New York Subways at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)


How vulnerable are NYC’s underwater subway tunnels to flooding?Ashley Fetters
New York City is full of peculiar phenomena—rickety fire escapes; 100-year-old subway tunnelsair conditioners propped perilously into window frames—that can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest city denizen. But should they? Every month, writer Ashley Fetters will be exploring—and debunking—these New York-specific fears, letting you know what you should actually worry about, and what anxieties you can simply let slip away.
The 25-minute subway commute from Crown Heights to the Financial District on the 2/3 line is, in my experience, a surprisingly peaceful start to the workday—save for one 3,100-foot stretch between the Clark Street and Wall Street stations, where for three minutes I sit wondering what the probability is that I will soon die a torturous, claustrophobic drowning death right here in this subway car.
The Clark Street Tunnel, opened in 1916, is one of approximately a dozen tunnels that escort MTA passengers from one borough to the next underwater—and just about all of them, with the exception of the 1989 addition of the 63rd Street F train tunnel, were constructed between 1900 and 1936.
Each day, thousands of New Yorkers venture across the East River and back again through these tubes buried deep in the riverbed, some of which are nearing or even past their 100th birthdays. Are they wrong to ponder their own mortality while picturing one of these watery catacombs suddenly springing a leak?
Mostly yes, they are, says Michael Horodniceanu, the former president of MTA Capital Construction and current principal of Urban Advisory Group. First, it’s important to remember that the subway tunnel is built under the riverbed, not just in the river—so what immediately surrounds the tunnel isn’t water but some 25 feet of soil. “There’s a lot of dirt on top of it,” Horodniceanu says. “It’s well into the bed of the bottom of the channel.”
And second, as Angus Kress Gillespie, author of Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, points out, New York’s underwater subway tunnels are designed to withstand some leaking. And withstand it they do: Pumps placed below the floor of the tunnel, he says, are always running, always diverting water seepage into the sewers. (Horodniceanu says the amount of water these pumps divert into the sewer system each day numbers in the thousands of gallons.)
Additionally, MTA crews routinely repair the grouting and caulking, and often inject a substance into the walls that creates a waterproof membrane outside the tunnel—which keeps water out of the tunnel and relieves any water pressure acting on its walls. New tunnels, Horodniceanu points out, are even built with an outside waterproofing membrane that works like an umbrella: Water goes around it, it falls to the sides, and then it gets channeled into a pumping station and pumped out.
Of course, the classic New York nightmare scenario isn’t just a cute little trickle finding its way in. The anxiety daydream usually involves something sinister, or seismic. The good news, however, is that while an earthquake or explosion would indeed be bad for many reasons, it likely wouldn’t result in the frantic flooding horror scene that plays out in some commuters’ imaginations.
The Montague Tube, which sustained severe damage during Hurricane Sandy.
MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann
Horodniceanu assures me that tunnels built more recently are “built to withstand a seismic event.” The older tunnels, however—like, um, the Clark Street Tunnel—“were not seismically retrofitted, let me put it that way,” Horodniceanu says. “But the way they were built is in such a way that I do not believe an earthquake would affect them.” They aren’t deep enough in the ground, anyway, he says, to be too intensely affected by a seismic event. (The MTA did not respond to a request for comment.)
One of the only real threats to tunnel infrastructure, Horodniceanu adds, is extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused flooding in the tunnels, which “created problems with the infrastructure.” He continues, “The tunnels have to be rebuilt as a result of saltwater corroding the infrastructure.”
Still, he points out, hurricanes don’t exactly happen with no warning. So while Hurricane Sandy did cause major trauma to the tunnels, train traffic could be stopped with ample time to keep passengers out of harm’s way. In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed all the MTA’s mass transit services to shut down at 7 p.m. the night before Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit New York City.
And Gillespie, for his part, doubts even an explosion would result in sudden, dangerous flooding. A subway tunnel is not a closed system, he points out; it’s like a pipe that’s open at both ends. “The force of a blast would go forwards and backwards out the exit,” he says.
So the subway-train version of that terrifying Holland Tunnel flood scene in Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight is … unrealistic, right?
“Yeah,” Gillespie laughs. “Yeah. It is.”
Got a weird New York anxiety that you want explored? E-mail, and we may include it in a future column.

