New York Subways at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

New York City is full of peculiar phenomena—rickety fire escapes; 100-year-old subway tunnels; air conditioners propped perilously into window frames—that can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest city denizen. But should they? Every month, writer Ashley Fetters will be exploring—and debunking—these New York-specific fears, letting you know what you should actually worry about, and what anxieties you can simply let slip away.

The 25-minute subway commute from Crown Heights to the Financial District on the 2/3 line is, in my experience, a surprisingly peaceful start to the workday—save for one 3,100-foot stretch between the Clark Street and Wall Street stations, where for three minutes I sit wondering what the probability is that I will soon die a torturous, claustrophobic drowning death right here in this subway car.

The Clark Street Tunnel, opened in 1916, is one of approximately a dozen tunnels that escort MTA passengers from one borough to the next underwater—and just about all of them, with the exception of the 1989 addition of the 63rd Street F train tunnel, were constructed between 1900 and 1936.

Each day, thousands of New Yorkers venture across the East River and back again through these tubes buried deep in the riverbed, some of which are nearing or even past their 100th birthdays. Are they wrong to ponder their own mortality while picturing one of these watery catacombs suddenly springing a leak?

Mostly yes, they are, says Michael Horodniceanu, the former president of MTA Capital Construction and current principal of Urban Advisory Group. First, it’s important to remember that the subway tunnel is built under the riverbed, not just in the river—so what immediately surrounds the tunnel isn’t water but some 25 feet of soil. “There’s a lot of dirt on top of it,” Horodniceanu says. “It’s well into the bed of the bottom of the channel.”

And second, as Angus Kress Gillespie, author of Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, points out, New York’s underwater subway tunnels are designed to withstand some leaking. And withstand it they do: Pumps placed below the floor of the tunnel, he says, are always running, always diverting water seepage into the sewers. (Horodniceanu says the amount of water these pumps divert into the sewer system each day numbers in the thousands of gallons.)

Additionally, MTA crews routinely repair the grouting and caulking, and often inject a substance into the walls that creates a waterproof membrane outside the tunnel—which keeps water out of the tunnel and relieves any water pressure acting on its walls. New tunnels, Horodniceanu points out, are even built with an outside waterproofing membrane that works like an umbrella: Water goes around it, it falls to the sides, and then it gets channeled into a pumping station and pumped out.

Of course, the classic New York nightmare scenario isn’t just a cute little trickle finding its way in. The anxiety daydream usually involves something sinister, or seismic. The good news, however, is that while an earthquake or explosion would indeed be bad for many reasons, it likely wouldn’t result in the frantic flooding horror scene that plays out in some commuters’ imaginations.

Horodniceanu assures me that tunnels built more recently are “built to withstand a seismic event.” The older tunnels, however—like, um, the Clark Street Tunnel—“were not seismically retrofitted, let me put it that way,” Horodniceanu says. “But the way they were built is in such a way that I do not believe an earthquake would affect them.” They aren’t deep enough in the ground, anyway, he says, to be too intensely affected by a seismic event. (The MTA did not respond to a request for comment.)

One of the only real threats to tunnel infrastructure, Horodniceanu adds, is extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused flooding in the tunnels, which “created problems with the infrastructure.” He continues, “The tunnels have to be rebuilt as a result of saltwater corroding the infrastructure.”

Still, he points out, hurricanes don’t exactly happen with no warning. So while Hurricane Sandy did cause major trauma to the tunnels, train traffic could be stopped with ample time to keep passengers out of harm’s way. In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed all the MTA’s mass transit services to shut down at 7 p.m. the night before Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit New York City.

And Gillespie, for his part, doubts even an explosion would result in sudden, dangerous flooding. A subway tunnel is not a closed system, he points out; it’s like a pipe that’s open at both ends. “The force of a blast would go forwards and backwards out the exit,” he says.

So the subway-train version of that terrifying Holland Tunnel flood scene in Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight is … unrealistic, right?

“Yeah,” Gillespie laughs. “Yeah. It is.”

Got a weird New York anxiety that you want explored? E-mail, and we may include it in a future column.

