Don’t Forget About the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Don’t forget about earthquakes, feds tell city

Although New York’s modern skyscrapers are less likely to be damaged in an earthquake than shorter structures, a new study suggests the East Coast is more vulnerable than previously thought. The new findings will help alter building codes.By Mark FaheyJuly 18, 2014 10:03 a.m.The U.S. Geological Survey had good and bad news for New Yorkers on Thursday. In releasing its latest set of seismic maps the agency said earthquakes are a slightly lower hazard for New York City’s skyscrapers than previously thought, but on the other hand noted that the East Coast may be able to produce larger, more dangerous earthquakes than previous assessments have indicated.The 2014 maps were created with input from hundreds of experts from across the country and are based on much stronger data than the 2008 maps, said Mark Petersen, chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project. The bottom line for the nation’s largest city is that the area is at a slightly lower risk for the types of slow-shaking earthquakes that are especially damaging to tall spires of which New York has more than most places, but the city is still at high risk due to its population density and aging structures, said Mr. Petersen.“Many of the overall patterns are the same in this map as in previous maps,” said Mr. Petersen. “There are large uncertainties in seismic hazards in the eastern United States. [New York City] has a lot of exposure and some vulnerability, but people forget about earthquakes because you don’t see damage from ground shaking happening very often.”Just because they’re infrequent doesn’t mean that large and potentially disastrous earthquakes can’t occur in the area. The new maps put the largest expected magnitude at 8, significantly higher than the 2008 peak of 7.7 on a logarithmic scale.The scientific understanding of East Coast earthquakes has expanded in recent years thanks to a magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia in 2011 that was felt by tens of millions of people across the eastern U.S. New data compiled by the nuclear power industry has also helped experts understand quakes.“The update shows New York at an intermediate level,” said Arthur Lerner-Lam, deputy director of Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “You have to combine that with the exposure of buildings and people and the fragility of buildings and people. In terms of safety and economics, New York has a substantial risk.”Oddly enough, it’s not the modern tall towers that are most at risk. Those buildings become like inverted pendulums in the high frequency shakes that are more common on the East Coast than in the West. But the city’s old eight- and 10-story masonry structures could suffer in a large quake, said Mr. Lerner-Lam. Engineers use maps like those released on Thursday to evaluate the minimum structural requirements at building sites, he said. The risk of an earthquake has to be determined over the building’s life span, not year-to-year.“If a structure is going to exist for 100 years, frankly, it’s more than likely it’s going to see an earthquake over that time,” said Mr. Lerner-Lam. “You have to design for that event.”The new USGS maps will feed into the city’s building-code review process, said a spokesman for the New York City Department of Buildings. Design provisions based on the maps are incorporated into a standard by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which is then adopted by the International Building Code and local jurisdictions like New York City. New York’s current provisions are based on the 2010 standards, but a new edition based on the just-released 2014 maps is due around 2016, he said.“The standards for seismic safety in building codes are directly based upon USGS assessments of potential ground shaking from earthquakes, and have been for years,” said Jim Harris, a member and former chair of the Provisions Update Committee of the Building Seismic Safety Council, in a statement.The seismic hazard model also feeds into risk assessment and insurance policies, according to Nilesh Shome, senior director of Risk Management Solutions, the largest insurance modeler in the industry. The new maps will help the insurance industry as a whole price earthquake insurance and manage catastrophic risk, said Mr. Shome. The industry collects more than $2.5 billion in premiums for earthquake insurance each year and underwrites more than $10 trillion in building risk, he said.“People forget about history, that earthquakes have occurred in these regions in the past, and that they will occur in the future,” said Mr. Petersen. “They don’t occur very often, but the consequences and the costs can be high.”

Conditions Worsen Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Palestinians’ condition in Gaza worsening

March 5, 2021

GAZA CITY: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said on Wednesday that the living conditions of Palestinian refugees in the besieged Gaza Strip “are getting worse.”

“The living conditions of the Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip are getting worse due to 14 years of Israeli blockade and lack of jobs,” said Matthias Schmale, director of UNRWA operations in the Gaza Strip.

Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) operations in the Gaza Strip Matthias Schmale (L) speaks during a press conference in Gaza City, on March 3, 2021. The UNRWA said on Wednesday that the living conditions of Palestinian refugees in the besieged Gaza Strip “are getting worse.” Xinhua Photo

“The agency resorted to implementing the unified food basket system in the Gaza Strip because the living standards have become the same and it isn’t easy to differentiate between the poor people and their levels of living,” Schmale said.

