The Purity of the Iranian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 8

Iran enriches uranium to highest purity yet as nuclear talks continue

MAY 12, 2021 / 11:32 AM / CBS/AP

United Nations — Iran has enriched uranium to a slightly higher purity than previously thought due to “fluctuations” in the technical process, the United Nations’ atomic watchdog agency says in its latest report. The new report, still unpublished but obtained on Wednesday by CBS News, confirms that Iran is moving forward with its nuclear program as it engages in tense negotiations over a potential return to the 2015 nuclear deal.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said its analysis of a sample taken from an Iranian facility in mid-April, “shows an enrichment level consistent with that declared by Iran.”

Iranian officials announced in April that they’d taken another significant step toward obtaining weapons-grade uranium by enriching up to 60% purity. While that isn’t technically weapons-grade (90% or above), having a stockpile of 60% enriched uranium could reduce the time Iran would need to make a bomb — something Tehran vehemently insists it doesn’t want to do.

In the report obtained by CBS News on Wednesday, the IAEA said Iran had produced uranium with a purity of 63%, it’s highest-grade product yet, but said that was “consistent with the fluctuations of the enrichment levels” associated with uranium hexafluoride.

The report underscores the challenges diplomats face in their ongoing talks with Iran, which began in April, to bring the United States and Iran back into the 2015 nuclear deal — an effort supported by President Joe Biden. 

While the IAEA report does not show a significant deviation from what Iran said it would do, it makes clear that if the international talks fail to bring a new agreement that includes a lifting of U.S.  sanctions, Iran could easily move forward with its nuclear weapons technology, CBS News’ Pamela Falk said. 

Iran: Crisis In The Middle East

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi reported to members on Tuesday that the latest inspections confirmed Iran continued to enrich uranium at up to 60% purity at its plant in Natanz. 

The IAEA report is based on information that the watchdog agency has been given by Iran, illustrating that Iran wants to make its movements clear. 

Iran Nuclear
This file photo released November 5, 2019 by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran shows centrifuge machines in the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran.ATOMIC ENERGY ORGANIZATION OF IRAN VIA AP

Iran has been steadily violating the restrictions of the landmark 2015 deal since then-President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out unilaterally in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions.

The deal promised Iran economic incentives in exchanges for curbs on its nuclear program. Iran has intended the violations to pressure the other nations involved — Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia — into finding ways to offset the U.S. sanctions, so far unsuccessfully. 

The U.S. is not at the table to engage with Iran directly in the talks that began in April, but the other members of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, have been shuttling between an American delegation also in Vienna and the Iranian delegation. 

The government in Tehran has said it is prepared to reverse all of its violations but that Washington must remove all sanctions imposed under Trump — including measures imposed over issues not related to its nuclear program. 

The U.S. has insisted that Iran must return to full compliance, but just how that would be carried out is still being discussed. For example, diplomats involved concede that Iranian nuclear scientists cannot unlearn the knowledge they acquired in the last three years, but it is not clear whether new centrifuges put into use by Iran in violation of the agreement would need to be destroyed, mothballed and locked away, or simply taken offline. 

Despite its violations of all major restrictions of the JCPOA, the other countries involved have insisted that it has been worth preserving, if nothing else because it has meant IAEA inspectors have been able to continue monitoring Iran’s nuclear program. 

That access may be further restricted soon, however. Iran in February began restricting international inspections of its nuclear facilities, but under a last-minute deal worked out on Feb. 21 during a trip to Tehran by Grossi, some access was preserved. 

Under the agreement, Iran said it would no longer share surveillance footage of its nuclear facilities with the IAEA but promised to preserve the tapes for three months. It will then hand them over to the IAEA – if it is granted sanctions relief. Otherwise, Iran has vowed to erase the recordings. 

May 21 — one week from Friday — represents the end of that three-month window, though there has been some suggestion Iran may extend the deadline if it is satisfied with the progress of the Vienna talks. 

Russian delegate Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted optimistically early Wednesday that it may even be possible to conclude an agreement on bringing the U.S. back into the JCPOA by that time. 

“The Vienna talks make progress and the negotiators aim at completing the process as soon (as) possible,” he wrote. “Hopefully by May 21. It’s very difficult but doable.” 

Iran’s delegate to the talks, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, threw some cold water on the hope of extending the deadline, however, tweeting that the resumption of the regular IAEA inspections “is predicated on sanctions being lifted.” 

“We’d like to get to it before 21 May, if possible,” he wrote “We’re serious & determined, ready to do it even tomorrow: once sanctions (are) verifiably lifted, we’ll return to full implementation of the JCPOA.” 