The Rising South Korean Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

South Korea’s then-foreign minister, Song Min-soon, speaks during an interview in Seoul in October 2007. | BLOOMBERG

South Korea developing its own nukes one solution to U.S. cost-sharing demands, ex-top diplomat says

Jesse JohnsonNov 12, 2019

With Washington reportedly demanding that South Korea pay more to have U.S. troops stationed in the country, a former South Korean foreign minister says he has a solution for Seoul: the development of its own nuclear arsenal.

Song Min-soon, who also once served as the country’s chief negotiator for the six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, suggested in an editorial Monday in the JoongAng Ilbo daily that one way Seoul could seek to share the base-hosting burden is by building up its own arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons.

It’s necessary for South Korea to move on to a self-reliant alliance from a dependent alliance,” he wrote, adding that “a defensive nuclear capacity, with a missile range limited to the Korean Peninsula, is justified.”

Song wrote that military imbalances on the Korean Peninsula “are due to (the North’s) nuclear capabilities, not conventional arms,” noting that the U.S. “nuclear umbrella” currently is employed to deter North Korea and protect the South from attack.

But, he said, with reported demands that Seoul cough up even more cash for the stationing of U.S. forces in the South — and the repercussions of acceding to these demands — it was time to “reconsider” the building of its own nukes, specifically “limited tactical nuclear weapons.”

U.S. President Donald Trump, whose view of allies as freeloaders is well known, is now reportedly pushing for an unprecedented fivefold increase in South Korea’s contribution, stoking concerns about Washington’s commitment to Seoul.

This is likely to have a knock-on effect for the other major U.S. ally in East Asia — Japan, which will hold similar negotiations next year.

Song touched on this in his editorial, saying Trump was likely using the South Korean negotiations “to obtain significant concessions before presenting those as the standard for other countries” such as Japan.

While talk about going nuclear has remained a relatively fringe discussion until recent years, “a growing chorus of voices in South Korea has given up on the rosy fantasy of disarming Kim Jong Un and is instead calling for arming the ‘Land of the Morning Calm’ with destructive nuclear weapons,” Lee Byong-chul, an assistant professor at Kyungnam University’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies, wrote late last month on the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists website.

Lee cited a September 2017 Gallup poll that found 60 percent of South Koreans supported nuclear armament, while just 35 percent were opposed.

Song’s remarks Monday were not the first time he had broached the issue.

During a Sept. 30 speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington, he said that “the Republic of Korea taking its own measures to create a nuclear balance on the peninsula” was a “widely touted” option.

It is not surprising that a growing number of South Korean people support the option,” he said.

Lee pointed to Song’s statement as proof of the changing mindset among even those not on the fringes of the debate.

“Such a statement is strong evidence of just how far moderate proponents of nonproliferation have shifted,” he wrote.

Still, going nuclear would be no easy task for South Korea. A plethora of obstacles stand in the way, including technical feasibility issues, political wherewithal and global pacts such as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

A nuclear-armed South Korea would also upend the regional security architecture in a number of ways, potentially giving Japan a reason to also build its own atomic weapons program.

The Bowls of Wrath is now two minutes to midnight (Revelation 16)

The updated time designation is visible underneath the Doomsday Clock in Washington, US, on January 25, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS/LEAH MILLIS

Doomsday Clock: It is now two minutes to midnight

Quamrul Haider

The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947 by the Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago. Original members of the Board were a group of scientists who worked under the auspices of the Manhattan Project, the secret scheme responsible for developing the first nuclear weapons.

The clock is not used to make any real doomsday predictions; rather it measures “worry”—how worried we should be about the state of the world. Hence, it is a metaphor used to alert our leaders and the public about how close the world is to a potentially civilisation-ending catastrophe. The closer the hands of the clock are to midnight, the closer we are to total annihilation, with “midnight” representing doomsday.

The timescales of the Doomsday Clock are completely different from that of a real clock. As a hypothetical example, if it would take 100 years for climate change to melt all the ice in Greenland, then “one minute” on the clock could perhaps represent 100 years.

Changing the clock is not as simple as adjusting its hands. In January of each year, members of the Board, together with a dozen or so physicists (some Nobel laureates), scientists from other disciplines, including climate scientists and policy experts, get together to analyse threats to humanity’s survival and subsequently decide whether the clock will tick or not. Should it tick, then the direction and how far from midnight should the minute hand be moved is decided by the Board.

