Three killed in clashes in Iraq after Antichrist’s followers storm protest camp

Three killed in clashes in Iraq after cleric’s followers storm protest camp

NASIRIYA, Iraq (Reuters) – Supporters of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr stormed an anti-government protest camp in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriya on Friday, and at least three people were killed and dozens wounded in the clashes, a Reuters witness and a medical source said.

Followers of Sadr carrying pictures of the cleric marched to the central al-Haboubi square, where anti-government protesters have held a sit-in since 2019, after Friday prayers.

They fired gunshots and threw petrol bombs at the protesters’ tents, leading the protesters to fight back, the Reuters witness said.

A hospital source said the protesters died from bullet wounds. The clashes were still going on on Friday evening.

Haboubi square, where one of the worst killings of demonstrators took place last year and the last major protest site, had been cleared on Friday night by Sadr supporters, Reuters witness said, another major blow to anti-government protests that have largely lost steam in recent months.

“Another massacre took place today… against the peaceful protesters using live ammunition. We ask the Sadrist movement and Sayyed Moqtada (al-Sadr) to stop this strife and stop their assaults against peaceful protesters,” anti-government protester Mohannad al-Mansour said.

Last month Iraqi security forces cleared out sit-in tents in Baghdad’s Tahrir square, which became a symbol of anti-government protests during months-long mass unrest last year.

Iraq’s biggest anti-government protests in decades broke out in October 2019 and continued for several months, with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis demanding jobs, services and the removal of the ruling elite, which they said was corrupt. Nearly 500 people were killed. The protests caused the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who took office in May, has pledged to hold a parliamentary election, in line with a demand of many pro-democracy activists.

Earlier on Friday, thousands of Sadrists gathered in Tahrir Square in Baghdad and in other southern provinces to show support for the influential cleric ahead of the election scheduled for June next year.

Sadr, who leads the largest bloc in Iraq’s parliament, said he expects his movement to win a majority of seats.

Sadr, a long-time adversary of the United States, also opposes Iranian influence in Iraq.

Reporting by Reuters Baghdad newsroom; writing by Amina Ismail; Editing by Angus MacSwan, William Maclean

Tens of thousands of Antichrist supporters rally in Iraq

Tens of thousands of Sadr supporters rally in Iraq

Clashes between supporters of the Shia leader and anti-government protesters erupt in the southern city of Nasiriya.

Supporters of Iraq’s Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr demonstrate in Tahrir Square in Baghdad [Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP]

Four people were shot dead and dozens wounded in Iraq’s south, medics said, in clashes between anti-government protesters and supporters of Shia Muslim leader Muqtada al-Sadr.

The violence erupted as tens of thousands of Sadr supporters hit the streets of Baghdad and the southern city of Nasiriya on Friday in a show of force rivalling the waning youth-dominated protest movement that erupted in October 2019, as preparations ramp up for June parliamentary elections.

One of the leading anti-government protesters in Nasiriya, Mohammad al-Khayyat, accused Sadrists of setting fire to tents put up by his fellow demonstrators and shooting at them.

Sadrists armed with guns and pistols came to try to clear our tents. We fear that more violence could take place,” Khayyat told AFP.

Medical sources told AFP that the violence had left four people dead and wounded 51 others, nine of them by gunfire.

Al-Sadr’s supporters also gathered in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square – once the epicentre of mass anti-government protests – to show their support for the Shia leader whose bloc holds a considerable majority in parliament.

Iraq is facing its most dire fiscal crisis in decades following a collapse in oil prices earlier this year and the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the government unable to pay public sector salaries on time.

The Sadrist movement had called for protests to back the reform of what it says is a corrupt state, but its populist chief has also been making moves ahead of next year’s federal election in June.

In a tweet this week, al-Sadr said he expected big wins for his party and would push for the next prime minister to be a member of the Sadrist movement for the first time.

His followers called for a demonstration in support of the leader’s call for mass participation in the vote.

Most supporters stood unmasked in the square, chanting: “Yes, yes for our leader,” in support of the firebrand leader as Iraq remains a high-risk country for coronavirus infection. The crowd then stood side-by-side for Friday prayers at noon.

Moqtada al-Sadr said he expected big wins for his party and would push for the next prime minister to be a member of the Sadrist movement for the first time [Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP]

Al Jazeera’s Simona Foltyn, reporting from Baghdad, said the mass rally shows the political muscle and organisational capabilities that al-Sadr’s supporters are able to muster.

“And this stands in stark contrast to the anti-government protest movement that has been demonstrating here in Tahrir Square until just a few weeks ago,” said Foltyn, reporting from Tahrir Square.

“They have claimed that they have been infiltrated by parties like the Sadrist movement and that their movement has essentially been hijacked,” she said.

“This gathering here leaves little doubt as to who has emerged as the victor after months of anti-government protests,” she added.

Observers consider the protest as a show of mettle by al-Sadr meant to send a message to other political blocs that, on Iraq’s streets, the Muslim leader still has clout.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi called for elections to take place next June, a year earlier than expected.

That was a key demand of anti-government protesters who paralysed Iraq’s streets when tens of thousands demonstrated last October.

The elections will take place under a new law approved by legislators this year that will theoretically enable more independent candidates to run.

Iraq’s electoral commission has said it is prepared to hold early elections if the government allocates a budget for the vote.

The Nuclear Storm is Coming: Revelation 16

Iranian nuclear problem again: The storm clouds are gathering

Vladimir SazhinNovember 26, 2020

The nuclear problem of Iran is once again becoming the focus of global media attention, and there are several reasons for this.

