Earth Matters: Indian Point’s Final Days – Nyack News and Viewsby Barbara PuffIndian Point has been the crown jewel of the nuclear industrialist complex and closing it is a big step to a sustainable energy future. — Susan Shapiro, environmental lawyer.When scientists began exploring nuclear power in the 1950s, pollsters didn’t ask the public their opinion as support was almost unanimous. By the ’60s, there had been a few protests and opposition increased to 25%. So when Indian Point opened on September 16, 1962, it was greeted with enthusiasm, fanfare, and, in hindsight, naivete.Within a few years, increased pollution, loss of wildlife, and accidents at the plant elicited concern. In response, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and Riverkeeper were formed in 1966. After incidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, public opinion began to turn against the use of nuclear power.In 1984, her first year as a legislator, Harriet Cornell formed the Citizens Commission to Close Indian Plant. A glance at her press releases over the years shows her convictions regarding closing the plant. In a recent speech she noted: “Were it not for the superhuman efforts of concerned individuals and dedicated scientific and environmental organizations focusing attention on the dangers posed by Indian Point, who knows what might have happened during the last 40+ years.”Simultaneously Riverkeeper began documenting incidents, including:1 An antiquated water-cooling system killed over a billion fish and fish larvae annually.2 Pools holding spent nuclear fuel leaked toxic, radioactive water into the ground, soil, and Hudson River.3 Recurring emergency shut-downs.4 27% of the baffle bolts in Unit 2 and 31% in Unit 3, holding the reactor core together, were damaged.5 The plant was vulnerable to terrorist attack.6 Evacuation plans were implausible.7 No solution for spent nuclear fuel, posing the risk of radioactive release and contamination of land.8 The plant was near two seismic zones, suggesting an earthquake over 6.2 could devastate the area.9 Asbestos exposure.These and other issues led the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to rate Indian Point in 2000 as the most trouble-plagued plant in the country. Lamont-Doherty Observatory agreed, calling it the most dangerous plant in the nation.As individuals realized the seriousness of the situation, urgency for a solution grew and Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition was formed in 2001. Comprised of public interest, health advocates, environmental and citizen groups, their goals were to educate the public, pass legislation, and form a grassroots campaign with hundreds of local, state, and federal officials.Clearwater also began monitoring the plant around that time. Manna Jo Greene, Environmental Action Director, recalls, “We were concerned when one of the planes that struck the WTC flew over the plant, including several buildings that hold huge fuel pools, filled with spent fuel rods and radioactive waste.” Had anything happened, the nuclear power industry had provided protection for themselves while neglecting surrounding communities. Powerful lobbyists, backed by considerable financing, induced Congress to pass the Price-Anderson Act in 1957. This legislation protected nuclear power plant companies from full liability in the event of an accident, natural disaster or terrorist attack.With such warnings, it’s hard to believe as late as 2010, The New York Times stated, “No one should be hoping for a too hasty shutdown.” Over time, the cost of litigation by New York State proved more fatal to the continuance of plant operations than protests, though they were a crucial factor and led to initial filings. Attorney General Schneiderman was very active in filing contentions, legal reasons the plant shouldn’t be relicensed, and won several important court cases on high-level radioactive storage.In 2016, The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation denied Entergy a discharge permit for hot water into the Hudson River, part of their once-through cooling system. This permit was necessary for continued operation of the plant and a requirement for relicensing. The New York State Department of State, Bureau of Coastal Management, denied Entergy a water quality certificate the same year, which it also needed to relicense. After more than four decades of danger to the environment and residents, Governor Cuomo announced in January 2017 the plant would finally be closing. Unit 2 would cease production on April 30, 2020 and Unit 3 would end productivity on April 30, 2021.Later that year, in March 2017, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board allowed Entergy to renew the plant’s licenses until 2021, dismissing final points of contention between the company, New York State, and Riverkeeper. