The Australian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

Time for Australia to Build Nuclear Submarines?

by Peter Briggs

Australia’s rapidly deteriorating strategic circumstances have caused me to review my earlier stance on the navy’s  future submarine requirements  and the case for  nuclear propulsion .

As Hugh White  wrote in response to Paul Dibb and Richard Brabin-Smith’s  2017 paper  on strategic risk in a new era:

If we decide that Australia should be able independently to resist a direct attack from a major Asian power like China, then we need to start building the forces to do that right now, not wait for some further warning sign.

The time has come for early consideration of all aspects of a  transition to nuclear propulsion  for Australia’s submarines based on compelling strategic and submarine capability arguments.

While acknowledging the strategic and operational advantages that a nuclear-powered submarine force would provide, it must be recognized that there would be some formidable challenges to overcome to add such a force to the RAN.

Quite apart from the political sensitivity of such a decision, it would be a protracted process requiring a lead time of 15 to 20 years, driven largely by the technical, training and educational preparations and a very significant increase in qualified personnel required to operate and maintain the force.

The current program to acquire 12 conventional future submarines (FSMs) is an essential starting point for a successful transition which will take significant time and a national focus to achieve. The RAN must first achieve the critical mass of submarine personnel and be able to sustain the manpower required for this challenging transition.

Attempting a transition before the Australian submarine arm has achieved sufficient size in platforms and personnel risks a capability gap even if there are no delays during the transition.

In the face of a deteriorating strategic outlook, the consequent need to transition to nuclear submarines (SSNs) expeditiously and the reality that growth of the submarine arm via FSM is essential to starting that transition, that program must be accelerated, with a national priority allocated for funds, personnel and a fast track for facilities.

A force of modern SSNs offers significant sea denial and force projection capabilities, providing at least twice the number of more capable submarines deployed at long range compared with an equivalent number of conventional submarines, assuring the ability to sustain a high level of deterrence and operational capability. A fleet of 12 double-crewed SSNs would allow four submarines to be on task at long range and constitute a formidable deterrent force. Such a fleet would also facilitate a rolling construction program.

A force of at least 10 nuclear submarines with 10 crews is the minimum required to maintain a critical mass of trained personnel and to generate the experience needed to man the senior supervisory and policy staff needed for a globally credible nuclear safety organization.

A force of at least 12 conventional future submarines, each with a crew of at least 60 and a total submarine arm of at least 2,100, is judged to be a conservative, safe and viable starting point for a transition to a force of 10 SSNs.

The options for Australia to develop an SSN capability would be limited to building the boats offshore or to consolidating the vessels in Australia incorporating a reactor purchased offshore. Leasing SSNs is not a practical option.

A supporting nuclear power industry is desirable as it would provide Australia with a broader regulatory, technical and educational base. However, provided the costs of not having that support are clearly identified, the absence of an Australian nuclear power industry should not preclude a transition to nuclear propulsion for Australia’s submarines.

The timing of any transition should be one the study’s findings. Two timelines may serve to illustrate the long lead times required:

– The initiation of a training program to prepare the policymakers and senior technical management personnel will be necessary six to eight years prior to ordering the first SSN.

– Over 250 experienced RAN submariners (approximately 12% of the submarine arm operating 12 FSMs) would enter nuclear education and training pipelines approximately eight years prior to the commissioning of the first SSN.

Given the lead time, unfolding strategic situation and benefits of nuclear propulsion, an immediate decision is recommended to commit to a feasibility study into a transition to nuclear propulsion to be delivered by 2020. It’s time we understood the benefits, costs, risk and timescales of this option fully.

And finally, a reminder for cabinet’s national security committee. We need to accelerate the FSM project, with national priority for resources without reducing  the sovereignty of our new subs . It would also be a good idea to stock up on the high-tech/costly/long-lead-time weapons to go in those torpedo tubes.

Netenyahu Tramples Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised “painful blows” against Hamas if the terrorist organization controlling Gaza doesn’t stop its violent protests. The threat comes after seven months of violent riots along Israel’s southern border.

Netanyahu said Israel may choose a different way to confront Hamas’s violence.

“We are close to a different kind of action. Action which will include very painful blows, if Hamas is smart, it will cease its fire and violent outbursts – now,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

Hamas-led riots began on March 30th.  IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus told CBN News Hamas plans different events for different days. On Monday it’s the beach.

