Columbia University Warns Of Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Earthquakes May Endanger New York More Than Thought, Says Study
A study by a group of prominent seismologists suggests that a pattern of subtle but active faults makes the risk of earthquakes to the New York City area substantially greater than formerly believed. Among other things, they say that the controversial Indian Point nuclear power plants, 24 miles north of the city, sit astride the previously unidentified intersection of two active seismic zones. The paper appears in the current issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.
Many faults and a few mostly modest quakes have long been known around New York City, but the research casts them in a new light. The scientists say the insight comes from sophisticated analysis of past quakes, plus 34 years of new data on tremors, most of them perceptible only by modern seismic instruments. The evidence charts unseen but potentially powerful structures whose layout and dynamics are only now coming clearer, say the scientists. All are based at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, which runs the network of seismometers that monitors most of the northeastern United States.
Lead author Lynn R. Sykes said the data show that large quakes are infrequent around New Yorkcompared to more active areas like California and Japan, but that the risk is high, because of the overwhelming concentration of people and infrastructure. “The research raises the perception both of how common these events are, and, specifically, where they may occur,” he said. “It’s an extremely populated area with very large assets.” Sykes, who has studied the region for four decades, is known for his early role in establishing the global theory of plate tectonics.
The authors compiled a catalog of all 383 known earthquakes from 1677 to 2007 in a 15,000-square-mile area around New York City. Coauthor John Armbruster estimated sizes and locations of dozens of events before 1930 by combing newspaper accounts and other records. The researchers say magnitude 5 quakes—strong enough to cause damage–occurred in 1737, 1783 and 1884. There was little settlement around to be hurt by the first two quakes, whose locations are vague due to a lack of good accounts; but the last, thought to be centered under the seabed somewhere between Brooklyn and Sandy Hook, toppled chimneys across the city and New Jersey, and panicked bathers at Coney Island. Based on this, the researchers say such quakes should be routinely expected, on average, about every 100 years. “Today, with so many more buildings and people, a magnitude 5 centered below the city would be extremely attention-getting,” said Armbruster. “We’d see billions in damage, with some brick buildings falling. People would probably be killed.”
Starting in the early 1970s Lamont began collecting data on quakes from dozens of newly deployed seismometers; these have revealed further potential, including distinct zones where earthquakes concentrate, and where larger ones could come. The Lamont network, now led by coauthor Won-Young Kim, has located hundreds of small events, including a magnitude 3 every few years, which can be felt by people at the surface, but is unlikely to cause damage. These small quakes tend to cluster along a series of small, old faults in harder rocks across the region. Many of the faults were discovered decades ago when subways, water tunnels and other excavations intersected them, but conventional wisdom said they were inactive remnants of continental collisions and rifting hundreds of millions of years ago. The results clearly show that they are active, and quite capable of generating damaging quakes, said Sykes.
One major previously known feature, the Ramapo Seismic Zone, runs from eastern Pennsylvania to the mid-Hudson Valley, passing within a mile or two northwest of Indian Point. The researchers found that this system is not so much a single fracture as a braid of smaller ones, where quakes emanate from a set of still ill-defined faults. East and south of the Ramapo zone—and possibly more significant in terms of hazard–is a set of nearly parallel northwest-southeast faults. These include Manhattan’s 125th Street fault, which seems to have generated two small 1981 quakes, and could have been the source of the big 1737 quake; the Dyckman Street fault, which carried a magnitude 2 in 1989; the Mosholu Parkway fault; and the Dobbs Ferry fault in suburban Westchester, which generated the largest recent shock, a surprising magnitude 4.1, in 1985. Fortunately, it did no damage. Given the pattern, Sykes says the big 1884 quake may have hit on a yet-undetected member of this parallel family further south.
The researchers say that frequent small quakes occur in predictable ratios to larger ones, and so can be used to project a rough time scale for damaging events. Based on the lengths of the faults, the detected tremors, and calculations of how stresses build in the crust, the researchers say that magnitude 6 quakes, or even 7—respectively 10 and 100 times bigger than magnitude 5–are quite possible on the active faults they describe. They calculate that magnitude 6 quakes take place in the area about every 670 years, and sevens, every 3,400 years. The corresponding probabilities of occurrence in any 50-year period would be 7% and 1.5%. After less specific hints of these possibilities appeared in previous research, a 2003 analysis by The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation put the cost of quakes this size in the metro New York area at $39 billion to $197 billion. A separate 2001 analysis for northern New Jersey’s Bergen County estimates that a magnitude 7 would destroy 14,000 buildings and damage 180,000 in that area alone. The researchers point out that no one knows when the last such events occurred, and say no one can predict when they next might come.
“We need to step backward from the simple old model, where you worry about one large, obvious fault, like they do in California,” said coauthor Leonardo Seeber. “The problem here comes from many subtle faults. We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought. We need to take a very close look.” Seeber says that because the faults are mostly invisible at the surface and move infrequently, a big quake could easily hit one not yet identified. “The probability is not zero, and the damage could be great,” he said. “It could be like something out of a Greek myth.”