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino attempted to sue the state and reopen the plant in April 2017 but failed.Ellen Jaffee, NYS Assemblywoman, stated, “After 46 years of operation, I am glad to finally see the closure of Indian Point. Since joining the Assembly, I have long fought for its closure. I would not have been able to pursue these efforts if not for the environmental advocates, like the Riverkeeper, who fought long and hard beside myself to close the plant. The plant’s closure must be conducted in a safe manner, where all radioactive materials will be properly disposed of, without inflicting further harm on our environment. The closure of Indian Point shows that we can reduce our impact on the environment.”Harriet Cornell said, “We have waited years for this to happen and frankly, it can’t happen soon enough. The facts have long shown there is no future for this dangerous plant.”“The closure of Indian Point marks the shutdown of dirty polluting energy,” noted Susan Shapiro.Holtec, the company chosen to oversee decommissioning of the plant, has a horrific track record. New York State Attorney General Tish James released a statement in January expressing multiple grave concerns about them. According to Riverkeeper, they have a scandalous corporate past, little experience in decommissioning, dubious skills in spent fuel management, workplace safety infractions, and health violations. Another fear is the cost will exceed a decommissioning fund set aside by Entergy, Holtec will declare bankruptcy, and the public will absorb the difference.“Entergy made huge profits from Indian Point,” said Manna Jo Greene. “They’ve hired Holtec, a company with a poor record of decommissioning, to complete the work. Entergy plans to declare bankruptcy, thereby having taxpayers foot the bill. We are not out of danger. It is a different danger.”Richard Webster, Legal Program Director at Riverkeeper, adds, “Decommissioning must be done promptly, safely and reliably. Selling to Holtec is the worst possible option, because it has a dubious history of bribes, lies, and risk taking, very limited experience in decommissioning, is proposing to raid the decommissioning fund for its own benefit, and is proposing leaving contaminated groundwater to run into the Hudson River.”State Senator David Carlucci warned, “The NRC Inspector General Report shows there is much to be done by the NRC to gain the confidence of myself and the public, as the commission is charged with overseeing the decommissioning of Indian Point and ensuring the health and safety of Hudson Valley Communities. We demand answers from NRC Chairman Kristine Svinicki. The Chairman needs to come to the Hudson Valley immediately and outline the steps being taken to address our safety and explain how the commission will properly inspect and guard the pipeline near Indian Point moving forward.”One of the gravest dangers in decommissioning is the storage of spent fuel rods. A fuel rod is a long, zirconium tube containing pellets of uranium, a fissionable material which provides fuel for nuclear reactors. Fuel rods are assembled into bundles called fuel assemblies, which are loaded individually into a reactor core. Fuel rods last about six years. When they’re spent and removed they are placed in wet storage, or pools of water, which is circulated to reduce temperature and provide shielding from radiation. They remain in these pools for 10 years, as they are too hot to be placed in dry storage, or canisters. Even in dry storage, though, they remain extremely radioactive, with high levels of plutonium, which is toxic, and continue to generate heat for decades and remain radioactive for 10,000 years.“Elected officials and government groups became involved once they understood the fatal environmental dangers nuclear energy creates for millenium,” said Susan Shapiro. “It is the only energy that produces waste so dangerous that governments must own and dispose of it.”Robert Kennedy, Jr., of Waterkeeper, explained “If those spent fuel rods caught on fire, if the water dropped, the zirconium coatings of the spent fuel rods would combust. You would release 37 times the amount of radiation that was released at Chernobyl. Around Chernobyl there are 100 miles that are permanently uninhabitable. I would include the workplaces, homes of 20 million Americans, including the Financial District. There’s no evacuation plan. And it’s sitting on two of the biggest earthquake faults in the northeast.”On April 24, 2020, Beyond Indian Point Campaign was launched to advocate for a safe transition during decommissioning. Sponsored by AGREE, Frack Action, Riverkeeper, NIRS and Food and Water Watch, they’re demanding Cuomo hire another company, opposing a license transfer before the State Public Service Commission and NRC and pushing state legislation to establish a board to supervise the decommissioning fund. When decommissioning is finished Beyond Indian Point hopes to further assist the community in the transition to renewable energy. These include wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and hydrothermal power. Sign an online petition on their website to support their work, future generations and earth at BeyondIndianPoint.com, Facebook, or Twitter.“Bravo to everyone involved in making this historic day come to pass,” said Susan Shapiro.Raised in the Midwest, Barbara Puff is a writer who lives in Nyack, NY.