The world nuclear horns continue to grow: Daniel

Global nuclear arsenals are expected to grow as states continue to modernize–New SIPRI Yearbook out now

Global nuclear arsenals are expected to grow as states continue to modernize–New SIPRI Yearbook out now

13 June 2022

The 53rd edition of the SIPRI Yearbook

(Stockholm, 13 June 2022) The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) today launches the findings of SIPRI Yearbook 2022, which assesses the current state of armaments, disarmament and international security. A key finding is that despite a marginal decrease in the number of nuclear warheads in 2021, nuclear arsenals are expected to grow over the coming decade.

Signs that post-cold war decline in nuclear arsenals is ending

The nine nuclear-armed states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea)—continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals and although the total number of nuclear weapons declined slightly between January 2021 and January 2022 (see table below), the number will probably increase in the next decade.

Of the total inventory of an estimated 12 705 warheads at the start of 2022, about 9440 were in military stockpiles for potential use. Of those, an estimated 3732 warheads were deployed with missiles and aircraft, and around 2000—nearly all of which belonged to Russia or the USA—were kept in a state of high operational alert.

Although Russian and US total warhead inventories continued to decline in 2021, this was due to the dismantling of warheads that had been retired from military service several years ago. The number of warheads in the two countries’ useable military stockpiles remained relatively stable in 2021. Both countries’ deployed strategic nuclear forces were within the limits set by a bilateral nuclear arms reduction treaty (2010 Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, New START). Note, however, that New START does not limit total non-strategic nuclear warhead inventories.

‘There are clear indications that the reductions that have characterized global nuclear arsenals since the end of the cold war have ended,’ said Hans M. Kristensen, Associate Senior Fellow with SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme and Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). 

‘All of the nuclear-armed states are increasing or upgrading their arsenals and most are sharpening nuclear rhetoric and the role nuclear weapons play in their military strategies,’ said Wilfred Wan, Director of SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme. ‘This is a very worrying trend.’

Russia and the USA together possess over 90 per cent of all nuclear weapons. The other seven nuclear-armed states are either developing or deploying new weapon systems, or have announced their intention to do so. China is in the middle of a substantial expansion of its nuclear weapon arsenal, which satellite images indicate includes the construction of over 300 new missile silos. Several additional nuclear warheads are thought to have been assigned to operational forces in 2021 following the delivery of new mobile launchers and a submarine.

World nuclear forces, January 2022


Deployed warheadsa

Stored warheadsb

Total stockpileb

Total inventory 2022b

Total inventory 2021bUnited States1 7441 9643 7085 4285 550Russia1 5882 8894 4775 9776 255United Kingdom120e60f180f225f225France28010290290290China 350g350g350g350India 160160160156Pakistan 165165165165Israel 90909090North Korea..20h20h20h[40–50]hTotal3 7325 7089 44012 70513 080

SourceSIPRI Yearbook 2022

Notes: All estimates are approximate. SIPRI revises its world nuclear forces data each year based on new information and updates to earlier assessments. The figures for Russia and the USA do not necessarily correspond to those in their 2010 Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START) declarations because of the treaty’s counting rules.

a ‘Deployed warheads’ refers to warheads placed on missiles or located on bases with operational forces. b ‘Stored warheads’ refers to stored or reserve warheads that would require some preparation (e.g. transport and loading on to launchers) before they could be deployed. c ‘Total stockpile’ refers to warheads that are intended for use by the armed forces. d ‘Total inventory’ includes stockpiled warheads plus retired warheads awaiting dismantlement. e This figure is for warheads that are operationally available for the UK’s three deployable nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (the fourth submarine is in refit). In 2021 the UK declared that it will no longer publicly disclose numbers of operationally available warheads, deployed warheads or deployed missiles. f The British Government declared in 2010 that its nuclear weapon stockpile would not exceed 225 warheads. The official meaning of the term ‘stockpile’ appears to refer to the total warhead inventory that includes both useable and retired warheads to be dismantled. SIPRI estimates that the total inventory remained at 225 warheads in January 2022. A government review published in 2021 raised the ceiling for the future stockpile from 225 to 260. g Even though SIPRI’s estimate of China’s total inventory is the same as for January 2021, the number of stockpiled warheads potentially available for use has changed because new launchers became operational during 2021.h Whereas in previous SIPRI yearbooks figures for North Korea were SIPRI’s estimates of the number of warheads that North Korea could build with the amount of fissile material it has produced, this year the estimate is for the number of actual assembled warheads North Korea possesses. The country’s inventory of fissile material is believed to have grown in 2021, to perhaps enough to produce 45–55 warheads. There is no publicly available evidence that North Korea has produced an operational nuclear warhead for delivery by an intercontinental-range ballistic missile, but it might have a small number of warheads for medium-range ballistic missiles. The figures for North Korea are for the first time included in the global totals.