The researchers found concrete evidence for one significant previously unknown structure: an active seismic zone running at least 25 miles from Stamford, Conn., to the Hudson Valley town of Peekskill, N.Y., where it passes less than a mile north of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. The Stamford-Peekskill line stands out sharply on the researchers’ earthquake map, with small events clustered along its length, and to its immediate southwest. Just to the north, there are no quakes, indicating that it represents some kind of underground boundary. It is parallel to the other faults beginning at 125th Street, so the researchers believe it is a fault in the same family. Like the others, they say it is probably capable of producing at least a magnitude 6 quake. Furthermore, a mile or so on, it intersects the Ramapo seismic zone.
Sykes said the existence of the Stamford-Peekskill line had been suggested before, because the Hudson takes a sudden unexplained bend just ot the north of Indian Point, and definite traces of an old fault can be along the north side of the bend. The seismic evidence confirms it, he said. “Indian Point is situated at the intersection of the two most striking linear features marking the seismicity and also in the midst of a large population that is at risk in case of an accident,” says the paper. “This is clearly one of the least favorable sites in our study area from an earthquake hazard and risk perspective.”
The findings comes at a time when Entergy, the owner of Indian Point, is trying to relicense the two operating plants for an additional 20 years—a move being fought by surrounding communities and the New York State Attorney General. Last fall the attorney general, alerted to the then-unpublished Lamont data, told a Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel in a filing: “New data developed in the last 20 years disclose a substantially higher likelihood of significant earthquake activity in the vicinity of [Indian Point] that could exceed the earthquake design for the facility.” The state alleges that Entergy has not presented new data on earthquakes past 1979. However, in a little-noticed decision this July 31, the panel rejected the argument on procedural grounds. A source at the attorney general’s office said the state is considering its options.
The characteristics of New York’s geology and human footprint may increase the problem. Unlike in California, many New York quakes occur near the surface—in the upper mile or so—and they occur not in the broken-up, more malleable formations common where quakes are frequent, but rather in the extremely hard, rigid rocks underlying Manhattan and much of the lower Hudson Valley. Such rocks can build large stresses, then suddenly and efficiently transmit energy over long distances. “It’s like putting a hard rock in a vise,” said Seeber. “Nothing happens for a while. Then it goes with a bang.” Earthquake-resistant building codes were not introduced to New York City until 1995, and are not in effect at all in many other communities. Sinuous skyscrapers and bridges might get by with minimal damage, said Sykes, but many older, unreinforced three- to six-story brick buildings could crumble.
Art Lerner-Lam, associate director of Lamont for seismology, geology and tectonophysics, pointed out that the region’s major highways including the New York State Thruway, commuter and long-distance rail lines, and the main gas, oil and power transmission lines all cross the parallel active faults, making them particularly vulnerable to being cut. Lerner-Lam, who was not involved in the research, said that the identification of the seismic line near Indian Point “is a major substantiation of a feature that bears on the long-term earthquake risk of the northeastern United States.” He called for policymakers to develop more information on the region’s vulnerability, to take a closer look at land use and development, and to make investments to strengthen critical infrastructure.
“This is a landmark study in many ways,” said Lerner-Lam. “It gives us the best possible evidence that we have an earthquake hazard here that should be a factor in any planning decision. It crystallizes the argument that this hazard is not random. There is a structure to the location and timing of the earthquakes. This enables us to contemplate risk in an entirely different way. And since we are able to do that, we should be required to do that.”
New York Earthquake Briefs and Quotes:
Existing U.S. Geological Survey seismic hazard maps show New York City as facing more hazard than many other eastern U.S. areas. Three areas are somewhat more active—northernmost New York State, New Hampshire and South Carolina—but they have much lower populations and fewer structures. The wider forces at work include pressure exerted from continuing expansion of the mid-Atlantic Ridge thousands of miles to the east; slow westward migration of the North American continent; and the area’s intricate labyrinth of old faults, sutures and zones of weakness caused by past collisions and rifting.
Due to New York’s past history, population density and fragile, interdependent infrastructure, a 2001 analysis by the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranks it the 11th most at-risk U.S. city for earthquake damage. Among those ahead: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. Behind: Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Anchorage.
New York’s first seismic station was set up at Fordham University in the 1920s. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in Palisades, N.Y., has operated stations since 1949, and now coordinates a network of about 40.
Dozens of small quakes have been felt in the New York area. A Jan. 17, 2001 magnitude 2.4, centered  in the Upper East Side—the first ever detected in Manhattan itself–may have originated on the 125th Street fault. Some people thought it was an explosion, but no one was harmed.
The most recent felt quake, a magnitude 2.1 on July 28, 2008, was centered near Milford, N.J. Houses shook and a woman at St. Edward’s Church said she felt the building rise up under her feet—but no damage was done.
Questions about the seismic safety of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which lies amid a metropolitan area of more than 20 million people, were raised in previous scientific papers in 1978 and 1985.
Because the hard rocks under much of New York can build up a lot strain before breaking, researchers believe that modest faults as short as 1 to 10 kilometers can cause magnitude 5 or 6 quakes.
In general, magnitude 3 quakes occur about 10 times more often than magnitude fours; 100 times more than magnitude fives; and so on. This principle is called the Gutenberg-Richter relationship.

