The History of Earthquakes In New YorkBy Meteorologist Michael Gouldrick New York State PUBLISHED 6:30 AM ET Sep. 09, 2020 PUBLISHED 6:30 AM EDT Sep. 09, 2020New York State has a long history of earthquakes. Since the early to mid 1700s there have been over 550 recorded earthquakes that have been centered within the state’s boundary. New York has also been shaken by strong earthquakes that occurred in southeast Canada and the Mid-Atlantic states.
Earthquakes in the northeast U.S. and southeast Canada are not as intense as those found in other parts of the world but can be felt over a much larger area. The reason for this is the makeup of the ground. In our part of the world, the ground is like a jigsaw puzzle that has been put together. If one piece shakes, the whole puzzle shakes.In the Western U.S., the ground is more like a puzzle that hasn’t been fully put together yet. One piece can shake violently, but only the the pieces next to it are affected while the rest of the puzzle doesn’t move.In Rochester, New York, the most recent earthquake was reported on March 29th, 2020. It was a 2.6 magnitude shake centered under Lake Ontario. While most did not feel it, there were 54 reports of the ground shaking.So next time you are wondering why the dishes rattled, or you thought you felt the ground move, it certainly could have been an earthquake in New York.Here is a website from the USGS (United Sates Geologic Society) of current earthquakes greater than 2.5 during the past day around the world. As you can see, the Earth is a geologically active planet!Another great website of earthquakes that have occurred locally can be found here.To learn more about the science behind earthquakes, check out this website from the USGS.
Even in the depths of COVID-19, a large majority of Canadians want Parliament to debate the third existential threat facing humanity in addition to climate change and the pandemic – nuclear weapons.
A new poll released by Nanos Research has found that 85 per cent of Canadians believe Canada is not prepared to deal with a nuclear catastrophe. Canadians agreed or somewhat agreed that no government, health system or aid organization could respond to the devastation if nuclear weapons were detonated somewhere in the world. The poll surveyed 1,007 Canadians earlier this month.
Commissioned by the Toronto-based Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition, the Simons Foundation Canada in Vancouver, and le Collectif Échec à la Guerre in Montreal, the poll found that three-quarters of Canadians support Canada working toward nuclear disarmament and signing and ratifying the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which became international law in January. The same percentage of Canadians agreed that Canada should join the UN Treaty even if, as a member of NATO, it came under pressure from the United States not to do so. The U.S. has expressed strong opposition to the treaty.
In January, peace groups in English Canada and Quebec published a joint appeal in the Ottawa Hill Times calling on Parliament to debate the UN treaty. The appeal, signed by more than 400 groups and individuals, reminded MPs that an exchange of even 1 per cent of the global arsenal of 13,400 nuclear weapons would kill millions of people and plunge the planet into a nuclear winter and widespread famine.
Of Canadians polled, 50 per cent said they would be more likely to support a political party that advocated Canada ratify the treaty. The Green Party, NDP and Bloc Québécois support the UN Treaty but the Liberal government opposed signing the agreementrequiring ratifying nations to “never under any circumstances develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”
Eighty-six per cent of Canadians polled said nuclear weapons should be eliminated entirely. More than 70 per cent said they would consider pulling financial support from financial institutions or investments backing the “development, manufacture or deployment of nuclear weapons.” Only nine per cent think it is acceptable for countries to have nuclear weapons for protection.
The poll results reveal that Canadians are no longer indifferent to the threat of nuclear war and have a high degree of public awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons, says Setsuko Thurlow, a member of the Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition and survivor of the Hiroshima bombing.
Thurlow, who co-accepted the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons in 2017, says it’s time for MPs “to debate what role Canada can play in the abolition of nuclear weapons.”
Anton Wagner is a member of the Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition and producer and director of the documentary Our Hiroshima.
Designation Pakistanis often complain that the United States is a fair-weather friend: American leaders can be generous and even deferential when Washington needs Islamabad’s assistance but the moment the United States no longer does, it can be punitive toward Pakistan.
Frankly, such criticisms are correct. Pakistan has long been America’s second choice. Upon the 1947 partition of India, American policymakers wanted to ally with both India and Pakistan to create a bulwark against communism. With hundreds of thousands if not millions killed, many more displaced, and the Kashmir dispute growing, though, neither Pakistan nor India were interested in working together. President Harry S. Truman claimed neutrality though Pakistanis suspected he was tilting toward India. In October 1947, for example, the State Department rejected Pakistan’s request for $2 billion in financial and military aid. Pakistani leaders also felt slighted when, in October 1949, Truman invited Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to visit Washington, without offering a similar invitation to Pakistan’s leader.
