East Coast Quakes and the Sixth Seal: Revelation 6

Items lie on the floor of a grocery store after an earthquake on Sunday, August 9, 2020 in North Carolina.

East Coast Quakes: What to Know About the Tremors Below

By Meteorologist Dominic Ramunni Nationwide PUBLISHED 7:13 PM ET Aug. 11, 2020 PUBLISHED 7:13 PM EDT Aug. 11, 2020

People across the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic were shaken, literally, on a Sunday morning as a magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck in North Carolina on August 9, 2020.

Centered in Sparta, NC, the tremor knocked groceries off shelves and left many wondering just when the next big one could strike.

Fault Lines

Compared to the West Coast, there are far fewer fault lines in the East. This is why earthquakes in the East are relatively uncommon and weaker in magnitude.

That said, earthquakes still occur in the East.

According to Spectrum News Meteorologist Matthew East, “Earthquakes have occurred in every eastern U.S. state, and a majority of states have recorded damaging earthquakes. However, they are pretty rare. For instance, the Sparta earthquake Sunday was the strongest in North Carolina in over 100 years.”

While nowhere near to the extent of the West Coast, damaging earthquakes can and do affect much of the eastern half of the country.

For example, across the Tennesse River Valley lies the New Madrid Fault Line. While much smaller in size than those found farther west, the fault has managed to produce several earthquakes over magnitude 7.0 in the last couple hundred years.

In 1886, an estimated magnitude 7.0 struck Charleston, South Carolina along a previously unknown seismic zone. Nearly the entire town had to be rebuilt.

Vulnerabilities

The eastern half of the U.S. has its own set of vulnerabilities from earthquakes.

Seismic waves actually travel farther in the East as opposed to the West Coast. This is because the rocks that make up the East are tens, if not hundreds, of millions of years older than in the West.

These older rocks have had much more time to bond together with other rocks under the tremendous pressure of Earth’s crust. This allows seismic energy to transfer between rocks more efficiently during an earthquake, causing the shaking to be felt much further.

This is why, during the latest quake in North Carolina, impacts were felt not just across the state, but reports of shaking came as far as Atlanta, Georgia, nearly 300 miles away.

Reports of shaking from different earthquakes of similar magnitude.

Quakes in the East can also be more damaging to infrastructure than in the West. This is generally due to the older buildings found east. Architects in the early-to-mid 1900s simply were not accounting for earthquakes in their designs for cities along the East Coast.

When a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck Virginia in 2011, not only were numerous historical monuments in Washington, D.C. damaged, shaking was reported up and down the East Coast with tremors even reported in Canada.

Unpredictable

There is no way to accurately predict when or where an earthquake may strike.

Some quakes will have a smaller earthquake precede the primary one. This is called a foreshock.

The problem is though, it’s difficult to say whether the foreshock is in fact a foreshock and not the primary earthquake. Only time will tell the difference.

The United State Geological Survey (USGS) is experimenting with early warning detection systems in the West Coast.

While this system cannot predict earthquakes before they occur, they can provide warning up to tens of seconds in advance that shaking is imminent. This could provide just enough time to find a secure location before the tremors begin.

Much like hurricanes, tornadoes, or snowstorms, earthquakes are a natural occuring phenomenon that we can prepare for.

The USGS provides an abundance of resources on how to best stay safe when the earth starts to quake.

Iran Prepares For Full Nuclearization: Daniel 8

Basij experts call for implementation of strategic action plan

TEHRAN – Iranian Basij experts have called for the implementation of the “Strategic Action Plan to Lift Sanctions and Safeguarding Interests of Iranian People”, a plan that was passed into law by the Parliament earlier this month.

The Basij experts of nine complexes within Iran’s nuclear industry issued the statement on Thursday.

“Now that several years of talks to lift the cruel sanctions against the Iranian people have not been fruitful, the path to overcoming sanctions and making them ineffective is open to us,” they wrote.