Jose Hermosa | TheBL 01/08/22, 08:55 97 views
Iran’s authoritarian regime continues to openly defy sanctions imposed by the U.S.–led international community by increasing oil sales to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) by 40% during 2021.
According to a report by the watchdog group tracking illegal Iranian oil tankers, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), not only were the restrictions not enforced, but oil exports increased by 123 million barrels, noted The Washington Free Beacon Jan. 7.
The CCP was the largest consumer of the illegally sold oil, purchasing 310 of the nearly 418 million barrels shipped abroad by the Iranian regime.
The other 108 million barrels were negotiated with the United Arab Emirates, Syrian, Venezuelan, and Russian regimes.
The Iranian regime uses a fleet of foreign-flagged oil tankers, which illegally turn off their onboard tracking devices, thus disappearing from radar to deliver hundreds of millions of barrels of oil.
According to analysts, the millions of dollars obtained strengthen the Iranian regime, which is accused of financing regional terrorism and militias of violent groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
In this situation, criticism turns against the apparent weakness and inaction of the Biden administration, which is not applying the rigor necessary to force Iran to comply with the sanctions.
“The 40% increase in Iran’s oil exports is a result of the Biden administration’s refusal to enforce sanctions,” Claire Jungman, UANI chief of staff, told the Washington Free Beacon.
She added, “This lack of enforcement is a form of sanctions relief and has led to an improvement in Iran’s economic situation and diminished the leverage and credibility of the U.S. during negotiations.”
He also proposed a control alternative: “To start it should sanction the individual vessels carrying Iranian oil.”
On the other hand, for a senior diplomat, Iran’s strategy is to buy time, “Iran is certainly playing for time and will in the meantime continue to enhance its nuclear program to gain political leverage,” he told Politico on condition of anonymity.
The diplomat also warned that Iran could venture to make more ambitious demands of the United States.
“Iran most probably will only come back to the table in Vienna if the west makes a gesture of goodwill or provides certain concessions to Iran,” the diplomat said.
These massive breaches occur in a context in which the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) commission negotiations resumed two months ago in Vienna attended by representatives of Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom.
The JCPOA negotiated the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, established in Vienna in 2015 between Iran, the countries above, and the European Union.
On the other hand, Iran also continues to violate the prohibition of enriching uranium, thereby expanding and developing its nuclear capabilities, reaching 60% uranium enrichment, thus approaching the purity level required to produce nuclear weapons.
The head of US military operations in the Middle East, Gen. Frank McKenzie, recognizes that Iran and its proxies have achieved “overmatch” — the ability to fire many more missiles than adversaries such as Israel and the US can shoot down or destroy. “Iran’s missiles have become a more immediate threat than its nuclear program,” he says.
While its citizens starve, Iran has become a leading global missile producer, with the largest and most diverse arsenal in the Middle East, including thousands of ballistic missiles with a range of more than 2,000km. A disturbing report in The New Yorker argues that Tehran’s cruise missiles have fundamentally altered the balance of power in the Gulf region.
A series of Iranian tests in late December included the simultaneous deployment of missiles and drone attacks against the same target, similar to a previous Iranian attack on GCC oil infrastructure. Iran is meanwhile seeking to capitalize on Chinese technology to develop projectiles that can circumvent missile defense systems. Experts believe North Korea is now importing Iranian missile technology.
“Everybody should know that all American bases and their vessels in a distance of up to 2,000km are within the range of our missiles,” bragged Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of Iran’s Aerospace Force. “We have constantly prepared ourselves for a fully fledged war,” he crowed, as if “fully fledged war” were an optimum outcome for the region. Meanwhile, the firing of rockets by Iranian proxies at GCC and Western targets in the region is now a near-daily phenomenon.
There are substantial increases in military spending — including more than doubling the allocation for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps —in Iran’s 2022 budget, despite its income estimates being based on the assumption of no new nuclear deal. A Washington Institute analysis concluded: “The Raisi government sees no economic urgency to making substantial nuclear concessions.”
Experts warn that Iran is a few short months, or weeks, away from nuclear breakout capacity, with increasingly advanced centrifuges enriching uranium to 60 percent purity. Former Mossad intelligence director Zohar Palti estimates that Iran would require just three weeks to produce sufficient fuel for a bomb.
