A Closer Look At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

http://www.standeyo.com/NEWS/10_Earth_Changes/10_Earth_Changes_pics/100227.Ramapo.Fault.map2.jpgA Look at the Tri-State’s Active Fault Line

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Ramapo Fault is the longest fault in the Northeast that occasionally makes local headlines when minor tremors cause rock the Tri-State region. It begins in Pennsylvania, crosses the Delaware River and continues through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic and Bergen counties before crossing the Hudson River near Indian Point nuclear facility.

In the past, it has generated occasional activity that generated a 2.6 magnitude quake in New Jersey’s Peakpack/Gladstone area and 3.0 magnitude quake in Mendham.

But the New Jersey-New York region is relatively seismically stable according to Dr. Dave Robinson, Professor of Geography at Rutgers. Although it does have activity.

“There is occasional seismic activity in New Jersey,” said Robinson. “There have been a few quakes locally that have been felt and done a little bit of damage over the time since colonial settlement — some chimneys knocked down in Manhattan with a quake back in the 18th century, but nothing of a significant magnitude.”

Robinson said the Ramapo has on occasion registered a measurable quake but has not caused damage: “The Ramapo fault is associated with geological activities back 200 million years ago, but it’s still a little creaky now and again,” he said.

“More recently, in the 1970s and early 1980s, earthquake risk along the Ramapo Fault received attention because of its proximity to Indian Point,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Historically, critics of the Indian Point Nuclear facility in Westchester County, New York, did cite its proximity to the Ramapo fault line as a significant risk.

In 1884, according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website, the  Rampao Fault was blamed for a 5.5 quake that toppled chimneys in New York City and New Jersey that was felt from Maine to Virginia.

“Subsequent investigations have shown the 1884 Earthquake epicenter was actually located in Brooklyn, New York, at least 25 miles from the Ramapo Fault,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Antichrist Endorses One of His Men

Iraq’s Sadr endorses regional governor for premiershipIraq’s Sadr endorses regional governor for premiership

Iraq will hold its first post-Daesh parliamentary election this Saturday

By Amir al-Saadi

BAGHDAD

Prominent Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Wednesday announced his intention to nominate Ali Dawai, governor of Iraq’s southeastern Maysan province, for the premiership if his coalition performs well in upcoming polls.

Currently serving his second consecutive term as Maysan governor, Dawai is known for his modesty and frequent tours of the province.

On Tuesday, al-Sadr urged supporters to vote in Saturday’s parliamentary polls with a view to removing what he described as “corrupt officials” from power.

Al-Sadr supports the eclectic Sairon coalition, which includes Iraq’s Al-Istiqama Party and several leftist parties, including the Iraqi Communist Party.

Known for its vocal stance against government corruption, the Sadrist movement currently holds 34 seats in Iraq’s 328-member parliament.

Iraq is set to hold parliamentary polls this Saturday, in which more than 7,000 candidates from a host of parties will vie for seats in the national assembly.

Saturday’s vote will be Iraq’s first parliamentary race since the Daesh terrorist group was defeated last year after overrunning much of the country in mid-2014.

Some 24 million Iraqis will be eligible to cast ballots in the election.

The Aborted Iran Deal: A Pandora’s Box

President Donald Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran — violating the Obama-era nuclear deal — leaves the other nations involved scrambling to salvage the pact.

Experts warned it also risks weakening trust in the United States, raising questions about whether Washington can be taken at its word, and could potentially bolster hard-liners in Tehran who are pushing an agenda of Middle East aggression.

Why did Trump ditch the deal?

Trump has called it the “worst deal ever negotiated” and wanted Britain, France and Germany — co-signatories, along with Russia, China and the European Union — to toughen up its terms. In announcing his decision Tuesday, Trump blasted the deal as “defective at its core,” later adding that “America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail.”

His primary complaint is that the 2015 pact, which was originally conceived as a starting point for better relations between Iran and the West, doesn’t extend beyond 2025.

He also criticized the deal for failing to address other concerns about Iran, such as its ballistic missile program or its support of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, its military aid of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its role in the war in Yemen.

Trump’s stance echoes Israel’s longstanding opposition to the deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week alleged that “Iran lied” about its nuclear weapon ambitions in the 2000s, although the information he shared seemed to match up with what nuclear inspectors had already reported about Tehran’s program.

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Although Trump has been emphatic in his opposition to the deal, he was less clear about what should replace it or how far the U.S. is willing to go to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions or its regional aggression.

