Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating EarthquakeRoger BilhamQuakeland: New York and the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)Given recent seismic activity — political as well as geological — it’s perhaps unsurprising that two books on earthquakes have arrived this season. One is as elegant as the score of a Beethoven symphony; the other resembles a diary of conversations overheard during a rock concert. Both are interesting, and both relate recent history to a shaky future.Journalist Kathryn Miles’s Quakeland is a litany of bad things that happen when you provoke Earth to release its invisible but ubiquitous store of seismic-strain energy, either by removing fluids (oil, water, gas) or by adding them in copious quantities (when extracting shale gas in hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, or when injecting contaminated water or building reservoirs). To complete the picture, she describes at length the bad things that happen during unprovoked natural earthquakes. As its subtitle hints, the book takes the form of a road trip to visit seismic disasters both past and potential, and seismologists and earthquake engineers who have first-hand knowledge of them. Their colourful personalities, opinions and prejudices tell a story of scientific discovery and engineering remedy.Miles poses some important societal questions. Aside from human intervention potentially triggering a really damaging earthquake, what is it actually like to live in neighbourhoods jolted daily by magnitude 1–3 earthquakes, or the occasional magnitude 5? Are these bumps in the night acceptable? And how can industries that perturb the highly stressed rocks beneath our feet deny obvious cause and effect? In 2015, the Oklahoma Geological Survey conceded that a quadrupling of the rate of magnitude-3 or more earthquakes in recent years, coinciding with a rise in fracking, was unlikely to represent a natural process. Miles does not take sides, but it’s difficult for the reader not to.She visits New York City, marvelling at subway tunnels and unreinforced masonry almost certainly scheduled for destruction by the next moderate earthquake in the vicinity. She considers the perils of nuclear-waste storage in Nevada and Texas, and ponders the risks to Idaho miners of rock bursts — spontaneous fracture of the working face when the restraints of many million years of confinement are mined away. She contemplates the ups and downs of the Yellowstone Caldera — North America’s very own mid-continent supervolcano — and its magnificently uncertain future. Miles also touches on geothermal power plants in southern California’s Salton Sea and elsewhere; the vast US network of crumbling bridges, dams and oil-storage farms; and the magnitude 7–9 earthquakes that could hit California and the Cascadia coastline of Oregon and Washington state this century. Amid all this doom, a new elementary school on the coast near Westport, Washington, vulnerable to inbound tsunamis, is offered as a note of optimism. With foresight and much persuasion from its head teacher, it was engineered to become an elevated safe haven.Miles briefly discusses earthquake prediction and the perils of getting it wrong (embarrassment in New Madrid, Missouri, where a quake was predicted but never materialized; prison in L’Aquila, Italy, where scientists failed to foresee a devastating seismic event) and the successes of early-warning systems, with which electronic alerts can be issued ahead of damaging seismic waves. Yes, it’s a lot to digest, but most of the book obeys the laws of physics, and it is a engaging read. One just can’t help wishing that Miles’s road trips had taken her somewhere that wasn’t a disaster waiting to happen.Catastrophic damage in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1964, caused by the second-largest earthquake in the global instrumental record.In The Great Quake, journalist Henry Fountain provides us with a forthright and timely reminder of the startling historical consequences of North America’s largest known earthquake, which more than half a century ago devastated southern Alaska. With its epicentre in Prince William Sound, the 1964 quake reached magnitude 9.2, the second largest in the global instrumental record. It released more energy than either the 2004 Sumatra–Andaman earthquake or the 2011 Tohoku earthquake off Japan; and it generated almost as many pages of scientific commentary and description as aftershocks. Yet it has been forgotten by many.The quake was scientifically important because it occurred at a time when plate tectonics was in transition from hypothesis to theory. Fountain expertly traces the theory’s historical development, and how the Alaska earthquake was pivotal in nailing down one of the most important predictions. The earthquake caused a fjordland region larger than England to subside, and a similarly huge region of islands offshore to rise by many metres; but its scientific implications were not obvious at the time. Eminent seismologists thought that a vertical fault had slipped, drowning forests and coastlines to its north and raising beaches and islands to its south. But this kind of fault should have reached the surface, and extended deep into Earth’s mantle. There was no geological evidence of a monster surface fault separating these two regions, nor any evidence for excessively deep aftershocks. The landslides and liquefied soils that collapsed houses, and the tsunami that severely damaged ports and infrastructure, offered no clues to the cause.