Iran Ready to go Nuclear (Daniel 8:4)

Iran Says It Will Exceed Nuclear Deal’s Limit On Uranium ‚In 10 Days‘

Atomic Energy Organization of Iran spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi, pictured at a July 2018 news conference in Tehran, said Monday: „We have quadrupled the rate of enrichment and even increased it more recently.“

Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 11:50 a.m. ET

Within days Iran will exceed the limit on its stockpile of uranium under a 2015 nuclear deal, according to a spokesman for the country’s atomic energy agency, who also said Tehran would increase uranium enrichment levels in violation of the agreement, „based on the country’s needs.“

The remarks come amid increased tension between the U.S. and Iran, particularly after last week’s attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman that Washington has blamed on Tehran. Iran has denied any involvement.

Under the multilateral Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that the U.S. withdrew from a year ago, Iran can keep no more than 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of uranium enriched no higher than 3.67% — far below the 90% level considered suitable for building nuclear weapons.

At a news conference at the Arak Nuclear Complex that was carried live Monday on Iranian television, Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said that stockpile limit could be exceeded within 10 days.

„We have quadrupled the rate of enrichment and even increased it more recently, so that in 10 days it will bypass the 300 kg limit,“ Kamalvandi said.

He added that his country needs uranium enriched to 5% for its Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, built in the 1990s with Russian help, and uranium of 20% purity to be used as fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, which the U.S. supplied to Iran in 1967.

Although not weapons-grade, 20% purity is generally considered „highly enriched“ uranium, and as The Associated Press notes, „going from 20% to 90% is a relatively quicker process, something that worries nuclear nonproliferation experts.“

Even so, Kamalvandi held out the possibility that „there is still time … if European countries act.“

„Iran’s reserves are every day increasing at a more rapid rate. And if it is important for them (Europe) to safeguard the accord, they should make their best efforts. … As soon as they carry out their commitments, things will naturally go back to their original state,“ he said, according to AP.

That sentiment was echoed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday. „It’s a crucial moment, and France can still work with other signatories of the deal and play an historic role to save the deal in this very short time,“ he was quoted by the Fars News Agency as saying during a meeting with France’s new ambassador in Iran.

Reuters reports that Rouhani said the collapse of the nuclear deal would not be in the interests of the region and the world.

In response to Iran’s announcement on uranium enrichment levels, National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said in a statement: „Iran’s enrichment plans are only possible because the horrible nuclear deal left the their capabilities intact. President Trump has made it clear that he will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. The regime’s nuclear blackmail must be met with increased international pressure.“

Following last week’s reported attack on the tankers Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said „there’s no doubt“ that Iran was responsible for disabling the vessels.

„The intelligence community has lots of data, lots of evidence,“ Pompeo said on Fox News Sunday. „The world will come to see much of it, but the American people should rest assured we have high confidence with respect to who conducted these attacks as well as half a dozen other attacks throughout the world.“

On CBS‘ Face the Nation, Pompeo said the U.S. was „considering a full range of options.“

„We are confident that we can take a set of actions that can restore deterrence, which is our mission set,“ he said.

On Monday, Iran’s armed forces chief of staff again denied the country’s involvement in the attacks. 

„Regarding the new incidents in the Persian Gulf … if the Islamic Republic of Iran decides to block exports of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, it is militarily strong enough to do that fully and publicly,“ Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri said, according to Fars News Agency.

The Skyrocketing Threat of Nuclear War

World’s nuclear arsenal down but risk of nuclear conflict up: SIPRI | Euronews

The global nuclear arsenal has slightly decreased in the past twelve months, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), but the risk of nuclear conflict has risen.

„There is a new type of arms race, not about the quantity of warheads but about technologies,“ Hans M. Kristensen, an associate senior fellow with the SIPRI Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation programme, told Euronews.

The global security thinktank estimates in its latest report released on Monday that the nine states with nuclear arsenals — the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — possessed a collective 13,865 nuclear weapons at the beginning of 2019, down from 14,465 a year before.

‚Tactical war‘

This is partly due to nuclear weapon-possessing states‘ efforts to modernise their arsenal due to a shift in strategy.

„We are no longer in the classic strategy of deterrence by the accumulation of nuclear warheads,“ said Kristensen.

Now they have embarked on a tactical war„, he added, whereby the different states „set out new scenarios“ to develop technologies and weapons.

For instance, Russia is developing weapons capable of circumventing the US anti-missile shield, while the United States is working on developing new short-range tactical nuclear weapons to respond to Russian challenges.