The experts said success in that path requires national will and unity, adding that the scientific and technical efforts of nuclear and defense scientist Martyr Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and other nuclear martyrs will be followed by his comrades.

According to the Parliament’s bill, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) will be required to produce and store at least 120 kilograms of enriched uranium with 20 percent purity at the Fordow nuclear facility every year, and to fulfil the country’s peaceful industrial demands with uranium enriched above 20%.

The bill became a law as the oversight Guardian Council approved it after asking the parliament to make some amendments to it. It will oblige the AEOI to install advanced centrifuge machines, to increase the monthly output of enriched uranium for various peaceful purposes with different purity levels by at least 500 kg. 

The parliamentary ratification also obliges the AEOI to stop the Additional Protocol to the NPT if sanctions are not lifted within a specific period of time. 

The Additional Protocol allows for surprise and unannounced inspections.

Iranian lawmakers accelerated the process of passing the nuclear bill following the assassination of Fakhrizadeh and even described the bill as one of Iran’s options to respond to Israel by speeding up nuclear activities.

“We, Basiji experts of nine complexes of the country’s nuclear industry, consider this statement on the Strategic Action Plan to Lift Sanctions and Safeguard Interest of Iranian Nation as enforceable after proceeding legal procedure and being approved by the Guardian Council,” the experts said.

They added that the action plan has also been ratified by the secretariat of the Supreme National Security Council.

The Basij experts further called on the Rouhani administration to implement the law as a slap on the face of the three European parties to the 2015 nuclear agreement – namely France, Britain and Germany – for their recent stance against Iran’s nuclear program.

It came after the European trio voiced concerns about Iran’s plan to install additional, advanced uranium-enriching centrifuges at Natanz nuclear facility.

“Iran’s recent announcement to the IAEA that it intends to install an additional three cascades of advanced centrifuges at the Fuel Enrichment Plant in Natanz is contrary to the JCPOA and deeply worrying,” the three countries said in a statement last week.

MH/PA

U.S. was NEVER entitled to meddle in West Asia

Historian says U.S. not entitled to meddle in West Asia

TEHRAN – Kurk Dorsey, a professor of history at New Hampshire University, is of the opinion that the U.S. administration has made many mistakes and is not entitled to intervene in West Asia.

“I would agree that the U.S. is not entitled to meddle in the Middle East (West Asia), and that the U.S. has made many policy mistakes,” Dorsey tells the Tehran Times.

Dorsey, who specializes in modern American history, World War II, and U.S. foreign policy, also says that the U.S “will stick with the traditional ally (Israel) over the unknown.”

The following is the text of the interview:

Q: Do you expect a main policy shift by the incoming Biden administration? Do you expect Biden to neglect U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia?

A: I do not expect any substantial change to U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia in the first year of the Biden administration.  There is a long list of higher priorities, starting with mending relations with the U.S.’s traditional allies in Europe, reassuring Asian allies that the U.S. will work with them to counter China, and rethinking policy toward Russia. 

The Trump administration took almost all of its direction from the personal relationships that the president had with foreign leaders.  Biden will return U.S. policy to an analysis of long-term U.S. interests based on the U.S. vision of the world since the Truman Doctrine in 1947.

 Q:  How can Iran trust the U.S again while the Trump administration ditched the nuclear deal unilaterally? What is the guarantee that the incoming administration won’t behave like Trump’s?

A: Iran’s government should recognize that their problem was with Donald Trump, and he will have no more influence after January 20th.  If they believed that they could work with Barack Obama, they should believe that they can work with Joe Biden and his advisors, many of whom worked for President Obama.  Having said that, they also should ask themselves why European leaders have not pressed the United States harder on Iran over the last four years.  Partially, they did not because those leaders did not think that they could sway Trump, but partially they did not because they do not have much sympathy for Iran’s goals.

So, Iran may well decide to focus more on relations with Russia and China, but it should do knowing that each of those countries has its own interests, which may not align with Iran’s.  China’s Belt and Road initiative has angered people in many of the countries of Asia, and Russia’s neighbors might encourage Iran to think twice about trusting Moscow.