“Previous earthquakes provide clear guidance about present-day vulnerability.” The hero of The Great Quake is the geologist George Plafker, who painstakingly mapped the height reached by barnacles lifted out of the intertidal zone along shorelines raised by the earthquake, and documented the depths of drowned forests. He deduced that the region of subsidence was the surface manifestation of previously compressed rocks springing apart, driving parts of Alaska up and southwards over the Pacific Plate. His finding confirmed a prediction of plate tectonics, that the leading edge of the Pacific Plate plunged beneath the southern edge of Alaska along a gently dipping thrust fault. That observation, once fully appreciated, was applauded by the geophysics community.Fountain tells this story through the testimony of survivors, engineers and scientists, interweaving it with the fascinating history of Alaska, from early discovery by Europeans to purchase from Russia by the United States in 1867, and its recent development. Were the quake to occur now, it is not difficult to envisage that with increased infrastructure and larger populations, the death toll and price tag would be two orders of magnitude larger than the 139 fatalities and US$300-million economic cost recorded in 1964.What is clear from these two books is that seismicity on the North American continent is guaranteed to deliver surprises, along with unprecedented economic and human losses. Previous earthquakes provide clear guidance about the present-day vulnerability of US infrastructure and populations. Engineers and seismologists know how to mitigate the effects of future earthquakes (and, in mid-continent, would advise against the reckless injection of waste fluids known to trigger earthquakes). It is merely a matter of persuading city planners and politicians that if they are tempted to ignore the certainty of the continent’s seismic past, they should err on the side of caution when considering its seismic future.
The number of nuclear warheads possessed across the globe was estimated at 13,130 as of June, down 280 from the same month a year earlier, according to a research center at Nagasaki University, due to efforts to reduce and modernize arsenals amid reignited tensions among major nuclear powers.
The reduced number does not suggest a slowing of the nuclear arms race as warheads in military stockpiles have not decreased in the nine nuclear states, the university’s Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition said. The total figure includes those stored at nonmilitary facilities for dismantlement.
Keiko Nakamura, an associate professor at Nagasaki University’s Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, speaks at a press conference on June 11, 2021, in the city of Nagasaki. (Kyodo)
Of the total, the number of warheads in global military stockpiles rose to 9,615 from around 9,346, according to a survey by the research center based on studies and data from institutes and researchers around the world. Those held by Russia and the United States accounted for 86 percent.
“The nuclear arm race is reigniting between the United States and Russia, as three-way tensions and conflicts including China continue,” the center in the atomic-bombed city of Nagasaki said in the survey.
Of the nine nuclear-armed states, Russia possessed the largest number of overall nuclear warheads at 6,260, followed by the United States at 5,550, China at 350, France at 290, Britain at 225, Pakistan at 165, India at 160, Israel at 90, and North Korea at 40, according to the research center.
China and Britain increased their nuclear warheads by 30 each from a year earlier, while Pakistan, India and North Korea added around five to 10 each.
In February, the United States and Russia extended the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty to cap their nuclear arsenals for five years. The agreement came after the previous U.S. administration of President Donald Trump withdrew the country from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a 1987 pact with Russia.
The British government said in March that it was lifting the cap on its nuclear warheads to 260 from 180 to address the risk of a terrorist group launching a successful chemical, biological or nuclear attack.
“The plan will have a serious impact” on nuclear arms reduction efforts, Keiko Nakamura, an associate professor at the research center, said at a press conference in June.