“The well-known definition of extreme or absolute poverty is no longer suitable, and there is no need to conduct poverty surveys because most of the Palestinian refugees in Gaza need help,” he said.

He also said the UNRWA has asked the government’s authorities to provide it with a database of employees who receive salaries above the minimum wage.

“The UNRWA is ready to increase food aid to refugees, in quantity and quality, if it obtains funds and the names of those who do not need food coupons are cancelled,” he added.

UNRWA officials have said that the agency is experiencing “a most serious financial crisis” in its history due to the severe shortage of donations for it.

The UN body’s financial crisis began after the United States decided to cut $360 million for the agency in 2018, which was 30 percent of its annual budget.

The UNRWA provides life-saving services to about 5.6 million Palestinian refugees in its five fields of operation that include Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, as well as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Iraq bases hit again with rockets again

10 rockets hit Iraq base hosting US troops

At least 10 rockets hit a military base in western Iraq hosting US-led coalition troops on Wednesday, security sources said, two days before Pope Francis’s historic visit to the country.

The attack on the sprawling Ain al-Assad base in Iraq’s western desert is the fourth time in less than three weeks that rockets hit a Western installation in the country.

Ain al-Assad hosts both Iraqi forces and troops from the US-led coalition helping fight remnants of the Islamic State group — as well as the unmanned drones they use to surveil IS sleeper cells.

Coalition spokesman Colonel Wayne Marotto confirmed that 10 rockets hit the base at 7:20 am (0420 GMT), but did not provide details on any casualties.

Iraqi security forces said they had found the platform from which 10 “Grad-type rockets” hit the Ain al-Assad base, saying there were “no notable casualties”.

Western security sources told AFP the rockets were Iranian-made Arash models, which are 122mm artillery rockets and heavier than those seen in similar attacks.

Dozens of rocket attacks and roadside bombs targeted Western security, military and diplomatic sites in Iraq in 2020, with Iraqi and Western officials blaming hardline pro-Iran factions.

They came to a near-complete halt in October following a truce with the hardliners, but they have resumed at a quickening pace over the past three weeks.

In mid-February, rockets targeted US-led coalition troops in the Kurdish regional capital Arbil, killing two people.

Days later, more rockets hit a US military contracting company working north of the capital and the US embassy in Baghdad.

The US responded on February 26 with a US air strike on Kataeb Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Iraqi paramilitary force stationed along the Iraqi-Syrian border.

Washington says it struck on the Syrian side of the border but Kataeb said one of its fighters who was killed in the bombardment was protecting “Iraqi territory”.

Analysts have pointed to both domestic and international reasons for the sudden rise in tensions.

Hardline Iraqi groups have an interest in ramping up the pressure on Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi following his pledges to rein in rogue militias.

They may also carry a message from Tehran to Washington, which under US President Joe Biden is offering to revive the Iran nuclear deal which his predecessor Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.

Iran is demanding the US lift sanctions immediately, while the US wants Iran to move first by returning to previous nuclear commitments.

Despite the escalation in recent weeks, Pope Francis appears determined to go ahead on Friday with the first-ever papal visit to Iraq.

While he is not set to be in the country’s west, he will spend time in Baghdad and Arbil, both hit by rocket attacks last month.

Iraq is simultaneously gripped by a second wave of the coronavirus, which is seeing more than 4,500 new cases a day in the country of 40 million.

To stem the spread and control the crowds during the Pope’s visit, Iraq is set to extend its weekend lockdowns to include the entirety of the papal visit from March 5-8.

Babylon the Great’s Nuclear Triad Looming

Joe Biden’s Nuclear Triad

Looming choices on doomsday weapons

March 04, 2021

By Mark Thompson Filed under analysis

An unarmed Minuteman III ICBM, one of the three legs of the U.S. nuclear triad, being tested off California last year. (Photo: U.S. Dept of Defense / Air Force Senior Airman Clayton Wear)

Believe it or not, we’re currently amid a triad of nuclear triads. How President Joe Biden juggles them will make clear if the atomic status quo continues on autopilot, as it has for 70 years, or if he’s willing to put his hand on the tiller and lighten the nuclear shadow that most of us have lived under our entire lives.

