1884 A Forewarning Of The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

January 20, 2010New York City isn’t immune to earthquakes; a couple of small tremors measuring about 2.5 on the Richter scale even struck back in 2001 and 2002.But on August 10, 1884, a more powerful earthquake hit. Estimated from 4.9 to 5.5 in magnitude, the tremor made houses shake, chimneys fall, and residents wonder what the heck was going on, according to a New York Timesarticle two days later.The quake was subsequently thought to have been centered off Far Rockaway or Coney Island.It wasn’t the first moderate quake, and it won’t be the last. In a 2008 Columbia University study, seismologists reported that the city is crisscrossed with several fault lines, one along 125th Street. With that in mind, New Yorkers should expect a 5.0 or higher earthquake centered here every 100 years, the seismologists say.

Translation: We’re about 30 years overdue. Lucky for us the city adopted earthquake-resistant building codes in 1995.1884 A Forewarning Of The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12) 1884 A Forewarning Of The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Hamas slams US Senate for measuring the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

GAZA CITY, Palestine 

Hamas slams US Senate decision on embassy in Jerusalem

Palestinian resistance group Hamas decried Friday a recent decision by the US Senate to keep the American embassy in Jerusalem. 

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the move was a “violation of international law” and a clear attack on the rights of Palestinians in the old city of Jerusalem.

“This decision cannot change the reality and history that the Palestinian people have a right over Jerusalem. This decision will not interrupt the struggle of our people to expel the occupying Israel from all Palestinian lands and to establish an independent Palestinian state,” he said.

The US Senate overwhelmingly voted Thursday to keep the embassy in Jerusalem, while few senators voted against establishing funding to maintain the diplomatic mission.

Relations between the US and Palestinians have suffered greatly during the Trump era, as he recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital in 2017 and relocated the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018.

Trump’s controversial Deal of the Century, revealed in January 2020, was widely criticized for favoring Israel and effectively killing the possibility of a two-state solution.

*Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev from Ankara

Najaf activists say intimidated, threatened by Antichrist’s men

Najaf activists say intimidated, threatened by pro-Sadr militias

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Militia forces affiliated with Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr raided a number of activists’ houses in Iraq’s Najaf province on Saturday night, activists told Rudaw English. The raids came a day after a group of activists chanted slogans criticizing the cleric on the one year anniversary of the killing of tens of people by Sadr supporters. 

Activists on Friday held a ceremony to mark the one year anniversary of a massacre in Najaf’s Sadrayn square where Sadr supporters known as the “Blue Caps” stormed an anti-government protest camp. Twenty-three people were killed and more than 182 wounded, according to AFP.

Live rounds and petrol bombs were used against protesters during clashes, and their tents were burned or removed. Days later, Sadr announced the dissolution of the “Blue Caps” militia.

Video from the anniversary ceremony on Friday showed dozens of people gathered in the Writers Union Hall in Najaf, chanting slogans against the Sadrist movement and its leader. “No god but Allah. Muqtada is the enemy of Allah,” they shouted in clips that went viral on social media. 

The day after the ceremony, forces from the pro-Sadr Saraya al-Salam (the Peace Brigades) militia stormed the homes of four activists, terrorizing them and their families, according to Najaf activist Saif al-Mansoori. 

Speaking to Rudaw English on Saturday, Mansoori said they are being threatened by people who are active on the political scene. “Freedom of expression is guaranteed in the constitution, but the one who threatens the activists because they try to express their views freely, is participating in elections that are part of the democratic process.”

Activist Wissam al-Kinani announced on his Facebook page that his house was raided by the same forces. “Ten back-up cars of Saraya al-Salam forces raided to my house and terrified my family,” he wrote. 

Sadr’s spokesperson, Saleh Muhammad al-Iraqi, said in a statement posted on Twitter that the anti-Sadr statements uttered in the Writers Union Hall on Friday do not represent the people of Najaf.

“These slogans were issued by a group of Baathists and Daesh (Islamic State) members, or people imitating the West and loving the Zionist enemy,” Iraqi said.

He directed Sadr followers not to demonstrate in front of the union building, saying, “We will act in other social and legal ways, and we will make those people an example for all.” 

Sadr directed his security official to “protect” the union building.

The administrative body of the Writers Union in Najaf issued a statement on Saturday stating they had no connection with the event that took place in their building. “We condemn the actions of some unruly people who infiltrated the Union Hall and chanted uncontrolled slogans against Mr. Muqtada al-Sadr and national figures,” it stated.

Another activist, however, said the chants in the Union Hall are a small reflection of the people’s anger toward the political class, of which Muqtada al-Sadr is part. “Since the start of the demonstrations, the protesters were called traitors, sons of embassies, Baathist, but this time Sadr called us ISIS, and this is new, but it is not surprising,” Hussein al-Kaabi told Rudaw English from Najaf. 

Sadr has been a vocal supporter of reform and anti-corruption campaigns for years. When anti-government protests broke out in October 2019, he sent members of his Saraya al-Salam militia to protect the demonstrators. But Sadr changed his position and by February, his militias were involved in suppression of the protests.

At least 600 protesters and members of the security forces were killed and more than 18,000 injured since the protest movement emerged, Amnesty International said in January 2020.