“With this decision, we at least get some clarity on the White House position,” said Sanam Vakil, a professor in the Middle East studies department at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna, Italy.

It also moves the Iran-U.S. tensions into a new phase after months of threats and insults. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is considered a moderate, last month dismissed Trump as a “building constructor” with no understanding of law or international treaties.

What happens next?

Under the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the United States committed to ease a series of sanctions on Iran and has done so under a string of “waivers” that effectively suspend them.

Failure to renew waivers means the sanctions will be restored, but under U.S. law the White House must allow a 90-day or 180-day period to allow companies to withdraw from any contracts or financial transactions involving Iran.

The waiver that was due for renewal Saturday covered Iran’s central bank and was intended at limiting Iran’s oil exports. Other waivers are due for renewal in July.

In his televised address on Tuesday, Trump said the United States would impose the “highest-level” economic sanctions on the Iranian regime, suggesting that he intends to scrap all of the waivers.

Restoring sanctions amounts to a U.S. breach of the original deal whereas Iran was deemed to be compliant, according to international nuclear inspectors.

The JCPOA has a dispute resolution clause that would allow Iran to raise a complaint against the U.S. for violating its terms; that could buy time for more negotiation, but Trump’s solid opposition to the deal means the dispute mechanism is unlikely to prove fruitful.

How will Iran respond?

While denouncing Trump’s plan, Tehran has not been entirely clear about what it will do once the impromptu public protests subside and American flags stop being burned.

It could resume its nuclear arms program or step up its military involvement in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, warned last month that Iran was considering withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iran says it has the technical ability to enrich uranium to a higher level than it could before the deal.

Rouhani has also ruled out any attempt to restrict its missiles, saying, “We will not negotiate with anyone about our weapons and defenses, and we will make and store as many weapons, facilities and missiles as we need.”

If the deal is considered dead, Iran would no longer be obliged to allow international nuclear inspectors “so that we lose what visibility we have there,” Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, predicted on “Fox News Sunday.”

However, Iran appears to be in line with European powers who want the deal to continue regardless of U.S. involvement.

Rouhani said after Trump’s announcement that he was sending his foreign minister to meet the remaining powers in the deal but warned there was only a short time to negotiate with them.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the deal is “a good and robust agreement that serves the interests of all parties.”

And French Defense Minister Florence Parly said Tuesday that “we will need to keep pushing to defend the improvement of this deal, whether the United States is part of it or not.”

However, a major hurdle for the remaining powers in the deal will be operating under a different sanctions policy than the U.S.; experts predict that most major international companies will comply with U.S. sanctions in order to protect their interests in the U.S. market.

Major companies in the U.S. and Europe could be hurt, too. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that licenses held by Boeing and its European competitor Airbus to sell billions of dollars in commercial jetliners to Iran will be revoked. Certain exemptions are to be negotiated, but Mnuchin refused to discuss what products might qualify.

At a briefing for reporters late Tuesday, a State Department official confirmed that the White House was considering sanctions on non-U.S.companies that did not comply.

And while Iran’s leaders may have been more willing to take a softer stance in talks with non-U.S. parties, anger at Trump’s decision may make that politically impossible.

“Should there be some momentum, Iran has indicated that perhaps it might negotiate on some of the wider issues,” Vakil said. “But right now it is obviously in a defensive mood, and domestic, sectional politics very much drives its ability to come back to the negotiating table.”

What does America get?

The perceived benefit of restoring sanctions is that an economically weakened and isolated Iran would have to scale back its regional aggression.

“It also puts pressure on Iran and the international community to address Trump’s personal concerns with the deal,” Vakil said.

However, a simulation exercise carried out last fall by Israeli and American experts concluded that there was little else to be gained by scuttling the deal. In particular, it seems unlikely Iran would agree to a tougher deal while the international position is so divided; splintering the deal plays into Tehran’s hands, the experts concluded.

What is Israel’s view?

The collapse of the deal comes amid signs that Israel and Iran are moving closer to open warfare.

Netanyahu on Tuesday accused Iran of deploying “very dangerous weapons” in neighboring Syria. “It is now seeking to plant very dangerous weapons in Syria … for the specific purpose of our destruction,” he told reporters.

Israel has repeatedly warned it will not tolerate a lasting Iranian military presence in Syria, and is believed to have been behind recent airstrikes on Syrian military bases that killed Iranian soldiers, prompting Tehran to vow revenge. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement.