Since its inception, the clock has moved backwards and forwards 23 times—from 17 minutes to two minutes before midnight. It was initially set at seven minutes before midnight because back then, there was only one major threat to humanity: nuclear war. The clock was reset to two minutes before midnight in 1953, when the two superpowers, the USA and Soviet Union, tested hydrogen bombs within a few months of each other.

After the superpowers signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963, which put an end to nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere, in space and underwater, the clock was moved back to 12 minutes before midnight. It was reset to 17 minutes before midnight in 1991 after the Cold War was officially over. This was the farthest the clock has ever been from midnight.

The halcyon period of 17 minutes to midnight did not last long, though. In 1998, testing of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan, combined with increased military spending throughout the world, prompted the Board to put the clock back within ten minutes of midnight, at 23:51. Between 2002 and 2007, the clock see-sawed between 23:53 and 23:55, mainly because of America’s withdrawal from the previously signed Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the uncertainty of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

In January 2012, President Barack Obama’s plan to end nuclear proliferation and curb greenhouse gas emissions raised cautious optimism and the clock was moved back to six minutes before midnight. However, because of the failure to reduce global nuclear weapons and the nonchalant attitude of our leaders toward climate change, the clock was moved forward in 2015 to three minutes before midnight.

Today, the clock is influenced by the “new abnormal,” which is described by the Board as a moment in which “fact is becoming indistinguishable from fiction, undermining our very abilities to develop and apply solutions to the big problems of our time.” The new abnormal also includes risks arising from climate change, as well as unpredictable behaviour of leaders like the US President Donald Trump, a blowhard who blusters when unsure what to say, and Kim Jong-un, the intriguing North Korean dictator.

After Trump’s “Fire and Fury” threat to North Korea in 2017, the Board thought that we are indeed closer to the apocalypse now than at any other time in the history of our civilisation. Moreover, because of the rising nuclear threat posed by North Korea and the unsteady state of geopolitical affairs that have gripped the world, the clock was advanced to two minutes before midnight in January 2018. Another reason given in favour of moving the clock so close to doomsday is the “failure of Trump and other world leaders to deal with the looming threats of climate change.”

As for climate change, the Board is taking a wait-and-see attitude. It is because they believe there is “admittedly” a fair amount of uncertainty about what is going to happen in the future and how soon. Nevertheless, the Board believes that civilisation would eventually be dreadfully affected by climate change, unless we make radical changes to our lifestyle and start phasing out the use of fossil fuels without further delay, thereby putting the world on a path to a stable climate. The clock’s hand will probably be moved forward, albeit not by a minute, if Trump is re-elected and continues to show his troubling propensity to discount or outright reject the conclusions of experts on climate science.

Even if we are spared the nuclear holocaust and utter devastation by climate change, a rapidly growing human population that more than doubled in the last 50 years could be a factor in the movement of the clock. It is quite likely that once the population reaches a “critical mass,” our resources—food, water and a whole lot more required for sustenance of life—will not be adequate enough to support life on Earth. As a result, famine and starvation will push the clock closer to midnight.

Finally, by keeping the Doomsday Clock at two minutes to midnight, the same as in 2018 and the closest it has ever been to doomsday, the Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists warns that it should not be taken as a sign of stability. Instead, it is a stark reminder for our leaders and citizens around the world that “the future of the world is now in extreme danger from multiple intersecting and potentially existential threats.” The longer world leaders and citizens ignore this new abnormal reality, it is more likely that our civilisation will soon experience a catastrophe of historic proportions.

Quamrul Haider is a professor of physics at Fordham

University, New York, USA.

Trampling to Resume Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Following 3-week hiatus, Gaza groups announce resumption of border marches

The High Commission for the Marches of Return names this week’s protest ‘The March is Ongoing’; expert predicts Hamas will keep protesters from approaching the fence

By Adam Rasgon Today, 4:19 pm

The committee responsible for organizing protests in the border region between Israel and the Gaza Strip announced on Monday that demonstrations would take place Friday following a significant hiatus.