Q: Why does Washington follow the policy of “Israel First”? How can the U.S. provide security for Israel at the expense of the others? 

A: This question requires a longer answer than you will want here, but the simple fact is that the U.S. has supported Israel from its founding. Now in the U.S., there are many people who see Israel’s security as central to U.S. policy in the Middle East (West Asia). In addition, there are many evangelical Christians in the U.S. who believe they have a biblical obligation to support Israel.

Joe Biden understands in a way that Donald Trump never did that the Palestinian refugee problem is central to the on-going tension in the region, so he will not be as close an ally to Israel as Trump was.  But at the same time, it is hard for me to imagine a policy that will satisfy both the Palestinians and the Israelis, and I think Biden and his aides agree.  Given a choice, they will stick with the traditional ally over the unknown.  Iranians also need to look at the recent recognition of Israel by Bahrain and the UAE as evidence that some Arab states no more see Israel as a threat.  It appears that MBS met with Netanyahu, which is simply incredible.  These Arab states are moving toward acceptance of Israel as a normal state, not a threat to their existence that needs to be destroyed.

Q:  How do you measure the Nov. 27 assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh? Can it affect the nuclear deal negatively?

A: This assassination story is very strange.  The Iranian government has offered several stories about what happened to Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, and no one has claimed responsibility.  The logical explanation is that Israel was behind the assassination to slow down Iranian technical progress.  And it is logical to think that the assassination might trigger an Iranian reaction that would make it impossible for Joe Biden to restart the JCPOA.  But it just feels to me that there is something important about this story that we do not know yet, maybe something that the Iranian government does know or suspect.  So, at this point, it does not look like it will change the direction of the nuclear deal when Joe Biden becomes president.

Q:  How do you assess the U.S and Israel’s record in waging wars, especially in West Asia?

A: That is a fair question, but you do need to separate Israel and the U.S.  The U.S. was opposed to the Israeli/French/British attack on Egypt in 1956 and was caught unprepared for Israel’s attack on Egypt and Syria in 1967.  Likewise, Israel stayed out of the U.S. wars against Iraq in 1991 and 2003, even though clearly those wars benefited Israel.  I also think that the U.S. has generally used the term peacekeeping to describe, for instance, the forces in the Sinai Peninsula, rather than its forces in Syria.

I would say that the (Persian) Gulf War in 1991 was a justified and prudent use of force against a state that used force to conquer a smaller state.  Iraq’s invasion was an attack on peace and order in the world, hence the UN-authorized action to remove Iraq from Kuwait and many Arab states cooperated.  At the end of that war, Iraq agreed to give up its chemical, nuclear, and biological weapons.  I think it is fair to say that Iraq never complied fully with the UN inspection scheme, largely because Saddam Hussein did not want Iran to know what he still had.  The decision to go to war in 2003 was a tragic mistake with awful consequences for Iraq based in part on the assumption that Iraq still had those weapons.

So, I would agree that the U.S. is not entitled to meddle in the Middle East (West Asia), and that the U.S. has made many policy mistakes.  And yet it is the closest thing to a good broker for the region with the power and prestige to make things happen.  Even a poorly run Trump administration with a secretary of state who does not command much respect was able to broker recognition agreements between Israel and both Bahrain and the UAE.  

China, Pakistan fighter planes provoking the First Nuclear War: Revelation 8

China, Pakistan fighter planes play war games

IANS / Updated: Dec 13, 2020, 18:43 IST

New Delhi: China is carrying out joint air force exercises with Pakistan in Sindh as part of the sabre-rattling in response to the Indo-Pacific Quad exercises in which the Indian Navy participated recently.

The war games, merely 200 km from the Indian border, are taking place just a week after Chinese Defence Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe visited Pakistan to sign an MoU for closer military cooperation.

The exercises, named ‘Shaheen’ or Falcon-IX, are underway at the newly operational Bholari air base near Karachi.