The Major Nuclear Horns won’t support the nuclear weapons ban treaty

United Nations’ nuclear weapons ban treaty enters into force, but US, Russia and China among those who won’t support it

The first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons has entered into force, hailed as a historic step to rid the world of its deadliest weapons but strongly opposed by the world’s nuclear-armed nations.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is now part of international law, culminating a decades-long campaign aimed at preventing a repetition of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.

But getting all nations to ratify the treaty requiring them to never own such weapons seems daunting, if not impossible, in the current global climate.

When the treaty was approved by the UN General Assembly in July 2017, more than 120 approved it. But none of the nine countries known or believed to possess nuclear weapons — the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — supported it and neither did the 30-nation NATO alliance.

Japan, the world’s only country to suffer nuclear attacks, also does not support the treaty, even though the aged survivors of the bombings in 1945 strongly push for it to do so.

Japan on its own renounces the use and possession of nuclear weapons, but the Government has said pursuing a treaty ban is not realistic with nuclear and non-nuclear states so sharply divided over it.

Nonetheless, Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition whose work helped spearhead the treaty, called it “a really big day for international law, for the United Nations and for survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

The treaty received its 50th ratification on October 24, triggering a 90-day period before its entry into force on January 22.

As of Thursday, Ms Fihn told The Associated Press that 61 countries had ratified the treaty, with another ratification possible on Friday, and “from Friday, nuclear weapons will be banned by international law” in all those countries.