CBS News’ Elizabeth Palmer and Eleanor Watson contributed to this report. 

Antichrist’s Sairoon slams British ambassador’s comments on elections

Sairoon slams British ambassador’s comments on elections

British ambassador to Iraq Stephen Hickey speaks to Rudaw in February. File photo: Rudaw
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ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – An Iraqi political coalition supported by the Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, rejected on Tuesday recent comments by the British ambassador to Iraq, who said Iraq cannot hold free elections while activists continue to be targeted,

“All members of the diplomatic corps of all countries present in Iraq must respect Iraqi sovereignty and not interfere in Iraqi affairs,” read the Sairoon Alliance statement published to Facebook.

In an interview broadcast on Sunday on al-Arabiya, British ambassador Stephen Hickey said that Iraq will not be able to hold “fair and transparent elections” without protection for activists, who continue to be killed and threatened by Iran-backed militias.

“Without protection for activists, there will be no chance for fair and transparent elections in Iraq,” Hickey said.

“It is very necessary to have concrete measures against the armed factions and individuals responsible for the attacks against activists,” Hickey said, stressing that there is a strong Iraqi political will to confront the factions.

Parliamentary elections are scheduled for October 10.

An Iraqi journalist was shot in the head in Diwaniyah, southern Iraq, early Monday morning, just 24 hours after prominent activist Ihab al-Wazni was assassinated in Karbala.

There have been 81 attempted assassinations of activists since the anti-government protest movement began in October 2019, according to Ali al-Bayati, a member of the Iraqi High Commission of Human Rights. Thirty-four activists have been killed.

Iranian-backed Shiite militias are accused of being behind the killings. After Wazni’s murder, angry demonstrations took place in Karbala, Nasiriyah, and Diwaniyah. Militias supported by Sadr are among those accused of targeting activists.

Current Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi came to power with a promise to meet protester demands and bring the killers to justice, but he has not been able to end the violence. Ten protesters have been killed during his time in office, according to Bayati. Another at least 80 activists are missing.

“Four investigation committees have been formed to investigate assassinations, but with no results,” Bayati said, accusing the government of being “unserious and unwilling” to reveal who are carrying out the killings.

Third Rocket Attack on Babylon the Great

Rocket attack, 3rd in 3 days, targets US interests in Iraq

Rocket attack, 3rd in 3 days, targets US interests in Iraq

Updated 04 May 2021 


May 04, 202113:48

BAGHDAD: The Iraqi army said two rockets were fired Tuesday at a base hosting Americans, in the third such attack in three days and as a US government delegation is visiting the country.
The two rockets fell on an unoccupied segment of the Ayn al Asad air base, “without causing damage or casualties,” the army said.
The latest rocket attack follows one against an air base at Baghdad airport housing US-led coalition troops on Sunday night, and another against Balad air base, which hosts US contractors, north of the capital on Monday night.
None of the attacks have so far been claimed, but Washington routinely blames Iran-linked Iraqi factions for such attacks on its troops and diplomats.
Pro-Iran Iraqi groups have vowed to ramp up attacks to force out the “occupying” US forces in recent months, sometimes against Tehran’s wishes, according to some experts.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi, perceived by pro-Iran factions as too close to Washington, on Tuesday discussed the presence of 2,500 US soldiers based in Iraq with US envoy Brett McGurk.
The men know each other well — Kadhemi, in his role as head of intelligence, a position he retains to this day, worked closely with McGurk when he was the US-led coalition’s representative.
The military coalition was set up to fight Daesh, which seized control of a third of Iraq in a lightning 2014 offensive.
Iraq declared victory against the extremists in late 2017 and pressure from Shiite public opinion for the US to withdraw all its troops has mounted in the years since.
Kadhemi and McGurk are working on drawing up a timetable for the “withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq,” according to a statement by the prime minister’s office.
Around 30 rocket or bomb attacks have targeted American interests in Iraq — including troops, the embassy or Iraqi supply convoys to foreign forces — since President Joe Biden took office in January.
Two foreign contractors, one Iraqi contractor and eight Iraqi civilians have been killed in the attacks.
Last month, an explosives-packed drone slammed into Iraq’s Irbil airport in the first reported use of such a weapon against a base used by US-led coalition troops in the country, according to officials.
Dozens of other attacks were carried out in Iraq from autumn 2019 during the administration of Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump.
The operations are sometimes claimed by obscure groups that experts say are smokescreens for Iran-backed organizations long present in Iraq.
The rocket attacks come at a sensitive time as Tehran is engaged in talks with world powers aimed at bringing the US back into a 2015 nuclear deal.
The agreement, which curbs Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, has been on life support since Trump withdrew in 2018.