Jul 1, 2021 | KYODO NEWS
bernardblack2 weeks ago
When Ebrahim Raisi first challenged the Iranian president in 2017, the gloomy conservative clergy were severely defeated and ambitious to lock their hopes into the Republic’s nuclear deal to open the country. I couldn’t beat the voters.
Four years later, the collapse of the 2015 agreement Iran signed with the world powers, the declining economic crisis caused by U.S. sanctions, disillusioned voters, and the administration’s determination to bring hard-liners back into power are on his way. Open Election victory With 62 percent of the votes.
But for many inside and outside the Republic, his victory leaves a mark of Pyrrhic victory.
More than half of voters chose not to vote for what reformers described as a rare act of civil disobedience. Voter turnout of 48.8% is the lowest in the history of Islamic republic, with 3.7 million people choosing to ruin ballots and voting for both of Raishi’s rivals.
“The message of the election is that the opposition is much larger than the supporters of Raishi,” said reformist activist Hossein Yazid.
Many who were away from the polls assumed that the results were pre-determined after authorities banned the candidacy of major reformist candidates. Attorney General Raisi, backed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, widely believes that hardliners used elections to regain control of all important branches of the state for the first time in almost a decade. Was being done.
Analysts said Raishi’s victory made it more likely that 82-year-old Khamenei would take over as his supreme leader in death. But only if he can overcome the challenges he has inherited: sanctions and the coronavirus-stricken economy, and a polarized society vulnerable to anxiety.
Women vote for Iran’s presidential election. Voter turnout is the lowest in the history of the Islamic Republic, with 3.7 million people choosing to ruin ballots © Yasser Al Zayyat / AFP via Getty Images
His supporters hope to be able to end the conflict of factions that devastated the administration during President Hassan Rouhani’s second and final term ending in August. Unity and smooth inheritance within the theocracy system, where the centers of power compete, are considered Khamenei’s priorities. These objectives have become more urgent as the Republic has endured the most turbulent times since the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s.
“One country, one team, one goal” was one of Raishi’s election slogans.
“I believe in Raishi because he is 100 percent in line with leadership,” said an insider of the administration. “Parliament, leadership, justice-they will all line up and do better.”
Iran’s recent fatigue was triggered by Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the nuclear deal. He imposed devastating sanctions on individuals, including the Republic and Laisi, strangled Iran’s oil export capacity and plunged it into recession.
The turmoil has bolded hardliners and shattered the dreams of the 24 million Iranians who voted for Rouhani in 2017, hoping that the nuclear deal would usher in change and prosperity.
Their disillusionment fell into the hands of Raishi. His conservative supporters listened to the leader’s call for votes while the reformers were at home.
Therefore, although he has won an overwhelming technical victory, he faces serious challenges without the powerful and popular mission of his predecessor.
“Raishi has entered a losing game. In the eyes of the public, whether right or wrong, his victory was pre-determined,” said a reformist analyst. “This makes people angry.”
Others fear that hardliners may even downplay and suppress democratic activists.
“There will definitely be oppression of those who support democratization,” activist Yazid said.
There have long been concerns about Raisi’s human rights records. While Tehran is negotiating with the world’s major powers to return the United States to a nuclear deal and reach an deal to lift sanctions, it can now undermine his credibility at home and abroad.
President Joe Biden said he would rejoin the deal if Iran fully complied with the deal. However, the new government will be led by a man who accused the Trump administration of overseeing executions, “torture of prisoners and other inhumane treatment” when sanctioning Raishi in 2019.
He was allegedly involved in the execution of thousands of political prisoners when he was a prosecutor in the late 1980s. He has not commented on that period.
The path to the pinnacle of Raishi, born into a priestly family, was revealed five years ago when Khamenei nominated him as the caretaker of the Imamreza Shrine in his hometown of Mashad.