The UK in 2021 announced its decision to increase the ceiling on its total warhead stockpile, in a reversal of decades of gradual disarmament policies. While criticizing Chinaand Russia for lack of nuclear transparency, the UK also announced that it would no longer publicly disclose figures for the country’s operational nuclear weapon stockpile, deployed warheads or deployed missiles.

In early 2021 France officially launched a programme to develop a third-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN). India and Pakistan appear to be expanding their nuclear arsenals, and both countries introduced and continued to develop new types of nuclear delivery system in 2021. Israel—which does not publicly acknowledge possessing nuclear weapons—is also believed to be modernizing its nuclear arsenal. 

North Korea continues to prioritize its military nuclear programme as a central element of its national security strategy. While North Korea conducted no nuclear test explosions or long-range ballistic missile tests during 2021, SIPRI estimates that the country has now assembled up to 20 warheads, and possesses enough fissile material for a total of 45–55 warheads.

‘If the nuclear-armed states take no immediate and concrete action on disarmament, then the global inventory of nuclear warheads could soon begin to increase for the first time since the cold war,’ said Matt Korda, Associate Researcher with SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme and Senior Research Associate with the FAS Nuclear Information Project.

Mixed signals from nuclear diplomacy 

There were several landmarks in nuclear diplomacy during the past year. These included the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in January 2021, having received the required 50 state ratifications; the extension for five years of New START, the last remaining bilateral arms control agreement between the world’s two leading nuclear powers; and the start of talks on the USA rejoining, and Iran returning to compliance with, the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

During 2021, the nuclear-armed permanent members (P5) of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, the UK and the USA—worked on a joint statement that they issued on 3 January 2022, affirming that ‘nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought’. They also reaffirmed their commitment to complying with non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control agreements and pledges as well as their obligations under the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and pursuing the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

Despite this, all P5 members continue to expand or modernize their nuclear arsenals and appear to be increasing the salience of nuclear weapons in their military strategies. Russia has even made open threats about possible nuclear weapon use in the context of the war in Ukraine. Bilateral Russia–USA strategic stability talks have stalled because of the war, and none of the other nuclear-armed states are pursuing arms control negotiations. Moreover, the P5 members have voiced opposition to the TPNW, and the JCPOA negotiations have not yet reached a resolution. 

‘Although there were some significant gains in both nuclear arms control and nuclear disarmament in the past year, the risk of nuclear weapons being used seems higher now than at any time since the height of the cold war,’ said SIPRI Director Dan Smith.

A mixed outlook for global security and stability

The 53rd edition of the SIPRI Yearbook reveals both negative and some hopeful developments in 2021. 

‘Relations between the world’s great powers have deteriorated further at a time when humanity and the planet face an array of profound and pressing common challenges that can only be addressed by international cooperation,’ said Stefan Löfven, Chair of the SIPRI Governing Board. 

In addition to its detailed coverage of nuclear arms control and non-proliferation issues, the latest edition of the SIPRI Yearbook includes insight on developments in conventional arms control in 2021; regional overviews of armed conflicts and conflict management; in-depth data and discussion on military expenditure, international arms transfers and arms production; and comprehensive coverage of efforts to counter chemical and biological security threats.

Antichrist’s withdrawal from Iraqi parliament challenges Shiite rivals

Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr delivers a speech in the central Iraqi city of Najaf on June 3, 2022.

Sadr withdrawal from Iraqi parliament challenges Shiite rivals

Populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr withdrew his party members from Iraq’s Council of Representatives, introducing a new level of uncertainty into Iraqi politics.

QASSEM AL-KAABI/AFP via Getty Images

June 13, 2022

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on June 12 ordered his members of parliament to collectively hand in their resignation to parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi.

Head of the parliamentary Sadrist bloc, Hassan al-Adhari, was seen later in a short video handing his party’s resignations to Halbusi, with the latter signing them all at once.

Will this create an opportunity for Sadr’s rival to form the government? Or will it create a challenge for them in the Iraqi street?

According to Iraq’s electoral law, when a member of parliament resigns, the electoral commission replaces them with the candidate who placed second in the same electoral circle.

The 73 seats will therefore be distributed among the second place finishers, among the Fatah Alliance, which consists of Iran-backed militias; Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Coalition; Kataib Hezbollah’s Huqooq Movement; Halbusi’s Taqaddum party; Emtedad, which is affiliated with some groups of the Tishreen movement; Ammar al-Hakim’s Hikma bloc; and other small groups and independents.

