COLUMBIA, S.C. — Another earthquake shook up the South Carolina Midlands Thursday morning.
The earthquake hit at around 7 a.m. about 20 miles outside of Columbia, according to the United States Geological Survey. The 2.5 magnitude had it’s epicenters near Elgin.
This is the sixth earthquake since Dec. 27 when a 3.3 magnitude quake was reported. People reported feeling shaking and hearing a loud boom during some of the other quakes. All the seismic activity has been centered near Elgin or neighboring Lugoff. The other four earthquakes have been 2.5 magnitude or lower.
An earthquake of 2.5 magnitude is considered minor, according to seismologists. For the most part quakes that register 2.5 magnitude or less go unnoticed and are only recorded by a seismograph. Any quake less than 5.5 magnitude is not likely to cause significant damage.
Earthquakes can happen in clusters, seismologist say.
The head of the political bureau of the Palestinian resistance movement, Ismail Haniyeh, made the remarks in a Sunday address to a gathering in Lebanon, during which he also strongly condemned the normalization of some Arab countries’ relations with Israel.
He reflected on the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip, saying, “Gaza is under land, air, and sea blockade, but it used (Operation) al-Quds Sword against Israel, and using that sword, it is getting ready for a strategic confrontation with Israel.”
Noting that the operation marked a strategic development in Palestinians’ confrontation with the regime in Tel Aviv, Haniyeh said, “Israel was armed to the teeth, but became a target of missiles attack by al-Qassam (Brigades) and the Gaza-based resistance.”
Haniyeh further emphasized that the Zionists and Israeli settlers have no place in al-Quds and al-Aqsa, saying, “From Lebanon, I’m telling you that we will destroy your dreams and you have no place in al-Quds and al-Aqsa.”
The head of Hamas political bureau also said al-Quds and the West Bank have been under pressure over the past years to make our people give up resistance and abandon their land, while stressing that Operation al-Quds Sword will continue until the complete liberation of Palestine.
The latest development came a day after Haniyeh denounced as “very dangerous” the normalization of relations between some Arab countries and Israel, stressing that fierce resistance is the only strategic option to confront the Israeli occupation.
“What the region is witnessing is very dangerous. The ‘Israeli’ entity is being integrated into the region through military alliances to confront Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas,” Haniyeh said at the National Islamic Conference convened to discuss the efforts of the Israeli regime to expand its influence in the region through the normalization of ties and its negative repercussions on the issue of Palestine.
His remarks came after Israel’s minister for military affairs proposed the formation of a US-led regional military front against Iran, featuring Tel Aviv and its Arab allies.
Speaking on Tuesday, Benny Gantz referred to the Israeli regime’s military cooperation with some Persian Gulf Arab countries as well as Egypt and Jordan, saying there were efforts to expand this cooperation.
The US mediated normalization deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in August 2020. Sudan and Morocco followed suit by joining the so-called Abraham Accords.
Saudi Arabia has backed the agreements and is widely expected to be the next regional Arab state to forge an official relationship with the regime.
Gantz’s remarks came ahead of a regional visit by US President Joe Biden. The July 13-16 tour will take Biden to Saudi Arabia and the occupied Palestinian territories.
The visit is expected to bring about more gravitation among the regional Arab states and the Israeli regime.
Putin has several times referred to nuclear weapons since his country invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what the West has seen as a warning not to intervene.
Russia will supply Belarus with missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads after the president complained about nuclear-armed NATO flights coming close to the Belarusian border.
President Vladimir Putin made the announcement on Saturday as he received Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko in Moscow.
“In the coming months, we will transfer to Belarus Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use ballistic or cruise missiles, in their conventional and nuclear versions,” Putin said in a broadcast on Russian television at the start of his meeting with Lukashenko in St Petersburg.
With the swearing in of new lawmakers on June 23 after walkout of Sadrist bloc’s 73 MPs from the Iraqi parliament, a large part of the political tension that followed Muqtada al-Sadr’s decision to quit the parliament calmed down. The extraordinary session of the Iraqi parliament,…
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): With the swearing in of new lawmakers on June 23 after walkout of Sadrist bloc’s 73 MPs from the Iraqi parliament, a large part of the political tension that followed Muqtada al-Sadr’s decision to quit the parliament calmed down. The extraordinary session of the Iraqi parliament, which was attended by 202 out of a total of 329 members of parliament, made it clear that the scenario of the return of Sadrists to parliament is unlikely, and now the focus is on the future of forming a new government in negotiations among different political factions.
