East Coast Still Unprepared For The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

East Coast Earthquake Preparedness

By By BEN NUCKOLS

Posted: 08/25/2011 8:43 am EDT

WASHINGTON — There were cracks in the Washington Monument and broken capstones at the National Cathedral. In the District of Columbia suburbs, some people stayed in shelters because of structural concerns at their apartment buildings.

A day after the East Coast’s strongest earthquake in 67 years, inspectors assessed the damage and found that most problems were minor. But the shaking raised questions about whether this part of the country, with its older architecture and inexperience with seismic activity, is prepared for a truly powerful quake.

The 5.8 magnitude quake felt from Georgia north to Canada prompted swift inspections of many structures Wednesday, including bridges and nuclear plants. An accurate damage estimate could take weeks, if not longer. And many people will not be covered by insurance.

In a small Virginia city near the epicenter, the entire downtown business district was closed. School was canceled for two weeks to give engineers time to check out cracks in several buildings.

At the 555-foot Washington Monument, inspectors found several cracks in the pyramidion – the section at the top of the obelisk where it begins narrowing to a point.

A 4-foot crack was discovered Tuesday during a visual inspection by helicopter. It cannot be seen from the ground. Late Wednesday, the National Park Service announced that structural engineers had found several additional cracks inside the top of the monument.

Carol Johnson, a park service spokeswoman, could not say how many cracks were found but said three or four of them were “significant.” Two structural engineering firms that specialize in assessing earthquake damage were being brought in to conduct a more thorough inspection on Thursday.

The monument, by far the tallest structure in the nation’s capital, was to remain closed indefinitely, and Johnson said the additional cracks mean repairs are likely to take longer. It has never been damaged by a natural disaster, including earthquakes in Virginia in 1897 and New York in 1944.

Tourists arrived at the monument Wednesday morning only to find out they couldn’t get near it. A temporary fence was erected in a wide circle about 120 feet from the flags that surround its base. Walkways were blocked by metal barriers manned by security guards.

“Is it really closed?” a man asked the clerk at the site’s bookstore.

“It’s really closed,” said the clerk, Erin Nolan. Advance tickets were available for purchase, but she cautioned against buying them because it’s not clear when the monument will open.

“This is pretty much all I’m going to be doing today,” Nolan said.

Tuesday’s quake was centered about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, 90 miles south of Washington and 3.7 miles underground. In the nearby town of Mineral, Va., Michael Leman knew his Main Street Plumbing & Electrical Supply business would need – at best – serious and expensive repairs.

At worst, it could be condemned. The facade had become detached from the rest of the building, and daylight was visible through a 4- to 6-inch gap that opened between the front wall and ceiling.

“We’re definitely going to open back up,” Leman said. “I’ve got people’s jobs to look out for.”

Leman said he is insured, but some property owners might not be so lucky.

The Insurance Information Institute said earthquakes are not covered under standard U.S. homeowners or business insurance policies, although supplemental coverage is usually available.

The institute says coverage for other damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage from burst gas or water pipes, is provided by standard homeowners and business insurance policies in most states. Cars and other vehicles with comprehensive insurance would also be protected.

The U.S. Geological Survey classified the quake as Alert Level Orange, the second-most serious category on its four-level scale. Earthquakes in that range lead to estimated losses between $100 million and $1 billion.

In Culpeper, Va., about 35 miles from the epicenter, walls had buckled at the old sanctuary at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which was constructed in 1821 and drew worshippers including Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. Heavy stone ornaments atop a pillar at the gate were shaken to the ground. A chimney from the old Culpeper Baptist Church built in 1894 also tumbled down.

At the Washington National Cathedral, spokesman Richard Weinberg said the building’s overall structure remains sound and damage was limited to “decorative elements.”

Massive stones atop three of the four spires on the building’s central tower broke off, crashing onto the roof. At least one of the spires is teetering badly, and cracks have appeared in some flying buttresses.

Repairs were expected to cost millions of dollars – an expense not covered by insurance.

“Every single portion of the exterior is carved by hand, so everything broken off is a piece of art,” Weinberg said. “It’s not just the labor, but the artistry of replicating what was once there.”

The building will remain closed as a precaution. Services to dedicate the memorial honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were moved.

Other major cities along the East Coast that felt the shaking tried to gauge the risk from another quake.

