The Impending Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

An illustration of a seismogram

Massachusetts struck by 4.0 magnitude earthquake felt as far as Long Island

By Jackie Salo

November 8, 2020 

A 3.6-magnitude earthquake shook Bliss Corner, Massachusetts, on Sunday morning, officials said — startling residents across the Northeast who expressed shock about the rare tremors.

The quake struck the area about five miles southwest of the community in Buzzards Bay just after 9 a.m. — marking the strongest one in the area since a magnitude 3.5 temblor in March 1976, the US Geological Survey said.

With a depth of 9.3 miles, the impact was felt across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and into Connecticut and Long Island, New York.

“This is the strongest earthquake that we’ve recorded in that area — Southern New England,” USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso told The Providence Journal.

But the quake was still considered “light” on the magnitude scale, meaning that it was felt but didn’t cause significant damage.

The quake, however, was unusual for the region — which has only experienced 26 larger than a magnitude 2.5 since 1973, Caruso said.

Around 14,000 people went onto the USGS site to report the shaking — with some logging tremors as far as Easthampton, Massachusetts, and Hartford, Connecticut, both about 100 miles away.

“It’s common for them to be felt very far away because the rock here is old and continuous and transmits the energy a long way,” Caruso said.

Journalist Katie Couric was among those on Long Island to be roused by the Sunday-morning rumblings.

“Did anyone on the east coast experience an earthquake of sorts?” Couric wrote on Twitter.

“We are on Long Island and the attic and walls rattled.”

Closer to the epicenter, residents estimated they felt the impact for 10 to 15 seconds.

“In that moment, it feels like it’s going on forever,” said Ali Kenner Brodsky, who lives in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

Things not entirely peaceful with the Antichrist

Things not entirely peaceful in Baghdad

— New Eastern Outlook

IN MARCH, prime minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi convened a conference that he said would give people hope in the ‘turbulent’ political system that emerged following the 2003 US invasion and overthrow of former president Saddam Hussein. ‘We call on all political forces and parties to defend the interests of the country, avoid discussions of violence, and stop political defamation in order to pave the way for early and successful elections’, he said. Mustafa Al-Kadhimi expressed hope that the conference would bring together both representatives of existing political parties and members of the opposition. He did not divulge any specific agenda for the conference, apparently because he did not know what it was himself, but said he expects it to put an end to the confrontation with Kurdistan and ‘preserve the territorial unity of Iraq.’

A similar proposal was made at a time when Iraq is still plagued by many different crises, ranging from political and religious unrest to popular protests to deteriorating security and the coronavirus pandemic. Mustafa Al-Kadhimi came to power himself after demonstrations that swept across many parts of the country in early October 2019, forcing his predecessor, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, to resign. He has pledged to reform the dysfunctional Iraqi government and restructure the security forces, reining in not only his opponents, but above all those who take up weapons to disrupt the foundations of society. The prime minister also called for early elections with free and fair voting, a key demand by anti-establishment protesters who accuse ruling political factions of rigging Iraq’s last elections in 2018 to secure a majority of parliamentary seats.

The Baghdad-based special representative of the secretary general for the United Nations assistance mission for Iraq, Jeanine Antoinette Hennis-Plasschaert, who believes the country is at a crossroads and needs to address its problems, also supported a national dialogue to bring Iraqis together to draft a roadmap towards a more inclusive, stable, and prosperous Iraq. ‘Full access to all information, facts and figures will be key. Window dressing and demagoguery only fuels anger and outrage’, she told the UN Security Council.

Representatives for M Al-Kadhimi, who launched a media campaign to test his proposal, said the team in his office was developing a plan to call the meeting together, and draw up an agenda and a list of participants. One of the main ideas promoted by officials and functionaries is a ‘new sociopolitical agreement’, which must be adopted by the participants and lead the country out of its political deadlock. In this regard, it is doubtful that officials are the ones who will determine the makeup of the participants, and the agenda of the future Iraqi-wide meeting. But in this situation it is naturally necessary for someone to take the initiative and begin a dialogue.