The U.S. nuclear triad is a Cold War construct, consisting of three “legs”—bombers, submarines, and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). It is capable of delivering nuclear weapons pretty much anywhere in the world at any time. Now there’s a second triad consisting of the world’s big-league nuclear players. Originally limited to the U.S. and the Soviet Union (now Russia), the Trump administration pushed hard to incorporate China into the superpower arms control club. But with only an estimated 320 warheads, compared to the 5,800 held by the U.S. and 6,375 held by Russia, China wasn’t interested. Nonetheless, China’s push for a more capable nuclear force makes it a major nuclear player.

Finally, there’s Biden’s nuclear triad, which consists of three major upcoming choices that could act as a brake on nuclear business-as-usual—or speed up the arms race among Washington, Moscow, and Beijing.

Pentagon plans on spending $140 billion for a new crop of ICBMs, another $100 billion for B-21 bombers, and $128 billion for new submarines.

Unfortunately, the Pentagon’s triad seems frozen in place. Its backers assert that each leg is vital to deterrence. Scrapping any leg reduces deterrence, they say, and therefore makes nuclear war more likely. No. What makes the horror of nuclear war more likely are arsenals of nuclear weapons crammed into missiles and bombs, linked by good, but not perfect, command-and-control systems, operated by humans as fallible as you or me.

Unfortunately, the nation has treated its nuclear force the same way it has treated its infrastructure: Both are falling apart. So, after decades of kicking the warheads down the road, the Pentagon wants to rebuild all three legs of the nuclear triad simultaneously. It plans on spending up to $140 billion for a new crop of ICBMs, nearly $100 billion for B-21 bombers, and $128 billion for new submarines. The cost of buying and operating these weapons: Nearly $1.7 trillion through 2046, according to the independent Arms Control Association.

Biden could take a step back from the abyss by scrapping one leg of the nuclear triad. There is consensus that the land-based ICBMs are the weakest leg of the triad, and one that can safely be lopped off. (Even former Defense Secretary William Perry says so.) But ICBM boosters, sensitive to that domestic threat, have launched a campaign to make sure that the 400 Minuteman III ICBMs now sprinkled across Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming are replaced with 400 Ground Based Strategic Deterrent missiles. Northrop Grumman landed a $13.3 billion contract in September to begin developing the new ICBM. They are supposed to start replacing the 1970s-era LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBMs in 2029. That award has raised eyebrows among the too-many-eggs-in-one-basket crowd, seeing as Northrop is also building the new bomber leg of the triad and the solid-rocket motors that power the Navy’s nuclear-tipped missiles.

Airmen ready a Minuteman III ICBM at Vandenberg Air Force Base for test firing. (Photo: U.S. Dept of Defense / Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)

The new ICBM’s biggest supporters are those who build it and their Capitol Hill chorus. In fact, Northrop has assembled a nifty list of its backers, including the Senate ICBM Coalition. “You’re going to get a lot of pressure … to delay the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent and maybe even shrink it,” Senator Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican, told now-Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at his January 19 confirmation hearing. “Do you think we can extend the life of the Minutemen III even if that means unilaterally decreasing our nuclear deterrent?”

Austin was non-committal. “I really need to sit down,” he responded, “and take a look at where we are in that modernization effort.”

U.S. ICBM silos are sitting ducks for enemy attack. But that’s their purpose: They serve as a “nuclear sponge” designed to force the enemy (Russia or China) to destroy them in the opening volley of a nuclear war. That would prevent their use against the attacking state (China or Russia). It also would force the attacking state (Russia or China) to waste precious warheads across the vast expanse of the American High Plains instead of raining them down on more critical military targets or on heavily populated cities. The ICBMs are also on high alert, ratcheting up the pressure to “use or lose them” if an alert of incoming enemy missiles, false or otherwise, is detected.

There is a consensus that the land-based ICBMs are the weakest leg of the triad, and one that can safely be lopped off.

This is the strange calculus of nuclear deterrence, which is rooted in a bizarre war game no one hopes ever plays out. Yes, it is as stupid as it sounds. And the U.S. public agrees. A recent poll by the Federation of American Scientists showed that most of those surveyed support alternatives to replacing the ICBMs: 30% supported upgrading the current ICBMs, 20% wanted to do away with the ICBMs entirely, and 10% called for the elimination of all nuclear weapons. Barely one in four, 26%, backed replacing the existing ICBMs with new missiles. Unfortunately, those who want to scale back the U.S. nuclear arsenal don’t seem to care as much about the issue as those who have vested interests in it and are dedicated to seeing it continue.