In Tehran people pass the election banner. Analysts say Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s victory increases the chances of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s success as Supreme Leader © WANA via REUTERS
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – At least 11 people were wounded in an explosion on Wednesday in Baghdad’s Sadr City neighbourhood, Iraqi police and medical workers said.
A military statement said an explosion took place in Sadr City but gave no details.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. It was the second attack to hit Sadr City and the third to target a busy market this year in Baghdad.
In April four people were killed and 20 wounded in a car bomb attack in the same neighbourhood. And in January a suicide attack killed at least 32 people in a crowded market.
Both attacks were claimed by Islamic State militants.
Large bomb attacks, once an almost daily occurrence in the Iraqi capital, have halted since Islamic State fighters were defeated in 2017, part of an overall improvement in security that has brought normal life back to Baghdad.
Wednesday’s attack comes during an election year, a time when tension between rival Iraqi political groups has often caused violence.
The populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, after whom Sadr city is named and who commands a following of millions of Iraqis, counts among his enemies both Islamic State and rival Shi’ite parties with militias backed by Iran.
Writing by Amina Ismail; Editing by Giles Elgood
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Sandwiched between Iran, China, India and Afghanistan, Pakistan lives in a complicated neighborhood with a variety of security issues. One of the nine known states known to have nuclear weapons, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and doctrine are continually evolving to match perceived threats. A nuclear power for decades, Pakistan is now attempting to construct a nuclear triad of its own, making its nuclear arsenal resilient and capable of devastating retaliatory strikes.
Pakistan’s nuclear program goes back to the 1950s, during the early days of its rivalry with India. President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto famously said in 1965, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”
The program became a higher priority after the country’s 1971 defeat at the hands of India, which caused East Pakistan to break away and become Bangladesh. Experts believe the humiliating loss of territory, much more than reports that India was pursuing nuclear weapons, accelerated the Pakistani nuclear program. India tested its first bomb, codenamed “Smiling Buddha,” in May 1974, putting the subcontinent on the road to nuclearization.
Pakistan began the process of accumulating the necessary fuel for nuclear weapons, enriched uranium and plutonium. The country was particularly helped by one A. Q. Khan, a metallurgist working in the West who returned to his home country in 1975 with centrifuge designs and business contacts necessary to begin the enrichment process. Pakistan’s program was assisted by European countries and a clandestine equipment-acquisition program designed to do an end run on nonproliferation efforts. Outside countries eventually dropped out as the true purpose of the program became clear, but the clandestine effort continued.
Exactly when Pakistan had completed its first nuclear device is murky. Former president Benazir Bhutto, Zulfikar Bhutto’s daughter, claimed that her father told her the first device was ready by 1977. A member of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission said design of the bomb was completed in 1978 and the bomb was “cold tested”—stopping short of an actual explosion—in 1983.
Benazir Bhutto later claimed that Pakistan’s bombs were stored disassembled until 1998, when India tested six bombs in a span of three days. Nearly three weeks later, Pakistan conducted a similar rapid-fire testing schedule, setting off five bombs in a single day and a sixth bomb three days later. The first device, estimated at twenty-five to thirty kilotons, may have been a boosted uranium device. The second was estimated at twelve kilotons, and the next three as sub-kiloton devices.
The sixth and final device appears to have also been a twelve-kiloton bomb that was detonated at a different testing range; a U.S. Air Force “Constant Phoenix” nuclear-detection aircraft reportedly detected plutonium afterward. Since Pakistan had been working on a uranium bomb and North Korea—which shared or purchased research with Pakistan through the A. Q. Khan network—had been working on a uranium bomb, some outside observers concluded the sixth test was actually a North Korean test, detonated elsewhere to conceal North Korea’s involvement although. There is no consensus on this conclusion.