The treaty requires that all ratifying countries “never under any circumstances … develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

It also bans any transfer or use of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices — and the threat to use such weapons — and requires parties to promote the treaty to other countries.

Ms Fihn said the treaty is “really, really significant” because it will now be a key legal instrument, along with the Geneva Conventions on conduct toward civilians and soldiers during war and the conventions banning chemical and biological weapons and land mines.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the treaty demonstrated support for multilateral approaches to nuclear disarmament.

“Nuclear weapons pose growing dangers and the world needs urgent action to ensure their elimination and prevent the catastrophic human and environmental consequences any use would cause,” he said in a video message.

“The elimination of nuclear weapons remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations.”

But not for the nuclear powers.

As the treaty was approaching the 50 ratifications needed to trigger its entry into force, the Trump administration wrote a letter to countries that signed it saying they made “a strategic error” and urging them to rescind their ratification.

The letter said the treaty “turns back the clock on verification and disarmament” and would endanger the half-century-old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, considered the cornerstone of non-proliferation efforts.

Ms Fihn countered at the time that a ban could not undermine non-proliferation since it was “the end goal of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said the treaty’s arrival was a historic step forward in efforts to free the world of nuclear weapons and “hopefully will compel renewed action by nuclear-weapon states to fulfill their commitment to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.”

Ms Fihn said that the campaign sees strong public support for the treaty in NATO countries and growing political pressure, citing Belgium and Spain. “We will not stop until we get everyone on board,” she said.

It will also be campaigning for divestment — pressuring financial institutions to stop giving capital to between 30 and 40 companies involved in nuclear weapons and missile production including Airbus, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Word or Deeds: Antichrist Pledges to Restore Iraqi Christians