IDF  Spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, Photo, CBN News

“Mondays are always the naval riots when they embark from the Gaza harbor trying to reach into Israeli waters,” Conricus said. “There are also riots along the beach and of course lots of media activity to try to join these two things together.”

Friday is the weekly main event, “Where an average of about 18,000 rioters gather in six different locations trying to violently get across into Israel becoming more and more violent.  We see a clear escalation in violence in the weapons that they use,” he said.

“Last Friday [in] the most violent attempt, IEDs [improvised explosive devices] were placed by Palestinians along the fence and that blew a hole in the fence through which 20 or so Palestinians got in and they tried to assault an IDF position. At that time Israeli soldiers fired in self-defense after they fired warning shots and made sure that those rioters were not able to get to their position,” he explained.

“We see that Hamas is actively pushing Palestinians toward the fence, really escalating the level of violence and trying to get Palestinians killed on the fence,” he added.

Michael Oren addressed the Gaza situation with Christian journalists from around the world.

Deputy Minister of Diplomacy MK Michael Oren, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

“The demonstrator is the new missile,” Oren said. “In some cases, it’s [a] better missile because it’s multi-usage. And they get the picture. They get the picture of innocent kids killed by Israel, which causes the same type of damage. It erodes our national legitimacy.”

Earlier CBN News got a firsthand look at what Israeli soldiers have faced for more than half a year.

“It’s not legitimate and  [it’s not]  civilian riots,” an IDF commander, whose name is withheld for security reasons, explained.

“The leaders of the riots are  [members of]  Hamas, and they are trying to challenge us,” he said.

Hamas has also flown hundreds of arson balloons into Israel that burned thousands of acres of Israeli farmland.

Incendiary balloons launched by Hamas destroyed set wheat fields on fire, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

The goal of Hamas is to infiltrate into Israeli border communities to attack Israeli civilians. Conricus says there’s a limit to what Israel can tolerate.

“It should be very clear to our enemy that there is a limit to the amount of violence that can be tolerated, to the amount of terror that can be inflicted on Israeli civilians. And of course the IDF has the tools and the capabilities to defend against those,” Cornricus said.

The Iranian Nuclear Threat (Daniel 8:4)

Why the Iranian Threat Goes Far Beyond Nuclear Weapons

Prior to the Islamic Revolution that swept Iran in 1979, the status of Shiite Muslims in the Arab world (about 20 percent of all Muslims) was that of inferiors. In many countries like Libya, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, they would be executed without trial. In other countries, Shiites were forbidden to build mosques because, in the eyes of Sunni Muslim majority, they were heretics.

The rise of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini was a watershed. He promised that the Shiites in the Arab world would no longer be oppressed. Indeed, since the revolution in Iran, the status of the Shiites in the Arab world has not only strengthened, in some places they have become the oppressors. Today, the Iranians and their proxies have full control over four Arab states: Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. And they threaten to seize even more countries.

In fact, Iranian efforts and attempts to undermine the stability of the Arab states have not ceased in recent years. Iran sees itself as a regional power and has adopted a strategy aimed at extending that power across the entirety of the Middle East. And it is succeeding. Two benefits of this extended power is the ability by Iran to protect the Shiite minority in Arab countries and to strike Israel indirectly. The Iranian octopus today operates both openly and covertly in any number of Arab countries as it exports the Shiite revolution to the rest of the Islamic world.

Thanks to Russian and Iranian involvement, Bashar Assad remained in power in Damascus. Iran wants to benefit from its investment in Syria. Today, it is setting up religious centers in Syria to persuade the Syrians to accept the Shiite religion, thereby bringing tens of thousands of Syrians into the Shiite fold, while will later enable Iran to establish even more Shiite militias to do its bidding.

In Iraq, the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime and the withdrawal of American forces from the country gave Iran a rare opportunity to expand its influence there. Iranian involvement in this country is centered around financing, training, and arming the Shiite militias al-Hashad al-Shaabi (the Iraqi Hezbollah). This political, economic and religious involvement effectively makes Iraq an Iranian protectorate.