Doomsday Clock Remains Unmoved: Revelation 16

100 seconds: Latest doomsday calculation swayed by coronavirus, nukes, Biden

A raging pandemic. Infernos in the U.S. and Australia. A deadly insurrection as Congress worked to certify the results of a democratic election. Burgeoning weapons programs and billions upon billions spent on the modernization of nuclear arsenals, each capable of achieving unprecedented obliteration. A dizzying hack of government and business networks, and a rip current of mis- and disinformation.

Recent months have brought an inescapable avalanche of news, a buffet of bleak chyrons and attention-sucking phone pings and buzzes. News travels fast, and bad news more so. Is the world doomed, as people joked in 2020?

Not yet, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

In January, the bulletin – founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and University of Chicago scientists involved with the Manhattan Project – unveiled the 2021 Doomsday Clock.

The ceremony conveys threats to humanity by illustrating just how close things are to a metaphorical midnight, the apocalypse hour. While the result is more gut check than hardcore statistical analysis or forecast, the timepiece has, since its 1947 debut, offered a foreboding perspective on world affairs.

This year, the clock was set to 100 seconds to midnight – still the closest it’s ever been to the hopeless 12 a.m. and the same position it was in last year.

A hazardous brew of nuclear weapons and climate change (existential threats, the bulletin says), the mainstreaming of conspiratorial drivel, a disregard for science and expertise, and a lackluster response to the coronavirus catastrophe, among other things, applied clockwise pressure to the clock’s hands.

“Civil order is a big part of our democracy,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Charles Munns, an Aikenite, “and in addition to external threats, there’re also these internal threats.”

Other factors pushed counterclockwise.

The election of a “president who acknowledges climate change as a profound threat and supports international cooperation and science-based policy puts the world on a better footing to address global problems,” the bulletin argued in its lengthy explanation, which this year mentions the Paris Agreement and the New START arms-control pact with Russia. The latter was recently extended – an example, Munns suggested, of critical collaboration.

“I believe our security benefits from our participation in the world organizations and orders, and that clearly includes treaties,” Munns said. “Now, every treaty can be improved, and we should always work on improving them. But to not have them? That allows other countries to do things they otherwise wouldn’t.”

In 1947, the Doomsday Clock, now an iconic black-and-white quadrant with four dots, was set to 7 minutes to midnight. The hands have moved more than 20 times over the decades. They were farthest from annihilation – 17 minutes from midnight – in 1991; the Cold War had ended.

Over time, though, the hands have crept ever-closer.

“While the U.S. remains in a good position with respect to our national security, the world has fundamentally changed over the last two decades,” Munns said. “And so the situation is much different than what we’re accustomed to.”

Savannah River Site Watch Director Tom Clements advised that the Doomsday Clock – an annual warning shot – should be heeded. 

“Given that new nuclear weapons are being developed by the U.S. and Russia and that national policies are based on preparing for full-scale nuclear war and not simply on deterrence, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is right to raise the alarm about the ever-present risks we face from nuclear weapons,” said Clements, whose organization monitors energy- and defense-related matters.

The “global threat,” he continued, “is embodied right here at home in the proposed plutonium pit plant at the Savannah River Site, which would initially support pits for a new ground-launched nuclear missile and a submarine-launched warhead, provocative weapons that, if developed, could move the clock closer to midnight.”

The Threshold of the Chinese Nuclear Horn

Nuclear numbers: Assessing China’s threshold of ‘unacceptable damage’

Nuclear deterrence works on the principle of causing unacceptable damage in response to nuclear use. But what kind of damage do nations find unacceptable? How does one calculate what would be unacceptable to another? Answers to these questions are difficult, but important because a fair assessment of what the adversary would find unacceptable can help to right-size one’s own nuclear arsenal.

Different countries, like different individuals, have disparate thresholds of damage absorption. For instance, during the Cold War, the US concluded that the USSR would be deterred if 50% of Soviet industry and 25% of its population were to be destroyed. Meanwhile, President Kennedy’s hesitation to lose even one American city during the Cuban missile crisis revealed America’s low damage threshold.

Interestingly, in the case of Communist China, Premier Mao had created the image that his country had a high damage-taking capacity. Dismissing nuclear weapons as a “paper tiger”, he suggested that American nuclear use could not deter China because even if 50 million Chinese died, an equal number would survive to carry the country forward. But is this assumption true even today? How does modern China perceive damage?

The answer to this question should be of particular interest to India. Of course, the declared nuclear doctrines of no first use by India and China minimise the possibility of a deliberate nuclear war. But since India is compelled to retain a nuclear capability for deterrence, it also becomes necessary to premise the force structure on certain intelligent parameters. An assessment of the damage tolerance threshold of China is one of them.

Such an exercise requires a methodical and continuous study of China’s strategic culture so that one may avoid the pitfalls of mirror-imaging. Amongst the many factors that can help assess damage tolerance thresholds, five are particularly relevant. The first is to understand the historical experiences since a country that has been through more wars and experienced losses is expected to have a higher damage tolerance threshold. China has experienced severe upheavals such as the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution. 45 million people are estimated to have died in these two events and several more suffered immense deprivation and misery. This, however, happened, in the 1960s-1970s. China’s participation in the Vietnam war too had ended in 1975. Modern China built since then, has little experience of sufferings caused by inter-state wars.