Word or Deeds: Shiite Firebrand Pledges to Restore Iraqi Christian Property Christians welcome the “solidarity” of controversial anti-American politician and militia leader in advance of expected visit by Pope Francis. Jayson CasperJanuary 21, 2021 12:48 PM Image: Fadel Senna / AFP / Getty Images An Iraqi Christian prays in a church in Qaraqosh, a city in the Nineveh Plains near Mosul, in May 2017. If Pope Francis can avoid the complications of COVID-19 travel and get to Iraq in March, he will hear a lot about stolen property. Muqtada al-Sadr, a leading Shiite politician fiercely opposed to the US military presence, has told Christians he will do something about it. The issue is not new. As Iraq’s pre-Gulf War Christian population of 1.25 million dwindled to about 250,000 today, opportunistic non-Christians laid claim to their unoccupied homes and lands. The city of Mosul, next to the traditionally Christian Nineveh Plains—where Pope Francis is scheduled to visit— located 220 miles north of Baghdad, provides telling examples of the problem. In 2010, in the waning days of official US occupation, Ashur Eskrya’s father decided to sell his family home. Years of chaos had depleted the once 60,000-strong Christian population of Iraq’s second-largest city, representing 10 percent of its total. Property values were plummeting. Especially in hindsight, Eskrya felt fortunate to get 25 percent of its market value. Four years later, his neighbor got nothing. ISIS invaded Mosul, putting its Christian population to flight. In 2015, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) surveyed 240 individuals displaced by the fighting throughout Iraq. Nearly 9 in 10 (89%) had their homes confiscated. A 2014 study estimated that ISIS made more money from selling stolen real estate than it did from oil revenue. After the liberation of Mosul, some Christians returned, including Eskrya’s neighbor. While 42 percent had lost their property documentation altogether, according to IOM, the neighbor was able to enter a lengthy legal process and eventually regain ownership of his home. But uncomfortable with the security situation, he returned to Erbil, 55 miles east of Mosul in Iraqi Kurdistan, where thousands of displaced Christians still reside. He lives there today with his children, which is more than a third family can say. This neighbor benefited from Mosul’s earlier oil boom, and lived in a home valued at $1.2 million in one of the plush city districts. But in 2006, his daughter was kidnapped and killed. In 2012, another daughter tried to emigrate through Syria, and was killed there. The parents eventually moved to Australia—with the deed to their home. But last year, they were stunned to receive news from neighbors about new renovations. A company was redesigning the home, and presented a deed of ownership. The case is now being adjudicated in court. “There are many cases like these,” said Eskrya, president of Assyrian Aid Society–Iraq. “False papers are sold by those connected to influential figures in the justice ministry, who oversee the real estate market.” Even prior to ISIS, the IOM study noted at least 600 confirmed cases of property seizure in Mosul, mostly from Christian owners residing in the diaspora. Justice Ministry issues began as early as 2006. The official Iraq Property Claim Commission has only been able to enforce 8 percent of its final rulings. Both the church and the government have tried to rectify things, Eskrya said. As a safeguard for Christian property, in 2010 a regulation was established requiring sales to be signed by either a church representative or Christian member of parliament. And in 2017, after the defeat of ISIS, the government created a commission with official church representation that was able to resolve some cases. “The government is very busy with the elections, the problem of security and militias, as well as the pandemic and the economy,” Raphael Sako, patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church based in Baghdad, told CT. “For them, this is something marginal, and we understand that.” Recognized as the second-most influential religious figure in Iraq through a study conducted by the US Institute of Peace, Sako consistently meets with national leaders to urge the application of citizenship and rule of law. Last year, he canceled Christmas to object to the killing of nonsectarian protesters demonstrating against corruption. But this past Christmas, the government honored his longstanding petition, making the holiday a permanent national celebration. Sadr, the Shiite cleric, sent a representative to offer congratulations, who presented Sako with a new initiative. Head of the largest political alliance with 16 percent of the parliament’s seats, Sadr also commands the allegiance of many Shiite militia groups. Following the US killing of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, he led hundreds of thousands of demonstrators to peacefully call for Iraq to expel the American military. Sadr’s envoy provided Sako with details of how Christians can submit their ownership documents electronically, pledging to achieve justice for their claims. He emphasized this includes properties involving his aligned militias. “This is the job of the government, not Sadr or a political party,” Sako said, while welcoming the initiative. “But it is a good sign of solidarity.” Eskrya agreed. “Sadr alone is not enough, it has to be adopted by parliament and all the parties,” he said. “But we are happy with anyone who tries to help, and I hope that in the end it will show Christians that they still have a place in Iraq.” Prior to Christmas, Bashar Warda lamented the frustrating lack of progress. “There is no redress for those who have lost properties, homes, and businesses,” stated the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Erbil. “[Many] Christians have nothing to show for their lives’ work, in places where their families have lived, maybe, for thousands of years.” Given Sadr’s connection to the militias, his initiative has been met with some skepticism. And the US State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report noted another member of parliament who actively facilitated the relocation of Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites into Christian areas, through aligned militias But as early as 2016, Sadr was speaking out on behalf of Christian properties. It may be that he can make a difference. “This committee shows he is serious, and gives a message to the other militias,” Eskrya said. “And while it has raised awareness of the issue, it is still a sort of gang system, and people suffer if they don’t have good connections.” As a politician, Sadr has been wily. Often alternating his alliances and political stances, he first supported the nonsectarian protests against corruption, then sent his supporters to attack them. While this action contributed to the eventual petering out of the movement, the demonstrations still forced the resignation of the prime minister and early parliamentary elections. Both Eskrya and Sako suspected the initiative may be part of Sadr’s effort to position himself as a neutral figure, eyeing next year’s vote. Sako told CT his lawyer is currently working with the government on about 1,250 cases of confiscated property. Only 50 have been solved so far, though other private initiatives have reported some success. Several of these files were shared with Sadr. “They will try,” said Sako. “But we are expecting deeds, and not only words.” Meanwhile, the patriarch awaits the visit of Pope Francis. The pontiff has now put his trip to Iraq in doubt, wary of COVID-19 transmission among the expected large crowds. But last week, the Vatican issued an official logo and motto for the visit: “You are All Brothers,” taken from Matthew 23. “Pope Francis will encourage Christians to persevere, to hope, and to trust their neighbors,” said Sako. “But he will also speak with political and religious authorities about harmonious coexistence. “They must take care of these Christian issues—as they should for all citizens.”

