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'Israel reaches strategic decision not to let Iran go nuclear'www.jpost.com
 
Israel will not agree to allow Iran to achieve nuclear weapons and if the grains start running out in the proverbial egg timer, Jerusalem will not hesitate to take whatever means necessary to prevent Iran from achieving its nuclear goals, the government has recently decided in a special discussion.
 
According to the Israeli daily Ma'ariv, whether the United States and Western countries will succeed in toppling the ayatollah regime diplomatically, through sanctions, or whether an American strike on Iran will eventually be decided upon, Jerusalem has put preparations for a separate, independent military strike by Israel in high gear.
 
So far, Israel has not received American authorization to use US-controlled Iraqi airspace, nor has the defense establishment been successful in securing the purchase of advanced US-made warplanes which could facilitate an Israeli strike.
 
The Americans have offered Israel permission to use a global early warning radar system, implying that the US is pushing Israel to settle for defensive measures only.
 
Because of Israel's lack of strategic depth, Jerusalem has consistently warned over the past years it will not settle for a 'wait and see' approach and retaliate in case of attack, but rather use preemption to prevent any risk of being hit in the first place.
 
Ephraim Sneh a veteran Labor MK which has left the party recently, has sent a document to both US presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama. The eight-point document states that "there is no government in Jerusalem that would ever reconcile itself to a nuclear Iran. When it is clear Iran is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons, an Israeli military strike to prevent this will be seriously considered."
 
According to Ma'ariv, Sneh offered the two candidates the "sane, cheap and the only option that does not necessitate bloodshed." To prevent Iran's nuclear aspirations, Sneh wrote, "real" sanctions applied in concert by the US and Europe is necessary. A total embargo in spare parts for the oil industry and a total boycott of Iranian banks will topple, within a short time, the regime which is already pressured by a sloping economy and would be toppled by the Iranian people if they would have outside assistance.
 
The window of opportunity Sneh suggests is a year and a half to two years, until 2010.
 
Sneh also visited Switzerland and Austria last week in an attempt to lobby those two states. Both countries have announced massive long-term investments in Iranian gas and oil fields for the next decade.
 
"Talk of the Jewish Holocaust and Israel's security doesn't impress these guys," Sneh said wryly.
 
Hearing his hosts speak of their future investments, Sneh replied quietly "it's a shame, because Ido will light all this up." He was referring to Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan, the recently appointed commander of the Israeli Air Force and the man most likely to be the one to orchestrate Israel's attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, should this become the necessity.
 
"Investing in Iran in 2008," Sneh told his Austrian hosts, "is like investing in the Krupp steelworks in 1938, it's a high risk investment." The Austrians, according to Sneh, turned pale.
 
In related news, Israel Radio reported that Iran has finished installing an additional 4,000 centrifuges in the Natanz uranium enrichment facility. The Islamic Republic also announced it will install an additional 3,000 centrifuges in coming months.
 
The pan-Arabic Al Kuds al Arabi reported Friday that Iran has equipped Hizbullah with longer range missiles than those it had before the Second Lebanon War and also improved the terror group's targeting capabilities.
 
According to the report, which The Jerusalem Post could not verify independently, Hizbullah would begin a massive rocket onslaught on targets reaching deep into Israel's civilian underbelly in case the Jewish State would launch an attack on Iran.

 
Iran plants mines in Gulf; additional western carrier group eyed - www.jpost.com
 
ABU DHABI — Iran has upgraded preparations for war which have included threats of retaliation against the world's oil supply.
 
Gulf Arab officials said Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has been planting mines in the Gulf. The officials said most of the mines were placed in Iran's territorial waters.
 
"This is a clear message by Iran that it is preparing for war," a Kuwaiti defense official said.
 
Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz. Teheran has also warned that it would target Gulf Cooperation Council states in any retaliation for a U.S. attack.
 
Officials said the U.S. Navy and its Western allies plan to deploy at least one additional strike carrier group in the Gulf. They said the carrier group was expected to arrive in the Gulf by mid-September.
 
Officials said the U.S. Navy has been monitoring Iranian mining of the Gulf. So far, they said, the mining has not significantly hampered U.S. or other naval vessels.
 
In late 2007 and early 2008, IRGC confronted U.S. Navy vessels around the Strait of Hormuz, passage for more than 30 percent of global oil shipments. The United States has not reported such a confrontation since April 2008.
 
