Earthquakes May Endanger New York More Than Thought, Says StudyA 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 York compared 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.
Iran said on Monday it will block snap inspections by the UN nuclear watchdog this month if other parties to the 2015 nuclear deal fail to fulfil their obligations, a challenge to US President Joe Biden’s hope of reviving the accord.
“If others do not fulfil their obligations by February 21, the government is obliged to suspend the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said.
“It does not mean ending all inspections by the UN nuclear watchdog … All these steps are reversible if the other party changes its path and honours its obligations.”
The Biden administration aims to return the United States to the nuclear deal, which then-President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018. Under the deal, Iran agreed to curbs on its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions.
After Trump quit and reimposed sanctions, Iran began violating some limits in the deal. Washington and Tehran now disagree over how best to restore the accord, with both sides demanding the other side act first to return to compliance.
The nuclear deal granted wide-ranging access to the International Atomic Energy Agency to gather information on Iran’s nuclear activities. But under a law enacted last year, Iran’s government is obliged to revoke that access on February 21 if other parties are not complying with the nuclear deal.
Iran has long denied seeking nuclear weapons.
Iran’s intelligence minister said last week that persistent Western pressure could push Tehran to fight back like a “cornered cat” and seek nuclear weapons. But Khatibzadeh rejected this, citing a religious decree issued in the early 2000s by the Islamic Republic’s top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, banning nuclear arms.
“Iran has not sought and will never seek nuclear weapons … The Supreme leader’s fatwa is valid,” said Khatibzadeh.
It’s time all stakeholders commit to Grand National Dialogue for National Security Committee to preserve Strategic Interests and protect National Interest
Waqas Mahmood Ali
3:53 PM | February 15, 2021
Eschatology provides insight into chain of political events occurring in the Middle East. The Eschatological study of Political Events is necessary for Strategic Policy Planning. Eretz Israel provides the foundational basis for developing framework to establish valid, reliable and accurate link of eschatological-political events. The fulfillment of eschatological signs can be witnessed in chain of political events. The events lead to advent of Imam Al-Mahdi but the most important part is role and presence of western powers. In order to pursue effective research on eschatological-political events, it is imperative to address eschatological position through observation (examining and identifying) of trends, patterns and trajectories of political events occurring in Middle East. The deal of the century of Middle East Peace Plan revolves around Eretz Israel. It is important to integrate the eschatological signs regarding role and presence of western powers in Middle East into occurrence of political events. This can be done through studying the strategies involved in Security Pacts, Peace Treaties, Political (Diplomatic, Military) Agreements, Strategic Accords, Organised Violence, Armed Conflict etc. The Prophetic tradition (Sunan Abū Daūd, Book of Malāhim, Chapter – Signs Of The Battles, Hadīth 4294) categorically mention Madinah, Jerusalem, Constantinople and Damascus as major center of political events which involve the role and presence of Ar-Rum (Christians/West/Europeans).
During the lifetime of Holy Prophet (PBUH), Tabuk expedition was launched. It was also the first military expedition pursued after death of Holy Prophet (PBUH). Tabuk seems as symbolic event for future strategic initiatives as Prophethood status of Holy Prophet provided him Strategic foresight to know that Ar-Rum, unlike Persia, will continue to be a Superpower. Today, NEOM is located in Tabuk. Therefore, Tabuk plays important role in gauging presence of Ar-Rum (Christians/Europeans/West) in Middle East based on Prophetic tradition narrated by Auf Bin Malik that of Holy Prophet mentioned six signs of hour during Tabuk expedition which includes ‘Conquest of Jerusalem’ and Banu Al-Asfar (Byzantines/Ar-Rum/European Christians) landing with huge army at Amaq-Dabiq region. This suggests that role, preswnce and influence of western powers at North, South, West and East borders of Eretz Israel must be studied. The Al-Ula declaration regarding KSA & UAE mending ties with Qatar provides account of how US can impact GCC decision-making. It was at Jared Kushner’s behest that MBS, without delay did both: implemented the blockade against Qatar and, then also proceeded to restore normal relation after Kushner’s intervention. It is mentioned in Prophetic traditions that (influence/presence of) Ar-Rum will reach Al-Khayber (Sunan Abi Dawud 4250-51, Book # 36, Hadith # 11-13). It is a major eschatological sign in latest political event. Al Khayber is located between Al-Ula and Madinah. Similarly, Al-Ula is located between Madinah and Tabuk. These locations represent SOUTHERN BORDER of Eretz Israel.