The High Commission for the March of Return and Breaking the Siege, which includes representatives of Gaza-based terror groups and political factions, canceled the protests in the border area over the last three weeks.

“The High Commission for the March of Return and Breaking the Siege calls on the Palestinian masses to participate in large numbers this coming Friday,” the body said in a statement.

It also named this week’s protests “The March is Ongoing.”

Since late March 2018, Palestinians in Gaza have participated in the protests along the frontier on most Fridays, demanding Israel lift its restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of the coastal enclave and calling for the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to lands that are now a part of the Jewish state.

The protests have frequently descended into violence, including the hurling of explosives, rocks and firebombs at IDF soldiers, as well as attempts to storm and sabotage the border fence. Israeli troops have often responded with live fire and tear gas. At least 200 Palestinians have been killed at the demonstrations and thousands have been injured.

Israeli officials maintain that the restrictions on movement are in place to prevent Hamas and other terrorist groups from smuggling weapons into the Strip. They also say that the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants would destroy Israel’s Jewish character.

Last Wednesday, the High Commission said it decided to cancel that week’s protests in light of the “very dangerous security circumstances and the threats of the criminal ‘Netanyahu’ to carry out stupidity by waging a new and comprehensive act of aggression on the Gaza Strip to protect himself from the corruption charges against him.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing an uncertain political future after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced charges on November 21 against him in three corruption cases.

Palestinians gather near the border with Israel in Malaka east of Gaza City on March 30, 2019, as Palestinians mark the first anniversary of the “March of Return” border protests. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Mkhaimar Abusada, a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza City, said the High Commission decided to cancel the protests over the last three weeks because the Hamas terror group and other Palestinian factions feared they could lead to a fresh escalation of hostilities with Israel.

“After the latest escalation last month, Islamic Jihad said Israel agreed to not target demonstrators as a part of a ceasefire. For its part, Israel said that is not true and only agreed to quiet for quiet,” he said. “So Hamas and the other factions concluded if the protesters go to the border and Israel shoots and kills some of them, a major deterioration could follow.”

Israel and the Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s military wing, engaged in a 48-hour flareup in mid-November after the IDF killed Baha Abu al-Ata, a top commander in the terror group. During the escalation in tensions, the Al-Quds Brigades fired some 450 rockets and mortars at the Jewish state, which responded with many retaliatory strikes in Gaza.

Unlike previous rounds of fighting, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, stayed on the sidelines.

Islamic Jihad chief Ziad al-Nakhala told the Lebanese al-Mayadeen TV station in mid-November that one of the terror group’s conditions for a ceasefire was Israeli security forces halting the use of fire against protesters in the border region. Netanyahu, however, asserted a few days later that the Israel did not make any promises in exchange for the ceasefire.

Abusada also said that another reason the protests were canceled was because Hamas did not want break an agreement it maintains with Qatar.

“According to understandings with Hamas, Qatar provides approximately $30 million monthly to different programs in Gaza in return for keeping the protests peaceful,” he said. “This was also one of Hamas’s concerns.”

For more than the past year, Qatar has contributed millions of dollars to various projects in Gaza on a monthly basis.

Abusada added that the High Commission decided this week to hold the protests because many of the factions that belong to it did not want “to be seen as giving them up permanently.”

“Hamas is under pressure from these factions,” he said. “They are letting them happen this week, but I think Hamas will do its best to keep protesters away from the fence.”

In the latter half of November, the pro-Hezbollah al-Akhbar newspaper reported that the High Commission was holding a discussion about “rolling back the marches to once a month or during national occasions,” citing a unnamed source in the body.

Iran Targets Babylon the Great

IRGC commander: Our missiles are aimed at 21 US bases

IRGC commander says Iran can launch 20,000 missiles per day, is prepared for “the greatest war against the greatest enemy.”

General Allahnoor Noorollahi, a top advisor to the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Officers College, said in a speech in Bushehr this past Friday that 21 of the American bases in the region constitute targets for Iran’s missiles.

Claiming that NATO said Iran can launch 20,000 missiles per day, General Noorollahi suggested that Iran has even greater capabilities, and he said that Iran has prepared itself for “the greatest war against the greatest enemy.”