"Merely talking about such a closure [of the Strait of Hormuz] creates a state of tension and will raise the insurance costs on vessels passing through," Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Mohammed Al Salem Al Sabah said. "We are now paying additional shipping costs because of an [Iranian] statement, which may be a trial balloon or a war of words."
 
Over the last two years, Iran has increased exercises and maneuvers in the Gulf. In July 2008, IRGC was said to have arrested a Kuwaiti national during an Iranian naval exercise. Iran has since denied holding the Kuwaiti.
 
Series of exercises geared to readiness for region-wide war
 
Western intelligence sources said Iran has engaged in a series of intensive exercises designed to enhance combat readiness for a war in the Gulf.
 
The sources said Teheran has been steadily testing both regular military units as well as those of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps to determine their level of combat skills, interoperability and command.
 
"The exercises envision Iran fighting a total and regional war that would include Iraq, the Gulf and Israel," an intelligence source said. "The exercises are meant to test Iran's combat sustainability as well as the prospect for regime survival during war."
 
The sources said Iran was expected to launch a major exercise every six weeks to test the military and security forces. They said the Great Prophet-3 exercise demonstrated both internal security skills as well as the ability to sustain missile and rocket attacks against such neighbors as Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
 
Over the next few weeks, Iran was scheduled to conduct a major air force exercise. The sources said the exercise would test the ability to protect Iranian air space as well as reconnaissance, air transport and other skills.
 
The sources said IRGC has established a command, control and communications system in most of Iran's 30 provinces. They said the C3 system was being tested for the ability to rapidly respond to any rebellion incited by the United States.
 
IRGC has also been testing its ability to sustain rocket and missile strikes throughout the region. They said Great Prophet-3 included a phase in which units rapidly brought weapons from underground arsenals and fired the projectiles toward U.S. ships and other assets around the Gulf.
 
"The military preparations are expected to be completed sometime around September [2008]," the intelligence source said. "This would provide the leadership with answers as to whether Teheran could fight the United States and survive."

 
Americans Approve Military Strike on Iran if Diplomacy Fails - www.metimes.com
 
The drums of war are beating louder, amplified by Iran's pursuit of its nuclear agenda and the West and Israel's determination not to let it do so. Continuing rhetoric by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about "wiping Israel off the map" does little to help. Meanwhile, the U.S. administration wants to see Tehran's uranium enrichment issue resolved before January 2009, when the next administration is sworn in. The clock is ticking.
 
As late as Wednesday U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney repeated what President George W. Bush has said numerous times: "All option remain on the table." Meaning, military intervention remains a possibility.
 
As the U.S. presidential elections heads into the final stretch, rarely has foreign policy occupied such a prominent role in American politics.
 
Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and Iran were consistent topics of debate for the candidates and of worry for the voters; as is terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
 
Despite the number of growing problems at home -- unemployment, the rising cost of health care, gasoline prices that have more than tripled, a housing crisis brought about by the sub-prime mortgage fiasco -- an unusually high segment of the American electorate remain just as concerned by developments overseas.
 
A new poll release Thursday finds that 63 percent of U.S. voters are in favor of military action against Iran if diplomacy fails. And 87 percent believe that if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons, it would pose a direct threat to the security of the United States; 85 percent of Democrats and 97 percent of Republicans believe Iran represents a serious threat to them.
 
However, 62 percent think there is still hope for diplomacy, although 90 percent fear that the Islamic Republic would share its nuclear technology with terrorist organizations.
 
According to the same poll, 81 percent of respondents are in favor of the international community sharing the burden of trying to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. And if military intervention became a reality, 55 percent would approve of the United States and its allies carrying out "targeted strikes" against Iran's nuclear facilities.
 
Another 63 percent think that Israel should target Iran if it fails to listen to abide by the international community's request.
 
As for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 69 percent say the United States should support Israel, while only a meager 6 percent say the U.S. should support the Palestinians.
 
The bi-partisan poll, conducted by telephone between July 23-27 by Neil Newhouse of Public Opinion Strategies and Stan Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research surveyed 800 U.S. voters.
 
A total of 91 percent of American voters agree Iran poses a threat to Israel; the numbers jump even higher -- to 96 percent -- when respondents were asked whether a nuclear-armed Iran poses a threat to Israel.
 
"The nuclear clock is ticking faster than the diplomatic clock and time is running out," said Jennifer Lazlo Mizrahi, president of The Israel Project, who commissioned the poll.