After the oath of new MPs, according to the preliminary estimates, the Shiite Coordination Framework (SCF) 120 representatives and possible addition of Azm bloc, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Babylon Movement, and the independents, would reach 176 seats. This large number would grant the SCF a leading role. To put it differently, the role of al-Sadr in the government formation is now played by the all-Shiite coalition.
However, a look at the weight of the political parties in the parliament gives us the conclusion that it is not certain that a government led by the SCF can come to existence. This is because there is a quorum of two-third presence of lawmakers for parliament session to elect a president and the former allies of al-Sadr, including Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Sovereignty Coalition led by parliament speaker Mohammad al-Halbousi and the prominent businessman Khamis Khanjar, have the capability to block the sessions for president election.
However, not all ways for forming a cabinet are blocked, and developments indicate a gap within the Sovereignty Coalition and possible change in favor of formation of a government favorable to the SCF. In the past few days, the media outlets reported the emergence of a dispute between al-Sadr and Massoud Barzani, the head of KDP, and the talks between the Barzanis and the Coordination Framework.
KDP, the main loser of gamble of coalition with al-Sadr
The struggle of Barzani’s for fast, comprehensive, and intensive negotiations with other parties after al-Sadr walkout is more driven by wrong policies and actions of the KDP after the October elections than a will to take the initiative. Even months before the general elections, Barzani had talked behind the scenes with al-Sadr and al-Halbousi about a post-election alliance.
Following the release of the final results of the October 10 elections, KDP, inattentive of the will of other Kurdish parties, immediately joined al-Sadr’s project to form a national majority government. Barzani made his first mistake from the very beginning by not talking to other Kurdish parties.
In the second step, the KDP, putting all of its eggs in the single basket of coalition with al-Sadr, pushed to monopolize the Kurdish shares in Baghdad posts altogether. With the help of its allies, it appointed its member Shakhawan Abdullah as the second deputy speaker of Iraqi parliament. Then it named its member for the Iraqi president post, which had been traditionally held by the rival PUK. Therefore, its second mistake was to insist on ouster of President Barham Salih without any negotiation with its powerful rival PUK.
In the third step, the KDP insisted on forming a national majority government even despite the parliament failed to reach its quorum to elect the candidate presented by the Kurdish party. Its third mistake, actually, was its decline to negotiate with the PUK and the SCF.
Barzani’s biggest mistake, however, was betting on coalition with al-Sadr. He acted so naively and oddly as if he never knew al-Sadr’s way of deciding and acting erratically. He acted as if he did not know that al-Sadr could make a dramatic shift any moment. So, the KDP, which put all of its focus and potentials on alliance with al-Sadr, incurred the biggest loss and shock after al-Sadr left the political process. The Kurdish party is now the most isolated among other parties as it refused serious dialogue with its Kurdish rivals and the SCF.
Although the Barzanis are still weighty in the Iraqi equations as their alliance with the Sunni-majority Sovereignty Coalition prevails, the problem is that there is no guarantee about continuation of this alliance and Sunni stay out of a cabinet led by the Shiites.
KDP and alliance with the SCF
Although the KDP is the main loser of Sadrist departure from the political process, since al-Sadr’s televised address of June 9 about readiness for collective resignation, the Kurdish party said it was preparing to adjust to the new political reality and as the first step it formed a negotiation committee comprised of Fuad Hussein, Benkin Rikani, and Shakhawan Abdullah– three of whom with friendly ties to the SCF.
Before the parliament’s emergency session to replace the resigned Sadrist MPs, the KDP negotiators talked to the Coordination Framework representatives and set the party’s conditions. The presence of the KDP in the new session of the parliament showed that apparently initial agreements have been reached between this party and the SCF, something mentioned by Shakhawan Abdullah, who is also the head of the KDP’s MPs in the parliament.
According to Abdullah, the two sides reached an understanding before the recent parliament session and set to publish a statement after the session in which the KDP’s conditions are emphasized. The conditions for participation in the next government included Barzani’s “partnership, balance, and consensus” principles and solutions to Kurdistan region’s gas and oil, and security cases.
