Russia on Monday, said that it had carried out another successful test launch of its Zircon hypersonic cruise missile. These missiles are hailed by Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of new generation of arms systems that are unrivalled
The missile was fired from Admiral Gorshkov warship in the White Sea. It hit a naval target more than 400 km ?(250 miles) away, said the defence ministry. The ministry said that this was its second test in a fortnight.
A short video clip showed the missile illuminating the night sky with a burst of white light.
Meanwhile, Express has quoted a Russian source who has said that ‘serial production’ of Zircon missiles is underway in Russia.
The United States, China and North Korea are also involved in the contest to hypersonic missiles, the next generation of long-range weapons that are harder to detect and intercept. They travel at more than five times the speed of sound in the upper atmosphere, or around 6,200 km/hour (3,850 mph).
Putin announced an array of new hypersonic weapons in 2018, saying they could hit almost any point in the world and evade a US-built missile shield.
Israel has shared intelligence over the past two weeks with the U.S. and several European allies suggesting that Iran is taking technical steps to prepare to enrich uranium to 90% purity — the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon, two U.S. sources briefed on the issue tell me.
Why it matters: Enriching to 90% would bring Iran closer than ever to the nuclear threshold. The Israeli warnings come as nuclear talks resume in Vienna, with Iran returning to the negotiating table on Monday after a five-month hiatus.
State of play: Enrichment alone will not produce a bomb. Estimates vary as to how long it would take Iran to master the additional technological requirements, but U.S. and Israeli intelligence sources have put the timeline at one to two years.
Iran is already enriching uranium to 60%, far beyond the levels allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal that Donald Trump abandoned and President Biden is now attempting to salvage.
There is no civilian use for 90%-enriched uranium.
Behind the scenes: The intelligence Israel shared with the Biden administration suggests the Iranian preparatory steps would allow Iran to move ahead with 90% enrichment within weeks if it chose to do so, according to one of the U.S. sources.
Israeli intelligence analysts assess that Iran could take that dramatic step soon in an attempt to gain leverage in the Vienna talks, the source said.
Israel also shared an intelligence assessment that Iran’s desire for leverage in Vienna could lead Tehran to further increase attacks against U.S. forces and interests in the region via proxies in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, the U.S. source said.
Asked to comment on this story, a senior Biden administration official declined to discuss intelligence matters but said it was “no secret that the former administration’s decision to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal led to a dramatic and unprecedented acceleration of Iran’s nuclear program,” and that the U.S. was focused on diplomacy with Iran but “prepared to pursue other options should diplomacy fail.”
The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Defense declined to comment.
What they’re saying: Israeli officials have been pushing their U.S. and European counterparts to take a hard line with Iran in Vienna. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a speech on Monday that Israel had shared with its allies “intelligence which points to Iran’s continued race toward a nuclear weapon while violating the 2015 agreement.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who met with his U.K. counterpart Liz Truss in London on Monday, claimed there was indisputable intelligence that Iran intended to secretly continue its nuclear program no matter the result in Vienna.
Truss called the Vienna talks “the last opportunity for the Iranians to come to the table” and agree to return to the 2015 accord. “We will look at all options if that doesn’t happen,” she said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Monday that the U.S. and its European allies “must understand that this opportunity is not a window that could remain open forever.”
Meanwhile, Iran’s hawkish new nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, wrote in the FT that a deal will only be possible if the U.S. is willing to “pay a price” for Trump’s withdrawal, guarantee that it won’t be repeated, and make the first move by removing all sanctions imposed since 2015. The Biden administration has said it will not meet those conditions.
Driving the news: The nuclear talks resumed Monday with a plenary session including the Iranian delegation and diplomats from the EU, France, Germany, the U.K., Russia and China.
The U.S. negotiating team, headed by Iran envoy Rob Malley, is in Vienna but not in the room. They’ll be negotiating indirectly through European mediators.
The latest: The head of the EU delegation, Enrique Mora, said in a press briefing that he was optimistic about the first day of talks but doesn’t think any breakthrough will be reached in the initial round.
He said Iranian negotiators had agreed to take into consideration the previous six rounds of talks held under the previous, more moderate Iranian government.
Mora said Tuesday’s sessions would focus on sanctions relief, Iran’s top priority, and Wednesday’s on the needed limitations on Iran’s nuclear program.
Bagheri said the prioritization of sanctions relief was an achievement for Iran. He also said he was optimistic.
What’s next: Gantz is expected to visit Washington in the coming days to discuss the Iranian nuclear crisis with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and other senior Biden administration officials.
Nuclear talks resume, US warns of ‘other options’ against Iran
The new round begins after a hiatus triggered by the election of a new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi. (AFP Archive)
The United States has warned it is “prepared to use other options” including military force to ramp up pressure on Iran if nuclear talks fail.
The US National Security Council’s coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, Brett McGurk, issues the warning over the weekend, according to CNN.
“We are still hopeful that diplomacy can find a way, but if it cannot find a way, we are prepared to use other options,” McGurk told the Manama Dialogue organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
“When it comes to military force to prevent a country from obtaining a nuclear weapon, that is a very achievable objective,” he added.
International talks on Iran’s nuclear programme will restart in Vienna on Monday with analysts foreseeing major obstacles to any speedy resumption of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Along with Iran, diplomats from the UK, China, Germany, Russia and France will attend. The US will take part in the talks indirectly led by US Special Envoy to Iran Robert Malley.
US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley also warned that Washington and its partners are likely to exert pressure on Iran if it uses talks as pretext to accelerate its nuclear programme.