Secondly, damage acceptability depends on the nature of the political system, with the assumption being that a closed, authoritarian system would be able to take more damage than a democracy. While China is authoritarian, the Chinese Communist Party is extremely careful to sustain an image of legitimacy based on popular support. This, however, is not as easy to maintain today as it once was owing to society having become better educated, expressive and digitally connected. Therefore, the Party decision-making cannot afford to be insulated and ignore the mood of the masses.

The third factor is the level of economic development, since an economically well-off and materially aspirational society is believed to have a low stomach for damage. Given China’s pride in its economic achievements and with the large middle class having tasted a certain quality of life, it can be expected to be risk-averse and have a low damage tolerance level.

Fourthly, the damage threshold varies depending on the value a country places on the objective it seeks. The more a country is politically, economically and emotionally invested in the objective, the greater its willingness to bear damage. For instance, in case of a conflict over Taiwan, which China considers an existential threat, its threshold of damage is likely to be higher than in case of conflict in high Himalayas or over areas disputed with India.

Lastly, the nature of the leadership can push the threshold up or down, such that highly nationalist leaders, willing to take risks, have a higher damage absorption capacity. President Xi Jinping does appear to be more risk-loving than others. But, as the leader of a 90-million strong Party, even he cannot be averse to opinions of others. In fact, given the “China dream” that he has sold to his citizens, he has a larger “face” to defend too. And, any act that results in damage to his people can be perceived as his inability to control the situation and dent his image.

Contemporary China, therefore, appears to have a far lower threshold for taking damage than it once projected. This is further illustrated by the manner in which it sought to hide figures of the dead, both from the pandemic, as well as from the clash with Indian soldiers in Galwan valley. While non-transparency, and a tendency to play down losses, has always been a Chinese trait, this propensity is exacerbated by factors, such as its current demographic reality. The harsh imposition of one child policy has led to a situation where a young male bears responsibility for a number of aged family members. His untimely death, then, adversely impacts the wider society and popular sentiment. This is an even greater problem since the society is today better networked over digital platforms.

These, and more such insights, should help India to calculate the “right” size of its nuclear arsenal in order to signal credible deterrence. India has articulated the idea of credible minimum deterrence, which eschews excessive stockpile accumulation in favour of building just enough to cause unacceptable damage. And, as is apparent, contemporary China’s ability to absorb damage does not need much.

Manpreet Sethi is Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Air Power Studies.

IAEA inspectors watch the Iranian Nuclear Horn Grow: Daniel 8:4

IAEA inspectors find new evidence of Iran’s undeclared nuclear work — WSJ

AL-MUKALLA: Several European ambassadors to Yemen visited the southern port of Aden, the interim capital of the country, on Saturday as Yemeni officials reported that the Houthis were raising obstacles during the prisoner swap talks in Amman.

The ambassador of the EU and ambassadors of France, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Ireland and Finland, as well as the deputy ambassador of Norway, landed in Aden, where they discussed peace efforts with senior government officials.

Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, Yemen’s foreign minister, was quoted by the official media thanking the EU ambassadors for their visit to Aden that carries an “important political message” of support to the Yemeni government, adding that he discussed with the ambassadors the Riyadh Agreement, Houthi resistance to repairing the Safer tanker, the government’s efforts to restore services in the liberated provinces and the government willingness to reach a “real, comprehensive and lasting” peace in Yemen.

The EU delegation is the highest ranking group of foreign envoys to visit Aden since the arrival of Yemen’s new government, which was formed under the Riyadh Agreement.

The Yemeni government delegation in the prisoner swap talks in Amman said the talks encountered a stumbling block after the Iran-backed Houthis refused to swap abducted journalists and activists and seriously ill abductees.

“The Yemeni government delegation has offered concessions for the talks to succeed,” Majed Fadhail, deputy minister of human rights and a member of the government delegation in the talks, told Arab News on Saturday, adding that the Houthis have become more uncompromising and sought to obstruct the talks.

The Yemeni official attributed the Houthis’ new hardline behavior during talks to the US decision to reverse the designation of the Houthis as terrorists.

“Everyone must know that this criminal and terrorist militia refuses to release the remaining journalists in their detention or even consider swapping them with their fighters captured on the battlefields,” Fadhail said.

Representatives of the Yemeni government and the Houthis last month resumed UN-backed prisoner exchange talks with the aim of releasing 301 prisoners on both sides.

At the same time, the Abductees Mothers’ Association, an umbrella organization for thousands of relatives of abductees in Yemen, called for the urgent release of 127 extremely sick prisoners held by the Houthi militia and the Yemeni government.

Fadhail said the government delegation presented names of dozens of sick abductees among the Houthi prisoners and demanded their release during this round of talks. “We floated their names during the talks, but the Houthis refused to discuss releasing them,” Fadhail said.

In a social media campaign Yemeni activists, journalists and politicians demanded an end to Houthi crimes against Yemenis and criticized the US move to drop the terrorist designation of the Houthis.

Using the hashtag #StopHouthiTerrorismInYemen, dozens of Yemenis said that the Houthis have displaced thousands of people, abducted thousands more, blown up the houses of their opponents and carpeted the Yemeni land with tens of thousands of landmines.