He stressed that Iran’s enemy is the United States and cited a speech by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in which Khamenei threatened to raze Haifa and Tel Aviv to the ground if Israel made any “mistake.”

The speech, which aired on Bushehr TV, was delivered at an event commemorating 40 years since the establishment of the Basij and was translated by the Middle East Media and Research Institute (MEMRI).

The tensions between the US and Iran have escalated since US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal last year and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

In response to the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal and its imposition of sanctions, Iran has scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal.

Iranian officials regularly threaten the US and Israel, including Khamenei who last year took to Twitter to blast both countries.

“Today, to hell with the US and Zionist regime for threatening the Iranian nation. Their threats and atrocities have so far failed and will continue to fail; the sanctions will also be defeated by the grace of resistance,” he wrote at the time.

A commander in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) declared in July that US regional bases and its aircraft carriers in the Gulf are within the range of Iranian missiles and warned, “Our missiles will destroy their aircraft carriers if they make a mistake.”

Russia Prepares Its Nuclear Arsenal (Daniel 7)

Nuclear-capable air-launched ballistic missile tested over the Barents Sea

The Kinzhal missile was launched from a MiG-31K taking off from Olenegorsk airbase on the Kola Peninsula.

The missile changes the military power-balance in the north due to its range, speed and ability to overcome any known missile defence systems.

Kh-47M2 Kinzhal (NATO name SA-N-9 Gauntlet) is one of the six new strategic nuclear weapons under development in Russia. Several of them were highlighted by Vladimir Putin in his presidential address to the Federal Assembly on March 1, 2018.

Now, the missile is tested and like several of the other new strategic weapons under development by Russia, the test took place in the northwestern part of the country.

“The test took place in mid-November. The missile was launched at a ground target located at the Pemboy training ground from a MiG-31K carrier plane, taking off from Olenegorsk airfield,” a military source said to news agency TASS.

Olenegorsk air base is an hour drive south of Murmansk, while the Pemboy range is about 60 kilometres from Vorkuta, just west of the Ural mountains in the Komi Republic. The missile was likely launched while the aircraft was over the Barents Sea.

Extra range

In principle, the Kinzhal missile is an air-carried version of the Iskander land-based short-range ballistic missile. That said, placing such missile on an aircraft gives it a more dangerous strategic position.

First, the missile could be launched from unpredictable locations because an aircraft moves much faster than a land-based vehicle. Secondly, an aircraft adds extra range before the missile itself is launched.

Unlike cruise missiles launched from an aircraft, the Kinzhal goes ballistic. Like other ballistic missiles launched from silos or submarines, going ballistic via space means hypersonic speed.

The test missile in mid-November reached a speed of 10 Machs another source told TASS.

Kinzhal can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads.

Franz Josef Land

According to a TASS report from July, the Kinzhal has a range of 2.000 kilometres when carried by a MiG-31 and about 3.000 kilometres if carried by a Tu-22M3 long-ranged bomber.

Both the Mig-31 and the Tu-22M3 are based on the Kola Peninsula.

As previously reported by the Barents Observer, the MiG-31 will also serve the new airfield currently under construction at Nagurskoye base at Franz Josef Land.

For Nordic neighbours, the Kinzhal missile will pose a totally new military challenge. In distance from Olenegorsk air base south of Murmansk, Norway’s Bodø air base is 800 kilometres away and within range with good margins.

Bodø is the main airport for Norway’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets.

Kallax air base in Luleå, northern Sweden, is 570 kilometres from Olenegorsk, while Rovaniemi air base in Finnish Lapland is 370 kilometres away. Even Satakunta Air Command at Tampere in southern Finland is within range, located 880 kilometres from Olenegorsk on Russia’s Kola Peninsula.

Securing bastion defense

Deployed at aircraft taking off from the Kola Peninsula, the Kinzhal gives Russia a deterrence measure against any NATO surface warships in the bastion area.

Russia’s bastion area is north of the Greenland, Iceland, and United Kingdom (GIUK) defense line and covers the Norwegian- and Barents Sea. This is the area where Russia will make denial, or anti-access, for NATO ships and aircraft in order to guarantee the survival of the ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and by that secure credible nuclear strike deterrence. All of the Northern Fleet’s SSBNs are based in Gadzhiyevo north of Murmansk.