Failure to strike a deal could also prompt reaction from Israel which has said military options would be on the table. Tehran’s new negotiating team has set out demands that US and European diplomats consider unrealistic, Western diplomats say.
They include insisting that all US and European Union sanctions imposed since 2017, including those unrelated to Iran’s nuclear programme, be dropped
The talks paused in June on a positive note, with diplomats saying they were “close” to an agreement, but the arrival of ultraconservative Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in office has changed the outlook.
The 2015 deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), offered a lifting of some of the array of economic sanctions Iran had been under in return for strict curbs on its nuclear programme.
But the deal began falling apart in 2018 when then US president Donald Trump pulled outand began reinstating sanctions on Iran.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi visited Tehran last week in the hope of addressing several bones of contention between the agency and Iran. However, he said on his return that “no progress” had been made on the issues he raised.
Palestinians face unbearable living conditions. They endure home demolitions, displacement, illegal Jewish settlement expansion, land usurpation, theft of natural resources and flagrant violations of the sanctity of Islamic and Christian holy shrines in Jerusalem; all part of creeping colonialism, cultural and religious genocide.
This situation is unsustainable. Palestinians are trapped in a vicious cycle of grinding poverty, unemployment and limited access to healthcare, medications, vaccinations, water and electricity. They deserve better. Hasn’t the time come for them to achieve their inalienable human rights like other peoples?
Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
From the announcement in March 2020 of lockdown measures to combat Covid, the then government showed itself to be divisive in its support for some citizens and not for others, despite the impact of the lockdown on all. In its strengthening of measures and loosening to save Christmas 2020, in a populist move, the government caused a spike in Covid cases.
The general election results of February 2020 revealed an opportunity for the formation of a national government, an opportunity missed to present a united front and unite all citizens against a common enemy. The coalition government, formed in June 2020, having ignored the advice of the experts, has proven itself to be indecisive, divisive, ineffective and non-representative of the citizens of this ‘democracy’. The governments of the past two years have brought us to the crippling of our services. Given the deaths, suffering and hardships caused to the citizens are we surprised that a government minister would say to his fellow ministers, “We have to take this deadly seriously.” It is a pity Covid has not been taken “deadly seriously” by our governments over the last two years.
Washington would be ready to ramp up pressure on Tehran if talks collapse
Iran and world powers will meet in Vienna on Monday to try to salvage their 2015 nuclear deal, but with Tehran sticking to its tough stance and Western powers increasingly frustrated, hopes of a breakthrough appear slim.
Six rounds of indirect talks were held between April and June. The new round begins after a hiatus triggered by the election of hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi in June as Iran’s president.
Tehran’s new negotiating team has set out demands that U.S. and European diplomats consider unrealistic, Western diplomats say.
“Our demands are clear. Other parties and especially Americans should decide whether they want this deal to be revived or not. They abandoned the pact, so they should return to it and lift all sanctions,” an Iranian official close to the talks told Reuters.
Iran’s demands include the dropping of all U.S. and European Union sanctions imposed since 2017, including those unrelated to Iran’s nuclear programme, in a verifiable process. read more
Iran’s foreign ministry ruled out the possibility of direct meeting between Iranian and U.S. officials in Vienna. Talks between Iran and world powers will resume at 1300 GMT on Monday. S8N2RK02D
In parallel, Tehran’s conflicts with the U.N. atomic watchdog, which monitors the nuclear programme, have festered.
Iran has pressed ahead with its uranium enrichment programme and the IAEA says its inspectors have been treated roughly and refused access to reinstall monitoring cameras at a site it deems essential to reviving the deal.
“If Iran thinks it can use this time to build more leverage and then come back and say they want something better, it simply won’t work. We and our partners won’t go for it,” U.S. envoy Robert Malley told BBC Sounds on Saturday.
He warned that Washington would be ready to ramp up pressure on Tehran if talks collapse.
Iranian officials have insisted in the run-up to Monday that their focus is purely the lifting of sanctions rather than nuclear issues. Highlighting that, its 40-strong delegation mostly includes economic officials.
“To ensure any forthcoming agreement is ironclad, the West needs to pay a price for having failed to uphold its part of the bargain. As in any business, a deal is a deal, and breaking it has consequences,” Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani said in defiant column in the Financial Times on Sunday.
“The principle of ‘mutual compliance’ cannot form a proper base for negotiations since it was the U.S. government which unilaterally left the deal.”
Diplomats have said Washington has suggested negotiating an open-ended interim accord with Tehran as long as a permanent deal is not achieved.
Failure to strike a deal could also prompt reaction from Israel which has said military options would be on the table.
“The talks can’t last forever. There is the obvious need to speed up the process,’ Moscow’s envoy, Mikhail Ulyanov, said on Twitter.
Israeli navy ships attacked on Friday at night, a Palestinian fishing boat with live fire and water cannons, near Gaza city, and abducted five fishermen, before releasing three.
Media sources said the boat was nearly six nautical miles from Gaza city shore and is owned by Palestinians from the local al-Hassi family.
They added that the soldiers abducted Mohammad Nihad al-Hassi, Ahmad Rashad al-Hassi, before taking them to an unknown destination.
The Navy also detained Jamal Jihad al-Hassi, Mohammad Rashad al-Hassi, and Nour Rajab al-Hassi, but released them a few hours later.
The army frequently attacks farmers, shepherds, workers, and fishermen across the eastern parts of the coastal region and in Palestinian territorial waters, leading to dozens of casualties, including fatalities, in addition to preventing the Palestinians from tending to their lands and from fishing to provide for their families.
In March of this year, the Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza said Israeli mines were responsible for an explosion that led to the death of three fishermen.