Experts believe Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile is steadily growing. In 1998, the stockpile was estimated at five to twenty-five devices, depending on how much enriched uranium each bomb required. Today Pakistan is estimated to have an arsenal of 110 to 130 nuclear bombs. In 2015 the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center estimated Pakistan’s bomb-making capability at twenty devices annually, which on top of the existing stockpile meant Pakistan could quickly become the third-largest nuclear power in the world. Other observers, however, believe Pakistan can only develop another forty to fifty warheads in the near future.
Pakistani nuclear weapons are under control of the military’s Strategic Plans Division, and are primarily stored in Punjab Province, far from the northwest frontier and the Taliban. Ten thousand Pakistani troops and intelligence personnel from the SPD guard the weapons. Pakistan claims that the weapons are only armed by the appropriate code at the last moment, preventing a “rogue nuke” scenario.
Pakistani nuclear doctrine appears to be to deter what it considers an economically, politically and militarily stronger India. The nuclear standoff is exacerbated by the traditional animosity between the two countries, the several wars the two countries have fought, and events such as the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, which were directed by Pakistan. Unlike neighboring India and China, Pakistan does not have a “no first use” doctrine, and reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, particularly low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, to offset India’s advantage in conventional forces.
Pakistan currently has a nuclear “triad” of nuclear delivery systems based on land, in the air and at sea. Islamabad is believed to have modified American-built F-16A fighters and possibly French-made Mirage fighters to deliver nuclear bombs by 1995. Since the fighters would have to penetrate India’s air defense network to deliver their payloads against cities and other targets, Pakistani aircraft would likely be deliver tactical nuclear weapons against battlefield targets.
Land-based delivery systems are in the form of missiles, with many designs based on or influenced by Chinese and North Korean designs. The Hatf series of mobile missiles includes the solid-fueled Hatf-III (180 miles), solid-fueled Hatf-IV (466 miles) and liquid-fueled Hatf V, (766 miles). The CSIS Missile Threat Initiative believes that as of 2014, Hatf VI (1242 miles) is likely in service. Pakistan is also developing a Shaheen III intermediate-range missile capable of striking targets out to 1708 miles, in order to strike the Nicobar and Andaman Islands.
The sea component of Pakistan’s nuclear force consists of the Babur class of cruise missiles. The latest version, Babur-2, looks like most modern cruise missiles, with a bullet-like shape, a cluster of four tiny tail wings and two stubby main wings, all powered by a turbofan or turbojet engine. The cruise missile has a range of 434 miles. Instead of GPS guidance, which could be disabled regionally by the U.S. government, Babur-2 uses older Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) and Digital Scene Matching and Area Co-relation (DSMAC) navigation technology. Babur-2 is deployed on both land and at sea on ships, where they would be more difficult to neutralize. A submarine-launched version, Babur-3, was tested in January and would be the most survivable of all Pakistani nuclear delivery systems.
Pakistan is clearly developing a robust nuclear capability that can not only deter but fight a nuclear war. It is also dealing with internal security issues that could threaten the integrity of its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan and India are clearly in the midst of a nuclear arms race that could, in relative terms, lead to absurdly high nuclear stockpiles reminiscent of the Cold War. It is clear that an arms-control agreement for the subcontinent is desperately needed.
Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009, he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.
This article first appeared several years ago.
If and when a return to the agreement is reached, the Biden administration will also need to counter Iran’s escalating efforts in the Middle East.
June 30, 2021
Ebrahim Raisi’s election as president of Iran came as no surprise. All those who might have been a threat to him were disqualified. He was the choice of the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, and small wonder: Few people better embody the ideology of the Islamic Republic. He will not open Iran up to the outside world, and will certainly not look to accommodate the United States in any way. As for Iran’s behavior in the Middle East, he has made clear that it is “not negotiable.”
The Israel-Hamas conflict last month was a reminder that nearly everything in the Middle East is connected—and whether we’re talking about Hamas rockets, the ongoing calamity in Yemen, or the Iran nuclear deal, Tehran’s destabilizing role in the region is the common factor.