According to the Nikkei Asia magazine, the Pakistan Air Force released a video showing the wide range of military aircraft on display in the exercise, which will last until late December.

China has sent its fourth-generation Shenyang J-11 air superiority fighters and Chengdu J-10 multirole jets.

Pakistan, meanwhile, is flying a mix of third-generation Chinese-made Chengdu F-7 interceptors, French Dassault Mirage 5 attack planes and the new multirole JF-17 Thunder jointly produced by China and Pakistan.

No American equipment, such as the F-16, has been deployed, the Pakistanis said.

China’s Defence Ministry said the drills will “deepen practical cooperation between the two air forces”.

Pakistan’s air force, has become increasingly dependent on China as the US has cut off military hardware supplies to Islamabad due to its links with Islamic militant outfits.

At the opening ceremony on December 9, Air Vice Marshal Ahmed Sulehri, the deputy chief of Pakistan’s air staff, said the exercises “will further enhance inter-operability of both air forces, thereby fortifying brotherly relations between the two countries”.

Major Gen. Sun Hong, the assistant chief of staff of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, said they “will improve actual level of combat training and strengthen cooperation”.

China’s military build-up on the Ladakh border has forced India to counter the move to protect its territorial rights and go in for a rethink about the country’s security arrangements and military exercises. This has rattled both China and Pakistan.

India recently hosted the massive Malabar 2020 naval exercise with the US, Japan and Australia.

The inclusion of Australia in the group has strengthened the “Quad,” or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue comprising the four democratic countries which are seen as a counter to China’s increasing muscle flexing in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond to African shores.

Beijing and Islamabad have also been strengthening their relationship with China providing economic, military and even nuclear support to cash-strapped Pakistan.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a $60 billion communications, energy and infrastructure project to connect western China to the Arabian Sea through the Gwadar port under the Belt and Road initiative forms part of the anti-India strategy.

While the ongoing drills are not the first joint air force exercise between the Chinese and the Pakistanis, the timing, location and size are significant.

The Indian military has been aware of the possibility of a two-front war with China and Pakistan and chief of defence staff, Gen. Bipin Rawat, has stated that the Indian defence forces are prepared to face such a challenge if need be.

Analysts like retired Rear Adm. Sudarshan Shrikhande, India’s former chief of naval intelligence, think that the exercise is reflective of China and Pakistan’s larger strategic posture toward India.

“The issues of growing coherence and collusion between China and Pakistan have become concerns for India,” Shrikhande told Nikkei Asia.

Both China and Pakistan have also been jolted by the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement on Geospatial Cooperation signed in October between the US and India which allows New Delhi access to American satellite military intelligence for better weapon accuracy.

According to Nikkei Asia, even as Pakistan’s military continues to draw closer to China, it still wants to maintain cordial ties with the US, with which it has often partnered since joining the US-led alliance against the Soviet Union during the Cold War, an arrangement which helped it both gain Washington’s favour and provide benefits in return for decades.

Pakistan’s military finds itself in a difficult balancing act between the US and China, given current trade and political tensions between Washington and Beijing.

“When we granted the Americans an air force base to spy on the Soviets in the 1950s, we received American hardware to fight the Indians in the 1960s,” a Pakistani officer told Nikkei Asia.

“When Pakistani intelligence supported the Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s, and defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan without one American boot on the ground, we got F-16s in return. The same happened again, when the Americans invaded Afghanistan.

“Yes, we’ve been transactional allies, but dependable allies. Now, the Americans have found a new friend in the Indians. But they should know better,” the officer said.

Nuclear-Armed Rivalry Leading to the First Nuclear War: Revelation 8

Nuclear-Armed Rivalry in Southern Asia

Michael KreponDecember 13, 2020

Note to readers: A slightly different version of this essay appeared in the Stimson Center’s on-line magazine, South Asian Voices, the premier global platform for talented analysts to exchange views on this region’s pressing issues without invective or pat talking points.