A few hours after briefly evacuating New York City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city’s newer buildings could withstand a more serious earthquake. But, he added, questions remain about the older buildings that are common in a metropolis founded hundreds of years ago.

“We think that the design standards of today are sufficient against any eventuality,” he said. But “there are questions always about some very old buildings. … Fortunately those tend to be low buildings, so there’s not great danger.”

An earthquake similar to the one in Virginia could do billions of dollars of damage if it were centered in New York, said Barbara Nadel, an architect who specializes in securing buildings against natural disasters and terrorism.

The city’s 49-page seismic code requires builders to prepare for significant shifting of the earth. High-rises must be built with certain kinds of bracing, and they must be able to safely sway at least somewhat to accommodate for wind and even shaking from the ground, Nadel said.

Buildings constructed in Boston in recent decades had to follow stringent codes comparable to anything in California, said Vernon Woodworth, an architect and faculty member at the Boston Architectural College. New construction on older structures also must meet tough standards to withstand severe tremors, he said.

It’s a different story with the city’s older buildings. The 18th- and 19th-century structures in Boston’s Back Bay, for instance, were often built on fill, which can liquefy in a strong quake, Woodworth said. Still, there just aren’t many strong quakes in New England.

The last time the Boston area saw a quake as powerful as the one that hit Virginia on Tuesday was in 1755, off Cape Ann, to the north. A repeat of that quake would likely cause deaths, Woodworth said. Still, the quakes are so infrequent that it’s difficult to weigh the risks versus the costs of enacting tougher building standards regionally, he said.

People in several of the affected states won’t have much time to reflect before confronting another potential emergency. Hurricane Irene is approaching the East Coast and could skirt the Mid-Atlantic region by the weekend and make landfall in New England after that.

In North Carolina, officials were inspecting an aging bridge that is a vital evacuation route for people escaping the coastal barrier islands as the storm approaches.

Speaking at an earthquake briefing Wednesday, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray inadvertently mixed up his disasters.

“Everyone knows, obviously, that we had a hurricane,” he said before realizing his mistake.

“Hurricane,” he repeated sheepishly as reporters and staffers burst into laughter. “I’m getting ahead of myself!”

___

Associated Press writers Sam Hananel in Washington; Alex Dominguez in Baltimore; Bob Lewis in Mineral, Va.; Samantha Gross in New York City; and Jay Lindsay in Boston contributed to this report.

The plague takes it’s toll on the Iranian horn

How many Iranian officials have died of coronavirus?

The coronavirus has been spreading in Iran among the country’s elites, particularly the religious establishment and IRGC circles.

The coronavirus is spreading in Iran among the country’s elites, particularly the religious establishment and IRGC circles. This is because of how it entered the country via Qom, a city known for holy sites and seminaries for the religious establishment.

Because Iran operates as a nationalist theocracy, the degree of separation between the first men to get the virus in Qom and the leadership in Tehran was diminished.

How many officials have been sick and died? We know about the deputy health minister, who was one of the first widely known cases. His name is Iraj Haririchi, and he was infamously seen on video on February downplaying the virus while sweating and coughing.

Iran’s deputy health minister confirms he has coronavirus after downplaying danger

We also know that Massoumeh Ebtekar, vice president for women and family affairs, was sick. According to the BBC, Pirhossein Kolivand, a top official of the emergency medical services, is sick, as is Esmail Najjar of the Interior Ministry’s “crisis management” department.Based on various reports, we have tried to compile a list of those who may have had the virus, died from it or were suspected to have had it. There may be some repetition because the same name appears on different lists compiled by regional reports.

In parliament, at least 24 members have the virus, including two who died: Fatemeh Rahbar, from Tehran; and Mohammad Ali Ramezani, from Gilan. A local mayor of district 13 in Tehran, Mojtaba Rahmanzadeh, was also diagnosed with it.Mahmoud Sadeghi, an outspoken MP, also had the virus in February.

