledge or context. Perhaps such compliance is best left to national authorities, who are more in use with local needs and priorities. The justification for the international bureaucracy being built to support this, while fun for those involved, is unclear and will divert resources from actual health work. 6. The Conference of the Parties may adopt, as necessary, guidelines, recommendations and standards, including in relation to pandemic prevention capacities, to support the implementation of this Article. Here and later, the COP is invoked as a vehicle to decide on what will actually be done. The rules are explained later (Articles 21-23). While allowing more time is sensible, it begs the question of why it is not better to wait and discuss what is needed in the current INB process, before committing to a legally-binding agreement. This current article says nothing not already covered by the IHR2005 or other ongoing programs. Article 5. One Health approach to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response Nothing specific or new in this article. It seems redundant (it is advocating a holistic approach mentioned elsewhere) and so presumably is just to get the term ‘One Health’ into the agreement. (One could ask, why bother?) Some mainstream definitions of One Health (e.g. Lancet) consider that it means non-human species are on a par with humans in terms of rights and importance. If this is meant here, clearly most Member States would disagree. So we may assume that it is just words to keep someone happy (a little childish in an international document, but the term ‘One Health’ has been trending, like ‘equity,’ as if the concept of holistic approaches to public health were new). Article 6. Preparedness, health system resilience and recovery 2. Each Party commits…[to] : (a) routine and essential health services during pandemics with a focus on primary health care, routine immunization and mental health care, and with particular attention to persons in vulnerable situations (b) developing, strengthening and maintaining health infrastructure (c) developing post-pandemic health system recovery strategies (d) developing, strengthening and maintaining: health information systems This is good, and (a) seems to require avoidance of lockdowns (which inevitably cause the harms listed). Unfortunately other WHO documents lead one to assume this is not the intent…It does appear therefore that this is simply another list of fairly non-specific feel-good measures that have no useful place in a new legally-binding agreement, and which most countries are already undertaking. (e) promoting the use of social and behavioural sciences, risk communication and community engagement for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. This requires clarification, as the use of behavioral science during the Covid-19 response involved deliberate inducement of fear to promote behaviors that people would not otherwise follow (e.g. Spi-B). It is essential here that the document clarifies how behavioral science should be used ethically in healthcare. Otherwise, this is also a quite meaningless provision. Article 7. Health and care workforce This long Article discusses health workforce, training, retention, non-discrimination, stigma, bias, adequate remuneration, and other standard provisions for workplaces. It is unclear why it is included in a legally binding pandemic agreement, except for: 4. [The Parties]…shall invest in establishing, sustaining, coordinating and mobilizing a skilled and trained multidisciplinary global public health emergency workforce…Parties having established emergency health teams should inform WHO thereof and make best efforts to respond to requests for deployment… Emergency health teams established (within capacity etc.) – are something countries already do, when they have capacity. There is no reason to have this as a legally-binding instrument, and clearly no urgency to do so. Article 8. Preparedness monitoring and functional reviews 1. The Parties shall, building on existing and relevant tools, develop and implement an inclusive, transparent, effective and efficient pandemic prevention, preparedness and response monitoring and evaluation system. 2. Each Party shall assess, every five years, with technical support from the WHO Secretariat upon request, the functioning and readiness of, and gaps in, its pandemic prevention, preparedness and response capacity, based on the relevant tools and guidelines developed by WHO in partnership with relevant organizations at international, regional and sub-regional levels. Note that this is being required of countries that are already struggling to implement monitoring systems for major endemic diseases, including tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, and nutritional deficiencies. They will be legally bound to divert resources to pandemic prevention. While there is some overlap, it will inevitably divert resources from currently underfunded programs for diseases of far higher local burdens, and so (not theoretically, but inevitably) raise mortality. Poor countries are being required to put resources into problems deemed significant by richer countries. Article 9. Research and development Various general provisions about undertaking background research that countries are generally doing anyway, but with an ’emerging disease’ slant. Again, the INB fails to justify why this diversion of resources from researching greater disease burdens should occur in all countries (why not just those with excess resources?). Article 10. Sustainable and geographically diversified production Mostly non-binding but suggested cooperation on making pandemic-related products available, including support for manufacturing in “inter-pandemic times” (a fascinating rendering of ‘normal’), when they would only be viable through subsidies. Much of this is probably unimplementable, as it would not be practical to maintain facilities in most or all countries on stand-by for rare events, at cost of resources otherwise useful for other priorities. The desire to increase production in ‘developing’ countries will face major barriers and costs in terms of