Save the oil and the wine: Revelation 6

Iraq Is Preparing For Higher Oil Demand

By Irina Slav – Jan 24, 2022, 9:30 AM CST

Iraq is already scheduling crude oil shipments for delivery in March thanks to strong demand, the deputy head of the State Organization for the Marketing of Oil, or SOMO, told media in Baghdad, as quoted by Reuters.

Ali Nizar also told media that Iraq’s oil exports were stable this month and were going to be slightly higher next month, Bloomberg reported.

For this month, the average daily rate of exports is seen at 3.2 million bpd, the SOMO deputy director-general said, adding it would likely increase to 3.3 million bpd in February. These are the figures from Iraq proper only, excluding exports of 340,000 bpd from the Kurdistan autonomous region.https://0dca5a95d49ec2fcf985dc1715e22ce0.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Asked about oil prices, the SOMO official declined to give a specific projection, saying it was too early to say whether benchmark crude would reach $100 per barrel.

Separately, however, Reuters reported last week that some in OPEC believe oil could indeed reach and even top $100 per barrel. The drivers behind a continued rally would be sustained demand and tight supply resulting from the cartel’s limited spare capacity.

The last time Brent crude traded at $100 and more was eight years ago. During that cycle, Brent hit $110 per barrel before slumping to less than $50 in January 2015.https://0dca5a95d49ec2fcf985dc1715e22ce0.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

There will be increasing pressure on oil prices in at least the next two months,” one OPEC source told Reuters, adding, “Under these circumstances, the price of oil may be close to $100 but it will certainly not be very stable.”

Due to constraints of various nature, OPEC has been falling short of its own production targets for months now. In December, the cartel reported an output increase of just 170,000 bpd, while its quota was for a boost of 253,000 bpd, per the OPEC+ production control agreement that stipulates a 400,000-bpd output increase for the extended cartel.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

Saudi horn continues to Nuke Up: Daniel 7

‘Our uranium is key to achieving energy transformation’: Saudi minister

‘Our uranium is key to achieving energy transformation’: Saudi minister

Arab News 

January 12, 202212:13

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will not sacrifice energy security for the sake of energy transformation, a leading minister has warned as he talked up the importance of uranium to the Kingdom’s power plans.

Energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman made the comments at the Future Minerals Forum in Riyadh as he discussed how developing the Kingdom’s mining sector could help with economic and environmental transitions.

Prince Abdulaziz was bullish when it came to the use of nuclear power in the energy mix, telling delegates at the conference: “We have a huge amount of uranium resource, which we would like to exploit and put in the most transparent way. 

“We will bring partners and we will be exporting and manufacturing and developing it and we will be commercially monetizing that resource.”

Referring to the drive to move the Kingdom away from its reliance on oil, he said: “We should not forfeit energy security for the sake of a publicity stunts — that transition needs to be well thought.

“Let’s not forfeit energy security for moving away from the classical concern of over-reliance in the Middle East when it comes to oil to different types of energy security challenges which has to do with availability of these minerals and the concentration of the ownerships of those minerals.”

The Future Minerals Forum is a special event bringing together ministers, organisations and mining leaders from more than 30 countries.

Hosted by the Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, is aimed at highlighting the role of mining in Saudi Vision 2030, after the government identified it as the third pillar of the Kingdom’s economy.

Save the oil and the wine unless you are Iran: Revelation 6

Liquefied natural gas cargo ship, from Qatar’s Nakilat on July 2, 2020.(Nakilat Qatar/Screenshot via The BL/YouTube).

Illegal Iranian oil sales to China soared in 2021, defying US ban

Jose Hermosa | TheBL 01/08/22, 08:55 97 views

Iran’s authoritarian regime continues to openly defy sanctions imposed by the U.S.–led international community by increasing oil sales to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) by 40% during 2021.

According to a report by the watchdog group tracking illegal Iranian oil tankers, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), not only were the restrictions not enforced, but oil exports increased by 123 million barrels, noted The Washington Free Beacon Jan. 7. 

The CCP was the largest consumer of the illegally sold oil, purchasing 310 of the nearly 418 million barrels shipped abroad by the Iranian regime. 