A longer preliminary list in late February included Mojtaba Zonnour, a cleric and national security official from Qom; as well as Mohamad Reza Ghadiri of Qom University. In addition, Ayatollah Musa Shabr Zanzanj and Ali Rabiei, a spokesman, reportedly were afflicted.The last day in February came with news that Mustafa Pourmohammadi, a former justice minister and deputy at the Intelligence Ministry, was ill. In addition, Mohammad Ali Ramazani Dastak was hospitalized.By March 1, news came that Seyyed Mohammad Mir Mohammadi was dead from the virus. He was a member of the Expediency Council and former chief of staff for Ayatollah Khamenei. MP Hadi Khosrowshahi, a former ambassador to the Vatican, also was sick.Mojtaba Fazeli, an adviser to a senior cleric was also sick, as was Reza Pourkhanali, an Agriculture Ministry official who died, according to Saudi news network Al Arabiya.Hamed Jalali Kashani, an activist, died on February 28. Other officials also died include Mohammad Haj Abolghasemi of the IRGC’s Basij Force and Ahmad Toyserkani, an adviser to judiciary member Ebrahim Raisi. Hossein Sheikholeslam, a former ambassador to Syria, also died, Al Arabiya reported.Al Arabiya compiled a longer list of suspected deaths, including Rasoul Azizi, head of Gilan’s police inspection unit; cleric Akbar Dehghan of Qom, Ayatollah Mohsen Habib, cleric Ali Khalafi, Ayatollah Reza Mohammadi Langroudi, Mousa Torabzedeh from Astaneh-ye Ashhrafiyeh in Gilan, cleric Ali Hosseini of Aliabad-e-Katul in Golestan, clerics Mostafa Amini and Nematollah Javadi Bamiani, Reza Modarresi and others.This report noted that these were not all confirmed cases, and the cause of death was not always clear, according to Iranian media.On March 4, claims emerged that Ramezan Pourghassem of the IRGC ground forces had died. Two days later, Hossein Sheikholeslam, an adviser to the foreign minister, had died, and Mohammed Abolghasemi was infected.By March 9, IRGC official Farzad Tazari and politician Mohammed Reza Rachamani were reported dead. A commemoration took place online for Hossein Sheikholeslam. High-ranking officer Abdollah Jafarzadeh of the IRGC was also said to have died. A funeral was held for Farzad Tazari, also of the IRGC, as Iran declared medical personnel “martyrs” for fighting the virus.The sheer volume of Iranian clerics, officials, MPs and officers of key parts of the security apparatus who are sick or who have died is unprecedented. The image emerging from Tehran is a shock to the system of government.Yet Iran continues to function amid the crisis, sending officials to Syria, Iraq and allegedly even to meet with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut. This has fed rumors that Iran’s network of IRGC members who travel openly in the region and without medical checks via Baghdad, Beirut and Damascus Airport may be spreading the virus.So far, the number of official infections in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria is not large. Rumors are now spreading that Nasrallah may have been exposed to the virus from Iranian officials. This is similar to rumors that Muqtada al-Sadr fled Qom in February due to the outbreak. In the absence of information – and with Health Ministry officials in Iraq and Lebanon encouraged to remain mum by Tehran – conspiracy theories are emerging.What is known is that an alarming number of clerics and officials in Iran appear to have the virus. Iran’s regime prefers to claim that the virus was created by the US or Israel to harm it and to blame sanctions for the its own cover-up of the extent of the problem. But Iran cannot hide the funerals for high-level clerics and officials.

Australia Will Seek the Nuclear Option

French submarine program ‘dangerously off track’ warns report urging Australia to consider nuclear alternative

By defence correspondent Andrew Greene

Australia is being urged to buy nuclear-powered submarines when it replaces its fleet of Collins class subs.(ADF)

Australia’s $80 billion Future Submarine Program is “dangerously off track” according to a new report that urges the Government to ditch the controversial project and consider a nuclear option.

Key points:

The report indicates there are fears the current project is at a high risk of failing

The Defence Minister denies those fears and maintains the project remains on track

Under a proposed “Plan B” scenario, the company that designed the Collins class submarines would prepare an updated design

Businessman Gary Johnston, who commissioned and funded the study, fears the current plan to build 12 attack class submarines designed by French company Naval Group is at “high risk” of failing.

His report, prepared by Insight Economics, suggests Australia should instead immediately begin work on a “Plan B” — an evolved version of the current Collins class fleet — before eventually acquiring nuclear-powered boats.

Earlier this year, a report from the auditor-general confirmed the Future Submarine Program was running nine months late and Defence was unable to show whether the $396 million spent so far had been “fully effective”.

“The Government’s own advisory body, including three American admirals, even recommended the Government should consider walking away from the project,” Mr Johnston said.

