Iran Prepares to Nuke Up (Daniel 8:4)

U.S. Says Iran Poised to Resume Work on Nuclear Weapons

Trump administration levels charges as Treasury and State Departments sanction more than two dozen Iranian officials

Iran’s Ministry of Defense unit responsible for developing nuclear weapons is based in Tehran.PHOTO: ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH/SHUTTERSTOCK

By Ian Talley

Updated March 22, 2019 10:32 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON—Iran’s Ministry of Defense unit responsible for developing nuclear weapons is poised to restart work and is using front companies to buy materials from Russia and China that could be used to reactivate its banned bomb program, U.S. officials alleged Friday.

The Trump administration leveled the charges as the Treasury and State Departments sanctioned more than two dozen Iranian officials, scientists and alleged front companies connected to the Tehran-based Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, or SPND, as it is known by its Farsi initials.

The sanctions and accompanying revelations are designed in part to step up pressure on Europe and others to back Washington’s plan to toughen a 2015 nuclear accord the U.S. pulled out of last year. And by threatening to penalize any individuals or companies around the world that deal with the blacklisted entities, the Trump administration is trying to cut off access to the tools and the expertise needed for a nuclear-weapons program.

Iran denies it has ever sought nuclear weapons, although a United Nations report in 2015 found it had a coordinated weapons program until 2003 and continued parts of the activities until 2009.

Iranian officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.S. officials aren’t saying the SPND is currently working to nuclearize Iran’s weapons program. But Sigal Mandelker, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, and Christopher Ford, assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, said the unit’s activities suggest Iran’s government still has its eye on nuclear weapons, and isn’t simply seeking a civilian nuclear program, as Tehran contends.

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, says Iran is complying with the terms of the 2015 accord. The Trump administration, however, cited restrictions on the IAEA’s ability to inspect all sites as among reasons it decided last year to leave the deal. The exit marked a major reversal in Washington’s Iran policy as the White House reimposed economy-wide sanctions on Iran in an effort to pressure Tehran into signing a more stringent nuclear deal and expanding the scope to include the country’s broader security stance.

The SPND inherited Iran’s original nuclear-weapons program, the AMAD program, and is run by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the sanctioned former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps brigadier general and physicist viewed by many as the father of the country’s nuclear-weapons program, U.S. officials say. The unit was sanctioned by the Obama administration in 2014 for its alleged efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction.

“They continue to operate in ways that mean the intellectual wealth of that program continues to be able to function,” Ms. Mandelker said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Ford, of the State Department, said in an interview with the Journal that the SPND’s continued existence “highlights the problem of Iran’s ongoing preparation to reconstitute its whole weapons program, if it chooses to.”

“They are doing everything they can to keep in existence a virtual turnkey capability to get back into the weaponization business…at a moment’s notice,” he said.

Several of the SPND’s alleged front companies sanctioned Friday by the U.S. have been active in recent years, according to a Journal review of export records, including after Iran signed the 2015 deal.

In September 2017, one of those firms, Tehran-based Kimiya Pakhsh Shargh Co., imported special equipment for transporting radioactive material like iridium-192 from Russia. That was one of four shipments that year, and nearly six dozen since 2012, all from the same Russian company to an address in Tehran immediately next door to a government “forensic medicine” office, according to shipping data provided to the Journal by the trade database, Import Genius. The firm didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.S. officials, along with many Iran watchers and nuclear-weapons experts, say that while radioactive isotopes have legitimate medical uses, they also can be used in weapons programs, including for testing equipment.

According to an analysis of Iranian nuclear records seized by Israel in a raid that was disclosed in 2018, Iran has long sought to break the AMAD program into covert and overt segments. The analysis, published by the Institute for Science and International Security and co-authored by a former top IAEA official, said the archive of information shows Iran sought to transfer the more overt parts of the AMAD program to research institutes and universities, where it could plausibly claim activities to be civilian in nature.

Some of Friday’s sanction targets were derived from the archive, the administration said, without elaborating.