The other 108 million barrels were negotiated with the United Arab Emirates, Syrian, Venezuelan, and Russian regimes.

The Iranian regime uses a fleet of foreign-flagged oil tankers, which illegally turn off their onboard tracking devices, thus disappearing from radar to deliver hundreds of millions of barrels of oil.

According to analysts, the millions of dollars obtained strengthen the Iranian regime, which is accused of financing regional terrorism and militias of violent groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

In this situation, criticism turns against the apparent weakness and inaction of the Biden administration, which is not applying the rigor necessary to force Iran to comply with the sanctions.

“The 40% increase in Iran’s oil exports is a result of the Biden administration’s refusal to enforce sanctions,” Claire Jungman, UANI chief of staff, told the Washington Free Beacon. 

She added, “This lack of enforcement is a form of sanctions relief and has led to an improvement in Iran’s economic situation and diminished the leverage and credibility of the U.S. during negotiations.”

He also proposed a control alternative: “To start it should sanction the individual vessels carrying Iranian oil.”

On the other hand, for a senior diplomat, Iran’s strategy is to buy time, “Iran is certainly playing for time and will in the meantime continue to enhance its nuclear program to gain political leverage,” he told Politico on condition of anonymity.

The diplomat also warned that Iran could venture to make more ambitious demands of the United States.

“Iran most probably will only come back to the table in Vienna if the west makes a gesture of goodwill or provides certain concessions to Iran,” the diplomat said.

These massive breaches occur in a context in which the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) commission negotiations resumed two months ago in Vienna attended by representatives of Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

The JCPOA negotiated the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, established in Vienna in 2015 between Iran, the countries above, and the European Union. 

On the other hand, Iran also continues to violate the prohibition of enriching uranium, thereby expanding and developing its nuclear capabilities, reaching 60% uranium enrichment, thus approaching the purity level required to produce nuclear weapons.

China is helping the Saudi Arabian Nuclear Horn: Daniel

Saudi Arabian DF-3A missiles. Photo: Armed Forces of Saudi Arabia

China helping Saudi Arabia build ballistic missiles

China’s missile technology may be a key enabler to Saudi Arabia’s nuclear weapons program

by Gabriel Honrada December 29, 2021

Last week CNN reported that US intelligence had assessed that Saudi Arabia was building its own ballistic missiles – with China’s assistance. 

Saudi Arabia is known to have purchased ballistic missiles from China in the past, but has never been able to build any until now. 

Satellite images of the Al Watah missile base show Saudi Arabia has expanded the base to include rocket engine production and test facilities, although it is unclear if any missiles are under production at this point. 

The Saudi government had sought assistancefrom the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force, China’s armed forces branch responsible for its land-based nuclear arsenal. Saudi advisers and an official familiar with US intelligence said talks between Saudi Arabia and China had moved to the stage of the former acquiring critical hardware necessary to produce its own ballistic missiles. 

Ballistic missiles follow a ballistic trajectory, or arc, to deliver conventional or nuclear warheads on targets. They have a powered flight phase which takes them into the upper layers of the atmosphere, an unpowered free flight phase, and a re-entry phase. 

In addition, last year China also assisted Saudi Arabia in building its own yellowcake uranium enrichment plant near Al Ula. This move seems to have enjoyed the tacit approval of the Trump administration, as it attempted to bypass US laws safeguarding against the US transfer of such sensitive technology to Saudi Arabia. 

Saudi Arabia is also in the process of negotiating a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the US, but is reluctant to agree on restrictions regarding fuel enrichment and international oversight. 

Yellowcake enrichment is a critical step in manufacturing nuclear weapons. It is an important precursor for making highly-enriched uranium, a key element for nuclear warheads. 

Saudi Arabia first acquired ballistic missilesfrom China in 1988, with the purchase of the DF-3A that year. However, the DF-3A was outdated as it first entered service in 1971, is highly inaccurate and is restricted to launch pads. 

Saudi Arabia followed up this purchase by acquiring the DF-21 in 2007. The DF-21 entered service in 1991 and is a newer road-mobile design, making missile launches much harder to detect and stop. 