„It’s a whole new dynamic. We have seen these „tactical threats“ before, during the Cold War,“ Kristensen explained, highlighting however that „it’s not as bad as during the Cold War yet“.

The US withdrawal from the Middle East Non-Proliferation Treaty and the new plans for the renewal of the nuclear arsenal that President Donald Trump has brought to Congress, as well as the conflict between Washington and Iran, are mentioned as other elements of instability in the global balance, prompting Kristensen to believe that the risk of a potential nuclear conflict has increased.

New START

The other factor explaining the decrease is the US-Russia New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). Signed in 2010 and in force since February 2011, it limits the number of strategic nuclear weapons the two powers — which account for over 90% of all nuclear accounts — can have.

Under the terms of the treaty, each can possess up to 800 deployed or non-deployed inter-continental ballistic missile as well as deploy 1,550 warheads and 700 missile and bombers. Both Moscow and Washington said they had met the limitations by the February 2018 deadline.

However, the treaty is to expire in 2021 and negotiations to renew it have not yet begun, and are uncertain, in view of the growing differences between the two major powers.

Meanwhile, China, India and Pakistan are increasing the size of their respective arsenal with the latter two expanding their production capabilities on a scale that may lead to significant increases in the size of their arsenal over the next decade, the report notes.

France and the UK kept their inventories fairly stable over the past twelve months but are also modernising their stocks, working on submarines and enhancing capabilities and technologies.

As every year, the report denounces the lack of transparency of many powers, especially North Korea and Israel.

Iran Builds Up Her Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:8)

Iran to further scale back compliance with nuclear deal

Reuters

Iran will announce further moves on Monday to scale back compliance with an international nuclear pact that the United States abandoned last year, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

• The United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency believe Iran had a nuclear weapons program that it abandoned. Tehran denies ever having had one.

Iran stopped complying in May with some commitments in the 2015 nuclear deal that was agreed with global powers, after the United States unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 and re-introduced sanctions on Tehran.

Iran will announce further moves on Monday to scale back compliance with an international nuclear pact that the United States abandoned last year, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Sunday.

„Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation tomorrow at the Arak heavy water site will announce preparatory steps that have been taken to further decrease Tehran’s commitments under the deal,“ Tasnim said, without citing sources.

The organization will announce moves to increase stocks of enriched uranium and production of heavy water at Arak, Tasnim reported.The United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency believe Iran had a nuclear weapons program that it abandoned. Tehran denies ever having had one.

Iran stopped complying in May with some commitments in the 2015 nuclear deal that was agreed with global powers, after the United States unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 and re-introduced sanctions on Tehran.

Iran said in May it would start enriching uranium at a higher level, unless world powers protected its economy from U.S. sanctions within 60 days.

Tensions between the United States and Iran have ratcheted up further in recent days, with Washington accusing Tehran of carrying out Thursday’s attacks on two oil tankers in a vital oil shipping route. Iran has denied having any role.

New Jersey #1 Disaster State: The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

States of danger

Kiplinger News

https://cbsnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/gettyimages-594752032_master.jpg?w=826

Disasters can happen anywhere and at any time. But some places experience more than their fair share of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms and severe weather — so much so that certain locales earn frightening nicknames, such as Tornado Alley. No matter where you live, make sure you have the right kinds and necessary amounts of insurance coverage to protect your finances.

  • Estimated property damage (2006-2013): $26.4 billion
  • Most frequent disasters: damaging wind, winter storms, floods and flash floods
  • Weather-related fatalities (2006-2013): 87

New Jersey earns the top spot on this list, in large part due to damage wrought by Sandy — which had weakened from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone by the time it the Jersey Shore — in October 2012. The state was among the hardest hit by Sandy, which was the second-costliest storm in U.S. history, after Hurricane Katrina. Many homes and businesses were destroyed along the Jersey Shore, and a portion of the Atlantic City Boardwalk washed away. Shortly after Sandy hit, another storm brought wet snow that caused more power outages and damage.

Homeowners who live along the coast or in areas where there are frequent storms should take steps before hurricane season begins to protect their homes and finances from damage.

The Hypocrisy of Babylon the Great (Daniel 7)

Trump accuses Iran over nukes, all the while risking Saudi regime acquiring the bomb

Published time: 13 Jun, 2019 16:13

Finian Cunningham is an award-winning journalist who has written extensively on international affairs.

