Iran Accelerates Nuclear Production (Daniel 8:4)

Iran said accelerating uranium centrifuge production, anticipating deal collapse

But Israeli intelligence sources tell Channel 13 news Tehran is also making overtures to Washington to renew talks in bid to deescalate

June 8, 2019

With Iran’s nuclear deal with global powers teetering on the edge of collapse, Israeli intelligence has identified a significant acceleration of work on the production of new uranium centrifuges, as Tehran prepares for the possibility of boosting enrichment activities, Channel 13 news reported Friday night.

The intelligence sources were not named, nor were further details provided on the alleged centrifuge production efforts.

The sources cited by the network also said, however, that the Islamic republic was making back-channel overtures to Washington expressing a willingness to renew talks in a bid to find common ground.

That assessment appeared to agree with statements made by US President Donald Trump on Thursday.

US President Donald Trump (R) talks with French President Emmanuel Macron during a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary D-Day at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, northwestern France, on June 6, 2019. (Ian Langsdon/Pool/AFP)

Speaking after talks in northern France with French President Emmanuel Macron, an ardent supporter of diplomacy with Iran, Trump indicated he could consider talking to Tehran.

“I understand they want to talk and if they want to talk that’s fine,” said Trump, who was in France to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

“We’ll talk but the one thing that they can’t have is they can’t have nuclear weapons,” he added.

Trump said when he came to power Iran was “undisputed champions of terror” but indicated activity had slackened in recent times.

“They’re not doing that anymore. They’re doing very poorly as a nation. They’re failing as a nation,” said Trump.

Trump referred to the US sanctions against Iran which are battering the Iranian economy especially since Washington pulled out of the nuclear deal.

“I don’t want them to fail as a nation. We can turn that around very quickly but the sanctions have been extraordinary.”

On Friday, Washington slapped Tehran with new sanctions, targeting its largest petrochemical company for providing support to the Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Although EU leaders were bitterly angered by Trump’s pullout from the nuclear deal, the US president said he and Macron did not have differences on how to handle Iran.

Macron said the US shared the same four objectives on Iran — to prevent it obtaining nuclear weapons, reduce its activities in ballistics, contain Iran’s operations in the region and promote regional peace.

The French president said that in order to achieve such objectives “you need to start a negotiation” and applauded Trump’s apparent readiness to hold talks.

The comments came as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has a warm personal relationship with Trump, plans to travel to Iran next week as Tokyo aims to play mediation role.

However, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at Trump earlier this week, saying “when such a person is the president, this shows the political and moral decline of that country.”

Also on Friday, Iran rejected the notion of reopening nuclear talks, warning that seeking to broaden an existing landmark treaty could lead to its collapse.

Earlier this week, Tehran ruled out new talks with Washington unless it changes its “general behavior,” after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his country was ready for negotiations with Iran.

Pompeo, too, was reserved, saying Iran must first prove “they are behaving as a normal nation.”

The Trump administration’s hard-line approach with Iran began with the US withdrawal from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers last year and continued with punishing economic sanctions on the Shiite state.

Last month, Iran announced that if a way could not be found within 60 days to shield it from US sanctions targeting its economy and oil industry, it would increase its enrichment of uranium beyond the purity allowed under the nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

A few days later, Tehran said it had increased its uranium-enrichment production capacity, though only of the lower-enriched uranium permitted by the agreement.

The Islamic Republic WILL Develop the Bomb

Iran nuclear deal is hanging by a thread – so will Islamic Republic now develop a bomb?

The most ambitious effort to peacefully constrain the nuclear aspirations of a nation hangs by a thread. Eight years of patient and difficult negotiations to reach an agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme were cast aside when president Donald Trump withdrew US support for the deal in May 2018.

Since then, tensions between Iran and the US, a signatory to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – alongside the UK, Germany, France, Russia and China – have escalated. Last November, the US inflamed things further by re-imposing economic sanctions targeting both Iran and the states that trade with it.

The US decision in early May to deploy an aircraft carrier strike force and B-52 bombers, in response to what Washington said was an imminent Iranian plan to attack US assets, has kept tensions at a boil.

Washington stated that the latest show of force was in response to a “campaign” of recent attacks, including a rocket launched into the Green Zone in Baghdad, explosive devices that damaged four tankers near the entrance to the Gulf, and drone attacks by Yemeni rebels on a key Saudi oil pipeline. Iran has denied any association with the incidents.

More recently, the US withdrew waivers which were part of the JCPOA deal with Iran. By revoking the waivers that enabled Iran to ship abroad excess supplies of enriched uranium and heavy water, the US has left the Islamic Republic pondering whether it should continue to comply with certain key parts of the deal.

