Israel Pushes Back Against Iran


(MUNICH) — The nuclear deal with Iran has emboldened Tehran to become increasingly aggressive in the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, warning that Iran should “not test Israel’s resolve” as he showed off what he said was part of a downed Iranian drone.

Netanyahu said of Iran that if the U.S. decides to scrap the 2015 nuclear deal, which he has long opposed, “I think they’ll do nothing.”

But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, appearing two hours later at the same Munich Security Conference, fired back that Netanyahu’s comment was “delusional thinking.”

“I can assure that if Iran’s interests are not secured, Iran will respond, will respond seriously. And I believe it would be a response that means people would be sorry for taking the erroneous action they did,” he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed deep skepticism about the Iran nuclear deal that lifted sanctions against the country. He extended sanctions waivers in January but said he would not do so again when they come up for renewal in May unless his concerns are addressed.

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, a main architect of the nuclear deal, said it was “absolutely critical” to ensure it survives.

“We know what the world looks like without the Iran nuclear agreement,” he said Sunday, speaking at the same conference. “It’s not a better place.”

If the U.S. abandons the current nuclear deal it’s unlikely Iran would consider a new one, Kerry said.

“The problem is the waters have been muddied because of this credibility issue about America’s willingness to live up to any deal,” he said.

Kerry dismissed Netanyahu’s contention that Iran would be on its way to having a nuclear arsenal in 10 years, saying “that’s fundamentally not accurate.”

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir weighed in, saying the Iran nuclear deal “has flaws that need to be fixed.” He said that, among other things, the inspection system needs to be more intrusive.

“The world has to extract a price from Iran for its aggressive behavior,” he added.

Netanyahu told world leaders, diplomats and defense officials at the conference that the deal was similar to the infamous 1938 “Munich Agreement” that Western powers signed with Adolf Hitler in an attempt to stave off war in Europe, which became synonymous with appeasement.

“The concessions to Hitler only emboldened the Nazi regime,” he said. “Rather than choosing a path that might have prevented war… those well-intentioned leaders made a wider war inevitable and far more costly.”

Similarly, he said, the Iranian nuclear agreement has “unleashed a dangerous Iranian tiger in our region and beyond.”

Declaring that Iran’s “brazenness hit new highs,” he theatrically held up a fragment of what he said was an Iranian drone shot down last week by Israel in Israeli airspace and challenged Zarif.

“Mr. Zarif, do you recognize this? You should, it’s yours,” Netanyahu said. “You can take back with you a message to the tyrants of Tehran — do not test Israel’s resolve!”

Tehran has denied that the drone belonged to Iran. Zarif on Sunday dismissed Netanyahu’s stunt as “a cartoonish circus… which does not even deserve the dignity of a response.”

Iranian troops, along with Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed Shiite forces, have aided Syrian President Bashar Assad in his war against rebel groups. Netanyahu has repeatedly warned that he will not accept a permanent Iranian military presence in postwar Syria, fearing that Iran and its Shiite allies would turn their attention to Israel.

Netanyahu has been projecting a business-as-usual approach on his visit to Germany amid uproar at home after police on Tuesday said was sufficient evidence to indict him for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two cases. The Israeli leader has angrily rejected the accusations and denounced what he describes as an overzealous police investigation. He has also dismissed the accusations as a witch hunt orchestrated by a hostile media.

Zarif suggested Netanyahu might be escalating tensions with Iran simply to distract from his domestic problems.

Denouncing what he said were Israel’s “almost daily illegal incursions into Syrian airspace,” Zarif said Israel was trying “to create these cartoonish images to blame others for its own strategic blunders, or maybe to evade the domestic crisis they’re facing.”

Netanyahu told the audience that destroying the drone was a demonstration of Israel’s resolve.

“Israel will not allow Iran’s regime to put a noose of terror around our neck,” he said. “We will act if necessary, not just against Iran’s proxies that are attacking us but against Iran itself.”

Lebanese Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf accused Israel of being hypocritical, saying that he’d had “an Israeli drone above my head for the past 15 years” and warning about any aggression from its neighbor.

“Lebanon has no belligerent intent on anybody, but watch out, we will defend ourselves,” he said. “We also have partners, we also have friends, we also have people willing to die for their country. We are for peace, yet we will not stand for any threat and we will not accept any aggression. ”

Why New York City Will Be Shut Down At The Sixth Seal

Indian Point tritium leak 80% worse than originally reported

Published time: 10 Feb, 2016 22:12Edited time: 11 Feb, 2016 01:51

New measurements at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in upstate New York show levels of radioactive tritium 80 percent higher than reported last week. Plant operator insists the spill is not dangerous, as state officials call for a safety probe.