Russia Resolves With Babylon the Great: Daniel 7

Russia welcomes US proposal to extend nuclear treaty

By Associated Press

The Kremlin on Friday welcomed US President Joe Biden’s proposal to extend the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty between the two countries, which is set to expire in less than two weeks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that Russia stands for extending the pact and is waiting to see the details of the US proposal.

The White House said on Thursday that Biden has proposed to Russia a five-year extension of the New START treaty.

We can only welcome political will to extend the document,” Mr Peskov said in a conference call with reporters.

“But all will depend on the details of the proposal.”

The treaty, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance.

It expires on February 5, 2021.

Russia has long proposed to prolong the pact without any conditions or changes, but former President Donald Trump’s administration waited until last year to start talks and made the extension contingent on a set of demands.

The talks stalled, and months of bargaining have failed to narrow differences.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting on economic issues via video conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, January 21, 2021. (AP)

“Certain conditions for the extension have been put forward, and some of them have been absolutely unacceptable for us, so let’s see first what the US is offering,” Mr Peskov said.

Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian ambassador at the international organisations in Vienna, also hailed Biden’s proposal as an “encouraging step.”

“The extension will give the two sides more time to consider possible additional measures aimed at strengthening strategic stability and global security,” he tweeted.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said in a statement that Russia always has called for maintaining the treaty and said Russian diplomats are ready to quickly engage in contacts with the US to formalise its extension for five years “without any delay.”

Biden indicated during the campaign that he favoured the preservation of the New START treaty, which was negotiated during his tenure as US vice president.

The talks on the treaty’s extension also were clouded by tensions between Russia and the US, which have been fuelled by the Ukrainian crisis, Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and other irritants.

US President Joe Biden has proposed to extend the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty . (Jabin Botsford/Getty Images)

Despite the extension proposal, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden remains committed to holding Russia “to account for its reckless and adversarial actions.”

Such as its alleged involvement in the Solar Winds hacking event, 2020 election interference, the chemical poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny and the widely reported allegations that Russia may have offered bounties to the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.

Asked to comment on Psaki’s statement, Mr Peskov has reaffirmed Russia’s denial of involvement in any such activities.

Russia tests the most powerful non-nuclear bomb on September 11, 2007. (Russian Government)

After both Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019, New START is the only remaining nuclear arms control deal between the two countries.

Arms control advocates have strongly called for New START’s preservation, warning that its lapse would remove any checks on US and Russian nuclear forces.

Last week, Russia also declared that it would follow the US to pull out of the Open Skies Treaty allowing surveillance flights over military facilities to help build trust and transparency between Russia and the West.

While Russia always offered to extend New START for five years — a possibility envisaged by the pact — Trump asserted that it put the US at a disadvantage and initially insisted that China be added to the treaty, an idea that Beijing flatly rejected.

Former President Donald Trump shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan. (AP)

Trump’s administration then proposed to extend New START for just one year and also sought to expand it to include limits on battlefield nuclear weapons.

Moscow has said it remains open for new nuclear arms talks with the US to negotiate future limits on prospective weapons, but emphasised that preserving New START is essential for global stability.

Russian diplomats have said that Russia’s prospective Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missile and the Avangard hyper-sonic glide vehicle could be counted along with other Russian nuclear weapons under the treaty.

The Sarmat is still under development, while the first missile unit armed with the Avangard became operational in December 2019.

The Russian military has said the Avangard is capable of flying 27 times faster than the speed of sound and could make sharp manoeuvres on its way to a target to bypass missile defence systems.

It has been fitted to the existing Soviet-built intercontinental ballistic missiles instead of older type warheads, and in the future could be fitted to the more powerful Sarmat.