The Trump administration appears to be on a reckless path of sharing sensitive nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia, which could lead to this notorious regime acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

This is while President Trump has been assailing Iran with military threats, over claims that Tehran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons.

The duplicity is staggering. The Trump administration is posing as a policeman in the Middle East purportedly to prevent nuclear proliferation. In reality, it is fueling a potential nuclear arms race and heightening the danger of war.

It is no secret that Saudi Arabia has ambitions to build nuclear power plants to meet its civilian energy and water needs as the future of its oil wealth faces strategic challenges. The US and several other international players, including Russia and South Korea, are vying for the contracts to build these multi-billion-dollar power stations.

It is now emerging that the Trump administration has been pushing ahead with licenses to its nuclear companies to share sensitive technology with the Saudis. What is alarming is that the White House has been doing so in a secretive manner, which overrides Congressional oversight rules based on national security protocols.

A further cause for concern is the Trump administration appears to be giving the Saudis nuclear knowhow that could lead to the weaponization of technology. For their part, the Saudis have pushed back on standards ensuring that civilian energy applications are kept strictly separated from weapons programs. Disturbingly, the Trump administration does not seem bothered by the ambiguity. It is forging ahead with licensing the technology to the Saudi rulers.

Saudi Arabia’s impetuous Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) last year told US media that his country would race to obtain nuclear weapons “if” Iran were to do so. Given that MbS is close to the Trump administration and to the Israelis in terms of viewing Iran as an arch-enemy, it can be fairly assumed that the Saudi rulers already believe that Tehran is secretly pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

Iran has consistently rejected claims that it is building nuclear weapons. Its compliance with the 2015 international nuclear accord banning any such application has been verified in more than a dozen reports by UN inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Also on rt.com If Iran wanted nukes ‚America couldn’t do anything about it‘ – Ayatollah Khamenei

But that hasn’t stopped the Israelis and Trump administration continually asserting the opposite. That, in turn, probably means that the Saudi rulers have decided to go for making the bomb.

There are several other reasons to fear a nuclear arms race is on the way in the Middle East.

The Trump White House has been enabling the sharing of sensitive nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia despite mounting criticism of the kingdom’s human rights record. That record was always notoriously grim but during the Trump administration, it has plumbed new depths.

The horrendous Saudi air war on Yemen and its death toll among civilians has prompted the US Congress to ban weapons sales. But just last month, Trump bypassed the restriction by declaring a multi-billion-dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia, because it was “an emergency” allegedly owing to a regional security threat from Iran.

Even more galling are reports that the White House approved of the nuclear technology transfers in the weeks and months after the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October. That is in spite of the American CIA then concluding Crown Prince MbS was complicit in the killing.

Also on rt.com CIA says MBS ordered Khashoggi hit, but don’t expect Saudi-US relations to change – John Kiriakou

If none of these harrowing concerns have paused the Trump administration’s indulgence of the Saudi regime, then the latter is entitled to think it has a blank cheque to do anything it wants, including acquiring nuclear weapons.

President Trump’s enabling of the Saudis to get the bomb is, of course, fraught with illegalities. It would be a gross violation of the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which bans nuclear powers from spreading access to such weapons.

There is also the issue of American law. The Trump administration seems to be blindsiding Congress in its murky dealings with the Saudis, in breach of the Atomic Energy Act, which mandates the president to keep lawmakers informed of any international nuclear cooperation.

Trump’s feckless regard for nuclear proliferation and arms controls should not be surprising, however. This administration unilaterally trashed the Iran nuclear deal last year, and it has walked away from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that the Trump administration appears ready to also let a second major arms control treaty, New START, collapse.

So, despite Trump’s expressed desire to get rid of nuclear weapons on a global scale, all the indicators suggest that he has a reprehensible disregard for inciting arms races.

There is founded alarm among US lawmakers from both parties that Saudi Arabia is on the path towards obtaining nuclear weapons. Recent reports indicate it has expanded its ballistic missiles capability with technology transfers from China. If confirmed, then the next step could be to fit these missiles with nuclear warheads. The Trump administration appears to be paving the way for the Saudi regime to achieve that.

Also on rt.com Saudi arms sales may be at center of the next showdown between Trump and Congress

President Trump’s incorrigible kowtowing towards the Saudi royal family has raised suspicions that he is looking beyond his presidential office to future years of expanding the Trump family business empire in the Middle East. His sycophancy towards the Saudis transcends so many boundaries of decency and basic morals.