First, US President-elect Joe Biden (although no official results of the November 3 vote have been announced yet), who generally rejects the foreign policy of the current President Donald Trump, said that he will make  America’s return to the landmark Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, one of his administration’s main priorities. The announcement was certainly not lost on political scientists, analysts and journalists, who started actively discussing the new situation around the Iranian nuclear problem.

Second, this renewed interest in the future of the 2015 accord is also explained by the “persistence” of the Trump administration, which, 60 days now left  before it will be moving out of the White House, is ramping up its  traditional “maximum pressure” on Iran by introducing a new set of sanctions…

Third, this is the internal political struggle in Iran, now that President Hassan Rouhani – one of the main authors of the JCPOA – is due to step down when his second term in office expires in 2021.

Rouhani’s upcoming departure has been a boost to the conservative radicals predominant in the government, who are all set to step up their fight against the JCPOA. Indeed, their discontent was directed not so much at Washington, as at President Rouhani, who in their opinion, which has been gaining popularity at home, made a mistake by joining President Barack Obama in creating the JCPOA. This means that Rouhani’s successor may be less open to communication with the West, and, to a certain extent, unwilling to abide by the terms of the agreement.

Throughout Donald Trump’s four years in the White House, President Rouhani has been trying hard to keep the JCPOA alive and give diplomacy a chance even though Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has increasingly warned against contacts with Washington, especially since President Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear accord in 2018.

However, mindful of the Trump administration’s aggressive policy towards the Islamic Republic, exactly a year after the US pullout from the JCPOA, the Iranian leadership began to gradually scale back its commitments under the nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, the “nuclear situation” in Iran now looks rather alarming and even dangerous.

In a confidential report circulated to member states on November 10, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that, as of November 2, Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium had reached 2,442.9 kilograms, which is 12 times the amount allowed under the JCPOA. Under the agreement, Iran is only allowed to produce up to 300kg of enriched uranium in a particular compound form (UF6), which is the equivalent of 202.8kg of uranium.

The IAEA added that Iran was continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of up to 4.5% – in violation of the 3.67% threshold agreed under the 2015 deal.

According to the UN nuclear watchdog’s latest quarterly report, Iran has completed the deployment of the first set of advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges at an underground facility in Natanz. Tehran had earlier informed the IAEA of its intention to transfer three cascades of advanced centrifuges to Natanz. The first cascade of IR-2m centrifuges, has already been installed and connected, but is not yet operational, since gaseous uranium hexafluoride, the feedstock for the production of enriched uranium, is not yet supplied to the system. The Iranians are also installing a second cascade of more efficient IR-4 centrifuges. A third cascade of IR-6 centrifuges is now in the pipeline.

Moving underground equipment previously located on the surface, and using more advanced centrifuges than the first generation IR-1 units is a violation of Tehran’s obligations under the JCPOA.

The Natanz nuclear facility, located about 200 kilometers south of Tehran, is an advanced complex, consisting of two main facilities – the Experimental Plant, commissioned in 2003, and the Industrial Plant, commissioned in 2007. The latter consists of two underground reinforced concrete buildings, each divided into eight workshops. The plant is well protected against air strikes with an almost eight-meter-thick high-strength concrete roof, covered with a 22-meter layer of earth.

In late October, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi confirmed that Iran is also building an underground facility in Natanz to assemble centrifuges of a new generation, more productive and efficient. This is equally at variance with the terms of the JCPOA accord, which has suffered erosion and destabilization since the US withdrawal.

Just as Academician Alexey Arbatov very aptly noted in his article “Iranian Nuclear Perspective”: “There is no reason for such underground structures and, accordingly, for colossal additional costs if, as Tehran says, they are for peaceful nuclear energy generation. References to the threat of an Israeli air strike are equally unconvincing, since what we are talking about is ‘peaceful atom.’ Indeed, all other elements of the nuclear industry are not protected from an airstrike and can be destroyed if the enemy seeks to prevent the development of peaceful, rather than military, nuclear energy in Iran. History knows only two examples of similar underground nuclear power projects: an underground nuclear power plant (Atomgrad) built by the Soviet Union near Krasnoyarsk to produce weapons-grade plutonium, and a uranium enrichment complex, apparently being built in the mountains of North Korea. Both of a military nature, of course, meant to produce weapons-grade nuclear materials even during the war, despite air strikes.”

Judging by the latest IAEA report, the agency is also unsatisfied with Tehran’s explanations about the presence of nuclear materials at an undeclared facility in the village of Turkuzabad (about 20 km south of Tehran), where man-made uranium particles were found last year, and continues to consider the Iranian response “technically unreliable.”

In his November 13, 2020 report about the agency’s work to the UN General Assembly, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said that the IAEA continues to verify the non-proliferation of nuclear materials pledged by Iran in keeping with the terms of its Safeguards Agreement. In August, Grossi visited Tehran and met with President Rouhani and other senior Iranian officials. During the visit, the sides agreed to settle certain issues pertaining to the implementation of safeguards, including IAEA inspectors’ access to two facilities in Iran. Inspections have since been carried out at both locations and environmental samples taken by inspectors are being analyzed.

“I welcome the agreement between the agency and Iran, which I hope will reinforce cooperation and enhance mutual trust,” Rafael Grossi summed up.

Even though Iran is formally de jure involved in the nuclear deal, the hardline conservative majority in the country’s political elite opposed to the JCPOA has taken a new step towards Iran’s withdrawal from the NPT.