Western officials are even less optimistic about extracting concessions from Iran on its ballistic missile program than they are about the nuclear program. Raisi declared: “Regional issues or the missile issue are non-negotiable.” Iran’s increasing reliance on drones, cyberattacks and unconventional warfare aspires to give Tehran a decisive military advantage over its neighbors. “Iran has proved that it is using its ballistic missile program as a means to coerce or intimidate its neighbors,” noted Biden’s nuclear negotiator, Robert Malley.
If diplomats and leaders in the Arab region and the wider world don’t rapidly get serious, Iran’s missile, nuclear and paramilitary programs soon won’t be an abstract matter of statistics and research data, but will be deployed in anger to rain death and destruction upon the region.
After the January 2020 US assassination of Qassem Soleimani, Iran fired a barrage of ballistic missiles with thousand-pound warheads at a US base in Iraq — the largest ballistic missile attack by any nation on American troops. Hours later, Iranian forces shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet just after it took off from Tehran airport, killing all 176 people on board. Coinciding with the anniversary of Soleimani’s death, there was a display in central Tehran last week of the rockets used by Iran in these retaliatory strikes. However, in the western city of Shahrekord, a newly erected statue of Soleimani was set on fire and destroyed by Iraniansclearly unimpressed by their leaders’ squandering the nation’s wealth on overseas warmaking.
Tehran’s military arsenals are shielded deep underground in massive complexes in its satellite states and in Iran itself. With these tunnelled “missile cities” stretching for many kilometers, Iran boasts the largest underground complexes in the region, housing both nuclear and missile programs. Albu-Kamal on the Syria-Iraq border is one of these sites. It is a major transit point for the transfer of missiles and munitions into Lebanon and Syria, and a site where rockets are upgraded to increase range and accuracy. In early 2021 Biden ordered the bombing of Albu-Kamal in retaliation for rocket attacks by Hashd militias in Iraq, but the strikes had negligible impact. “Without being able to crater the place, you’re not going to stop the flow,” one Biden intelligence official said.
Ironically, Israeli military strikes and sophisticated sabotage operations have simply made Iran’s proliferation programs more resilient, by necessitating the construction of massive defenses and the installation of increasingly advanced equipment. Israeli generals have expressed frustration at the Biden administration holding up the transfer of military equipment required for dealing decisively with these capabilities.
In an era when rogue states can menace global security with impunity, we require nothing short of an international compact regarding the balance and constraint of military power, and legally enforced respect for sovereignty. For decades China and Russia colluded to undermine international law, but with Russia sending thousands of troops into Kazakhstan and menacing Ukraine and other former Soviet states, suddenly Beijing finds itself encircled. All states benefit from a universally recognized system whereby no overmighty coalition of states or rogue entities can threaten the sovereignty of others. Even Vladimir Putin claims his aggressive actions simply seek to protect Russian territorial integrity.
When pariah states can build up immense military arsenals to menace their neighbors without consequences, the international system disintegrates. Whether with Khomeinist Iran or Nazi Germany, when we appease aggressor states, we ultimately find ourselves facing a monster 10 times its original size.
Only 15 years ago, the primitive Iran-manufactured rockets that could be deployed by Hezbollah and Tehran’s other proxies were the stuff of ridicule, but nobody is laughing now. In the 15 years since Iran was referred to the UN Security Council for its uranium enrichment activities — and years of negotiations with global powers,supposedly to halt Tehran’s proliferation activities — it has developed into a ballistic superpower. Vigorous ballistic weapons development and testing took place before, during and after Barack Obama’s 2015 nuclear deal. The failure of global powers to recognize the long-term security consequences of what was happening under their noses has brought us to where we are today.
This is not scaremongering, but recognizing reality and deciding how to act. If diplomats and leaders in the Arab region and the wider world don’t rapidly get serious, Iran’s missile, nuclear and paramilitary programs soon won’t be an abstract matter of statistics and research data, but will be deployed in anger to rain death and destruction upon the region. Do we seriously want to sit back and wait for this to happen?