 
Report: Hezbollah's new missiles have range 'Israel can't fathom' - By Yoav Stern – www.haaretz.com
 
Hezbollah is armed with advanced Iranian-supplied missiles capable of reaching targets deep inside Israel, according to a report in Friday's edition of the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Quds al-Arabi.
 
The report quotes senior Arab sources who claim that the Lebanon-based militia plans to use the missiles in the event Israel decides to attack Iranian nuclear facilities, or if the United States launches an offensive that has the potential to ignite a regional war.
 
The sources added that the new missiles have a range that Israel "cannot even fathom," and that the new arms are the "surprise" that Hezbollah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah alluded to in his recent statements to the public. The report says the missiles are armed with a precision-guided mechanism that increases their accuracy.
 
A spate of media reports in recent months have indicated that Hezbollah has stockpiled new arms, including anti-aircraft systems, that it has deployed in the mountainous regions of Lebanon. Israel has repeatedly warned that positioning these missile batteries in Lebanon would be viewed as "a step that tilts the balance."
 
Officials in Jerusalem say this would justify a preemptive strike on these weapons systems.
 
Iranian defense experts are also reportedly in Lebanon in an effort to assist Hezbollah in developing anti-aircraft capabilities.

 
Report: Iran supplied Hizbullah with advanced missiles  - www.ynetnews.com
 
Al-Quds al-Arabi reports missiles can accurately hit targets in Israel, weapons to be used by Lebanese organization in event that Israel or US launch attack against Islamic republic
 
Iran has supplied Hizbullah with advanced missiles which can accurately hit extensive targets inside Israel, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi reported Friday, quoting Arab sources.
 
According to the report, the missiles will be operational at any moment Israel "thinks of acting adventurously and attacking Iran" or when the United States launches a regional war against the Tehran government.
 
The Arab sources said that the new missiles are capable of reaching a range "Israel cannot even imagine" and are one of the "surprises" promised by Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.
 
It was also reported that the missiles were equipped with advanced navigation mechanisms, which would enable them to hit their targets in a more accurate manner.
 
According to recent reports, Iran plans to build an array of antiaircraft missiles for Hizbullah in Lebanon. Kuwaiti newspaper al-Siyasa reported Tuesday that 300 Iranian experts were working to build an array of antiaircraft missiles on the mountain range in western Lebanon.
 
Al-Quds al-Arabi went on to report that Iran is not only helping Israel's enemies in Lebanon, but is also attempting to reinforce the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip in a bid to weaken the truce between Hamas and Israel.
 
According to the report, these attempts have led to clashes between Hamas and Jihad members in Gaza.

 
Iran: new strides in uranium enrichmentwww.news.yahoo.com
 
Iran has increased the number of operating centrifuges at its uranium enrichment plant to 4,000, a top official said Friday, pushing ahead with the nuclear program despite threats of new U.N. sanctions.
 
The number was up from the 3,000 centrifuges that Iran announced in November that it was operating at its plant in the central city of Natanz. Still, it is well below the 6,000 it said last year it would operate by summer 2008, suggesting the program may be behind schedule.
 
Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Reza Sheikh Attar, who visited Natanz last week, said Friday that Iran was preparing to install even more centrifuges, though he did not offer a timeframe.
 
"Right now, nearly 4,000 centrifuges are operating at Natanz," Attar told the state news agency IRNA. "Currently, 3,000 other centrifuges are being installed."
 
The U.N. has already imposed three rounds of sanctions on Iran for its refusal to freeze its enrichment program, which can be used to produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or the material needed for a nuclear warhead.
 
In the process, uranium gas is spun in a series of centrifuges known as "cascades" to purify it. Lower levels of enrichment produce reactor fuel — which Iran says is the sole purpose of the program — but higher grades can build a weapon.
 
The United States and its allies are likely to press the U.N. later this year for a new round of sanctions after Iran did not accept a package of economic and technological incentives in return for suspending enrichment. But they could face strong resistance from Russia after this month's crisis in Georgia deeply damaged ties between Washington and Moscow.
 
Russia, which has close ties to Tehran, has long been reluctant to impose harsh sanctions — though it backed the past three rounds of limited financial sanctions.
 
The United States and some of its allies accuse Iran of seeking to build a nuclear weapon, a claim Iran denies. Tehran insists it has the right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to develop reactor fuel using enrichment.
 
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, declined to comment on the latest Iranian announcement.
 
By reaching 4,000 centrifuges, the program is moving into an industrial-scale program that could churn out enough enriched material for dozens of nuclear weapons.
 
