The History of Earth­quakes In New York Before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

    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.

Courtesy of Northeast States Emergency ConsortiumThe largest earthquake that occurred within New York’s borders happened on September 5th, 1944. It was a magnitude 5.9 and did major damage in the town of Massena.A school gymnasium suffered major damage, some 90% of chimneys toppled over and house foundations were cracked. Windows broke and plumbing was damaged. This earthquake was felt from Maine to Michigan to Maryland.Another strong quake occurred near Attica on August 12th, 1929. Chimneys took the biggest hit, foundations were also cracked and store shelves toppled their goods.In more recent memory some of the strongest quakes occurred On April 20th, 2002 when a 5.0 rattled the state and was centered on Au Sable Forks area near Plattsburg, NY.Strong earthquakes outside of New York’s boundary have also shaken the state. On February 5th, 1663 near Charlevoix, Quebec, an estimated magnitude of 7.5 occurred. A 6.2 tremor was reported in Western Quebec on November 1st in 1935. A 6.2 earthquake occurred in the same area on March 1st 1925. Many in the state also reported shaking on August 23rd, 2011 from a 5.9 earthquake near Mineral, Virginia.

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.

Time has run out to stop the Iranian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 8

Time is running out to stop Iran’s bomb

Time is running out to stop Iran’s bomb

Delegation members from the parties to the Iran nuclear deal attend a meeting at the Grand Hotel of Vienna as they try to restore the deal. (File/AFP)

The nuclear negotiations between the Iranian regime and the P5+1 world powers (the UK, France, Russia, China, the US and Germany) in Vienna have stalled after six rounds of talks and the revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal has become increasingly unlikely.

During the last US administration, the Islamic Republic’s strategy was to place the blame entirely on former President Donald Trump for pulling his country out of the nuclear deal. The regime then began violating the terms of the agreement by enriching uranium at a higher level and spinning more centrifuges. In June 2020, the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, pointed out that the Iranian government was violating all the restrictions of the nuclear deal.

In spite of the fact Iran should no longer have been considered a party to the nuclear deal because it was breaching all its terms, Tehran still claimed that it should enjoy its benefits, such as the lifting of the arms embargo. And, in August last year, the UN Security Council voted to permit the 13-year-old arms embargo on the Iranian regime to expire. The UN also decided against reimposing the four rounds of sanctions against Iran that were lifted when the nuclear deal came into effect in 2015.

The Iranian authorities appeared to have persuaded the world powers that it was in favor of the JCPOA and would immediately rejoin the deal once the US does. In January this year, the Biden administration assumed office and announced that it was willing to return to the nuclear deal and lift the unilateral US sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

But, since then, it is the Iranian regime that has been creating hurdles to prevent the resurrection of the nuclear agreement. In a bid to revive the pact, the Biden administration even began appeasing the Iranian regime through various acts and policies. The first change came when the White House switched the Trump administration’s policy of maximum pressure to one of appeasement toward Iran’s proxy militia group in Yemen, the Houthis. Even though the evidence — including a report by the UN — showed that the Iranian regime was delivering sophisticated weapons to the Houthis, the Biden administration suspended some of the terrorism sanctions that the Trump White House had imposed on the militia.

The Iranian regime has been creating hurdles to prevent the resurrection of the nuclear agreement.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

Soon after, the Biden administration revoked the designation of the Houthis as a terrorist group. In June, it also lifted sanctions on three former Iranian officials and several energy companies. And, in a blow to the Iranian people and advocates of democracy and human rights, a few days after the Iranian regime hand-picked a mass murderer to be its next president, the Biden administration announced that it was considering lifting sanctions against Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

However, despite all these incentives and appeasement policies, Tehran continues to make excuses for not rejoining the nuclear deal. One of the regime’s latest excuses — made in the final days of Hassan Rouhani’s presidency — was that the world powers ought to wait until Ebrahim Raisi took office in order to resume nuclear talks. However, Raisi has now been president of Iran for a month and there have been no efforts from the Islamic Republic to restart the nuclear talks. Meanwhile, the regime has accelerated its enrichment of uranium to close to weapons grade. All that is coming out of Tehran is words rather than actions.