Quotes of the week:

“The essence of a free government consists in an effectual control of rivalries.” – John Adams

“Emulation is not rivalry. Emulation is the child of ambition; rivalry is the unlovable daughter of envy.” – Honoré de Balzac

The state of nuclear danger in Southern Asia, as elsewhere, depends fundamentally on the state of political relations between rivals. Rivals can and do cooperate as well as compete with each other. When rivalry far outruns cooperation, trouble lies ahead.

In an oversimplified way, we can measure the degree of competition and cooperation along two axes. One axis measures the steps taken to strengthen nuclear deterrence. The very essence of nuclear deterrence is threatening because weapons that do not threaten do not deter. Deterrence is typically strengthened in ways that make threats of use more credible. The more credible threats become, the steeper this axis of nuclear danger rises.

The second axis measures steps taken to provide reassurance that leaders are not inclined to use their most threatening weapons. Reassurance requires effective diplomacy which, in turn, requires a willingness to either resolve differences or at least to hold them in abeyance. Leaders can signal reassurance by agreeing to guardrails and stabilization measures for their most threatening weapons. We call these steps confidence-building and nuclear risk-reduction measures. Arms racing ends when measures that signal diplomatic reassurance override growth in nuclear danger along the first axis.

Deterrence alone doesn’t make nuclear-armed rivals safer because nuclear deterrence is based on credible threats and because these threats generate counter-measures. Nonetheless, rivals continue to compete, either in search of advantage or to avoid disadvantage.

The threat of escalation is inherent in nuclear deterrence since threats that do not convey the potential for greater violence cease to deter. Herein lies an insoluble problem for nuclear deterrence strategists. How can escalation be controlled when it is premised on seeking advantage?

To resolve this conundrum, deterrence strategists must rely on truly heroic assumptions. One assumption is that nuclear-armed rivals can signal each other effectively because they have sufficient information and are on the same page. Another assumption is that command and control remains intact and that there will be no panic and unauthorized use of nuclear weapons. A third assumption, most heroic of all, is that the disadvantaged side will accept loss without resorting to spasm attacks that seek to destroy cities that are the repositories of world history.

These are the unspoken and mostly unexamined assumptions behind the deterrence constructs of escalation control and escalation dominance. These are the rationales behind the fielding of counterforce capabilities that target opposing nuclear capabilities.

These intellectual constructs can collapse like a house of cards after first use. After first use, nuclear-armed rivals may not be on the same page. Even if a rival chooses escalation control instead of escalation dominance, this targeting strategy has to be backed up by the threat of further escalation.  And then what?

This systemic problem applies to all nuclear-armed rivals, but is even more pronounced on the subcontinent because one of the rivals — India — has declared a policy of massive retaliation in the event of first use by Pakistan. This declaration is meant to deter, but if deterrence fails, this nuclear posture skews decisions toward a cataclysmic outcome whether or not this declaratory doctrine is a ruse. After first use, massive retaliation looses its deterrent value, becoming instead an existential threat to both rivals. India’s embrace of massive retaliation is as dangerous as Pakistan’s embrace of first use.

The intellectual constructs of escalation control, escalation dominance, and massive retaliation work on the printed page and in war plans but are likely to fail catastrophically once the nuclear threshold is crossed and retaliation begins. Once nuclear deterrence dies, escalation takes over.

Nuclear deterrence strategists can’t help themselves: they will continue to plan on the use of additional warheads on additional targets. They will continue to seek advantage and seek to avoid disadvantage. National leaders have a higher calling. They are obliged to protect their populations and their cultural and religious contributions to civilization.

With this in mind, let’s look at the first axis on our notional graph – the axis that tracks deterrence strengthening measures. China, India and Pakistan are building out force structure. Triads are taking shape. New types of ballistic and cruise missiles are being developed, flight tested, and fielded. India and Pakistan are growing their stocks of fissile material suitable for bomb making. All three states appear to be substantially increasing their inventories of nuclear weapons.