Experts, however, say Iran would need to change the way the centrifuges are operating to enrich uranium to high, weapons-grade levels, something that would be difficult since the Natanz facility is under IAEA video surveillance.
 
Last month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran possesses 6,000 centrifuges, though he did not specify how many were operating. He also suggested that negotiations with the U.N. had raised a possible compromise whereby the enrichment program could continue as long as it was not expanded beyond 6,000 centrifuges. However, the IAEA and the countries involved in the nuclear issue — the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — have not shown any public sign that such a compromise was on the table.
 
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana presented Iran with the incentives offer in June. Iran finally sent a reply in August, but the U.S. and its allies said the response did not directly address the offer and considered it a rejection.
 
The workhorse of Iran's enrichment program is the P-1 centrifuge, which is run in cascades of 164 machines. But Iranian officials confirmed in February that they had started using the IR-2 centrifuge, which can churn out enriched uranium at more than double the rate.
 
Iran says it plans to move toward large-scale uranium enrichment that will ultimately involve 54,000 centrifuges.

 
Mideast Powers, Proxies and Paymasters Bluster and Rearm – Mel Frykberg - www.metimes.com
 
 JERUSALEM -- The war of words between Israel and Iran, and their proxies and paymasters, is becoming more belligerent as the Middle East's two arch-enemies display their military prowess before the international media in a further attempt to intimidate each other.
 
Iran has started producing domestically made submarines. On Thursday the Iranian defense minister, Brig. Gen. Mostafa Muhammad-Najjar, paid a visit to Iran's production line, saying the purpose of the submarines would be to defend oil pipelines in the Strait of Hormuz, through which approximately 40 percent of the world's oil supplies pass.
 
However, it has not been lost on Israel that these submarines will possess the ability to launch a choice of missiles that might very well be aimed at Israel should the country decide to follow through with its oft-repeated threats of an offensive strike on the Islamic republic.
 
On Wednesday Iran's Revolutionary Guards commander-in-chief, Muhammad Ali Jafari, warned Israel that Iran would hit back hard if Israel dared to carry out any strike and he added that Iran would also rely on its Shiite allies in the region to back it up.
 
Iran's proxies in the region include Syria, Hezbollah and the Palestinian resistance group Hamas even though it is Sunni Muslim.
 
"Our strategic calculations show that if the Zionist regime wants to make the smallest move against our interests, either independently or with America, in the shortest time all the territories under the Zionist regime's control will become unsafe," Jafari told Iran's Mehr news agency.
 
"That country is completely in the range of the Islamic Republic's missiles. The missile capabilities of our armed forces are such that the Zionist regime, with all its capabilities, would not be able to confront it," he added.
 
Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps is an ideologically motivated arm of Iran's military with an independent command structure to the regular armed forces. They have their own land, sea and air units.
 
During his warning to Israel, Jafari added a note of caution aimed at the U.S. presence in Iraq which is particularly vulnerable to Iranian attacks and interests in the region. Jafari warned that U.S. troops could also become a potential target following any attack on Iran.
 
While the Jewish state is eyeing Iran's new naval capabilities warily, Israel itself has focused on strengthening its naval supremacy, following the Second Lebanon War in 2006 which saw Iranian proxy Hezbollah cripple an Israeli naval ship off the Lebanese coast.
 
Hezbollah's growing political clout has seen the Islamic resistance organization strengthen its presence in the Lebanese parliament with both a veto power and the ability to further insinuate its agenda on Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's coalition government.
 
While this has alarmed both the Americans and the Israelis in particular, the guerilla group's increased military capacity in the last few years has been of major concern to the Israeli government.
 
And if there is one thing that ideologically and diametrically opposed Hezbollah and Israel agree on, it is Hezbollah's growing military strength.
 
Israel has complained repeatedly that the Lebanese resistance group has been busily smuggling weapons through the porous Syrian-Lebanese border on a regular basis.
 
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon last week seconded this in a report to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
 
Israel's concerns revolve around the fact that even prior to this, during the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah was able to practically immobilize northern and central Israel, the region's only superpower, after it fired hundreds of rockets into those areas, causing substantial casualties at the same time.
 
Israel for its part killed over 1,000 Lebanese, most of them civilian, and wrought massive destruction on Lebanon's infrastructure.
 
In a bid to add some closer regional bite to Iranian threats, Hezbollah spokesman and head of its parliamentary bloc, Muhammad Raad, also warned that if Israel attacked Iran, Israel would be on the receiving end of thousands of upgraded rockets.
 