At a speed of Mach 10 within seconds after launch from an airborne MiG-31, the response time in case of conflict is highly limited for Russia’s Nordic neighbours.

The US based Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance said the missile’s performances allows it to overcome “any known United States air or missile defense systems.”

Iran Nuclear Ready Within Months (Daniel 8:4)

Iran Nuclear Bomb

Iran Could Have A Nuclear Bomb Within Months

The Iranian government is shortening its nuclear breakout time — the amount of time required to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a single nuclear weapon. Tehran has accomplished this through several steps in the last few months.

Iran’s government first increased its enriched uranium stockpile beyond the 300 kilogram limit; it enriched uranium to levels beyond the cap of 3.67 percent, and then activated 20 IR-4 and 20 IR-6 advanced centrifuges. The Iranian leaders even boasted that their government is now exploring new uranium enrichment programs and producing centrifuges.

Most recently, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, declared that Iran has an adequate supply of 20% enriched uranium., “Right now we have enough 20% uranium,” he told the Iranian Students News Agency, ISNA, “but we can produce more as needed”. He added that the country is resuming uranium enrichment at a far higher level at the Fordow nuclear facility — an underground uranium enrichment facility which is reportedly located on one of bases of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC­­) — injecting uranium gas into centrifuges, and operating 60 IR-6 advanced centrifuges.

This marks a dangerous phase in Iran’s nuclear defiance. Tehran is now using a kind of prototype centrifuge that enriches uranium almost 50 times faster.

Iran’s nuclear breakout time in 2015 was estimated at less than one year. Tehran has advanced its nuclear program since then. In an interview with Iran’s state-owned Channel 2, Salehi admitted that the “nuclear deal” initiated by then-US President Barack Obama not only failed to restrict Iran’s nuclear program; it actually helped Iran to advance its nuclear program through the flow of funds thanks to the lifting of sanctions.“If we have to go back and withdraw from the nuclear deal,” he stated, “we certainly do not go back to where we were before … We will be standing in a much, much higher position.”

Although Iran is a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it refuses to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect its sites. The IAEA is also not allowed to inspect or monitor Iran’s military sites, where nuclear activities are most likely being carried out.

Among the many concessions that the Obama administration granted to the Iranian government, one was accepting the Iranian leaders’ demand that military sites would be out of the IAEA’s reach. Because of this surrender, at various high-profile sites such as the Parchin military complex, located southeast of Tehran, the regime has been free to engage in nuclear activities without the risk of inspection.

The Iranian leaders keep claiming that their nuclear activities are solely for peaceful purposes. This claim is bogus. If the Islamic Republic is advancing its nuclear program for peaceful purposes, why has Tehran repeatedly failed to report its nuclear facilities, including those at Natanz and Arak, to the IAEA?

Also, why does the Iranian government keep refusing to answer the IAEA’s questions regarding a secret nuclear facility, reportedly located in the suburbs of Tehran? Two nonpartisan organizations based in Washington — the Institute for Science and International Security and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies — last year released a detailed report on Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities at this site.

In addition, why did the Iranian government place an S-300 anti-aircraft missile system at the Fordow underground nuclear site after the 2015 nuclear agreement? Finally, why does the Iranian regime never adequately address reports about its efforts to obtain illegal nuclear technology and equipment? Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, revealed in its annual report for 2016 that the Iranian government had pursued a “clandestine” path to obtain illicit nuclear technology and equipment from German companies “at what is, even by international standards, a quantitatively high level.”

The truth is that, from the perspective of the ruling clerics of Iran, obtaining nuclear weapons is a must to help Tehran advance its hegemonic ambitions to dominate the region. Also, by having nuclear weapons, the Iranian government can more powerfully support terror groups and proxies to destabilize the region without being concerned that the West might strike Iranian military targets.

Most of all, in the view of the ruling clerics, having nuclear weapons can ensure the survival of their theocratic, anti-American and anti-Semitic establishment.

That is why, before it is too late, which it is fast becoming, it is incumbent on the US and the international community to take seriously Iran’s nuclear advances and urgently address its rush to obtain nuclear weapons.