There are two other possible motives. Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner want to go down in history for their “Deal of the Century” settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The overrated and overdue “deal” is seen as a grubby sell-out of Palestinian rights. But to get acceptance in the wider Arab world, Trump and Kushner need the Saudis to give it a stamp of approval. That could be one factor in why the Trump White House may be soliciting the Saudis with the “big bomb prize”.

Another motive is Trump using the Saudis and their visceral hatred of Shia Iran as the ultimate “pressure tool” on Tehran. If the Iranians see the Wahhabi potentates getting nuclear weapons, Trump may be calculating that it will bring Iran to the negotiating table and make strategic concessions, as he has long been pushing for.

There again, Iran may go another way. It may repudiate its long-standing disavowal of nuclear weapons and determine that it has no choice but to also build the bomb to avert an existential threat from the Saudi regime.

Either way, it all makes a mockery of the Trump White House’s pretensions for peace and security in the region. This administration is criminally fueling a potentially catastrophic war.

War Escalates Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

After fresh Gaza violence, army said pushing for ‘seriousness military campaign’

TV report says IDF wants to end policy of warning Gaza residents before airstrikes after two days of rocket attacks, but analysts say unlikely ahead of elections

By TOI staff14 Jun 2019, 9:36 pm

Top generals in the IDF are expected to push for a much stronger response to rocket fire and arson balloons from the Gaza Strip after fresh attacks in recent days, Channel 12 reported Friday.

Citing a senior military source, Channel 12’s veteran military analyst Roni Daniel said Israel was “on the verge of a serious military campaign,” and said the IDF was considering ending its policy of warning occupants of buildings ahead of airstrikes, even if it causes casualties.

Everything is hanging by a very thin thread and the situation could change dramatically,” the source said.

However, political analysts noted that it was unlikely that the government would authorize a major military campaign ahead of the elections set for September.

The warnings come after a fresh surge in violence, including two nights of rocket attacks and retaliatory air force strikes, and a wave of arson balloons sent into Israel.

Palestinians rioting on the Gaza border Friday launched dozens of arson balloons into Israel, setting off at least 7 fires near border communities.

Fire teams battle a blaze caused by arson balloons launched from Gaza into Israel on June 14, 2019 (Fire Services and Rescue)

Several thousand Palestinians gathered along the border for weekly protests, with several hundred taking part in violent riots. Rioters threw explosive devices and rocks at troops and also tried to storm the fence in one place.

Three Palestinians briefly breached the fence in one spot before returning to Gaza, Israel Radio reported.

Troops responded with tear gas and live fire in some cases. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said 46 people were wounded.

The balloons sparked at least 7 blazes, including two large ones near Kibbutz Nahal Oz and Kibbutz Kfar Aza. Another fire raged in the Be’eri nature reserve. Firefighting teams and local residents managed to extinguish them, the fire service said.

Border protests were not held last week due to the holiday of Eid al-Fitr, but resumed Friday, with an estimated 6,500 Palestinians taking part.

Since the last major eruption of violence in early May, Hamas has largely acted to contain violent activities at the rallies, but it was not clear whether the terror group intended to continue this policy.

Illustrative: Palestinians riot by the border fence with Israel east of Gaza City as smoke billows from arson balloons launched during the protest, on May 15, 2019. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Israeli Air Force jets carried out multiple airstrikes in the Strip early Friday, hours after a rocket hit a religious school in southern Israel. The Israeli military said in a statement that fighter jets and other aircraft attacked “several terror targets, including terror infrastructure in military compounds.”

The strikes came hours after a rocket launched from Gaza slammed into a building housing a religious school, causing damage but no injuries. The rocket, which did not explode, struck the outer face of the yeshiva, sending debris onto the sidewalk. A number of tempered-glass windows were also broken. Most students had gone home for the weekend, but several people were still inside the school at the time.

In light of the increased tensions, the Israel Defense Forces on Friday increased the deployment of its Iron Dome missile defense batteries in southern Israel.

Palestinians inspect the damage after Israeli airstrike overnight in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, on June 14, 2019. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

On early Thursday morning, a rocket launched from Gaza at the southern community of Nirim was intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

The rocket attacks led to growing calls among politicians for a major military operation, including assassinating leaders of Hamas.

No Palestinian group has taken responsibility for the attacks, but the military generally holds Hamas responsible for any violence emanating from the enclave.

Tensions with Gaza have been steadily rising in recent days, with Israel blocking Gazan fishermen from access to the sea in response to multiple incendiary balloons being launched over the border.