Jamal Al-Mamari, a former abductee, reminded the new US administration in a tweet that the Houthis had tortured and killed an American contractor John Hamen, who died in Houthi custody in 2015

“For the Yemenis, the word Houthis means death, destruction, kidnapping, displacement, prisons, torture, diseases, starvation and rape,” said Mohammed Al-Asal, the deputy governor of Raymah province.

Yemeni activists also expressed opposition to any peace deal with the Houthis that does not punish them for human right abuses.

“Yemen does not want an incomplete peace with the Houthi militia who only believe in the language of exclusion, murder, torture, pillage and lack of equal citizenship. Our demand is a comprehensive and just peace, punishing the Houthis for all violations and crimes they committed and disarming them,” Huda Al-Sarari, a Yemeni lawyer and human rights activist who documents human right abuses in the southern city of Taiz.

The US administration should have used the terrorism designation of the Houthis as pressure to force them to stop obstructing the UN mission to repair the floating Safer tanker, Yemen experts said.

“By revoking Houthis designation unconditionally, the Biden administration made a huge mistake. It could have been used as leverage on the Houthis to deliver something in return — at least to allow engineers to empty the Safer. The US just lost that leverage for nothing,” said Nadwa Al-Dawsari, a Yemeni conflict analyst and a non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute.

Iran Continues to Manipulate the White House

Iran Pushes Biden Admin For Nuclear Threshold Status | MEMRI

Introduction

In recent weeks, Iran has been implementing a policy of “maximum/wise resistance,”[1] manifested in “maximum pressure” on the U.S. and the international community in a range of arenas. This policy is aimed at causing the Biden administration to lift all sanctions on Iran and compensate it for the damage they caused; leverage Iran’s nuclear accomplishments to date to gain additional ones; and have Iran recognized as a nuclear threshold state with the ability to produce a nuclear bomb within a short time, in order to move towards a nuclear balance of terror in the Middle East, to block European initiatives to include the issue of Iran’s ballistic missile development and its expansion in the region in a new agreement, and to ensure the continued existence of the Iranian regime.[2]

These are the measures taken by the Iranian regime:

In the nuclear arena: Accelerating nuclear development efforts while violating the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement: Enriching uranium to a high level – 20%; enriching using advanced-generation centrifuges; the passage, in the Majlis, of legislation for noncooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and expulsion of IAEA inspectors; stating that the (nonexistent) fatwa by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that (purportedly) bans Iran from using nuclear technology for military purposes can be changed according to circumstances, such that there will be no absolute ban on nuclear weapons.

In the ballistic missile arena: Using the launch of satellites into space, as civilian scientific activity, to demonstrate the Iranian capability to produce very long-range missiles.

In the conventional military arena: Shows of conventional strength – conducting extensive military exercises that include the use of advanced suicide drones.

In the regional arena:

• Iraq – Attacking U.S. targets using Shi’ite militias.

• The Gulf – Attacking Saudi and Gulf targets using Yemeni Houthi militia.

• Afghanistan – Pressuring the Taliban to destroy the peace agreement it arrived at with the help of the Trump administration.

In the political arena: All-out diplomatic pressure – Seizing Western oil tankers and arresting Western nationals in order to pressure the U.S.

It should be emphasized that Iran’s nuclear program is the Iranian regime’s national project, and that all political streams – ideologues, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the government of President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif – are fully on board with it. The 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal, arrived at with the Obama administration, was achieved through full planning, consent, and coordination of the entire Iranian regime elite, with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s consultation and oversight throughout, with the aim of improving revolutionary Iran’s strategic status.

The Iranian regime assesses that it can force the Biden administration to agree to upgrade Iran’s nuclear status. That is to say, the Obama administration recognized Iran’s right to enrich uranium with a full nuclear fuel cycle, and now the Biden administration can be led to consent to a nuclear balance of terror in the Middle East, as part of which Iran will have nuclear weapons for “defensive purposes.”[3] The Iranian regime is striving to force the Biden administration and the international community to agree to upgrade Iran’s nuclear status. It assesses that after the Obama administration recognized, in 2012, three years before the JCPOA, Iran’s right to enrich uranium on its own soil and to have a full nuclear fuel cycle, it would be possible, nine years later, to lead the Biden administration to consent to a nuclear balance of terror in the Middle East in which Iran will have nuclear weapons for defensive purposes.

The first hints of the Iranian regime’s initiative to gain legitimacy for such a nuclear balance of terror in the Middle East based on its progress towards recognition as a nuclear threshold state can be seen in statements by Iranian officials who are members of the regime’s Expediency Council. They are speaking openly about the Iranian regime’s need for a nuclear bomb, and that if circumstances require it, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei can change his (nonexistent) fatwa banning Iranian use of nuclear weapons.[4]  These speakers include Mostafa Najafi, secretary of the foreign and international relations working group of the regime’s Expediency Council and political commentator for Middle East affairs who writes for several dailies affiliated with pragmatic regime circles in Iran. In an article published December 13, 2020 in the Iranian Foreign Ministry mouthpiece Irdiplomacy, and another published January 28, 2021 in the pragmatic daily Tabnak, he justified a future demand by Iran for nuclear weapons (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 9170, Iranian Expediency Council Official In Article In ‘Tabnak’ Daily: ‘Why Iran Is Demanding A Nuclear Bomb,’ February 4, 2021).