Under the proposed “Plan B”, Swedish company Saab Kockums, which designed the navy’s Collins class submarines, would be asked to prepare an updated design for the future submarine fleet.

Australia’s new fleet of submarines could already be facing an obsolescence problem over its battery power.(Supplied: DCNS)

In 2022-23, both Naval Group and Saab will present their competing preliminary design studies for building the first batch of three submarines in Adelaide — based on a fixed price, capability, delivery and local content.

Mr Johnston, along with former naval officers in the Submarines for Australia organisation, argue that over the long term the Government should begin preparing to acquire nuclear submarines.

With Beijing’s growing military assertiveness in the South China Sea, Mr Johnston said the most disturbing finding in the report was that by the 2030s the effectiveness and survivability of Australia’s submarines in a high-intensity theatre would be threatened.

“If the Government wants to continue deploying submarines to this theatre alongside the US Navy, the nation’s duty of care to the dedicated men and women of the ADF means we will need to begin the long and difficult process of acquiring nuclear-powered submarines,” Mr Johnston said.

“With our very small nuclear industry, that will not be easy — but we can make a start.”

Government rejects report, issues warning

The Submarines for Australia report will be formally launched by ANU Emeritus Professor Hugh White at the National Press Club today, but it is already drawing fire from the Morrison Government.

Australia’s submarine requirements explained

With the winning bidder for Australia’s next fleet of submarines announced, attention turns to how it will meet Australia’s high-endurance requirements.

“I totally reject the premise that this project is ‘dangerously off track’, as stated in the new Submarines for Australia report”, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said.

“The delivery of the attack class submarine remains on track, with construction set to commence in 2023.”

Senator Reynolds said the technical feasibility of delivering an evolved Collins class submarine was reviewed in 2013-14, but a review found it would be equivalent to a whole new design, involving similar costs and risks, without a commensurate gain in capability.

“This assessment by Submarines for Australia will only increase cost, delay the delivery, and put at risk our submarine capability.”

The Defence Minister also flatly rejected any suggestion of a nuclear-powered submarine in the future.

“As has been the policy of successive Australian Governments, a nuclear-powered submarine is not being considered as an option for the attack class submarine,” Senator Reynolds said.

Launching the Russian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

What you need to do to launch Russian nuclear missiles

Weapons 11/03/20 What you need to do to launch Russian nuclear missiles

Nuclear collision of the leading powers many believe is almost inevitable, tying him with the biblical prophecy of Armageddon is the last war before the end of the world. However, the Russian President is not enough to simply click to the unavoidable happened. To activate the nuclear Arsenal of the country is only possible through concerted actions of several people.

the Attendant and a “guardian of the briefcase”

In an emergency the head of state manages the nuclear forces of Russia by the so-called nuclear suitcase. This device ensures the link with the strategic missile forces through an automated system “Kazbek”, which was established more than 30 years ago.

the Nuclear football, you can only use when receiving information about the attack from the enemy. It’s not just about the launch of Intercontinental ballistic missiles, but also the use of other weapons of mass destruction. As for a preemptive nuclear strike at the potential enemy, the possibility of its application excluded the current nuclear doctrine of the Russian Federation.

Initially, about the attack of the enemy finds out the operator on duty of the Main centre of missile attack warning, located near Solnechnogorsk in the Moscow region. It verifies the truth of the message, and then transmits the information to the media “nuclear suitcases”.

Directly to the President, “suitcase” brings its Keeper – the officer of communication service, always in sight of the Supreme commander. The soldier with a rank not below that of Colonel, by tradition, wear the uniform of the Navy.

President

Opening the device, the head of state is included in the interface of the portable subscriber complex “Cheget”, then introduces several encrypted keys and passwords.

What for the notorious “red button”, then its a simple click will have no effect. This attribute, however, was not always purely symbolic: under Brezhnev, who at the end of life has deteriorated vision, it is the “red button” has decided the fate of the world.

In 1995, Boris Yeltsin used the “Cheget”, when Norway was launched a meteorological rocket, which I mistook for ballistic. Find out the details, the President closed the “nuclear briefcase”.

defense Minister and chief of staff

Together with the President to activate the codes, the strategic missile forces should be two other people – the Minister of defense and chief of General staff. Each of them are inseparable liaison officers with the suitcases.

If at least one of the codes-passwords on any of the devices is entered incorrectly, the system does not work.