The Iranians support and assist the Houthis and through them control much of Yemen, from where they can bomb their arch-enemies, the Saudis. Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia have a long-running rivalry centered on the age-old Muslim dispute regarding who was to succeed the Prophet Mohammed. It is from this dispute that the Shiite and Sunni streams of Islam evolved.

Iran established Hezbollah in Lebanon and equipped it through Syria with the most advanced weaponry. Some of the weapons were bombed by Israel in Syria even before their arrival in Lebanon. Iran has turned the Shiite community in Lebanon into a highly-organized fighting force that threatens the Lebanese army and the stability of Lebanon. Today, Iran is a major player in Lebanon.

Iranian is also very active in the Persian Gulf. The Islamic Republic has already occupied the islands of Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb, as well as Abu Musa Island, all which the United Arab Emirates regarded as belonging to them. This takeover demonstrated to the Arab states and their leaders the danger posed by Iran. Despite the support of the Arab League, no solution to this ongoing Iranian occupation has yet been found.

Iran also operates in Bahrain and neighboring Oman, and is investing greatly in expanding its influence in both kingdoms. In fact, Iran often claims to “own” Bahrain, that it is a “province” of the Islamic Republic. The Shiite majority in the Kingdom of Bahrain gives Iran legitimacy to make such claims, while the government there accuses Iran of subversion.

Iran supports the establishment of a Palestinian state on the ruins of the State of Israel. The Iranians openly say that they want to destroy the State of Israel, and back up those words with material support for local terrorist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. This also enables Iran to brainwash the local Sunni Palestinian Muslims with Shiite ideology, along with a healthy dose of hatred for Israel and the Jews.

Even without a nuclear bomb, Iran is busy destabilizing the rest of the Middle East, making itself no less an enemy of the Arabs than it is of Israel. For this reason it is incumbent upon the US and European Union to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Because if it is able to sow so much discord without the bomb, imagine what it can accomplish with nukes in hand?

Airstrikes Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

An Israeli warplane carried out an airstrike on Tuesday, targeting a group of Palestinians east of Beit Hanoun, in the southern Gaza Strip.

Airstrikes over Gaza Continue

October 16, 2018 8:08 PM IMEMC News & Agencies Gaza Strip, Israeli attacks, News Report

A Ma’an reporter said that an Israeli warplane fired one missile towards a group of Palestinian youth in northern Gaza; no injuries were reported.

The Israeli army said that a warplane targeted a group of Palestinians who were launching flaming kites into southern Israel.

Meanwhile, locals reported that Israeli military bulldozers entered dozens of meters into south of Gaza City, razing and leveling lands.

Four Israeli bulldozers reportedly entered near the return camps, while drones flew overhead.

Israeli military incursions inside the besieged Gaza Strip and near the “buffer zone,” which lies on both land and sea sides of Gaza, have long been a near-daily occurrence.

(archive photo image)

Antichrist calls on Kurds to abandon ‘quotas’

Leader of Iraq’s Sadrist Movement, Muqtada Al-Sadr [Twitter]

Iraq’s Sadr calls on Kurds to abandon ‘quotas’

October 16, 2018 at 11:21 am

The leader of Iraq’s Sadrist Movement Muqtada Al-Sadr yesterday called on Kurdish leaders to keep all “corrupt” people away from the state’s senior positions.

Since the overthrow of the former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in 2003, Sunnis, Shias and Kurds have been sharing senior positions in the state under the so-called “quota” system.

“We want you to live with us without separation,” Al-Sadr wrote on Twitter, addressing Kurdish politicians. “This is the highest meaning of love to be together in a unified Iraq,” he added.

READ: Iraqi Kurds vote in parliamentary polls Sunday

“We know that among you are some who love moderation and do not differentiate between a Kurd or an Arab except with piety and patriotism,” he continued, calling on the Kurds to “save Iraq and leave the quota and all the corrupt, and renew the covenant for Iraq with new faces who would preserve the country’s prestige, raise its status and cherish its people.”

Al-Sadr’s message comes two days after his similar letter to Sunni Iraqis urging them “to provide public interests and to rely on the competent technocrats to lead the country in the next stage.” He also advised them to stay away from “treachery of treason and corruption deals”.

Iraq is among the world’s most corrupt countries, according to the Transparency International Index, over the past years.

Corruption is one of Iraq’s main challenges. According to the UK-based International Centre for Development Studies, $120 billion simply disappeared during the term of office of former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki.