In a statement issued on November 11, 2020, Khojat-ol-eslam Mojtaba Zonnour, chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Mejlis (Iranian parliament), said that the MPs had approved (but not yet passed as law) a “Strategic Plan for Countering Anti-Iranian Sanctions.”

According to the “Plan,” upon its approval in parliament, the government shall suspend within the next two months any access by IAEA inspectors outside the provisions of the Additional Protocol.  And also, if Iran’s banking relations with Europe and Iranian oil sales do not return to normal within three months after the adoption of the law, the government is to stop voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol.

The Iranians insist that the level of cooperation that has in recent years been going on between Tehran and the IAEA in monitoring the country’s nuclear program was even higher than what is envisaged by the Additional Protocol, including their introduction of a special checkup regime for IAEA inspectors. Moreover, Tehran never misses a chance to remind that before the JCPOA, Europe was buying between 700,000 and one million barrels of Iranian oil a day, and that economic and banking relations were normal.

Mojtaba Zonnour emphasized that the United States walked out of the JCPOA in order to impose new sanctions on the Islamic Republic, adding that the Europeans had failed to meet their obligations under the JCPOA and had been cheating Iran for several years. He also noted that in keeping with the “Strategic Plan for Countering Anti-Iranian Sanctions” the IAEA will only be allowed to monitor the implementation of the Safeguards Agreement and the NPT requirements.

Upon its approval by the Mejlis, the “Plan” envisions a radical refusal by Iran to comply with a number of key obligations under the JCPOA.

Thus, the Fordow nuclear fuel enrichment plant, redesigned in line with the JCPOA requirements into a research center, will again become a plant for the production of enriched uranium. The number of new IR-6 centrifuges there will be increased to 1,000 by the end of the Iranian calendar year (March 20, 2021) to turn out up to 120 kg of uranium enriched to 20% a year.

The Iranians are also going to expand their enrichment capacities and bring the production of uranium enriched to 5% up to at least 500 kg per month, compared to just 300 kg allowed by the JCPOA.

Within four months from the date of the Strategic Plan’s entry into force, Tehran intends to restore the 40 megawatt heavy water reactor in Arak to the level it operated at prior to the conclusion of the JCPOA accord, which had it redesigned so that it would not be able to produce weapons-grade plutonium. In January 2016, the reactor core was dismantled.

As Mojtaba Zonnour quite frankly explained in his statement, “In the above-mentioned Plan, we determined the extent to which our nuclear activities would intensify and stated that we had abandoned the measures taken in accordance with the requirements of the JCPOA. For example, we decided to increase the level of uranium enrichment, increase the amount of uranium accumulation, bring the 40 megawatt heavy-water reactor in Arak to its pre-JCPOA state, install modern centrifuges, and the like. <…> The Plan singles out two very important points: one is that if, after we enact the law on the “Strategic Plan for Countering Anti-Iranian Sanctions,” the Europeans change their behavior and resume their commitments under the JCPOA, of if the US wants to return to the JCPOA, the Iranian government will no longer have the authority to unilaterally suspend the implementation of this law. It will need permission from parliament – it is the Majlis that makes the final decision. ”

It is worth mentioning here that in its draft law the Mejlis provides for  criminal responsibility for non-compliance by individuals and legal entities with the provisions of the law on the “Strategic Plan…” with violators facing  punishment of up to 20 years behind bars.

Enactment of the law on the “Strategic Plan for Countering Anti-Iranian Sanctions” and its implementation by the government is tantamount to Iran’s withdrawal from the JCPOA. Moreover, Mojtaba Zonnour said that the government could fast-track the adoption of the law on the “Plan,” as there is an administrative and legal opportunity for it to be formally considered by the parliamentary Commission on National Security and Foreign Policy within 10 days, and subsequently adopted by an open session of the Majlis.

This means that by the time US President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20, 2021, the “Plan” may have already been adopted. The Iranian authorities obviously had this date very much in mind when unveiling the “Plan” to the general public. 

On the one hand, the draft law on the “Strategic Plan for Countering Anti-Iranian Sanctions” can be seen as an attempt by Tehran to “blackmail” the new US administration, as well as Britain and the European Union, in order to achieve the main goal of lifting the sanctions even by restoring in some form the JCPOA accord (or drawing up JCPO-2), but on Iranian terms. On the other – to get a bargaining chip for a future dialogue, possibly with the very same P5+1 group of world powers (Russia, US, Britain, France, China and Germany), but now a dialogue from a position of strength.

No wonder the already familiar Khojat-ol-eslam Zonnour said: “In fact, the nature of [US] arrogance is such that when they see you weak, they put more pressure on you, and if our position against the system of domination and arrogance is weak, this does not serve our interests. Consequently, the Iranian people have the right to respond to questions from a position of dignity and strength.”

As for Khojat-al-eslam Zonnour, he is a radical politician and the fiercest opponent of the JCPOA and a rapprochement with the West in parliament.  The following statement tells it all: “Unfortunately, today some of our statesmen use expressions that are contrary to the dignity of the Iranian people, our authority and self-respect. The fact that in their tweets and comments our president and first vice president say that ‘God willing, the new US administration will return to the law and fulfill its obligations’ these are not correct or noble things to say. Such words encourage the enemy to defy its commitments, and when it doesn’t see our resolve and thinks we are passive and asking for a favor, it raises the bar and tries to score more points.

