Babylon the Great Prepares for Nuclear War

STRATCOM commander calls on Congress to update US triad as China’s nuclear program advances weekly

Adm. Charles Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, testifies at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on April 20, 2021.

FROM A SASC VIDEO

The Chinese military’s nuclear capabilities are increasing rapidly and, for the first time, might be primed for use, the U.S. military officer in charge of America’s nuclear arsenal warned Tuesday as he urged Congress to upgrade America’s aging nuclear infrastructure.

In an effort to describe how quickly the Chinese nuclear program is advancing, Adm. Charles Richard, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he had just ordered all briefs on Beijing’s nuclear weapons contain no intelligence information vetted more than one month earlier “because it’s probably out of date” that quickly.

Richard testified Tuesday that China is capable of accurately deploying nuclear weapons anywhere within its region, and it “will soon be able to do so at intercontinental range.”

“I can’t get through a week right now, without finding out something we didn’t know about China,” Richard told senators in a hearing alongside Army Gen. James Dickinson, who leads U.S. Space Command. Dickinson also fingered China as among his top military concerns, as it rapidly advances its space-based military capabilities.

In a stark warning, Richard told lawmakers that he had seen indications China had moved at least some of its nuclear forces from a peace-time status to a so-called “launch-on-warning” and “high-alert” posture, in which weapons are armed for launch as soon as an incoming enemy missile is detected.

Yet, even as China’s nuclear weapons arsenal has grown dramatically, Russia remains the primary nuclear threat for the United States, Richard said. While the U.S. has yet to field any recent updates to its nuclear forces, Russia is about 80% complete in modernizing its nuclear capabilities, the admiral said.

“While we are at 0% [modernization], it is easier to describe what they’re [Russia] not modernizing — nothing,” he said. “What they are [upgrading] is pretty much everything, including several never-before-seen capabilities.”

Those increases among the primary U.S. adversaries come as Congress debates funding for long-planned upgrades to America’s nuclear triad — its system of intercontinental ballistic missiles and its fleets of nuclear-capable bomber aircraft and ballistic missile submarines — and as President Joe Biden’s administration reviews the nation’s nuclear strategies, as incoming administrations typically have done.

Richard said he supported the ongoing review, but he cautioned against some lawmakers’ recent targeting of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, the planned $95 billion replacement for the military’s 1970s-era Minuteman III ICBMs, as a potential cut to save money. Several Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Tuesday, have questioned the need for upgraded intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The Minuteman III missiles must either be replaced by the GBSD or retired, Richard said, calling them “leftovers of the Cold War” that have become too obsolete to be life-extended with temporary fixes.

Without ICBMs, the United States would be forced to change drastically its approach to nuclear operations, Richard said. It could leave America entirely reliant on its submarine force to deter enemy nuclear activity because the United States since the end of the Cold War has not maintained bomber aircraft on nuclear alert.

“I’ve already told the secretary of defense that under those conditions, I would request to re-alert the bombers,” he told senators Tuesday, which would place some of the Air Force’s B-52 Stratofortress and/or B-2 Spirit bombers armed with nuclear weapons and prepared to fly at all times.

Richard urged senators to watch the actions of the Chinese and Russians to modernize their nuclear forces as they debate the future of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

“It’s the only weapon system you don’t have to pull the trigger on for it to work,” he said of the nuclear weapons that he oversees.

dickstein.corey@stripes.com
Twitter: @CDicksteinDC

Iran Horn starts enriching uranium to 60% — its highest level ever

Iran starts enriching uranium to 60% — its highest level ever

Updated 17 April 2021 Arab News April 16, 2021 10:22

JEDDAH: Iran began enriching uranium on Friday to its highest-ever purity that edges Tehran close to weapons-grade levels, attempting to pressure negotiators in Vienna amid talks on restoring its nuclear deal with world powers after an attack on its main enrichment site.

A top official said only a few grams an hour of uranium gas would be enriched up to 60 percent purity — triple the level it once did but at a quantity far lower than what the country could produce.

Iran also is enriching at an above-ground facility at its Natanz nuclear site already visited by international inspectors, not deep within its underground halls hardened to withstand airstrikes.

The narrow scope of the new enrichment provides Iran with a way to quickly de-escalate if it chooses, experts say, but time is narrowing.

The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran acknowledged the move to 60 percent. Ali Akbar Salehi told Iranian state television the centrifuges now produce 9 grams an hour, but that would drop to 5 grams an hour in the coming days.