maintaining quality of production, particularly as many products will have limited use outside of rare outbreak situations. Article 11. Transfer of technology and know-how This article, always problematic for large pharmaceutical corporations sponsoring much WHO outbreak activities, is now watered down to weak requirements to ‘consider,’ promote,’ provide, within capabilities’ etc. Article 12. Access and benefit sharing This Article is intended to establish the WHO Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing System (PABS System). PABS is intended to “ensure rapid, systematic and timely access to biological materials of pathogens with pandemic potential and the genetic sequence data.” This system is of potential high relevance and needs to be interpreted in the context that SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen causing the recent Covid-19 outbreak, was highly likely to have escaped from a laboratory. PABS is intended to expand the laboratory storage, transport, and handling of such viruses, under the oversight of the WHO, an organization outside of national jurisdiction with no significant direct experience in handling biological materials. 3. When a Party has access to a pathogen [it shall]: (a) share with WHO any pathogen sequence information as soon as it is available to the Party; (b) as soon as biological materials are available to the Party, provide the materials to one or more laboratories and/or biorepositories participating in WHO-coordinated laboratory networks (CLNs), Subsequent clauses state that benefits will be shared, and seek to prevent recipient laboratories from patenting materials received from other countries. This has been a major concern of low-and middle-income countries previously, who perceive that institutions in wealthy countries patent and benefit from materials derived from less-wealthy populations. It remains to be seen whether provisions here will be sufficient to address this. The article then becomes yet more concerning: 6. WHO shall conclude legally binding standard PABS contracts with manufacturers to provide the following, taking into account the size, nature and capacities of the manufacturer: (a) annual monetary contributions to support the PABS System and relevant capacities in countries; the determination of the annual amount, use, and approach for monitoring and accountability, shall be finalized by the Parties; (b) real-time contributions of relevant diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccines produced by the manufacturer, 10% free of charge and 10% at not-for-profit prices during public health emergencies of international concern or pandemics, … It is clearly intended that the WHO becomes directly involved in setting up legally binding manufacturing contracts, despite the WHO being outside of national jurisdictional oversight, within the territories of Member States. The PABS system, and therefore its staff and dependent entities, are also to be supported in part by funds from the manufacturers whom they are supposed to be managing. The income of the organization will be dependent on maintaining positive relationships with these private entities in a similar way in which many national regulatory agencies are dependent upon funds from pharmaceutical companies whom their staff ostensibly regulate. In this case, the regulator will be even further removed from public oversight. The clause on 10% (why 10?) products being free of charge, and similar at cost, while ensuring lower-priced commodities irrespective of actual need (the outbreak may be confined to wealthy countries). The same entity, the WHO, will determine whether the triggering emergency exists, determine the response, and manage the contracts to provide the commodities, without direct jurisdictional oversight regarding the potential for corruption or conflict of interest. It is a remarkable system to suggest, irrespective of political or regulatory environment. 8. The Parties shall cooperate…public financing of research and development, prepurchase agreements, or regulatory procedures, to encourage and facilitate as many manufacturers as possible to enter into standard PABS contracts as early as possible. The article envisions that public funding will be used to build the process, ensuring essentially no-risk private profit. 10. To support operationalization of the PABS System, WHO shall…make such contracts public, while respecting commercial confidentiality. The public may know whom contracts are made with, but not all details of the contracts. There will therefore be no independent oversight of the clauses agreed between the WHO, a body outside of national jurisdiction and dependent of commercial companies for funding some of its work and salaries, and these same companies, on ‘needs’ that the WHO itself will have sole authority, under the proposed amendments to the IHR, to determine. The Article further states that the WHO shall use its own product regulatory system (prequalification) and Emergency Use Listing Procedure to open and stimulate markets for the manufacturers of these products. It is doubtful that any national government could make such an overall agreement, yet in May 2024 they will be voting to provide this to what is essentially a foreign, and partly privately financed, entity. Article 13. Supply chain and logistics The WHO will become convenor of a ‘Global Supply Chain and Logistics Network’ for commercially-produced products, to be supplied under WHO contracts when and where the WHO determines, whilst also having the role of ensuring safety of such products. Having mutual support coordinated between countries is good. Having this run by an organization that is significantly funded directly by those gaining from the sale of these same commodities seems reckless and counterintuitive. Few countries would allow this (or at least plan for it). For this to occur safely, the WHO would logically have to forgo all private investment, and greatly restrict national specified funding contributions. Otherwise, the conflicts of interest involved would destroy confidence in the system. There is no suggestion of such divestment from the WHO, but