The Treasury Department said the Kimiya Pakhsh Shargh firm is subordinate to the SPND, taking direction from senior unit officials. And several of the targeted officials, including Jalal Emami Gharah Hajjlu, a weapon-systems engineer for the newly blacklisted missile-tech firm Shahid Karimi Group are former AMAD officials, Treasury said.

Another sanctioned Iranian firm called Pulse Niru has sought to provide financial, material and technological support for the SPND, Treasury said, procuring equipment and advanced technologies from Chinese, Russian and foreign suppliers.

Trade records show the company has imported equipment at least twice from a Russian firm called Russian Technology Group 2, whose website said it specializes in electrical products needed for neutron generators, devices that can ignite nuclear-chain reactions with a burst of atomic particles.

Other sanctioned companies and associated officials include Shahid Karimi Group, which works on missile and explosives technology; Shahid Chamran Group, specializing in electron acceleration; and Shahid Fakhar Moghaddam Group, which has worked on radiation monitoring, explosion simulators and neutron-monitoring systems, Treasury said.

The firms and individuals could not be reached or did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Taken collectively, the broad spectrum of capabilities within this group…is the expertise that it takes to develop nuclear weapons,” Ms. Mandelker said.

Mr. Ford said keeping the former AMAD officials employed in fields with dual-use materials and technology—which has both civilian and military capabilities—preserves the skills of Iran’s nuclear and advance-weapons scientists.

That signals Tehran’s strategic intentions, Mr. Ford said, and is why the U.S. is pushing its allies and other signatories to the 2015 deal to back a new nuclear accord that doesn’t give Iran the ability to enrich weapons-grade nuclear material after 10 years, the agreement’s so-called sunset clause.

“It should tell you something about the importance of absolutely precluding any capability of the Iranians to take advantage of the conditions,” he said.

Otherwise, he said, Iran will be able to rapidly build out the size and scope of the nuclear-materials program.

“All of these things would have perfectly set them up with an extraordinarily short breakout time,” Mr. Ford said, referring to the time it takes to enrich enough uranium to build a nuclear weapon.

Write to Ian Talley at ian.talley@wsj.com

Israeli forces kill two Palestinians Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israeli forces kill two Palestinians at Gaza protests

Ministry of Health says 62 Palestinians also wounded by Israeli forces in 51st weekly protest in besieged enclave.

22 Mar 2019 GMT+3

Two Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli forces during the weekly Friday protests in the besieged Gaza Strip, according to officials.

Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesperson for the health ministry, said the two male demonstrators – aged 18 and 29 -were shot in separate incidents near the Israeli fence east of the Gaza Strip.

Jihad Harara was shot in the head east of Gaza City, while the older man, Nidal Shatat, was hit in the chest near the al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, al-Qidra wrote on Twitter.

At least 62 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli forces, al-Qidra said, adding that there were at least three instances in which medical personnel and ambulances were directly targeted by Israeli tear gas at the encampments set up along the fence.

Ali Jadallah, an Anadolu Agency photojournalist, was reportedly among those wounded and was transferred at a nearby hospital for treatment.

The Israeli army did not comment on the deaths but said „approximately 9,500 rioters and demonstrators“ gathered in various locations, „hurling explosive devices, hard objects and rocks“ at troops.

Troops were „firing in accordance with standard operating procedures“, a spokeswoman said.

‚Use of excessive force‘

Also on Friday, the United Nations Human Rights Council condemned Israel’s „apparent intentional use of unlawful lethal and other excessive force“ against civilian protesters in Gaza, and called for perpetrators of violations in the enclave to face justice.

On the final day of a four-week session, the Geneva-based forum adopted a resolution on accountability, brought by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation. The measure was backed by 23 states in favour, with eight voting against and 15 abstaining. One delegation was absent.

The resolution called for cooperating with a preliminary examination opened by the International Criminal Court in 2015 into alleged Israeli human rights violations.

The measure was based on a report by a UN inquiry which said that Israeli security forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in killing 189 Palestinians and wounding more than 6,100 at weekly protests last year.