This has caused concern among Western leaders and has led the EU and the US to pressure Tehran to immediately return to the talks in Vienna. “We vehemently ask Iran to return to the negotiating table constructively and as soon as possible. We are ready to do so, but the time window won’t be open indefinitely,” a German spokesperson said last week.

After stating that it would resume talks when Raisi assumed office, the Iranian leaders are now saying they will not return for another two to three months. During an interview broadcast by Iranian state television last week, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said: “The government considers a real negotiation is a negotiation that produces palpable results allowing the rights of the Iranian nation to be guaranteed.” He added that the nuclear talks are “one of the questions on the foreign policy and government agenda. The other party knows full well that a process of two to three months is required for the new government to establish itself and to start taking decisions.”

Meanwhile, the Iranian regime is reportedly only eight to 10 weeks away from obtaining the materials necessary to build a nuclear weapon.

The regime has offered excuse after excuse in order to avoid resuming the nuclear talks or rejoining the nuclear deal. All the while, it has accelerated its uranium enrichment. It is incumbent on the international community to act before it is too late.

  • Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view

The growing risk of nuclear terrorism: Revelation 8

How Afghanistan’s fall to the Taliban increases the global terrorism threat | The Strategist

How Afghanistan’s fall to the Taliban increases the global terrorism threat

The bomb blast outside Kabul’s airport made 26 August the deadliest day for the US in Afghanistan for a decade. An Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K) suicide bomber killed an estimated 170 Afghans and 13 US soldiers—more American troops than were killed in action each year between 2015 and 2018.

Though IS-K has conducted several mass-casualty atrocities over the years, attacks on this scale will likely become more common with the US withdrawal, and an IS-K unchecked by a US military and intelligence presence may quickly begin to pose a global threat.

Joe Biden’s administration, like Donald Trump’s before it, has been gambling on a partnership with the Taliban for counterterrorism operations against IS-K, something that was likely raised when CIA director William Burns metwith the Taliban’s putative leader, Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Afghanistan on 23 August. For some time, the US air force has ‘deconflicted’ with the Taliban to help fight IS-K, upgrading these efforts to include direct strikes in support of the Taliban in 2019 and 2020.

The Taliban recently appointedmembers of their most dangerous, al-Qaeda-intertwined component, the Haqqani network, to take the lead in Kabul, making clear that transnational jihad is still a core part of their agenda. The 26 August attack and subsequent 30 August rocket attack should end the delusion that the Taliban can be an effective counterterrorism partner, a notion that never made sense given that al-Qaeda is functionally the Taliban’s foreign operations arm.

In addition to reabsorbing thousands of prisoners released by the Taliban, IS-K has had several months without counterterrorism pressure to rebuild its already extensive networks. Meanwhile, the Taliban’s capture of the entire Afghan security forces arsenal makes it the best-armed jihadist group in history, dwarfing even the rise of the Islamic State terror group in 2014.

IS-K, however, has infiltrated the ranks of the Taliban and its allies. So, regardless of where one draws the line between genuine defection and infiltration, or who comes out on top in the endlessly fracturing and reconstituting terrorist milieu in Afghanistan, the primary losers will be Afghans, the region and the rest of the world.

The US surrender to the Taliban is already inspiring every jihadist group and sympathiser across the world. Once again, from their perspective, a superpower has thrown up its hands in the face of unwavering jihad in Afghanistan. This will supercharge activity and likely provide a safe haven for decades to come for those plotting and training.

The Taliban are only one component of an integrated jihadist network controlled by figures in Pakistan’s military and its Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), and Afghanistan is only one front in the broader ISI-led regional jihad. Already in the 1990s, elements of this network were being trained in Afghanistan and then dispatched to Kashmir and deeper into India in an ever-escalating terrorist campaign. Because this is a single network that shifts resources to various fronts in the jihad, some of these fighters were sent back to Afghanistan to aid the initial Taliban conquest.