Eschatological-Political events associated borders of Eretz Israel can be further observed (examined and identified) through trends, patterns and trajectories on basis of evidence-based reasoning approach. Therefore, the Northern, Western and Eastern borders must be attached with eschatological signs in political events. The western and eastern borders of Eretz Israel stretch from River Nile to River Euphrates. This is to establish complete control of Israel to establish its status as Ruling State of the world. This is the Zionist goal since the mass exodus of Jews to Holy Land was not merely for oil or any other resource but for Eretz Israel. The Politics of River Nile for Eretz Israel is already in process. Eritrea blocked landlocked Ethiopia’s access to sea water on behest of Israel. This led Ethiopia to make decision for building Nahda Dam on River Nile. However, Ethiopia needed prior approval of Egypt and Sudan to implement the phase of building dam. The initial talks were successful.
However, lack of funds to build dam forced Ethiopia to rely on external funding which led to involvement of US then ultimately resulting in breakdown and failure of dam talks. The impact was that Trump threatened Ethiopia that Egypt will attack to destroy the dam. In order to further cripple Ethiopia, unprecedented level of armed conflict surged in Tigray region of Ethiopia which forced Addis Ababa to back down. Similar practice of armed conflict was witnessed in Western Sahara despite the respective region’s agreement with Morocco, which was being observed since 1975. This was part of organized violence. The conflict surged few days before Morocco’s recognition of Israel. This is part of carrot and stick policy which is also being witnessed in latest GCC move for reconciliation amid growing threat of US-Iran conflict. All these political events in North and Upper Africa highlight politics of River Nile. The political instability suits Eretz Israel policy.
Prophetic traditions mention the political actions of people of Magreb (Area of North Africa located to west of Egypt) and People of Egypt in Syria, too (Narrations of Muhammad Ibn Al-Hanafiyah and Ali Bin Abi Talib mentioned in Nuaim bin Hammad’s Kitab Al-Fitan). These political actions coincide with eschatological events through chain of events. It is mentioned in Prophetic traditions that People of Magreb manage to establish influential role in Damascus which is held to be important center of diplomacy in eschatological events. Current geopolitical climate depicts potential status of Damascus to possibly be International Center for Diplomacy since both sides of Ar-Rum and Muslims will have to cooperate, collaborate, coordinate and co-opt in Peace Treaties, Security Pacts, Strategic Accords and Political Agreements (Ibn Majah).
India planning another visit of IIOJ&K for diplomats to mislead world: FO
It’s pertinent to mention that various Prophetic traditions mention Damascus and its surrounding (Sunan Abi Dawud 4298, Hadith #4285, Book # 38). The link of Damascus (Syria) to Eretz Israel is that River Euphrates as well as area of Amaq and Dabiq are mentioned in Prophetic traditions (Abu Dawud, Kitab al-Jihad – Vol. 3/7 – No. 2479, Ahmad, Ibn Majah) which reflect the Northern border of Eretz Israel. Damascus is also indicated in Prophetic traditions as the best Headquarters for Muslims to conduct diplomacy in different timelines of eschatological events. The people of Syria are also mentioned along with People of Magreb and Egypt (Najeeb Al Sirri, kitab Al-Fitan, Nuaim Bin Hammad). Damascus is also, therefore, associated with Peace and War. Therefore, northern most tip of Syrian border with Turkey is the NORTH BORDER of Eretz Israel. This also brings us to remaining border of Eretz Israel i.e., Eastern Border. The River Euphrates runs from Turkey to Syria to Iraq.
The River Euphrates is the EASTERN BORDER of Eretz Israel. The River Euphrates is mentioned in Prophetic traditions in context of war over mountain of gold emerging after drying of River Euphrates which potentially can refer to an equivalent of petro-dollar system or situation of extreme strategic and security benefit in economic, military and political terms. It suggests that Politics of River Nile witnessed in breakdown of talks due to differences between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt will can potentially be replicated through armed conflict and organized violence in lands of River Euphrates (Syria-Iraq-Turkey). Therefore, Politics of Rivers is also central to eschatological signs in geopolitical events. It must be determined whether any armed conflict for organized violence has been initiated near/ around River Euphrates. For example, Israel recently launched one of most deadliest attacks on Iranian assets and positions in Syria which included cities of Al-BuKamal and Deir-Ez-Zor as major targets. River Euphrates flows through these two Syrian cities before entering into Iraq through Al-BuKamal.