While both the DF-3A and DF-21 are nuclear-capable, it appears the versions China sold to Saudi Arabia were modified to carry conventional warheads only. It was for this reason that perhaps the US tacitly approved the sale of these weapons to its Saudi ally. China’s DF-31 ballistic missile, a more recent version than the DF-21. Photo: WikiCommons

However, Saudi Arabia could later modify these missiles to fit a nuclear warhead. 

These developments have raised concerns of nuclear proliferation, resulting in bleak prospects for negotiations on Iran’s nuclear and missile programs and a further escalation in Saudi-Iranian tensions. 

That may make it hard to persuade Iran to scale down its nuclear program, missile development and support for its regional proxies in the Middle East if it sees that arch-rival Saudi Arabia has its own nuclear program with tacit, albeit reluctant, US approval. 

It should be noted that Iran was the first state to carry out an attack against a nuclear facilityduring the Iran-Iraq War. However, a direct attack by Iran at this time would be implausible, considering the outdated state of its air force and the threat of retaliation by the US and its Gulf allies. 

Considering such constraints, Iran could stage an attack against Saudi Arabia’s missile base at Al Watah and the yellowcake facility at Al Ula using rockets, missiles or drone swarms operated by its proxies in Gaza and Yemen.  

Also, the US has been pushing the Abraham Accords which aim to normalize relations between Arab countries and Israel. However, this move may be interpreted as a US effort to form a de facto regional alliance against Iran. 

With the Abraham Accords, the US has effectively outsourced its security role to regional military powers such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, as it refocuses its efforts to counter China in the Pacific. 

That said, Saudi Arabia and Israel’s nuclear programs may substitute for the strategic deterrence formerly provided by the US against Iran.

Saudi Arabia is Nuking Up with China’s help: Daniel 7

A picture taken on September 22, 2020 shows a Saudi national flag in the capital Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia appears to be building its own ballistic missiles with China’s help

Saudi Arabia is building its own ballistic missiles with the help of China, according to United States intelligence assessments and satellite images.

The assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies is that the kingdom, which is long thought to have acquired missiles from Beijing, is now manufacturing its own, according to a source familiar with the matter and a U.S. official.

Satellite images obtained by NBC News also suggest that Saudi Arabia is producing ballistic missiles at a site west of the capital, Riyadh, according to researchers at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, in California. 

“The key piece of evidence is that the facility is operating a ‘burn pit’ to dispose of solid-propellant leftover from the production of ballistic missiles,” wrote Jeffrey Lewis and David Schmerler of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute. 

They added that the site “appears to have been constructed with Chinese assistance.”

The news was first reported by CNN on Thursday.  The images were provided by commercial imaging company Planet Labs PBC.

The development could shift security calculations in the Middle East and further complicate the Biden administration’s efforts to coax Iran back into its nuclear deal with world powers. It could also add another layer of complexity to Washington’s relations with Beijing.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are regional foes and there will be concern that Riyadh’s manufacturing of ballistic missiles could alter Tehran’s calculations on its possible agreements in talks aimed at reviving the 2015 accord. The new development comes days before the talks, which have struggled to make any headway, are expected to resume in Vienna, and may make Iran even more unlikely to give up its own ballistic missiles.

“If Iran were to enter into negotiations over its missile programme, it would be unlikely to accept limits that did not also apply to other countries,” wrote Mark Fitzpatrick, an associate fellow at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, in an article about Saudi Arabia’s ballistic missile program published by the institute in August. 

Fitzpatrick, a former State Department official, said at the time that other than a general desire to keep pace with Iran, Riyadh’s motivations for acquiring ballistic missiles were not entirely clear. Unlike Tehran, however, Saudi Arabia is not known to have initiated any work to develop a nuclear warhead for its missiles, he added. 

Ballistic missiles are rocket-propelled weapons that can carry conventional explosives as well as nuclear warheads. 

Nevertheless, the fact that Saudi Arabia is now known to be manufacturing its own ballistic missiles will spark concerns of a ramped-up arms race in a highly tense region that is already riven with conflict. 

The Saudi Ministry of Media did not respond to requests for comment. 

