Wednesday morning’s rumbler occurred at 4:12 a.m. and registered 2.4 magnitude. The series of quakes began on Monday with a 3.3 magnitude at 2:18 p.m.. That first earthquake was followed up by three aftershocks that ranged in magnitude from 2.52 to 1.74. The latest one occurred just after 10 p.m. Monday evening.
The South Carolina Emergency Management Division says “swarms” of micro earthquakes are historically fairly common.
The recent quakes should not be strong enough to do much damage. Usually quakes registering a magnitude of 2 are the threshold of what a human might feel. Earthquakes of magnitude 4 would cause items to be thrown off shelves; magnitude 5 or 6 will cause cracks in walls and breaking windows; a quake registering a magnitude of 10 will cause complete destruction.
“We have answered the agency’s (IAEA) questions or politically motivated claims … that we think were baseless. These dossiers should be closed,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to state TV’s website.
Among sticking points in the indirect talks between Iran and the United States to revive the 2015 nuclear deal appear to be questions about uranium traces found by the IAEA at old but undeclared sites in Iran.
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani will return to Vienna on Sunday evening for the talks, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Bagheri Kani, who flew to Tehran last week for consultations with Iranian officials, will “pursue the negotiations with a clear agenda aimed at resolving” the remaining issues, IRNA said.
Iran has made clear it wants an end to the oil and banking sanctions that are hurting its economy, while insisting also on the lifting of human rights and terrorism-related curbs.
On Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Tehran was ready to “immediately conclude” a deal in talks to revive its 2015 nuclear accord with world powers if Western powers show real will.
Ambirabdollahin is due on Tuesday to report to the Iranian parliament on the progress of the talks, local media said.
On Friday, a senior U.S. State Department official said negotiators had made significant progress in the past week or so on reviving the deal but very tough issues remained.
The pact was abandoned in 2018 by then-U.S. President Donald Trump, who also reimposed extensive sanctions on Iran.
The decision to disarm was portrayed at the time as a means of ensuring Ukraine’s security through agreements with the international community — which was exerting pressure over the issue — rather than through the more economically and politically costly path of maintaining its own nuclear program. Today, with Ukraine being swarmed by heavily armed invading Russian troops bristling with weaponry and little prospect of defense from its erstwhile friends abroad, that decision is looking like a bad one.
The tragedy now unfolding in Ukraine is underlining a broader principle clearly seen around the world: Nations that sacrifice their nuclear deterrents in exchange for promises of international goodwill are often signing their own death warrants. In a world bristling with weapons with the potential to end human civilization, nonproliferation itself is a morally worthwhile and even necessary goal. But the experience of countries that actually have disarmed is likely to lead more of them to conclude otherwise in future.
The betrayal of Ukrainians in particular cannot be understated. In 1994, the Ukrainian government signed a memorandum that brought its country into the global Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while formally relinquishing its status as a nuclear state. The text of that agreement stated that in exchange for the step, the “Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine.”
Ukraine’s territorial integrity has not been much respected since. After the 2014 annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea by Russia — which brought no serious international response — Ukrainian leaders had already begun to think twice about the virtues of the agreement they had signed just two decades earlier. Today they sound positively bitter about it.
“We gave away the capability for nothing,” Andriy Zahorodniuk, a former defense minister of Ukraine, said this month about his nation’s former nuclear weapons. “Now, every time somebody offers us to sign a strip of paper, the response is, ‘Thank you very much. We already had one of those some time ago.’”
Ukrainians are not the only ones who have come to regret signing away their nuclear weapons. In 2003, Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi made a surprise announcement that his nation would abandon its nuclear program and chemical weapons in exchange for normalization with the West.
“Libya stands as one of the few countries to have voluntarily abandoned its WMD programs,” wrote Judith Miller a few years later in an article about the decision headlined “Gadhafi’s Leap of Faith.” Miller, then just out of the New York Times, added that the White House had opted “to make Libya a true model for the region” by helping encourage other states with nuclear programs to follow Gaddafi’s example.