Israel launched one of the most lethal attack in Syria on the very night when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a speech against Iran’s assistance to Al-Qaeda. Furthermore, the Israeli attacks are still being executed. Russia is also opposing Iranian influence and presence of Iran in order to curtail role of Iranian assets and positions inside Syria by allowing Israeli to carry out attacks on Iranian forces in Syria. This also suggests that Iran will look for a new partner in global geopolitics. That new partner is China due to mutual Strategic Accord to control the route between Europe, Africa and Asia. US President Biden has announced to increase forces in Iraq which is threat to Iran which suggests that US, Russia and Israel (including other western stakeholders) seek to eliminate Iranian resources in Syria by forcing Iran to divert its assets to Iraq. Political instability in Iraq leading to armed conflict and organized violence is direct threat to Iran. Therefore, Iran will seek to assert its role in Syria-Iraq corridor. Israel has pre-empted strikes on Al-Bukamal which is strategically located at Syria-Iraq corridor where River Euphrates enters Iraq from Syria. Therefore, the contours of Politics of River Euphrates cannot be dissociated with role and presence of western powers in context of political activities Eretz Israel. This establishes ‘Politics of Rivers’ as foundation of Eretz Israel.
The eschatological events on Western, Eastern and Southern border of Eretz Israel are evident as armed conflict and organized violence surged in River Nile & Euphrates in year 2020. It is matter of time when Northern border of Eretz Israel (Amaq-Dabiq) will experience role and presence of western powers either for armed conflicts and organized violence or strategic ‘economic-political’ deals. The role and presence of western forces at Northern border of Eretz Israel located at Syria-Turkey border will pre-empt or force Turkey to heavily intervene in Iraq to assist Iran and China. Mountain of Gold potentially represent economic symbolism which possibly hints at a financial system as it seems that NEOM in Tabuk is symbolic representation of new monetary system which requires adjustment in political settings for complete implementation of Eretz Israel project (Muslim, Book 41 Hadith 6923).
Nahda dam has initiated politics of River Nile in terms of armed conflict and organised violence. Utilising Evidence-based reasoning approach, the eschatological connection of Politics of River Euphrates & Nile with Eretz Israel must also be studied. These east-west borders of Eretz are not separate from politics witnessed in Al-Ula (Southern border) and Syria-Turkey border (Amaq-Dabiq valley). Therefore, eschatological signs associated with two of the four borders have already initiated Politics of Rivers. The Politics of River Nile is in process and, Politics of River Euphrates is to initiate soon – with Tabuk at center of both. The eschatological events associated with North-East border are next in line of politics associated with Eretz Israel. Therefore, Tabuk is a sign for future eschatological-political events. It is necessary for the Civil Government and Opposition (Parliament), Military, Technocrats, Bureaucrats, Policymakers, Deep State, Establishment and all relevant stakeholders to agree on including Eschatological position in Grand National Dialogue for strengthening National Security Committee. The adequate forum for the work on such policy is Strategic Policy Planning Cell instituted in the National Security Division. This will safeguard Strategic Interests while serving and preserving National Interest of Pakistan.
In a world where MEPP & DoTc revolves around Israel, there is need for much better thought-out diplomatic, economic, foreign, defense and governance policies. Economic Diplomacy of Strategic Policy Planning Cell is part of Security Strategy of Pakistan. Experienced leadership (political, military, bureaucratic) along with all the other stakeholders must come to agreement on taking Pakistan forward which requires taking Eschatological sense into account for decision-making and effective strategic policy planning. Allah has confirmed the eschatological-political events which offers EXPLANATION through Evidence-based reasoning approach adopted by Strategic Policy Planning Cell in National Security Decision of Govt of Pakistan for policy input. SPPC must be dealt as intellectual hub. Initial case study can be studying political events by examining and identifying Prophetic traditions mentioning eschatological signs. This needs official guidance apart from independent study as recognized by Strategic Policy Planning Cell for Universities & think tanks to develop whole framework. The civil-military leadership must agree to declare Eschatology as part of SPPC Research.