Britain on Friday condemned a launch of ballistic missiles by Iran in war games conducted this week.

“These actions are a threat to regional and international security and we call on Iran to immediately cease its activities,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.

In 2018, former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear accord and re-imposed crippling sanctions on Iran. Tehran has since reduced its compliance with the deal, announcing that it would enrich uranium to up to 60 percent purity — significantly closer to the amount needed to make an atomic bomb. 

In the past, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been clear that if Tehran develops a nuclear bomb, Riyadh will also do so. 

“Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,” he told CBS in 2018. 

The crown prince is attempting to transform Saudi Arabia from an oil-dependent nation into an economic powerhouse that is more accepted in the West.

The Saudis have long been U.S. allies and enjoyed a close relationship with the Trump administration, but those efforts to overhaul the country’s image were tainted by the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. 

Meanwhile, the continued close military relationship between Saudi Arabia and China will also probably be of concern to the Biden administration as it tries to manage a complex and fraught relationship with Beijing, criticizing its human rights record while also cooperating with Chinese leaders on major global threats like climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

Asked to respond to these fresh indications it was aiding Saudi Arabia’s push to produce ballistic missiles, China said it has always opposed the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, and implements strict export controls on missiles and related technologies, according to a statement from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

“China and Saudi Arabia are comprehensive strategic partners,” the ministry said. “Such cooperation does not violate any international law and does not involve the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” 

It added that Beijing has always opposed unilateral sanctions and “will continue to take necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its own rights and interests.”

Saudi Arabia has been known to have purchased missiles from China in the past but has never built its own, the source familiar with the matter and the U.S. official confirmed.

Saudi Arabia is Nuking Up: Daniel 7

Satellite images from commercial imaging company Planet show the test site in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 2, 2021.

Saudi Arabia appears to be building its own ballistic missiles with China’s help

The development could shift security calculations in the Middle East and further complicate the Biden administration’s efforts to coax Iran back into its nuclear deal with world powers.

Satellite images from commercial imaging company Planet show the test site in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 2, 2021. Planet Labs PBCDec. 24, 2021, 12:36 PM MSTBy Courtney Kube and Saphora Smith

Saudi Arabia is building its own ballistic missiles with the help of China, according to United States intelligence assessments and satellite images.

The assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies is that the kingdom, which is long thought to have acquired missiles from Beijing, is now manufacturing its own, according to a source familiar with the matter and a U.S. official.

Satellite images obtained by NBC News also suggest that Saudi Arabia is producing ballistic missiles at a site west of the capital, Riyadh, according to researchers at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, in California. 

“The key piece of evidence is that the facility is operating a ‘burn pit’ to dispose of solid-propellant leftover from the production of ballistic missiles,” wrote Jeffrey Lewis and David Schmerler of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute. 

They added that the site “appears to have been constructed with Chinese assistance.”

The news was first reported by CNN on Thursday.  The images were provided by commercial imaging company Planet Labs PBC.

Planet Labs PBC

The development could shift security calculations in the Middle East and further complicate the Biden administration’s efforts to coax Iran back into its nuclear deal with world powers. It could also add another layer of complexity to Washington’s relations with Beijing.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are regional foes and there will be concern that Riyadh’s manufacturing of ballistic missiles could alter Tehran’s calculations on its possible agreements in talks aimed at reviving the 2015 accord. The new development comes days before the talks, which have struggled to make any headway, are expected to resume in Vienna, and may make Iran even more unlikely to give up its own ballistic missiles.

“If Iran were to enter into negotiations over its missile programme, it would be unlikely to accept limits that did not also apply to other countries,” wrote Mark Fitzpatrick, an associate fellow at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, in an article about Saudi Arabia’s ballistic missile program published by the institute in August. 

Fitzpatrick, a former State Department official, said at the time that other than a general desire to keep pace with Iran, Riyadh’s motivations for acquiring ballistic missiles were not entirely clear. Unlike Tehran, however, Saudi Arabia is not known to have initiated any work to develop a nuclear warhead for its missiles, he added. 

Ballistic missiles are rocket-propelled weapons that can carry conventional explosives as well as nuclear warheads. 

