Iran nuclear ready within two years (Daniel 8:4)

Iran could get nuclear weapon within two years, intel assessments find

By ANNA AHRONHEIM,TOVAH LAZAROFF

Iran is capable of producing a nuclear weapon within two years, if it steps up work on its nuclear program and violates the 2015 deal with the West, according to a recent Israeli intelligence assessment.

The assessment was released as the controversial US-led summit against Iran opened in Warsaw, where Israel is expected to pressure the European Union against trying to prop up the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action following the American withdrawal last May.

In the Polish capital, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke openly about the possibility of war with Iran, and the possibility of a new alliance of Arab states with Israel, in the event of such hostilities.

“I am going to a meeting with 60 foreign ministers and envoys of countries from around the world against Iran,” Netanyahu said next to an outdoor skating rink in a short video clip his staff filmed for his Facebook page.

“What is important about this meeting – and this meeting is not in secret, because there are many of those – is that this is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran,” he said.

Israel has worked not just to block Iran’s accelerated nuclear activity, but has also attempted to stem its increased military activity along the North.

Before he boarded a plane to Warsaw Tuesday night, Netanyahu confirmed that Israel attacked Iranian targets in Syria on Monday. Prior to heading to the ministerial meeting, he said Israel is working to oust Iran from Syria.

“What we are doing is pushing and driving Iran from Syria. We are committed to doing this,” he said.

Israel considers Iran’s nuclear program as the nation’s No. 1 concern, and, according to the assessment, if the Islamic Republic does decide to renege on the agreement, it would take it one year to produce enough fissionable material to make a nuclear bomb and then another year to actually make the weapon device.

According to the assessment, Iran is contemplating how to deal with American sanctions in the hope that President Donald Trump will not be reelected in 2020 and a new and more pragmatic president would be elected, or to signal to the West that if the current status quo remains, it, too, will leave the agreement and return to enriching uranium.

Under the JCPOA, Tehran is prohibited from transferring any weapons to third countries, but Iran, which possesses more than 1,000 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, is suspected of continuing to smuggle weapons to countries and non-state actors such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Nevertheless, it is believed that Iran is continuing to develop the capabilities to produce a nuclear weapons arsenal as well as produce ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, despite new US sanctions placed on Iran meant to pressure Tehran over its military activity in the Middle East.

Iran has always denied seeking nuclear weapons, and agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions as part of the JCPOA signed in 2015 between Iran and the US, Russia, China, the UK, France and Germany.

While US sanctions have largely succeeded in convincing Western businesses to cut ties with Iran, countries such as France, Germany and Britain have begun nondollar trade with Iran to avert US sanctions, to keep the deal with Iran alive.

Though Iran’s economy has improved since the signing of the deal, the average Iranian has not felt it, with high unemployment and growing inflation due to the sanctions, with a rise in the price of bananas over the past year by 165%, 50% in meat prices, 103% in tomato prices, and 15% for housing.

While the spark for the protests has been the economy, protesters have also taken to the street denouncing the Islamic Republic’s role in conflict zones such as Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Gaza, burning pictures of the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who is in charge of Iran’s policy in those countries.

US envoy Jason Greenblatt, who is in Warsaw, tweeted in advance of the conference that “Iran is the primary threat to the future of regional peace/security.”

Netanyahu is also set to meet with US Vice President Mike Pence and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the sidelines of the conference to discuss Iran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has dismissed the conference as a “desperate anti-Iran circus.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Europe to distance itself from the US.

“Today, the Iranian people see some European countries as cunning and untrustworthy along with the criminal America. The government of the Islamic Republic must carefully preserve its boundaries with them,” he wrote. “Iran must not retreat a single step from national and revolutionary values.”

US President Donald Trump’s attorney and former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, called for Iranian regime change on Wednesday ahead of a US-backed Middle East summit in Warsaw.

“Everyone knows that Iran is the No. 1 sponsor of terrorism in the world. There isn’t a single government there that disagrees with that,” he said.

“The reality is, Iran should be isolated until Iran changes. If they can do what our government, American government, other governments, believe and make policy change within, I would be satisfied with that, although skeptical. If it results in regime change, I think that would be a cleaner solution,” Giuliani said.

He spoke ahead of a rally to show support for the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a bloc of opposition groups in exile that seeks to end Shi’ite clerical rule in Iran.