It’s time all stakeholders commit to Grand National Dialogue for National Security Committee to preserve Strategic Interests and protect National Interest. The symbolic interpretationism of Eschatological signs confirmed in political events must be studied. Zamima becomes potential source; requiring military knowledge, political perspective, strategic understanding and eschatological sense. Pakistan must officially develop this field.
#8678 | 01:34
Source: The Internet – “Al-Sadr’s Media Office on YouTube”
Iraqi politician and militia leader Muqtada Al-Sadr warned against normalization with Israel in a video posted on his official YouTube channel on February 10, 2021. He said that normalization with Israel is imminent and that an Israeli ambassador to Iraq is being prepared to come to Iraq. Al-Sadr said that he dares an Israeli ambassador to come to Iraq and stated that normalization with Israel is forbidden and unaccepted. He said that parliamentary and political measures must be taken to prevent this, and added: “We will never allow it even if we have to die for it.” Al-Sadr continued to say that the Biden administration must withdraw its occupying forces from Iraq in order to prevent it from becoming an “arena of regional and international conflicts.” He added that America conducts its conflicts in Iraq. Al-Sadr also said that the Iraqi people are prepared to show their power and act in order to prove the prestige of Iraq.
By Parisa Hafezi
DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran said on Monday it will block snap inspections by the U.N. nuclear watchdog from next week if other parties to the 2015 nuclear deal do not uphold their obligations, a challenge to U.S. President Joe Biden’s hope of reviving the accord.
“If others do not fulfil their obligations by Feb. 21, the government is obliged to suspend the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.
“It does not mean ending all inspections by the U.N. nuclear watchdog…All these steps are reversible if the other party changes its path and honours its obligations,” he said, alluding to the United States.
Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency wrote on Twitter on Monday that Tehran has informed U.N. watchdog about its plan next week to end sweeping inspection powers given to the agency under the nuclear pact.
Under legislation enacted by hardline Iranian lawmakers last year, the government is obliged on Feb. 21 to limit IAEA inspections to declared nuclear sites only, revoking its short-notice access to any location seen as relevant for information-gathering, if other parties did not fully comply with the deal.
The Biden administration aims to return the United States to the deal, which his predecessor Donald Trump abandoned in 2018. Under the deal, Iran agreed to curbs on its uranium enrichment programme in return for the lifting of sanctions.
After Trump quit and reimposed sanctions, Iran began violating some of the deal’s limits on sensitive uranium enrichment. Washington and Tehran now disagree over how best to restore the accord, with both sides demanding the other side act first to return to compliance.
Despite Iran’s public hard line that Washington must take the first step, however, several Iranian officials told Reuters last week that the mounting economic pain of U.S. sanctions may push Tehran to show flexibility on terms for restoring the nuclear deal.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said last week Doha was in consultations to help salvage the deal, and Iranian state media said he would meet Iran’s president and foreign minister in Tehran on Monday.
“We welcome efforts by friendly countries like Qatar … There have been consultations between Tehran and Doha at various levels,” Khatibzadeh said.
Iran has long denied striving to develop nuclear weapons through uranium enrichment, though its intelligence minister said last week persistent Western pressure could push Tehran to fight back like a “cornered cat” and seek nuclear weapons.
But Khatibzadeh rejected this, citing a religious decree issued in the early 2000s by the Islamic Republic’s top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, banning the pursuit of nuclear arms.
(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
As red herrings go, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s “fatwa”, or religious ruling, against nukes has grown funky with age. But that hasn’t stopped officials in Tehran from airing it when convenient, or kept their counterparts in Washington from breathing it in.
First floated in 2003, the fatwa surfaced again this week when Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said Iran would develop a nuclear weapon if the US and other Western nations kept up economic and political pressure on the regime. “The supreme leader clearly said in his fatwa that producing nuclear weapons is against religious law and the Islamic Republic will not pursue it and considers it forbidden,” Alavi said on Iranian state TV. “But [if] they push Iran in that direction, it would not be Iran’s fault but the fault of those who pushed Iran.”
This is only the latest of Tehran’s attempts to pressure the Biden administration into lifting the sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump. It comes amid speculation about how long it would take Iran to build a nuclear weapon—a matter of weeks, six months or up to two years, depending on who’s speculating.
The Biden administration has, rightly, expressed alarm at the intelligence minister’s comments. Alavi’s threat represents a significant escalation in Iran’s rhetoric around its nuclear programme. But he may also have done the US a service by dispensing with the fiction that the programme was governed by religious decree.