Nevertheless, the fact that Saudi Arabia is now known to be manufacturing its own ballistic missiles will spark concerns of a ramped-up arms race in a highly tense region that is already riven with conflict. 

The Saudi Ministry of Media did not respond to requests for comment. 

Britain on Friday condemned a launch of ballistic missiles by Iran in war games conducted this week.

“These actions are a threat to regional and international security and we call on Iran to immediately cease its activities,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.

In 2018, former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear accord and re-imposed crippling sanctions on Iran. Tehran has since reduced its compliance with the deal, announcing that it would enrich uranium to up to 60 percent purity — significantly closer to the amount needed to make an atomic bomb. 

In the past, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been clear that if Tehran develops a nuclear bomb, Riyadh will also do so. 

“Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,” he told CBS in 2018. 

The crown prince is attempting to transform Saudi Arabia from an oil-dependent nation into an economic powerhouse that is more accepted in the West.

The Saudis have long been U.S. allies and enjoyed a close relationship with the Trump administration, but those efforts to overhaul the country’s image were tainted by the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. 

Meanwhile, the continued close military relationship between Saudi Arabia and China will also probably be of concern to the Biden administration as it tries to manage a complex and fraught relationship with Beijing, criticizing its human rights record while also cooperating with Chinese leaders on major global threats like climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

Asked to respond to these fresh indications it was aiding Saudi Arabia’s push to produce ballistic missiles, China said it has always opposed the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, and implements strict export controls on missiles and related technologies, according to a statement from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

“China and Saudi Arabia are comprehensive strategic partners,” the ministry said. “Such cooperation does not violate any international law and does not involve the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” 

It added that Beijing has always opposed unilateral sanctions and “will continue to take necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its own rights and interests.”

Saudi Arabia has been known to have purchased missiles from China in the past but has never built its own, the source familiar with the matter and the U.S. official confirmed.

China Helps Saudi Arabia Nuke Up: Daniel 7

US intel shows China is helping Saudi Arabia build its own ballistic missiles: Report

Intelligence agencies in the United States have determined that Saudi Arabia is now manufacturing ballistic missiles with China’s assistance, a development that could have significant implications for the Middle East and complicate efforts by the Biden administration to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Saudi Arabia’s perennial foe.

As per a report by CNN, the Saudis have historically bought ballistic missiles from China, but have never been able to build their own, until now. CNN also obtained satellite images suggesting the Kingdom is manufacturing weapons in one or more locations.

Recent months have seen US officials from numerous agencies, including the White House’s National Security Council, briefed on classified information that reveals large-scale transfers of sensitive ballistic missile technology between China and Saudi Arabia.

Now the Biden administration is facing increasingly pressing questions about whether Saudi Arabia’s ballistic missile advances will change regional power dynamics. This can potentially complicate efforts to include missile technology restrictions in a nuclear deal with Iran, a goal shared by the US, Europe, Israel and the Gulf countries.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are bitter enemies, and Tehran is unlikely to agree to stop making ballistic missiles if Saudi Arabia has already begun manufacturing its own.

There could also be diplomatic complications with the US response. Especially with the Biden administration trying to reengage Beijing on several high-priority policy issues, including climate change, trade, and the pandemic, any US response may be complicated by diplomatic considerations with China.

An official in the Biden administration told CNN that it is simply a matter of calibrating.

Both the National Security Council and the CIA declined to comment.

The report states that when asked if sensitive ballistic missile technology has recently been transferred between China and Saudi Arabia, the Chinese Foreign Ministry explained that the two countries are “comprehensive strategic partners” and that they maintain friendly cooperation in all areas, including military trade.

There is no violation of international law in such cooperation, and it does not involve the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the statement added.

The range and payload of the ballistic missiles Saudi Arabia is building at this site are still not known.

Saudi Arabia is now building up her nuclear horn: Daniel 7

Exclusive: US intel shows Saudi Arabia escalated its missile program with help from China

CNN Exclusive: US intel and satellite images show Saudi Arabia is now building its own ballistic missiles with help of China

Washington (CNN) — US intelligence agencies have assessed that Saudi Arabia is now actively manufacturing its own ballistic missiles with the help of China, CNN has learned, a development that could have significant ripple effects across the Middle East and complicate the Biden administration’s efforts to restrain the nuclear ambitions of Iran, the Saudis’ top regional rival. 

