Tremors Before the Great Earthquake at Christ’s Return : Revelation 11

Cracks that appeared in a building in Tiberias following an earthquake on January 23, 2022, prompting an evacuation of residents. (Screenshot: Twitter)

2nd minor earthquake within hours rattles northern Israel; some buildings evacuated

3.5-magnitude quake centered south of Tiberias, just hours after earlier temblor; no immediate reports of injuries

By TOI staffToday, 1:32 pm

A minor earthquake shook northern Israel on Sunday afternoon, sending some residents into the streets during the area’s second temblor within hours.

Israel’s Geological Survey said the 3.5-magnitude quake struck just after midday, centered 16 kilometers southeast of the city of Tiberias.

Police said there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage and no warnings about disturbances at sea.

A series of fault lines runs along the Red Sea, the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley, causing geological activity in the area.

In Beit She’an, employees were evacuated from city hall as part of the standard procedures during an earthquake. A school was also evacuated in nearby Afula.

An unnamed resident of Beit She’an told the Walla news site that they were concerned a larger quake could be on the way.

“We felt a short earthquake just like it during the night. We left the building and waited a few minutes. It is very surprising that there was another earthquake and there is concern there may be a bigger one soon,” they said.

A resident of Nazareth told Channel 12 news that they also “felt the earthquake strongly.”Advertisement

The quake came just hours after an earlier minor quake in northern Israel, late Saturday night.

Israel’s Geological Survey said that 3.7-magnitude earthquake began at 11:36 p.m. on Saturday. The epicenter was around 19 kilometers northeast of Beit She’an, near Israel’s border with Jordan.

“It went on for a relatively long time. It moved things around in my house,” a Haifa resident told Walla news after the first quake. “My desk was moving by itself for four or five seconds. The whole house, the bed, the room shook.”

“My whole body was trembling with fear. I started grabbing my kids to get outside. The bed really moved. All the windows were shaking,” a woman from Tiberias said.

Authorities on Sunday reminded residents of earthquake protocols, with anyone who might be in danger told to head for an open space.

People unable to leave their building should enter their bomb-proof secure room, leaving the doors and windows open, or go into the stairwell and head down. If neither of these are options, they should shelter in the corner of a room.Advertisement

Those who are outdoors at the time of a quake should stay away from buildings, trees, power cables and any items that could fall.

Anyone close to a beach should move away at least one kilometer away from the water, or make sure they are on the fourth floor or above in case of flooding or a tsunami.

Anyone driving at the time of a quake should stop at the side of the road and wait inside the vehicle until the end of the earthquake, but should avoid stopping under a bridge or at a junction.

Earlier this month, a 6.6-magnitude quake hit off the coast of Cyprus. It was felt in nearby Israel, Lebanon and Turkey.

Israel lies along an active fault line: the Syrian-African rift, a tear in the earth’s crust that runs the length of the border separating Israel and Jordan. The last major earthquake to hit the region was in 1927 — a 6.2-magnitude tremor that killed 500 people and injured 700 — and seismologists estimate that such earthquakes occur in this region approximately every 100 years.

In 2018, the state ombudsman warned Israel is woefully unprepared for a major earthquake.

Arshad Sharif explains how Pakistani Horn’s changes serve US interests

Arshad Sharif

Arshad Sharif explains how Pakistani regime changes serve US interests

23 June 2022

Sharif says we have to find out “the smoking gun in the hand of the conspirator” involved in the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan, Z.A Bhutto, and Imran Khan’s ouster.

Prominent journalist Arshad Sharif on Wednesday explained the internal and external factors linked to what Imran Khan calls a US-backed regime-change conspiracy against his government.

Speaking to the participants of a seminar titled ‘Regime Change Conspiracy and Pakistan’s Destabilisation,’ Sharif said the US did not contact the PTI administration, despite former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s efforts. But as soon as Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari became the foreign minister, the communication between the two states was resumed.