- Baria Alamuddin is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster in the Middle East and the UK. She is editor of the Media Services Syndicate and has interviewed numerous heads of state.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view
Image source: German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle
Image source: German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle
By Thalif Deen
NEW YORK (IDN) — When the world’s five major nuclear powers—the US, UK, China, France and Russia—pledged to prevent nuclear wars and abandon the pursuit of more weapons, their joint statement released January 3 explicitly left out several of the demands from anti-nuclear activists, including an end to the upgrading and enhancing of existing arsenals.
Rebecca Johnson, director of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, told IDN “the weak and inadequate statement” might have been welcomed because few people thought the five major powers—who are also the five permanent members of the UN Security Council—”would manage to agree on anything these days”.
“Their nod in the direction of recognizing that nuclear wars should not be fought would have been great if they had followed up with relevant actions.”
“Yes, of course, they need to avoid military confrontations and not target each other, but what about signing the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and eliminating the thousands of weapons in their nuclear arsenals?” she asked.
“But no, after reiterating the 1985 Reagan-Gorbachev statement that ‘a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought’, this statement ignored the TPNW and offered no concrete disarmament actions to give meaning to those words,” she pointed out.
This was barely even gesture politics, as they also ignored the fact that there are actually nine nuclear-armed states, not just five, and all of them are busy upgrading and enhancing their nuclear arsenals, said Johnson, who is the founding first president of the Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
She also said: “While condemning ‘unauthorized or unintended’ uses of nuclear weapons, these five proclaimed that nuclear weapons were okay if used for ‘defensive purposes only. Was that supposed to reassure the rest of the world?”
Just one unauthorized, unintended, or so-called defensive use of nuclear weapons would cause a humanitarian catastrophe and be likely to spark a nuclear war. Beneath the rhetoric, she argued, there is dangerous arrogance and denial of reality.
“The way things are going, any of the nine nuclear-armed leaders could be foolish enough to launch nuclear weapons—by mistake or intention.”
“As long as nuclear weapons continue to be possessed, advertised or brandished by anyone, the whole world is at risk of nuclear war. That is why more and more governments are adhering to the Nuclear Ban Treaty, which aims to end this kind of nuclear posturing and exert greater financial and political costs and pressures on the nuclear programs and ambitions of all the nuclear-armed states, whether they ignore it or not”, declared Johnson
And, meanwhile, one of the realities is that the world has nine, not five nuclear powers.
The other four nuclear-weapon states—who are not parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)—include India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea who collectively possess an estimated 461 nuclear warheads, according to estimates provided by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
But all four were explicitly missing in action (MIAs) even in a follow-up statement by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, which also did not single out any of the nuclear powers by name.
So, they are strictly off-the-record and not for attribution.
Asked about the omission, UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said: “Look, our message and the Secretary‑General’s message is clear is that he would like to see all nuclear weapons eliminated. And that, as he said in the statement, it’s a dialogue with those countries that have nuclear weapons, that those countries that have openly nuclear weapons as stated in the statement that was issued and all other Member States.”
Dujarric said the Secretary-General takes the opportunity to restate what he has said repeatedly: the only way to eliminate all nuclear risks is to eliminate all nuclear weapons. He reiterates his willingness to work with the nuclear-weapon States and all Member States to achieve this goal as soon as possible.
Source: SIPRI Yearbook 2021. All estimates are approximate. SIPRI revises its world nuclear forces data each year based on new information and updates to earlier assessments.
In a report released in 2019, SIPRI said both Russia and the United States were pursuing “extensive and expensive programs to replace and modernize their nuclear arsenals, missiles and delivery systems”.
In 2018, the US Department of Defence set out plans to develop new nuclear weapons and modify others to give them expanded military roles and missions, SIPRI said in its briefing. “The nuclear arsenals of the other nuclear-armed states are considerably smaller, but all are either developing or deploying new weapon systems or have announced their intention to do so.”
Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director, Western States Legal Foundation, told IDN the inconvenient truth is that nuclear weapons will continue to exist as long as nuclear-armed states continue to cling to the dangerous doctrine of nuclear deterrence—the threatened use of nuclear weapons.
More than 50 years after the NPT entered into force, the behaviour of the NPT Nuclear-Weapon States points in the opposite direction, she noted.