„The targeting of civilians is a serious matter that should not be condoned,“ Ibrahim Khraisi, Palestine’s ambassador said, citing the report’s findings. The toll included 35 Palestinian children, two journalists and medical workers, he added.

More than 250 protesters have been killed since Palestinians began holding regular demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone in March of last year.

Demonstrators demand the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were ethnically cleansed from in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

They also demand an end to Israel’s 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

Israel Strikes Hamas Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

FILE PHOTO: An air defense system activated by Israeli forces explodes over the northern Gaza Strip, January 10, 2009. \ YANNIS BEHRAKIS/ REUTERS

Israel Strikes Hamas Outposts After Charges Hurled Over Gaza Border Fence

Rocket sirens blared in the Eshkol Regional Council an hour before the strike as a result of the explosives being thrown

Haaretz

The Israeli Air Force struck two Hamas outpost in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday after several charges were hurled over the border fence, the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit said.

Rocket sirens blared in the Eshkol Regional Council an hour before the strike as a result of the explosives being thrown. No casualties or damage was reported.

The Gaza Health Ministry said four were wounded in clashes with Israeli forces along the border on Saturday, one of whom was in critical condition.

Earlier Saturday, the Israeli army said it struck cells that launched incendiary balloons toward Israel from the southern Strip.

According to Palestinian reports, three were wounded in the first attack, which targeted an area east of the al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza.

Two Palestinians were killed Friday during protests along the Gaza, according to the health ministry in the Strip.

The two were identified as Nedal Abed Alkareem Ahmed Shatat, 29, and 24-year-old Jehad Monier Khaled Harara.

One of them was shot in the chest  while protesting east of the al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, the report by the ministry said, and stated that 55 other Palestinians were wounded in the clashes.

India Was Prepared to Nuke Pakistan (Revelation 8)

India readied missiles to counter Pak aggression

Decision was taken at the topmost level to respond to Pakistan’s nuclear threat by making it clear that India was ready to strike at Pakistani cities.

New Delhi: India had mobilised its missile launching capabilities over land, air and sea after Pakistan threatened India with a nuclear missile strike, post Indian Air Force’s 26 February airstrike on a terror camp in Balakot in Pakistan. In effect, India was ready to carry out the first strike against Pakistan, rather than wait for it to fire its missile first and then respond. This would have been done if it was clear that a Pakistani strike was imminent.

The Indian missile systems were placed on standby mode and would have been launched within minutes of the order being received. Highly placed sources said that this was the closest India came, in the last few decades, to launch missiles at important cities in Pakistan.

The situation between the two countries got aggravated further post the downing of an Indian Air Force aircraft on 27 February and the subsequent capture of its pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman, who was attacked while repelling a Pakistan Air Force attack, which had intruded into Indian airspace, with Pakistan, even at the ministerial level, continuing to threaten India with a nuclear response.

Sources said Pakistan’s move to announce on 26 February that it was calling the National Command Authority (NCA) meeting on the next day was part of the whole aggressive behaviour, which culminated with Pakistan making it clear a day later that it was preparing to launch a nuclear missile strike on India. The NCA is Pakistan’s principal decision making body on nuclear issues.

The meeting was called on Wednesday but was announced on Tuesday with the aim not just to warn Indian policymakers that Pakistan was threatening a nuclear attack on Indian cities, but also to warn other countries of such an eventuality, while also giving them ample time to intervene in the matter and speak to India.

Pakistan later “conveyed” to India and other countries that were acting as peacemakers, that it had mobilised its warheads and had authorised local commanders to take “suitable actions”. Highly placed sources, who are aware of the developments that took place at the Indian government level on 26 February post Balakot, and after that on 27 February, have told The Sunday Guardian that a decision was taken at the topmost level not to back down in front of Pakistan’s nuclear threat and instead respond to it by making it clear that India was ready to strike at Pakistan’s cities. Sources said that after this decision was taken, the Indian mobilisation was carried out.