Mojtaba Zonnour’s activity can certainly be viewed as an example of a tough internal political struggle, but this way or another his views resonate with the overwhelming majority of members of the current parliament. And the issues of the JCPOA and general opposition to the United States and Europe were not invented by Zonnour alone.

Thus, we can state that the future of the JCPOA is now hanging in the balance as there are powerful forces in both Iran and the US opposed to nuclear deals between the Islamic Republic and the rest of the world.  There is still hope, however, that the economic crisis and the threat of social protests will eventually force Tehran to resume contacts with the United States and the other signatories to the JCPOA accord in order to work out conditions for lifting the sanctions.

In turn, as is evident from statements coming from US President-elect Joe Biden, his administration will be ready for a dialogue with Iran on the nuclear issue, and here the positions of Russia, China, the European Union and the UK are no less important for resolving the newly emerged Iranian nuclear problem.

Just how this negotiation process will be carried out and on what conditions is hard to say now, but there is absolutely no doubt that it is going to be extremely difficult, dramatic, contradictory and protracted. The stakes are too high, it is too important for Iran, its neighbors, the entire Near and Middle East, as well as for preserving the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

 From our partner International Affairs

Israel strikes the Iranian nuclear horn again

Fred Fleitz: Israel may have killed top Iranian nuclear weapons scientist to avert dangerous threat

The Jewish state may fear the Biden administration will urge an end to such Israeli strikes

By Fred Fleitz | Fox News

The announcement by Iranian state TV that Mohsen Fakhrizadeh — the father of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear weapons program and its top nuclear scientist — was shot and killed Friday in Tehran is a huge setback for Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted: “Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice—with serious indications of Israeli role—shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators.”

At least five Iranian nuclear scientists were killed between 2010 and 2012. Iran blamed Israel for all these killings.

If it turns out that Israel is behind the killing of Fakhrizadeh, the strike may reflect the Jewish state’s worry about a major shift in U.S. policy toward Iran under the administration of Joe Biden when he becomes president Jan. 20 (barring a reversal of the election outcome that President Trump is seeking).

Given the obsession by Democrats to rebuke President Trump and rejoin the Iran nuclear deal and Iran’s stated refusal to reopen the agreement for renegotiation, it is likely the U.S. will quickly rejoin the agreement and drop U.S. sanctions on Iran after Biden takes office.

Israel knows such a development would be a huge boon to Iran’s military and nuclear programs and likely also would embolden Iran to step up its meddling in regional conflicts and sponsorship of terrorism.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have concluded that the threat from Iran’s nuclear weapons program was becoming too dangerous and Israel therefore had to take action to deny Iran the benefit of Fakhrizadeh’s expertise in constructing a nuclear weapon. Israel may also have wanted to deter other Iranians from working on this effort.

Israeli officials remember that President Barack Obama’s administration pressed their nation hard in 2014 to stop assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists and to not attack Iran’s nuclear facilities while the Obama administration was engaged in diplomacy that amounted to appeasement of Iran.

The Jewish state may have staged the killing of Fakhrizadeh now in the belief that a Biden administration will begin a new round of Iran appeasement and again press Israel not to take provocative actions against Iran’s dangerous nuclear program.

Israel reportedly recently put its military on alert because of the possibility that President Trump may order an attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities before he leaves office.

I believe Trump may have considered such an attack but will not order one, because of his commitment not to start unnecessary wars.  It is more likely that Israel put its military on alert due to actions it was planning against Iran’s nuclear program — like the Fakhrizadeh assassination — in anticipation of Iranian blowback.

Fakhrizadeh was a nuclear physicist and head of Iran’s Physics Research Center. He oversaw the Amad Plan — Iran’s secret research program to develop nuclear weapons.

The Amad Plan was started in the late 1990s or the early 2000s. It included a nuclear warhead design program, modification of a Shahab missile to carry a nuclear warhead, and aid to Iran’s nuclear program from the Pakistan-based A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network and from a former Russian nuclear scientist.

According to the Iran Nuclear Archive documents that were stolen in a daring raid by Israeli intelligence in 2018, an infrastructure was in place under the Amad Plan by 2003 for a comprehensive Iranian nuclear weapons program. The program was scaled-back in 2003 into a secretive and highly compartmented program. 

According to Israel and the International Atomic Energy Agency, Fakhrizadeh continued to head the covert Iranian nuclear weapons program after 2003. The program was renamed the SPND (Sazman-e Pazhouhesh-haye Novin-e Defa’ei), which translates into English as the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research.

Iran engaged in extensive efforts to hide its nuclear weapons program and deceive the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and the world about the Islamic Republic’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons after 2003.

For example, Iran reassigned nuclear-related projects from its military to the nation’s civilian nuclear agency, in an effort to make it appear these activities were part of a peaceful nuclear program.

Israel discovered “deception folders” in the Iran Nuclear Archive documents that recorded the lies Iran told to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and helped Iranian officials keep their stories straight.

The United Nations Security Council imposed a travel ban and financial sanctions Fakhrizadeh and his fellow scientists for their nuclear weapons work in March 2007. These sanctions were terminated in January 2016 by the Iran nuclear deal. That agreement was signed in July 2015 by Iran, the U.S., the European Union, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany.   

Based on the Iran Nuclear Archive documents, Iran’s cheating on the nuclear deal — formally titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — is now indisputable.

Moreover, since Iran ceased complying with all of its obligations under the agreement by early this year, it now has enough low-enriched uranium for two nuclear weapons (if further enriched to weapons-grade).