With Afghanistan likely to once again serve as an ISI terrorist camp, there’s little doubt that the jihadist network will be fed back into Kashmir and India, but this time armed with US weapons captured by the Taliban. Unlike with the training camps in Kashmir, India will be unable to target the terror camps in Afghanistan.

Even as it turns its eyes to India, the ISI may also use this jihadist network against the Pakistani state, which it has been trying to transform into a version of the Taliban’s ‘Islamic emirate’ since the early 2000s via its Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistani Taliban, component. Thousands of TTP prisoners have been released by the Taliban as potential foot soldiers in this ISI-linked effort to reignite the jihad against the Pakistani state. That could destabilise a country of over 200 million people and threaten the country’s control over its nuclear weapons. Often mischaracterised as ‘blowback’ from the ISI’s support for al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the TTP jihad against Pakistan is a core component of the ISI’s regional endeavours.

Pakistan has been a virtual client regimeof the Chinese Communist Party for several decades. Islamabad’s victories, including in Afghanistan, are very much those of the CCP, even if the Biden administration believes otherwise.

The CCP is reportedly harbouring, training and arming anti-India insurgent groups via Myanmar. It has also escalated direct attacks on India since 2020, forcing India to deploy at least 50,000 troops to its northern border as the CCP massively expands its military infrastructure.

Pakistan refocusing its attention on India and pouring new insurgents and upgraded weaponry across the border will lead to a surrounded, distracted India incapable of focusing on the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue and broader efforts to counter CCP activity in the Indo-Pacific.

Moreover, Washington’s European allies, already upset by the US disregarding their interests and its haphazard, unilateral decision-making, now face a potential new refugee crisis. A Western coalition hampered by the political fallout of such a crisis and wary of US decision-making in general will be less able to effectively push back against expanding CCP influence.

Since 2011, the US has pursued its ‘pivot to Asia’ by attempting to disengage from the Middle East and Afghanistan and refocus on competition with China. Every attempt has been short-circuited by the rapid rise of a jihadist group, a pattern likely to continue with the Taliban’s victory and the resurgence of IS-K. The net result of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, including a potential hostage crisis as the US attempts to extract more than 100 American citizens stranded in the country, will leave the US less, not more, focused on confronting China’s hegemonic impulses.

Biden may think he’s succeeded where his two predecessors failed, but the consequences of the Afghanistan withdrawal will not stay contained for long. The same administration that estimated Kabul wouldn’t fall to the Taliban this year is now claiming that neither IS-K nor al-Qaeda will pose a global threat anytime soon despite the US withdrawal. They are almost certainly incorrect.

Oved Lobel is a policy analyst at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council. Image: Najiba Noori/AFP/Getty Images.

The Russian Horn builds a buffer zone: Daniel 7

How Russia is militarising Belarus

Russia has been building a buffer zone on its western border by militarizing Belarus, raising tensions in eastern Europe

Russia has been building a buffer zone on its western border by militarizing Belarus , raising tensions in eastern Europe

Experts believe Russia is coercing and intimidating its neighbors through military means, escalating tension in eastern Europe.

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko announced on September 3 that Russia will send a massive military consignment which includes aircraft, helicopters and air defence systems.The heavy arms transfer to Belarus, is likely to be interpreted as a sign of Moscow’s support for Lukashenko’s violent crackdown against opposition protests to his rule last year which was condemned by Western nations.

“Russia in the near future… will supply us – I won’t say how much money or what – with dozens of planes, dozens of helicopters, the most important air defence weapons,” Lukashenko wasquotedas saying.”Maybe even S-400s (surface-to-air missiles). We need them very much as I’ve said in the past,” Lukashenko added.

Russia and Belarus will also run a joint military exercise,, on September 10-16 as the presidents of both countries are set to hold talks in Russia on September 9, just before the exercise.NATO Secretary General Jens StoltenbergRussia to be transparent with military drills which have alarmed Poland, the Baltics and Ukraine. headtopics.com

Militarisation of Belarus by RussiaBelarus, a Russian ally, is located on Russia’s western border standing between Russia and the NATO military alliance and the European Union.William Alberque, Director of Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy of the International Institute for Strategic Studies(IISS), says that while military budgets in most states in eastern Europe declined until 2014, “ Russia has been busy militarising its territory near eastern Europe, especially since 2012.”