Truman never saw Pakistan’s demand for equal treatment as realistic. India was four times Pakistan’s size in both area and population. It enjoyed stable democratic institutions. Its victory over Pakistan in the 1947–1948 war reinforced its importance in the Cold War context. Americans hailed Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru as pioneers of freedom. Pakistan, in contrast, struggled with domestic strife. The sudden death of its founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah just over a year after independence left a leadership vacuum. Nor were American officials blind to the anti-Americanism that many Pakistani intellectuals embraced. In September 1947, one junior Pakistani official quipped, Now we have cleaned out the Hindus, we are going to clean out you Americans. U.S. recognition of Israel the following year exacerbated Pakistani anti-Americanism. If forced to choose a single Cold War ally, the choice for the White House was clear: India would be a better ally.
Unfortunately, for the United States, India had other ideas. Nehru wanted to center India as the leader of the non-aligned movement. In reality, this meant moving India closer to the Soviet sphere of influence. Pakistan had three choices for its orientation: non-alignment; join the Soviet camp; or seek partnership with the West. The first option was a non-starter because Pakistan could not compete with India for leadership of the non-aligned movement and did not want to be subordinate to it. The second also was no good as the Soviets actively cultivated India as the more powerful and strategically important of the two states. Pakistani leaders, therefore, swallowed their pride and pursued an alliance with the United States in order to have a Cold War patron to defend its security against the backdrop of border disputes with both India and Afghanistan. At the same time, as Truman failed to win India’s support in his efforts to craft an anti-Communist bloc, Washington turned its attention to Pakistan. On May 3, 1950, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan became the first Pakistani leader to visit Washington. In effect, the U.S. approach was akin to asking the prettiest girl in high school to the prom and, only after rejection, asking the ugly girl in a bond born not of infatuation or love, but rather desperation. A mutual resentment has permeated the subsequent bilateral relationship both because Pakistan understands it was and always will be America’s second choice and also because, both during the Cold War and after, the United States and Pakistan did not share a common goal: During the Cold War, America’s goal was containing Soviet expansion, but Pakistan’ chief nemesis lay to the east, where Pakistani forces stared down their Indian counterparts. This came to a head in 1965, when Pakistan sought American support against India in a war that Pakistan claimed (falsely) that India had started. The United States, already embroiled in Vietnam, refused. After the Soviet Union’s collapse, the same dynamic persisted: After 9/11, the United States prioritized the fight against Islamist terror. Pakistani authorities played along but were much more concerned with the possibility that Afghanistan could become a hub for ethnonationalism.
Exacerbating distrust is American historical amnesia. While Pakistanis are acutely aware of their history, Americans largely have historical amnesia for any event outside the past decade. This leads to another Pakistani grievance: The tendency of America to act as a fair-weather friend. The United States embraces Pakistan and demands solidarity when Washington needs Islamabad, but turns on a dime to punish Pakistan when the United States no longer needs it.
Here, Pakistan’s nuclear program comes into play. Pakistan initiated its nuclear program in 1955 and, a decade later, inaugurated its first nuclear reactor with U.S. assistance. Pakistani leaders were already determined to build a nuclear weapon. In 1965, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, at the time Pakistan’s foreign minister, declared, If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass and live, can even go hungry. But we will get one for our own. We have no alternative. Pakistan’s loss of Bangladesh in the 1971 war strengthened the resolve of Bhutto who had since become martial law administrator. On January 20, 1972, he launched Project 706 to develop an atom bomb.
The Ford administration sought quietly to compel Pakistan to stop its nuclear weapons program without avail. After Fred Iklé, director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, told the Senate’s Subcommittee on Arms Control that Pakistan sought to build a nuclear weapon against India, Bhutto was defiant: No individual or State had a right to dictate another sovereign and independent state like Pakistan.
President Jimmy Carter’s emphasis on nonproliferation, however, caused the diplomatic quarrel to go public. Congress quickly moved to ban economic and military assistance to Pakistan, with both the Symington and Glenn Amendments. While the president could theoretically waive the sanctions, Carter chose not to do so. Only the Soviet invasion changed Carter’s mind. The same pattern repeated during the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush eras. When the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, George H.W. Bush’s administration refused to certify under the terms of the 1985 Pressler Amendment that Pakistan was not working on a nuclear weapon. Likewise, after Pakistan’s 1998 nuclear tests, Clinton imposed sanctions under the terms of the Glenn Amendment. Only when the United States needs Pakistan’s logistical support in 2001 were these sanctions waived.