Sharif said the media has not yet questioned whether it was a decision made in the White House or the US NSC. He added that it could be a state-level decision by President Joe Biden, who was part of the Project for the New American Century which led to various US-backed regime-change operations worldwide post-2001, including Iraq.

Discussing the internal factors, he said it all comes down to egoistic individuals, institutions, and their political interests. “Who thinks for Pakistan? Are we only going to think about the individuals, or just institutions that have a bad ego?”

“Was Imran Khan thinking of Pakistan or protecting individuals’ interests? What kind of media narratives were shaped during the regime change conspiracy? Individuals and institutions dominated them, while the media remained silent about the interests of the country.”

He claimed that lawfare – the weaponisation of legal instruments for political ends – was a part of this regime-change operation and the media actively reported it.

Reiterating President Dr. Arif Alvi’s stance, Sharif said we have to find out “the smoking gun in the hand of the conspirator” involved in the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and who was behind Imran Khan’s ouster.

Identifying a larger pattern, Sharif said the US had interests in the region at the time of the imposition of all three martial laws of 1958, 1978, and 1999. He said Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated two weeks before his Russia visit.

He said during the peak of the cold war, Pakistan became a part of the US camp and joined SEATO and CENTO. Later, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was deposed in a military coup by his appointed army chief Zia-ul-Haq, before being controversially tried and sentenced to death in 1978.

In 1999, he said the US had already planned wars in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. He said the TTP was infused in Pakistan, which was dragged into a war of terror. He said Pakistan’s nuclear weapon saved it from attack.

However, he said, during the Musharraf era, Pakistan finally walked into the war against terrorism, and the rest is history. He pointed out that all the dictatorships ended through popular uprisings, like the emergence of PPP or the Lawyers Movement. But he said there was always a hybrid democratic system.

He noted that the 2018-2022 era in Pakistani politics stands out based on its “authoritarian consolidation” and accountability. But in a presser, Maryam Nawaz talked about some “videos,” and the accountability process slowed down, and Nawaz Sharif was sent to the UK.

Discussing the role of media in shaping the narrative during the regime-change conspiracy, he said the press implemented a 3-D strategy against the PTI government: disrupt, discredit, and deny.

He raised a question that when Imran Khan was ousted from office late at night after losing a no-confidence vote, who ordered a police van to be stationed outside the PM house, adding that Sheikh Rashid – the then interior minister – did not do so.

Criticising the Red Zone Files, Sharif said the debates in print and electronic media during the “regime change” operation focused on institutions and individuals rather than on constitutional framework or business rules. “Do we want the country to be ruled by law or by individuals?”

The journalist claimed that on April 9 or 10, the media was directed to deny space to PTI, adding that the journalists who raised their voices were thrown out of their channels, including Imran Riaz Khan.

He said those who filed FIRs against the journalists and PTI members are following the same old ‘playbook.’ He said the problem, however, is that they cannot find the corruption cases and have to resort to terrorism charges.

Sharif claimed that he was also asked to do a show on Imran Khan’s corruption, to which he said, “Imran Khan did not even waste half a bottle of water, how can you expect to find or allege corruption cases against him.”

The impact of Russia’s war against Ukraine on the Nuclear Horns: Daniel

The impact of Russia’s war against Ukraine on multilateral nuclear diplomacy

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has created one of the worst political environments in which international treaty review conferences could be taking place. And yet, both the first Meeting of States Parties of the TPNW (1MSP) and the NPT Review Conference (RevCon) are taking place in June and August 2022 respectively. This comes after several years of crises and challenges to the arms control, non-proliferation, and disarmament regime.

The NPT RevCon has been postponed four times between its original meeting date in April-May 2020 and the currently anticipated scheduled date of August 2022. The TPNW entered into force in January 2021 and has had its first Meeting of States Parties (1MSP) postponed once due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well.