Protesters banged drums, chanted and waved flags and placards outside the summit venue at the National Stadium. They were protesting the current regime and its human rights violations.

One Iranian protester, Mahmoud Masoudi of Germany, said they came to Warsaw to support NCRI head Maryam Rajavi.

She is “our leader and the only alternative to the dictatorship in Iran,” he said. “This is the basic reason that all of us are here today. And we think it is the time to support the NCRI… which includes the most democratic groups in Iran against the Khamenei regime, against dictatorship in Iran, the religious dictatorship.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

Israel Prepares to Attack Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Israel preparing major new attack on Gaza

Israeli forces fire at Palestinians during the Great March of Return on 2 February 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

February 14, 2019 at 12:19 pm

The Israeli military is preparing for a major new offensive in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army’s Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi – who was sworn in last month – “has already prioritized preparations for a potential Gaza war,” Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. “Kochavi has approved operational plans for combat and set up an administrative unit to handle the formation of a list of potential targets in the Strip”, the paper added.

Haaretz noted that Kochavi has “recently visited the Southern Command headquarters and met with top commanders in charge of operations in the area” and “also ordered two Iron Dome anti-missile batteries to be manned”.

The report claims that the army’s preparations are based on an “assessment” by the Israeli military intelligence’s research division that Hamas – which governs the besieged enclave – may seek a military confrontation “in a bid to obtain international involvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza”.

READ: Hamas asks UN to pressure Israel to commit to truce

According to the “intelligence assessments”, Hamas has grown frustrated with the lack of progress in talks with Egyptian mediators and now believes that “only an extreme move” will lead to any change in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The same article notes that Israeli intelligence believes a Palestinian revolt in the occupied West Bank is also more likely in light of the fact that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’ rule is nearing its end.

As is well known, “the relative quiet in the West Bank is maintained mainly due to Israel’s military and intelligence activities carried out by the army, police and Shin Bet”, Haaretz stated.

Another Shake Before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Report: New York City is overdue for a major earthquake

If a 5.0 Earthquake were to hit New York City, there could be $39 billion dollars worth of damage and 30 million tons of rubble… and experts say the city is overdue, according to the Daily Mail. Veuer’s Sam Berman has the full story.

Buzz60

At least one person in the Rochester area reporting feeling the second small earthquake to strike under Lake Ontario in the last week.

The latest temblor, which had a magnitude of 2.4,  occurred shortly before 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. It was 6.2 miles below the surface.

The epicenter was about 7 ½ miles out from the Canadian shore of the lake, roughly 23 miles east-southeast of downtown Toronto and 75 miles west-northwest of the Charlotte pier in Rochester.

Tuesday’s quake comes just four days after a 1.5-magnitude temblor was detected under the lake about 22 miles north of the Ontario-Williamson town line in Wayne County. That quake struck just before 4 a.m. Friday and occurred about 3¼ miles below the surface.

No one reported feeling that tremor, which was much too small to do damage.

But social media lit up Tuesday evening with surprised statements by people in metropolitan Toronto who felt the Earth shudder, and the U.S. Geological Survey received 20 reports from people who sensed the quake.

One report came from someone in the Victor, Ontario County, area. Another came from someone in Buffalo, a third from someone in Oceanside, Nassau County and a fourth, somewhat improbably, from a person in Columbus, Ohio. The other 16 were from residents of Ontario, Canada.

The Geological Survey releases only the location of respondents, not names.

Why one person in Victor would feel the tremor at a distance of 90 miles isn’t clear. Generally, smaller quakes tend to be felt by relatively few. People who are indoors on an upper floor and who are in a quiet environment with few distractions are most likely to sense such a quake, experts say.

According to the non-linear math of earthquake science, Tuesday’s tremor was eight times bigger than the one last week, and released 22 times more energy. At magnitude 2.4, it was near the threshold where property damage is possible. None was reported.

Small earthquakes of this nature are common in New York and eastern Ontario. Nine temblors have been measured so far this year in New York. Tuesday’s was the first in Ontario, according to a list maintained by the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

SORR@Gannett.com

The Iran Horn boosts nuclear activities

Iran to boost nuclear activities, uranium enrichment

Alfredo Boyd

Iran is ready , the spokesman for for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said on Sunday during a visit to a park in Qazvin.