“Any enrichment level that we desire is in our reach at the moment and we can do it at any time we want,” Salehi said. Israel, which has twice bombed Mideast countries to stop their nuclear programs, said it was determined to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon.

“We will do whatever it takes to prevent the extremists (in Iran) from succeeding, and definitely will prevent this regime from having a nuclear weapon,” Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told reporters on a visit to Cyprus.

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar, told Arab News that the region’s countries would be the first victims of Iran and its nuclear project.

“Therefore, they have the right to tell the International Atomic Energy Agency and the nuclear deal’s signatory states that they are not interested in any new agreement with Tehran unless they can participate in it as a primary party.

“The nuclear deal is not valid unless Iran’s ballistic missile file is added to it, along with its terrorist activities vis-a-vis its regional proxies. Iran’s terrorist militias have expanded and set up camps in four Arab countries.

“The region’s countries are the ones most concerned with this Iranian threat, as they are the ones affected by it, so they are the ones who must be present during talks with Tehran.

“Otherwise, all options are available for them to protect their security and stability from Iran’s nuclear file, its interference in the region and its affiliated terrorist militias, as well as from the threat of its ballistic missiles, which it continues to supply to its militias, such as the Houthis, who have used them hundreds of times against civilians, oil installations and global energy sources in Saudi Arabia.”

The Threatening Iranian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 8

Iran’s missiles, drone arsenal a growing ‘destabilizing threat’ – report

Its missile arsenal was designed to be an asymmetric kind of threat because Iran has a weak conventional army and weak air force.

Iran’s massive missile arsenal is growing and combined with its drones and cruise missiles makes for a destabilizing force multiplier, the International Institute for Strategic Studies said Tuesday in a report.

“Iran’s ballistic-missile systems, supplemented by cruise missiles and UAVs, are intended not only for deterrence, but for battle, including by Iran’s regional partners,” it said. “In a new report, the IISS provides a detailed assessment of Iran’s missiles, and the manner and purposes for which it has been proliferating them.”

The IISS was founded in 1958 and is a world-leading authority on global security.

“Nuclear issues are the exclusive focus of the negotiations on the restoration of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Iran nuclear deal with world powers), which have taken place in Vienna,” the report said.

 However, while Western powers are focusing on the nuclear-enrichment issue now, there is also interest in “follow-on” talks about Iran’s missile program. It is not clear if Iran is interested, since it has bragged in the past about its growing collection of missiles, their precision and ranges, and it has said they are not up for negotiation.

Iran is a world leader in ballistic missiles, alongside Russia, China and North Korea, from whom it has received know-how and collaboration.

Iran’s missile arsenal was designed as an asymmetric threat because it has a relatively weak conventional army and weak air force.

Iran has exported shorter-range missiles to its proxies in the region. Iranian 107-mm. rockets have been sent to proxies in Iraq to be fired at US troops, and they have been seized in the past en route to Hezbollah.

Iran sent ballistic missiles to its proxies in Iraq in 2018 and 2019, according to reports. It has moved missiles and kamikaze drones and technology to Yemen’s Houthi rebels. They have used these to strike deep into Saudi Arabia at ranges of almost 1,000 km.

Iran used cruise missiles and drones to attack Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, in September 2019. It used its Fateh-110 missiles to strike Kurds in Koya in 2018. Last year, it used its Qiam ballistic missiles to attack US forces at Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq after the US killed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force head Qasem Soleimani.

“To inform the public policy debate on the latter matters, the IISS has produced a fact-rich technical assessment of Iran’s current missile and uninhabited aerial vehicle (UAV) capabilities and its proliferation of these technologies to Iran’s regional partners,” the report said, adding that it has drawn exclusively from open sources to document some 20 types of missiles. “For now, all of Iran’s ballistic missiles apparently adhere to a self-imposed range limit of 2,000 km. Iran’s priority is to improve precision, notable in several missile systems.”

The report also looks at Iran’s “missile doctrine.” This is important to understand Iran’s long-term plans to threaten the region with its array of missiles.

Iran now focuses on “improved precision to be able to deny potential foes their military objectives,” the report said. “Iran’s missile proliferation efforts have profoundly destabilizing consequences for the region because they serve as powerful force multipliers for unaccountable non-state actors, the IISS report concludes.”

The IISS warns that Iran has supplied these systems to others.

This “demonstrate[s] a greater willingness to take risks, as well as a more offensive outlook for Iran’s missile program in general,” it said.