Many of Iraq’s main factions have expressed initial support for M Al-Kadhimi’s proposal, and some have suggested holding negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations. Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shia populist cleric whose political bloc holds the majority of Shia parliamentary seats, believes that engaging in dialogue should mean excluding former members of Saddam’s Ba’ath Party. For their part, pro-Iranian paramilitary groups, which have political factions in parliament where they often oppose the government, have so far remained silent about plans for a national dialogue. Critics, however, believe that there is something ‘unrealistic’ in Al-Kadhimi’s desire to bring together competing actors with such disparate interests, and many intricate sources of discontent, at the negotiating table.

It is true that for now the Prime Minister’s statements lack details and clear goals that could lead to meaningful changes. They expressed serious doubts that entrenched ruling factions would be willing to make concessions to promote national concord.

It is worth remembering that since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, there have been several attempts at conciliation between rival political groups that represent the different sectarian and ethnic communities in Iraq, but none have succeeded in achieving any lasting peace or stability. Over the years, some international NGOs that have acted as coordinating organizations, but lacking accurate local information they have tried to achieve reconciliation in Iraq for their own purposes, proposing broadening the scope of dialogue at the grass-roots and national levels. These groups also provided experience and training in conflict management, resolving local problem challenges, promoting public debate, and religious peace-building. However, the entire national conciliation effort, including two meetings hosted by the League of Arab States, quickly turned into disarray, exposing not only deep political divisions but also the conflicting views on Iraq held by these ‘foreign teachers’.

From the beginning, national reconciliation in Iraq meant different things for different groups. For Shiites, this meant an end to the killings and other forms of violence practiced by disaffected Sunni groups, while for Sunnis it meant a fair deal to divide up national power and wealth. Kurds and other ethnic minorities have sought to balance their desire for greater autonomy with the benefits inherent in living in a unified Iraq. Most Iraqis have gravitated toward a democratic government in which political power would not be something that is absolute.

The unsuccessful endings for all previous dialogues have underscored the complexity of this objective given the mutual distrust, and the high level of criteria set by competing parties to enter into a deal geared toward national conciliation. The failure of a sustained effort to reach a lasting political agreement among Iraqis on the future for their country has contributed to the continued state of chaos and stalemate. In this atmosphere of confusion and anxiety, the picture formed by the many conflicts occurring in Iraq is more complex, and there is good cause to believe that the sources of mistrust between communities run even deeper than ten years ago.

Apparently, for national dialogue to be capped off with success, the participants involved must resolve the main issues that underpin public discontent, and the new challenges that have been cropping up over the years. Today, any intra-Iraqi dialogue needs to touch upon such key issues as sectarianism, corruption, the role of non-state actors, relations between the central government and Kurdistan, Iran’s influence on domestic political life, and relations with Arab countries on the Persian Gulf. Sectarianism in Iraq’s political system after the 2003 US invasion has become the dominant social force, surpassing power and wealth as an aspect of identity politics and becoming a source of disunity and violence. Epidemic corruption, according to the Iraqis themselves, has hit the country hard, and successive governments have failed to end this manifestation, which has negatively affected how the government functions, and exacerbated problems with the economy and security. Billions of dollars in public money have been withdrawn from circulation by various political leaders due to a drastic degradation of the living conditions for Iraqis and deteriorating deliveries of public services.

Until now, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has not kept his promise for the state to take control of all the militia forces and their members. Understandably, no dialogue will be effective until the militias are disarmed and neutralized. Despite the repression, including assassinations and kidnappings, Sunni protesters that object to the government’s lack of effectiveness, the role played by Shiite militias, and Iran’s growing influence remain vigorous, crystallizing into various political parties and seeking to reinforce the role they have in the country’s future.

Through dialogue, the Iraqi political system should send a clear signal of hope to these protesters, demonstrating that there is a place for them in the nation’s life. The government has to act now to convince young, anti-establishment activists that they can strike a fair deal in Iraq by using the political process. While the participants in this dialogue must tackle all of these problems, they must also revise the Iraqi constitution, which has demonstrated enormous flaws. Many provisions in the document, which was developed primarily by Shiite and Kurdish leaders, and approved and ratified in 2005, were either rejected or contravened. Previous intra-Iraqi dialogues have been largely monologues, and for a new dialogue to succeed participants must immerse themselves in a new spirit of openness, and try to overcome the struggles and divisions of the past 18 years, whose main cause has been unprovoked aggression on the part of the United States.