The question for Pakistan, now, is whether the same pattern will continue. With Biden embracing Trump’s policy of unilateral withdrawal, the United States will soon no longer need Pakistan. Neither the White House nor Congress will be inclined to sweep irritants in bilateral relations—primarily, the sponsorship of terror by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence—under the rug. This could lead rather quickly to efforts within Congress to pressure the State Department to designate Pakistan a state sponsor of terror. Diplomats and the State Department’s internal Pakistan lobby may dismiss such a notion, but a combination of Pakistani triumphalism amidst the backdrop of U.S. withdrawal and any subsequent Taliban atrocities will ignite public opinion and lead American politicians to take symbolic action. Pakistan should be prepared to join a club putting them alongside Iran, Syria, and North Korea.
Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). You can follow him on Twitter: @mrubin1971.
Editor’s Note: Palestinian politics are usually boiled down to relations between Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, which dominate the West Bank, and their Islamist rival, Hamas, which controls Gaza. Missing from this picture is an important third actor: Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), an Islamist bedfellow of, and rival to, Hamas in Gaza. Erik Skare, a researcher at Sciences Po and the author of “A History of Palestinian Islamic Jihad”(Cambridge University Press, 2021), explains why PIJ has become stronger in recent years and the balancing act it must perform in the years to come.
PIJ was established in the Gaza Strip in 1981 in response to growing frustrations in parts of the Palestinian population. The founding fathers of PIJ were dissatisfied with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) because of its secularism and political concessions, which increasingly signaled a willingness to sacrifice the principle of armed struggle in its aspirations for a Palestinian statelet next to Israel. The Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood was unattractive to these Palestinian Islamists because of its quietism and refusal to participate in armed struggle. According to early PIJ supporters, the Palestinian nationalists ignored Islam and the Palestinian Islamists ignored Palestine. The only solution was to organize a new movement that would fuse nationalist armed struggle and religion. The establishment of PIJ never entailed the formation of a new, distinct ideology but, rather, the rearticulation and combination of several strands of Palestinian political thought—and there are direct lines from the Palestinian armed secular-nationalist currents of the late 1960s to the contemporary organization.
PIJ carried out its first armed operation in 1984 and grew notorious for its spectacular attacks and its uncompromising stance against the Israeli occupation: no negotiations, no two-state solution, and no recognition of Israel in the quest for one Palestinian state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Although considered sister movements, PIJ’s modus operandi has largely differed from Hamas, partly because it refuses to participate in Palestinian elections under occupation, essentially ignores social welfare, and prioritizes armed struggle. While Hamas evolved through internal debates concerning how to prioritize violence versus social change, PIJ has focused on armed struggle.
This narrow approach has constrained PIJ. While Hamas has survived by shifting its emphasis to social welfare in periods of intense Israeli counterinsurgency, PIJ’s commitment to violent tactics has prevented it from pursuing alternative political channels when challenged. This has also affected PIJ’s funding. While Hamas has benefited from diversified sources of income, PIJ has never branched out. It has instead depended on Iranian aid since relations were established in the late 1980s—allegedly an annual sum of $70 million, as of 2016.
From Weakness to Strength
PIJ’s one-sided approach may now be the movement’s greatest strength. Hamas must balance maintaining the ethos of a resistance movement while fulfilling its responsibilities as a ruling party. Realizing that new Israeli bombings will further deteriorate the disintegrating living conditions in Gaza, which has been under blockade since 2007, Hamas regularly sits on the fencewhen hostilities increase and stresses instead that it is in the “Palestinian interest” to avoid escalation with Israel. As Tareq Baconi notes in his excellent book, “Hamas Contained,” the popular support for Hamas depends now on the quality of its governance in Gaza rather than its commitment to the Palestinian resistance.
PIJ, by contrast, unencumbered by governance and its inconvenient responsibilities, continues to earn public support for its confrontational position that only armed resistance against Israel can liberate Palestine. While Hamas is blamed for the deteriorating situation, PIJ positions itself as a principled defender of Palestinian rights. The organization has grown from operating with a few hundred members organized in a loose network of cells in the 1980s to an estimated following of 8,000 people (mainly in Gaza) in 2021.