Iran’s foreign affairs minister, Javed Zarif, and Iraq’s foreign minister, Ali Alhakim, held a joint news conference in May, during which Zarif called on European states to do more to preserve the nuclear deal. Zarif also called the deployment of extra US troops to the Gulf region “extremely dangerous and a threat to international peace and security”.

A supportive Alhakim stated: “The sanctions against sisterly Iran are ineffective and we stand by its side.”

Certainly, sanctions have damaged Iran’s economy. The Iranian currency has hit a record low against the US dollar amid continued economic difficulties following the reimposition of sanctions, and the purchasing power of Iranians has dropped significantly. Indeed, Iran’s economy in 2019 is expected to fall deeper into recession, with estimated negative growth of 5.5% or higher.

Iran’s choice

Tehran has requested that the European signatories to the nuclear accord – France, Germany and the UK – keep the pact alive. The JCPOA sets a 3.67% limit on uranium enhancement (enough to fuel a commercial nuclear plant) and bars Iran from accumulating supplies of more than 300kg of low-enriched uranium and 130 tons of heavy water, a coolant used in nuclear reactors.

Tehran has rightly said the deal agreed to end Iran’s financial isolation in return for the strict limitations on its nuclear activities. But by bolstering sanctions, the US has scared organisations and banks into diminishing, ceasing or avoiding altogether business with Iranian partners, with serious repercussions for Iran’s economy.

Europe, by and large, has supported diplomacy with Iran. It has argued that Trump’s rejection of the deal compromises the pragmatic wing of Iran’s administration and plays into the hands of hardliners. The EU has long had questions about Tehran’s missile program, and its involvement in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, but it has viewed these as separate from the nuclear agreement.

The economic sanctions have certainly put the moderate Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani under pressure, both internationally and domestically. Iranian hardliners argue that Iran surrendered too much in the agreement.

Rouhani has perhaps come up with a clever way of deflecting domestic criticism of him – at least for now – by suggesting that the Islamic Republic hold a referendum over its nuclear program. The official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) stated that Rouhani, who recently was openly chastised by the nation’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made the suggestion at a gathering of senior Iranian editors on May 25.

Khamenei, who has the last say on all issues of state in Iran, has not yet responded to Rouhani’s recent proposition. The Islamic Republic has seen just three referendums since 1979: one on its change from a monarchy to an Islamic republic, and two on its constitution.

A nuclear threat?

In the meantime, Iran has also threatened to quadruple its uranium-enrichment production limit, but stressed that even this uranium would not be enhanced beyond the 3.67% limit set by the JCPOA, making it unsuitable for developing a nuclear weapon. Rouhani has also said that Tehran will keep its excess enriched uranium and heavy water rather than exporting it.

If Europe fails to find a way for business and investors to work with Iran without being penalised by US sanctions, however, Rouhani has said that Iran will begin enriching uranium even further. In principle, this more highly-enriched uranium could be used as the fissile core of a nuclear weapon. This would send Iran back on its way towards making a bomb, and mark the end of the JCPOA.

According to the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) most recent quarterly report, Iran’s enriched uranium and heavy water stocks have grown but have not exceeded the ceilings set in the nuclear agreement. This suggests that Iran continues to comply with the JCPOA – for now, at least.

So far, Iran has also abstained from getting entangled in military brinkmanship with the US. But Trump may soon face a tough choice: either engage in a military clash with Iran or return to the JCPOA. The latter may be a u-turn too far for the bellicose president.

Either way, it is difficult to convince nations to surrender nuclear weapons once they have them. In this case, everything peaceful should be done to ensure that Iran is prevented from acquiring one in the first place.

Sixth Seal: New York City (Revelation 6:12)

(Source: US Geological Survey)

New York State Geological Survey

Damaging earthquakes have occurred in New York and surely will again. The likelihood of a damaging earthquake in New York is small overall but the possibility is higher in the northern part of the state and in the New York City region.Significant earthquakes, both located in Rockaway and larger than magnitude 5, shook New York City in 1737 and 1884. The quakes were 147 years apart and the most recent was 122 year ago. It is likely that another earthquake of the same size will occur in that area in the next 25 to 50 years. A magnitude 5.8 earthquake in New York City would probably not cause great loss of life. However the damage to infrastructure – buildings, steam and gas lines, water mains, electric and fiber optic cable – could be extensive.

Earthquake Hazard Map of New York State

Acceleration of the ground during an earthquake is more important than total movement in causing structural damage. This map shows the two-percent probability of the occurrence of an earthquake that exceeds the acceleration of earth’s gravity by a certain percentage in the next fifty years.