By modernising its military, today, Russia is capable of carrying out conventional warfare as seen in the annexation of Crimea and its military intervention in the Syrian Civil War – which exemplify howMoscow uses military toolsto pursue its policy goals.

“Russia and Belarus have full military cooperation, and under the Union State Treaty, Russia guarantees Belarus’ security,” Alberque said and he sees “signs of a new emerging Cold War between east and west.”“Russia has been building its own buffer zone around its borders, and those countries without NATO membership seem to come under pressure if they refuse to align with Russia.”

Alberque sees Russia’s actions as a crucial factor for future relations with NATO by underlining Russia’s refusal to meet in the NATO-Russia Council since 2019.“What Russia wants is a privileged sphere of influence around its borders, and it increasingly is using military and political tension – instrumentalising risk – to coerce its neighbours.” headtopics.com

The political and military pressure by Moscow means “some of Russia’s neighbours will continue to seek to increase their security through improving their military capabilities and aligning with NATO,” Alberque added.Alberque thinks Belarus’ recent actions – its crackdown on protestors, locking up opposition politicians, muzzling its press, and now trying to “weaponise” migration against Lithuania and Poland – will further unify the EU in standing up to Lukashenko and sanctioning his regime.

“So I believe Lukashenko’s actions harm Belarus’ interests in the medium and long-term,” he continued.William Courtney, a former US Ambassador to Kazakhstan and Georgia and served as special assistant to former US President Bill Clinton for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, spoke to us about Russia’s behaviour with its neighbors.

Courtney said: “In Belarus, there are concerns that the Lukashenko leadership is reversing its previous opposition to the establishment of a Russian air base and is allowing the stationing of more Russian weaponry and military personnel on its territory as one of its responses to rising democratic political opposition in the country and the regime’s increased dependence on Moscow.”

He says Russia is putting more arms and soldiers into Belarus to bring it under tighter Russian control and to “intimidate members of NATO”, especially those on its eastern flank such as Poland and the Baltics. US military aid to UkraineUS President Joe Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on September 3 that the United States was ” headtopics.com

firmly committed” to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and offered Kyiv $60 million in new security aid as it grapples with aggression from Moscow.”The United States remains firmly committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression,” Biden said at the beginning of a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart in the Oval Office.

“Today we’re going to discuss how the US can continue to support Ukraine as it advances its democratic reforms agenda,” Biden said.A day after the meeting, the Kremlin raised its opposition towards the US military assistance because it could make

Kyiv behave unpredictably and dangerously. Moscow also expressed that the friendship between Washington and Kyiv is motivated by opposition to Russia.Retired ambassador Courtney, who was deputy US negotiator in the US-Soviet Defense and Space Talks during the Cold War, sees the US aid to Ukraine as a deterrent against Russian aggression.

The US, together with NATO, “will continue to assist Ukraine to deter further aggression, and to deploy stronger forces in its eastern flank to deter potential aggression against the Alliance,” Courtney said.  He believes tensions will only grow and said “a ‘modern Cold War’ will come only if Russian military threats grow.”

When we asked Alberque about the US military aid to Ukraine, he responded that “a situation where one side is unable to defend themselves, and the other has almost unlimited resources – as we see in the face-off between Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists – is inherently destabilising.”

On the other hand, Alberque saw the provision of defensive weapon systems to Ukraine by the US and other allies “may in fact be stabilising and reduce the risks of renewed large-scale conflict.”The US, NATO, and other partner countries’ support for Ukraine “does not threaten Russia, but rather improves Ukraine’s ability to defend itself,” he continued. »

It is time to prepare for nuclear war: Revelation 16

Nuclear explosion and Iran leader

Iran has enough uranium to build nuclear weapon in less than two weeks, probe finds

EMBOLDENED Iran has chosen one of the pioneers of its nuclear weapons programme to help lead its current efforts in what experts say is “a clear message to the West”.