New Eastern Outlook, April 13. Viktor Mikhin is corresponding member of  the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences.

The Chinese nuclear horn commands space: Daniel 7

China intends to militarize space, displace US power: intel report

By Mark Moore

April 13, 2021 | 1:10pm

China is working on militarizing space and matching or exceeding US technology in the coming years, the US intelligence community said in its Global Risk Assessment report.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s report says that China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army, is poised to become the US’ greatest rival in space, setting far-reaching and ambitious goals “to gain the military, economic, and prestige benefits that Washington has accrued from space leadership.”

The report, released last Friday, said Beijing “has counterspaceweapons capabilities” enabling it to target satellites belonging to the US and its allies.

“Beijing continues to train its military space elements and field new destructive and nondestructive ground- and space-based anti – satellite weapons ,” the report said, adding that China already has ground-based anti-satellite missiles and lasers “probably intended to blind or damage sensitive space-based optical sensors ” on US spacecraft.

It predicted that China will have an operational space station in low Earth orbit between 2022 and 2024, and will continue to conduct exploratory missions to the moon with the aim to establish a robotic research station on the lunar surface as a precursor to an “intermittently crewed” base.

China aims to establish a crewed base on the surface of the moon in the future.

AFP via Getty Images

The Chinese Communist Party “ will continue its whole-of-government efforts to spread China’s influence, undercut that of the United States, drive wedges between Washington and its allies and partners, and foster new international norms that favor the authoritarian Chinese system.”

Chinese leaders probably will, however, seek tactical opportunities to reduce tensions with Washington when such opportunities suit their interests ,” the intelligence report said.

While working on the space-based initiatives, China will maintain its “major innovation and industrial policies” to reduce reliance on foreign technologies, to develop military upgrades, to continue economic growth, with the goal of ensuring the country’s survival.

China’s military is poised to become the US’ greatest rival in space.

China National Space Administration

“Beijing sees increasingly competitive US-China relations as part of an epochal geopolitical shift and views Washington’s economic measures against Beijing since 2018 as part of a broader US effort to contain China’s rise ,” the ODNI report said, referring to the tariffs former President Donald Trump placed on Chinese goods being sold in the US.

As part of its long-term goals, China is consolidating its military power with its economic, technological and diplomatic strengths to “secure what it views as its territory and regional preeminence, and pursue international cooperation at Washington’s expense .”

China’s goal is to “foster new international norms” by undercutting the prominence and power of the US.

AP

Beijing will tout its success responding to the coronavirus pandemic as “evidence of the superiority of its system” and will use “vaccine diplomacy” to its advantage.

China will also extend its influence in the region, including its claims of sovereignty over Taiwan and the bolstering of its naval presence in the South China Sea “to signal to Southeast Asian countries that China has effective control over contested areas.”

O n nuclear weapons, the report said China is not interested in abiding by any arms control agreements that will hamper its future plans and will not engage in negotiations with Russia or the US that preserve their nuclear advantages.

Beijing intends to “at least double the size of its nuclear stockpile” in the next decade.

“China is building a larger and increasingly capable nuclear missile force that is more survivable, more diverse, and on higher alert than in the past, including nuclear missile systems designed to manage regional escalation and ensure an intercontinentalc second-strike capability ,” the report said. 

The Russian nuclear horn prepares for war: Revelation 16

Nuclear missiles moved out of storage by Putin ‘Possible launch against the West’

RUSSIAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS have been moved out of storage by Putin to be aimed at the West, according to a military analyst.

By TOM HUSSEY

PUBLISHED: 13:15, Wed, Apr 14, 2021

Speaking to France24, military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles into the field “for possible launch at America and its allies.” The military analyst stressed the situation has now got serious and highlighted this has been a “very vivid build up.” The terrifying news comes as Russia ramps up its presence on the Ukrainian border amid the threat of a full-blown war between the two nations. 

Pavel Felgenhauer said: “There also been an official announcement that Russian nuclear deterrent has been put on heightened capability.

“And Russian mobile ICBM’s have been moved out of permanent storage into the field.”

Ukrainian forces have also dug trenches in preparation for war as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy are ready to fight.