Following the remarks, Fatah coalition’s spokesman Ahmad al-Asadi said that the parliamentary factions agreed to forming a government based on the three principles, confirming the comments made by Shakhawan. Al-Asadi said that the national unity government will address all the issues with of the autonomous Kurdistan region.
This activism demonstrates the fact that KDP and Barzani himself have concluded that they have made strategic mistakes post-election and not only see a slimmer chance of securing the post of Iraq president but also should be careful not to be sidelined from the power structure. They now have many demands but less power to act. In such circumstances, even their minimum share is a positive gain for them.
Russia has been storing “thousands of nuclear warheads and hydrogen bombs” in more than a dozen storage facilities, some of which are as close as 40 kilometres from the Ukrainian border, according to the Indian multinational English news channel WION. One site, in Belgorod-22, could be used to bring “these nukes into Ukraine” to help further destroy disputed territories. Russia has been increasingly employing the tactic of obliterating Ukrainian cities in the east, described by one Ukrainian mayor as “scorched earth tactics”, over the past few months following their retreat from Kyiv.
WION news anchor Palki Sharma said: “There is a second option, too, and that’s called tactical nuclear weapons. Russia could use those.
“These are missiles with a shorter range. These are the kind of weapons that can be used in Ukraine.
“Russia has about a dozen central nuclear storage facilities. They’re called object S sites.
“Thousands of nuclear warheads and hydrogen bombs are stored there.
“One of these sites is Belgorod-22. It is just 40km from the Ukrainian border and it is believed that Russia stores these tactical nuclear missiles in this facility.
“First Russian forces go to the storage site and retrieve the weapon. They bring it back to a military base and the missile is made combat-ready.
“The warhead is mounted on the missile and then it is loaded on a plane. Russian fighter jets could then end up firing these nukes into Ukraine. Analysts say the threat of a nuclear strike is real.”
The threat comes as Ukraine said Russian forces had “fully occupied” a town south of the strategically important city of Lysychansk in the eastern Luhansk region as of Friday, while Moscow claimed it had encircled about 2,000 Ukrainian troops in the area.
The loss of Hirske and several other settlements around it leaves Lysychansk, the last major Ukrainian-controlled city in Luhansk, in danger of being enveloped from three sides by advancing Russian forces.
Hirske’s municipal head Oleksiy Babchenko said: “Unfortunately, as of today… the entire Hirske district is occupied,”
“There are some insignificant, local battles going on at the outskirts, but the enemy has entered.”
Russia’s defence ministry said it had encircled up to 2,000 Ukrainian troops, including 80 foreign fighters, at Hirske.
In its daily briefing on Friday, Russia’s defence ministry said its forces had “completely isolated” a group of Ukrainian units near Hirske and Zolote. It said it had encircled four Ukrainian battalions, an artillery group and a “detachment of foreign mercenaries.”
Half of Zolote is under Russian control, it said, adding that it was launching “uninterrupted attacks” around encircled Ukrainian forces at Hirske.
Complexity does not describe the current state of Iran’s nuclear program; The situation has become much more complicated, and every second, the problem is getting worse for the regime. Many of the regime’s officials are now speaking about the unreversible consequences of its decision to expand its nuclear program.
Ali Khezrian, the spokesman for the regime’s Article 90 Commission, announced that the commission would not hold a meeting on Sunday with Foreign Minister Hossain Amir Abdollahian and the head of the regime’s Atomic Energy Organization over the nuclear talks and the resolution of the IAEA Board of Governors.
He said: “They have been given a week to attend the commission meeting. Otherwise, the case will be referred to the judiciary for investigation.”
This conflict between the regime’s different factions shows that the head of the regime has decided to continue its nuclear program uninterrupted, even not considering the warnings of those who seek to save the regime from more challenging decisions by the international community.
On June 20, Reuters reported that the latest report on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) shows that the regime is preparing to increase its uranium enrichment at the Fordow plant.
Reuters wrote: “Iran is escalating its uranium enrichment further by preparing to use advanced IR-6 centrifuges at its underground Fordow site that can more easily switch between enrichment levels, a United Nations nuclear watchdog report seen by Reuters on Monday showed.”
One of the concerns about Iran’s nuclear program was highlighted in the latest revelation by the New York Times about the construction of new underground tunnels at the Natanz nuclear site.
On June 17, the Times announced that the Iranian regime was digging an extensive network of underground tunnels south of the Natanz nuclear site. According to the report, the Iranian regime is digging tunnels deep in the mountains resistant to bombing and electronic warfare attacks.