Following Sadr’s withdrawal, Halbusi announced, “The political blockage will not continue. We seek to form a government that will bear the responsibility of the political blocs for its success and failure.”

Halbusi said the legal procedure will be followed in terms of replacing resigned members, predicting that the political blockage would disappear soon.

But he alluded to the continued challenge of forming a new government after Sadr’s withdrawal, saying, “The option of dissolving the parliament and organizing another early election is constitutional … but so far this option has not been raised.”

In the same vein, early tonight President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Council of Iraq Faiq Zaidan gathered to discuss the situation after Sadr’s withdrawal.

The gathering was read as an attempt to take the process forward and form a new government.

The Coordination Framework, which consists of a Shiite rival group of the Sadrists, gathered tonight as well and issued a statement saying it would move toward forming a government to serve the nation’s interests.

Sadr’s withdrawal certainly creates an opportunity for the Coordination Framework to form the government with an alliance of Sunnis and Kurds, which will provide enough members for the selection of the president and the prime minister and for forming the Cabinet.

At the moment, the Coordination Frameworkhas about 70 members. The Sunnis are about 70 and the two Kurdish parties together are 60. With the replacement of the Sadrist seats, they will get about 40 more seats at least, making them total much more than the 220 required to select the president.

But the differences between the Coordination Framework itself and the Sunni and Kurdish groups are very sharp, which could make it very difficult to unite to form the government.

In particular, Hizb al-Dawa is divided between Maliki and Haidar al-Abadi. The competition between Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Kataib Hezbollah is very sharp. Sayyed Ammar Hakim’s Hikma bloc had been campaigning against the militias gathered under Fatah for a long time, accusing them of acting outside of the state.

The Kurds have been targeted by the militias’ rockets and drones as well for a long time. These militias are affiliated with Fatah Alliance within the Coordination Framework. The Sunnis have long-standing differences with the militias as well due to the abusive behavior of the militias in the Sunni areas.

Former deputy of the Fatah Alliance Hamed Al-Moussawi warned both the Kurdish and Sunni parties about not accepting the formation of a government with the Coordination Framework, saying that “there are six brigades (factions of the Popular Mobilization Units) on the borders of the Kurdistan Region.”

It could be very difficult for Kurds and Sunnis to agree to form a government given the pressure from these groups.  

On the other side, Sadr will not remain silent and will certainly use the streets to create problems for any government in the event one is formed.

This is especially true due to Sadrists’ popular presence in the Shiite community. The sweltering summer, lack of electricity and potable water among other basic services, will add fuel to the fire.

In a clear signal to a new wave of protests, Jalil al-Nouri, a close confidant of Sadr’s, tweeted, “Whoever thinks that the revolution is over, they are delusional. Be careful of calm. It’s always before the storm.”

In the same vein, Al-Jedar Telegram affiliated with the Sadrists posted today, “The Framework think that the Sadrist movement and Muqtada al-Sadr have abandoned their electoral entitlement and their largest bloc after the mass resignations [of parliament members]. They think that Iraq and the political process will be left for them to plunder and allow foreign interference. They are daydreaming; they forgot that the gates of hell will be opened in front of them and that the Sadrist movement is able to bring down any government they form within only a few hours. This is if parliament continues.”

In such circumstances, three options seem to be on the table. The first option is forming a government without Sadrists, but such a government could be pressured from Sadrists in the streets. The second option is to have early elections soon, which is difficult due to the lack of agreement between political parties over the electoral law and the electoral commission — in addition to the fact that preparation for new elections requires a long effort in Iraq. The Kadhimi government was able to form early elections about 15 months after its formation. The third option is a caretaker government, likely accompanied by disorder in the streets and legal challenges from political forces and factions.

India, Pakistan Horns seem to be increasing size of nuclear weapon inventories: Revelation 8

India Pakistan nuclear weapon
Representative Image

India, Pakistan seem to be increasing size of nuclear weapon inventories, says arms watchdog

On Jun 13, 2022

Stockholm: India and Pakistan also seem to be increasing the size of their nuclear weapon inventories, a leading arms watchdog has said.

At the start of 2022, nine states — the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea –possessed approximately 12,705 nuclear weapons, of which 9,440 were estimated to be in military stockpiles for potential use.

About 3,732 of these warheads were estimated to be deployed with operational forces, and around 2,000 of these were kept in a state of high operational alert.