Columbia University Warns Of Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Earthquakes May Endanger New York More Than Thought, Says Study

A study by a group of prominent seismologists suggests that a pattern of subtle but active faults makes the risk of earthquakes to the New York City area substantially greater than formerly believed. Among other things, they say that the controversial Indian Point nuclear power plants, 24 miles north of the city, sit astride the previously unidentified intersection of two active seismic zones. The paper appears in the current issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

Many faults and a few mostly modest quakes have long been known around New York City, but the research casts them in a new light. The scientists say the insight comes from sophisticated analysis of past quakes, plus 34 years of new data on tremors, most of them perceptible only by modern seismic instruments. The evidence charts unseen but potentially powerful structures whose layout and dynamics are only now coming clearer, say the scientists. All are based at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, which runs the network of seismometers that monitors most of the northeastern United States.

Lead author Lynn R. Sykes said the data show that large quakes are infrequent around New York compared to more active areas like California and Japan, but that the risk is high, because of the overwhelming concentration of people and infrastructure. “The research raises the perception both of how common these events are, and, specifically, where they may occur,” he said. “It’s an extremely populated area with very large assets.” Sykes, who has studied the region for four decades, is known for his early role in establishing the global theory of plate tectonics.

The authors compiled a catalog of all 383 known earthquakes from 1677 to 2007 in a 15,000-square-mile area around New York City. Coauthor John Armbruster estimated sizes and locations of dozens of events before 1930 by combing newspaper accounts and other records. The researchers say magnitude 5 quakes—strong enough to cause damage–occurred in 1737, 1783 and 1884. There was little settlement around to be hurt by the first two quakes, whose locations are vague due to a lack of good accounts; but the last, thought to be centered under the seabed somewhere between Brooklyn and Sandy Hook, toppled chimneys across the city and New Jersey, and panicked bathers at Coney Island. Based on this, the researchers say such quakes should be routinely expected, on average, about every 100 years. “Today, with so many more buildings and people, a magnitude 5 centered below the city would be extremely attention-getting,” said Armbruster. “We’d see billions in damage, with some brick buildings falling. People would probably be killed.”

Starting in the early 1970s Lamont began collecting data on quakes from dozens of newly deployed seismometers; these have revealed further potential, including distinct zones where earthquakes concentrate, and where larger ones could come. The Lamont network, now led by coauthor Won-Young Kim, has located hundreds of small events, including a magnitude 3 every few years, which can be felt by people at the surface, but is unlikely to cause damage. These small quakes tend to cluster along a series of small, old faults in harder rocks across the region. Many of the faults were discovered decades ago when subways, water tunnels and other excavations intersected them, but conventional wisdom said they were inactive remnants of continental collisions and rifting hundreds of millions of years ago. The results clearly show that they are active, and quite capable of generating damaging quakes, said Sykes.

One major previously known feature, the Ramapo Seismic Zone, runs from eastern Pennsylvania to the mid-Hudson Valley, passing within a mile or two northwest of Indian Point. The researchers found that this system is not so much a single fracture as a braid of smaller ones, where quakes emanate from a set of still ill-defined faults. East and south of the Ramapo zone—and possibly more significant in terms of hazard–is a set of nearly parallel northwest-southeast faults. These include Manhattan’s 125th Street fault, which seems to have generated two small 1981 quakes, and could have been the source of the big 1737 quake; the Dyckman Street fault, which carried a magnitude 2 in 1989; the Mosholu Parkway fault; and the Dobbs Ferry fault in suburban Westchester, which generated the largest recent shock, a surprising magnitude 4.1, in 1985. Fortunately, it did no damage. Given the pattern, Sykes says the big 1884 quake may have hit on a yet-undetected member of this parallel family further south.

The researchers say that frequent small quakes occur in predictable ratios to larger ones, and so can be used to project a rough time scale for damaging events. Based on the lengths of the faults, the detected tremors, and calculations of how stresses build in the crust, the researchers say that magnitude 6 quakes, or even 7—respectively 10 and 100 times bigger than magnitude 5–are quite possible on the active faults they describe. They calculate that magnitude 6 quakes take place in the area about every 670 years, and sevens, every 3,400 years. The corresponding probabilities of occurrence in any 50-year period would be 7% and 1.5%. After less specific hints of these possibilities appeared in previous research, a 2003 analysis by The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation put the cost of quakes this size in the metro New York area at $39 billion to $197 billion. A separate 2001 analysis for northern New Jersey’s Bergen County estimates that a magnitude 7 would destroy 14,000 buildings and damage 180,000 in that area alone. The researchers point out that no one knows when the last such events occurred, and say no one can predict when they next might come.