The report looks at Iran’s drones in conjunction with the missile threat.

“Iran is expanding its capacity to strike across the region through the continuing development and introduction of armed UAVs and cruise missiles,” the report said. “For example, in September 2019, the 700-km.-range 351/Quds-1 missile was used to strike the Saudi Aramco Khurais oilfield facility; the attack was claimed by Yemeni Houthi rebels but likely planned and executed by Iran.

“Iran uses four complementary strategies to provide its non-state actor allies with UAVs, artillery rockets and ballistic missiles: direct transfers, upgrades to existing missiles and rockets, the transfer of production capabilities, and provision via third parties.”

IISS claims that “the advances made over the past decade on the Shahab-3, Ghadr-1 and Safir programs suggest that Iran has developed and applied a rigorous engineering-management process to organize its efforts and created the industrial infrastructure to support liquid-fuel missile production.”

This should be a wake-up call for the region and countries that are negotiating with Iran, because the missile and UAV threat will only grow in the coming years.

IAEA confirms Iran is a Nuclear Horn

IAEA confirms Iran is enriching uranium to 60 percent

Work reportedly taking place at Natanz nuclear facility • Israeli media reports rising tension between Jerusalem and Washington against backdrop of nuclear talks in Vienna.

(April 18, 2021 / JNS)

The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed on Saturday that Iran had begun the process of enriching uranium to a purity level of 60 percent, the closest level yet to the 90 percent required to make a nuclear bomb.

The work is taking place at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility, Reuters reported on Saturday. Thousands of uranium enrichment centrifuges were damaged or destroyed in a  blast that tore through the facility on April 11, according to an Iranian official. Tehran has accused Israel of being behind the incident, which it has called “nuclear terrorism” and sworn revenge.

Until now, Iran has only enriched uranium to 20 percent—itself a violation of the 2015 nuclear deal, which restricted the Islamic Republic to the 3.67 percent level.

Meanwhile, Iranian state television said on Saturday that the country’s intelligence agencies had identified one Reza Karimi as a suspect in the Natanz blast. Karimi had fled Iran shortly before the explosion, according to a BBC report.

In recent days, Hebrew media reports have indicated that Washington and Jerusalem are experiencing increased diplomatic tensions over recent events concerning Iran. A Channel 12 news report on Friday said that the Biden administration had passed multiple messages to Israel calling for a cessation of “chatter and boastfulness” regarding alleged Israeli actions against Iran, and calling alleged Israeli remarks on the matter dangerous, embarrassing and a threat to U.S.-led nuclear talks with Iran.

Israel Hayom reported on Sunday that Jerusalem is “deeply disappointed” over the “total American capitulation” in nuclear talks with Iran in Vienna.

The report said that six world powers and Iran are close to signing an agreement that would return them to the original deal, which former President Donald Trump quit in 2018. According to the report, Iran will not be required to destroy the new, advanced centrifuges it has built, but rather just to disconnect them from enrichment machinery.

Russia Tramples Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Russia said the militants were killed Syria during an air strike on a “terrorist” base northeast of Palmyra. (AFP/File)

MOSCOW: Russia’s defence ministry said Monday that it had killed “up to 200 fighters” in Syria during an air strike on a “terrorist” base northeast of Palmyra.

“After confirming data through multiple channels on the location of terrorist facilities, Russian Aerospace Forces aircraft carried out airstrikes,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that they “eliminated two hideouts” and “up to 200 militants”.

Rockets hit Iraqi and Babylon the Great

Rockets hit Iraqi air base, 2 security forces wounded

Updated 13 sec ago AP April 18, 2021 19:54

BAGHDAD: Multiple rockets hit an Iraqi air base just north of the capital Baghdad Sunday, wounding two Iraqi security forces, an Iraqi military commander said.

In comments to Iraq’s official news agency, Maj. Gen. Diaa Mohsen, commander of the Balad air base, said at least two rockets exploded inside the base, which houses US trainers. The attack comes days after an explosives-laden drone targeted US-led coalition forces near a northern Iraq airport, causing a large fire and damage to a building.

Mohsen said the attack resulted in the injury of two security forces, one of them in serious condition and the other only slightly. There was no material damage inside the base from the attack, he added.

The incident was the latest in a string of attacks that have targeted mostly American installations in Iraq in recent weeks. There was no immediate responsibility claim, but US officials have previously blamed Iran-backed Iraqi militia factions for such attacks.

American forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011 but returned in 2014 at the invitation of Iraq to help battle Daesh after it seized vast areas in the north and west of the country. In late 2020, US troop levels in Iraq were reduced to 2,500 after withdrawals based on orders from the Trump administration.

Calls grew for further US troop withdrawals after a US-directed drone strike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and an Iraqi militia leader in Baghdad in January 2020.

Last month, a base in western Iraq housing US-led coalition troops and contractors was hit by 10 rockets. One contractor was killed.

The Iranian Nuclear Horn is Close to a Nuke

Iran Enriches Uranium Closer to Weapons Grade as Talks Resume

(Bloomberg) — Iran obtained its first quantity of uranium enriched close to levels needed to make a weapon, adding to obstacles facing diplomats as they try to revive the 2015 nuclear pact that curbed the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

The unspecified amount of 60%-enriched uranium was produced at 12:40 a.m. local time on Friday, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported, citing parliament speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.

The move is Iran’s response to an attack on Sunday on its biggest enrichment facility at Natanz that it blamed on Israel, the latest in a series of claims by the regional foes that’s roiling the Persian Gulf. It moves Tehran’s enrichment significantly closer to the 90% concentration of uranium-235 isotopes used in nuclear weapons.

Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful and that the material will be used for medical treatments.

Diplomats from Iran, the U.S., Russia, China, the U.K., France and Germany gather in Vienna again on Friday as they attempt to orchestrate the lifting of U.S. sanctions and steps Iran can take to wind back its nuclear activities.

Iran Demands U.S. Identify Sanctions to Be Lifted to End Impasse

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Iran identifies Mossad member behind blast at Natanz nuclear site

Iran identifies suspect behind blast at Natanz nuclear site

April 17, 2021

TEHRAN: Iran on Saturday named a man it wants arrested in connection with a recent explosion and power outage at its main Natanz nuclear plant, as talks got underway in Vienna to try to save Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

“Reza Karimi, the perpetrator of this sabotage […] has been identified” by Iran’s intelligence ministry, state TV said. It said the suspect had fled Iran before last Sunday’s blast that the Islamic Republic has blamed on arch-foe Israel.

Officials from the remaining parties to Iran’s nuclear deal began a formal meeting in Vienna, suggesting that this round of talks which began on Thursday was wrapping up.

The television showed what it said was a photograph of the suspected perpetrator on a red card that had “Interpol Wanted” written on it. The card listed his age as 43.

“Necessary steps are underway for his arrest and return to the country through legal channels,” the report added.

State TV also aired footage of rows of what it said were centrifuges which had replaced the ones damaged in the blast at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant.

It added that “a large number” of centrifuges whose enrichment activity was disrupted by the explosion had been returned to normal service, the report said.

Iran and global powers are meeting in Vienna to try to rescue the 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by Washington three years ago. The talks are potentially complicated by Tehran’s decision to ramp up uranium enrichment and what it called Israeli sabotage at the Natanz nuclear site.

Meanwhile, a source, echoing Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s stance, reiterated Iran’s demand for the removal of all sanctions imposed under former President Donald Trump.

“In Tehran, nothing will be accepted but the removal of all sanctions, including those related to the JCPOA (nuclear accord), reimposed and relabeled during the Trump era,” the unnamed source told Iran’s state-run Press TV.

Israeli media outlets have quoted unnamed intelligence sources as saying the country’s Mossad spy service carried out the Natanz sabotage operation. Israel — the only Middle Eastern country with a nuclear arsenal — has not formally commented on the incident.

Attacks Increase in the Iraqi Horn: Daniel 8

Iraq attacks deepen security woes as global, local rivals clash

By John Davison and Ahmed Rasheed

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A series of attacks in Iraq this week illustrates the increasingly dangerous tangle of local and regional rivalries confronting the country’s security in an election year, Iraqi security and government officials say.

The violence appears linked to militias seeking to help ally Iran oppose Western and Gulf Arab adversaries in a tussle for influence playing out across the Middle East, as well as to growing domestic strains head of elections in October, they say.

Drone and rocket attacks in northern Iraq by pro-Iran groups indicated that militias are expanding the arsenal they are prepared to deploy against U.S. forces stationed in the country.

The strikes also for the first time killed a Turkish soldier, and a rare car bomb blast in Baghdad afterwards showed that security forces are struggling to keep a lid on local violence after years of relative calm in the capital.