Until now, the regime has maintained it could not and would not pursue nukes because Khamenei has declared them un-Islamic. The supreme leader himself has repeated that assertion, invoking the Arabic word “haraam” or religiously forbidden. In turn, American officials have taken comfort in Khamenei’s fatwa, arguing that the religious decree demonstrated his real attitude toward nuclear weapons. It was cited by former President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry in the lead up to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers. Administration officials briefing journalists at the time suggested the fatwa would allow the government of President Hassan Rouhani to sell the deal to hard-liners within the regime, who wanted Iran to build nuclear weapons.
But the Obama team imbued the fatwa with far more import than it merited. The decree was always more political than religious—designed to provide cover for whatever nuclear course was expedient for Tehran at any given time.
Khamenei only issued the decree after Iran was caught in the act: Its clandestine nuclear-weapons programme, developed with Russian assistance, was exposed in 2002. The US-led invasion of Iraq the following year brought home to Tehran the risk of pursuing weapons of mass destruction. Rather than admit he was backing down in fear, Khamenei used the fatwa as a fig leaf—a post facto justification for suspending the programme.
Since then, the fatwa has been deployed by Iranian officials to allay Western suspicions that the nuclear programme may have been revived.
But not all religious decrees are carved in stone, and Iran’s supreme leaders have a history of making 180-degree turns on what is or is not un-Islamic. Sometimes, this is to the good: The Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, dropped his objections to women’s suffrage after the 1979 revolution.
At other times, the volte-face leads to tragedy. Khomeini frequently fulminated against WMDs and especially chemical weapons—the kind that killed thousands of Iranians during the 1980-1988 war with Iraq. But Iran continued to develop its own chemical weapons capability, even after it ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997. And it helped Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad develop the chemical weapons he unleashed on his own people.
The nuclear-weapons fatwa is similarly fungible. If religious considerations didn’t prevent Iran from seeking a nuclear arsenal before 2003, they do not now and will not in the future. In this, as in so much else, Iran’s behaviour has been guided by how far it can go until international pressure becomes unbearable.
Alavi’s comments suggest the regime is testing out a new rationale for its nuclear policy: The US and its allies are forcing us to build the Bomb. This is risible, of course, but no more so than the idea that the Islamic Republic has until now been restrained by Islam. As it prepares to re-engage Iran in diplomacy, the Biden team should cast off the Obama administration’s credulity on this score. It can be grateful to the intelligence minister for dropping the fatwa fig leaf.
Bobby Ghosh is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist
Iraqi populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr on Sunday welcomed the visit by Pope Francis to Iraq next month, and warned against those who might oppose it.
Francis is scheduled to make the first trip to Iraq by a Catholic pope from March 5-8, visiting Baghdad and four historic sites.
“I have heard there are opponents to the visit of the Pope to our beloved Iraq. I say the openness to religions is desirable and this visit is welcome,” Mr Al Sadr said in a tweet.
“Our hearts, before our doors, are open to him,” he said, referring to himself as “the advocate for unity among religions”.
Mr Al Sadr has millions of followers in Iraq.
Pope Francis is expected to visit the capital, Baghdad, the Plain of Ur, Mosul, Erbil and Najaf where he will meet with Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, Iraq’s most senior Shiite cleric.
The pope is scheduled to sign a document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together with Ayatollah Al Sistani.
“Al Najaf Al Ashraf is the capital of religions and so he is welcomed as a peace lover,” Mr Al Sadr said.
After going to Najaf, Pope Francis will host an inter-faith meeting on the same day in the ancient city of Ur, the birthplace of Abraham, the prophet who is common to Muslim, Christians and Jews.
Pope Francis’ last full day in Iraq will take him to the northern Kurdish region, from where he will visit the city of Mosul and Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town in Iraq where the population fled when ISIS arrived in 2014.
He will hold a prayer service for those who lost their lives when the extremist militants took over the region and during the battle to drive them out.
Many of Mosul’s churches were destroyed by ISIS fighters and air strikes during the war.
The UAE is sponsoring the restoration of Al Tahera church and Al Saa’a monastery that were severely damaged in the conflict.
The UAE project in Mosul was launched in 2018 with the restoration of the 12th-century Al Nuri Mosque before being expanded to the nearby church and other buildings.
Published: February 14, 2021 05:49 PM