Another official, Amir Mousavi, who directs the regime’s Center for Strategic Research and International Relations, an arm of the Expediency Council, and who is a former Iranian ambassador to France, spoke in two interviews in the past week with Arab and Russian media about changing Khamenei’s nuclear fatwa and about obtaining nuclear weapons:

To view MEMRI TV clip “Former Iranian Diplomat Amir Mousavi: Khamenei Might Resort to Changing Fatwa Banning Nuclear Weapons,” February 1, 2021,  click here or below:

To view MEMRI TV clip “Former Iranian Diplomat Amir Mousavi: A Fatwa Is Not Permanent; Khamenei Might Change Fatwa Forbidding A Military Nuclear Project; Iran Forced Obama To Sign The JCPOA, And It Has The Cards To Force Biden To Return To It,” January 30, 2021, click here or below:

It should be recalled that Section T of Annex I of the JCPOA allows Iran to use “explosive detonation systems suitable for a nuclear explosive device,” with the approval of the JCPOA Joint Commission (see MEMRI Daily Brief No. 180, How Iran Deceived The U.S. Intelligence Community – Part II: Iran Does Not Allow The IAEA To Monitor The Most Critical Area Of Its Nuclear Project – Developing A Nuclear Explosive Device (Section T In The JCPOA), March 18, 2019).

This report will review the Iranian regime’s policy with the Biden administration, particularly its efforts to attain a nuclear balance of terror in the Middle East:

The JCPOA – The Iranian Regime’s National Project

Iran-U.S. talks are a sensitive and highly charged issue in Iran because of the Islamic Republic of Iran regime’s extreme anti-U.S. ideology, which casts it as the “Great Satan.” Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei does not permit official talks with the U.S. with one exception, granted in 2012, to the Iranian negotiating team to hold direct talks with the Obama administration that culminated in 2015 in the JCPOA.[5]

It should be emphasized that these direct Iran-U.S. talks began in Oman through secret channels only after President Obama extended recognition, in writing and signed, of Iran’s right to enrich uranium. This took place the year before Hassan Rouhani was elected president, in 2013, and this channel was not, as commonly thought, opened because of Iran’s submission to the pressure of Western sanctions.[6]

With the start of the Biden administration, and in light of President Biden’s announcement that he intends to return to the JCPOA and to obligate Iran to again comply with it, it appears that the option of Iran-U.S. talks is again viable, and it is reasonable to assume that contacts have been underway since before Biden’s inauguration. (The Iranian regime vetoed President Trump’s demand to reopen the JCPOA and refused every European demand to include the issues of ballistic missiles and Iran’s expansion in the region). Iran has even openly announced that it was no longer complying with the JCPOA and had actively violated it.

The political struggle of the past decade between the Iranian regime’s ideological and pragmatic circles is the result of their divergent approaches: The pragmatic camp, headed by President Rouhani, calls openly for using diplomatic channels and for negotiations for talks with the U.S. with the aim of improving the economic and geopolitical situation of Iran’s revolutionary regime. The ideological camp, in contrast, rejects such open dialogue. But both camps are acting to strengthen the regime and both express loyalty and obedience to Supreme Leader Khamenei, who is considered the ultimate authority in Iran.

The JCPOA was achieved with the full and advance planning, consent, and coordination with the entire Iranian regime elite, with Leader Khamenei’s consultation and oversight throughout, with the aim of improving the regime’s strategic status. Iranian representative to the United Nations Majid Takht-Ravanchi said on January 19, 2021 that it was “not correct to say that the nuclear agreement is the product of the Rouhani government, [because] the Supreme National Security Council provided its opinion and Khamenei gave instructions in this matter as well. The nuclear agreement was an issue that the group regime [decisionmakers] talked about, and now we have reached a critical stage, and we are moving ahead according to Majlis legislation.”[7]

It should be emphasized that even the father of Iran’s nuclear project, IRGC general and doctor of physics Mohsen Fakhrizadeh who was assassinated in late November 2020, was party to the shaping of the JCPOA, in accordance with demands from the regime and the Iranian leadership. On December 1, 2020, Iranian government spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh acknowledged: “Fakhrizadeh stood behind the scenes and helped with the nuclear agreement.”[8] Even Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Aragchi, who was one of the directors of the nuclear talks with the U.S., said on January 5, 2021, in a radio interview about Fakhrizadeh’s contribution to the shaping of the JCPOA: “During the negotiations for the nuclear agreement, we benefited from Fakhrizadeh’s close consultations. His technical guidance was very beneficial, and we were in constant touch with him on several of the issues for which we had to consult him. Fakhrizadeh cooperated with us with much love, passion, and motivation in order to serve the national interest, and provided us with very valuable perspectives. His absence is a great loss for us.”[9]

Accordingly, the Iranian regime refused to declare the JCPOA nullified in response to the Trump administration’s moves against Iran – see for example statements by Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee spokesman Hossein Nakbi Hosseini on July 29, 2019 that Iran would gradually reduce its commitment to the JCPOA’s conditions until the agreement is rendered practically nonexistent, but that it would not withdraw from it.

To view Naghavi-Hosseini’s statements on MEMRI TV, click here or below:

In order to preserve the agreement, the regime announced that its framework would be maintained, even though it had rendered it devoid of all content (see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1481, Even As UK, France Acknowledge That Iran Is Violating The JCPOA, The Trump Administration, After Ostensibly Withdrawing From It, Continues To Preserve It – By Means Of Its Waivers For Civilian Nuclear Cooperation With Iran, November 6, 2020).