Saudi Arabia is known to have purchased ballistic missiles from China in the past but has never been able to build its own — until now, according to three sources familiar with the latest intelligence. Satellite images obtained by CNN also suggest the Kingdom is currently manufacturing the weapons in at least one location.

US officials at numerous agencies, including the National Security Council at the White House, have been briefed in recent months on classified intelligence revealing multiple large-scale transfers of sensitive ballistic missile technology between China and Saudi Arabia, according to two sources familiar with the latest assessments. The Biden administration is now confronted with increasingly urgent questions about whether Saudi’s ballistic missile advancements could dramatically change regional power dynamics and complicate efforts to expand the terms of a nuclear deal with Iran to include restraints on its own missile technology — a goal shared by the US, Europe, Israel and Gulf countries. 

Iran and Saudi Arabia are bitter enemies and it is unlikely Tehran will agree to stop making ballistic missiles if Saudi Arabia has begun manufacturing its own. “While significant attention has been focused on Iran’s large ballistic missile program, Saudi Arabia’s development and now production of ballistic missiles has not received the same level of scrutiny,” Jeffrey Lewis, a weapons expert and professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told CNN. “The domestic production of ballistic missiles by Saudi Arabia suggests that any diplomatic effort to control missile proliferation would need to involve other regional actors, like Saudi Arabia and Israel, that produce their own ballistic missiles,” Lewis added.Any US response could also be complicated by diplomatic considerations with China, as the Biden administration seeks to reengage Beijing on several other high-priority policy issues, including climate, trade and the pandemic. “It’s all a matter of calibration,” a senior administration official told CNN.The National Security Council and CIA declined to comment.Asked if there have been any recent transfers of sensitive ballistic missile technology between China and Saudi Arabia, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told CNN in a statement that the two countries are “comprehensive strategic partners” and “have maintained friendly cooperation in all fields, including in the field of military trade.””Such cooperation does not violate any international law and does not involve the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” the statement said.The Saudi Government and embassy in Washington did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.New challenges for BidenCNN first reported in 2019 that US intelligence agencies were aware that Saudi Arabia was collaborating with China to advance its ballistic missile program.The Trump administration did not initially disclose its knowledge of that classified intelligence to key members of Congress, infuriating Democrats who discovered it outside of regular US government channels and concluded it had been deliberately left out of a series of briefings where they say it should have been presented.That fueled Democratic criticism that the Trump administration was too soft on Saudi. Nuclear proliferation experts also say Trump’s lack of response emboldened the Saudis to continue expanding their ballistic missile program. “Normally, the U.S. would have pressured Saudi Arabia not to pursue these capabilities, but the first indicators that the Saudis were pursuing these capabilities indigenously emerged during the Trump era. The Trump administration, to put it lightly, was not interested in bearing down on Riyadh over these issues,” according to Ankit Panda, a nuclear policy and weapons expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.Some lawmakers have been briefed over the past few months on new intelligence about transfers of ballistic missile tech between Saudi Arabia and China, multiple sources told CNN. The Biden administration is preparing to sanction some organizations involved in the transfers, sources told CNN, though some on Capitol Hill are concerned the White House is not willing to impose significant consequences on the Saudi government for its actions. Given the current state of negotiations with Iran, the Saudi missile program could make an already thorny problem even more difficult. “A robust Saudi missile program would introduce new challenges to constraining other missile programs in the region. To take just one example, Iran’s missiles, which are a major concern to the U.S., would be more difficult to constrain in the future without parallel constraints on a growing Saudi program,” Panda told CNN. ‘First unambiguous evidence’New satellite images obtained by CNN indicate the Saudis are already manufacturing ballistic missiles at a site previously constructed with Chinese assistance, according to experts who analyzed the photos and sources who confirmed they reflect advancements that are consistent with the latest US intelligence assessments. Satellite photos taken by Planet, a commercial imaging company, between October 26 and November 9 show a burn operation occurred at a facility near Dawadmi, Saudi Arabia, according to researchers at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, who told CNN this is “the first unambiguous evidence that the facility is operating to produce missiles.” New satellite images suggest Saudi Arabia is now producing ballistic missiles at the site. The key piece of evidence is that the facility is operating a “burn pit” to dispose of solid-propellant leftover from the production of ballistic missiles. Satellite image captured on November 2 shows the facility is operating a “burn pit” to dispose of solid-propellant leftover from the production of ballistic missiles. “The key piece of evidence is that the facility is operating a ‘burn pit’ to dispose of solid-propellant leftover from the production of ballistic missiles,” said Lewis, a weapons expert and professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies who reviewed the images. “Casting rocket motors results in leftover propellant, which is an explosive hazard. Solid-propellant missile production facilities often have burn pits where leftover propellant can be disposed of by burning. Burn operations are, therefore, a strong signature that the facility is actively casting solid rocket motors,” he added.A satellite image captured on November 9 shows the “burn pit,” which is used to dispose of solid-propellant leftover from the production of ballistic missiles, post-burn cleanup. Still, little is known about the ballistic missiles that Saudi Arabia is building at this site, including important details like range and payload. Considering the facility in question was built with Chinese assistance and new intelligence assessments showing Saudi Arabia has recently purchased sensitive ballistic missile technology from China, it is possible that the missiles being produced there are of Chinese design, according to Lewis. But there is also evidence Saudi Arabia has looked to other countries for help with developing a ballistic missile program in recent years, making it difficult to identify exactly which weapons system the Kingdom is now building at this facility, Lewis noted.