Other developments in the Gaza Strip have also benefited PIJ. The infighting between Fatah and Hamas in 2007, for example, was reportedly a new source of members for PIJ, as were clashes with Israel. While 13.5 percent of Gaza’s population preferred PIJ in April 2014, 30.8 percent of the same population supported the movement in September 2014 after Israel’s “Protective Edge” bombing campaign. This places PIJ in a similar position to that of Hamas in the mid-1990s, during which period Hamas’s political violence earned it political support and undermined Fatah as disillusionment with the peace process grew.
What happens in Gaza will largely depend on how Hamas responds to the PIJ’s confrontational approach. Hamas has always considered itself the main representative of Palestinian Islamism, and it has reacted strongly whenever it has felt sidelined by its “little brother.” Hamas has arrested PIJ militants in the past for firing rockets from Gaza, and they asked PIJ to hand over “rogue” members to the Ministry of Interior as recently as 2020. These confrontations have also led to violent clashes—for example, PIJ field commander Ra’id Qasim Jundiyya was killed by Hamas security forces in June 2013. It is no wonder, then, that the leadership of Hamas may—to some extent—have welcomed the Israeli assassination of PIJ commander Abu al-Ata in November 2019 because he had persistently interrupted Hamas’s efforts to maintain its truce with Israel. Palestinian artist Majida Shaheen caught popular sentiment when she drew a political cartoon depicting Ismail Haniyeh nervously trying to tame an angry dog with “al-Quds Brigades” on its collar.
Tensions may rise in Gaza if Hamas continues to refrain from military actions against Israel while PIJ positions itself at the forefront. The question is whether Hamas’s reaction will be directed against PIJ to check its rival or against Israel to restore its credentials.
PIJ’s Balancing Act
The main issue linked with al-Nakhalah’s tenure pertains to his need to maintain cordial relations with the PIJ’s main patron, Iran, while retaining some political and strategic independence. Iran’s support is required if PIJ wants to continue its growth and sustain its military professionalization, but the credibility of the movement will suffer if it is portrayed as nothing more than a proxy for foreign powers.
While it has been a delicate balancing act in the past, relations between PIJ and Iran have deteriorated since PIJ refused to take sides in the Syrian civil war or to criticize the Saudi air campaign against the Houthis in Yemen. PIJ’s rationale at the time was the perceived necessity of keeping the Palestinian struggle separate from other regional internecine struggles to avoid making Palestine just another regional flashpoint. As senior PIJ figure Khadr Habib stated in 2012, toward the beginning of the war in Syria, “We do not interfere in what is happening in Syria; this is an internal affair.”
PIJ’s leadership is presumably cautious of the ongoing realignment of the political map in the Middle East, which places Hamas and other Muslim Brotherhood affiliates in a camp with Qatar and Turkey and in contention with the “rejectionist axis” that includes Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. But PIJ has never supported the Arab regimes ideologically—PIJ considers them to be subservient stooges to Western colonial interests. As a member of PIJ’s political bureau, Anwar Abu Taha, affirmed when I interviewed him in 2018, “These Arab regimes are authoritarian, they kill their people, they are the agent of the West, and they take their orders from the White House, from London and Paris. … So, we are with those who rose up, with the Arab revolutions, and with the Arab Spring.”
Fed up with its neutrality, Iran struck PIJ activities hard when it decided to cut its funding in 2015 and instead reallocate it to the newly established (but short-lived) al-Sabirin movement in Gaza. Faced with the worst economic crisis in its history, PIJ was suddenly unable to pay the salaries to its militants in the al-Quds Brigades and was forced to lay off workers in its civic and research institutions. Some reports described desperation within PIJ as the organization’s leaders traveled to Algeria and Turkey to find alternative fiscal sources to alleviate the crisis.
Iran renewed its financial aid to PIJ in May 2016, but the restored funding was presumably not a free lunch. One month later, Hezbollah media organization al-Manar declared that PIJ suddenly “stood with the Yemeni people” and that the Saudi intervention against the Houthis was equivalent to targeting the Palestinian cause. If al-Manar’s report was accurate, it seems that one year was the approximate time required before PIJ was forced to publicly renounce its neutrality. The veracity of the report notwithstanding, the incident made clear, as al-Masdar reported, that PIJ “is no longer the spoiled son.” Al-Nakhalah now knows all too well that a light purse is a heavy curse for a movement unfamiliar with self-sufficiency.