Two of the three – China and India – are moving smartly forward to employ their own assets in space that can be employed for nuclear as well as conventional warfare. Pakistan is likely to rely on commercial observation satellites and China for these purposes. Missile defense capabilities face a host of problems, and yet India is deploying them, much to Pakistan’s discomfort. New technologies in the form of stealthy cruise missiles and hypervelocity glide vehicles will challenge missile defenses even more, making vulnerabilities even greater.

More could be said, but there is no need for further elaboration. There is ample evidence that the trend line of deterrence strengthening measures is growing steadily in Southern Asia. As capabilities grow, war-fighting aspects of nuclear deterrence become more pronounced, even though two of the three states – China and India — have publicly stated doctrines of no first use.

Now let’s turn to the second axis – that of reassurance measures. One form of reassurance is unilateral restraint. This works for Great Britain and France, but unilateral restraint is a very rare commodity for nuclear-armed rivals. Other forms of reassurance can be implied or formal, tacit or explicit, modest or ambitious. The most formal and ambitious elements of reassurance are embodied in treaties.

Washington and Moscow have accomplished much by way of treaties in part because they accepted roughly equivalent capabilities. Essential equivalence is harder to imagine or to accept in bilateral accords between India and Pakistan or between India and China. A numbers-based, bilateral India-Pakistan or India-China treaty requires not only rough equality or an acceptable hierarchy but also acceptable and effective monitoring arrangements. These are significant hurdles. Trilateral China-India-Pakistan accords also seem very unlikely, since India would be outnumbered and since triangular nuclear competitions are prone to instability.

Other treaty-based avenues to stabilize the triangular competition in Southern Asia also face long odds. Multilateral diplomacy on a fissile material cut-off treaty is moribund. India and Pakistan have not signed or ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; China has signed but not ratified. The United States could prompt a cascade of stabilizing ratifications, but this seems a tall order in the Biden administration, given the partisan divide on Capitol Hill.

As formal compacts remain in limbo, diplomatic reassurance could still be pursued in the form of tacit agreements as well as confidence-building and nuclear risk-reduction measures. Here, too, the situation is troubling. Meaningful exchanges on these means of reassurance between India and Pakistan effectively ended over a decade ago. They never got started between China and India on nuclear-related issues.

To make matters worse, there is no evident effort to employ diplomacy to turn down the heat along contested borders. To the contrary, risk taking is more evident along both the Line of Control dividing Kashmir and the Line of Actual Control between India and China.

Lines of communication to discuss national concepts of security and deterrence are not as strong as they used to be in Track II forums as well as between governmental experts. Insular thinking on these matters is always a danger and never a strength.

Strongmen rule in New Delhi and Beijing. They have the standing to lessen tensions along their contested border in lasting ways, but Beijing seems to be disinterested in doing so at present. There is every expectation that lulls in border clashes will be temporary, to be resumed in warmer weather as infrastructure improvements proceed on both sides.

Pakistan has a weak government and is unlikely to make overtures to improve relations with India as long as Kashmir remains in lockdown. Pakistan’s attempts to call attention to human rights abuses there are clearly warranted, but are weakened by its awkward silence over the fate of the Uighurs in China.

As Pakistan’s ties with China and India’s ties with the United States deepen, so, too, does the standoff along the Line of Control. This situation, like that within Muslim majority Kashmir, is inherently unstable and prone to flare ups. New Delhi seems disinterested to improve ties with Pakistan and remains intent on doing better in the next border clash than in the previous one.

The two axes that measure nuclear danger in Southern Asia paint a troubling picture. Diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan and between China and India are in bad shape. Danger is rising along with deterrence capabilities with little apparent prospect for new measures of diplomatic reassurance. In all likelihood, there will be new clashes along both contested borders.

The outcome of past crises, border clashes, and limited wars between nuclear-armed rivals has depended primarily on conventional forces in being and that can be brought to bear quickly as tensions mount. Nuclear use doctrines and plans offer no help to improve outcomes when these crises arise; they point instead to a great abyss.