The military-industrial-congressional-think-tank complex asserts that any decision not to replace the Minutemen would hurt U.S. nuclear deterrence (that’s why “Deterrent” is in its name, although that’s sure to be replaced with a friendlier official nickname before long). Like the boy who cried wolf, triad backers have been saying for decades that an enemy might be able to hunt down and destroy the U.S. Navy’s “boomers,” those mammoth subs that silently carry their nuclear weapons beneath the waves. Yet the subs remain hidden, and there is no threat to them on the horizon. And the bombers remain flexible. Unlike the ICBMs, they can be dispatched worldwide amid global tensions—and recalled after launch.

That’s why there’s a growing realization that the triad is a relic that can safely be trimmed to a sub-and-bomber dyad. If that’s deemed too radical, the existing Minuteman force can be upgraded. That’s what has been done in the past and is currently being done now at one of the three bases where the ICBMs stand alert. But the Pentagon is not interested. “You cannot extend the life of the Minuteman III,” Admiral Charles Richard, the Pentagon’s top nuclear warfighter, flatly said January 5.

All the more reason, then, to amputate this leg.

Although the fate of the ICBMs is center stage, there are two smaller recent nuclear decisions that Biden could reverse. In 2019, the Navy deployed a new low-yield nuclear warhead aboard its sub fleet (the USS Tennessee was the first submarine to carry it, according to the Federation of American Scientists). This new W76-2 warhead has an explosive yield of about five kilotons, a third of the power that destroyed Hiroshima, and is deployed atop Trident missiles, whose other warhead options are 90 or 455 kilotons. “This supplemental capability strengthens deterrence and provides the United States a prompt, more survivable low-yield strategic weapon,” a top Pentagon civilian said a year ago.

The USS Tennessee reportedly was the first U.S. Navy submarine deployed with a small nuclear warhead aboard. (Photo: U.S. Navy / Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James Kimber)

That language suggests the U.S. seeks a nuanced nuclear war-fighting capability, where adversaries can lob warheads of various sizes at one another. Backers maintain it deters war by showing the Russians they can’t “escalate to de-escalate”—use small nuclear weapons to end a war on terms favorable to them, confident that the U.S. wouldn’t respond with big nuclear warheads. “Fielding the W76-2 is designed to close a capability gap that threatened to give Vladimir Putin an opportunity to back the United States into a corner where capitulation or full-scale nuclear war would be a president’s only options,” a nuclear expert argued last March.

Finally, the Air Force is developing a Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) nuclear missile in an effort to keep its B-52 bombers in the nuclear fight (they are far too big, slow, and un-stealthy to actually drop bombs on enemy targets without being shot down). This long range missile, slated to start replacing the AGM-86B cruise missile in about a decade, is expected to have a range of more than 1,500 miles. It is supposed to do a better job at reaching targets because of its radar-eluding stealthiness, and to find the targets even if GPS signals are jammed. Like the Navy’s mini-nuke, the long range missile’s W80-4 warhead would be relatively puny. “We need the targeting flexibility and lower-yield options that the LRSO provides,” a Pentagon official has said.

A team at Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico work on the W80-4 warhead program for the Air Force’s Long Range Stand Off missile. (Photo: Sandia National Laboratory / Randy Wong)

But the U.S. already has plenty of pint-sized nuclear weapons, beyond these two new additions to its arsenal. What the new additions really do is highlight the inanity of viewing a prospective nuclear war as a tit-for-tat deterrence exercise, where fakes and feints can be counted on to keep the big guns holstered forever. “We don’t care about a fair fight. We’re going to kick their ass if they take us on,” said Representative Adam Smith (D-WA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “So, why we’re obsessing about a proportional response, I don’t know.”

The post-Cold War triad bolsters the notion that nuclear war is deterrable, or—failing that—winnable, so long as the nation continues to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into it. But every day that delusion persists, the chances grow that our long-standing nuclear shadow could explode into a war pitching the world into an even darker atomic eclipse.