If a person stands on a rug and the rug pulled slowly, the person will maintain balance and will not fall. But if the rug is jerked quickly, the person will topple. The same principle is true for building damage during an earthquake. Structural damage is caused more by the acceleration of the ground than by the distance the ground moves.

Earthquake hazard maps show the probability that the ground will move at a certain rate, measured as a percentage of earth’s gravity, during a particular time. Motion of one or two percent of gravity will rattle windows, doors, and dishes. Acceleration of ten to twenty percent of gravity will cause structural damage to buildings. It takes more than one hundred percent of gravity to throw objects into the air.

The New START Treaty Will Fail (Revelation 16)

Vladimir Putin threatens to drop New START nuclear treaty

The Russian president has warned that unless the US comes to the negotiating table, a key nuclear weapons treaty will collapse. If it does, it will be the second such pact to fail under Donald Trump’s leadership.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said an Obama-era nuclear weapons pact would lapse unless the US took an interest in renewing it.

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) pact limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers and is due to expire in 2021 unless renewed.

What Putin said:

Speaking on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin said:

Violence Triples Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Gaza flare-up sees terror attacks on Israelis tripled in May

Four people killed by rocket fire and 10 wounded in deadliest month in two years; two others wounded in Jerusalem stabbing, and a Hamas suicide bombing foiled

A surge in Gaza fighting saw terrorist attacks against Israelis more than tripled in May, the deadliest month in almost two years, the Shin Bet security service has said.

The increase to 449 incidents in May over April’s 126 incidents owes to the launching of hundreds of rockets last month from Gaza into Israel. The rockets killed four people and injured eight out of the 10 wounded in terrorist attacks in May. The remaining two were stabbed in Jerusalem, the Shin Bet said in its monthly report for May published earlier this week.

The deadly two-day flare-up in early May saw almost 700 rockets fired into Israel and hundreds of retaliatory airstrikes.

It was ended by a reported agreement in which Israel agreed to extend an allowable fishing zone off the coast of Gaza and approved Qatari funds of millions of dollars into the Palestinian enclave, aimed at helping ease the dire humanitarian situation there, among other moves.

Israel has refused to officially acknowledge the ceasefire deal, despite moves being made to ease conditions in the Strip.

Hamas, the de facto ruler in the Strip, and the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad terror group had both confirmed the internationally brokered deal.

Fifty-eight year-old father of four Moshe Agadi was the first fatality, killed by shrapnel wounds he sustained when the rocket hit his home in Ashkelon.

Friends and relatives mourn as they attend the funeral of 58-year-old Moshe Agadi, who was killed from shrapnel wounds after his house was hit directly by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in Ashkelon, southern Israel, on May 5, 2019. (Noam Rivkin Fenton/Flash90)

In a barrage aimed at the same southern city later in the day, a rocket directly hit a factory, killing Zaid al-Hamamdeh, a 47-year-old father of seven, and injuring two others.

A short while later, a third man, Moshe Feder, 60, was fatally wounded when an anti-tank guided missile slammed into his car as he was driving along the Route 34 highway near the community of Kibbutz Erez, just north of the Gaza border. He sustained a serious shrapnel wound to the leg, causing significant blood loss. Feder was pronounced dead at Barzilai Medical Center after CPR efforts failed. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

A fourth man was killed later that evening after being struck by rocket shrapnel while running for cover in the southern city of Ashdod, medics said. Pinchas Menachem Prezuazman, 21, was survived by his wife and son. He was laid to rest in Jerusalem.

In the Jerusalem stabbing attack, a 19-year-old Palestinian stabbed one Israeli near Damascus Gate and another near Jaffa Gate on the other side of the walled Old City before being shot dead.

One of the Israelis, a man in his 40s, was in a critical condition with knife wounds to the neck and the other, 16-year-old Yisrael Meir Nachumberg, was stabbed in his back and in a moderate condition.

16-year-old Yisrael Meir Nachumberg speaks to reporters from his hospital bed after he was injured in a stabbing attack in the Old City of Jerusalem on May 31, 2019 (Screencapture/Channel 13)

Terrorist attacks in the West Bank, meanwhile, decreased by 43 percent, from 88 in April to 50 last month.

Last week, the Shin Bet revealed it had foiled a plan by Hamas to set off an explosive charge inside Israel on April 9, during the general elections. A 23-year-old man Yihia abu Dhia, whom the Shin Bet said is a Hamas operative, was arrested on March 31 in the West Bank village of A-Zaim in connection with the alleged plot. He had agreed to carry out a suicide bombing for handlers in Gaza, the Shin Bet said

The intended target was a traffic artery in Ma’ale Adumim, a settlement near Jerusalem.