“We need to step backward from the simple old model, where you worry about one large, obvious fault, like they do in California,” said coauthor Leonardo Seeber. “The problem here comes from many subtle faults. We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought. We need to take a very close look.” Seeber says that because the faults are mostly invisible at the surface and move infrequently, a big quake could easily hit one not yet identified. “The probability is not zero, and the damage could be great,” he said. “It could be like something out of a Greek myth.”

The researchers found concrete evidence for one significant previously unknown structure: an active seismic zone running at least 25 miles from Stamford, Conn., to the Hudson Valley town of Peekskill, N.Y., where it passes less than a mile north of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. The Stamford-Peekskill line stands out sharply on the researchers’ earthquake map, with small events clustered along its length, and to its immediate southwest. Just to the north, there are no quakes, indicating that it represents some kind of underground boundary. It is parallel to the other faults beginning at 125th Street, so the researchers believe it is a fault in the same family. Like the others, they say it is probably capable of producing at least a magnitude 6 quake. Furthermore, a mile or so on, it intersects the Ramapo seismic zone.

Sykes said the existence of the Stamford-Peekskill line had been suggested before, because the Hudson takes a sudden unexplained bend just ot the north of Indian Point, and definite traces of an old fault can be along the north side of the bend. The seismic evidence confirms it, he said. “Indian Point is situated at the intersection of the two most striking linear features marking the seismicity and also in the midst of a large population that is at risk in case of an accident,” says the paper. “This is clearly one of the least favorable sites in our study area from an earthquake hazard and risk perspective.”

The findings comes at a time when Entergy, the owner of Indian Point, is trying to relicense the two operating plants for an additional 20 years—a move being fought by surrounding communities and the New York State Attorney General. Last fall the attorney general, alerted to the then-unpublished Lamont data, told a Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel in a filing: “New data developed in the last 20 years disclose a substantially higher likelihood of significant earthquake activity in the vicinity of [Indian Point] that could exceed the earthquake design for the facility.” The state alleges that Entergy has not presented new data on earthquakes past 1979. However, in a little-noticed decision this July 31, the panel rejected the argument on procedural grounds. A source at the attorney general’s office said the state is considering its options.

The characteristics of New York’s geology and human footprint may increase the problem. Unlike in California, many New York quakes occur near the surface—in the upper mile or so—and they occur not in the broken-up, more malleable formations common where quakes are frequent, but rather in the extremely hard, rigid rocks underlying Manhattan and much of the lower Hudson Valley. Such rocks can build large stresses, then suddenly and efficiently transmit energy over long distances. “It’s like putting a hard rock in a vise,” said Seeber. “Nothing happens for a while. Then it goes with a bang.” Earthquake-resistant building codes were not introduced to New York City until 1995, and are not in effect at all in many other communities. Sinuous skyscrapers and bridges might get by with minimal damage, said Sykes, but many older, unreinforced three- to six-story brick buildings could crumble.

Art Lerner-Lam, associate director of Lamont for seismology, geology and tectonophysics, pointed out that the region’s major highways including the New York State Thruway, commuter and long-distance rail lines, and the main gas, oil and power transmission lines all cross the parallel active faults, making them particularly vulnerable to being cut. Lerner-Lam, who was not involved in the research, said that the identification of the seismic line near Indian Point “is a major substantiation of a feature that bears on the long-term earthquake risk of the northeastern United States.” He called for policymakers to develop more information on the region’s vulnerability, to take a closer look at land use and development, and to make investments to strengthen critical infrastructure.

“This is a landmark study in many ways,” said Lerner-Lam. “It gives us the best possible evidence that we have an earthquake hazard here that should be a factor in any planning decision. It crystallizes the argument that this hazard is not random. There is a structure to the location and timing of the earthquakes. This enables us to contemplate risk in an entirely different way. And since we are able to do that, we should be required to do that.”