Libya kept moving forward. It signed on to an additional protocol of the International Atomic Energy Agency allowing for extensive international monitoring of nuclear reserves. In return, sanctions against the country were lifted and relations between Washington and Tripoli, severed during the Cold War, were reestablished. Gaddafi and his family spent a few years building ties with Western elites, and all seemed to be going well for the Libyan dictator.
Then came the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. Gaddafi found that the same world leaders who had ostensibly become his economic partners and diplomatic allies were suddenly providing decisive military aid to his opposition — even cheering on his own death.
Promises, betrayals, aggression: It’s a pattern that extends even to countries that have merely considered foreclosing their avenues to a nuclear deterrent.
Missile silos abandoned by the Gaddafi regime are left in the desert at a military base in Lona, Libya, on Sept. 29, 2011.
Photo: John Cantlie/Getty Images
Take Iran: In 2015, the Islamic Republic signed a comprehensive nuclear deal with the U.S. that limited its possible breakout capacity toward building a nuclear weapon and provided extensive monitoring of its civilian nuclear program. Not long afterward, the agreement was violated by the Trump administration, despite the country’s own continued compliance. Since 2016, when Trump left the deal, Iran has been hit with crushing international sanctions that have devastated its economy and been subjected to a campaign of assassination targeting its senior military leadership.
The nuclear deal was characterized at the time as the first step toward a broader set of talks over regional disputes between Iranian and U.S. leaders, who had been alienated since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Instead, the deal marked another bitter chapter in the long-troubled relationship between the two countries.
To date, no nuclear-armed state has ever faced a full-scale invasion by a foreign power, regardless of its own actions. North Korea has managed to keep its hermetic political system intact for decades despite tensions with the international community. North Korean officials have even cited the example of Libya in discussing their own weapons. In 2011, as bombs rained down on Gaddafi’s government, a North Korean foreign ministry official said, “The Libyan crisis is teaching the international community a grave lesson.” That official went on to refer to giving up weapons in signed agreements as “an invasion tactic to disarm the country.”
Perhaps the starkest contrast to the treatment of Ukraine, Libya, and Iran, however, is Pakistan, which developed nuclear weapons decades ago in defiance of the United States. Despite being criticized at the time for contributing to nuclear proliferation and facing periodic sanctions, Pakistan has managed to insulate itself from attack or even serious ostracism by the U.S. despite several flagrant provocations in the decades since. Today Pakistan even remains a security partner of the U.S., having received billions of dollars of military aid over the past several decades.
Given the mortal hazards that nuclear weapons pose to life on Earth, nonproliferation remains a worthwhile collective goal. Humanity will not benefit from a renewal of the nuclear arms race, and the ideals behind a U.S.-backed rules-based liberal order are morally attractive. A world in which they were truly applied would probably be a fairer and more peaceful one than what has existed in the past, yet we must also recognize that the liberal order can and will fail. That lesson is especially true for small nations outmatched by great powers.
Given the tragedy we are witnessing in Ukraine today — where, despite its past assurances, the international community has remained a passive observer — leaders of small countries must be forgiven for thinking twice before sacrificing their deterrent, regardless of what the leaders of great powers already armed with nuclear weaponry may say.
Second time: As Axios notes, this is the second time Putin has rattled his nuclear sword amid the conflict. When he first sent troops over the border, he reminded the world that Russia was a leading nuclear power and warned that any nation interfering would face “consequences that you have never encountered in your history.”
Elaborating: “Western countries aren’t only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic sphere, but top officials from leading NATO members made aggressive statements regarding our country,” Putin said Sunday.
Not to worry?Last week, Vox spoke to three analysts who said the chances Putin would go nuclear were slim to none. “I think there is virtually no chance nuclear weapons are going to be used in the Ukraine situation,” says Matthew Bunn of Harvard Kennedy School. That’s the gist of the piece, though Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, adds, “I’m more worried than I was a week ago.”
Then again: Sen. Marco Rubio, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, didn’t exactly set people’s mind at ease about the Russian leader’s state of mind with this tweet on Friday night: “I wish I could share more, but for now I can say it’s pretty obvious to many that something is off with #Putin,” he wrote. “He has always been a killer, but his problem now is different & significant … It would be a mistake to assume this Putin would react the same way he would have 5 years ago.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a stark warning to the West following his invasion of Ukraine by stating that anyone who interfered “will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history”.