“All of the nuclear-armed states, including the four outside the NPT (India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea) are engaged in costly programs to qualitatively upgrade and in some cases quantitively increase their nuclear arsenals”.
Despite these reassuring-sounding words, Cabasso said, the reality is that a new nuclear arms race is already underway.
“This time it is compounded by offensive cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, developing hypersonic capacities, a return to intermediate-range delivery systems, and the production of delivery systems capable of carrying either conventional or nuclear payloads.”
In 2010, she pointed out, the NPT States Parties agreed by consensus to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in security strategies. Twelve years later the opposite is true; that role has been expanded.
“The scale and tempo of war games by nuclear-armed states and their allies, including nuclear drills, is increasing. Ongoing missile tests, and frequent close encounters between military forces of nuclear-armed states exacerbate nuclear dangers,” she noted.
“With potential flashpoints over Ukraine and Taiwan, the risk of another use of nuclear weapons is as high as it has ever been. The nuclear disarmament process is stalled, and the five NPT Nuclear-Weapon States cannot credibly claim they are meeting their NPT Article VI obligations.”
Obviously, the four nuclear-armed states outside the NPT will have to be involved in negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons, declared Cabasso.
Dr M.V. Ramana, Professor and Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security & Director, Liu Institute for Global Issues at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, told IDN the statement, by the five major nuclear powers, was evidently prepared for the NPT Review Conference (which was scheduled for the first week of January but postponed to August because of the spreading coronavirus pandemic).
“To me, that explains why the non-parties to the NPT are not part of the statement. Further, the statement implicitly extends to them in the sense that a nuclear war among them, say between India and Pakistan, cannot be won either and should not be fought.”
“That said, I have two comments: First, the obligation to disarm applies not just to the nuclear-weapon states under the NPT but also the other four countries. In 1996, the International Court of Justice unanimously stated that ‘There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control’.”
That obligation applies to all states, he noted.
Second, while it is good to reiterate what was said decades ago by Reagan and Gorbachev, the statement is disappointing in not making any commitments to reverse the ongoing nuclear modernization process and continued investment in maintaining their existing arsenals, declared Dr Ramana.
In their joint statement, the leaders of the five major nuclear powers said: “We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. As nuclear use would have far-reaching consequences, we also affirm that nuclear weapons—for as long as they continue to exist—should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war. We believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented”.
“We reaffirm the importance of addressing nuclear threats and emphasize the importance of preserving and complying with our bilateral and multilateral non-proliferation, disarmament, and arms control agreements and commitments. We remain committed to our Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations, including our Article VI obligation ‘to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control’.”
Meanwhile, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) says despite progress in reducing nuclear weapon arsenals since the Cold War, the world’s combined inventory of nuclear warheads remains at a very high level: Nine countries possessed roughly 13,150 warheads as of mid-2021.
Approximately 91 per cent of all nuclear warheads are owned by Russia and the United States who each have around 4,000 warheads in their military stockpiles; no other nuclear-armed state sees a need for more than a few hundred nuclear weapons for national security.
Globally, the overall inventory of nuclear weapons is declining, but the pace of reduction is slowing compared with the past 30 years. Moreover, all of that reduction is happening only because the United States and Russia are still dismantling previously retired warheads, the FAS said. [IDN-InDepthNews – 09 January 2022]
Image source: German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle
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A two-year deal was reportedly reached in Vienna by which the US would lift all sanctions placed on Iran by the Trump administration.
Iran denied a report that it had reached a two-year interim agreement with world powers on Sunday.
London-based Rai al-Youm reported that the sides completed a two-year deal in Vienna, by which the US would lift all sanctions placed on Iran by the Trump administration.
In return, all of Iran’s advanced uranium would be transported to Russia.
Russia would reportedly serve as the guarantor of the agreement, in that it would return the uranium to Iran in the event of the US leaving the deal as it did in 2018.
“The report is totally wrong and fake,” a source close to the Iranian negotiating team said, according to Iranian journalist Abas Aslani.
Iranian flag flies in front of the UN office building, housing IAEA headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2021. (credit: LISI NIESNER/ REUTERS)
Negotiations continued on Tuesday, with the European delegations meeting with Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani.