Too dramatic? No more so than a handful of terrorists destroying a pair of the country’s tallest skyscrapers. Or one of the world’s richest nation’s having one of the poorest showings in handling a global pandemic. Or U.S. citizens storming the Capitol seeking to overturn an election whose outcome they don’t like.

That’s hardly a reassuring track record. In fact, it should make one wonder how long can the world’s A-bomb luck last. Candidate Biden declared that President Biden “will work to maintain a strong, credible deterrent while reducing our reliance and excessive expenditure on nuclear weapons.”

Your move, Mr. President.

The Scary Russian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Russia’s Monster Submarines Are Even Scarier Than You Imagined

It’s hard to grasp the sheer size of the Typhoon-class subs, the biggest ever built.

By Kyle Mizokami MAR 3, 2021

If you’ve ever seen The Hunt for Red October, you’re probably familiar with Russia’s truly massive Typhoon-class submarines. These Cold War giants still stand as the largest subs ever built.

Just how big are we talking? Each u-boat stretched to nearly 600 feet long and was wider than the average American house—and almost three times as tall, to boot..

In the 1970s, the Soviet Union embarked upon a new nuclear weapons program (code name: Typhoon) to develop a new missile-firing submarine and nuclear missiles. The subs (code name: Akula) were designed to be 566 feet long, 76 feet wide, and nearly 38 feet tall.

Cutaway of a Typhoon-class submarine. Note that the submarine still retains torpedo tubes.

H.I. SUTTON/COVERT SHORES

The Typhoon-class submarines displaced 23,200 tons in order to accommodate a payload of 20 RSM-52 ballistic missiles. Although most subs are relatively spartan in amenities, the sheer size of the Typhoons made it possible for engineers at St. Petersburg’s Rubin Design Bureau to squeeze in such unprecedented perks as a solarium, swimming pool, and sauna.

The Terror of Russia’s Nuclear Submarine Graveyard

The first submarine in the Typhoon class, Dmitri Donskoy (TK-208), entered service in 1981. Russia built five Typhoons in total, but today, only Donskoy remains in service. The sub has spent its post-Cold War career as a test bed for a new generation of Russian submarine technologies and missiles, and was instrumental in testing the buggy Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile.

The Typhoon class compared to the Ohi0-class ballistic missile submarines and the average American house.

H.I. SUTTON/COVERT SHORES

The images above, which undersea warfare authority H.I. Sutton created, show the Typhoon in relation to the American Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines and the average American house. While the Typhoon-class subs are only 17 feet longer than the Ohio boats, they’re considerably wider and taller.

A Typhoon sub looks so menacing because its sail (also known as the conning tower) is located behind the missile silos instead of in front of them, meaning the missiles are always included in any picture of the sub.

The titular Red October was supposed to be a fictional super-variant of the Typhoon class, equipped with six more RSM-52 missiles, for a total of 52,000 kilotons of nuclear firepower. (The atomic bomb exploded at Hiroshima, by comparison, had a yield of 16 kilotons.)

The Red October came packed with a magnetohydrodynamic drive (MHD) system, a real-life propulsion system that supposedly gave the ship a first strike capability. In both The Hunt for Red October and the novel on which it was based, the sub was designed to use its near-silent MHD propulsion to sneak to a position off the eastern seaboard of the U.S., launching its missiles in a surprise attack. This unadvertised capability was the final straw for ship captain Marko Ramius, who defects with his submarine to the U.S.

Today, a newer generation of Russian missile submarines, the Borei class, are replacing the Russian Navy’s aging Typhoon- and Delta-class subs. The Borei-class subs carry 16 Bulava missiles, for a total explosive yield of 7,200 kilotons, though the Bulava missiles are likely much more accurate than their predecessors.

And since the Boreis are smaller and more space-efficient than their ancestors, they probably don’t have swimming pools. Russia plans to build at least eight Borei submarines, split between the Northern (Atlantic) and Pacific Fleets.

Dmitri Donksoi arriving at the Kronstadt Naval Base, St. Petersburg, July 2017.

AFP CONTRIBUTORGETTY IMAGES

At 40 years old, Dmitri Donskoy is nearing retirement age. The Soviets built the Typhoon boats during a time before computers and compact ballistic missiles, and their size was dictated in large part by their enormous RSM-52 missiles. There may never be a class of submarines as big as the Typhoons … though never say never.