Fearing the consequences of the Time’s revelations, Behrouz Kamalvandi, the regime’s Atomic Energy Organization spokesman, responded on the same day, saying that he had already informed the IAEA about the construction of these underground tunnels.
He added that although the regime has no obligation to provide extra informationconsidered by the IAEA’s safeguards, it has informed the Agency since the beginning of the construction to relocate the activities of the Karaj Factory to the Natanz site.
But it seems that the regime’s excuses are no longer satisfying the world community, even the countries which had refused to react to the regime’s nuclear program over the past years.
The representative of the United Arab Emirates in the IAEA, Hamad al-Kaab, has called on the Iranian regime to cooperate in the best way with the IAEA. Al-Kaabi has called on the regime to ensure that its nuclear program is peaceful and assure the countries of the region and the world powers.
On the other hand, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that the US government would increase the economic pressure on the regime, and there would be more sanctions in the future. He added that the measures taken by the regime regarding enrichment and the removal of the IAEA surveillance cameras are not fundamentally helpful.
In addition to Sullivan, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has stated that its government will continue to impose sanctions on the regime without an agreement on the JCPOA.
Shortly before Blinken’s remarks, the United States announced some sanctions against some individuals and companies that cooperated with the regime.
Meanwhile, in a hollow show of power, Ali Bagheri Kani, the regime’s representative in the nuclear talks, acknowledged Tehran would not withdraw from the redlines that the regime’s supreme leader drew in the field of the nuclear program.
What the regime here fears is not the loss of the nuclear program but its internal consequences, which reveals its weakness to people, consequently adding to society’s restiveness. While many of its officials, even Khamenei, have expressed constantly that any retreat will weaken the regime’s repressive apparatus.
A review of the news clearly shows that the regime’s decisions and actions on its nuclear program have brought the Vienna talks to a standstill and put the West and the international community on the verge of pursuing other solutions.
Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, has continued to use nuclear weapons as a threat against the west as his country’s attacks on Ukraine continue. The timetable for the deployment of Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which they referred to as “invincible,” was established by the President in a speech to graduates of military universities on Tuesday, June 21.
President Vladimir Putin stated in a speech to graduates of a military university that his administration is committed to modernizing and strengthening Russia’s armed forces in the face of “possible military threats and risks.” Putin noted that SARMAT ICBMS will be operational by the end of the year and that the supply of S-500 air defense systems to army units has started as part of efforts to further strengthen Russia.
SARMAT’s initial test launch was announced by Russia in April. The missile successfully struck the target on the Kamchatka Peninsula, which is about 6,000 kilometers away from the spaceport, after being launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome to the north of Moscow. Vladimir Putin said in a statement following the launch attempt that Sarmat will ensure Russia’s security and that “this weapon will make those who try to threaten us with aggresive rhetoric think twice.”
A heavy intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with MIRV (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle) capability, the RS-28 Sarmat, or SATAN-2, has been developed by the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau. Putin presented six new strategic weapon systems on March 1, 2018, to replace the R-36M ICBM (SS-18 Satan) in Russia’s arsenal. Sarmat is one of those weapons.
Vladimir Putin had previously asserted that Sarmat cannot be stopped by any present or future missile defense systems in an address to the Russian Parliament in 2018. He also stated that Sarmat is capable of hitting both the South and North Poles. ARMY-2019 International Military-Technical Forum speakers from Russia claimed that the Sarmat missile has a range of 18,000 kilometers, however, the missile’s exact tactical and technical specifications are presently unknown. With a total launch weight of 200 tons, the missile can carry a payload of about 10 tons. The missile is believed to have a sub-orbital flight range of 35,000 kilometers, a length of 35.5 meters, a diameter of 3 meters, and a fuel weight of around 178 tons. Russian media has also claimed that 500 anti-aircraft missiles would be needed to intercept the Sarmat missile, and that the missile can carry carry 24 nuclear warheads.
According to Sergei Poroskun, Deputy Commander of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces, Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles, which will be ready for deployment toward the end of 2022, will serve for 50 years. The Russian commander proclaimed that “Sarmat is the missile system of the future, and it will carry out combat duties for the next 50 years.” The characteristics and exceptional reliability of the Sarmat missile, according to Poroskun, will enable it to be in operation for a very long time.