Iran’s Demands For The Biden Administration

Supreme Leader Khamenei: “Our Issue Is Not Whether Or Not The U.S. Will Return To The JCPOA – Our Rational Demand Is The Lifting Of The Sanctions”; The Islamic Republic Regime Must “Strengthen Our Friends And Supporters In The Region”; “Our Presence In The Region Creates Stability… [And Is] Final”

Supreme Leader Khamenei has already authorized the permissibility of renewing talks with the Biden administration, in a speech on January 8, 2021 in which he set out the outline of the negotiations and Iran’s demands for the Biden administration: “The Western front and our enemies must end this cruel move – meaning the sanctions on the Iranian nation – and stop this immediately. They are required to lift all the sanctions… Of course, I have said this many times, and I will reiterate: They [the West] must lift the sanctions…”

“As for our presence in the region, of which it is always said [by the U.S. and the West] – why is Iran present in the region[?] The Islamic Republic regime is committed to acting in a manner that will strengthen its friends and supporters in the region. It is our duty. Our presence means the strengthening of our friends [in the region] and of our supporters… Our presence [in the region] creates stability. It has been proven that the presence of the Islamic Republic eliminates the causes of instability, [such as] ISIS in Iraq, various issues in Syria, and so on… Therefore, this regional presence is final[.] It should exist and it will exist…

“They are talking about [the possibility] of a U.S. return to the JCPOA. We do not insist [on this] at all. We are in no hurry for America to return to the JCPOA[;] our issue is not whether or not the U.S. will return to the JCPOA. Our rational demand is the lifting of the sanctions… This is the plundered right of the Iranian nation…

“If the sanctions are lifted, the return of the U.S. to the JCPOA will have meaning. Of course, the issue of the damages [caused to Iran by the U.S. and the reparations for these] are part of our demands, and [those in charge in the regime] will be following up on this [issue] in later phases.

“However, if the sanctions are not lifted, the return of the U.S. to the JCPOA may be to our detriment… Indeed, I have told the officials of both the executive and legislative branches of [Iran’s] government to continue to act within these areas in careful accordance with the rules.

“The second point is that the decision of the Majlis and the government not to comply with obligations dictated by the JCPOA is the correct decision. The decision is completely logical, rational, and acceptable.”[10]

President Rouhani: The Biden Administration Must Compensate Iran For The Mistakes Of The Trump Administration

President Rouhani said in a government meeting on January 20, 2021: “If the new members of the White House have learned any lessons from the previous administration, they will make up for [Trump’s] mistakes. The previous president built skyscrapers and did not understand politics. But the new American administration understands politics and has political experience… The ball is in the court of the U.S. and Washington. If they fulfil their obligations, we will too. Trump is dead, but the JCPOA is still alive.”

Foreign Minister Zarif: A U.S. “Return To The JCPOA Is Secondary; The Main Issue Is Normalizing Our Economic Relations With Other Countries” – That Is, Lifting The Sanctions

In an interview for Leader Khamenei’s website, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said: “The purpose of the JCPOA was to get these sanctions lifted. Today, in order to meet these conditions, it is not enough for the U.S. to merely return to the JCPOA. It must lift the sanctions, meaning, it must not merely say it is implementing the JCPOA.

“Over the past four years, Trump’s goal was to destroy the JCPOA. First, the U.S. must fulfil its obligations; then the issue of its return to the JCPOA is secondary. The main issue is normalizing our economic relations with other countries…

“Therefore, it is the will of the Leader, of the state officials, and of those in charge of negotiations that the canceling of the sanctions be the highest priority. Only then will the issue of the U.S.’s reentry into the JCPOA be considered…

“[The Europeans and Americans] must lift the restrictions they placed on the sale of Iranian oil… Our banking relations must return to normal. Our contracts with various companies must be implemented. The various aspects of the banking via intermediaries must return to their original state. The problems with transporting [cargo between Iran and other countries] and our insurance must be reversed.

“In other words, everything in the second appendix of the JCPOA emphasizes the effects of these actions. [We are demanding] that Biden not merely sign the text. A signature is required, but that is just an obligatory condition. The [required] condition is for us to see the effects of U.S. actions [on us]…

“As for reparation for the damages caused, the Leader [Khamenei] has told us, both in his instructions and in his public speech, that the issue of the damage done is one of the topics to be discussed in the next phases… The actions of the U.S. have harmed the Iranian people… We must not forget that 50 Chinese companies were boycotted by Trump over the past four years, and our [Chinese] partners have suffered. Those losses must also be recompensed…

“Following [UNSC] Resolution 2231, the U.S.’s participation in the JCPOA is only useful if it has economic benefits for Iran. The Islamic Republic’s goal was met with [Resolution] 2231, meaning the resolutions passed [by the UNSC] against Iran are annulled. Now the U.S. can regain that privilege by joining the JCPOA; and this is not a privilege [that the U.S.] will be giving us, but a privilege it itself will gain, [that will then] allow it to supervise the implementation of the JCPOA. Therefore, the return of the U.S. to the JCPOA without a lifting of the sanctions would not only not benefit us, but it will benefit [only] America…

“They [the parties to the JCPOA] have no right whatsoever to [impose new conditions for Iran] at all [for them to lift the sanctions]. First, the subject of the JCPOA was Iran’s nuclear program, not [Iran’s] missiles; they had nothing to do with it. [Moreover,] the UNSC resolution was about nuclear warhead missiles, [which we do not possess].