New York Earthquake Briefs and Quotes:

Existing U.S. Geological Survey seismic hazard maps show New York City as facing more hazard than many other eastern U.S. areas. Three areas are somewhat more active—northernmost New York State, New Hampshire and South Carolina—but they have much lower populations and fewer structures. The wider forces at work include pressure exerted from continuing expansion of the mid-Atlantic Ridge thousands of miles to the east; slow westward migration of the North American continent; and the area’s intricate labyrinth of old faults, sutures and zones of weakness caused by past collisions and rifting.

Due to New York’s past history, population density and fragile, interdependent infrastructure, a 2001 analysis by the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranks it the 11th most at-risk U.S. city for earthquake damage. Among those ahead: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. Behind: Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Anchorage.

New York’s first seismic station was set up at Fordham University in the 1920s. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in Palisades, N.Y., has operated stations since 1949, and now coordinates a network of about 40.

Dozens of small quakes have been felt in the New York area. A Jan. 17, 2001 magnitude 2.4, centered in the Upper East Side—the first ever detected in Manhattan itself–may have originated on the 125th Street fault. Some people thought it was an explosion, but no one was harmed.

The most recent felt quake, a magnitude 2.1 on July 28, 2008, was centered near Milford, N.J. Houses shook and a woman at St. Edward’s Church said she felt the building rise up under her feet—but no damage was done.

Questions about the seismic safety of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which lies amid a metropolitan area of more than 20 million people, were raised in previous scientific papers in 1978 and 1985.

Because the hard rocks under much of New York can build up a lot strain before breaking, researchers believe that modest faults as short as 1 to 10 kilometers can cause magnitude 5 or 6 quakes.

In general, magnitude 3 quakes occur about 10 times more often than magnitude fours; 100 times more than magnitude fives; and so on. This principle is called the Gutenberg-Richter relationship.

Iran Prepares to Spin More Uranium (Daniel 8:4)

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran has completed a facility to build advanced centrifuges, Iran’s nuclear chief was quoted on Sunday as saying, as Tehran prepares to increase its uranium-enrichment capacity if the nuclear deal collapses after the United States exits.

In June, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said the facility at the Natanz nuclear plant would be completed within a month.Salehi’s statement in June came days after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he had ordered preparations to increase the country’s uranium enrichment capacity if the nuclear agreement with world powers collapsed.

On Sunday, the official news agency IRNA quoted Salehi as saying: “(Ayatollah Khamenei) had ordered us to set up and complete a very advanced hall for the construction of modern centrifuges, and this hall has now been fully equipped and set up.”

Salehi said Iran’s announced plans to build nuclear reactors for ships, while staying within the limits set by its atomic deal with major powers, was “advancing well but would take 10 to 15 years to complete”, IRNA said.

“A third step (in reaction to the U.S. withdrawal) might be to suspend some of the limitations within the nuclear agreement, for example on the volume and level of enrichment,” Salehi said, according to IRNA.

“And the final scenario can be a complete exit from the nuclear accord, which I hope will never happen, with the help of (remaining signatories), because everyone would suffer,” Salehi added.

Iranian officials have said they would decide whether to quit the 2015 nuclear deal after studying a planned European package of economic measures that could help offset U.S. sanctions.

Iraqis Turn Against Iranian Hegemony

Protesters in Basra turn on Iran, torch consulate

BASRA/IRBIL, Iraq: Protesters stormed the Iranian consulate in Iraq’s southern city of Basra Friday, turning their wrath on Iraq’s powerful neighbor after five days of deadly demonstrations in which government buildings have been ransacked and torched.

Demonstrators broke in and began damaging the offices, shouting condemnation of what many Iraqis perceive as Iran’s sway over Iraq’s political parties. They also set a fire inside the consulate. Security sources said the building was empty when the crowd burst in.

Russian oil company Lukoil said protesters entered its water treatment facility linked to the West Qurna 2 field and held two employees.

Local security and health sources said one protester had died and 11 were wounded Friday.

Iraqi security officials later announced a citywide curfew just before 9 p.m. local time, a statement from Basra Operations Command said. “Security forces will arrest anyone present in the street,” the statement said. The storming came hours after Iraq’s most revered Shiite preacher called for a political shakeup in Baghdad and a halt to violence against the protesters. Ayatollah Ali Sistani placed blame for the unrest with political leaders and said a new government should be formed, “different from its predecessors.”