Al-Nakhalah could transform the political fabric of the Gaza Strip for the unforeseeable future should he succeed in this balancing act. For now, that means following Iranian dictates with a “yes, but,” provided they are not perceived as too egregious by the PIJ leadership. It is uncertain how skillfully al-Nakhalah can play such a hand. It seems beyond doubt, however, that as Hamas falls farther down the rabbit hole of governance and compromises, PIJ will be able to capitalize on the popular demand for a more assertive representative.
The Israeli delegation, which included Mossad Director Yossi Cohen, Israeli National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat and the heads of the military intelligence and strategic branches, held several meetings with top American officials to discuss the repercussions of US reentry into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu briefed the delegation before it left for Washington, instructing it to “to express opposition to the agreement with Iran and not to discuss it, because it constitutes a return to the previous deal, which was dangerous to Israel and the region”, according to a news briefing by Netanyahu’s office, quoted in the daily Haaretz. “If serious talks are held in the future on an improved agreement, Israel will express its opinion.”
Netanyahu has repeatedly said, since the deal was signed in 2015, that Israel was not bound by it. But the fact that he sent a high-level security delegation to Washington indicates that there are still issues to be discussed.
“Although Netanyahu said that Israel isn’t bound by the agreement, I assume that the meetings in Washington are taking place under the working premise that Israel understands that the United States is returning to it. Otherwise it wouldn’t have made sense to hold these talks while indirect negotiations are being held with Iran in Vienna”, Eldad Shavit, a senior research fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) specialising in relations with the United States, told FRANCE 24 on Sunday.
“It’s possible that Israel presented its reservations about the US returning to the agreement, but more importantly, I imagine the delegation’s visit was intended to produce some effective and good channels of communication with the new administration,” Shavit said. “Things don’t simply end with the US re-entering the deal. The Americans themselves said they wanted the deal to be a platform to achieve a ‘longer and stronger’ agreement, and I think in this context, Israel has a lot to contribute.”
Security talks in Washington
Among other high level meetings in Washington, the Mossad chief met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday, according to officials cited by news agencies. And on Friday, US President Joe Biden dropped in on one of the meetings, a US National Security Council spokesperson told Haaretz.
During the meetings, the American security officials “updated Israel on the talks in Vienna and emphasised strong US interest in consulting closely with Israel on the nuclear issue going forward”, the White House said in a readout released after one of the meetings.
Israel’s ambassador to the US and the UN, Gilad Arden, who took part in the talks, told the Israeli news website Ynet that he expected that the US and Iran would strike an agreement within weeks.
“I say it with regret, the Americans presented before us the difficulties in the negotiations with Iran, but still, the estimates in Israel are that the sides will reach an understanding in the coming weeks,” Erdan said. “There may be some disagreements on how many sanctions [the US] will remove and how [Iran] will return to abide by the agreement, but the Iranians have recognised that there is an overall desire to return to the old nuclear deal signed at the time of Obama. We believe that returning to this bad agreement is a mistake, even a significant one.”
Yossi Kuperwasser, the former head of Israel’s strategic affairs ministry and a senior fellow at the Center for Public Affairs, a Jerusalem-based pro-Netanyahu think tank, agrees.
“The return of the 2015 agreement means paving a safe path for Iran to achieve the ability to produce nuclear weapons in large quantities – a large arsenal of nuclear weapons – within 10 years,” Kuperwasser told FRANCE 24 on Sunday.
“Israel is very worried about this and wants to be very clear that Israel is not bound by this deal and that it will do everything it can to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons. And I’ve also heard the Americans say that they understand this. That it is important,” he said.
‘An unclear place’
When the Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2015 under President Barack Obama – also with France, Germany, the UK, Russia and China – it was welcomed internationally as a great diplomatic achievement. But Israel and Arab Gulf countries, close allies of Washington, vehemently opposed it.
Three years later, in May 2018, President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord and announced harsh new sanctions against Iran, and in retaliation, Tehran ramped up its uranium-enrichment activity. The deal has been flailing since.
Biden, who was Obama’s vice president when the deal was signed, has said he now intended to return to it – once Iran returned to compliance and rolled back its nuclear activities. But Tehran is demanding that the US first lift the sanctions before it can even rejoin the talks.