"The first shot fired from the Zionist entity toward Iran will be met by a response of 11,000 rockets. This is what military leaders in the Islamic Republic have confirmed," said Raad.
 
And if these recent developments and the matching rhetoric failed to make the Israelis increasingly uncomfortable, Russia announced Thursday that it would be upgrading naval visits to Syrian ports.
 
This follows recent negotiations for the Kremlin to sell the Syrians upgraded missiles after Israel alienated Moscow, to a certain degree, with its arms sales to and training of Georgian troops who succeeded in giving Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's forces a run for their money during their dispute with Georgia.
 
The Russian charge 'affaires, Igor Belyaev, told reporters in Damascus his navy will make more use of Syrian ports as part of an increased Russian military presence in the Mediterranean.
 
"Our navy presence in the Mediterranean will increase. Russian vessels will be visiting Syria and other friendly ports more frequently," said Belyaev.
 
Russia relies on Syria's Tartous port as a main stopping point in the Mediterranean, although ties between the two countries have cooled since the collapse of communism, when Moscow supplied Syria with billions of dollars worth of arms.
 
Internet news sites reported that a Russian naval unit, including the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, docked at Tartous earlier this month.
 
Belyaev's announcement comes as tensions rise between Moscow and the West over Russia's role in Georgia. Syrian President Bashar Assad backed Russia's recent offensive in Georgia.
 

 
UPLIFTING! Now Shipping - THE RAPTURE: In the twinkling of an eye... DVD
 
According to the Lord's own words, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
 
·         Everything you always wanted to know about the Rapture
·         Learn about the 7 Raptures in the Bible
·         Old and New Testament proof for the Rapture
·         Why, when, who and how the Rapture takes place
·         Complete instruction for those who miss the Rapture and are Left Behind
 
 
This new DVD from Prophecy Update Productions that recently brought you the "The End of Times" and "Israel God's Timepiece" DVD's continues this exciting series on Bible prophecy.
 
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INSPIRING! - ISRAEL GOD’S TIMEPIECE – DVD
 
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Our newest DVD in our Bible Prophecy series – “Israel God’s Timepiece”, is finally finished! With the entire world now focused on current events in the Middle East between Israel and its surrounding enemies this DVD could not be timelier!
 
God sees the beginning from the end and knows all things; God has a schedule and has appointed times for events to happen. God has lovingly given us a look at His schedule so that we won't be caught off guard when these events take place. He has appointed Israel as His prophetic timepiece, if you want to know what time it is on God's schedule all you have to do is look at what's happening in Israel! Find out how God uses the nation of Israel as sign to the world that His return is near!
 
Order your copy today! -  www.prophecyupdate.com/israelgodstimepiecedvd.htm

 
COMING SOON! - AS IN THE DAYS OF NOAH –DVD
 
We often envision the Days of Noah from a Sunday school point of view.  We picture a cute little story with the animals boarding the Ark in pairs while Noah happily looks on, a sort of Disney-ish-Zippity-Doo-Dah scene with animals singing and dancing, not! A careful examination of the Bible story paints quite a different picture, more like something out of the X-Files. If God destroyed all living things except for Noah and his family because of Sin in the world, then we had better all be walking around wearing lifejackets!
 
How long can you tread water?
 
Reserve your copy today! Visit: www.prophecyupdate.com/days_of_noah.htm
 

 
Russia may cut off oil flow to the West - By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard - www.telegraph.co.uk
 
Fears are mounting that Russia may restrict oil deliveries to Western Europe over coming days, in response to the threat of EU sanctions and Nato naval actions in the Black Sea.
 
Any such move would be a dramatic escalation of the Georgia crisis and play havoc with the oil markets.
 
Reports have begun to circulate in Moscow that Russian oil companies are under orders from the Kremlin to prepare for a supply cut to Germany and Poland through the Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline. It is believed that executives from lead-producer LUKoil have been put on weekend alert.
 
"They have been told to be ready to cut off supplies as soon as Monday," claimed a high-level business source, speaking to The Daily Telegraph. Any move would be timed to coincide with an emergency EU summit in Brussels, where possible sanctions against Russia are on the agenda.
 
Any evidence that the Kremlin is planning to use the oil weapon to intimidate the West could inflame global energy markets. US crude prices jumped to $119 a barrel yesterday on reports of hurricane warnings in the Gulf of Mexico, before falling back slightly.
 