This is not to say that the 10th NPT RevCon was set to go swimmingly before COVID: a broad range of challenges have plagued the system from the start. Due to the previous RevCon in 2015 failing to produce a consensus-based final outcome document, the 10th review cycle has been under a great deal of pressure to deliver a successful outcome. However, each NPT RevCon postponement has coincided with additional difficulties in the political environment. These challenges include, among others, the COVID pandemic interrupting international travel which made diplomacy much more difficult and precluded civil society from being able to participate in meetings. Additionally, the collaboration announced between Australia, the UK, and the US (AUKUS) under which the UK and the US will help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines, has been met with opposition and discontent from Franceand China. Russia and China’s force modernisations have also contributed to divisions between NWS and NNWS, as well as among the P5.

The war in Ukraine highlights and exacerbates the polarisation in the international system which has become a core blockage in multilateral diplomacy. As such, it poses several risks to both the NPT RevCon and the 1MSP of the TPNW. Both conferences are important; the last several years have shown the fragility of our international legal system. Being able to prove that the treaties work is important and our existing treaty regime needs to be safeguarded. In addition, both conferences are important milestones and the conferences potentially proceeding poorly would therefore have a particularly negative impact. The NPT RevCon still marks the 50th anniversary of the NPT, and concerns remain over the legacy of the failed 2015 RevCon. The 1MSP is the first meeting since the TPNW went into force. It is also the meeting at which states hoped to make some key decisions about aspects of the treaty which require further progress, such as the verification provision. Both RevCon success and 1MSP decision-making may be hampered by heightened tensions. While it may be reasonable to believe that TPNW signatories are now more united than ever over the need to eliminate nuclear weapons, some TPNW signatories who are Russian allies may find it difficult to condemn the war in Ukraine, which may become a point of disagreement within the TPNW membership.

The high levels of hostility in the international system could show up at the two conferences in a range of ways. At the NPT RevCon, it could lead to another fractured conference with a tense atmosphere. The January 2022 P5 statement which affirmed that ‘a nuclear war cannot be won and should not be fought’ has now been called into question due to Russia’s nuclear threats. NNWs will look for some sort of reaffirmation by the P5, but not all will find it credible in light of Russian aggressions. Additionally, several NPT member-states have strongly condemned the Russian aggressions in Ukraine, which they may decide to do again at the RevCon. It is nearly inconceivable that Russia would not respond should it be called out in such a fashion. It will be far harder to reach agreement in an even more polarised security environment. If states abuse rights of reply or obstruct the process in other ways, the result could be that there is not just no consensus outcome, but that the whole conference becomes bogged down and hostile. Many states and civil society actors have invested a great deal of time and money into defining and preparing various proposals to ensure that the RevCon is going to be a success. This includes extensive work on risk reduction steps, the launch of the Stockholm Initiative, investment in the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) and many others over the past seven years. Due to the increased tensions in the system, some of these options may be even more difficult to agree on.

The TPNW so far has been characterised by strong consensus between signatories. Political disagreements over the relationship with Russia could damage this consensus at a time at which states are coming together to make some difficult decisions about certain details of the treaty, such as verification or figuring out the details of victim assistance and environmental remediation programmes and its provisions.

How could we address this risk proactively? There is a precedent of siloing issues at other RevCons – namely, the Russian invasion of Crimea preceding RevCon in 2015. However, it is not clear that attempting to silo the meetings from the war in Ukraine is the best course of action. The war has already taken a large human toll which should not be minimised by keeping any discussion of the war out of other fora such as the upcoming review conferences. In addition, it may simply not be possible for some states to stay silent on the war. Our non-proliferation and disarmament treaty regime is vitally important and must be safeguarded. Opinion polls from the Republic of Korea show that 75% of ROK citizens now support the country acquiring nuclear weapons, in light of DPRK missile tests and Russian aggressions in Ukraine. It will be important for all participating states to be constructive, whether or not they raise concerns over the war in Ukraine. Treaty signatories and civil society have been waiting and preparing for these two meetings for a long time. While the environment is difficult, non-proliferation and progress on disarmament remain crucial, especially at a time when the salience of nuclear weapons and the risk of escalation have increased. We will need to find a way to talk with one another honestly, while holding on to shared goals and interests – such as preventing further proliferation and arms racing.