Hamas has complained that Israel is not fully implementing an unofficial ceasefire deal between the sides, while Jerusalem has accused Palestinian terror groups of breaching the understandings.

UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov met with Hamas leadership in Gaza on Friday in a bid to prevent an escalation of violence.

A man stands outside a Jewish religious school in Sderot, Israel, after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, Thursday, June 13, 2019. (AP/Tsafrir Abayov)

The tensions have threatened to undo an unofficial ceasefire brokered after a major flareup in early May in which both sides exchanged the most intense fire in years, leading to the deaths of four Israelis and 29 Gazans.

According to Israel’s Channel 12 news, last month’s agreement includes a Hamas obligation to halt violent incidents along the border fence, maintaining a buffer zone 300 meters (roughly 1,000 feet) from the border; an end to the launching of incendiary balloons at Israeli communities and nighttime clashes between Gazans and security forces; and an end to flotillas trying to break through the maritime border between Gaza and Israel.

In return, Israel expanded the fishing zone and agreed to enable United Nations cash-for-work programs, allow medicine and other civil aid to enter the Strip, and open negotiations on matters relating to electricity, crossings, healthcare and funds.

“The situation will gradually escalate” if the deal is violated, an unnamed Hamas official was quoted as saying by the Kan public broadcaster Thursday. “If the agreement is implemented, the situation will calm down.”

“We are not trying to undermine what we have achieved, but groups in Gaza aren’t feeling like Israel has been honoring the agreement,” the official added.

“It is only delaying and delaying and doesn’t want to carry out the understandings regarding getting the [Qatari] money into Gaza, expanding the fishing zone and allowing dual-purpose materials into the Strip.”

Al-Akhbar, a Lebanese newspaper linked to Hezbollah, reported Friday that mediators from the UN, Egypt and Qatar have conveyed assurances to Gaza factions that Israel intends to implement the ceasefire’s understandings. It did not provide sourcing and its claims couldn’t be independently confirmed.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

Pompeo and the Writing on the Wall

Mike Pompeo, in a press conference, accused Iran of engineering the attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman. However, he cited unnamed intelligence reports and other vague references in support of his claim.

The alleged attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman near the Iranian coast yesterday have provided fresh ammunition for the US policy against Iran. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo held a press meet and blamed Iran for the attacks. Though he did not provide any evidence for his allegations, he claimed that his statement was based on “intelligence, weapons used, expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication” BBCreported.

The Iranian mission to the United Nations categorically denied the US allegations. According to its statement, “Iran categorically rejects the US unfounded claim with regard to 13 June oil tanker incidents, and condemns it in the strongest possible terms.” Iranians called the allegation another attempt to spread Islamophobia and warmongering.

These ships were allegedly attacked yesterday morning. It was earlier reported that the tankers, Front Altair and Kouka Courageous, were owned by the Marshall Islands and Panama respectively. However, media reports claimed today that these ships belonged to Norway and Japan. These ships were reportedly carrying cargo to Taiwan and Japan. Iranian teams carried out rescue operations and took all 44 crew members from both the ships to the port of Jask.

The attacks over a ship carrying Japanese cargo in the Persian Gulf on a day when Japanese PM was visiting Iran has raised suspicions. Shinzo Abe met Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei yesterday. As per the reports in IRNA, Abe’s attempt to break the ice between the Iranians and the US failed as Khamenei refused any direct engagement with Trump.

Misleading Claims

Mike Pompeo’s statement was full of misleading references and unproven allegations. For example, he did not specify what intelligence he was referring to. The nature of weapons used is also not clear so far. Taiwan’s CPC corporation, which had hired the Norwegian Front Altair,claimed the ship was hit by a torpedo. Other sources claimed it was a mine attack. The US Central Command is claiming limp mines were used. All the navies operating in the region have the “expertise” to undertake such attacks. Pompeo’s apparent reference to the Fujairah attacks a month ago is misleading because when John Bolton made the allegation regarding Iranian involvement in the attack, he too did not present any proof.

After the Iranian denial, the US military’s Central Command released an unverified video, which according to them, showed Iranian guards “removing some unexploded limp mines from the Kokuka Courageous”.  However, nothing is visible in the video apart from some outlines. It is full of cuts. Iranian navy announced its own investigation into the causes and dimensions of these attacks.