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The nuclear deal was supposed to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and was hailed as triumph by President Barack Obama and his administration. But according to the Iran Nuclear Archive, the SPND’s nuclear weapons work continued under Fakhrizadeh despite the nuclear deal.

President Trump wisely withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed U.S. sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the agreement.

“We cannot prevent an Iranian bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement,” Trump said in May 2018. He called the agreement “a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made.”

Fakhrizadeh death may be a blow not just to Iran but to North Korea as well, because he may have collaborated with North Korea’s ongoing nuclear weapons program. London’s Sunday Times reported in 2017 that he traveled to North Korea in February 2013 to observe the third North Korean nuclear test. There likely have been other interactions by North Korean and Iranian nuclear scientists that have not been made public.

Iranian leaders are clearly angry by the death of Fakhrizadeh. The New York Times reported that Michael P. Mulroy, the former top Middle East policy official in the Defense Department, said the death of Fakhrizadeh could spark an Iranian military response.

“He was their senior-most nuclear scientist and was believed to be responsible for Iran’s covert nuclear program,” Mulroy told the newspaper. “He was also a senior officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and that will magnify Iran’s desire to respond by force.”

Fred Fleitz, president of the Center for Security Policy, served in 2018 as deputy assistant to the president and to the chief of staff of the National Security Council. He previously held national-security jobs with the CIA, the DIA, the Department of State, and the House Intelligence Committee staff. Twitter @fredfleitz. 

Iran prepares to increase her Nukes: Daniel 8

Iran Ready To Increase Percentage Of Uranium Enrichment

An Iranian nuclear official has announced Tuesday his country’s readiness to increase the percentage of uranium enrichment with its new centrifuges.

“The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran [AEOI] is ready to increase production capacity and enrichment percentages if there is a necessity to manufacture industrially advanced machines,” the spokesperson of the AEOI, Behrouz Kamalvandi, said on November 24, according to the Iranian news website Khabar Online.

“Regardless of the political aspects of the plan and what the country’s decision will be, we will comment on the technical considerations of the plan. Issues in various fields of enrichment, reactor design, and research and development (R&D) are an important part of which is applicable to the AEOI, especially given the advances we have made in advanced machine development in recent years,” the spokesperson said.

Referring to the strategic action plan for lifting the sanctions proposed by the National Security Commission of the Iranian parliament, Kamalvandi said that “the strategic action plan is being considered in the parliament, and the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission has asked us to comment on technical aspects.”

“We are trying to see the technical considerations of the AEOI in the plan so that if the organization approves, there will be no problem in its implementation,” he added.

Kamalvandi had earlier said that US sanctions cannot stop Iran’s nuclear activities, and “the AEOI will continue its activities to ensure the peaceful nuclear rights of the Iranian people”.

On November 24, Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Spokesman, Abolfazl Amouei said that the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission enacted a bill based on which the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran will be required to design a 40 MW heavy water reactor in a suitable place.

“According to Article 4 of the bill, which was approved by the commission on Tuesday, the AEOI will be required to establish a plant for the production of uranium,” he added.

Iran’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations, Kazem Gharibabadi revealed on November 22 that his country will operate 174 advanced IR-M2 centrifuges at Natanz nuclear facility.

He also said that the injection of uranium hexafluoride, or UF6, into the centrifuge is the final step in initiating the enrichment and separation of uranium-238 from uranium-235.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has recently confirmed the nuclear watchdog’s inspectors had additional access to all the intended sites in Iran, noting that the organization is indeed continuing to verify Iran’s nuclear activities under the Safeguards Agreement.

In early September, the IAEA reported in a confidential document distributed to member countries that Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium now stands at over 10 times the limit set in the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

In late August, Iran and the IAEA issued a joint statement stating that “Iran has voluntarily provided access to the Agency’s two designated sites and will facilitate the Agency’s verification activities to resolve these issues.”

Iran has already begun feeding uranium gas into a cascade of more advanced centrifuges at its underground enrichment plant at Natanz. In November 2019, Iran announced the resumption of uranium enrichment at Fordo, the fourth phase of its push since May 2019 to progressively suspend commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran’s other steps are expected to be exceeding the restrictions on enriched uranium reserves and enrichment level, development of advanced centrifuges, and foregoing a limit on its number of centrifuges.

Iran says it’s ready to reverse all the steps it has taken beyond its commitments when sanctions are lifted and the European signatories to the deal comply with their commitment to cooperate in the economic and nuclear fields with Tehran.

The suspension of commitments by Iran was in retaliation to Washington’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) known as the nuclear deal in May 2018 followed by its unilateral reimposition of sanctions. The JCPOA was signed between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, plus Germany, in 2015.

According to the JCPOA, which went into effect in January of 2016, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent, and reduce by about two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years.

The deal allows Iran to enrich uranium for 15 years up to just 3.67 percent while prohibiting it from building any new heavy-water facilities for the same period of time. In addition, uranium enrichment activities were to be limited to a single facility that uses first-generation centrifuges for 10 years.

Iran Rightly Fears An Attack by Trump

Iran Fears Attack by Trump; Quds Leader Instructs Shia Militia to Hold Fire Against US Targets

By Jacob JNovember 25, 2020 15:55 +08

Will President Donald Trump launch an attack against Iran in the dying days of his presidency? This question was initially a barb used by Trump haters to insinuate that the president might use the war to roil the election chaos further and stay on as president. However, a White House meeting last week that decided not to go ahead with the Iran attack plan made this charge a damp squib.