Entergy, which operates the facility 25 miles (40 km) north of New York City, says the increased levels of tritium represent “fluctuations that can be expected as the material migrates.”

“Even with the new readings, there is no impact to public health or safety, and although these values remain less than one-tenth of one percent of federal reporting guidelines,” Entergy said in a statement.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo raised an alarm last Saturday over the reports of groundwater contamination at Indian Point, noting that the company reported “alarming levels of radioactivity” at three monitoring wells, with “radioactivity increasing nearly 65,000 percent” at one of them.

The groundwater wells have no contact with any drinking water supplies, and the spill will dissipate before it reaches the Hudson River, a senior Entergy executive argued Tuesday, suggesting the increased state scrutiny was driven by the company’s decision to shut down another nuclear power plant.

“There are a number of stakeholders, including the governor, who do not like the fact that we are having to close Fitzpatrick,” Michael Twomey, Entergy’s vice president of external affairs, said during an appearance on ‘The Capitol Pressroom,’ a show on WCNY public radio.

The James A. Fitzpatrick plant is located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, near Oswego, New York. Entergy said it intended to close the plant once it runs out of fuel sometime this year, citing its continued operations as unprofitable.

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant on the Hudson river ©

‘65,000% radioactivity spike’: New York Gov. orders probe into water leak at Indian Point

“We’re not satisfied with this event. This was not up to our expectations,” Twomey said, adding that the Indian Point spill should be seen in context.

Though it has never reported a reactor problem, the Indian Point facility has been plagued by issues with transformers, cooling systems, and other electrical components over the years. It currently operates two reactors, both brought on-line in the 1970s.

In December, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission allowed Entergy to continue operating the reactors, pending license renewal. The facility’s initial 40-year license was set to expire on December 12, but the regulators are reportedly leaning towards recommending a 20-year extension.

By contrast, Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Pripyat, Ukraine was only three years old when it exploded in April 1986. To this day, an area of 1000 square miles around the power plant remains the “exclusion zone,” where human habitation is prohibited.

The tritium leak at Indian Point most likely took place in January, during the preparations to shut down Reactor 2 for refueling, according to Entergy. Water containing high levels of the hydrogen isotope reportedly overfilled the drains and spilled into the ground.

According to Entergy, tritium is a “low hazard radionuclide” because it emits low-energy beta particles, which do not penetrate the skin. “People could be harmed by tritium only through internal exposure caused by drinking water with high levels of tritium over many years,” an Entergy fact sheet says.

Environmentalist critics are not convinced, however.

“This plant isn’t safe anymore,” Paul Gallay, president of environmental watchdog group

Riverkeeper, told the New York Daily News. “Everybody knows it and only Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission refuse to admit it.”

Iran Deepens Its Influence in Iraq (Daniel 8)

An oil facility west of Karun in Iran. File photo: IRNA

Iran deepens oil ties with neighbor Iraq

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Oil capacity at a joint Iran-Iraq on the southern borders will increase by 50,000 barrels per day.

Managing Director of Iran’s Petroleum Engineering and Development Company has stated that production capacity at Karun currently stands at 300,000 barrels per day and it is expected to reach 350,000 barrels by March 21.

Karun is in Iran’s Khuzestan province, which borders Basra in Iraq.

Noureddin Shahnazizadeh, the managing director, added that the development of joint oilfields was pursued immediately after the 11th government came to office.

President Hassan Rouhani was re-elected Iranian president in May 2017.

The petroleum ministry has announced it will prioritize development of its South Azadegan, North Azadegan, Yadavaran, South Yaran, North Yaran fields, while Iraq has announced further development of the South Pars block.

Iran has been trying to attract hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of foreign investment for its energy sector, following the landmark Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) signed in 2015 with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

The deal provided sanctions relief in return for limiting Iran’s nuclear activities.

While Iraq aims to rebuild its infrastructure following the 2003 US invasion, subsequent al-Qaeda insurgency, and fight against ISIS, its oil ministry announced in Kuwait on Thursday that the country aims to increase oil production from 5 million bpd to 7 million bpd by 2022.

Iraq sought $88 billion for projects at the Kuwait conference to rebuild infrastructure. Iraq got less than a third of that.