The Avangard is launched atop an intercontinental ballistic missile, but unlike a regular missile warhead that follows a predictable path after separation, it can make sharp manoeuvres in the atmosphere en route to target, making it much harder to intercept. (AP)

Khamenei Vows Revenge on Babylon the Great: Daniel 8

Top Iran leader posts Trump-like golfer image, vows revenge

By Reuters Staff

DUBAI (Reuters) – The Twitter account of Iran’s Supreme Leader on Friday carried the image of a golfer resembling former President Donald Trump apparently being targeted by a drone, vowing revenge over the killing of a top Iranian general in a U.S. drone attack.

The post carried the text of remarks by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in December, in which he said “Revenge is certain”, renewing a vow of vengeance ahead of the first anniversary of the killing of top military commander General Qassem Soleimani in the attack in Iraq.

Those who ordered the murder of General Soleimani as well as those who carried this out should be punished. This revenge will certainly happen at the right time,” Khamenei tweeted on December 16, without naming Trump, who had ordered the strike.

Earlier this month, Twitter removed a tweet by Khamenei in which he said U.S. and British-made vaccines were unreliable and may be intended to “contaminate other nations”. The platform said the tweet violated its rules against misinformation.

There was no apparent immediate action by Twitter over the Persian-language tweet on Friday by Khamenei, Iran’s highest authority.

Tensions rapidly grew between Tehran and Washington since 2018, when Trump exited a 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers that sought to curb Tehran’s nuclear programme. Washington reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.

Iran called for action and “not just words” shortly after Joe Biden was sworn in as U.S. president on Wednesday. Biden has said Washington will rejoin the nuclear deal if Iran resumes strict compliance.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Michael Perry

How Israel May Attack the Iranian Nuclear Horn

Israel’s attack options on Iranian nuclear sites

If the Israelis seek to destroy Iranian nuclear sites, they would need to rely on their air force; however, the fly distance is long, and there are other diplomatic complications.

Benjamin Weil(January 21, 2021 / JNS)

As the senior Biden administration officials settle into their new positions and form a detailed policy in regards to the Iranian nuclear program, Israeli military personnel head to the drawing board to plan an attack. Israel has never and will never rely on another country to secure their future and national security interests on its behalf. If the Israelis seek to destroy Iranian nuclear sites, they would need to rely on their air force to deliver bunker buster bombs—possibly their GBU-28 laser-guided bombs they purchased a decade ago.

The primary concerns of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) are the long distance between Israel and Iran; being attacked by long-range and short-range defense systems; and enemy radar detecting the IAF prior to entering Iranian airspace and alerting the Iranians of the Israeli intrusion. To counter radars and long-range defense systems, the IAF would have to fly at low altitudes, masking behind the hilly terrain from enemy radars.

That does, however, come at a cost. Flying low consumes more fuel—a luxury the Israeli pilots do not have due to the long distance. Furthermore, since the IAF would need to fly directly over the nuclear site to release the bombs, flying low would dangerously expose the pilots to the short-range defense systems surrounding the nuclear sites. An Israeli strike plan would also likely include a refueling of the jets.

The shortest viable route is flying over Jordan and Iraq into Iran. Israel and Jordan cooperate on numerous defense interests, and Israel has proven its air-force capabilities in the skies of Iraq in numerous attacks attributed to the IAF. However, this route would require the IAF to fly relatively close to the Syrian and Iraqi capitals. They would risk being fired upon by the air-defense systems, or worse, detected by the radars and alerting the Iranians. This route would also require a refueling somewhere above the eastern Jordanian or western Iraqi skies.

To avoid flying around city capitals, Israel can choose the northern route, flying over the Mediterranean, along the Syrian-Turkish border, through Iraq and into Iran. Aside form this route being longer and further complicating the refueling process, it would require close coordination with the Russia military. I believe that the Israeli military and intelligence communities are very skeptical about sharing such highly sensitive military plans with the Russian. Notwithstanding, this route has the advantage of bypassing radars and defense systems more easily since it is considered mountainous and less controlled.