At least 11 protesters have died, mostly in clashes with the security forces, since Monday in Basra, a city of 2 million people. Residents say they have been driven to the streets by corruption and misrule that allowed infrastructure to collapse, leaving no power or safe drinking water in the heat of summer.

The unrest could have deeper implications for a country that imports most of its food. Since Thursday protesters have shut Iraq’s only major sea port at Umm Qasr, 60 kilometers south of Basra. It remained shut Friday, local officials and security sources said, although oil exports, carried out from offshore platforms, have not been affected. Smaller protests in solidarity with Basra took place in several other cities including Karbala and Baghdad.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s national security council met Friday and said it was investigating casualties at the protests. Abadi, under pressure to promise more money to fix Basra’s public services, said funds that had previously been allocated would be released.

More than 2,000 people, including many women, gathered in Basra Friday afternoon, to mourn a protester who died from burns during the torching of the provincial government headquarters overnight.

The unrest has thrust Iraq into a major new crisis at a time when politicians still have yet to agree a new government after an inconclusive election in May. Parliament’s interim leader summoned lawmakers to an emergency session Saturday to discuss the unrest.

Moqtada al-Sadr, a populist Shiite preacher whose electoral bloc came first in May’s election, said on Twitter that Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi must release more funds for Basra. Sadr, the former leader of an anti-American Shiite sectarian militia who has reinvented himself as an anti-corruption campaigner, has allied himself with Abadi.

Their alliance is competing to form a government against a rival bloc backed by Abadi’s predecessor Nouri al-Maliki and the leader of an Iran-backed Shiite armed group, Hadi al-Amiri. Amiri called on Abadi to resign over the crisis Friday.

Iran Builds Up Her Military Power

img_3143Khamenei urges Iran’s military to ‘scare off’ enemy | Reuters

DUBAI (Reuters) – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged Iran’s armed forces on Sunday to increase their power to “scare off” the enemy, as the country faces increased tension with the United States.

His statement came just before Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said it fired seven missiles in an attack on Iraq-based Iranian Kurdish dissidents that killed at least 11 people on Saturday.

Increase your power as much as you can, because your power scares off the enemy and forces it to retreat,” Khamenei’s official website quoted him as saying at a graduation ceremony for cadets of Iran’s regular armed forces.

U.S. President Donald Trump in May withdrew from Iran’s nuclear agreement with world powers — a deal aimed at stalling Tehran’s nuclear capabilities in return for lifting some sanctions — and ordered the reimposition of U.S. sanctions that had been suspended under the deal.

“Iran and the Iranian nation have resisted America and proven that, if a nation is not afraid of threats by bullies and relies on its own capabilities, it can force the superpowers to retreat and defeat them,” Khamenei said during a visit to Iran’s Caspian port city of Nowshahr.

State television also showed Khamenei praising Iranian naval forces in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Yemen, while speaking to their commander via videolink.

Shi’ite power Iran rejects accusations from Saudi Arabia that it is giving financial and military support to Yemen’s Houthis, who are fighting a government backed by a Saudi-led military coalition of Sunni Arab countries.

Meanwhile, a senior military official said Iran had capability to export the know-how to produce solid rocket fuel, the state news agency IRNA reported. Solid fuel rockets can be fired on short notice.

“In the scientific field, today we have reached a stage where we can export the technology to produce solid rocket fuel,” said Brigadier General Majid Bokaei, director-general of Iran’s main defense university, quoted by IRNA.

Iran said earlier this month it planned to boost its ballistic and cruise missile capacity and acquire modern fighter planes and submarines to boost its defense capabilities.

On Saturday Iran dismissed a French call for negotiations on Tehran’s future nuclear plans, its ballistic missile arsenal and its role in wars in Syria and Yemen, following the U.S. pullout from Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by David Goodman and Raissa Kasolowsky

The Antichrist calls on Iraq PM to step down as Basra crisis deepens

Muqtada al-Sadr calls on Iraq PM to step down as Basra crisis deepens

Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who had entered an alliance with Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi following elections earlier this year, has called upon the premier to resign as deadly protests in the southern city of Basra worsen.

We demand the government apologise to the people and resign immediately,” said Hassan al-Aqouli, spokesman for Sadr’s list, which won the most seats in May’s poll.