Though it is difficult to imagine in the current environment, an ideal outcome to the 1MSP and the RevCon would be states working together despite their difficulties to safeguard international treaty regimes and find areas of agreement wherever possible. This might include for the 1MSP a work plan to improve verification provisions as well as observer states extending an olive branch to TPNW signatories in their statements. For the RevCon, this could mean a work plan to implement further nuclear risk reduction measures and ensure that cooperation on peaceful nuclear uses is strengthened despite the tense environment. If we see even some of these outcomes, then we can consider these meetings a success despite the difficult environment they take place in.

The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Leadership Network or any of its members. The ELN’s aim is to encourage debates that will help develop Europe’s capacity to address the pressing foreign, defence, and security policy challenges of our time.

Image: Flickr, Number 10.

Antichrist accuses Iran’s allies of meddling, as political tensions continue

Iraqi cleric accuses Iran’s allies of meddling, as political tensions continue

Iraqi cleric accuses Iran’s allies of meddling, as political tensions continue

Muqtada al-Sadr has been unable to cobble together a coalition that can form a majority government; Iraqi parliament set to replace 73 lawmakers who resigned earlier this month

By Qassim Abdul-ZahraToday, 1:02 pm

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s Parliament is set to hold a session Thursday to vote in replacements for 73 lawmakers who resigned earlier this month. The collective walkout by followers of Iraq’s most influential Shiite politician threw Iraq into further uncertainty, deepening a months-long political crisis over government formation.

It was not clear whether the extraordinary session requested by 50 members of parliament during a recess would go through. A simple majority of the legislature’s 329 members is required for an electoral session, and Muqtada al-Sadr urged parliamentary blocs not to succumb to “pressures” from Iranian-backed factions.

Al-Sadr, a maverick politician with a large following, emerged as the biggest winner in general elections held in October, but has been unable to cobble together a coalition that can form a majority government.

He has been locked in a power struggle with internal Shiite rivals backed by Iran, preventing the formation of a new government.

Two weeks ago, he ordered lawmakers from his parliamentary bloc to resign in a bid to break the eight-month impasse. The unprecedented move threw Iraq’s political landscape into disarray.

According to Iraqi laws, if any seat in parliament becomes vacant, the candidate who obtains the second-highest number of votes in their electoral district would replace them. In this case, it would make al-Sadr’s opponents from the so-called Coordination Framework, a coalition led by Iran-backed Shiite parties and their allies, the majority. This would allow pro-Iranian factions to determine the makeup of the next government.

Followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr hold posters with his photo as they celebrate the passing of a law criminalizing the normalization of ties with Israel, in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, May 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

Even though Parliament is in recess, lawmakers mostly from the Framework alliance called for an extraordinary session Thursday to vote on the new lawmakers.

On Wednesday, al-Sadr accused Iranian proxies of political meddling. He also accused them of applying pressure against newly elected political independents and allies of his Sadrist bloc.

He called on parliamentarians not to succumb to pressure.

“I call on blocs to stand bravely for the sake of reform and saving the nation, and not to give in to sectarian pressures, as they are bubbles which will disappear,” he said in a statement.

Munaf Al-Musawi, a political analyst and director of the Baghdad Center for Strategic Studies, said that the statement by al-Sadr against Iran’s proxies also sends a message to his former allies — Massoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, and Speaker of Parliament Mohammed Al-Halbusi — to avoid holding a parliament session.

He said if a session is held, the Coordination Framework and its allies would control parliament and Sadr’s allies would pay the price.