‘Sabotage Diplomacy’

Iranian Foreign Minister Javed Zarif tweeted on Friday, “I warned of this scenario a few months ago, not because I am clairvoyant, but because I recognise where the #B_team is coming from”. He said, “that the US immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran-w/o a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence-only makes it abundantly clear that the #B_Team is moving to a #PlanB: Sabotage diplomacy-including by @AbeShinzo-and cover up its #EconomicTerrorism against Iran”. IRNA reported on Friday.

“B Team” refers to a group of regional and global leaders Iran has accused of conspiring against it. It comprises Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the UAE’s Khalifa Bin Zayed and US security advisor John Bolton.

Saudis Join the War Against Iran

The crude oil tanker Front Altair on fire in the Gulf of Oman after Thursday's attack [File: EPA]
The crude oil tanker Front Altair on fire in the Gulf of Oman after Thursday’s attack [File: EPA]

The United States has blamed Iran for the attacks, but Tehran has denied any role in the incidents and called the accusations „ridiculous“ and „dangerous“.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih on Saturday said „there must be a rapid and decisive response to the threat“ to energy supplies, market stability and consumer confidence after the attacks in the Gulf area, the Saudi Energy Ministry reported on Twitter.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also called for world powers on Saturday to help secure maritime traffic and energy supplies.

„The international community must cooperate to secure international navigation and access to energy,“ UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said at a summit in Bulgaria.

On Friday, the US released a grainy video it claimed showed Iran’s military removing an unexploded mine from one of the tankers, Kokuka Courageous, hours after the suspected attacks.

Iran said the video proved nothing and that Tehran was being made into a scapegoat.

INTERACTIVE: Gulf of Oman - oil tankers incident, June 15, 2019

„The more information that we can declassify, the more information we can share, we will. And that’s our intent,“ Shanahan said.

The release of the black-and-white footage came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said US intelligence agencies had concluded that Iran was responsible for the attacks, without offering concrete evidence.

On Friday, in a TV interview on Fox News, Trump said, „Iran did do it“.

„You know they did it because you saw the boat,“ Trump told the Fox and Friends show. „I guess one of the mines didn’t explode and it’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it.“

But Yutaka Katada, owner of the Kokuka Courageous, cast doubt on part of the US account, telling reporters on Friday that the vessel’s crew saw a „flying object“ before a second blast on the boat.

Calling reports of a mine attack „false“, he said: „The crew was saying it was hit by a flying object … To put a bomb at the side of the boat is not something we are considering.“

For its part, Iran rejected the accusations as the United Nations, Russia and Qatar called for an international investigation into the reported attacks.

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, said the US had „immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran without a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence“.

The allegation „only makes it abundantly clear“ that the US and its regional allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, were moving to a „Plan B“, Zarif said, which was to „sabotage diplomacy“ as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Iran to defuse escalating US-Iran frictions.

The director general of ports and maritime affairs of Iran’s Hormozgan province told Iran’s student-run ISNA news agency on Saturday that no marine pollution was detected after the tanker explosions.

The 23 seamen of the second tanker, Front Altair, who were rescued and brought to Bandar Abbas, arrived in Dubai on Saturday, according to the ship’s owners and managers.

The other tanker, the Kokuka Courageous with 21 crew on board, arrived on Friday in the port of Khor Fakkan in the UAE, ISNA reported.

Arab League caution

On Friday, the head of the Arab League called on the Iranians to „be careful and reverse course“.

Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit noted, after meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at UN headquarters in New York, that there are conflicting reports about how Thursday’s tanker incidents occurred.

„We believe that responsibilities need to be clearly defined,“ he said. „The facts will be revealed, I am sure, it’s only a matter of time.“

Aboul Gheit added „My call to my Iranian – and I call them Iranian brothers: Be careful and reverse course because you’re pushing everybody towards a confrontation that no one would be safe if it happens.“

The British government said it agreed with the US conclusion that Iran attacked the tankers.

The Foreign Office said in a statement that its own assessment concluded „it is almost certain that a branch of the Iranian military,“ the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, had attacked the tankers.

It said it also believed Iran was behind an attack last month on four tankers near the UAE port of Fujairah.

On May 12, days after Washington announced the military deployment, four oil tankers near the port were damaged in what the UAE called „sabotage attacks“.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry called in British Ambassador Rob Macaire on Saturday to submit „a few explanations,“ state news agency IRNA reported, without giving further details.

Nuclear deal compliance

Separately, the Iranian president on Saturday told a meeting of Russian, Chinese and other Asian leaders in Tajikistan that Iran will continue scaling back compliance with its commitments under the nuclear deal unless other signatories show „positive signals“.