There have been signs that Pakistan’s military has internalized this truth, despite its public fealty to a nuclear doctrine of first use. Much is riding on this supposition. The leaders of India and China appear to have internalized the non-utility of first use, even as they increase their options for retaliatory use.

The absence of guardrails and stabilization measures between India and Pakistan and between China and India is a matter of legitimate and pressing concern. Nuclear rivals — not just in Southern Asia, but elsewhere, as well – have lost sight of the requirements for responsible possession of nuclear weapons. They have focused on measures to strengthen deterrence while neglecting diplomacy and placing a low priority on negotiating essential guardrails and stabilization measures.

Because deterrence dies with first use, the most essential responsibility for those who possess nuclear weapons is not to use them in warfare. The stigma attached to nuclear testing reaffirms the norm of non-use. Diplomacy can be resurrected atop these norms, which are the fundamental building blocks for other measures of reassurance.

As numbers grow, norms become even more important. At a time when political relations are sour and diplomacy is dormant in Southern Asia, extending the 75-year-long norm of non-battlefield use and the norm against testing, now over two decades long, are absolutely central.

Israel implementing annexation by increasing demolitions outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israel implementing annexation by increasing demolitions: Hamas

News Code : 1095089

Palestinian resistance movement Hamas says Israel is implementing its annexation plan by increasingly demolishing Palestinian houses and structures and confiscating land, calling for forming a unified national front against the occupying regime.

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Palestinian resistance movement Hamas says Israel is implementing its annexation plan by increasingly demolishing Palestinian houses and structures and confiscating land, calling for forming a unified national front against the occupying regime.

“The escalation of house demolitions, the increase in settlement building, and the confiscation of lands, all these indicate a gradual implementation of the annexation plan,” said Hazem Qassem, Hamas’ spokesman, in a written statement on Saturday, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

He added that the best way to stand against Israel’s open war against Palestinians was establishing a unified national front against Tel Aviv based on a joint strategy of struggle.

The Hamas official also stressed that the Palestinian Authority, which rules the occupied West Bank, should implement the outcomes of a meeting of the secretaries-general of the Palestinian factions and to accelerate the activation of popular resistance.

Qassem added that the implementation of the US-formulated annexation plan was occurring under the cover of normalization agreements with some Arab regimes, referring to the US-brokered agreements between Israel and four Arab governments — namely the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco — since August.

He also warned that the much-condemned normalization agreements would encourage the Israeli occupying regime to escalate its aggression against the Palestinian people and undermine their cause.

Earlier on Saturday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced that Israeli authorities had demolished 52 Palestinian structures in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds within the previous two weeks.

It added that a total of 49 structures were demolished in the West Bank. Israeli forces also brought down three buildings in East Jerusalem al-Quds between November 24 and December 7, causing the displacement of 67 Palestinians and causing harm to around 860 others.

Separately, the European Union (EU) said that 200 Palestinian families were expected to be evicted from their homes in East Jerusalem al-Quds.

According to the statement, 14 families have already lost their homes in Batan al-Hawa neighborhood since 2015, and more than 80 other households are facing eviction demands and are at imminent risk of displacement.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Qassem said that Israel practiced racial discrimination against Palestinians in its “ugliest form” and in clear disregard for all human laws and norms.

“The Israeli occupation is implementing a policy of ethnic cleansing in the full view of the whole world,” the Hamas official further said.

Israel attempts to justify the demolition of Palestinian houses by claiming that they lack building permits, despite the fact that Israel does not provide such permits to Palestinians.

Furthermore, Israel orders Palestinians to demolish their own homes or pay the demolition price to the municipality if they refuse to tear down their houses. Palestinians and the international community consider the Israeli demolitions in the occupied territories illegal.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds and the West Bank during the six-day Arab-Israeli war in 1967.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

………………………………….

End/ 257

Biden’s impending nuclear blunder

Biden wants the U.S. back in the Iran nuclear deal. Here’s what you need to know

An Obama-era nuclear deal that was scrapped amid escalating tensions between the Trump administration and Iran could soon be revived, according to U.S. President-Elect Joe Biden, who has vowed to restore the pact.