We understand why President Joe Biden seeks a return to the deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. The United States must roll back Iran’s nuclear program and then use the time left before the agreement’s sunset provisions lapse to either produce the longer and stronger deal the Biden administration seeks, or enhance our deterrence so Tehran understands that the U.S. will prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-threshold state.
However, although we are convinced of the value of containing Iran’s nuclear program, that is not enough. The administration will also need to counter what will almost certainly be Iran’s escalating efforts in the region: With the sanctions relief that will result from returning to compliance with the JCPOA, Tehran’s troublemaking resources will increase. Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign limited the resources Iran could make available for militant groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Shiite militias in Iraq, and the Palestinian outfits Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but it never stopped Iran’s ongoing provision of training, weaponry, and other material and technical assistance.
After the recent conflict with Israel, Hamas leaders effusively praised Tehran for what it had provided them. And we know from leaked audio that Iran’s own Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was frustrated by the Iranian regime’s elite Quds Force consistently undercutting what he hoped to achieve with diplomacy. Moreover, Khamenei will want to show that the return to the JCPOA does not mean he is giving up his resistance ideology, so we can expect more Iranian expansion in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, as well as threats to neighboring states.
This fear of Iran’s regional agenda explains much of the opposition to the JCPOA, both when it was agreed and through to the present day. Many in the U.S. Congress as well as leaders of Middle East states worried then—as they do now—that the administration and its European partners will wrongly see the Iran file as “closed” because they see the threat Iran poses too narrowly, and in only nuclear terms. Critics in the region, however, see the past as prologue: Just as Iran became much more active and aggressive in the Middle East after the JCPOA was agreed upon, so now do they expect threatening acts if and when the U.S. and Iran come back into compliance. Fairly or not, much of the region remains convinced that the Obama administration ignored Iran’s aggression out of a concern for jeopardizing the deal’s implementation.
The regional perspective on Iran is driven by these leaders’ experience with the Islamic Republic. For them, the core question with Iran, as Henry Kissinger once put it, is whether it is a country or a cause. The case for the latter is strong and deeply rooted: Revolutionary Iran uses Islamic, Shiite, and anti-colonialist rhetoric to justify an expansionist nationalistic agenda. Soon after the Iranian revolution, the execution of thousands of real or imagined regime opponents, support for terrorist groups throughout the region, unrelenting threats to Israel’s existence, the dangerous counteroffensive into Iraq in the 1980s, the assault on the U.S. in Lebanon in 1983, and the tanker war with America all made clear Iran’s nature and threat.
When, by 2005, Iran’s development of a nuclear-weapons program became apparent, it was first seen as yet another, if particularly dangerous, tool in Iran’s box of power politics. Thus, the Bush and Obama administrations declared that the U.S. would use force to stop Iran from developing a weapon—a threat not levied against South Africa, Libya, India, or Pakistan, each of which at various points had developed some nuclear capacity. Seen by the West as a dangerous cause, Iran was treated as an inherent aggressor.
The Obama administration understandably worried that if the Iranian nuclear program could not be stopped diplomatically, it would trigger a wider conflict, either because Israel, feeling existentially threatened, or the U.S., knowing the danger of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, would act. Pursuing diplomacy as the means to alter Iran’s behavior was for many reasons not just the logical but also the politically necessary path to follow. Inevitably, it implied that Iran was now not a cause but a country, whose nuclear ambitions, and perhaps, by extension, regional threat, could be tamed by traditional carrot-and-stick diplomacy.
Some in the Obama administration came to believe that the JCPOA could signal a diplomatic “regime change”: By witnessing Western respect and trust, Iran would embrace the globalized made-in-America world.
If that was the bet, it didn’t pay off. From 2013, when serious negotiations with the Iranian government began, until 2018, when Trump pulled out of the deal, Iran did not moderate its behavior. Instead, it accelerated its regional aggression, exploiting the instability caused by the Arab Spring as well as the rise of the Islamic State to expand its power. For many in the region, the lesson was obvious: There is no way to build trust with Iran, because Iran has an agenda to dominate the Middle East.