And in a terrifying suggestion, he warned that the move was for “possible launch against America and its allies.”

He added: “This has been a very vivid build up.”

The military analyst went on to acknowledge the growing concern of the international community as western nations decide what to do about the looming threat of all-out war.

Mr Felgenhauer also added how Russia’s military intimidations have achieved the desired aim of provoking western countries including the USA.

He said: “Today Biden phoned Putin and this has been interpreted in Moscow as a victory for Russia, that Russian blackmail is working.”

Mr Felgenhauer concluded: “That means most likely there’s going to be more of that.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia could invade Ukraine “at any day” in a terrifying admission to CNN during a recent visit to see Ukrainian troops dug into trenches in the Donbas region where the threat of invasion is expected.

Mr Zelenskiy said: “Of course. We know it, from 2014 we know it can be each day.

“They are ready, but we are also ready because we are on our land and our territory.”

The Ukrainian leader added: “But what now is going on? What we do here? What do our people do here? They fight.”

The Russian nuclear horn extends into Crimea: Daniel 7

Ukraine: Russia may store nuclear weapons in Crimea

By REUTERS   APRIL 14, 2021 16:44

Ukraine’s defense minister said on Wednesday that Russia is preparing Crimea for potentially storing nuclear weapons and warned that Moscow could attack Ukraine to ensure water supplies for the annexed peninsula.

Andrii Taran, speaking to the European Parliament’s defense sub-committee in Brussels, also said he could not rule out that Russia forces in Crimea could “undertake substantive military provocations” in 2021.

He did not immediately provide evidence for his assertions.

Canadian nuclear horn rises: Daniel 7

Uranium production to resume in Canada

13 April 2021

Canada’s Cameco and Orano Canada on 9 April both announced plans to resume uranium production. Cameco said that it plans to restart production at its Cigar Lake uranium mine located in northern Saskatchewan. Production at Cigar Lake was temporarily suspended in December 2020 due to increasing risks posed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. At that time, the availability of workers in critical areas was shrinking due to the pandemic, with more individuals screening out or residing in communities with pandemic-related travel restrictions.

“The safety of our workers, their families and communities is always our top priority,” said Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel. “In recent months we have implemented several enhanced safety protocols for Cigar Lake, including increased distancing between passengers on flights, mandatory medical-grade masks for all workers and increased sanitisation and physical barriers in our eating areas. We also worked with the Saskatchewan Health Authority and have established a licensed COVID-19 testing facility at the mine site. These further safety measures, along with the provincial vaccine rollout programme and increased confidence around our ability to manage our critical workforce, have given us greater certainty that Cigar Lake will be able to operate safely and sustainably.”

Cameco said the timing of production restart and the production rate at Cigar Lake will depend on how quickly it is possible to remobilise the workforce. “Cameco will not be in a position to provide updates to our outlook for 2021 until production has resumed and we understand the rate at which we will be able to sustainably operate the mine, it said.

Gitzel said Cameco always intended to resume production. “There are significant costs associated with having the mine in temporary care and maintenance, and we have a home in our contract portfolio for these low-cost pounds. We will also continue to purchase material, as needed, to meet our committed deliveries. Having said that, worker health and safety is our top priority, and we will not hesitate to take further action if we feel our ability to operate safely is compromised due to the pandemic.”

Cameco said its strong balance sheet has provided the company with the financial capacity to successfully manage the production disruption at Cigar Lake. As of 31 December 2020, Cameco had $943 million in cash and short-term investments and a $1 billion undrawn credit facility. The Cigar Lake operation is owned by Cameco (50.025%), Orano Canada (37.1%), Idemitsu Canada Resources Ltd (7.875%) and Tepco Resources (5.0%). It is operated by Cameco.

Orano Canada said it will resume production at its McClean Lake uranium mill over the coming weeks in tandem with the announced restart of production at the Cigar Lake uranium mine. Production has been paused at McClean Lake since late December, “but the operation has maintained its staffing levels to minimise disruption to our employees while performing maintenance, training and preparations to enable a smooth restart of the mill”, Orano said.