However, it seems the Iranians are still harboring fears of Trump fury. The latest reports say that Iran has ordered its allies in Iraq not to provoke the US under any circumstances. Tehran knows for certain that a missile attack on Baghdad’s Green Zone that kills a single American can turn the tables on them and give Trump enough reason to launch a legitimate attack on Iran.

‘Halt Attacks Until Biden Comes to Power’

The Middle East Eye reported exclusively that Iran sent a Quds force commander, Ismail Qaani, to Baghdad to instruct allies that they should refrain from all attacks until Joe Biden takes power in the White House.

Qasem Soleimani, Quds Force commander killed in US strike Wikimedia Commons

Qani arrived in Baghdad just 24 hours after rockets fired by Iraqi militia aligned with Iran fell outside the US embassy in Baghdad, the report said. The rockets missed the target but caused civilian casualties. For months, Iran’s armed proxies have been launching rocket attacks against the US targets in Iraq.

A Washington Post story last week said that though Trump dropped the plan to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran, he would still go ahead if there is provocation. The story said that Trump has laid out a ‘Tripwire’ for Iran — if any American is killed in an action that can be tied back to Iranian hands, a retaliation will be swift and certain.

‘Trump Wants to Drag Region Into an Open War’

Trump would not shy away from using a trigger to launch a full-scale strike on Iran, sources cited by the Post suggest. The revelation follows a report by The New York Times that said Trump mulled attacking an Iranian nuclear facility two weeks ago.

Iran is seized of this scenario completely, and is taking precautions to avert a last-minute move by the Trump administration, even as it is going ahead with its nuclear enrichment program that violates the terms of the deal with the world powers.

Though Trump has taken off the table a pre-emptive attack plan, Iran is still in his radar. The administration will not hesitate to launch an Iran attack in the event of an attack in the region that can be linked to Tehran. The scenario raises the possibility of the US launching a strike on Iran before January 20th, the report says.

Iran is, therefore, taking ample precautions. “Qaani made it clear that Trump wants to drag the region into an open war before leaving, to take revenge on his opponents over losing the election, and it is not in our interest to give him any justification to start such a war,” a senior commander of a Shia armed faction the Middle East Eye.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during Friday prayers in Tehran September 14, 2007. Reuters

Trump Sends B-52 Bombers to Persian Gulf

Before travelling to Iraq, Qaani had visited Lebanon to have discussions with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, the report said. In Baghdad, he held discussions with Hadi al-Ameri, head of the parliamentary Fatah bloc and commander of the Badr Organization. Qani was also meeting other allies and militia leaders.

“If war breaks out between Iran and America, its repercussions cannot be contained, and Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran will all be a battleground for both sides,” Qani is reported to have said.

Meanwhile, other reports said Trump has sent B-52 nuclear bombers to the Persian Gulf in a warning to Iran. “These missions help bomber aircrews gain familiarity with the region’s airspace and command and control functions and allow them to integrate with the theatre’s US and partner air assets, increasing the combined force’s overall readiness,” Lieutenant General Greg Guillot, commander of the US military’s 9th Air Force, was quoted by UK’s Express as saying.

The Saudi horn turns against Pakistan: Daniel

Israel Wants Pakistan’s Nuclear Teeth Broken & Saudi Arabia Could Land The First Punch

OPED By Haider Abbas

EurAsian Times DeskNovember 25, 2020

US’ topmost ally in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has given a very conflicting message to Turkey, as well as to Qatar, for a ‘handshake’ as it organized the G20 summit. It was, in fact, quite warranted as finally the iron curtains of secrecy between KSA and Israel had to be unveiled, and there might be a ‘brewing reaction’ to it.

Hence, KSA gave into extending the ‘hand of friendship’ to Turkey and Qatar, whereas the reality is that KSA has already cost billions of USD to Turkey by its boycott of Turkish goods, and also did KSA had planned an attack on Qatar with the help of UAE and Bahrain. The ground attack was disallowed by Trump, but which, had made the then US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cost his job.

KSA after playing a pivotal role in UAE and Bahrain ‘normalizing’ their relations with Israel, has finally come out in the open, as it has come to light, that KSA crown prince MBS secretly met Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu, along with Mike Pompeo, reported Israeli newspaper Haaretz on November 23, 2020.

This has put to rest all the speculations that maybe even before the US president Donald Trump walks-out, KSA would accept Israel, which perhaps, Trump wishes to carry this sobriquet as last of his achievements.

Mohamad bi Salman at the G20 Riyadh Summit

But, the possibility of working out the modalities of a war on Iran as a joint venture of the US, Israel and KSA, has surely grown. India for that matter is firmly with Israel and the US along with KSA, more particularly so, after it had to bow out of the Chabahar project from Iran.

Iran and China, and with it Pakistan, is now the other bloc. KSA denies the meeting but The Wall Street Journal on November 24, 2020, confirmed it.

The world polity is very dangerously poised and there are all signs of a world war getting to its near possibility. Turkey is pitched against Greece, UAE is lobbying against Turkey and cozying up with Greece.

Israel and India are supporting Greece. KSA has long been against Iran alongside Israel while against Turkey too, while China-Pakistan are lined-up against India, and the US is locking horns with China in the South China Sea and supporting Taiwan against China.

The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan has just ended after a ceasefire brokered by the Russian president Vladimir Putin on November 23, 2020, who has also refused to recognize Biden as the new president of the United States. Thus, throwing a reality, that even if Biden makes it to office, he would not be called a full president by Russia, and may be by others too.