Iran stopped complying in May with some commitments in a 2015 nuclear deal that was agreed with global powers, a year after the United States unilaterally withdrew from the accord and tightened sanctions.

Tehran said in May that Iran would start enriching uranium at a higher level unless world powers protected its economy from US sanctions within 60 days.

„Obviously, Iran cannot stick to this agreement unilaterally,“ President Hassan Rouhani told the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia.

„It is necessary that all the sides of this agreement contribute to restoring it,“ he said, adding that Iran needed to see „positive signals“ from other signatories to the pact, which include Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

He did not give details on what actions Iran would take or say what positive signals Tehran wanted to see.

France and other European signatories to the deal, which aimed to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, have said they wanted to save it, but many of their companies have cancelled deals with Tehran under financial pressure from the US.

Western powers have accused Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies, saying it wants nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

New York Earthquake: City of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

New York earthquake: City at risk of ‚dangerous shaking from far away‘

Joshua Nevett

Published 30th April 2018

SOME of New York City’s tallest skyscrapers are at risk of being shaken by seismic waves triggered by powerful earthquakes from miles outside the city, a natural disaster expert has warned.

Researchers believe that a powerful earthquake, magnitude 5 or greater, could cause significant damage to large swathes of NYC, a densely populated area dominated by tall buildings.

A series of large fault lines that run underneath NYC’s five boroughs, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island, are capable of triggering large earthquakes.

Some experts have suggested that NYC is susceptible to at least a magnitude 5 earthquake once every 100 years.

The last major earthquake measuring over magnitude 5.0 struck NYC in 1884 – meaning another one of equal size is “overdue” by 34 years, according their prediction model.

Natural disaster researcher Simon Day, of University College London, agrees with the conclusion that NYC may be more at risk from earthquakes than is usually thought.

EARTHQUAKE RISK: New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from far-away tremors

But the idea of NYC being “overdue” for an earthquake is “invalid”, not least because the “very large number of faults” in the city have individually low rates of activity, he said.

The model that predicts strong earthquakes based on timescale and stress build-up on a given fault has been “discredited”, he said.

What scientists should be focusing on, he said, is the threat of large and potentially destructive earthquakes from “much greater distances”.

The dangerous effects of powerful earthquakes from further away should be an “important feature” of any seismic risk assessment of NYC, Dr Day said.

GETTY

THE BIG APPLE: An aerial view of Lower Manhattan at dusk in New York City

USGS

RISK: A seismic hazard map of New York produced by USGS

“New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances” Dr Simon Day, natural disaster researcher

This is because the bedrock underneath parts of NYC, including Long Island and Staten Island, cannot effectively absorb the seismic waves produced by earthquakes.

“An important feature of the central and eastern United States is, because the crust there is old and cold, and contains few recent fractures that can absorb seismic waves, the rate of seismic reduction is low.

Central regions of NYC, including Manhattan, are built upon solid granite bedrock; therefore the amplification of seismic waves that can shake buildings is low.

But more peripheral areas, such as Staten Island and Long Island, are formed by weak sediments, meaning seismic hazard in these areas is “very likely to be higher”, Dr Day said.

“Thus, like other cities in the eastern US, New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances than is the case for cities on plate boundaries such as Tokyo or San Francisco, where the crustal rocks are more fractured and absorb seismic waves more efficiently over long distances,” Dr Day said.

In the event of a large earthquake, dozens of skyscrapers, including Chrysler Building, the Woolworth Building and 40 Wall Street, could be at risk of shaking.

“The felt shaking in New York from the Virginia earthquake in 2011 is one example,” Dr Day said.

On that occasion, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake centered 340 miles south of New York sent thousands of people running out of swaying office buildings.

USGS

FISSURES: Fault lines in New York City have low rates of activity, Dr Day said

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city was “lucky to avoid any major harm” as a result of the quake, whose epicenter was near Louisa, Virginia, about 40 miles from Richmond.

“But an even more impressive one is the felt shaking from the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes in the central Mississippi valley, which was felt in many places across a region, including cities as far apart as Detroit, Washington DC and New Orleans, and in a few places even further afield including,” Dr Day added.

“So, if one was to attempt to do a proper seismic hazard assessment for NYC, one would have to include potential earthquake sources over a wide region, including at least the Appalachian mountains to the southwest and the St Lawrence valley to the north and east.”

Why Iraq is the Rising Horn (Daniel 8)

Man in Iraq

The State Of Iraq – OpEd

The years of internal conflict that followed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and his regime in Iraq in 2003 have at last been succeeded by a degree of precarious stability.