By Marco Giannangeli, Sunday Express Diplomatic Editor 

13:52, Sun, Sep 5, 2021 | UPDATED: 13:52, Sun, Sep 5, 2021

The appointment of vice president Mohammad Eslami to head Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation (AEOI) emerges just days before a damning report is due to confirm that the regime now has enough enriched uranium to build a nuclear weapon in less than two weeks. And it comes as the problematic withdrawal from Afghanistan has caused US allies and foes alike to question the desire of President Joe Biden’s resolve on the world stage.

During the 1980s Brig Gen Eslami led an Iranian delegation to meet Abdul Qadir Khan, the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb who ran an extensive smuggling network.

And between 2004-07, as director of the Defence Training and Research Institute ‑ part of the Ministry of Defence ‑ he oversaw the development of Iran’s first missile re-entry vehicles and the early stages of the uranium enrichment programme in the early stages.

This led to him being placed on a UN Security Council’s sanctions list in 2008.

Speaking last night former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Oli Heinonen warned the time had come for a new, more robust approach to Iran’s nuclear threat.

“Iran is sending a message that it doesn’t care what the West may think,” said Heinonen, now with the Stimson Centre think tank.

“Moreover, in a couple of days the new IAEA report will be an eye-opener. I predict it will show that stocks of 60 percent enriched uranium and 20 percent enriched uranium, when combined, are enough to produce one nuclear device in just a few weeks – less than two months. 

“This means Iran has already achieved a kind of immunity.”

He accused France, Germany and the UK ‑ the so-called E3 which are still engaged with the JCPOA Iran nuclear deal ‑ and Biden, who was vice president under Barack Obama when it was brokered, of “living in the past”.

“Sadly Biden and Europe are still living in the past. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was based on hope, not fact. It has failed. Iran has moved on,” he said.

“Biden has the need to preserve a legacy he was part of. But it is the E3 who will feel the pressure of this new development. After all, this has happened on their watch.”

With the US still technically out of the JCPOA, it will be down to the E3 to invoke a so-called ‘snapback’ to reverse the lifting of sanctions agreed under the terms of the deal.

“But this is also an opportunity to find a different approach. Iran has no real interest in nuclear weapons, but it does want to end all sanctions,” he added.

“One way forward would be for the E3 to offer Iran uranium for a peaceful nuclear programme, on condition that it no longer enriches its own. If it complies, it will reap vast economic benefits. If it does not, it will find itself the subject to harder sanctions than before.

“Only a tangible bargain like this can hope to result in real change. It would represent a win-win for diplomacy .”

Since Biden came to power, Iran’s regime has also forced through a new hardline government, headed by the so-called “Butcher of Tehran” Ebrahim Raisi ‑ notorious for his role in the execution of 30,000 political prisoners, including women and children belonging to People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran.

Raisi was personally selected by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to stand for June’s presidential elections, and won following a mass boycott. 

His cabinet contains four ministers who are subject to UN or US sanctions, including Interior Minster Big Gen Ahmad Vahidi, one of the founders of Iran’s terrorist Quds force and mastermind of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish Community Centre in Argentina, and Roads and Urban Development minister Rostam Ghasemi who, while oil minster under former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, plundered hundreds of billions of dollars of Iranian oil revenues in the service of the Revolutionary Guards, for the nuclear, and ballistic missile programs and terrorist projects.

Speaking last night Shahin Gobadi, of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, said: “Ebrahim Raisi’s cabinet makes it palpably clear that the regime is hell-bent on pursuing a repressive agenda at home; while it uses its missile and nuclear weapons program to continue to destabilise the Middle East, as reflected by Eslami’s appointment.”

Israel’s ‘alarmist claims’ raise the stakes against the Iranian Nuclear Horn

A building damaged at the Natanz facility, one of Iran's main uranium enrichment plants, after an alleged sabotage attack blamed on Israel [Iran Atomic Organization via AFP]
A building damaged at the Natanz facility, one of Iran’s main uranium enrichment plants, after an alleged sabotage attack blamed on Israel [Iran Atomic Organization via AFP]

Israel’s ‘alarmist claims’ raise the stakes against Iran

Israeli leaders have issued a series of threats against Iran over its nuclear programme, reviving ‘plans’ for action.