The Sins of the Saudi Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting in Tehran on Sunday. Photo: EPA

Iran says Arab nations ‘sinned’ by normalising ties with Israel

The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco all agreed to normalise ties with Israel last year at Washington’s requestIran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei said on Sunday these governments had ‘made big errors’ and acted ‘against Islamic unity’

Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting in Tehran on Sunday. Photo: EPA

Arab nations that normalised ties with Israel last year have “sinned” and should reverse such moves, Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei said on Sunday.

The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco all agreed to normalise ties with Israel in 2020, as Washington under the administration of then-US president Donald Trump made Arab-Israeli rapprochement a foreign policy priority.

“Some governments have unfortunately made errors – have made big errors and have sinned in normalising [their relations] with the usurping and oppressive Zionist regime,” Khamenei said, referring to Israel.

“It is an act against Islamic unity, they must return from this path and make up for this big mistake,” Khamenei added, in a speech marking a public holiday honouring the birth of the Prophet Mohammed.

Iran has in the four decades since the 1979 Islamic revolution positioned itself as a strong defender of the Palestinian cause.

Egypt and Jordan were until last year the only two Arab countries to normalise relations with Israel.

“If the unity of Muslims is achieved, the Palestinian question would definitely be resolved in the best fashion,” Khamenei said.EVERY SATURDAYSCMP Global Impact NewsletterBy submitting, you consent to receiving marketing emails from SCMP. If you don’t want these, tick hereBy registering, you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy

In May, Khamenei characterised Israel as a “terrorist base” and “not a country”.

Soon after Khamenei’s speech, Iran’s top security official, Ali Shamkhani, vowed to inflict many “billions of dollars” worth of damage in a “shocking response” if Israel strikes Tehran’s nuclear programme.

The tweet by the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council came in response to Israeli media reports that 5 billion shekels (US$1.5 billion) had been approved to prepare the military for a potential strike on Iran’s nuclear programme.

Iran has repeatedly accused Israel of being behind acts of sabotage targeting its nuclear facilities.