Rivalry between Iran and the United States remains the biggest destabilising factor, despite the departure of former President Donald Trump and his tough rhetoric and fresh talks on Iran’s nuclear programme among world powers, the officials said.

Wednesday’s attack on U.S. forces at Erbil International Airport was the first time an explosives-laden drone was used against a U.S. target in Erbil, an Iraqi security official said.

“Drone use is a worrying development. We’re seeing a change in the way (U.S.) targets in the Kurdistan region are hit, as a message that these groups can choose the time and place of their assaults without being stopped,” the official said.

The security official, an Iraqi military officer and a government official all blamed militia groups supported by Iran for the attack.

They said it was likely retaliation for a recent attack on Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, widely believed to be carried out by U.S. ally Israel. Israel has not formally commented.

“This was related to the Natanz incident, and the negotiations with the United States. It’s to show Iran’s ability to strike back and the need for negotiations to bear fruit – that there’s a cost for Israeli attacks against Iran and a cost for negotiations going nowhere,” the government official said.

Militia supporters cheered the attack but no group has claimed it so far.

Iraqis often pay the price for escalating U.S.-Iran tension, said Jassim al-Hilfi, an Iraqi lawmaker. “This is the second time in just a few weeks that (pro-Iran) militias have been able to target Erbil. They don’t want Iraq to be secure,” he said.

Iran and the United States this month agreed to indirect talks over Tehran’s nuclear programme, eyeing a possible return to an international pact that Trump abandoned in 2018 before piling sanctions on Iran and killing its top commander Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad last year.

Since President Joe Biden took office, Iraqi militias have pressed their demand that a remaining force of 2,500 U.S. troops leave Iraq, and have continued attacks against the United States and its regional allies, deploying more sophisticated weaponry.

TURKEY TENSION RISES

Several Western officials, one Iraqi militia official and an Iranian security source said a thwarted drone attack against Saudi Arabia in January was launched from Iraq, part of an increase in attacks by Iranian proxies against the Gulf kingdom.

Iran has not commented on recent attacks against U.S. forces, but has previously denied involvement in such strikes.

Several little-known pro-Iran groups have released statements claiming some previous attacks against U.S. targets.

The killing on Wednesday of a Turkish soldier in a rocket attack on Turkish troops stationed in northern Iraq – a separate attack to Erbil but at around the same time – also complicates Iraq’s fragile security.

Turkey has been waging a campaign against separatist Kurdish PKK militants who operate in southern Turkey but are based in the mountains of neighbouring northern Iraq. The PKK has Iraqi allies aligned with the Iran-backed paramilitaries.

Iran-backed militias this year ramped up their rhetoric against the Turkish presence, calling Turkish troops an occupying force which, like the Americans, must leave. No group immediately claimed the attack that killed the Turkish soldier, but analysts say it was carried out by pro-Iran militias.

“Militias seem to have opened a new front with Turkey and drew blood. They might be inviting trouble,” said Bilal Wahab, a Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Iran’s proxies see Turkish incursion there as a threat to their gateway to Syria, a key smuggling route for weapons, personnel and goods.

Iran and Turkey might not have the appetite for escalation. “We’ll see if this attack on a Turkish base is swept under the rug, or whether it will be a game-changer,” Wahab said.

Turkish authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

EMBATTLED IRAQI GOVERNMENT

The increasingly complex strategic picture heaps pressure on Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who has tried in vain to curb militia power and wants a peaceful, free general election in October. Added to his plate are domestic rivalries in a country where violence has often spiked during election years.

In January, Baghdad’s deadliest suicide bombing for three years, claimed by Islamic State, ripped through a central market killing more than 30 people.

On Thursday, a car bombing killed at least four – the second incident to shatter the relative calm Baghdad has enjoyed since Islamic State’s 2017 defeat. No group claimed Thursday’s blast and security forces have not yet publicly identified a culprit.

Some Iraqi politicians say the blast was Islamic State trying to cause chaos. Others say it could be rival Shi’ite armed groups seeking to intimidate each other ahead of the vote.

Either way, it shows armed groups can move weapons around Baghdad under the noses of security forces, analysts say.

“The government … has neither the political ability to deter militias from carrying out attacks nor the security wherewithal to stop them and hold them accountable when attacks happen,” Wahab said.