The deal, which initially lifted sanctions off Iran in exchange for a limit on their nuclear capabilities, has been a smoke point in international relations since its abandonment two years ago.

Some have called for its restoration in order to de-escalate tensions in the Middle East, while other world leaders, like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said restoring such a deal would be a mistake.

“As long as Iran continues to subjugate and threaten its neighbours, as long as Iran continues calling for Israel’s destruction, as long as Iran continues to bankroll, equip and train terrorist organizations throughout the region and the world, and as long as Iran persists in its dangerous quest for nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, we shouldn’t go back to business as usual with Iran,” he said during a press conference Sunday.

Netanyahu’s comments signal international pushback should Biden attempt to rejoin. Here’s a refresher on what the deal is and why the U.S. backed out.

What is the Iran nuclear deal?

The Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was a crowning achievement for former U.S. president Barack Obama, aimed at preventing Iran from ever acquiring the amount of uranium it would need to develop a nuclear weapon.

The pact was signed on July 14, 2015, by the U.S., Iran, China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom.

A White House run-down of the deal showed that in exchange for fewer sanctions, Iran agreed to around-the-clock inspections of all nuclear-related activities by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, reduce its number of centrifuges by two-thirds, reduce its enriched uranium stockpile by 98 per cent (to less than 300 kilograms) and cut its level of uranium enrichment to 3.67 per cent.

In accordance with the deal, restrictions on Iran’s centrifuges will be lifted in 2025, and restrictions on Iran’s uranium enrichment are set to expire by 2030.

U.S. abandons agreement

U.S. President Donald Trump announced that America would be backing out of the nuclear deal on May 8, 2018, claiming the deal did not do enough to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.

“It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement,” Trump said.

This was a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made. It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.”

The announcement drew criticism around the world, both from co-signing countries and other U.S. allies, including Canada. Since its withdrawal from the deal, the U.S. has imposed crippling sanctions on Iran’s economy, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iran continued to uphold its end of the deal until last summer, when Iranian officials acknowledged they had surpassed the JCPOA’s set limit for stockpiling enriched uranium.

Shortly after Trump ordered a U.S. airstrike that killed Iran’s high-ranking Gen. Qassem Soleimani in January, Iran promised “harsh revenge,” adding the country would no longer be adhering to the limits set out in the nuclear deal.

European nations aim to save Iran nuclear deal – Jan 14, 2020

New presidency signals revival

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on President-elect Joe Biden last month to “compensate for past mistakes” and return to the deal as outlined in 2015.

Biden has expressed interest in reviving the nuclear deal, as long as Iran agrees to renew its compliance to the JPCOA’s terms.

“If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations,” Biden previously said in an op-ed to CNN.

However, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif said Iran would not be re-negotiating any new terms, adding that the U.S. would need to pledge to uphold its own “commitments” to UN resolution UNSCR 2231, which urges the full implementation of JPCOA, before talks to rejoin can begin.

“The U.S. has commitments under the [UN] resolution which it has to implement. It’s not in a position to set conditions for that,” he said during a MED Dialogue conference on Dec. 3, calling the Trump administration a “rogue regime.”

“We will not re-negotiate a deal which we negotiated. The deal was about give and take. It wasn’t about one side asking and the other side giving.”

Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated

Further complicating Biden’s quest to restore the Iran nuclear deal was the Nov. 27 assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who headed the Islamic Republic’s disbanded AMAD military nuclear program.

Tehran officials maintain the program was strictly for civilian purposes, but both Israel and the U.S. claimed the program was instead looking at building a viable nuclear bomb.

Iran has blamed Israel for the attack, vowing to take revenge “at the proper time.” The next day, the Pentagon said it was sending the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier back to the Middle East.

Pentagon officials said, “it was prudent to have additional defensive capabilities in the region to meet any contingency” in the wake of troops being pulled from Afghanistan and Iraq.

— With files from the Associated Press