Image: Iran Deal
Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant in 2010.Stringer / Reuters file

Before Trump announced his decision, French President Emmanuel Macron had warned that war could ensue if Trump withdrew from the deal. Without limits on Iran’s nuclear ambitions or inspections of Iranian facilities, Israel could feel compelled to act against its archenemy.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said last week that scrapping the Iran deal put the entire Middle East in a “very dangerous position.”

After Trump’s announcement on Tuesday, Macron tweeted that France, Germany, and the U.K. regretted the United States’ decision but would work “collectively on a broader framework, covering nuclear activity, the post-2025 period, ballistic activity and stability in the Middle-East, notably Syria, Yemen and Iraq.”

What will the impact be on America’s reputation?

Perhaps the most troubling outcome of Trump’s move for diplomats is the longer-term erosion of trust in the United States.

Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri said Tuesday that only “naïve” individuals would negotiate with the U.S. in the future. His comments echoed a warning from Rouhani that “no one will trust America again” after this episode.

It is something that might be noted by North Korea’s Kim Jong Un as he prepares to sit down for talks with the U.S. following last month’s summit that eased tensions with South Korea.

What are the implications for Iran?

The deal also has opponents in Iran, where many say they haven’t seen the economic benefits that Rouhani promised would flow following the lifting of sanctions.

Spiraling inflation in Iran has fueled nationwide protests in December and January.

The collapse of the deal would also vindicate the position of Rouhani’s hard-line opponents who criticized the very existence of any deal with the U.S.

That could drive Iran back into the hands of hard-liners in elections for its Parliament in 2020 and its presidency in 2021.

“The fallout from Trump’s announcement will leave Rouhani completely marginalized,” Vakil said. “Conservatives will have the dominant narrative, and Rouhani’s legacy of engagement with the international community will be completely discredited.”

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Prepare for a Nuclear Iran (Daniel 8:4)

TEHRAN — Iran’s supreme leader on Wednesday hinted at stepping up his country’s nuclear program, signaling a possible escalation in an already volatile relationship with Washington after President Trump announced he was pulling the United States out of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Mr. Trump said on Tuesday that the United States would leave the agreement, under which Iran agreed to strict limits for 15 years on its development of nuclear fuel, to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons, in return for an easing of economic sanctions. In withdrawing from the deal, Washington would reimpose sanctions.

Iran has always insisted that its uranium enrichment was intended only to operate nuclear power plants and conduct research, but it also put Iran closer to producing fuel that could be used in atomic bombs.

“Last night, you heard the president of America making petty and mindless statements,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, told a group of teachers in his Tehran office, according to the semiofficial news agency Fars. “There were perhaps more than 10 lies in his statements.”

 

“He threatened both the system and the nation that ‘I will do this and that,’ ” the ayatollah added. “I say on behalf of the nation of Iran: ‘Mr. Trump, you won’t do a damn thing!’ ”

The other parties to the deal — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the European Union — continue to support it. Western intelligence agencies say that Tehran has long had an eye toward — and at times has actively pursued — nuclear weapons.

Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in a statement on Wednesday that Iran was “subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime” and that his nuclear watchdog agency “can confirm that the nuclear-related commitments are being implemented by Iran.”

It was Ayatollah Khamenei who ultimately approved the compromises made in the nuclear agreement in 2015, though he also warned at the time against trusting the Americans.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran said on Tuesday that his country would continue to abide by the agreement, but Ayatollah Khamenei, the spiritual leader for the past 29 years, wields the ultimate power in the nation. On Wednesday, the ayatollah seemed to suggest that Iran, too, could abandon the deal.

“When the nuclear issue started, some of the elders of the country said, ‘Why the insistence on keeping the nuclear power, let it go,’ ” the ayatollah said. “Of course, this was a wrong thing to say. The country needs nuclear power and according to experts, the country will need 20,000 megawatts of nuclear electricity.”

Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States say they want to halt Iran’s development of missiles, but if Tehran were to agree to those demands, “they will bring up other things,” the ayatollah said.

Image
Lawmakers burned an American flag in the Iranian Parliament in Tehran on Wednesday. “Now all Iranians blame the United States for their troubles,” said one hard-line political analyst.CreditIranian Parliament, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Reacting to reports that Mr. Trump wants to force “regime change” in Iran, the ayatollah said, “wait for the day when Trump is dead, his corpse is fed on by snakes and insects, but the system of the Islamic Republic will still be standing.”

Iranian officials involved in nuclear negotiations say the focus will now be on how European parties to the deal react to Mr. Trump’s announcement. The sanctions that the American president promised to revive actively discourage and punish European companies and Asian buyers of oil that do business with Iran.