Global supplies remain tight despite the economic downturn engulfing North America, Europe and Japan. A supply cut at this delicate juncture could drive crude prices much higher, possibly to record levels of $150 or even $200 a barrel.
 
With US and European credit spreads already trading at levels of extreme stress, a fresh oil spike would rock financial markets. The Kremlin is undoubtedly aware that it exercises extraordinary leverage, if it strikes right now.
 
advertisementSuch action would be seen as economic warfare but Russia has been infuriated by Nato meddling in its "backyard" and threats of punitive measures by the EU. Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday accused EU diplomats of a "sick imagination".
 
 
Armed with $580bn of foreign reserves (the world's third largest), Russia appears willing to risk its reputation as a reliable actor on the international stage in order to pursue geo-strategic ambitions.
 
"We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a Cold War," said President Dmitry Medvedev.
 
The Polish government said yesterday that Russian deliveries were still arriving smoothly. It was not aware of any move to limit supplies. The European Commission's energy directorate said it had received no warnings of retaliatory cuts.
 
Russia has repeatedly restricted oil and gas deliveries over recent years as a means of diplomatic pressure, though Moscow usually explains away the reduction by referring to technical upsets or pipeline maintenance.
 
Last month, deliveries to the Czech Republic through the Druzhba pipeline were cut after Prague signed an agreement with the US to install an anti-missile shield. Czech officials say supplies fell 40pc for July. The pipeline managers Transneft said the shortfall was due to "technical and commercial reasons".
 
Supplies were cut to Estonia in May 2007 following a dispute with Russia over the removal of Red Army memorials. It was blamed on a "repair operation". Latvia was cut off in 2005 and 2006 in a battle for control over the Ventspils terminals. "There are ways to camouflage it," said Vincent Sabathier, a senior fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
 
"They never say, 'we're going to cut off your oil because we don't like your foreign policy'."
 
A senior LUKoil official in Moscow said he was unaware of any plans to curtail deliveries. The Kremlin declined to comment.
 
London-listed LUKoil is run by Russian billionaire Vagit Alekperov, who holds 20pc of the shares. LUKoil produces 2m barrels per day (b/d), or 2.5pc of world supply. It exports one fifth of its output to Germany and Poland.
 
Although Russia would lose much-needed revenue if it cut deliveries, the Kremlin might hope to recoup some of the money from higher prices. Indeed, it could enhance income for a while if the weapon was calibrated skillfully. Russia exports roughly 6.5m b/d, supplying the EU with 26pc of its total oil needs and 29pc of its gas.
 
A cut of just 1m b/d in global supply – and a veiled threat of more to come – would cause a major price spike.
 
It is unclear whether Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or other Opec producers have enough spare capacity to plug the shortfall. "Russia is behaving in a very erratic way," said James Woolsey, the former director of the CIA. "There is a risk that they might do something like cutting oil to hurt the world's democracies, if they get angry enough."
 
Mr Woolsey said the rapid move towards electric cars and other sources of power in the US and Europe means Russia's ability to use the oil weapon will soon be a diminishing asset. "Within a decade it will be very hard for Russia to push us around," he told The Daily Telegraph.
 
It is widely assumed that Russia would cut gas supplies rather than oil as a means of pressuring Europe. It is very hard to find alternative sources of gas. But gas cuts would not hurt the United States. Oil is a better weapon for striking at the broader Western world.
 
The price is global. The US economy could suffer serious damage from the immediate knock-on effects.
 
While the Russian state is rich, the corporate sector is heavily reliant on foreign investors. The internal bond market is tiny, with just $60bn worth of ruble issues.
 
Russian companies raise their funds on the world capital markets. Foreigners own half of the $1 trillion debt. Michael Ganske, Russia expert at Commerzbank, said the country was now facing a liquidity crunch. "Local investors are scared. They can see the foreigners leaving, so now they won't touch anything either. The impact on the capital markets is severe," he said.

 
The Gog-Magog alliance – Hal Lindsey – www.worldnetdaily.com and www.hallindsey.com
 
The League of Nations was initially nicknamed the "League of Victors" since its founding members were all members of the World War I alliance.
 
But throughout the turbulent 1920s, the League grew and strengthened. By 1928, even Germany was admitted into membership – albeit briefly – before Hitler ordered Germany's withdrawal in 1933.
 
In 1935, over the vehement objection of the League of Nations, Benito Mussolini's Fascist forces invaded Abyssinia (now Ethiopia)