Biden, it is quite understood by the way of his politics, is going to wreak wars, and he has particularly vowed not to supply weapons to KSA, in the wake of the allegations of the involvement of KSA crown prince MBS in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Therefore, a US withdrawal from Afghanistan or fresh deployment in Iran is getting near. But what is most intriguing is that while MBS, Netanyahu and Pompeo met, there was an attack on KSA’s biggest oil giant Aramco by Houthis rebels from Yemen, on November 23, 2020. The timing was important. The act has again thrown a big question as to how Houthis have become so technologically advanced?

Is Iran arming them as is widely considered? Or maybe any investigative journalist might unravel it that Israel is supplying it through its proxies? Or is Israel doing it and getting it claimed by Houthis with Houthis not even getting a whiff of it?

The same way Blackwater does it in Afghanistan and Deash comes to claim it. Of course, the attack has opened new avenues for Israeli Dome missile defense technology for KSA to safeguard its boundaries after it had refused to buy Russian S-400 out of pressure from the US.

There is a lot of churning in world polity as Biden will be considered weak both externally, as well as internally, and to bolster the US image a war, therefore, would be a must. While China, which has challenged US superpower status, has given an offer to KSA to change its oil payments from Petro Dollars to Petro Yuans, which KSA is very likely to spurn, as it only plays to the tunes of the US for the last 70 years.

It is also very likely since MBS’ love affair with Israel has gone public that KSA would now openly threaten Pakistan to take back its workforce, and maybe, influence the Saudi-sponsored 56-nation Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) to accept Kashmir as a part of India.

MBS may also force OIC to forsake Gilgit-Baltistan as Pakistan’s fifth province, which is the gateway of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and which the US and India want to get killed at every cost.

As for Israel, it finds Pakistan as the only Muslim state with nuclear teeth, and through KSA it wants Pakistan’s jaws broken, to the ultimate advantage of India. How China will relate to this is for the world to see.

Babylon the Great Fruitlessly Threatens the Iranian Nuclear Horn

B-52 Bombers Just Sent A Warning To Iran: Don’t Build Nuclear Weapons

Michael Peck10:38am EST

Aerospace & Defense

I cover defense issues and military technology.

USAF Boeing B-52H Stratofortress taking-off with [+]

Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Why did two U.S. B-52 bombers fly from North Dakota to the Persian Gulf last weekend?

Most likely, it was a warning to Iran: don’t build nuclear weapons and don’t attack U.S. troops.

But will Iran listen?

The two B-52H bombers belonging to the U.S. Air Force’s 5th Bomb Wing took off from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, on November 21st. They were quickly detected by aircraft spotter enthusiasts who used the aircrafts’ Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) transponders to track their movements.

The bombers, call signs Warbird1 and Warbird 2, were tracked crossing the Atlantic, flying past Gibraltar to the Eastern Mediterranean, then passing over central Israel north of Jerusalem, according to the Aircraft Spots site on Twitter. Tracking was lost as the aircraft crossed into Jordanian airspace and then continued on to the Persian Gulf, before being re-detected on the return flight over the Atlantic west of Spain. With the Persian Gulf more than 7,000 miles from North Dakota, the non-stop flight meant the B-52s – originally designed as intercontinental bombers in the 1950s – were in the air at least 24 hours.

A press release by U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which covers the Middle East, said the “short-notice, long-range mission” was intended to “deter aggression and reassure U.S. partners and allies.”

“The non-stop mission demonstrates the U.S. military’s ability to deploy combat airpower anywhere in the world on short notice and integrate into CENTCOM operations to help preserve regional stability and security,” CENTCOM said. What the bombers actually did during the mission, and what their armament was, is unclear: the CENTCOM announcement merely noted that the B-52s worked with Air Force Central Command (AFCENT) air operations centers, F-15E and F-16 warplanes, and KC-10 and KC-135 tankers.

Interestingly, the final sentence in the CENTCOM press release blandly stated that the “last U.S. long-range bomber presence in the Middle East was in early 2020.” While the Air Force periodically dispatches long-range Bomber Task Force missions as show-the-flag operations, the question is why fly heavy bombers – and fly them so publicly — on Iran’s border now?

The answer almost certainly is that the B-52s were intended as a warning to Iran. Last week, the New York Times reported that President Trump had asked his advisers for options regarding U.S. strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities. Trump’s query reportedly came after the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded that Iran has increased its stockpile of nuclear material in the wake of the Trump administration’s withdrawal from a multinational nuclear agreement negotiated by the Obama White House. Meanwhile, on November 17, Iranian-backed militias in Iraq fired rockets that landed near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone.

It appears less than coincidental that the B-52 flew over Israel and Jordan – two key American allies in the Middle East – before continuing to the Persian Gulf and Iran’s border. “Although B-52s can be tracked online quite often, the fact that the WARBIRD 1 and 2 flights were visible on the most popular flight tracking websites seems to prove the mission was a clear show of force against Iran,” noted the Aviationist Web site.

However, the question remains: what exactly will the B-52 flights accomplish? The U.S. already maintains considerable forces near Iran’s borders, which have included Air Force F-15s based in Saudi Arabia and Jordan, one or two Navy aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, as well as Marine amphibious units and various special forces. U.S. troops also operate in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Despite all this military might, and the crippling economic effects of U.S. sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic, Iran continues to expand its nuclear program and to develop other weapons, such as ballistic missiles. A few B-52s won’t change that equation, even if armed with nuclear weapons that at best would be perceived as nothing more than a colossal bluff.