Iraq is a federation of three elements held in uncertain balance – the Shia majority, the Sunni minority and the Kurds in their northern autonomous region of Kurdistan. But it also faces the aftermath of the Islamic State (IS) caliphate that dominated large areas of the country for more than three years. In addition the government has to cope with the presence of two competing power brokers lodged within their body politic – the US and Iran.

Iraq’s political parties, mirroring the balance of politico-religious power underlying the Lebanese constitution, have reached an informal agreement under which the presidency is reserved for Kurds, the premiership for Shia Arabs, and the post of speaker of parliament for Sunni Arabs. Accordingly, in October 2018 the veteran Iraqi Kurdish politician Barham Salih was elected by parliament to serve as president for the first of a maximum of two four-year terms. In line with the political agreement, Salih appointed Adel Abdul Mahdi, a Shi’ite, as prime minister.

Mahdi, with a wealth of ministerial experience under his belt. is faced with a formidable agenda. The defeat on the ground of IS, the result of a united effort by government and Kurdish forces backed by support from the US and its coalition, leaves Mahdi with the task of rebuilding the infrastructure of large parts of the country.

Yet although all the territory previously part of the IS caliphate has been reclaimed, the organization’s destructive activities have not been effectively quelled. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) report for 2018 condemns IS for dozens of explosive attacks on civilian-populated areas, and the capture and extra-judicial killing of civilians.

In February, UN Secretary General António Guterres said in a report to the Security Council that IS has already “substantially evolved into a covert network… it is organizing cells at the provincial level, replicating the key leadership functions.” Despite its losses, said Guterres, it still controls between 14,000 and 18,000 militants in Iraq and Syria. Cells “appear to be planning activities that undermine government authority, create an atmosphere of lawlessness, sabotage societal reconciliation and increase the cost of reconstruction and counter-terrorism.”

These activities include kidnappings for ransom, targeted assassinations of local leaders, and attacks against state utilities and services, including setting fire to crops in bizarre imitation of Hamas’s attacks on Israeli farmers close to Gaza.

A severe humanitarian problem also faces the authorities. The newly elected US senator for Illinois, Tammy Duckworth, recently visited Iraq and found that some 30,000 widows and children of dead IS soldiers had been interned in camps in the desert, including 10,000 children under the age of 5. She was not able to discover what, if anything, was planned for them.

In a recent interview with President Salih, journalist Christian Caryl elicited a frank appraisal of the difficulties facing the nation. Salih himself pointed out that Mosul, its second-largest city, had been recaptured from IS more than a year ago, yet the city remains in ruins. Discussing the effectiveness of Iraq’s administrative machinery, the president admitted the need to fight a deeply entrenched culture of corruption in the bureaucracy, the government’s failure to provide basic public services such as water and electricity, and the challenge of preventing a full-scale IS revival.

Taking all its problems into account, however, a vital factor affecting Iraq’s current, as well as future, prospects is that it is the second–largest crude oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) after Saudi Arabia.

During the first half of 2018, Iraqi crude oil output stood at about 4.5 million barrels per day (b/d), including oil produced in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. Disputes between the government and the KRG flare up from time to time, but an innovative “swap deal” with Iran involving northern crude production seems to be functioning very effectively.

Iraq abuts Iran right along its 900-mile (1450 kilometer) eastern border. Accordingly, in the far north Kurdish Iraqi crude oil is trucked to Iran, while in the far south Iran ships the equivalent volume of crude oil from its Kharg terminal to Basra. Iraq plans to double the amount swapped with Iran in this way to 60,000 b/d of crude oil.

In this, and in many other ways, Iran is intent on retaining Iraq within its sphere of influence. Washington believes Iran’s aim is to destabilize the country. US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad recently accused Iran of financing and training militia groups and promoting Islamist politicians, including followers of Moqtada al-Sadr, a prominent Shiite cleric who controls a militia known as the Mahdi Army.

Deeper analysis suggests the main motives for Iranian involvement are to push out coalition forces and Western influences; to keep Shi’ites in power, since Shia Iraq is a useful support for Iran’s much wider “Shia Crescent”; and to maintain Iraq as a federal state, minimizing Sunni influence and optimizing the Shia regions.

Iraq is slowly emerging from the trauma of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship and the turmoil that followed his overthrow. There is a long road yet to travel, but there is reason for hope. Iraq may yet develop into a democratic and prosperous island of stability in a chaotic Middle East.