“I am pleased with the restart of production at the Cigar Lake mine and McClean Lake mill,” said Orano Canada President and CEO Jim Corman. “We are encouraged to see that the vaccine roll out in northern Saskatchewan specifically is having a real impact and that the pace of vaccinations throughout the Province is accelerating.

“Safety remains our utmost priority and we have been proud to continue to offer a safe workplace over this difficult year.”

Orano Canada accounted for the processing of 10 million pounds of uranium concentrate produced in Canada in 2020. Orano Canada has been exploring for uranium, mining and milling in Canada for more than 55 years. It is the operator of the McClean Lake uranium mill and a major partner in the Cigar Lake, McArthur River and Key Lake operations. The company employs over 450 people in Saskatchewan, including about 320 at the McClean Lake operation where over 46% of employees are self-declared Indigenous. Orano Canada is a subsidiary of the multinational Orano group.

Iran’s nuclear payback: Daniel 8

Iran Vows to Increase Uranium Enrichment After Attack on Nuclear Site

Iran also attacked an Israeli cargo ship at sea, raising tensions but causing little or no damage.

Published April 13, 2021Updated April 14, 2021, 1:13 a.m. ET

Centrifuges used to enrich uranium at Iran’s nuclear fuel plant in Natanz in 2019. Thousands were destroyed in an attack on Sunday.Atomic Energy Organization of Iran

Iran said Tuesday that it would begin enriching uranium to a level of 60 percent purity, three times the current level and much closer to that needed to make a bomb, though American officials doubt the country has the ability to produce a weapon in the near future.

Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, did not give a reason for the shift, but it appeared to be retaliation for an Israeli attack on Iran’s primary nuclear fuel production plant as well as a move to strengthen Iran’s hand in nuclear talks in Vienna.

The Israeli attack on Sunday diminishes Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium to 60 percent but it is unclear for how long.

Mr. Araghchi said that Iran had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency of its decision in a letter on Tuesday.

Iran also attacked an Israeli-owned cargo ship off the coast of the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, officials said, the latest clash in its maritime shadow war with Israel. The attack was another sign of increased tensions in the region but was reported to have caused little to no damage.

The uranium enrichment announcement came as American intelligence agencies said that while Iran had gradually resumed production of nuclear material since President Donald J. Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear accord, there was no evidence it had resumed the work needed to fashion that material into a nuclear weapon.

Secretary of State John Kerry meeting with Iran’s foreign minister,  Mohammad Javad Zarif, during  negotiations on a nuclear accord in 2015.Pool photo by Carlos Barria

“We continue to assess that Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities that we judge would be necessary to produce a nuclear device,’’ the agencies said in their annual threat assessment report released on Tuesday.

The report said, however, that “if Tehran does not receive sanctions relief” — as Iran has demanded — “Iranian officials probably will consider options ranging from further enriching uranium up to 60 percent to designing and building a new” nuclear reactor that could, over the long term, produce bomb-grade material. That would take years.

The assessment would seem to give President Biden some breathing room as he enters negotiations in Vienna aimed at restoring some form of the nuclear agreement.

But there are still risks: Iran has a long relationship with North Korea, with which it has exchanged missile technology, and officials have for years been concerned that Iran might seek to buy proven nuclear-weapons technology from the North.

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, called Iran’s announcement on Tuesday “provocative,” and said it “calls into question Iran’s seriousness in regards to the nuclear talks.”

Mr. Araghchi, who was deeply involved in negotiating the 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and the United States, also said Tuesday that Iran would replace the centrifuges damaged by the attack on Sunday on the nuclear plant at Natanz, where an explosion knocked the facility offline. He said that Iran would install an additional 1,000 centrifuges there to increase the plant’s capacity by 50 percent.

An Iranian official also provided a new estimate of the damage caused by the attack, saying that several thousand centrifuges were “completely destroyed.” That level of destruction takes out a large portion of Iran’s ability to enrich uranium.

But the full extent of the damage is unknown, and Iran presumably is vulnerable to continued attacks on its nuclear infrastructure. Until the electric power systems are rebuilt at Natanz, it would be impossible to make new centrifuges spin.

Iran is expected to replace the first-generation centrifuges damaged in the Israeli attack with more advanced, more efficient models.

Iran has another known production facility, Fordow, buried deep inside a mountain, but its capacity is limited.