Ahmed al-Assadi, spokesman for the second-largest list, Conquest Alliance, also called for Abadi’s resignation, denouncing “the government’s failure to resolve the crisis in Basra”.

The call came as parliament met on Saturday for an emergency session to discuss the crisis in public services in the city after 12 protesters were killed this week, the Iranian consulate torched and its airport hit by rockets.

The meeting was originally demanded by Sadr, whose political bloc won the largest number of seats in May elections although a new government has yet to be formed.

Sadr had called on politicians to present “radical and immediate” solutions at Saturday’s session or step down.

On Friday, Iraq’s most senior Shia cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called for a government to be urgently formed to resolve the crisis in Basra.

Abadi described the unrest as “political sabotage” as he joined the session along with several ministers, charging that “the question of public services” was being exploited for political ends.

His government has announced the allocation of an unspecified amount of extra funds for Basra, although demonstrators say that billions of dollars in emergency funding pledged in July has failed to materialise.

In a session attended by 172 deputies in the 329-seat house, Abadi traded barbs with Basra’s governor, Asaad al-Eidani, who is also parliament speaker.

Iraqi officials have imposed a curfew on Basra starting at 4pm (1pm GMT) on Saturday, a military statement said.

Since Tuesday, demonstrators in Basra have set ablaze government buildings, the Iranian consulate and the offices of pro-Tehran militias and political parties.

The anger flared after the hospitalisation of 30,000 people who had drunk polluted water, in an oil-rich region where residents have for weeks complained of water and electricity shortages, corruption among officials and unemployment.

At least 12 demonstrators have been killed and 50 wounded in clashes with security forces, according to the interior ministry.

Airport and Iranian consulate attacked

Hours before parliament met, four rockets fired by unidentified assailants struck inside the perimeter of the Basra airport, security sources said.

Staff at the airport, which is located near the US consulate in Basra, said flights were not affected.

The attack came after a day of rage in the southern city, where hundreds of protesters stormed the fortified Iranian consulate, causing no casualties but sparking condemnation.

Abadi said he had instructed security forces to “act decisively against the acts of vandalism that accompanied the demonstrations”.

Iraq’s Joint Operations Command, which includes the army and police, vowed a “severe” response with “exceptional security measures”, including a ban on protests and group travel.

The foreign ministry called the attack on the consulate “an unacceptable act undermining the interests of Iraq and its international relations”.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi denounced the “savage attack”, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.

A spokesman for the consulate said that all diplomats and staff had been evacuated from the building before the protesters attacked, and that nobody was hurt.

Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi, said the consulate was “totally demolished” and charged that “foreign agents close to the US, Zionists and some Arab countries are trying to sabotage Iran-Iraq relations”, Iran’s ILNA news agency reported.

‘Sick and abandoned’

The wave of protests first broke out in Basra in July before spreading to other parts of the country, with demonstrators condemning corruption among Iraqi officials and demanding jobs.

Since then, at least 27 people have been killed nationwide.

“We’re thirsty, we’re hungry, we are sick and abandoned,” protester Ali Hussein told the AFP news agency on Friday in Basra after another night of violence.

“Demonstrating is a sacred duty and all honest people ought to join.”

The anger on Basra’s streets was “in response to the government’s intentional policy of neglect”, the head of the region’s human rights council Mehdi al-Tamimi said.

Iraq has been struggling to rebuild its infrastructure and economy after decades of bloody conflicts, including an eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s, the US-led invasion of 2003 and the battle against the Islamic State group.

In August, the oil ministry announced that crude exports for August had hit their highest monthly figure this year, with nearly 112 million barrels of oil bringing $7.7bn to state coffers.

Iraq, however, suffers from persistent corruption and many Iraqis complain that the country’s oil wealth is unfairly distributed.

Parliament said deputies would hear speeches by Abadi and key ministers and discuss the water contamination crisis, the latest breakdown in public services to spark public anger.

Two months ago, Abadi pledged a multi-billion dollar emergency plan to revive infrastructure and services in southern Iraq, one of the country’s most marginalised regions.

Trying to hold onto his post in the next government, Abadi had formed an alliance with Sadr, a former militia chief who has called for Iraq to have greater political independence from both neighbouring Iran and the United States.