Why the Saudi Arabian nuclear horn will be an ally: Daniel 7

Why the reported Israeli-Saudi meeting is such a big deal

Henry Olsen

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, gives a statement in Jerusalem on Thursday. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, addresses the G-20 summit in Riyadh on Sunday. (Maya Alleruzzo/AFP, Getty Images)

The enmity between the Jewish state and the Arab Islamic world is long and deep. Israel fought four wars with its neighbors between 1948 and 1973, and has engaged in continuing conflict with many Arab states ever since. Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf nations had participated in some of those wars, bankrolled Palestinian terrorist groups and refused to diplomatically recognize Israel. Even as Israel made peace with Egypt and Jordan, Saudi Arabia and its allies continued to consider peace with any Israeli government as unacceptable.

That has changed for the oldest of diplomatic reasons: self-interest. The Iranian regime views both Israel and the Sunni gulf kingdoms as illegitimate and has worked tirelessly to bring them down. Tehran also funds terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, and rebel groups such as those in Yemen, to put military pressure on Saudi Arabia and Israel. This alone brings these two together.

Iran’s attempt to bring Iraq fully under its sway particularly presents threats to the Saudis and the gulf kingdoms. Iraq shares extensive borders with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. If Iranian-backed troops were ever stationed in the Shiite regions in southern Iraq, they could easily launch an invasion at a moment’s notice. Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, which is directly south of Kuwait, holds much of the kingdom’s oil wealth and Shiite population, and the oil-rich gulf kingdoms also all border the Eastern Province. It is crucial to Saudi and the gulf kingdoms’ security that Iranian forces be kept as far away as possible.

It is against this backdrop that Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon must be understood. Were Iran ever to obtain such a weapon, its ballistic missile technology would put Israel and the Arabs alike at risk of nuclear blackmail. That in turn amplifies the conventional military power of Iran and its proxies. The Islamic republic could launch invasions or incursions as it pleases, secure in the knowledge that its nuclear weapons would deter serious retaliation.

Changes in U.S. policy during the Obama administration sent shock waves into the region. Both Israel, which is believed to possess its own nuclear deterrent, and the Arab kingdoms had long relied on the United States to protect them against Iranian subversion. The Iran nuclear agreement clearly called that implicit guarantee into question. For the Israelis, it meant that they could no longer be sure that U.S. troops would be deployed to assist them in a crisis. For the gulf kingdoms, it meant they needed a firm, nuclear-armed ally whose commitment to opposing Iran was unquestioned.

The recent dramatic changes in Arab policy toward Israel make sense when viewed in this light. For Israel, an alliance with the Arab gulf powers provides military might that could be deployed on its behalf in the event of a mutual threat. It also provides, in theory, geographic proximity to Iran to launch any secret incursions that U.S. ships or bases might currently provide. For the Arabs, it ensures that a nuclear-armed power stands behind them should Iran ever obtain a weapon, and establishes a connection with Israel’s vaunted intelligence agencies. A de facto alliance would also reduce dependence on the United States and its domestic political whims, replacing U.S. mediation with direct ties between the nations’ security apparatuses. Abandoning the Palestinians in the face of such concrete advantages is, if artfully done, obviously in the security interest of the Saudis and gulf kingdoms.

The national security appointments President-elect Joe Biden announced Monday are not likely to give either side more comfort. John F. Kerry, who will serve as Biden’s climate envoy, was secretary of state when the Iranian nuclear accord was signed, and was part of the Obama administration’s not-so-subtle opposition to Netanyahu in the 2015 Israeli election. The incoming director of national intelligence, Avril D. Haines, signed a letter calling on the Democratic Party to revise its draft 2020 platform language on Israel to make it more vocally opposed to Netanyahu’s stated goals regarding the West Bank and Palestinian statehood.

Israel and the Arab kingdoms know that Iran means to destroy them. As writer Samuel Johnson once put it, impending death “concentrates [the] mind wonderfully.” The Biden administration is likely to find that this alliance of strange bedfellows will force its Middle East policy to look much more like the Trump administration’s than any of them currently imagine.

Khamenei plans to manipulate Biden and Obama’s plan again

Khamenei Brands Talks a Failure as Biden Plots U.S.-Iran Shift

Arsalan Shahla

November 24, 2020, 5:39 AM MST

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said past negotiations with the U.S. over sanctions had been a failure because they didn’t ensure lasting relief, in his first public comments on talks as Joe Biden’s incoming administration is expected to reengage with Tehran.

“We tried the path of removing sanctions once before and negotiated for several years, but it didn’t work,” Khamenei said. The Iranian response to sanctions imposed under President Donald Trump had rendered the penalties ineffective, he said.

Khamenei.ir

@khamenei_ir

There are two ways to tackle sanctions: 1) removing sanctions 2) nullifying & overcoming them.

We tried the 1st option, removing sanctions, by negotiating for a few years, but to no use. The 2nd option may have difficulties in the beginning but will have a favorable end.

5:12 AM · Nov 24, 2020

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Biden has indicated he’ll aim to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal that Trump exited, and European signatories to the accord — which lifted sanctions in return for caps on Iran’s nuclear program — held talks Monday on the way ahead.

Khamenei rebuked France, the U.K. and Germany for challenging Iran’s right to develop ballistic missiles while two of the nations possess nuclear weapons.