European officials — still committed to the Iran deal but eager to avoid American penalties — appeared to be unsure of how to respond. “It falls to the U.S. administration to spell out their view of the way ahead,” Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary, said.

Ali Khorram, a former Iranian ambassador to China and adviser to the country’s nuclear negotiating team, said that Mr. Trump had “violated all international norms that come with such an agreement.”

“If European companies are banned by America to do business with Iran, it is up to Europe to negotiate a solution with the U.S.,” he added.

Iranian military commanders welcomed Mr. Trump’s decision, the semiofficial news agency ISNA reported. “Iranian people never favored the nuclear deal,” the chief of staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, was quoted as saying.

Iran already faces a severe economic crisis, with high unemployment, drought, and a weakening currency.

But Iranian hard-liners expressed joy at Mr. Trump’s decision. “Now all Iranians blame the United States for their troubles,” said Hamidreza Taraghi, a hard-line political analyst.

On social media, many Iranian users shared a hashtag, #untr_US_table, to signal their anger at the United States.

Oil markets were jittery on Wednesday, with Brent crude up nearly 3 percent at nearly $77 a barrel, the highest level since late 2014. Traders expressed fear that American sanctions would cut Iranian oil exports, shrinking supplies in an already tight market.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter and an adversary of Iran’s, tried to calm the markets. The Energy Ministry released a statement saying that the kingdom “would work with major producers within and outside OPEC as well as major consumers to mitigate the impact of any potential shortages.”

The actions of Saudi Arabia, which applauded President Trump’s decision, will be closely watched as the Iran confrontation plays out. Saudi Arabia is the only oil producer that can quickly add large volumes to its output.

Follow Thomas Erdbrink on Twitter: @ThomasErdbrink.

Trump is Playing with the Shi’a Fire

Behind Trump’s Termination of Iran Deal Is a Risky Bet

WASHINGTON — For President Trump and two of the allies he values most — Israel and Saudi Arabia — the problem of the Iranian nuclear accord was not, primarily, about nuclear weapons. It was that the deal legitimized and normalized Iran’s clerical government, reopening it to the world economy with oil revenue that financed its adventures in Syria and Iraq, its missile program and its support of terrorist groups.

Now, by announcing on Tuesday that he is exiting the nuclear deal and will reimpose economic sanctions on Iran and companies around the world that do business with the country, Mr. Trump is engaged in a grand, highly risky experiment.

Mr. Trump and his Middle East allies are betting they can cut Iran’s economic lifeline and thus “break the regime,” as one senior European official described the effort. In theory, America’s withdrawal could free Iran to produce as much nuclear material as it wants — as it was doing five years ago, when the world feared that it was headed toward a bomb.

But Mr. Trump’s team dismisses that risk: Iran does not have the economic strength to confront the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia. And Iran knows that any move to produce a weapon would only provide Israel and the United States with a rationale for taking military action.

It is a brutally realpolitik approach that America’s allies in Europe have warned is a historic mistake, one that could lead to confrontation, and perhaps to war.

And it is a clear example of Middle East brinkmanship that runs counter to what President Barack Obama intended when the nuclear deal was struck in July 2015.

 Mr. Obama’s gamble in that deal — the signature foreign policy accord of his eight years in office — was straightforward. He regarded Iran as potentially a more natural ally of the United States than many of its Sunni-dominant neighbors, with a young, educated Western-oriented population that is tired of being ruled by an aging theocracy.

By taking the prospect of nuclear weapons off the table, the Obama administration had argued, the United States and Iran could chip away at three decades of hostility and work on common projects, starting with the defeat of the Islamic State.

It did not turn out that way. While the deal succeeded in getting 97 percent of Iran’s nuclear material out of the country, Iran’s conservatives and its military recoiled at the idea of cooperating on any projects with the West.

Months before it became clear that Mr. Trump had a decent shot at being elected, the Iranian military increased support for President Bashar al-Assad in Syria; it expanded its influence in Iraq and accelerated its support for terrorist groups. And it doubled down on deploying cyberattacks against targets in the West and in Saudi Arabia, embracing a weapon that was not covered by the nuclear accord.

Then came Mr. Trump, with his declaration that the deal was a “disaster” and his vow to dismantle it. That is exactly what he has now done, but at a huge cost.