Regardless of how Israelis, Saudis, Emiratis, and others saw the Obama administration, Biden’s approach toward Iran is clearly different from what they perceived Obama’s to be. Note, for example, the following signs that the Biden team won’t be passive in the face of direct or indirect threats from Iran: air strikes on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border in response to Iranian-backed Shiite militia rocket and drone attacks against Iraqi bases where U.S. forces are deployed; naval interdiction of dhows carrying Iranian weapons to Yemen; despite pressure, the stalwart support for Israel’s right to self-defense against Hamas rockets. At the same time, American officials are making commitments in private conversations with our allies in the region to not allow the nuclear file to change what the U.S. tolerates when it comes to Iran in the Middle East.
The challenge will be to follow up on these early moves and show, once the JCPOA is restored—which we both believe will happen sometime this year—that the administration will work with our partners and contest the Iranians as they directly and via proxies expand and threaten others. The irony is that for diplomacy to work, whether on the nuclear question or on other regional issues, Tehran must know that there is muscle behind it. Absent pressure, there would have been no JCPOA, and if we want to deter Iran’s egregious actions, we must be able to show its leaders that they will pay a price.
As Israel is now in the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility, along with the rest of the Middle East, the Biden administration should bring it together with our Arab partners to develop options and conduct contingency planning for dealing with Shiite-militia threats. The administration must also encourage the Gulf states to better support the Iraqi government; to use our collective assets to do more to suppress Iran’s ability to export weapons to its clients; and to support continuing Israeli strikes against Iranian efforts to build its military infrastructure and develop precision-guidance capabilities for Syrian and Hezbollah missiles.
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During the Trump administration, Washington used differing means across the Middle East’s various countries but on the whole applied military, economic, and diplomatic pressure to impede Iran’s advance. Its actions were supported by a regional coalition that eventually coalesced into the Abraham Accords. Building on those agreements makes sense not only in terms of using Arab outreach to Israel in order to elicit Israeli moves toward peace with the Palestinians, but also in terms of strengthening the coalition that is arrayed against Iran.
To succeed, the Biden administration will need to work with Arab, Israeli, and Turkish partners on Iranian regional issues, and maintain pressure on both Tehran and those governments tempted to yield to Iran. Such an approach does not preclude diplomacy; quite the contrary, it could promote it. Indeed, managed the right way, we may build Iran’s interest in a dialogue.
Ultimately, if regional discussions with Tehran are to have any chance of reducing tensions and minimizing the potential for conflict and escalation, they must generate the kind of pushback from the region that gives Iran a reason to temper its behavior.
This story was originally published byThe Atlantic. Sign up for their newsletter.
A picture taken on October 17, 2016 shows an employee walking behind a glass wall with machine coding symbols at the headquarters of Internet security giant Kaspersky in Moscow. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images
The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) has issued its analysis of the names of the people killed in Gaza.
They have identified 234 people killed in attacks by Israel — of which 112 (48%) were positively identified as terrorists.
Sixty-three belonged to Hamas, 20 to Islamic Jihad, 25 to Fatah, two to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), one to the Mujahedeen Brigades, and one to the Popular Resistance Committees.
Eleven more men may have been targeted as terrorists, but the ITIC could not identify any affiliation for them.
Furthermore — an additional 21 were identified as being killed by Gaza rockets.
According to the Center’s findings, 31 people were killed because they were in the same house as a targeted terrorist, and were effectively human shields for terrorists.
I believe that others were likely killed by Gaza rockets — but in general, the report is very cautious before identifying terrorists or likely victims of rocket fire.
Two of the identified terrorists were under 18 years of age; a third — who the ITIC said was 20 — had previously been identified as a child by The New York Times, and as a 12th grader by the Palestinian Ministry of Education.