In its annual report published on Monday, the Stockholm International Peace Research (SIPRI) said that all nine nuclear-armed countries are increasing or upgrading their arsenals, Al Jazeera reported.

Overall, the number of nuclear warheads in the world continues to decline, but this is primarily due to Russia and the USA dismantling retired warheads. Global reductions of operational warheads appear to have stalled, and their numbers may be rising again. At the same time, both Russia and the USA have extensive and expensive programmes underway to replace and modernize their nuclear warheads, missile, and aircraft delivery systems, and nuclear weapon production facilities, SIPRI said.

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. China is in the middle of a significant modernization and expansion of its nuclear arsenal, which appears to include the construction of over 300 new missile silos. India and Pakistan also seem to be increasing the size of their nuclear weapon inventories, while in 2021 the UK announced its intention to increase its nuclear stockpile, SIPRI said in a report.

“There are clear indications that the reductions that have characterised global nuclear arsenals since the end of the Cold War have ended,” said Hans Kristensen, associate senior fellow with SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme and director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), Al Jazeera reported.

IDF to hold ground maneuvers outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

IDF shells Hamas post after Palestinians breach Gaza border

IDF to hold ground maneuvers near Gaza border

In recent weeks, the military has conducted a series of military exercises involving combat planes over the Mediterranean and warships in the Red Sea, in order to prepare for different “scenarios” facing Iran.

The Israeli military announced ground maneuvers near the Israel-Gaza Strip border, saying the drill would take place on Monday and Tuesday.

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The IDF said that explosions could be heard in communities in the area, stressing however that the movement of civilians will not be affected by the drills.

In recent weeks, the military has conducted a series of military exercises involving combat planes over the Mediterranean and warships in the Red Sea, in order to prepare for different “scenarios” facing Iran.

The exercise, part of a wider readiness effort simulating scenarios in which a conflict with the Palestinians evolves to include hostilities on the northern border with Lebanon and Syria and even beyond, was scheduled to take place in May 2021 but was postponed due to Operation Guardian of the Wall.

A military official told Israeli media on Sunday that the drill seeks to prepare for combat “near and far.”

Part of the month-long war games held by the IDF in May saw dozens of warplanes stage maneuvers over the Mediterranean Sea to simulate long-distance, refueling, and resupply flights, as well as strikes against what the military called “remote target.”

According to the Israeli press, the exercise simulated a large-scale attack against Iran, in particular against nuclear sites.

The military confirmed that it is “continuously preparing and training for multiple scenarios including threats from Iran.”

Part of the exercise took place off Cyprus, as well as in residential areas on the eastern Mediterranean island.

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Also within the framework of these maneuvers, the Israeli army conducted an exercise with two warships and a submarine in the Red Sea to “achieve maritime superiority” and “maintain freedom of action in the region.”

The Israeli military’s strategic plan for 2022 identifies Iran as the top threat, not only because of its nuclear program but also its developing armed drone and missile capabilities.

i24NEWS contributed to this report.

Russia Horn Threatens Poland with Nuclear Strike

The Foreign Ministry of Russia Threatens Poland with Nuclear Strike

Sun, June 12, 2022, 7:15 AM

DENYS KARLOVSKYI – SUNDAY, 12 JUNE 2022, 15:43 p.m.

The Head of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, Viacheslav Volodin, threatens that if the suggestion by the former Foreign Minister of Poland Radoslaw Sikorski to provide Ukraine with nuclear weapons is fulfilled, then the possible nuclear conflict will destroy the European continent.

Source: Volodin’s Telegram-channel

Quote: “Sikorski is provoking a nuclear conflict in the centre of Europe. He doesn’t think neither about the future of Ukraine nor about the future of Poland. In case his suggestions are fulfilled, these countries will cease to exist, as will Europe as well.

Sikorski and the like are the reason why Ukraine must not only be set free from the Nazi ideolody but also be demilitarized, securing the nuclear-weapon-free status of the country.”

Details: Volodin also warned that such deputies as Sikorski will cause even more problems in Europe.

The Head of the State Duma of the Russian Federation advised Poland’s ex-Minister to be stripped of his mandate, forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and locked up in his house.

Reminder: Ukraine is already a nuclear-weapon-free country, having voluntarily disposed of all its nuclear ammunition according to the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances signed in 1994. It guaranteed the integrity of Ukraine’s borders and sovereignty. Russia was one of the guarantors.