5 Sep 2021

Israeli leaders have revived threats against Iran after warning it is just months away from possessing a nuclear weapon.

The United States and Israel have formed a high-level team to tackle the Iran nuclear issue, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced last week after meeting President Joe Biden.

“The immediate follow-up was to form a joint team based on the joint objectives of rolling Iran back into their box and preventing Iran from ever being able to break out a nuclear weapon,” Bennett said.

“We set up a joint team with our national security adviser and America’s, and we’re working very hard, and the cooperation is great… The president was very clear about he won’t accept Iran going nuclear, now or in the future.”

In light of the lack of progress on the negotiations with Iran on a return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Biden said during his meeting with Bennett at the White House that “other options” would be possible if the diplomatic approach with Tehran failed.

Israel’s Minister of Defense Benny Gantz, meanwhile, urged the international community to develop a “Plan B” to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons as prospects of returning to the 2015 nuclear deal dwindle.

“Iran is only two months away from acquiring the materials necessary for a nuclear weapon,” Gantz told dozens of ambassadors and envoys at an August 25 briefing.

“Iran has the intention to destroy Israel and is working on developing the means to do so,” he said. “Israel has the means to act and will not hesitate to do so. I do not rule out the possibility that Israel will have to take action in the future in order to prevent a nuclear Iran.”

Not empty words’

While Gantz did not go into specifics, analysts have their own idea of what Plan B could mean.

“What is referred to as Plan B actually appears to be Israel’s Plan A – coercive measures that likely will draw the US and Iran into a broader war that will see the balance in the region shift dramatically in the direction of Israel while forestalling any US-Iran rapprochement for years if not decades,” Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, told Al Jazeera

However, even if Plan B were slightly more subtle than the aforementioned scenario, Gantz’s words should be taken seriously, said Yaniv Voller, senior lecturer in politics of the Middle East at the University of Kent.

“These threats are not merely empty words. Israel and the US have proved that they can carry out operations inside Iran and sabotage Iranian nuclear facilities and infrastructure,” Voller told Al Jazeera.

The choice of words by Gantz is reminiscent of the previous times Israel exaggerated the Iranian threat, security experts said.

“These claims are probably no more valid than the whole series of alarmist claims the Israelis have been making about Iran’s nuclear capability since the 1990s,” Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and chair of the Middle Eastern Studies programme at the University of San Francisco, told Al Jazeera.

“Each and every one of these frightening predictions over the past quarter-century has proven wrong, so there is no reason to take this latest iteration any more seriously.”

Key stumbling block

The dispute over the international nuclear agreement with Iran remains one of the primary reasons for the tensions in the Middle East, which have increased in recent years. Israel continues to feel its very existence is threatened by Iran’s nuclear programme.

In 2015, Tehran committed itself to produce only low-enriched uranium as fuel for civilian use. The US unilaterally terminated the agreement in 2018, whereupon Iran restarted its uranium enrichment and restricted international inspections of its nuclear facilities.

By now, Tehran enriches uranium up to 60 percent – well above the permitted 3.67 percent and only one step away from the 90 percent required to build an atomic bomb.

Since April, the other contracting parties – China, Germany, France, Britain and Russia – have attempted to get the two sides to return to the deal. However, a fundamental issue hampering negotiations remains, Parsi said.

“On substantial matters, a key stumbling block is the US request for Iran to guarantee it will agree to renegotiate the JCPOA once the US rejoins, and the Iranian demand for a guarantee that the US does not re-quit the deal.”

Diplomatic efforts have stalled over a renewal of the JCPOA, but there are several reasons for this, Parsi said.

“Due to the delay of the Biden administration starting the talks, diplomacy has gotten entangled in the Iranian elections, and it is unclear when the new Iranian government will agree to resume dialogue in Vienna,” he said.