Russia’s chief negotiator, Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov, said he “share[s] the assessment” by the Iranians that the sides are starting to overcome their differences on the matter of sanctions.
“Progress is being made. But achieving the desired solution will require additional time and effort,” Ulyanov tweeted.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave a speech on Sunday in which he referred obliquely to the Vienna talks.
“Not surrendering to an arrogant enemy is one of the principles of the revolution,” Khamenei said. “To negotiate, discuss, or sometimes interact with the enemy is another matter…We have not surrendered until today, and God willing, this will be the case in the future.”
The talks in Vienna for Iran and the US to return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action are currently in their eighth round. That deal limited Iran’s nuclear program, while gradually lifting sanctions.
In recent years, Iran has worked on developing uranium metal and enriching uranium to 60%, far beyond the JCPOA’s restrictions and closer than ever to weapons-grade uranium, which is enriched to 90%.Iran continued its JCPOA violations during its talks with Vienna, which were renewed on November 29, launching advanced centrifuges. Western parties to the talks with Iran – France, Germany and the UK directly, and the US indirectly – have repeatedly questioned the Islamic Republic’s seriousness in engaging in the talks and have said they will not allow them to drag on.On Friday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told BFM TV and RMC Radio that progress has been made regarding the Iran nuclear talks although time is running out.
“I remain convinced we can reach a deal. Bits of progress has been made in the last few days,” Le Drian said. “We have been heading in a positive direction in the last few days, but time is of the essence because if we don’t get an accord quickly there will be nothing to negotiate.”
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid urged French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday to pressure Iran to halt its nuclear program.
“I talked at length tonight with the President of France Emanuel Macron,” Lapid tweeted. “The conversation dealt with the regional challenges, the nuclear talks, Israel’s demand to put pressure on Iran and Israeli-EU relations.”
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.
The comment was made by Al-Sadr despite his Sadrist movement political faction having a militia called the Peace Companies associated with it.Moqtada Al-Sadr’s Sadrist Movement has the highest number of MPs of any party [Getty]
Sadr, a former militia leader himself, urged Iraqis to rally behind the national army, police and security forces.
“Today, there is no place for sectarianism or ethnic division, but a national majority government where Shias defend the rights of minorities, the Sunnis and Kurds,” Al-Sadr tweeted.
“Today there is no place for militias, and everyone will support the army, police and security forces,” he continued, also rallying against corruption and calling on all sects to get behind reform.”
While a governing coalition is yet to be formed, the Sadrist movement will have the highest number of lawmakers in parliament, after it won 73 out of 329 seats in recent elections – almost double the second-place Progress Party’s tally of 37.
Sadr, a former anti-US militia leader, has opposed all foreign interference in Iraq and repeatedly called for US troops withdrawal from his country.
Iraq’s October general election saw poor levels of participation and underwent a painstaking result-verification process.
Some experts and politicians hope for a new government by March.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran displayed three ballistic missiles at an outdoor prayer esplanade in central Tehran on Friday as talks in Vienna aimed at reviving Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers flounder.
The missiles — known as Dezful, Qiam and Zolfaghar — have official ranges of up to 620 miles and are already-known models, the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard said.
Diplomats from countries that remain in the 2015 nuclear deal — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — are working with Tehran to revive the accord, which had sought to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for lifting of economic sanctions.
American diplomats are present at the nuclear talks in Vienna but they are not in direct talks with Iranians. The accord collapsed in 2018 when then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the deal and re-imposed sanctions on Iran.
A report by Iranian state television said the missiles on display were the same types as those used to strike U.S. bases in Iraq.
The display came on the second anniversary of a ballistic missile attack on bases housing American troops in Iraq in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in 2020.
The Iranian military mistakenly shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 with two surface-to-air missiles after the attacks, killing all 176 people on board. After days of denial, the Guard publicly apologized, blaming an air defense operator who authorities said mistook the Boeing 737-800 for an American cruise missile.
An Iranian military court in November held a hearing for 10 people suspected of having role in downing the Ukrainian airliner.
State TV said a commemoration ceremony for the victims was held in Tehran’s main cemetery with the presence of their families as well as officials.