Responding to this threat, India, without putting in any effort to hide its intent, moved a part of its strategic arsenal at the International Border, while informing the relevant parties, including Pakistan, that this time it was going to strike at the heart of Pakistan and not on the territories of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

India has two nuclear powered submarines, INS Arihant and INS Chakra, and at least one of them was a part of this movement. According to sources, these submarines that can stay underwater for months, could have moved to the specific operational area even before the Balakot airstrike was ordered, without Pakistan or any other agency getting to know of it.

The wisdom in Pakistan was that Pakistan’s nuclear threat would be enough to force India to scale down its response. However, once the exactly opposite happened, Pakistan was forced to seek the support of the United States and Saudi Arabia in order to de-escalate the crisis, of which returning Abhinandan was the first step. Pakistan’s bluff of a nuclear attack was called at that very moment.

 

Explosives Thrown Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Palestinians hurl stones at Israeli troops during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the Gaza protests

While the people in Gaza are not friends of Israel, they recognize that Hamas is the true villain, responsible for their miserable living conditions.

By JPost Editorial

March 23, 2019

Palestinians hurl stones at Israeli troops during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the southern Gaza Strip February 15, 2019.. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)

For the last two weeks, the nearly two million people of the Gaza Strip have been rising up against their totalitarian leaders from the Hamas terrorist organization. This is not yet a full-fledged revolution or anything close, but it is the beginning of something that needs to be properly evaluated by Israel and the entire world.

In the summer of 2007, Hamas seized the coastal enclave in a coup, grabbing control – two years after Israel’s unilateral withdrawal – from Fatah, the ruling party in the Palestinian Authority.

When the protests first broke out earlier this month, Hamas leaders said that they were part of a genuine protest against Gaza’s deteriorating economic situation. It first seemed that the protests would be directed against Israel and PA President Mahmoud Abbas. But it quickly became clear that Hamas was the target of the youths’ frustration, not someone else.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians took to the streets under the banner of “We Want to Live!” The large turnout caught Hamas leaders by surprise, especially after they noticed that protesters were chanting slogans denouncing Hamas and were holding them responsible for the high cost of living, new taxes and soaring unemployment in Gaza.This is because while the people in Gaza are not friends of Israel, they recognize that Hamas is the true villain, responsible for their miserable living conditions.

Gazans have reason to be upset. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, unemployment reached 52% in 2018, an increase of almost eight% since 2017 and of more than 20% since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007. Women’s unemployment is particularly high – 74.5%. In addition to a lack of jobs, the people of Gaza face rolling blackouts, unreliable electricity and water, and a poor sewage system.

Hamas is clearly nervous about the protests. Its leaders are well aware of what happened to Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, and a slew of other leaders throughout the Middle East in recent years. In recent days, videos have leaked out of Gaza showing Hamas militiamen with batons going house to house searching for the demonstrators. These images serve as a reminder to the world what type of regime controls Gaza – one that is repressive, violent and ignorant when it comes to basic human rights.

On the one hand, Israel does not necessarily have a role in what is currently happening in Gaza. While it is reassuring to see that the people of Gaza recognize the fault of Hamas for their humanitarian conditions, it is not clear that Israel can do anything right now. If, for example, Israeli officials were to speak openly about the protests, this would give Hamas the opportunity to lie to the public that Israel is actually behind the demonstrations and that they are part of a Zionist plot to retake the Gaza Strip.

Countries which can potentially play a positive role, including Qatar and Egypt, already hold a great deal of sway and influence over Hamas and the Gaza Strip. For Israel it might be enough to simply declare that its fight is not with the people of Gaza, but rather with the ruthless and murderous Hamas rulers. This would be similar to the distinction that Israel makes between the Iranian people and the repressive ayatollahs who control the country.

Will this change anything? It is impossible to know. The protests that started in 2011 and morphed into what became known as the “Arab Spring” were also initially dismissed as nothing more than people letting off steam. As the last eight years have shown though, that was not the case.

And while Hamas might succeed in stomping out the current protests – either by diverting attention to rocket attacks or the uptick in violence in the West Bank – what has happened in Gaza over the last few weeks shows that there is a younger generation in the Strip that simply wants to live a higher-quality life. They deserve it.