The threat of nuclear war has been considered by world leaders and civilians alike, despite Russia, the United States and UK all having signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and therefore, on paper, agreeing to nuclear peace.
So how real is the risk that nuclear arms could be used? And what systems are in place to minimise that risk?
He added: “To anyone who would consider interfering from outside: If you do, you will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history. All the relevant decisions have been taken. I hope you hear me.”
France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on French television channel TF1 that this message was understood to be a threat of using nuclear weapons.
Has Nato responded?
Le Drian countered with his own mention of nuclear capabilities, however. He added: “I think Vladimir Putin must also understand that the Atlantic alliance (Nato) is a nuclear alliance. That is all I will say about this.”
Nato itself does not own any nuclear weapons but some United States-owned missiles are reportedly kept at six airbases across five European countries.
25 February 2022 14:16 UTC | Last update: 1 day 13 hours ago
As the month of Ramadan approaches, all the conditions for another explosion are still in place
Palestinians and activists take part in a protest in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem on 18 February 2022 (AFP)
On 14 February, Haaretz published an article with the headline “The East Jerusalem flashpoint that could ignite the entire Middle East”. In it, the journalist Nir Hasson wrote: “Sheikh Jarrah has again become the site of violent clashes, just as it did before last year’s war between Israel and Hamas.”
The Palestinians, and especially the young activists, are confident that the South African moment is coming sooner or later
“We don’t need provocations from people on either side inflaming tensions for political interests,” Bennett said on 14 February.
Given the latest raid by Israeli settlers on the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, and the violent clashes with its Palestinian inhabitants that followed, Israeli officials and media’s concerns about last May’s almost unprecedented Palestinian uprising do not seem far-fetched.
As Ramadan approaches once again, beginning at the start of April, there is a huge potential for conflict to erupt around possible Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to parts of the Old City and al-Aqsa mosque during the Muslim holy month.
Ben Gvir’s act in Sheikh Jarrah, where 27 families have been fighting eviction since 2008, led to violent clashes between the Palestinian families and their supporters and Israeli security forces. Several protesters were injured while others were arrested.
It is this strong resistance by the Palestinian families to the recent assaults by settlers that has caused Israeli alarm, especially since this renewed local resistance has also brought pressure from Jerusalem-based international diplomats.
Acting with impunity
In the past few months, some Israeli circles held the belief that the popular resistance in Sheikh Jarrah had been exhausted by a number of factors: the continued Israeli siege of the neighbourhood, the weakness and incompetence of the Palestinian Authority, and the failure of Hamas to extract concessions, such as the easing of the blockade.
‘We’re not giving up our house’: The story of a Sheikh Jarrah family fighting Israeli expulsions
But Israel’s apparent desire to avoid further confrontation with the Palestinians doesn’t stem from humanitarian reasons. And Bennett’s criticism of Ben Gvir’s provocative conduct is not because the prime minister is any less extreme or aggressive about denying the Palestinians’ right to self-determination
Rather it is because, firstly, Bennett sees Ben Gvir’s behaviour as directed against his government, as part of infighting within the settlers’ camp, split as it is over former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the corruption charges he is facing. Secondly, Bennett is not interested in any disruptions that might embarrass his new Arab Gulf allies
For Bennett, especially on the Arab and international scene, things seem to be going pretty well. On the domestic front, he is determined to fight off continued attempts from the right-wing opposition to bring his government down.
So the Palestinians are paying the price twice: firstly from the ongoing and brutal settler-colonial, ethnic-cleansing project; secondly from the infighting between the two camps over whoever can be more brutal in implementing the cleansing plans.
Last year, almost no one had been expecting scenes of the popular uprising like the ones we witnessed in East Jerusalem, especially centred around one small neighbourhood.
It was thought impossible that Palestinian resistance could overcome the huge obstacles that have been placed before it – physically, with the high separation walls that had been erected, making it difficult to unite Palestinians in one fighting front; and politically, with the security cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli coloniser.