The Vienna meetings, in which representatives of France, Germany the UK, China and Russia have been shuttling between US and Iranian delegations, are intended to break this impasse. And though progress has been reported from the talks, diplomats have said they need more work and time. “I’m not going to characterize the substance of the negotiations at this point because they are in… an unclear place,” US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Friday.
“We’ve seen willingness of all sides, including the Iranians, to talk seriously about sanctions relief restrictions and a pathway back into the JCPOA,” Sullivan told an Aspen Security Forum webinar on Friday. “But it is still uncertain as to whether this will culminate in a deal in Vienna.”
Israel says the deal needs to be vastly improved before it can support it. “The powers have to force Iran to dismantle all of their installations intended for solely military purposes (though in my opinion, all of their nuclear facilities are military), like the enrichment facility in Fordow. They don’t need them, since they promise that their intention is not to produce weapons,” Kuperwasser said.
Also, “there needs to be better oversight. The Americans say this deal includes more international inspection in Iran than ever before, but there’s none!” Kuperwasser exclaimed.
According to Shemuel Meir, a strategic blogger at Haaretz, there is, in fact, very strict international oversight in Iran. “The IAEA’s nuclear agreement and regime of oversight were cast according to the rules of the Cold War: to constantly suspect the other side and devote all effort to verification and oversight. This is how the most intrusive supervisory regime in nuclear history has been imposed on Iran,” Meir wrote in his blog on Sunday.
“It includes the continuous presence of field inspectors; use of advanced technologies; and a direct broadcast from the facilities to the agency in Vienna in real time. This is in addition to the independent effort (satellite photography, eavesdropping and collection of environmental samples) of the United States and other countries.”
Another Israeli demand is to extend the “sunset” provision on uranium enrichment and centrifuges, which sees some restrictions on Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme lifted in 2025 and 2030. But the ban on military enrichment required for the production of fissile material for a bomb is not limited in time, according to Meir. It is imposed on Iran by virtue of its signing of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Israel is also concerned about Iran’s ballistic abilities, as well its funding and arming of regional militant groups, such as the the Hezbollah and Hamas, and these concerns were also raised in Washington.
“The United States and Israel agreed to establish an inter-agency working group to focus particular attention on the growing threat of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Precision Guided Missiles produced by Iran and provided to its proxies in the Middle East Region,” said the White House readout released last week.
Kuperwasser said this assistance was welcomed, but that Israel would need more from the United States.
“This always comes up: When our security is put in jeopardy as a result of American actions, we seek compensation for other elements of our security,” Kuperwasser said. “But what Israel really needs – and on this, the Americans will be more hesitant – is to achieve a better capacity to harm Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. I don’t know if this was discussed in Washington – it certainly wasn’t reported – but we must talk about the need to give Israel a more significant capability to attack in Iran.”
Concern in Arab countries
Arab countries in the Gulf have long shared Israel’s concern over Iran’s military and nuclear ambitions. It was this shared concern that made it possible for Trump to broker the Abraham Accords at the end of his term as president, normalising ties between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.
Saudi Arabia has also demanded more oversight and that the “sunset” provision be removed from the Iran nuclear deal.
“We want the ‘sunset’ provision to be eliminated so that Iran cannot indefinitely enrich uranium. And we want to have a broader and deeper inspections mechanism to make sure that everything in Iran can be inspected, should there be a need,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told Arab News in an exclusive interview on in March.
The foreign minister also blamed Iran for being involved in intensified Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia. “All of the missiles and drones that came into Saudi [territory] are Iranian manufactured or Iranian supplied,” he said. “Several of them, as we’ve said, came from the north; several came from the sea.”
But with a new US president in the White House, the geopolitical balance might be shifting again.
Last Tuesday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called in a television interview for “a good and special relationship” with Tehran, after sources said the two countries had held secret talks in Baghdad.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh reacted on Thursday by saying that Tehran has been “a pioneer on the path to regional cooperation and welcomes the change of tone from Saudi Arabia”.
For Israel, one of the most important things right now is to be aligned with Washington, said Shavit of the INSS.
“First of all it is important to ensure that our positions are aligned. The discussion with the Americans right now should be about how to react if the Iranians do not return to the agreement, or if they don’t abide by it, or violate it and take [aggressive] action in the region. There are many issues on which it’s very worthwhile to coordinate Israel and US activities in advance vis-à-vis Iran,” he said.