Thus, to run the Russian missiles with nuclear warheads, concerted actions of seven people (along with the duty operator). However, even if all they are going to die in the first attack, the enemy who attacked Russia, there will be no retribution. In this case created an automatic complex “Perimeter”, launching missiles without human intervention. In the West it is known as Dead Hand (“dead hand”).

the Nuclear Football

In the United States also used nuclear briefcase. In fact, in 1950-ies in this country under President Eisenhower and was invented this device. Externally, the American version of “suitcase” like a ball for American football, covered with leather, which has been called the Nuclear Football. To operate nuclear-missile forces, the President of America should use titanium or gold card with a secret code. It is noteworthy that the leaders of the United States often lose this card.

instructions for use of the American “nuclear briefcase” is 30 pages. September 11, 2001 George Bush was so scared by the terrorist attacks that same day got the manual and started to read it, but beyond that it, fortunately, has not moved.

As we are assured by the military, existing security measures to rule out the possibility of launching ballistic missiles by mistake or by the will of one man.

Timur Sagdiyev

Iran Defiant Against the World Nuclear Agency (Daniel 8:4)

Iran Says No Obligation To Answer Nuclear Watchdog’s New Questions

March 11, 2020

Radio Farda

Iranian Foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi, FILE PHOTO.

In reaction to recent questions raised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about Iran’s nuclear program the Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Wednesday that Iran has no obligation to answer questions based on “empty claims”.

The IAEA last week said Iran had denied its inspectors access to two sites in January. In a speech on March 9 to members of the IAEA’s board, Rafael Grossi, the Chief of IAEA, demanded access to locations suspected of secret activities in Iran’s nuclear program in the past. The locations possibly stored undeclared nuclear material or undertook nuclear-related activities without declaring it to international observers.

“The agency has identified a number of questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities at three locations that have not been declared by Iran,” Grossi said, according to his prepared remarks. “The agency sought access to two of the locations. Iran has not provided access to these locations and has not engaged in substantive discussions to clarify the agency’s questions,” he said.

“Questions must be based on a legal and technical case and not some regimes’ political games as Iran does not consider this right or constructive”,Mousvai said on Wednesday in reference to Grossi’s statement and the officials of the United States and Israel that have repeatedly called on the IAEA to pressure Iran to reveal its possible undeclared reserves of enriched uranium and explain about the particles that were detected at a warehouse on the outskirts of Tehran more than a year ago.

Israel has recently claimed that its intelligence services have new information on the alleged past nuclear projects and Iran has accused the U.S. and Israel of trying to “exert pressure on the agency” regarding its nuclear activities.

In a statement delivered to the IAEA Board of Governors in Vienna on March 11 Jackie Wolcott, the U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, stressed that Iran must cooperate fully to resolve the IAEA’s concerns about possible undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran without further delay.

“In the face of Iran’s refusal to cooperate, it is clear Iran has left the Director General no option but to bring these urgent issues to the Board’s attention. A core responsibility we have as members of the Board is to review and respond to information reported to the Secretariat commensurate with its significance,” the U.S. ambassador said in her address.

Diplomats say these were related to past projects of the 2000s that were alleged to have had a military dimension, and not to its current activities.

Reporting by AFP, DPA

Palestinian Islamists Disrupt an Attempted Truce Outside the Temple Walls

Palestinian Islamists disrupt an attempted truce in Gaza

BY EITAN DANGOT, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

While Israel attempted to achieve quiet in the lead-up to the March 2 elections, Hamas, with a strategic interest in pausing the fighting, also sought quiet to improve living standards in Gaza. But the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) torpedoed this attempt.The escalation that erupted between the PIJ and Israel in February is characteristic of the PIJ’s recent efforts to disrupt calm in Gaza.

Hamas has determined that a truce can boost its regional standing in the Middle East and enable it to find support beyond its traditional, more radical allies. At the same time, a ceasefire enables Hamas to build up its resources and prepare for further developments in the West Bank, ahead of the inevitable, eventual departure of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Driven by these objectives, Hamas has pursued efforts to reach understandings with Israel. This alignment of common interests motivated both to try to reach a truce. If they succeed, they will lay the groundwork for extending such understanding to other areas.