Behrouz Kamalvandi said that this would include boosting uranium enrichment to 190,000 Separative Work Units. The announcement could raise concerns in Europe about Iran’s goals under the Iran Deal and comes amid US sanctions that were put in place last year after the US withdrew from the Iran Deal.

In July 2018, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei warned that Iran would increase its uranium enrichment. “Some European governments expect the Iranian nation to both put up with sanctions and give up its nuclear activities.”

Iran constructed a new factory to create centrifuge rotors last year. French Foreign Minister Jeaan Yves Le Drian warned Iran last year about the plan to increase uranium enrichment.

SWU is a measure for work involved in separating isotopes of uranium, the aim of which, according to an article at the website of Federation of American Scientists, is to increase the concentration of “one or more isotopes… A typical enrichment process consists of a number of centrifuges arranged in the form of a cascade.”

SWUs are expressed in terms of kilograms or metric tonnes, the article notes. According to the text of the Joint Comprehensive. Plan of Action, Iran was supposed to “keep its uranium stockpile under 300 kg of up to 3.67% enriched uranium.”

In July 2018, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the AEOI, said that Iran had constructed an advanced factory during the course of the Iran deal negotiations and that instead of taking another eight years, the factory would be ready in ten months, according to Iran’s Fars News. This raised eye brows last year, but the new announcement goes even further. Iran had asserted in 2014 that it would take eight years to get to the level of 190,000 SWUs. It now claims it might reach that level this year or next year. Compared to other enrichment programs, such as India, the figure is still quite small.

Iran is now expected to unveil new information in March or April claiming to have made “achievements in the mass production of Oxygen 18,” according to Iran’s Press TV.

This is a “major leap,” according to Kamalvandi. He argued that the isotopes developed would have medical applications, avoiding the nuclear arms issue. “Only five countries can produce Oxygen 18,” he said.

Salehi said that researchers at its Khandab site, the Arak heavy water plant, were able to produce oxygen 18 with 97 percent purity at 60kg per year.

After the Iran Deal, Tehran sought to renovate this site according to Iranian accounts. In April of 2017 Iran signed an agreement with China to modernize the heavy water reactor.

Overall the recent Iranian announcements appear aimed at showing that sanctions will not deter them and that they will increase their nuclear capabilities.

Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Race (Daniel 8:8)

Protection rocket Saudi Arabia’s missile race

A new rocket factory is stoking fears of nuclear proliferation

IN 2016 Muhammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto ruler, announced the latest stage of “Saudisation”—the replacement of foreign workers with Saudi ones. It now appears the policy does not stop at swapping out bankers and bakers, but extends to ballistic missiles.

Satellite photos analysed by researchers from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, and reported by the Washington Post, appear to show that Saudi Arabia has been building a factory for rocket engines, at an existing missile base in al-Watah, south-west of Riyadh. It seems to be configured for solid-fuel rockets, which can be launched more quickly than liquid-fuelled ones.

Saudi Arabia is no newcomer to missiles. Having watched Iran and Iraq fling them at each other during the 1980s, it bought a few dozen DF-3 missiles from China in 1987. It came close to unleashing them after being struck by Iraqi Scud missiles during the Gulf war in 1991. In the 2000s it probably picked up a batch of newer, more accurate Chinese DF-21s.

Iran, the kingdom’s arch-rival, has been honing its missile force despite Western opposition and UN rebukes, conducting 135 test launches since 1990. On December 1st it tested one thought capable of comfortably reaching any corner of Saudi soil (see map). In January Ali Shamkhani, the head of Iran’s national security council, insisted that although his country was not looking to expand the range of its missiles, “it is continuously working on increasing the precision.” That is reassuring for Europeans and Americans; less so for Saudis.

Nor is Iran the only concern. Hizbullah, a Lebanese militant group nurtured and armed by Iran, has a growing arsenal of missiles; some can already reach the north-western parts of Saudi Arabia. Israel is also armed to the teeth. Though Prince Muhammad is on good terms with the Jewish state, satellite images published in 2013 reportedly showed that one of the Saudi DF-3 launching pads at al-Watah was set in the direction of Tel Aviv.

Because missiles are ideal delivery systems for nuclear weapons, news of the plant has also revived worries about Saudi Arabia’s atomic intentions. America’s abandonment of a multinational nuclear deal with Iran last year has increased the risk that Iran will resume large-scale enrichment of uranium. Saudi Arabia has vowed to keep pace. It wants to build two nuclear reactors and insists on its right to enrich uranium (and to reprocess spent fuel from those reactors, another path to a bomb). “Without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb,” warned Prince Muhammad last March, “we will follow suit.” The Trump administration has refused to sell civil nuclear technology on these terms.