“It’s essential that the Americans will always retain the option to respond,” said Shavit. “During the Obama era, he used to say all the time that all options were on the table. The US needs to make it clear to the Iranians – and I think it already is – that it has options – diplomatic, economic and use of force – all options are open.”
He told the forum that while nuclear weapons during the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union had had the capacity to inflict vast damage, that capacity for destruction was exceeded by nuclear technology and artificial intelligence capabilities the US and China now have at their disposal.
“For the first time in human history, humanity has the capacity to extinguish itself in a finite period of time,” Kissinger said.
“We have developed the technology of a power that is beyond what anybody imagined even 70 years ago.”
“And now, to the nuclear issue is added the high tech issue, which in the field of artificial intelligence, in its essence is based on the fact that man becomes a partner of machines and that machines can develop their own judgement,” he said.
He said that while the Soviet Union had vast military might during the Cold War, China had greater economic strength and technological expertise.
“The Soviet Union had no economic capacity. They had military technological capacity,” he said.
“(They) didn’t have developmental technological capacity as China does. China is a huge economic power in addition to being a significant military power.”
Kissinger served as secretary of state to President Richard Nixon and President Gerald Ford between 1973 and 1977. He was the architect of the strategy that saw the US improve its relations with China as part of a bid to drive a wedge between the country and its erstwhile Communist ally, Russia.
The 97 year-old is regarded as one of the most influential figures in foreign policy in the last 50 years, though is reviled for some over US military policy during the Vietnam War and its support of right-wing dictatorships in South America during the 1970s.
Under President Donald Trump, relations with China worsened, with the nations imposing a series of economic sanctions on each other. President Joe Biden has maintained the US’ hawkish stance towards China, with a recent meeting between US and Chinese diplomats in Alaska resulting in mutual recriminations.
Sweden’s Security Service disclosed in its 2020 intelligence report that the Islamic Republic of Iran seeks Swedish technology for its nuclear weapons program, The Jerusalem Post can reveal. Iran, China and Russia are Sweden’s biggest security threats, according to the report.
A damning section states that “Iran also conducts industrial espionage, which is mainly targeted against Swedish hi-tech industry and Swedish products, which can be used in nuclear weapons programs. Iran is investing heavy resources in this area and some of the resources are used in Sweden.” The revelations about Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons procurement activities in Sweden comes on the heels of a German intelligence document, which declared last week that Iran’s regime has not ceased its drive to obtain weapons of mass destruction during 2020.
The Swedish and German intelligence documents might add new glitches to the US calculus to rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal. The US is indirectly negotiating with Iran’s regime in Vienna about reentering the accord, which permits Iran’s regime, according to critics, to enrich uranium for an atomic weapon within ten years. The German and Swedish intelligence findings establish that Iran’s regime still seeks a nuclear weapons program. The JCPOA is only a temporary restriction on the Islamic Republic’s drive to join the club of nations with atomic weapons, argue critics of the 2015 deal. The Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 JCPOA in 2018 because, the US government said at that time, the atomic deal did not prevent Iran’s regime from developing a nuclear weapon. “Several countries engage in various forms of espionage and security-threatening activities against Sweden. Russia, China and Iran make up the biggest threat,” wrote the Swedish Security Service (In Swedish: Säkerhetspolisen). The intelligence report added that the regimes “aim to strengthen their country’s economic, political status and military superpower.” The 88-page document said Tehran mainly conducts observation of Iranian refugees and dissidents who are viewed as a threat to the clerical regime and wages industrial espionage against Sweden. Iran’s regime uses its intelligence apparatus to engage in espionage, targeting dissidents in Sweden and Swedish industry. In the section titled “Iran,” the Swedish intelligence agency writes that the Iranian regime maps critics of the regime with respect to opposition groups in Sweden who are judged by the Islamic Republic to “destabilize” the clerical regime. Iran’s regime seeks information from Swedish universities and colleges and there are efforts to recruit staff from Sweden’s research community. The Post reported in 2012 that the Swedish government sought to block robust EU sanctions on Iran’s regime in order to protect a business deal between Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson and Tehran. The then-Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who has long championed diplomacy over sanctions as the method to deal with totalitarian regimes like Iran and Syria, went to great lengths to prevent the EU from forcing Ericsson to pull the plug on its contracts with Syria’s regime, according to a report in another Israeli paper in 2012. According to the paper, Israeli diplomats, citing their European diplomatic counterparts, questioned whether Bildt had “personal interests” in Iran that were impeding his capacity to move forward with sanctions.