The two countries have exchanged sharp rhetoric recently, against the backdrop of efforts to renew talks to revive a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Save the oil and the wine: Revelation 6

Let's plug the sanctions gaps that enable Iran to sell oil to China and Venezuela

Let’s plug the sanctions gaps that enable Iran to sell oil to China and Venezuela

By Daniel Roth and Claire Jungman, opinion contributorsOctober 19, 2021 – 07:00 AM EDT

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill 

For all the sanctions on Iran, Tehran has secured willing customers for its crucial oil and gas exports in the world’s leading authoritarian and communist regimes: Venezuela and China. Caracas has taken a creative route, first paying gold for oil and then bartering its own heavy crude for Iranian gas condensates. Beijing, by contrast, pays cash straight up — $280 billion in 2019, followed by a deal worth $400 billion this year. Naturally, this illicit trade weakens efforts to compel Iran to moderate its destructive behavior and end its pursuit of nuclear weapons, potentially harming U.S. interests and national security.

Yet Iran’s success in courting Venezuela and China does not mean that U.S. sanctions have failed. Sanctions have forced the regime to trade with a few like-minded authoritarian regimes. And crucially, sanctions have forced Iran to go to extraordinary lengths to conceal its illicit shipping commerce: satellite tracking deceptions, doctoring of records, flag- and name-switching, physical camouflage, and a host of other maritime violations.

With a better understanding of the shipping subterfuge, the U.S. and its allies can make the whole rogue enterprise prohibitively costly for all parties, plugging enforcement gaps and truly squeezing Tehran. 

For instance, FELICITY was the first Iranian-flagged vessel to load Venezuelan crude, according to TankerTrackers.com. It reportedly journeyed to Venezuela’s Jose Anchorage using subversive and illegal techniques, including a shutdown of its tracking beacon. Before arriving in Venezuela, FELICITY was last seen via its satellite transponder 13 months prior in Taizhou Anchorage in China, according to Marine Traffic — meaning that the vessel sailed all the way to Venezuela with its transponder off. Disabling the transponder is a favored tactic to obscure the movement of goods, but it’s also a dangerous violation of International Maritime Organization safety rules. FELICITY even turned to more rudimentary methods to hide its activities — undergoing a fresh paint job in Venezuela.

Vessels moving Iranian oil carry falsified records that attest to their cargo originating in countries such as Oman, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iraq and Malaysia. By engaging in ship-to-ship (STS) transfers of oil from Iranian-flagged vessels to tankers owned by non-Iranian firms, Iran can obscure the origin of the oil and gas, as well as the trade itself for its customers. STS transfers are often preceded by vessels “spoofing” their location to fake their position, sometimes by thousands of nautical miles, creating yet another dangerous situation.

Smaller and under-resourced nations are routinely duped into the illicit trade by foreign-flagged rogue vessels, such as those included in Iran’s “Ghost Armada,” our organization, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), has found. These national flagging authorities are often unable to adequately patrol the activities of their flag-bearers, and so are targeted in order to fulfill ship registration requirements. Ships that are part of the Ghost Armada repeatedly switch flags, change names and alter their physical markings. 

When advocacy groups such as ours notify maritime authorities of illicit activities of registered vessels, we find that most are eager to comply with U.S. sanctions. Some even have come to rely uponnongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to serve as their eyes and ears. Through our work, dozens of vessels have been stripped of their flags, making it more difficult to continue their subterfuge.

The whole gamut of shipping deceptions perpetrated by commercial facilitators and their enablers must be made far more costly — prohibitively so. As a first step, we recommend the Treasury Department broaden the scope of sanctions-triggering activities that constitute “significant support” to Iran’s shipping sector. The U.S. should punish bunkering specialists, port authorities, importing agents, management firms, charterers, operators, marine insurers, classification societies and all other “maritime services providers” involved with Iran. The Treasury also should expand and delineate the range of sanctionable maritime services and work to identify and target any Venezuelan or Chinese firms complicit in smuggling. 

Sanctions have slowed the flow of foreign capital and reduced Iran’s trading partners to the worst-of-the-worst. But U.S. sanctions are only as robust as the enforcement mechanisms that come with them. Iran and its dubious allies are perpetuating a vicious cycle that undermines global compliance and further allows the Iranian regime to continue its destructive and malign behavior. A sharper focus on the specific methods and their perpetrators is needed to cut off Iran’s oil spigot.

Daniel Roth is the research director and Claire Jungman is the chief of staff of United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy organization based in New York that was formed in 2008 to combat the threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.