For a long time, the prevailing opinion in Washington was the change in power from moderate President Hassan Rohani to hardliner Ebrahim Raisi would impact the negotiations.

“There are fears that the new conservative Iranian government under Raisi will adopt a tougher stance and even seek to change the format of the talks,” said Parsi.

Indeed, it is now apparent that President Raisi is not planning a swift return to the negotiating table. Rather, Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Hossein Amirabdollahian said last week it would take the new government two or three months to define its position. He assured that Tehran would not flee from the negotiating table.

News reports, meanwhile, say there may be talks on the sidelines of International Atomic Energy Agency’s next conference on September 21.

‘Military option unacceptable’

The delay is likely to fuel fears in Washington as well as in Israel that Tehran will play for time, especially when the necessary material for a nuclear weapon only needs a few months. The spiral of escalation is thus likely to continue. How far, however, remains uncertain.

Nonetheless, Biden’s options outside of diplomacy are limited, said Zunes.

“It is hard to imagine any other realistic scenario than through negotiations to revive the JCPOA. The United States still enforces draconian sanctions against Iran, which are clearly not working, and a military option would be unacceptable, not just to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party but most of the top Pentagon brass, who have engaged in enough war games and other scenarios to recognise that there is no workable military solution.”

For Israel, too, a similar problem arises with its threats against Iran.

“The Israelis presumably recognise a military option would also be counterproductive, but perhaps they believe that repeating this threat might get the Americans to push a harder line against Iran,” added Zunes.

All in all, despite the lack of progress, the US’s and Israel’s threats remain counterproductive on the international stage, said Parsi.

“Such threats are not conducive to diplomacy, which is why the Obama administration avoided them altogether once it got serious about diplomacy and why the Bush administration employed them tirelessly since it was never serious about talks.”

Credible deterrent

The situation poses a conundrum for Biden. No nuclear weapons for the government in Tehran remains the essential condition for the White House. However, any action in the form of military intervention is likely to have the opposite effect.

In the event of attacks by the US or Israel, Iran would likely launch an ambitious, well-funded programme to develop some kind of credible deterrent against future attacks, which could include the development of a nuclear weapon within a couple of years, said Zunes.

“Biden knows that bombing Iran is the fastest way to make sure the Iranians get a bomb,” Parsi added.

While a rather grim outlook for all actors involved, there is still a chance that diplomacy could prevail, Voller said.

“Much of this depends on the Biden administration. Israel pressures Washington to reconsider its position, but for the time being, Secretary of State Antony Blinken seems committed to at least try and bring about the negotiations.”

The China Horn again pierces Taiwan airspace: Daniel 7

Chinese bombers again pierce Taiwan airspace

Island’s air force scrambles Sunday to meet incursion

By David R. Sands

China‘s provocative probing of Taiwan‘s defenses showed no signs of let-up Sunday as the island’s defense ministry reported that 19 People’s Liberation Army aircraft — including bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons — flew through its airspace Sunday.

A Taiwanese Ministry of Defense tweet said the incursion included four PLA H-6 bombers, which can deliver nuclear bombs, as well as 10 J-16 fighters and four Su-30 fighters.

Taiwanese officials said the island democracy’s combat aircraft were deployed to warn away the Chinese planes and the country’s missile defense systems closely monitored the incursion.

Beijing has stepped up its rhetorical and military pressure campaign on the island, which China‘s communist government considers part of its sovereign territory which must one day be reunited with the mainland.

China‘s official press made no mention of the operation early Sunday, but Beijing has often timed such missions to express displeasure with Taiwanese actions or moves by the United States to boost bilateral ties.

It has already been a record year for such Chinese incursions into Taiwan‘s claimed defensive airspace, with nearly 400 such sorties flown through mid-August, according to Taiwan Defense Ministry statistics.

Last month, 11 Chinese military aircraft conducted what Beijing described as “live-fire assault drills” just south of Taiwan.

A Taiwanese military draft paper last week warned that China now has the capability to monitor all Taiwanese military deployments and could potentially “paralyze” the island’s military communications networks through “soft and hard electronic attacks.”