rather, as in Article 12, private sector dependency, directly tied to contracts, will increase. Article 13bis: National procurement- and distribution-related provisions While suffering the same (perhaps unavoidable) issues regarding commercial confidentiality, this alternate Article 13 seems far more appropriate, keeping commercial issues under national jurisdiction and avoiding the obvious conflict of interests that underpin funding for WHO activities and staffing. Article 14. Regulatory systems strengthening This entire Article reflects initiatives and programs already in place. Nothing here appears likely to add to current effort. Article 15. Liability and compensation management 1. Each Party shall consider developing, as necessary and in accordance with applicable law, national strategies for managing liability in its territory related to pandemic vaccines…no-fault compensation mechanisms… 2. The Parties…shall develop recommendations for the establishment and implementation of national, regional and/or global no-fault compensation mechanisms and strategies for managing liability during pandemic emergencies, including with regard to individuals that are in a humanitarian setting or vulnerable situations. This is quite remarkable, but also reflects some national legislation, in removing any fault or liability specifically from vaccine manufacturers, for harms done in pushing out vaccines to the public. During the Covid-19 response, genetic therapeutics being developed by BioNtech and Moderna were reclassified as vaccines, on the basis that an immune response is stimulated after they have modified intracellular biochemical pathways as a medicine normally does. This enabled specific trials normally required for carcinogenicity and teratogenicity to be bypassed, despite raised fetal abnormality rates in animal trials. It will enable the CEPI 100-day vaccine program, supported with private funding to support private mRNA vaccine manufacturers, to proceed without any risk to the manufacturer should there be subsequent public harm. Together with an earlier provision on public funding of research and manufacturing readiness, and the removal of former wording requiring intellectual property sharing in Article 11, this ensures vaccine manufacturers and their investors make profit in effective absence of risk. These entities are currently heavily invested in support for WHO, and were strongly aligned with the introduction of newly restrictive outbreak responses that emphasized and sometimes mandated their products during the Covid-19 outbreak. Article 16. International collaboration and cooperation A somewhat pointless article. It suggests that countries cooperate with each other and the WHO to implement the other agreements in the Agreement. Article 17. Whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches A list of essentially motherhood provisions related to planning for a pandemic. However, countries will legally be required to maintain a ‘national coordination multisectoral body’ for PPPR. This will essentially be an added burden on budgets, and inevitably divert further resources from other priorities. Perhaps just strengthening current infectious disease and nutritional programs would be more impactful. (Nowhere in this Agreement is nutrition discussed (essential for resilience to pathogens) and minimal wording is included on sanitation and clean water (other major reasons for reduction in infectious disease mortality over past centuries). However, the ‘community ownership’ wording is interesting (“empower and enable community ownership of, and contribution to, community readiness for and resilience [for PPPR]”), as this directly contradicts much of the rest of the Agreement, including the centralization of control under the Conference of Parties, requirements for countries to allocate resources to pandemic preparedness over other community priorities, and the idea of inspecting and assessing adherence to the centralized requirements of the Agreement. Either much of the rest of the Agreement is redundant, or this wording is purely for appearance and not to be followed (and therefore should be removed). Article 18. Communication and public awareness 1. Each Party shall promote timely access to credible and evidence-based information …with the aim of countering and addressing misinformation or disinformation… 2. The Parties shall, as appropriate, promote and/or conduct research and inform policies on factors that hinder or strengthen adherence to public health and social measures in a pandemic, as well as trust in science and public health institutions and agencies. The key word is as appropriate, given that many agencies, including the WHO, have overseen or aided policies during the Covid-19 response that have greatly increased poverty, child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and education loss. As the WHO has been shown to be significantly misrepresenting pandemic risk in the process of advocating for this Agreement and related instruments, its own communications would also fall outside the provision here related to evidence-based information, and fall within normal understandings of misinformation. It could not therefore be an arbiter of correctness of information here, so the Article is not implementable. Rewritten to recommend accurate evidence-based information being promoted, it would make good sense, but this is not an issue requiring a legally binding international agreement. Article 19. Implementation and support 3. The WHO Secretariat…organize the technical and financial assistance necessary to address such gaps and needs in implementing the commitments agreed upon under the Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005). As the WHO is dependent on donor support, its ability to address gaps in funding within Member States is clearly not something it can guarantee. The purpose of this article is unclear, repeating in paragraphs 1 and 2 the earlier intent for countries to generally support each other. Article 20. Sustainable financing 1. The Parties commit to working together…In this regard, each Party, within the means and resources at its