Khamenei Urges for War Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Iran’s Khamenei urges Palestinians to build up power to stop Israeli ‘brutality’


Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Palestinians on Tuesday to build up their fighting power to stop Israel’s “brutality”, saying Israelis “only understand the language of force”, Iran’s state TV reported.

“Zionists understand nothing but the language of force, so the Palestinians must increase their power and resistance to force the criminals to surrender and stop their brutal acts,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

Israel intensified its air strikes on Gaza on Tuesday as rocket barrages hit Israeli towns for a second day in a deepening conflict in which at least 28 people in the Palestinian enclave and two in Israel have been killed. 

Babylon the Great Worries About the Middle East: Revelation 11

Blinken Says ‘All Sides Need to De-escalate’ in Middle East
Tuesday, 11 May, 2021 – 06:15

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) and Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi speak prior to a meeting at the State Department – AFP

Asharq Al-Awsat
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday urged both Israel and the Palestinians to lower tensions and urged an immediate end to rocket fire by Hamas.

“All sides need to de-escalate, reduce tensions, take practical steps to calm things down,” Blinken said as he met his Jordanian counterpart in Washington.

Blinken strongly condemned rocket fire by Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip, and backed Israel’s right to respond.

The rocket attacks “need to stop immediately,” Blinken said, according to AFP.

He also praised steps taken by Israel over the past day partly in response to concerns led by the United states, including rerouting a flashpoint parade meant to celebrate Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967.

Blinken also pointed to the postponement of a decision on the eviction of Palestinian families in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, an immediate trigger for the violence that has left hundreds injured in the holy city.

“But it’s imperative for all sides to take steps to de-escalate the situation,” he said.

For his part, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that Jerusalem was a “red line” for the kingdom, which has a peace treaty with Israel and maintains a custodial role in the Al-Aqsa compound, known to Muslims as Al-Haram al-Sharif.

“Our focus right now is on ensuring that the escalation stops, and for that to happen we believe that all illegal, provocative measures against the peoples of Sheikh Jarrah or in terms of violations into al-Haram must stop,” Safadi said.

While a second term of four years depends on the results of the upcoming elections, scheduled for June 10, Kadhimi confirmed during a television interview with a number of Iraqi satellite channels that he will not run in the polls.

More than 3,000 candidates will participate in the early elections, compared to around 7,000 contenders in 2018. Political observers attributed the drop to the new electoral law, which does not allow multiple nominees to compete in one district.

While the number of candidates and parties has decreased, observers note that the elections will witness a high turnout despite boycott calls by the new political movement, known as the October Forces, in wake of the recent assassination of civilian activist Ihab al-Wazni in Karbala.

During the interview, the premier said he had taken his decision against running in the polls since the first day when the government was formed. He also denied reports that the leader of the Sadrist movement, Moqtada al-Sadr, has exerted pressure on him in this regard.

Kadhimi stressed that his country was “trying today to restore its international reputation. We reject all forms of political influence by any side.”

On the assassination of al-Wazni, he said: “If we want to build a real Iraq, weapons must be solely under the state’s authority.”

He vowed that the country would confront all attempts that threaten it.

Kadhimi renewed his accusations against parties trying to “exploit the weapons that fought ISIS under various pretexts,” revealing that some “gangs have infiltrated our security apparatus, especially the Ministry of Interior.”

On relations with the Kurdistan region, the PM said: “Unprecedented security coordination between Baghdad and Erbil is underway. It will help end terrorist attacks in the disputed areas and the regions witnessing security vacuum.”

He also expressed confidence that the regional government would cooperate with Baghdad’s proposals in this regard.

The government also asked for intervention to prevent Tehran from continuing to smuggle weapons to the militias as part of its efforts to threaten regional and international stability.

On the ground, seven civilians were injured in the Marib province on Sunday after the Houthis fired a new ballistic missile into a neighborhood in the government-held city. This was the fifth missile fired into Marib in seven days.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmed bin Mubarak said: “The ongoing military escalation, in spite of the United Nations and international efforts to end the war and restore peace, reflects the militias’ refusal to reach a peaceful solution.”

During a meeting with China’s ambassador to Yemen, he underscored the importance of exerting maximum pressure on the Houthis to force them to stop their escalation and respond to peace calls.