Lawmakers belonging to Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s parliamentary bloc prepare to attend a parliamentary session in Baghdad, Iraq, March 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

Iraq’s election was held several months earlier than expected, in response to mass protests that broke out in late 2019 and saw tens of thousands rally against endemic corruption, poor services and unemployment.

The political deadlock has led to concerns of renewed protests and street clashes between supporters of al-Sadr and their Shiite rivals.

World free of nuclear weapons is Contrary to Prophecy

World free of nuclear weapons is necessary, possible, pope says

Crew members from the HMS Vengeance, a British Royal Navy Trident ballistic missile submarine, stand on their vessel as they return to the Faslane naval base near Glasgow, Scotland, in this file photo. Nuclear deterrence, Pope Francis said, is in no way a deterrent to most of the world’s most serious problems, (CNS photo/David Moir, Reuters)

By: Cindy Wooden

Date: June 21, 2022

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Nuclear weapons do not increase a nation’s or region’s security, in fact, they are a “risk multiplier” that gives people a false sense of security, Pope Francis said in a message to an international conference.

Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, the Vatican foreign minister, read the pope’s message in Vienna June 21 at the first Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The treaty, which prohibits the deployment, possession, moving, storing and stationing of nuclear weapons, entered into force in 2021; it has been signed by 86 nations and ratified by 62 of them, including the Holy See. The United States, Canada and other members of NATO have not signed the treaty, nor have Russia and China.

“A world free from nuclear weapons is both necessary and possible,” Pope Francis wrote in his message to the conference. “In a system of collective security, there is no place for nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.”

Nuclear deterrence, he said, is in no way a deterrent to most of the world’s most serious problems, including terrorism, cyber attacks, environmental catastrophes and poverty.

Then, he said, one must consider “the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences that would follow from any use of nuclear weapons, with devastating, indiscriminate and uncontainable effects, over time and space.”

Even simply maintaining the weapons is costly — drawing resources away from positive actions like education, health care and poverty reduction — but there also is the constant “risk of accidents, involuntary or otherwise, that could lead to very troubling scenarios.”

“Nuclear weapons are a costly and dangerous liability. They represent a ‘risk multiplier’ that provides only an illusion of a ‘peace of sorts,’” the pope said.

“I wish to reaffirm that the use of nuclear weapons, as well as their mere possession, is immoral,” Pope Francis wrote.

“Trying to defend and ensure stability and peace through a false sense of security and a ‘balance of terror’ sustained by a mentality of fear and mistrust inevitably ends up poisoning relationships between peoples and obstructing any possible form of real dialogue,” he said.

In addition, the pope wrote, the possession of nuclear weapons “leads easily to threats of their use, becoming a sort of ‘blackmail’ that should be repugnant to the consciences of humanity.”

The treaty, he said, brings more than a legal obligation, it is a sign of a “moral commitment” and a pledge to “promoting a culture of life and peace based upon the dignity of the human person and the awareness that we are all brothers and sisters.”

The immutable Antichrist loses a battle against Iran

The immutable Muqtada al-Sadr loses a battle against Iran

The immutable Muqtada al-Sadr loses a battle against Iran

June 22, 2022 • 9:28 am ET

By Andrew L. Peek

The June 12 decision by Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to renounce his electoral victory and collapse the government formation process is a gift to Iran. It is a blow to average Iraqis—who demonstrated in 2019 for the end of the sectarian political system and were killed for it—and a blow to the United States, which had a chance to help expunge much of the malign Iranian influence that has seeped into Iraq since the 2003 US invasion.

Sadr had won a significant seventy-three out of 329 seats in Iraq’s parliamentary elections in October 2021, outperforming all his Iraqi competitors, but especially the Iranian-backed parties and their militias. He then attempted to do something unprecedented: hold out for a majoritarian coalition and shut those same Shia parties out of government entirely, rather than divide up the spoils.