So the Saudis may turn to other nuclear friends. Western diplomats and spooks have long been concerned that Pakistan, whose own nuclear programme was bankrolled by Saudi Arabia, might be a ready supplier of know-how, fuel or bombs. In 1999 Saudi Arabia’s then defence minister horrified American officials by touring Pakistan’s nuclear facilities and meeting A.Q. Khan, the scientist who sold nuclear technology to North Korea, Iran and Libya. Ties remain close. Prince Muhammad was due to agree on $14bn of investment in Pakistan during a visit to the country on February 16th.

Another option lies further east. Michael Elleman, a missile expert at IISS, a think-tank, says he is almost certain that the apparent rocket factory was “designed, equipped and constructed by an outside entity”. Saudi Arabia has “no capacity” for such a project. The facility, he notes, closely resembles a Chinese one in Lantian. Saudisation, evidently, has some way to go.

This article appeared in the Middle East and Africa section of the print edition under the headline “Protection rocket”

Iran WILL Resume Uranium Enrichment

Iran May Resume Uranium Enrichment, Israeli Intel Assesses

Amos Harel13.02.2019 | 17:00

Israel’s 2019 military intelligence estimate says Iran has not violated the nuclear agreement, but pressure from economic sanctions and the American withdrawal from the deal may change that

Iran’s President Hassan Rohani speaks during a ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Tehran, Iran, February 11, 2019.Presidential Website/Handout via Reuters

The Israeli army’s intelligence assessment for 2019 states that Iran could adopt a more defiant approach on its nuclear project. Nevertheless, the intelligence branch of the army’s general staff says Iran has not yet decided to blatantly violate its nuclear accord with the major powers, an accord from which the United States withdrew last May.

The army’s Intelligence Corps sees a historic opportunity in the coming year, in which the West can increase pressure on Iran and curb Tehran’s actions. It also describes the Iranians as the “cornerstone” of the security challenges facing Israel.

As Haaretz reported in October 2018, military intelligence officials believe that the economic pressure being applied on Iran by the United States via the resumption of sanctions is working well and having a major impact on the Iranian economy and the Iranian regime’s circumstances. The renewed sanctions are putting unprecedented pressure on the regime and creating a level of crisis unlike anything it has experienced in the 40 years since the Islamic Revolution. In recent months, the price of meat, for example, has gone up by 50 percent and prices for some fruits and vegetables have more than doubled.

The Intelligence Corps does not foresee a popular uprising against the regime, but it has seen an increase in the number of protests in which a large number of professional associations have been involved. Some of the demonstrations are occurring in areas that up to now had been considered power centers of the Iranian authorities. These domestic developments are believed to reflect a significant change in the situation in Iran, as military intelligence sees it, but the regime has so far been able to cope skillfully and effectively.

The intelligence assessment is that Iran has not violated the international nuclear accord so far. If Tehran does decide to stray from the accord, it will take it at least a year to produce enough fissile material to manufacture a nuclear bomb and a total of two years to make a bomb.

There is disagreement among Iranian leaders about whether they should signal their displeasure with the sanctions and the situation that followed the American withdrawal from the accord by renewing enrichment activity, in violation of the pact. If the sanctions pressure continues, a decision could be made to go ahead with enrichment.

But some in Tehran predict that Donald Trump will be a one-term president and that the best approach is to wait until he leaves office in 2021 and avoid a direct confrontation with the world powers over a violation of the accord. Military intelligence officials see an intention on Iran’s part to expand the operations of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Iraq, which is also an alternative path of influence in light of how the Iranians’ efforts to entrench themselves militarily in Syria are being thwarted by Israeli actions. In western Iraq, the Iranians are seeking to deploy Shi’ite militias, medium-range missiles and other weaponry that will enable them to threaten Israel from there and at the same time safeguard a land corridor for the transfer of weapons and forces from Iran to Syria and Lebanon.

Israeli officials are pleased with the relative success of the efforts against Iran in Syria. The economic crisis in Iran caused by the sanctions has also led to a sharp reduction in the monetary assistance sent to the Lebanese-based Hezbollah militia group. That is causing hardship in the ranks of the group, providing Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah less room for maneuver.