He also met with Russian Ambassador Vladimir Dedoshkin on ongoing efforts to end the war and achieve peace based on UN and regional initiatives, slamming the Houthis for their insistence on continuing the aggression against the Yemeni people.

The ongoing offensive in Marib reflects the “hostile nature of the militias and commitment to Iran’s agenda to destabilize Yemen and the region,” he added.

Bin Mubarak also held talks with EU Ambassador Hans Grundberg, who reiterated the Union’s support for reaching peace in Yemen and restoring its unity, security and stability.

Meanwhile, Information Minister Moammar al-Eryani said the arms shipment, seized on Saturday by the US Navy in the Arabian Sea, is new evidence of Iran’s ongoing smuggling of weapons to the Houthis.

He said it is clear that Tehran is using the militias to carry out is expansionist agenda and spread chaos and terrorism in the region and threaten global interests.

He called on the international community to take a clear stance against the continuous Iranian meddling in Yemen and its blatant violation of international law, the UN Charter and relevant Security Council resolutions.

On Saturday, the US said its navy foiled a smuggling of large shipment of different arms, including missiles, on a small ship of unidentified nationality in international waters off Yemen’s southern coasts.

Many More Are Killed Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Hamas Rockets Hit Tel Aviv As Israeli Airstrikes On Gaza Continue

By Becky Sullivan • 11 hours ago
Medics and youths chant slogans while carrying the covered body of a man who Palestinian officials say was killed in Israeli airstrikes on his apartment building Tuesday in Gaza City.
Originally published on May 11, 2021 5:12 pm
Updated May 11, 2021 at 6:06 PM ET

Israel warned that airstrikes on Gaza would continue over the coming days as at least 30 Palestinians and three Israelis were reported killed amid rising cross-border violence sparked by clashes in Jerusalem.

A confrontation on Friday between Israeli police and Palestinian demonstrators at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City has escalated rapidly since the weekend, leaving Israelis and Palestinians alike bracing for more violence as the holy month of Ramadan comes to a close this week.

Over the last two days, Palestinian militants fired hundreds of rockets from Gaza toward Jerusalem and coastal Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv. Israel has responded with scores of airstrikes it said are targeting militants in Gaza. Israeli officials said they are preparing to expand their offensive.

Two Israelis were killed Tuesday when rockets struck two houses in the port city of Ashkelon. Another rocket hit an empty school that had been ordered closed due to the risk of strikes. A rocket barrage Tuesday night killed a third Israeli in the Tel Aviv suburb Holon. Israel’s international airport halted arrivals during the rocket fire.

Some rockets have been intercepted by the Israeli army’s missile defense system, while others fell short and landed within Gaza.

Addressing the country Tuesday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Gaza militants would “pay a heavy price” for the rocket fire.

Early Tuesday morning, Israeli warplanes and drones conducted at least 130 airstrikes over Gaza. Officials with the Israel Defense Forces said they targeted operatives from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, killing 15, including the chief of Islamic Jihad’s special rocket unit.

Health officials in Gaza said at least 30 people have been killed in the strikes, some of them militants, but also civilians and at least 10 children. More than 150 Palestinians in Gaza have been injured, they said.

The border between Gaza and Israel has been closed to journalists due to the rocket fire.

Israel’s army chief of staff has ordered the military to prepare to widen its operation against Gaza “with no time limit.” At a press briefing Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told reporters Israel plans to “deal a hard blow to Hamas” in the coming days, referring to the militant Palestinian group that governs Gaza.

The recent round of violence erupted after weeks of tension in Jerusalem, where Israeli police had routinely confronted Palestinian protesters, mostly around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City. The mosque is in an area known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary, and to Jews as the Temple Mount. Anti-Arab Jewish gangs have contributed to the unrest, attacking groups of Palestinians.

Beginning Friday, Israeli police have used stun grenades, rubber-coated bullets and water cannons to disperse the growing crowds of demonstrators. The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency medical service said more than 1,000 Palestinians have been injured since Friday, with hundreds hospitalized. Roughly a dozen Israeli police officers have been hurt.

The escalation in violence prompted international calls for calm and criticism from Israel’s Arab neighbors.

Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, was in Washington over the weekend, where he met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Speaking to reporters ahead of their meeting, Blinken urged both sides to de-escalate.

“We’re very focused on the situation in Israel, West Bank, Gaza, very deeply concerned about the rocket attacks that we’re seeing now, that they need to stop, they need to stop immediately,” Blinken said ahead of the meeting with Safadi.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan also met with Safadi during his visit to Washington, and spoke by phone with his Israeli counterpart to urge calm and denounce violence.

NPR’s Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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