Assessing the Iraqi and Iranian Horns: Daniel 8

US still assessing impact of rocket attack in Iraq: Psaki

Washington [US], March 4 (ANI): The United States is assessing the impact of the latest rocket attack on its airbase in Iraq and the option of a forceful retaliation is open, said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Wednesday (local time).

“We are still assessing the impact of this latest rocket attack, including determining precise attribution… the President was briefed by his national security team this morning, [and] was, of course, monitoring the details overnight,” said Psaki at the regular press briefing.

Earlier, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby had confirmed the death of an American civilian contractor due to “a cardiac episode” after a rocket attack on a US airbase in Iraq.

“A US civilian contractor suffered a cardiac episode while sheltering and sadly passed away shortly after,” Kirby said in a statement.

As many as 10 rockets were fired at the Al Asad airbase during which the contractor was sheltering, he said.According to CNN, this attack came less than a week after the US military struck a site in Syria used by two Iranian-backed militia groups in response to rocket attacks on American forces in the region in recent weeks. (ANI)

Khamenei Orders the Iranian Horn to Nuke Up: Daniel 8

Iran Supreme Leader urges uranium enrichment to start ‘immediately’ as US tensions grow

IRAN’S Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has called on the country to restart uranium enrichment as of “today” as US relations continue to deteriorate.

By Dylan Donnelly 02:31, Wed, Mar 3, 2021 | UPDATED: 08:04, Wed, Mar 3, 2021

The Ayatollah posted on his Twitter account calling on Iran to resume its uranium enrichment programme despite its 2015 nuclear deal capping production. It follows a surge in Tehran and Washington tensions after US President Joe Biden ordered an airstrike on a Iran-backed militia in Syria.

Posting to his official account, Mr Khamenei insisted Iran must start enriching uranium in spite of the nuclear accord.

He said: “When oil finishes, it will become common to use nuclear energy that is cleaner & cheaper to produce.

Enrichment can’t start at that time; we need to start today.

“The Arrogant West wants Iran to be dependent on them the day it needs nuclear energy.”

On Sunday, Tehran said they do not consider the time to be “suitable” to resume talks with Washington after the EU proposed an informal meeting over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement: “Considering the recent positions and actions of the United States and the three European countries, (Iran) does not consider the time suitable to hold the informal meeting proposed by the European coordinator.

“There has still been no change in the US positions and behaviour yet”.

The spokesman then claimed the Biden administration has continued “Trump’s failed policy of maximum pressure”, and added: “America must end its illegal and unilateral sanctions and return to its (deal) commitments.

“This needs neither negotiations nor resolutions.”

Ned Price, US State Department spokesman, said the US is still willing to engage in talks with Iran, and is not “dogmatic” about the format of talks so long as the UK and other signatories of the JCPOA were involved.

But in a warning to Iran, he added: “What we are dogmatic about is the fact that Iran can never be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.”

Iran and Mr Khamenei have insisted the nuclear programme is not to develop weapons but rather to provide energy, with the Ayatollah saying the US has an ulterior motive in curbing uranium enrichment due to the sale of oil.

He said on Twitter: “The West is taking barrels & barrels of oil now at a low price & yet still making more demands!

“If they owned the oil & we wanted to buy from them, they would sell it to us in bottles at high prices!

“They want to do this with nuclear energy. No! Enrichment is one of our needs.”

In 2015, Iran, the US and five other global powers agreed terms to lift sanctions on Tehran in exchange for curbs on uranium enrichment under the JCPOA.

Former US President Donald Trump walked away from the agreement in 2018, reimposing sanctions on Iran who in turn resumed their nuclear programme.

Mr Biden stated in the lead up to last years US election he wanted to return to the JCPOA, but only if Iran agreed to reimpose restrictions before beginning talks with the US.

Mr Khamenei refused to do so, and has since said the “ball is in their court” for restarting talks on the JCPOA.

It follows Iran and US tensions flaring over a series of airstrikes and missile attacks on militia and army bases in Syria and Iran.

Iranian-backed militias carried out three attacks on US and coalition military bases based in Iran throughout February.

In response, Mr Biden ordered an airstrike on Syria-based militia structures, killing one person according to the Pentagon.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group based in London, had said the US attack killed at least 22 fighters.

Mr Khatibzadeh said in response he considered the attack a “clear aggression against Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and a “violation of international law.”