Three main parties are leading the mediation efforts. First is Egypt, which has worked to de-escalate conflicts in Gaza through a carrot-and-stick approach towards Hamas. Cairo has many reasons to seek calm in Gaza. Doing so would improve Egypt’s domestic security situation, for example. Second is Qatar, which – despite tensions between this Gulf state and Egypt – has been supplementing Egypt’s mediation efforts by providing finances toward the effort. Qatar is intent on being an active player in any regional crisis zone to increase its influence. Third, the United Nations special envoy to the region, Nickolay Mladenov, serves as an important bridge to broader international elements, particularly the European Union, the United States and Russia. As a result, Hamas cannot ignore him.

On the eve of the escalation in February, Israel signaled its willingness to support Hamas’s strategy to improve Gaza’s economic situation, taking two important steps to that end. It allowed 7,000 Gazans to enter Israel for trade purposes – the first time that has happened since Hamas’s violent coup in 2007. This move enabled thousands of people to find daily work in Israel, and bring money back to the Gaza Strip. And Israel expanded the fishing zone for Gazan fishermen, to increase the resources entering Gaza.

Hamas has identified the end of March as the start date for renewing Palestinian riots on the Israeli-Gazan border. That timing gives Israel one month, post-elections, to form a coalition and formulate the next steps regarding Gaza.

Tragically, this positive momentum has been foiled by PIJ. For 20 years, this organization has been a prime catalyst of violence against Israelis that is disproportionate to the size and power of the organization. The PIJ has conducted attacks such as suicide bombings and roadside bombings, targeting the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israeli civilians.

In Gaza, the PIJ has been building an arsenal of ballistic rockets, whose quantity and variety have become as threatening as that of Hamas. Since its founding in the late 1980s, the PIJ has been ideologically committed to destroying the State of Israel and establishing an Islamist state in its place. Unencumbered by any obligation to deal with civilian needs, the PIJ deals exclusively with the recruitment of operatives and solicitation of funds. Consequently, unlike the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the PIJ is considered a terror organization whose mission is to shed blood and create escalations on a regular basis, and to torpedo any understandings that Hamas and Israel might reach.

In terms of ideology, we know the PIJ originates from the same breeding ground as Hamas and shares a similar foundational identity. More ominously, though, the PIJ has identified with the path of the Iranian Islamic Revolution since 1979 and created strong reciprocal relations with Tehran.The Iranians extend financial credit lines to the PIJ, funding that it uses to build up and activate its forces. It also enjoys ties with Hezbollah, which acts as an influencing factor in the PIJ’s force build-up and training. The PIJ’s has headquarters in Gaza, Syria and Lebanon, which strengthens the radical ties between this Sunni organization and the Shi’ite axis.

This situation has created a growing dilemma for Hamas in recent years. Under the leadership of Yayha Sinwar and Ismail Haniyah, Hamas has sought to buy time for its long game, without changing ideology. This stance has created a widening gap between Hamas and the PIJ. For the first time, during two rounds of fighting Hamas sat on the sidelines and refrained from joining in. The PIJ also has delivered results that Iran wanted to see, and thus considers itself an equal party to Hamas, one whose goals must be taken into full consideration.

All of this means that Hamas has reached a critical juncture. It must decide whether to enforce its rule in Gaza or co-opt the PIJ as a partner. The latter course could ruin its current strategy and drag Hamas back to the world of terrorism and armed conflict much sooner than it planned.

Israel, too, is at a crossroads and must decide if it wants to continue to extend the periods of quiet or, if that fails, launch a broad military operation in Gaza. It also needs to decide whether it will allow the PIJ to continue to strengthen its forces. Alternatively, Israel could launch a targeted campaign against the PIJ, striking its leaders, infrastructure and rocket developers, and blocking its funding sources.

Given the stakes, activating a comprehensive campaign against the PIJ would allow Israel to realize a truce far more definitively than would continuing the status quo.

Eitan Dangot, a retired major general with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), is an expert with The MirYam Institute. He concluded his career in 2014 as chief coordinator of government activities in the Territories. Prior to that he was the military secretary to three defense ministers.

Babylon the Great Escalates War With the Shi’a Horn

U.S. Sending Missile Defense to Iraq After Attack from Iran, Which Already Has A New Weapon

By Tom O’Connor On 3/10/20 at 3:49 PM EDT

The United States is deploying missile defenses to Iraq in the wake of January’s strikes from Iran, which has since unveiled a new missile capable of cross-border attacks.

Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, told the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the Pentagon was “in the process of bringing air defense systems, ballistic missile defense systems, into Iraq in particular, to protect ourselves against another potential Iranian attack.” The Islamic Republic fired a barrage of ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops in response to the assassination days earlier of Revolutionary Guard Quds Force commander Major General Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport.

Iraq condemned both the U.S.’ slaying of Soleimani and Iran’s retaliation as violations of its sovereigntyand lawmakers voted for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the country. The Pentagon, however, has not yet indicated any plans to leave, though it would need Baghdad’s approval to be able to send in systems like the Patriot surface-to-air missile batteries deployed in nearby nations.

Iran, which also considers Iraq a partner, has since taken measures to shore up its strike capabilities. Last month, the Revolutionary Guard inaugurated a new short-range missile known as Raad-500 that was said to be lighter and longer-range than some of those used in the unprecedented operation that targeted U.S. troops earlier this year.

Revolutionary Guard commander Major General Hossein Salami and aerospace force commander Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh inaugurate the Raad-500 short-range ballistic missile, equipped with a Zohair rocket motor, at a ceremony, February 9. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

The Raad-500 was unveiled by Revolutionary Guard commander Major General Hossein Salami and aerospace force commander Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh at a February 9 ceremony. The elite Iranian force boasted a range of 500 kilometers, or just over 310 miles, more than double the Fateh-110’s 210-kilometer, or 130-mile range.

One of the Raad-500’s innovations is its light-weight, carbon fiber composite engine, known as Zohair. The solid-fuel design also had a derivative known as Salman designed for space-launch vehicles.

Iran possesses the largest and most advanced missile arsenal in the Middle East,something that the U.S. considers a threat to regional stability. Tehran’s continued missile development and its support for militias in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and beyond were cited by President Donald Trump’s administration as reasons for its May 2018 exit from a 2015 deal that offered Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbing its nuclear activities.

Tensions between the two longtime foes have been climbing ever since,with the U.S. sending additional troops and assets to the strategic Persian Gulf off of Iran’s shores. The White House has set out to choke off the Islamic Republic’s oil exports entirely as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign accompanied by acts of sabotage against tankers and a September strikes on Saudi oil facilities all blamed on Iran, which denies any role.

Frictions worsened in Iraq, however, where both countries have supported efforts to defeat the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) but compete for influence over the country’s political system. January’s explosive events followed a series of escalations that involved the death of a Pentagon contractor by rocket fire, retaliatory U.S. strikes on Iran-backed militia bases in Iraq and Syria and violent pro-militia demonstrations at Washington’s embassy in Baghdad.

A member of the U.S. Air Force looks on near a Patriot surface-to-air missile battery at the Prince Sultan air base in Al-Kharj, in central Saudi Arabia, February 20. The advanced system has already been deployed among U.S. allies in the Middle East such as Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

With the U.S. and Iran at odds, however, ISIS has managed to regroup in some areas of the country. The Iraqi military and the partnered Popular Mobilization Forces, whose deputy leader was killed alongside Soleimani, have continued to conduct daily operations against the jihadis but the group has managed to maintain sleeper cells capable of staging deadly ambushes.

On Sunday, two U.S. service members “were killed by enemy forces while advising and accompanying Iraqi Security Forces during a mission to eliminate an ISIS terrorist stronghold in a mountainous area of north central Iraq,”the Pentagon said in a statement released the following day. The Pentagon later identified the two slain Marines on Tuesday, adding that the “incident is under investigation.”

Amid the unrest in Iraq, where months-long anti-government protests continued to rock the streets, Iran has sought to maintain its relationship with those in charge. Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Read Admiral Ali Shamkhani arrived Saturday at the same Baghdad airport in which Soleimani was killed in order to meet the following day with top Iraqi leaders including President Barham Salih, caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, parliamentary speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi, National Security Advisor Falih al-Fayyadh, Intelligence Director Mustafa al-Kazemi and others.

The senior Iranian official called for the expulsion of U.S. troops from Iraq and the region as a whole and offered support in combatting the coronavirus epidemic that has gripped Iran and begun to take its toll on Iraq as well.

A graphic provided by Statista shows the range of some of Iran’s various missiles, as estimated by the Soufan Center. The Islamic Republic has the largest and most advanced missile arsenal of the Middle East. STATISTA