A spokesman for the Iraqi government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by John Davison, Ahmed Rasheed; writing by John Davison, Editing by William Maclean)

How the Saudis Will Become a Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

How the Saudis can fast-track a nuclear-weapons program

If I were them—and with Iran in mind—I would conclude that all the misbehavior that the Biden administration wants to punish me for would evaporate if I only had a nuclear-weapons program that I could use as leverage to extract whatever concessions I wish.

Eric R. Mandel(April 16, 2021 / JNS)

While the Biden administration offers sanctions relief to Tehran in exchange for temporarily limiting uranium enrichment to less than 20 percent, it is fulfilling another promise, to “recalibrate”—i.e., punish—longtime American ally Saudi Arabia. As the Saudis sustain Iranian-directed missile and drone attacks from Yemen and Iraq, the Biden administration chose to remove Patriot missile batteries from Saudi Arabia, as well as redeploy an aircraft carrier and surveillance systems away from the region. The clear message to Iran is: We will abandon our ally Saudi Arabia, your arch-enemy, if you will only rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal.

If I were the Saudis, I would conclude that all the misbehavior that the Biden administration wants to punish me for would evaporate if I only had a nuclear-weapons program that I could use as leverage to extract whatever concessions I wish from the Americans. I could do like the Iranians—threaten, intimidate and take over neighboring states—and be absolved if I would just slow down my nuclear-development program.

The Saudis might open their Rolodex and call Pakistan. According to the BBC, in 2013, “a senior NATO decision-maker … had seen intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery.” This is the logical conclusion. The way we are headed, the Biden administration is about to start a nuclear arms race in the region with Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, among others learning the lessons of the Iranian nuclear agreement. The formula is to develop a secret nuclear program, lie about it, engage in disruptive behavior and then trade some of that for a nuclear deal in your favor or foreign aid.

Saudi Arabia is no angel. The stain of the Sept. 11 terror attacks and the country’s exporting radical Sunni Islamist ideology in the late 20th century has ramifications that we live with to this day. ISIS was the worst permutation yet of radical Sunni ideology. But after 9/11, the Saudis turned a page and began to align more closely with American interests. In the 21st century, they have been a moderating and stabilizing force in Sunni Islam.

Their support of the Abraham Accords, which allowed the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco to recognize Israel with diplomatic relations, is groundbreaking. Previous administrations did not even contemplate its possibility. If nurtured for regional stability, it is a path to suppress the Saudi need for a nuclear-weapons program. It also ended the fiction that the Israeli-Arab conflict needs to wait until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ends. That is excellent news for those who believe Palestinian intransigence has been the roadblock to peace.

Instead of building on the game-changing Abraham Accords and pulling Saudi Arabia to the finish line by recognizing Israel, the Biden administration has chosen to make the Saudis a pariah, while begging the Iranian revolutionary regime to return to a deal that was created in their favor. As a reminder, it was created to give Iran international legitimacy for an industrial-size nuclear program within the decade. Stipulated within the nuclear agreement is Iran’s ability to buy an unlimited number of conventional weapons right now. No wonder that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei allowed his minions to sign it.

Like the Obama team, the Biden administration still believes that you can appease Iran by acquiescing in their nuclear blackmail. Obama’s policy was to distance the United States from its Gulf state allies and Israel while ingratiating his administration with the Iranians, who have never ceased undermining U.S. security interests worldwide. The only good to come out of this mistaken policy is the increased willingness of the Saudis and others in the region to be friendlier to Israel as the only nation willing to take on the Iranians. This has been especially evident as Israel continues to impede Iran’s progress towards a nuclear weapon, most recently with its alleged attack this week on the Natanz enrichment facility.

Kowtowing to a third-rate military that supports terror sends a poor message to American allies around the world. The administration seems intent on settling for merely slowing down Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons while ignoring and, in effect, funding with sanctions relief the Islamic Republic’s decades-long worldwide campaign of terrorism. The false hope offered to the American people that the administration will be able to negotiate a new agreement dealing with Tehran’s malign activities after the resumption of a deal would be laughable if it were not so dangerous.

Hopefully, the administration will reflect on the potential consequences of its actions and change course to avoid turning the Middle East into a nuclear Wild West. The Saudis and the rest of the Sunni Muslim world are watching.

Dr. Eric R. Mandel is the director of MEPIN, the Middle East Political Information Network. He regularly briefs members of the U.S. Senate, House and their foreign-policy advisers. He is a columnist for “The Jerusalem Post” and a contributor to i24TV, “The Hill,” JTA and “The Forward.”