Moments after he delivered his statement — in which he made it sound as if Iran was cheating on the accord, even though his intelligence chiefs have testified otherwise — Mr. Trump received a stinging rebuke from Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain, President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

The three leaders, America’s closest European allies, essentially rejected his logic. They noted that the United Nations Security Council resolution that embraced the Iran deal in 2016 “remains the binding international legal framework for the resolution of the dispute about the Iranian nuclear program.”

That was polite diplomatic language for the stark conclusion that it is the United States — not Iran — that first violated the accord.

And now, suddenly, the world may well be headed back to where it was in 2012: on a road to uncertain confrontation, with “very little evidence of a Plan B,” as Boris Johnson, the British foreign minister, said on a visit to Washington.

The Saudis have an ally in John R. Bolton, the president’s new national security adviser, who had made clear before taking office that he shared their view. Mr. Obama’s deal, Mr. Bolton said on Tuesday afternoon, featured “an utterly inadequate treatment of the military dimension of Iran’s aspirations.”

The Saudi case against Iran has been bolstered in recent months by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has repeatedly referred to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as “the new Hitler.”

“Many countries around the world and in Europe did not realize how dangerous Hitler was until what happened, happened,” Prince Mohammed said in a recent interview with the CBS News program “60 Minutes.” “I don’t want to see the same events happening in the Middle East.”

In a speech in March at the Brookings Institution, Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, asserted that Iran was “the biggest problem we face in our region.” He blamed Iran for interfering in neighboring countries, backing allied armed groups in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere, and supplying Yemeni rebels with ballistic missiles they fired at his country.

Even if its restrictions on nuclear weapons were tightened and extended, “the agreement by itself does not solve the problem of Iran,” Mr. Jubeir said. “Iran must be held accountable.”

Jeremy Shapiro, research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations and a State Department official during the Obama administration, argued that the nuclear deal’s opposition from Saudi Arabia, Israel and other regional players was primarily about its effects on American politics and policy.

“They believe they are in this existential conflict with the Iranian regime, and nuclear weapons are a small part of that conflict” — but the one that most influences public opinion in the United States, Mr. Shapiro said.

 

“If the deal opened an avenue for better relations between the United States and Iran, that would be a disaster for the Saudis,” he said. “They need to ensure a motivation for American pressure against Iran that will last even after this administration.”

Israel is a more complicated case.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pressed Mr. Trump to abandon an arrangement that the Israeli leader has always detested. But Mr. Netanyahu’s own military and intelligence advisers say Israel is far safer with an Iran whose pathway to a bomb is blocked, rather than one that is once again pursuing the ultimate weapon.

“The individuals who shoulder responsibility for Israel’s survival and security have been crystal clear,” Graham Allison, a Harvard professor who has spent his career examining cases of nuclear proliferation.

“This will most likely lead to an outcome that is much worse not only for the U.S., but for Israel,’’ Mr. Allison said, because the current agreement rolled Iran’s nuclear program back a decade “and imposed on Iran the most intrusive inspection regime ever negotiated.”

But Mr. Netanyahu holds Israel’s bullhorn, and he used it last week to persuade Mr. Trump to pull the plug on the Iran deal. By releasing Iranian documents, stolen from Tehran in January, Mr. Netanyahu proved what Western intelligence agencies long knew: A decade ago or even longer, the Iranians were working hard to design a nuclear warhead.

To Mr. Netanyahu, this was proof that Iran could never be trusted and that it had reached the nuclear deal under false pretenses by pretending it never had a weapons program. To Mr. Trump and his allies, the Israeli discovery said less about Iranian nuclear capability than it did about Iranian perfidy.

Given evidence that Iran was preserving its bomb designs as a hedge for the future, the discovery suggested it has not given up its ambitions. As Dennis Ross, a former Middle East negotiator, put it, someone needed to address the Israeli discovery “lest they give the Iranians the ability to pick up quickly where they left off on weaponizing.”

Still, at the core of Mr. Trump’s announcement on Tuesday is a conviction that Mr. Obama made a critical mistake in agreeing to a deal that contains an expiration date. Mr. Trump’s argument is that Iran can never be allowed to accumulate enough material to assemble a bomb.

So when the Europeans said that would require reopening the negotiations, Mr. Trump balked, and decided instead to scrap the entire deal.

It was a classic Trumpian move, akin to the days when he would knock down New York buildings to make way for visions of grander, more glorious edifices. But in this case, it is about upsetting a global power balance and weakening a government that Mr. Trump has argued, since he began campaigning, must go.

 

David E. Sanger reported from Washington, and David D. Kirkpatrick from London.