disposal, shall: (a) prioritize and maintain or increase, as necessary, domestic funding for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, without undermining other domestic public health priorities including for: (i) strengthening and sustaining capacities for the prevention, preparedness and response to health emergencies and pandemics, in particular the core capacities of the International Health Regulations (2005);… This is silly wording, as countries obviously have to prioritize within budgets, so that moving funds to one area means removing from another. The essence of public health policy is weighing and making such decisions; this reality seems to be ignored here through wishful thinking. (a) is clearly redundant, as the IHR (2005) already exists and countries have agreed to support it. 3. A Coordinating Financial Mechanism (the “Mechanism”) is hereby established to support the implementation of both the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005) This will be in parallel to the Pandemic Fund recently commenced by the World Bank – an issue not lost on INB delegates and so likely to change here in the final version. It will also be additive to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and other health financing mechanisms, and so require another parallel international bureaucracy, presumably based in Geneva. It is intended to have its own capacity to “conduct relevant analyses on needs and gaps, in addition to tracking cooperation efforts,” so it will not be a small undertaking. Chapter III. Institutional and final provisions Article 21. Conference of the Parties 1. A Conference of the Parties is hereby established. 2. The Conference of the Parties shall keep under regular review, every three years, the implementation of the WHO Pandemic Agreement and take the decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation. This sets up the governing body to oversee this Agreement (another body requiring a secretariat and support). It is intended to meet within a year of the Agreement coming into force, and then set its own rules on meeting thereafter. It is likely that many provisions outlined in this draft of the Agreement will be deferred to the COP for further discussion. Articles 22 – 37 These articles cover the functioning of the Conference of Parties (COP) and various administrative issues. Of note, ‘block votes’ will be allowed from regional bodies (e.g. the EU). The WHO will provide the secretariat. Under Article 24 is noted: 3. Nothing in the WHO Pandemic Agreement shall be interpreted as providing the Secretariat of the World Health Organization, including the WHO Director-General, any authority to direct, order, alter or otherwise prescribe the domestic laws or policies of any Party, or to mandate or otherwise impose any requirements that Parties take specific actions, such as ban or accept travellers, impose vaccination mandates or therapeutic or diagnostic measures, or implement lockdowns. These provisions are explicitly stated in the proposed amendments to the IHR, to be considered alongside this agreement. Article 26 notes that the IHR is to be interpreted as compatible, thereby confirming that the IHR provisions including border closures and limits on freedom of movement, mandated vaccination, and other lockdown measures are not negated by this statement. As Article 26 states: “The Parties recognize that the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations should be interpreted so as to be compatible.” Some would consider this subterfuge – The Director-General recently labeled as liars those who claimed the Agreement included these powers, whilst failing to acknowledge the accompanying IHR amendments. The WHO could do better in avoiding misleading messaging, especially when this involves denigration of the public. Article 32 (Withdrawal) requires that, once adopted, Parties cannot withdraw for a total of 3 years (giving notice after a minimum of 2 years). Financial obligations undertaken under the agreement continue beyond that time. Finally, the Agreement will come into force, assuming a two-thirds majority in the WHA is achieved (Article 19, WHO Constitution), 30 days after the fortieth country has ratified it. Further reading: WHO Pandemic Agreement Intergovernmental Negotiating Board website: https://inb.who.int/ International Health Regulations Working Group website: https://apps.who.int/gb/wgihr/index.html On background to the WHO texts: Amendments to WHO’s International Health Regulations: An Annotated Guide An Unofficial Q&A on International Health Regulations On urgency and burden of pandemics: https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/downloads/download/228/rational-policy-over-panic Disease X and Davos: This is Not the Way to Evaluate and Formulate Public Health Policy Before Preparing for Pandemics, We Need Better Evidence of Risk Revised Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement: Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author. Authors David Bell David Bell, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is a public health physician and biotech consultant in global health. He is a former medical officer and scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Programme Head for malaria and febrile diseases at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva, Switzerland, and Director of Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in Bellevue, WA, USA. View all posts Thi Thuy Van Dinh Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings. View all posts Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work. https://brownstone.org/articles/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide/ https://www.minds.com/donshafi911/blog/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide-1621719398509187077
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    The WHO Pandemic Agreement: A Guide ⋆ Brownstone Institute
    The commentary below concentrates on selected draft provisions of the latest publicly available version of the draft agreement that seem to be unclear or potentially problematic.
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