And then, of course, there is the southern route. This would take the Israeli pilot over Saudi Arabia and from there either through the Persian Gulf or Iraq into Iran. This route seems viable since both Saudi Arabia and Israel, although not allies, share the Iranian nuclear program as a common threat. Moreover, the IAF is familiar with this route from the 1981 strike on the Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor. Over Saudi skies, the Israeli pilots would be able to refuel and fly freely. The major obstacle to overcome would be the Saudi hesitation to help Israel execute this attack in fear of an Iranian response.

Lastly is the option of stationing Israeli jets in neighboring countries to Iran and using them as a base to execute a strike. Launching a strike from a neighboring country would avoid having to fly low, and more importantly, can potentially avoid having the refueling process. The UAE and Bahrain are less than 500 kilometers away from Iran. There is also Israel’s ally north of Iran, Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan and Israel have been cooperating on security issues for years. During the recent flare-up in Nagorno-Karabakh, Israel stood on the Azeri side despite international criticism. Azerbaijan could repay Israel for its loyalty, though like the Saudis might not want to get their hands dirty with the Iranians.

When it comes to the UAE and Bahrain, a possible Iranian retaliation is an existential threat, but so is a nuclear Iran. The question is which is bigger. If the United States can guarantee their security, this may be the most viable option.

Having an array of option will keep Iran on its toes, not knowing where to expect an Israeli attack. No matter the option Israel may choose, it would require cooperation with America and other layers of proficiency, such as electronic warfare, cyber capabilities, intelligence assets and more. The bigger question that should be addressed is how to prepare for a defensive move the day after an attack.

Benjamin Weil is director of the Project for Israel’s National Security for the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, D.C. He formerly served as the international adviser to Yuval Steinitz, a member of Israel’s Security Cabinet.

Iran tells IAEA it plans to Nuke Up: Daniel 8

Headquarter of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria, December 16, 2020. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Iran tells IAEA it plans to enrich uranium to up to 20% at Fordow site

The move is the latest of several recent announcements by Iran to the International Atomic Energy Agency that it plans to further breach the deal

VIENNA: Iran has told the United Nations nuclear watchdog it plans to enrich uranium to up to 20% purity, a level it achieved before its 2015 accord, at its Fordow site buried inside a mountain, the agency said on Friday.

The move is the latest of several recent announcements by Iran to the International Atomic Energy Agency that it plans to further breach the deal, which it started violating in 2019 in retaliation for Washington’s withdrawal from the agreement and the reimposition of U.S. sanctions against Tehran.

This step was one of many mentioned in a law passed by Iran’s parliament last month in response to the killing of the country’s top nuclear scientist, which Tehran has blamed on Israel. Such moves by Iran could complicate efforts by U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to rejoin the deal.

“Iran has informed the Agency that in order to comply with a legal act recently passed by the country’s parliament, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran intends to produce low-enriched uranium (LEU) up to 20 percent at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant,” the IAEA said in a statement.

An IAEA report to member states earlier on Friday obtained by Reuters used similar wording in describing a letter by Iran to the IAEA dated Dec. 31.

“Iran’s letter to the Agency … did not say when this enrichment activity would take place,” the IAEA statement said.

Fordow was built inside a mountain, apparently to protect it from aerial bombardment, and the 2015 deal does not allow enrichment there. Iran is already enriching at Fordow with first-generation IR-1 centrifuges.

Iran has breached the deal’s 3.67% limit on the purity to which it can enrich uranium, but it has only gone up to 4.5% so far, well short of the 20% it achieved before the deal and the 90% that is weapons-grade.

The deal’s main aim was to extend the time Iran would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb, if it chose to, to at least a year from roughly two to three months. It also lifted international sanctions against Tehran.

U.S. intelligence agencies and the IAEA believe Iran had a secret, coordinated nuclear weapons programme that it halted in 2003. Iran denies ever having had one.