“When Iran has no nuclear weapons, [talk about] missiles with nuclear warheads is meaningless. Therefore, firstly, this is irrelevant to us, and we also draw the line at [nuclear weapons]. Secondly, the parties to the JCPOA, whose annual sales of weapons to the region have amounted to over $100 billion, are in no position to tell Iran to forgo its [missile] defenses… The Europeans and the Americans should know that we will not discuss what has already been resolved. This would be against the rules of negotiation.”[11]

Conclusion And Assessment: Signs That Iran Will Revive Its Demand For Nuclear Threshold Status With The Ability To Produce A Nuclear Weapon

The Iranian strategy for negotiating with the Biden administration is based on the following principles:

• The 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement will remain unchanged.

• The U.S. must lift all sanctions with no connection to any other aspect of its relations with Iran.

• After the sanctions are lifted, Iran will demand reparations for the damage caused it by the Trump administration.

• A new agreement is possible as far as Iran is concerned, provided that it guarantees Iran a nuclear aspect to its status, beyond that provided by the Obama administration in the JCPOA. This new aspect will be American consent to Iran being recognized as a nuclear threshold state with the ability to produce a nuclear weapon.

It should be clarified that Iran has already demanded nuclear threshold status according to the German/Japanese model – from the EU3 (the UK, France, and Germany, with which it conducted nuclear negotiations up until 2006) and from the Obama administration. Both Germany and Japan have the capability to produce a nuclear bomb but they remain at the threshold of this capability, according to explicit restrictions in their constitutions.

Two Iranian foreign ministers, Kamal Kharrazi, in 2005, and Manouchehr Mottaki, in 2009, demanded that Iran’s status be the same as Germany’s and Japan’s, both of which are recognized as nuclear threshold states but are not suspected of intending to produce nuclear weapons (see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 888, Iran Becomes A Nuclear Threshold State, October 4, 2012).

At a February 17, 2005 meeting in Berlin with his German counterpart Joschka Fischer, Foreign Minister Kharrazi proposed the Japanese/German model as the basis for Iran-EU negotiations. In a meeting with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, Kharrazi elaborated on Iran’s perspective how to resolve the dispute with the EU3: “Peaceful nuclear plants in Germany and Japan can serve as a good model for Iran’s nuclear projects, and serve as the basis for any round of talks in that respect.”[12]

At a May 2009 joint press conference with Japanese foreign minister Hirofumi Nakasone, Foreign Minister Mottaki called for implementing the Japanese nuclear model in Iran as well, saying, “The view that exists about Japan’s nuclear activities should be applied to other countries including Iran.” Mottaki reiterated that Iran’s nuclear activities were “legal and peaceful,” and said, “Japan spent many years to build confidence about its nuclear work. Iran is moving on a similar path… During the confidence-building years, Japan was never obliged to suspend its [nuclear] activities.”[13]

To justify their demand for a nuclear balance of terror, Iranian regime officials have recently argued that Iranian nuclear weapons would not be used for destroying Israel (which, according to senior Iranian officials, Iran can destroy with conventional weapons),[14] and will not destabilize the region – on the contrary. Nuclear weapons, they say, will establish a balance of terror that will assure stability and security in the region, based on the strategic, political, and security balance between Iran and its rivals in the Middle East.

The Iranians are striving to create a nuclear balance of terror based on regional equilibrium. This balance of terror will be based on Iran’s status as a nuclear threshold state. For this, they assess that they can win the support of the Biden administration, which is subject to the influence of former top Democratic officials – among them President Obama, former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and former Secretary of State John Kerry.

In 2009, as Secretary of State, Clinton explicitly presented the possibility that Iran would have nuclear weapons, and recommended to the Iranians that they reassess the situation in such a case. Iran would not be able, based on its nuclear weapons, to intimidate and dominate its neighbors, because the U.S. would provide the Gulf states with an American defensive umbrella. On the margins of a security summit in Thailand in July 2009, she said: “We want Iran to calculate, what I think is a fair assessment, that if the U.S. extends a defense umbrella over the region, if we do even more to support the military capacity of those in the Gulf, it’s unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer, because they won’t be able to intimidate and dominate, as they apparently believe they can, once they have a nuclear weapon.”[15]

The first signs of Iran’s striving for these goals can be identified in Expediency Council officials’ statements openly supportive of lifting the ban on nuclear weapons in Khamenei’s (nonexistent) fatwa, and of Iran possessing nuclear weapons. Their statements can be explained as the Iranian leadership’s unique method in the nuclear race; Iran is trying to achieve open international legitimacy for its ability to attain nuclear weapons and justifying this with the pretext of achieving regional stability.

* A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iran Media Project.

[1] The phrases are responses to President Trump’s policy of “maximum pressure” and President Biden’s policy of “wise pressure” on Iran. On January 24, 2021, Yadollah Javani, deputy representative of Khamenei in the IRGC, said that it was the “maximum resistance of the Iranian people under the strategic guidance of the Supreme Leader of the Revolution and the might of the Islamic Republic” that defeat the U.S., whether the administration is Trump’s or Biden’s, and stated that in light of “Biden’s policy of ‘wise pressure’ [as he described his approach to Iran during his election campaign], our nation must also launch ‘wise resistance.'” Fars, Iran, January 24, 2021.