A young generation
That doesn’t mean we will necessarily see another intifada of the same scope and intensity during the upcoming holy month of Ramadan, even though all of the conditions for another explosion are still in place. It could happen before Ramadan, or it could be months or years from now.
But one thing is certain – as long as the apartheid settler-colonial regime continues with its injustices, brutalities and atrocities, the Palestinian people will continue to resist.
In recent years, we’ve seen the emergence of a young, militant generation, creative and brilliant at organising. They are skilled in using social media to overcome geographic and social fragmentation and reaching out to all Palestinians, wherever they are, as well as to the world.
The many minor uprisings, which are led by the youth, are the driving force behind the human rights organisations framing Israel as an apartheid state
These young people have decided not to wait for traditional leadership to save them, as it has proven incompetent and corrupt.
The birthing of a new leadership is underway. This will take years and will require much endeavour and sacrifice – but that’s what the future holds for us, with no other saviour in sight. The many minor uprisings, which are led by the youth, are the driving force behind the human rights organisations’ framing Israel as an apartheid state.
The Israeli apartheid government might have strong relations, economically and in terms of security, with world governments. But global civil society is undergoing a significant opinion shift against Israel. At every popular intifada, with every military deployment against Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip, Israel comes under fire from global civil society organisations. This is what disturbs Israel.
The Palestinians, and especially the young activists, are confident that the South African moment is coming sooner or later. This hope is what fuels their passion in the struggle for a free Palestine, where justice and equality can prevail on the ruins of the immoral and inhuman settler-colonial entity.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.
Awad Abdelfattah is a political writer and the former general secretary of the Balad party. He is the coordinator of the Haifa-based One Democratic State Campaign, established in late 2017.
For much of 2020 and 2021, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) was unable to publish quarterly domestic uranium production figures as output failed to reach its reporting threshold. Figures have been published for the last two quarters, and according to the EIA’s latest report, the fourth quarter of 2021 saw a total of 9,978 pounds U3O8 (3.8 tU) produced from three facilities: the Nichols Ranch in-situ leach (ISL) project and Ross central processing plant, both in Wyoming, and the Crowe Butte operation in Nebraska. This was 88% higher than the third quarter total of 5,297 pounds.
“2022 begins with the highest uranium price in a decade and a positive global outlook for nuclear energy not seen in a generation,” Amir Adnani, CEO of Uranium Energy Corp (UEC) told shareholders this week.
The Texas-based company’s USD112 million acquisition of Uranium One Americas (U1A) from Rosatom’s Uranium One Group, completed in December, means it now has two production-ready ‘hub and spoke’ in-situ leach platforms with processing facilities in Wyoming and South Texas, as well as four fully installed wellfields, six additional permitted or development-stage satellite ISL projects, and a portfolio of “under-explored” projects, he said.
The company plans to expand capacity at the Hobson processing plant, which sits at the centre of its South Texas hub-and-spoke production platform, working towards amending its operation licence to increase production to four million pounds per year, doubling its current licensed capacity. The company also intends to advance the Burke Hollow ISL project “towards growth and production-readiness”, Adnani said.
In March 2021, UEC made its initial purchases under an initiative to build strategic inventory of physical uranium. The inventory will support future marketing and production efforts, accelerate cashflows and bolsters the company’s balance sheet as uranium prices appreciate, Adnani said. The company’s latest reported portfolio stands at 4.1 million pounds U3O8.
Consolidated Uranium on 17 February announced it was planning and implementing initial work at three past-producing US uranium projects, described by CEO Philip Williams as the first “meaningful project-level work programmes” in the company’s history and “an important step in advancing these key US projects back toward production.”
The Toronto-based company is working in conjunction with Energy Fuels, from whom it acquired the Tony M, Daneros and Rim mines in July 2021. The three conventional uranium mines, which are in Utah, are located near Energy Fuels’ White Mesa mill, with which Consolidated has a toll-milling agreement.
Preparatory work at Lance
2022 is a “pivotal year” for Peninsula Energy as its prepares for a restart of operations at the Lance ISL project in Wyoming, the company’s CEO Wayne Heili said on 17 February.