A satellite image of Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility, which is buried underneath a mountain.Maxar Tech

Iran blamed Israel for the explosion at Natanz on Sunday, an assessment confirmed by American and Israeli intelligence officials. The Israeli government has not commented publicly.

Mr. Araghchi is in Vienna this week for indirect talks with the United States to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. The deal put restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of certain sanctions on Iran, and Mr. Biden has advocated restoring it in some manner.

After the United States withdrew from the deal and Mr. Trump imposed new sanctions, Iran abandoned its commitments under the agreement and increased its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, a level that would have violated the terms of the accord.

Uranium enriched to 60 percent purity would be a further violation, and is a short step from bomb fuel, which is typically considered 90 percent or higher in purity. While uranium enriched to 60 percent can be used as fuel in civilian nuclear reactors, such applications have been discouraged globally because it can so easily be turned into bomb fuel.

Iran has been enriching uranium to roughly 20 percent purity at its Fordow plant, which uses about 1,000 centrifuges.

To raise the level to 60 percent purity, Iran would have to turn over roughly half of those machines onto the new enrichment job. Purifying it to 90 percent would require another hundred or so machines.

In an interview, Olli Heinonen, a former chief inspector for International Atomic Energy Agency, based in Vienna, said that theoretically Iran could go from 60 percent to 90 percent enrichment in a week, compared with a month or so starting from 20 percent.

The Natanz nuclear facility in 2007.Hasan Sarbakhshian/Associated Press

“It’s not a huge difference,” he said.

“At this point, this is a demonstration,” Dr. Heinonen said of Iran achieving the 60 percent level. “They want to show that they can do it.”

The much more difficult step, he said, would be turning uranium enriched to 90 percent into the core of an atom bomb.

In another possible retaliation for the Israeli attack on Sunday, Iran attacked an Israeli-owned cargo ship, the Hyperion Ray, off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, on Tuesday.

According to a person familiar with the details of the ship’s voyage, the ship evaded the attack and was not hit. Israeli news media reported that it suffered light damage.

An Israeli security official said that Israel was seeking to reduce tensions in the Persian Gulf region and that it had no intention of responding with another attack on an Iranian vessel.

The Israeli Army, the Defense Ministry and the prime minister’s office all declined to comment.

In recent days, Israel had asked the United States for help protecting the ship, an American official said.

Israeli officials were concerned that it could be targeted by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in response to last week’s apparent mine attack by Israel on an Iranian military vessel in the Red Sea, the American official said.

A cargo ship owned by the same company, the Helios Ray, was attacked by Iran earlier this year.

The Israeli-owned cargo ship Helios Ray, shown in Dubai in February, was attacked by Iran earlier this year.Kamran Jebreili/Associated Press

Iranian officials also revealed more details about the Natanz attack on Tuesday, suggesting that the damage was greater than Iran previously reported.

Alireza Zakani, a member of Parliament and head of its research center, said on state television that “several thousand of our centrifuges have been completely destroyed,” representing a large portion of the country’s ability to enrich uranium.

He described official statements on Monday that the facility would be quickly repaired as false promises.

Foreign intelligence officials have said it could take many months for Iran to undo the damage.

Iranian officials have been livid about the security lapses that have allowed a series of attacks on Iran’s nuclear program over the past year, ranging from sabotage of nuclear facilities to the theft of classified documents to the assassination of Iran’s chief nuclear scientist. Most of these attacks were presumed to have been carried out by Israel.

Mr. Zakani criticized Iran’s security apparatus as lax, saying it had allowed spies to “roam free,” turning Iran into “a haven for spies.”

He said that in one incident, some nuclear equipment belonging to a major facility was sent abroad for repair and that when it returned the equipment was packed with 300 pounds of explosives. In another incident, he said, explosives were placed in a desk and smuggled inside the nuclear facility.

Iran has long maintained that its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed at energy development. Israel claims that Iran had and may still have an active nuclear weapons program and considers the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran an existential threat.

The nuclear talks that began in Vienna last week have been delayed because a member of the European Union delegation tested positive for the coronavirus. The talks could resume as early as Thursday if the member tests negative.

Patrick Kingsley, Ronen Bergman and Steven Erlanger contributed reporting.