Background: Radoslaw Sikorski, the European Parliament Deputy and former Foreign Minister of Poland, suggested providing Ukraine with nuclear weapons. He argued that Russia broke the terms of the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances by refusing to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and integrity, so nuclear weapons should be returned to Kyiv, even though Ukrainians voluntarily disposed of them.

Why Israel’s assassination strategy against the Iran Horn will fail

Why Israel’s assassination strategy in Iran will fail

As the second season of the sketchy television series Tehran continues to depict a distorted image of Iran’s security and intelligence systems, in the real world, Israelhas been assassinating Iranian scientistsengineers and officers in the country’s national security sector.

The variety of recent attacks reveals that Israel has decided to act unilaterally against not just Iranian nuclear sites and scientists, but also those working in other areas, such as drone and missile programmes. This might all be part of Israel’s “death by a thousand cuts” strategy that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett outlined to US President Joe Bidenlast year.

At best, however, assassinations and sabotage should be regarded as scratches, not ‘cuts’ to Iran’s security and defence programmes

Israel doesn’t claim responsibility for the attacks against Iranian targets, apparently seeking to preserve a mysterious image of its intelligence operations on Iranian soil through social media propaganda. Regardless, it is unlikely that these operations will lead to any significant disruptions in the ambitious plans and projects of Iran’s defence apparatus.

Iran shares land or water borders with more than a dozen countries, extending for thousands of kilometres and protected mostly by traditional tools and practices. This makes them penetrable by foreign state-sponsored terror agents.

Iranians lift national flags during a ceremony commemorating the second anniversary of the killing of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in Tehran on 3 January 2022 (AFP)
Iranians lift national flags during a ceremony commemorating the second anniversary of the killing of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in Tehran on 3 January 2022 (AFP)

The Iranian Border Guard Command, a subdivision of the country’s Law Enforcement Force tasked with monitoring and protecting the country’s borders, is not as well-equipped or well-trained to cope with national security matters as the country’s intelligence agencies. That is likely why Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently supported promoting the Law Enforcement Force to a general command structure, giving it a stronger intelligence role.

Beyond border security issues, the Iranian government does not apply protective protocols to all scientists, engineers and technicians associated with its defence programmes, due to the large numbers of people employed in such positions. Many work in the civil sector or universities, and merely share their knowledge with the government.

As a result, it doesn’t require exceptional planning or equipment to trace and hit such targets at an opportune moment. If Iran’s intelligence services employed protective protocols for anyone working in these positions, it would be much more dangerous and costly for Israel to carry out multiple strikes in a short timeframe.

On the other hand, although Israel has assassinated top figures – such as Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, the masterminds of Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes respectively – and contributed to the US assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, the country’s defence strategy has never been reliant on a single individual.

Top Iranian universities have created development centres, gathering and organising the knowledge of the country’s scientific elite. The increasingly sophisticated knowledge-based production framework, working in concert with the country’s defence sector, cannot be disrupted by assassinations or sabotage of individuals or facilities. Khamenei himself has stressed the value of this framework.

Israel’s attacks will only strengthen the Iranian leadership’s conclusion that its internal power-building strategy is effective and deserves more political and financial attention from government. Moreover, the continued assassinations of civil elites and scientists gives the state a more tangible pretext for mobilising public anger against Israel as a rogue regime.

Over the past four decades, Iran’s intelligence agencies have successfully neutralised myriad threats against the country, but there are still critical weak points. The intelligence community must make a concerted effort to counter Israel’s operations in the country as a systematic and strategic risk.

Israel-Iran tensions: Israeli cyberattacks will only strengthen Iranian resolveRead More »

Israel has been expanding its intelligence foothold across Iran’s borders under the guise of “smart villages” in Azerbaijan or “economic partnerships” with Iraqi Kurdistan.

The pattern of Israel’s operations inside Iran suggests that it has exploited loose protocols, going after isolated targets to minimise the possibility of engagement with Iranian intelligence and to avoid leaving a footprint. Yet, while Iran can rebuild sabotaged sites, the extraction of classified documents can bring enormous consequences; by obtaining the “nuclear archive” in 2018, Israel learned much about Iran’s nuclear facilities, which aided sabotage operations.

At best, however, assassinations and sabotage should be regarded as scratches, not “cuts” to Iran’s security and defence programmes, which constitute the backbone of Iran’s national security doctrine and involve numerous research groups, scientists, technicians, production lines and arsenals, many of which are confidential.

While occasional infiltrations might bring reputational damage or isolated costs, they cannot incapacitate Iran’s countrywide development chains. 

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.