If Sadr cut Iran-aligned parties out of the Iraqi government, including Iraq’s internal policy forces, it would have been a major blow to Iran’s growing regional influence in the Middle East. Iran values a pliable Iraq more than anything else: the prospect of an unfriendly Iraqi government—or even a nationalistic Iraqi government—would have reoriented Tehran’s political and security efforts in the region. Some of the funds and the attention of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which flows to Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and even the Gaza Strip, would then have to be redirected in an epic effort to negotiate a new relationship with Baghdad.

It would also have revolutionized Iraqi politics, where certain militias and their political allies in the government intimidate politicians who stray too far from the line. As it happens, Sadr is one of the very few Iraqi political leaders who is difficult to intimidate. His brand is that of the eternal outsider and opponent of the US invasion, Iran, corruption, and Iraqi elites. However, his real power is that he has had a militia of his own. Saraya al-Salam forms part of the Hashd al-Shaabi—until recently, it almost had the strength to match the Iran-backed portions of the group. Sadr, thus, has the muscle to force a decisive confrontation if he wants.

Sadr’s steadfastness these past eight months since the October 2021 elections was shocking, particularly for a man whose political oscillations are an Iraqi watchword. He was being leaned on very heavily. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had urged Sadr to drop his project, to join with the Iran-aligned parties, and return to the rule of the great Shia political glob. His coalition partners, particularly the Kurdish Democratic Party’s (KDP) Masoud Barzani, were also under immense pressure. The forces opposing Sadr—primarily former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki—had focused on stopping the nomination of the presidency, rigging a series of court decisions: raising the threshold for his election and then disqualifying the KDP’s candidate, Hoshyar Zebari.

To what precise extent Iran controls Iraq is one of the great policy questions of the region and the answer is, broadly, not as much as Iraq’s critics claim, with Sadr’s election being proof of that. But also proof of Iran’s influence is his order for the resignation of loyalist members of parliament. Iran has the most influence in behaviors that hamper the region, such as militias and ballistic missiles. The trouble for Iraqis is that these behaviors are precisely the ones that make Iraq impossible to change, whether to attract greater foreign investment, encourage its bourgeoning private sector, or simply reduce corruption from the top down. The Iranians and their political henchmen have private armies and courts and their government will, thus, elect a new people if they are pressed too far.

A vote for Sadr was a vote for change in Iraq—undisciplined, highly erratic change, certainly, but change, nonetheless. His victory was not a full endorsement of the October 2019 demonstrators, but also due to a reordering of the electoral system and thus ephemeral. His bloc gamed the elections best.  But he had seized the mantle of the protestors even with partial consent.

His current strategy is risky: he will almost certainly be making a play for early elections, though it’s unclear how much better he could do than in October 2021. Sadr may be feeling stronger after some action in this parliamentary session, including passing a food security law that will appeal to the poor and an anti-normalization law to fend off critics from the Iran-backed parties. He may also want to bait Maliki and the opposition into forming a government, instead, and be saddled during a hot and underemployed summer in Iraq with sandstorms and power outages. But the opposition isn’t foolish and will likely accede to early elections after a period under the current government—if they are asked.

It was a mistake for the Joe Biden administration to keep Iraq at arm’s length these past months. The administration has deployed minor US officials and made anodyne statements about the will of the Iraqi people. That reflects conventional wisdom: that a more visible US presence can only arouse Shia opposition and harm those nationalistic Iraqis whose victory would help net-US interests. It isn’t popular for Sadr, after all, to have US Secretary of State Antony Blinken touring Baghdad and advocating on his behalf. But there is still room to compete with Iran, which now has the outcome it wants.

For example, the Biden administration should have done more to condemn the series of attacks on Iraqi Kurdistan this spring, including a barrage of a dozen missiles on March 13. This could have included at least sending a senior American official to the Iraqi Kurdistan region. They should also have expressed privately, at a high level, American unhappiness with the Iraqi courts stonewalling the choice of president on February 6. It is possible this happened, though, given the lack of high-level involvement or attention to this process, it is unlikely. Of course this would be portrayed as interference in Iraqi sovereignty, but compared to, for example, Iranian and Turkish violations of sovereignty, the bar is low. Many Iraqis understand this.