[2] As far as Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is concerned, the aim of Iran’s nuclear program is to ensure the survival of his regime. See Inquiry and Analysis No. 837, Khamenei’s Aim at the Nuclear Talks – Securing the Survival of His Regime, May 15, 2012; Inquiry and Analysis No. 1306, Iran Will Not Cancel The JCPOA – Because It Grants Iran Nuclear State Status And Is A Western Guarantee For The Regime’s Survival, April 6, 2017.

[3] This assessment is based in part on the fact that many important Biden administration appointees are former Obama administration officials, and Obama and his vice president John Kerry were influential in this area. See statements by Iranian representative to the United Nations Majid Takht-Ravanchi in his January 19, 2021 interview with ISNA: “There are signs of what will happen with [Biden’s] foreign policy, but it is too early to say with certainty [that his policy will be a continuation of Obama’s]… The current Biden administration and members of the State Department and his national security team are influential figures from the Obama era, but the current situation is different. Therefore, it is not possible to say that [Biden] will continue the same foreign policy [as Obama].” ISNA, Iran, January 19, 2021.

[4] See MEMRI reports showing that Khamenei’s alleged fatwa banning Iran’s use of nuclear weapons does not exist: Renewed Iran-West Nuclear Talks – Part II: Tehran Attempts to Deceive U.S. President Obama, Sec’y of State Clinton With Nonexistent Anti-Nuclear Weapons Fatwa By Supreme Leader Khamenei, April 19, 2012; Tehran Again Offers Khamenei’s Nonexistent Fatwa In Negotiations As A Guarantee That It Is Not Developing Nuclear Weapons, November 14, 2014; Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif Reiterates Iran’s Lie, Promoted By Obama Administration, That Supreme Leader Khamenei Issued Fatwa Banning Nuclear Weapons; No Such Fatwa Ever Existed, May 31, 2019; Renewed Iran-West Nuclear Talks – Part II: Tehran Attempts to Deceive U.S. President Obama, Sec’y of State Clinton With Nonexistent Anti-Nuclear Weapons Fatwa By Supreme Leader Khamenei, April 19, 2012; Release Of Compilation Of Newest Fatwas By Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei – Without Alleged Fatwa About Nuclear Bomb, August 13, 2013; President Obama Endorses The Lie About Khamenei’s ‘Fatwa’ Against Nuclear Weapons, September 29, 2013; The Official Iranian Version Regarding Khamenei’s Alleged Anti-Nuclear Weapons Fatwa Is A Lie; October 3, 2013; Iranian President Hassan Rohani In Article In Saudi Daily: While Avoiding Confrontation And Hostility, We Shall Be Diligent In Pursuing Our Supreme Interests, December 23, 2013; U.S. Secretary Of State Kerry In New And Unprecedented Statement: ‘President Obama And I Are Both Extremely Welcoming And Grateful For The Fact That [Iranian] Supreme Leader [Khamenei] Has Issued A [Nonexistent] Fatwa’ Banning Nuclear Weapons, March 31, 2014; Tehran Again Offers Khamenei’s Nonexistent Fatwa In Negotiations As A Guarantee That It Is Not Developing Nuclear Weapon, November 14, 2014; Iranian Regime Continues Its Lies And Fabrications About Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Nonexistent Fatwa Banning Nuclear Weapons; April 6, 2015; Insights Following Exposure Of Iran’s Military Nuclear Program – Part I: The Leadership Of Iran’s Religious Regime Lies About Essential Islamic Matters, Manipulates Religion To Justify Its Grip On Power, Regional Expansion; May 6, 2018.

[5] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1018, The Struggle Between Khamenei And Rafsanjani Over The Iranian Leadership – Part IV: Rafsanjani Calls For Moderation In The Spirit Of ‘Islamic Realism’; Khamenei Is Ready For ‘Heroic Flexibility’ By Iran But Without Compromising Revolutionary Principles, September 23, 2013; on the political activity in Iran that lead to this agreement, see Inquiry & Analysis No. 1000, The Struggle Between Khamenei And Rafsanjani Over The Iranian Leadership – Part II: The Conflict Heats Up Over Direct Talks With The U.S. And The Nuclear Issue, July 25, 2013; Special Dispatch No. 6131, Iranian Senior Officials Disclose Confidential Details From Nuclear Negotiations: Already In 2011 We Received Letter From U.S. Administration Recognizing Iran’s Right To Enrich Uranium, August 10, 2015; Inquiry and Analysis No. 1024, The Iranian Regime Signals It Will Agree To A Deal With The U.S. – If Its Right To Enrich Uranium On Its Soil Is Recognized; The U.S. Administration Signals That It Will Accept This Condition, October 9, 2013.

[6] MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6134, Iranian VP And Atomic Chief Salehi Reveals Details From Secret Iran-U.S. Nuclear Talks: Khamenei Made Direct Talks Conditional Upon Achieving Immediate Results; U.S. Conveyed Its Recognition Of Iran’s Enrichment Rights To Omani Sultan, Who Relayed The Message To Then-President Ahmadinejad, August 16, 2015.