While countries were quick to “pledge,” “invest,” or “loan” funds to Baghdad, no business deals were signed at the three-day conference in Kuwait, according to The New York Times.

Iraq has also benefitted from the control of Kirkuk and other disputed oil fields since its October incursion and takeover of areas which have nearly halved the revenues of the Kurdistan Region, according to the KRG.

We Should Worry About Iran’s Hegemony (Daniel 8:4) wariness about Iran’s aggressive behavior is warranted

The Arab Weekly

There is much to recommend in French President Emmanuel Macron’s sober assessment of the risks of destabilization posed by Iran to the Middle East.

Iran, he said, needed to be put “under surveillance over its ballistic missiles. It’s indispensable for the security of the region and so we need a mechanism of sanctions and control adapted to that.”

His recommendations are timely. Tensions are mounting in the Middle East, in Syria in particular. Iran’s role is not helping when there are too many foreign powers in Syria pursuing conflicting agendas. Some are suddenly shooting at each other.

In recent days, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura reiterated his organisation’s appeal to all belligerents and other concerned countries “to de-escalate immediately and unconditionally.”

Iran arms and supports proxy militias from all over the world and they fight to widen Tehran’s influence. It’s also busy establishing an enduring military presence in Syria. The search for a lasting peaceful settlement there is not among Iran’s priorities.

This is the context in which the French president’s proposal bears examination. It includes a clear plan for international involvement in limiting the threat of Iran’s ballistic missiles. For this, Macron suggests “a new cycle of negotiations with regional parties and the permanent members of the Security Council.”

This is right and proper. Iran’s ballistic missile tests have consistently triggered alarms because of the aggressive cast of the country’s foreign policy. The Iranians argue the topic is off-limits because ballistic missiles are not covered by the 2015 nuclear deal. This would be a credible argument if Iran had not used the deal’s economic dividends to finance its expansionist agenda, one that threatens regional and international stability.

It’s worth noting that Macron is not the only one sounding the alarm. British Prime Minister Theresa May said her country shared the United States’ concerns about “Iran’s destabilising activity in the Middle East and we stand ready to take further appropriate measures to tackle these issues.”

Her remarks came after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that “Iran’s presence in Syria is only destabilising to the region.” He pointed out the dangerous role played by Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, and how its “entanglement in regional conflicts” threatens Lebanon’s and regional security.

Greater international resolve is building against Tehran’s behaviour. Iran should pay heed.

Closing in to the Trumpets of Prophecy (Revelation 8)

By TOI staff

Ernest Moniz, the Obama-era nuclear physics who was instrumental in securing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, told the Guardian newspaper this week the margin of error in avoiding a catastrophe was steadily diminishing.

He said better technology, ramped up threats and poor communication between world powers has made the chance of detonating a nuclear weapon “higher than it’s been since the Cuban missile crisis.”

Moniz noted the false alert that was sent out last month in Hawaii warning residents the Pacific island state was the target of an imminent ballistic missile.

The emergency alert sent that to all Hawaii mobile phones and was transmitted by television and radio stations sparked widespread panic.

A retraction wasn’t issued until nearly 40 minutes later.

“Thirty-eight minutes is substantially longer than the decision time that President Trump or President Putin or other leaders with nuclear weapon states would have for a response to a warning about significant incoming missiles,” Moniz told the paper.

“We know we’ve had those warnings many times in history and we’ve managed so far to dodge the bullet,” he said. “But dodging the bullets is more difficult when there’s not significant communications going on and a lot of tensions between the countries.”

Monitz also said the administration of US President Donald Trump was heightening the global risk of using nuclear weapons, noting the recently released Nuclear Posture Review that included plans to invest $10 billion on upgrading the B61 gravity bomb.

“The use of a new class of submarine-launched smaller weapons seems to us to just add to the issues of miscalculation,” he explained.

The former secretary also warned that the risk of a large scale cyber attack could trigger a nuclear war between world powers.

“A major infrastructure cyberattack could not be a nationally endorsed attack at all,” Moniz said. “It could be from some third-party hackers who might enjoy a nuclear exchange between the two major powers.”

Moniz also urged the international community to step up efforts “quietly and systematically” to replace medical sources of radioactive materials that are stored in unsecured locations to prevent their theft by terrorist groups.

“I would say it’s kind of remarkable that we have not had a significant incident to date in that realm,” he said.