Above all, the Biden administration should have been down in the mud of Baghdad politics, just as the Iranians and the IRGC were, cajoling and demanding from political leaders to do more. Iran treats Iraq as a zero-sum political battleground of immense stakes, and so must America if it wants to help—Iraqi leaders can seem bemused when it doesn’t.

The difference between America’s strategic tools—its foreign and military aid to Iraq—and its tactical influence—the ability to sway decision-makers—is the greatest challenge to US policy In Iraq. Iran has poor strategic tools and its economic aid is negligible, though there is plenty of licit and illicit trade. Nevertheless, Iran’s tactical tools are immense, since its agents can and will threaten to kill individuals if they vote the wrong way—or say the wrong thing.

America’s profile is precisely in reverse. There is precious little personal incentive for individual ministers and politicians to accede to an American demand, especially if it infuriates the Iranians. America is resource-rich in strategic incentives for the nation, but very poor in its ability to make a single person’s life better. That leads to a collective-action problem, where it is better for the Iraqi state to cooperate with the US but for individual political leaders to help Iran—and, usually, the latter outweighs the former.

In any case, the United States was absent from the latest Iraqi political drama again, leaving its Arab allies adrift. That was a loss for Washington, but even more so a loss for Iraqis and the majority who voted for change. 

Dr. Andrew L. Peek was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Iraq and Iran at the State Department from 2017-2019.

IAEA warns Iranian Horn eyeing enrichment escalation : Daniel 7

Iran fuels centrifuges, resumes uranium enrichment at Fordow

IAEA warns Iran eyeing enrichment escalation at Fordo nuclear plant

Iran has not made clear what enrichment level it plans to pursue in the facility, which is buried inside a mountain. The 2015 deal does not allow uranium enrichment at Fordo.

Iran is escalating its uranium enrichment further by preparing to use advanced IR-6 centrifuges at its underground Fordo site that can more easily switch between enrichment levels, a United Nations nuclear watchdog report warned Monday.

The move is the latest of several steps Iran had long threatened to take but held off carrying out until 30 of the 35 countries on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors backed a resolution this month criticizing it for failing to explain uranium traces found at undeclared sites.

With indirect US-Iran talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal long-stalled, any further escalation in Tehran’s standoff with the West risks killing off hopes of reining in the Islamic republic’s nuclear advances and lifting US sanctions against it.

IAEA inspectors verified on Saturday that Iran was ready to feed uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas, the material centrifuges enrich, into the second of two cascades, or clusters, of IR-6 centrifuges installed at Fordo, a site dug into a mountain, the confidential IAEA report to member states said.

Iran informed the IAEA on Monday that the passivation of the cascade, a process that precedes enrichment and also involves feeding UF6 into the machines, had begun on Sunday.

Importantly, the 166-machine cascade is the only one to have so-called “modified sub-headers”, which make it easier to switch to enriching to other purity levels. Western diplomats have long pointed to that equipment as a source of concern since it could enable Iran to quickly enrich to higher levels.

Iran has also not told the agency clearly what purity the cascade will enrich to after passivation. Iran had previously informed the IAEA that the two IR-6 cascades could be used to enrich to 5% or 20% purity.

“The Agency has yet to receive clarification from Iran as to which mode of production it intends to implement for the aforementioned cascade, following the completion of passivation,” the report said, which the IAEA confirmed.

At a different site, Iran is already enriching to up to 60%, close to roughly 90% of weapons-grade and far above the 2015 deal’s cap of 3.67%. Iran has breached many of the deal’s limits in response to the US withdrawal from the deal in 2018 and its reimposition of sanctions. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons.