The China Nuclear Horn Prepares for Nuclear War: Daniel 7

China said to speed up move to more survivable nuclear force

By ROBERT BURNS , Associated Press

March 01, 2021 – 5:35 AM

WASHINGTON — China appears to be moving faster toward a capability to launch its newer nuclear missiles from underground silos, possibly to improve its ability to respond promptly to a nuclear attack, according to an American expert who analyzed satellite images of recent construction at a missile training area.

Hans Kristensen, a longtime watcher of U.S., Russian and Chinese nuclear forces, said the imagery suggests that China is seeking to counter what it may view as a growing threat from the United States. The U.S. in recent years has pointed to China’s nuclear modernization as a key justification for investing hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming two decades to build an all-new U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Biden strikes on Syrian sites may threaten the Iran nuclear deal

Biden strikes Syrian sites: What impact on Iraq and Iran nuclear deal?

Ellen Laipson

| The Daily Star

In its sixth week in office, the Biden administration has already used military force in the Middle East. Seven bombs were dropped on a group of buildings in Syria associated with pro-Iran Shiite militias, allegedly responsible for a recent attack on a US and coalition base outside Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. The attack has been characterized as carefully calibrated; the president chose one of the less aggressive options presented to him, with the goal of keeping the damage inflicted proportional to the attacks that triggered the action.

Over the past year, Shiite militias have lobbed rockets against the large US Embassy compound in Baghdad, inflicting property damage but no significant casualties. The February Irbil attack, which wounded several and killed one non-US-citizen contractor, appeared to be a continuation of a pattern. In response, the US targeted a compound of multiple buildings used by several Shiite militias to support their operations in Iraq. US defense officials explained that the operation was defensive in nature, to protect US and allied personnel, and “our Iraqi partners.

This formulation is an interesting departure from the approach of the Trump administration, which scolded and bullied the Iraqi government when such attacks occurred, threatening in 2020 to close the US Embassy in Baghdad if the Iraqi security forces could not protect Americans present in the country. Biden is sending a very different signal, that the US presence in Iraq is for the shared mission of preventing terrorism from Daesh (ISIS) or other extremists, and building greater capacity and stability in Iraq.

The choice of a facility in Syria and the vague attribution to the Irbil attack could generate criticism in coming days. The compound the US bombed was very close to the border of Iraq, southwest of Irbil, but arguably could be seen as an offensive act against a state that did not cause the original harm.

While the US may not feel obliged to follow diplomatic protocols related to the Syrian regime, it was Russia, Syria’s main security partner, which reacted badly to the attack, complaining that the US gave Moscow only an hour’s notice before sending fighter aircraft into the territory that Russia helps control. In addition, US officials have said that Iraq will investigate the Irbil attack to determine the perpetrators, yet the US believed it had sufficient intelligence to select the target and carry out the raid. The group that actually claimed responsibility, Awliya Al-Dam, or Guardians of the Blood, is one of several offshoots of the main Shiite militia Kataeb Hezbollah.

Some early commentators have questioned whether this sequence of events could derail the nascent pas de deux between Biden and Iran over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or the Iran nuclear deal. They worry that any escalation of tensions between the US and Iranian proxies will undermine or at least slow down the diplomatic efforts to return to full compliance with the 2015 JCPOA. Both Washington and Tehran will need to take clear steps to restore the status of the agreement, but there is much jockeying about sequencing and reciprocity.

For the US, reversing Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to leave the agreement is complicated by the legalities of US sanctions policies, and by the conviction that it is Iran that has to demonstrate its continued commitment to the terms of the agreement. Iran, for its part, has been playing hard ball, declaring that it cannot reverse its recent enrichment activities that violate its JCPOA obligations until the US removes all sanctions. The Biden administration has taken one tentative step, by agreeing to participate in an EU-hosted meeting with all the JCPOA signatories. Iran has not yet signaled its intention to attend such a meeting.

One could argue that the specific issue of defending US and coalition bases and facilities in Iraq is quite separate from diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear activities. In addition, the explicit demonstration by the new president of his willingness to use force could send an important signal to Iran. During the Obama administration, some interpreted the failure of the US to follow through on its tough rhetoric on the Syrian civil war as evidence that achieving a diplomatic success with Iran was the paramount American interest. Staying out of Syria was seen as avoiding a source of tension with Iran that could hurt the nuclear talks.

That perception is probably off the mark; Obama had made some strategic choices about Syria that were more complicated than just considering their impact on Iran. But the Biden team has now avoided such ambiguity. It will protect and defend its basic interests in the region, while working the nuclear negotiations on their own merits.

If Iran wanted to signal back to Washington, it could rein in the militia or take other steps to try to disavow these particular anti-American actions. By some accounts, Iran may not be in complete control of the Shiite militia. While the groups have surely benefitted from Iranian political, military and financial support, they operate in an Iraqi context. Past Iraqi political leaders have used and misused these militias in power struggles that were not necessarily part of a master plan from Tehran. 

At times, the US and Iran have found common ground in support of Iraq. They worked in parallel to defeat Daesh’s occupation of Mosul and other territories in northern Iraq. They have sometimes indirectly found ways to signal their preferences for the same candidates in past protracted negotiations over government formation after elections in Iraq. Both parties can be pragmatic when it comes to Iraq.

But when it comes to US-Iran relations, put your money on the more pessimistic interpretation. Iran is already prickly about Biden’s overtures, and faces presidential elections in June. The brutal experience with Trump and the volatile cycles in US presidential politics have made Iran more cynical about engaging Washington. And the January 2020 US assassination of Qasem Soleimani on Iraqi soil may not have been avenged, in Iran’s view. The activities of the Iraqi Shiite militias may retain considerable value to Iran in this ongoing asymmetric struggle.

Ellen Laipson, a former vice chair of the US’s National Intelligence Council, is currently director of the international security program at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University in Virginia. She is a former president and CEO of the Stimson Center in Washington. The Daily star publishes this commentary in collaboration with Syndication Bureau.

Biden orders airstrikes against the Iranian Horn

Biden orders airstrikes in Syria, retaliating against Iran-backed militias

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Friday the bombing caused “casualties” but said it was too early to say how many fighters were killed or wounded.

Dan De Luce is a reporter for the NBC News Investigative Unit. Mosheh Gains is a Pentagon producer for NBC News.Charlene GubashCharlene Gubash is an NBC News producer based in Cairo. Gubash, a native Minnesotan, has lived and worked in the Egyptian capital since 1985.Kristen Welker is chief White House correspondent for NBC News.Ali Arouzi, Amin Hossein Khodadadi and Adela Suliman contributed.

Feb. 25, 2021, 5:58 PM MST / Updated Feb. 26, 2021, 1:31 PM MST

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered airstrikes on buildings in Syria that the Pentagon said were used by Iranian-backed militias, in retaliation for rocket attacks on U.S. targets in neighboring Iraq.

The strikes killed at least 22 people, London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday, citing unconfirmed local reports.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby portrayed the bombing in eastern Syria as carefully calibrated, calling it “proportionate” and “defensive.”

Kirby told reporters Friday the bombing caused “casualties” but said it was too early to say precisely how many militia fighters might have been killed or wounded.

“We have preliminary indications of casualties on site, I’m not going to go any further than that,” Kirby said.

The operation was the first known use of military force by the Biden administration, which has for weeks emphasized plans to focus more on challenges posed by China.

The president’s decision appeared aimed at sending a signal to Iran and its proxies in the region that Washington would not tolerate attacks on its personnel in Iraq, even at a sensitive diplomatic moment.

Three rocket attacks in one week in Iraq, including a deadly strike that hit a U.S.-led coalition base in the northern Iraqi town of Irbil, presented a test for Biden only weeks after assuming the presidency. The rocket assaults coincided with a diplomatic initiative launched by the administration to try to revive a 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers.

A worker cleans shattered glass outside a damaged shop following a rocket attack the previous night in Irbil on Feb. 16.Safin Hamed / AFP – Getty Images file

Kirby said two F-15 fighter jets dropped seven precision guided munitions on buildings used by the Iranian-backed militias, totally destroying nine structures and partially destroying two. The buildings were located in Abu Kamal, near the Iraqi border, a location known as a hub for the Iraqi Shiite militias supported by Iran, he said.

“This location is known to facilitate Iranian-aligned militia group activity,” Kirby said.

The airstrikes were ordered in response to a series of rocket attacks against American and coalition personnel in Iraq, “and to ongoing threats to those personnel,” the Pentagon said in a statement on Thursday evening.

The buildings near the border were used by militias including Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, according to the Pentagon.

Iranian officials did not immediately react to the strikes.

The Syrian government condemned the attack Friday, calling it “cowardly U.S. aggression” in a statement from the country’s foreign ministry that was published by state media.

The strikes violate international law and “will lead to consequences that will escalate the situation in the region,” the foreign ministry said, according to state news agency SANA.

Russia, one of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chief backers, said it was given just four or five minutes’ warning before the strikes.

“This kind of notification does nothing when the strike is literally already on its way,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters in Moscow.

The U.S. was operating in Syria “illegally,” he said, and called for better communication with the Biden administration.

The Pentagon defended the legality of the strikes, arguing Article II of the Constitution grants the president powers as commander in chief, and citing article 51 of the U.N. charter, providing countries the right to “self-defense” in response to an attack.

“I would tell you that the president acted well within his constitutional authorities under Article II as commander in chief of the United States to protect American service members involved in operations. Clearly, there’s a constitutional authority here,” Kirby told NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell on Friday.

The Biden administration did inform Russia in advance of the air raid, Kirby said, but indicated it could not do so too far in advance without jeopardizing “operational security.”

The strikes provoked criticism from some Democrats in Congress, who questioned the legal rationale and demanded to know why the White House did not consult with lawmakers more closely beforehand.

“The American people deserve to hear the Administration’s rationale for these strikes and its legal justification for acting without coming to Congress,” said Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees.

“Offensive military action without congressional approval is not constitutional absent extraordinary circumstances,” he said. “Congress must be fully briefed on this matter expeditiously.”

The administration said officials did brief congressional leadership before the air strikes.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said most of the 22 people killed in the bombings were members of Iraqi militias. The monitoring group did not provide details about how it obtained that figure but Rami Abdulrahman, head of the rights organization, told NBC News it was based on speaking to sources inside Syria.

He added that the death toll was expected to rise, due to the number of people seriously wounded.

Iran’s state broadcaster IRIB news, meanwhile, said 17 “resistance fighters” were killed in the strikes, but also didn’t provide detail about the source of that figure other than citing “reports.”

A senior U.S. defense official told NBC News on Thursday evening that the target was a transit hub near the Iraqi-Syrian border used by the militia fighters, and it was too early to say what casualties might have been inflicted on the militants.

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“The operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and coalition personnel. At the same time, we have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq,” the Pentagon said on Thursday.

Shortly after the strike, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters travelling with him that the administration had been “very deliberate about our approach.”

“We’re confident that target was being used by the same Shia militia that conducted the strikes,” Austin said, referring to the recent rocket attacks in Iraq on U.S. and coalition personnel.

The Pentagon had said previously that it was awaiting the results of an Iraqi investigation into the Irbil rocket attack.

“We allowed and encouraged the Iraqis to investigate and develop intelligence and that was very helpful to us in refining the target,” said Austin, who spoke en route to Washington after a visit to California and Colorado.

Biden had approved the operation on Thursday morning, he said.

A civilian contractor was killed in the Irbil rocket assault, and a U.S. service member and others were wounded. At least two 107mm rockets landed on the base, which also hosts Irbil’s civilian international airport.

NBC News had previously reported that Iranian-backed militias were most likely behind the Irbil rocket attack, and that the weapons and tactics resembled previous attacks by the Iranian-linked militias. However, it was unclear if Iran had encouraged or ordered the rocket attack.

An obscure group called Saraya Awliya al-Dam, or Custodians of the Blood, claimed responsibility for the Irbil attack. But former diplomats and regional analysts said the group was merely a front organization created by the main Shiite militias in Iraq.

Following the rocket attack on the Irbil base, Iraq’s Balad air base came under rocket fire days later, where a U.S. defense firm services the country’s fighter jets, and then two rockets landed near the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad.

Iran has rejected any connection to the rocket attacks.

In a phone call Tuesday between Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the two leaders agreed that “that those responsible for such attacks must be held fully to account,” according to a White House readout of the conversation.

Dennis Ross, a former senior U.S. diplomat who worked on Middle East policy under several presidents, said the administration had lowered the risk of causing friction with the Iraqi government by hitting targets in Syria.

“By striking facilities used by the militias just across the border in Syria, the risk of blowback against the Iraqi gov is reduced,” Ross tweeted.

Dan De Luce, Mosheh Gains and Kristen Welker reported from Washington; Ali Arouzi and Adela Suliman reported from London; Amin Hossein Khodadadi reported from Tehran; and Charlene Gubash reported from Cairo.

The Associated Press contributed.

Iran condemns Babylon the Great’s strikes

Iran condemns U.S. strikes in Syria, denies attacks in Iraq

(Reuters) – Iran on Saturday condemned U.S. air strikes against Iran-backed militias in Syria, and denied responsibility for rocket attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq that prompted Friday’s strikes.

Washington said its strikes on positions of the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah paramilitary group along the Iraq border were in response to the rocket attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq.

Western officials and some Iraqi officials have blamed those attacks on Iran-backed groups.

However, Tehran has denied any involvement.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday condemned the U.S. strikes as “illegal and a violation of Syria’s sovereignty” in a meeting with his visiting Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein, Iran’s state media reported.

“Zarif said some recent attacks and incidents in Iraq are suspect, and could be designed to disrupt Iran-Iraq relations and Iraq’s security and stability,” the media reports said.

“We emphasize the need for the Iraqi government to find the perpetrators of these incidents,” Zarif was quoted as saying.

Hussein gave assurances that “Baghdad will not allow incidents in this country to be used to disrupt the excellent relations between the two countries”, state media reported.

Progress has been made in talks on Iran’s frozen funds and Baghdad would facilitate Tehran’s access to its funds, Hussein added. Some $6 billion in Iranian funds have been blocked in Iraq because of U.S. sanctions.

Iran’s top security official, Ali Shamkhani, met Hussein earlier and said Friday’s U.S. air strikes encouraged terrorism in the region.

Hussein is in Iran “to discuss regional developments, including ways to balance relations and avoid tension and escalation” with Iranian officials, according to an Iraqi foreign ministry statement.

An Iraqi militia official close to Iran said the U.S. strikes killed one fighter and wounded four. U.S. officials said they were limited in scope to show President Joe Biden’s administration would act firmly while trying to avoid a big regional escalation.

Washington and Tehran are seeking maximum leverage in attempts to save Iran’s nuclear deal reached with world powers in 2015 but abandoned in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump, after which regional tensions soared.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Frances Kerry and Mark Potter)

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Babylon the Great strikes ‘Iranian-backed militant’ site

US strikes ‘Iranian-backed militant’ site in Syria: Pentagon

26/02/2021 – 02:22

A rocket attack on a military complex inside Arbil airport that hosts foreign troops deployed as part of a US-led coalition caused serious damage – KURDISTAN 24 CHANNEL/AFP/File

Washington (AFP)

The US military launched an airstrike on facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran-backed militia Thursday, in retaliation for recent rocket attacks on US troop locations in Iraq, the Pentagon said.

“At President Biden’s direction, US military forces earlier this evening conducted airstrikes against infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria,” said spokesman John Kirby in a statement.

These strikes were authorized in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel,” he said.

The US military did not say whether there were any casualties in Thursday’s attack.

Kirby said the target was a border control point used by Iranian-backed armed Iraqi groups including Kataeb Hezbollah and Kataeb Sayyid al-Shuhada.

It followed three rocket attacks on facilities in Iraq used by US and coalition forces fighting the Islamic State group.

One of those strikes, on a military complex in the Kurdish region’s capital Arbil on February 15, killed a civilian and a foreign contractor working with coalition forces, and injured several US contractors and a soldier.

The attacks in Iraq by groups believed operating under Iran’s direction had laid down a challenge to the new Biden administration just as it opened a door to resumed negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program.

The Biden administration says it wants to revive the 2015 accord designed to freeze Iran’s nuclear development.

But it also sees Tehran as a continuing security threat across the Middle East.

Kirby called Thursday’s strikes “proportionate” and said it “was conducted together with diplomatic measures,” including consultation with US partners in the anti-IS coalition.

But he also said that it was designed to de-escalate the situation in eastern Syria and Iraq.

The operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and Coalition personnel,” he said.

© 2021 AFP

Russia’s New Doomsday Nuke: Daniel 7

New Details of Russian Belgorod ‘Doomsday’ Submarine Revealed

H I SuttonFebruary 25, 2021 3:26 PM

Illustration of Belgorod submarine. H I Sutton Image used with permission

Russia’s latest super-sized submarine, Belgorod, has been a conundrum for interested observers. While its existence is far from secret, Moscow has gone to great pains to keep certain key details out of the public domain. While navies traditionally hide the screw, or propeller, from the cameras, in Belgorod’s case the reverse was true: the screws were on display at the 2019 launch ceremony, but no photographs of the forward section were ever published.

Belgorod’s secret is its arrangement of the primary weapon system: a new class of nuclear-tipped torpedos. Russian state media Izvestia reported on Feb. 11 that Belgorod is being prepared for tests with the new weapon called Poseidon, a massive nuclear torpedo which is shot forward out of the front of the submarine.

The Izvestia article’s timing matches fresh satellite imagery of the submarine in the northern Russian submarine base in Severodvinsk, which may show part of the tests.

In the absence of official photographs, commercial satellite imagery has become a primary source of information. Though the long Arctic nights and thick clouds have limited access to new imagery for many months, now as the Arctic winter is waning, commercial imagery satellites are once again more active over Severodvinsk.

On Feb. 10, an Airbus satellite took a high-resolution image of the harbor. Moored next to the quay is Belgorod with its torpedo tube doors appearing to be open. These tubes are not for ordinary torpedoes but rather the Poseidon nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed torpedo. It is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s so-called wonder weapons, together with hypersonic missiles and a nuclear-powered cruise missile.

Poseidon Torpedo. Russian Defense Ministry Photo

The satellite imagery clearly shows two large openings in the bow. Each opening is roughly six feet (two meters) across, approximately three times the diameter of the openings for regular 21-inch (533mm) torpedoes. This is because the Poseidon weapon is about 20 to 30 times the size of a traditional heavyweight torpedo.

Revealed in 2015, the school-bus sized torpedo is a strategic weapon that is designed to slip under the U.S. ballistic missile defense network. The weapon is designed to “destroy important economic installations of the enemy in coastal areas and cause guaranteed devastating damage to the country’s territory by creating wide areas of radioactive contamination, rendering them unusable for military, economic or other activity for a long time,” according to a 2015 translation of the initial document by the BBC.

Previous reports indicate that Belgorod will be armed with six Poseidons. Being so large and nuclear powered, these are likely carried externally to the main pressure hull, so it is unclear whether all six tubes will have their own shutter doors or if they will be able to cycle through the two shutters seen in the satellite images.

One takeaway from the images is Belgorod probably has a forward hull between the two open shutter doors. This could allow regular torpedo tubes to be mounted in the bow, shooting over top of the sonar.

Although some reporting on the Poseidon implies Belgorod will be conducting test launches imminently, this is unlikely. It’s unclear if the submarine has ever conducted submergence testing, and just today the TASS Russian news agency reported the submarine is preparing to sail to sea for the first time.

The tests that the Izvestia article referenced are likely in-port mating and mechanical checks between the submarine and the weapon, which matches the satellite imagery showing the outer shutters open. This would likely be conducted with inert surrogate rounds where possible, given the safety implications of testing a nuclear-powered weapon with what is likely a minimally shielded reactor at the pier.

While the public image of Belgorod is becoming clearer, the particulars of the new Russian boat are still shrouded in mystery. Nope

Democrats are Castrating their own man

Democrats ask Biden to cede authority on nuclear launches

President Joe Biden speaks about the 500,000 Americans that died from COVID-19, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By Victor Morton – The Washington Times – Wednesday, February 24, 2021

A group of more than 30 House Democrats is asking President Biden to give up his sole control of U.S. nuclear weapons.

In a letter led by Rep. Jimmy Panetta of California, the Democrats ask that their party’s leader alter the command-and-control structure surrounding America’s nuclear arsenal so that no single person can launch the weapons.

“Vesting one person with this authority entails real risks,” the letter states. “Past presidents have threatened to attack other countries with nuclear weapons or exhibited behavior that caused other officials to express concern about the president’s judgment.”

The letter suggests such changes to the command of the U.S. arsenal as  requiring approval also from officials in the constitutional line of succession, specifically including the vice president and the House speaker, “neither of whom can be removed by the president if they disagree.”

The U.S. nuclear codes, carried in the famous ”football,” allow the president to launch America’s nuclear arsenal, a change that was made during the Cold War because nuclear weapons theoretically could begin and end a war within an hour, before there would be time to go through the traditional process of declaring war and mobilizing an army.

The nearly three dozen Democrats though more fear a U.S. president starting a war on his own.

“While any president would presumably consult with advisors before ordering a nuclear attack, there is no requirement to do so,” the letter adds. “The military is obligated to carry out the order if they assess it is legal under the laws of war. Under the current posture of U.S. nuclear forces, that attack would happen in minutes.”

Pentagon will wait before blaming Iran for attacks in Iraq

In break from Trump, Pentagon will wait before blaming Iran for attacks in Iraq

Iraqi investigators, not the Biden administration, will determine whether Iran is to blame for two rocket attacks that endangered American troops and diplomats in a move that parts from the Trump administration, which typically blamed Tehran.

The move comes as the Biden administration holds out hope for renewed negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program and that the United States will rejoin the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal.

“This has nothing to do with any diplomatic efforts that may or may not be happening,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday. “It has to do with trying to make sure we judge accountability the right way, and that’s what the secretary wants to give our Iraqi partners the time and space to do.”

Kirby said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to his Iraqi counterpart after the Feb. 15 attacks on Iraqi facilities in Erbil that endangered Americans and that the secretary offered his assistance.

The spokesman added that he is not aware of whether the offer has been accepted yet, nor what that would constitute.

In the meantime, the Department of Defense refrained from blaming Iran for supporting the militia groups believed to be responsible for the attack in Erbil and a Green Zone attack near the U.S. Embassy on Monday.

Kirby said the attacks had the same markings as past Iranian-backed militia attacks on Americans.

“We’ve seen these kinds of attacks before, rocket attacks in particular, and historically, they have been perpetrated by Shia-backed militia, using similar weapons and similar tactics,” Kirby said.

At another point, Kirby admitted that the rockets are often found to be Iranian-made.

“I don’t want to get into the forensics of these specific attacks,” he said. “Broadly speaking, we have seen that many of these attacks have used Iranian-made, Iranian-supply weaponry.”

Kirby could not say if deferring the investigation to the Iraqi government was a Biden policy change.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t speak to the previous administration and how they handled these things.”

An inquiry seeking a clarification has not been answered.

How Israel Killed Iran’s Nuclear Scientist

Iranian nuclear scientist killed by one-ton automated gun in Israeli hit — Jewish Chronicle

Updated 11 February 2021 Reuters February 10, 2021 20:55

JERUSALEM: The Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated near Tehran in November was killed by a one-ton gun smuggled into Iran in pieces by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, according to a report by The Jewish Chronicle on Wednesday.

Citing intelligence sources, the British weekly said a team of more than 20 agents, including Israeli and Iranian nationals, carried out the ambush on scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh after eight months of surveillance.

Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the report, which was published on the website of the London-based newspaper.

Iranian media said Fakhrizadeh died in hospital after armed assassins gunned him down in his car. Shortly after his death Iran pointed the finger at Israel, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif writing on Twitter of “serious indications of (an) Israeli role.”

Israel declined to comment in November and on Wednesday night an Israeli government spokesman responded to the latest report by saying: “We never comment on such matters. There has been no change in our position.”

Fakhrizadeh, 59, was long suspected by the West of masterminding a secret nuclear bomb program.

He had been described by Western and Israeli intelligence services for years as the mysterious leader of a covert atomic bomb program halted in 2003, which Israel and the United States accuse Tehran of trying to restore. Iran has long denied seeking to weaponize nuclear energy.

According to the Jewish Chronicle’s report, Iran has “secretly assessed that it will take six years” before a replacement for him is “fully operational” and that his death had “extended the period of time it would take Iran to achieve a bomb from about three-and-a-half months to two years.”

Giving no further details of its sourcing, the world’s oldest Jewish newspaper said the Mossad mounted the automated gun on a Nissan pickup and that “the bespoke weapon, operated remotely by agents on the ground as they observed the target, was so heavy because it included a bomb that destroyed the evidence after the killing.”

It said the attack was carried out “by Israel alone, without American involvement” but that US officials were given some form of notice beforehand.

The arms of the Russian nuclear horn: Daniel 7

Diplomat names two sites in Crimea where Russia could store nuclear arms

In the occupied Crimea, there are two potential locations for storing nuclear weapons, and this could pose a major threat due to possible leaks.

That’s according to a former envoy of the Ukrainian President for the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Borys Babin, who spoke with the Obozrevatel outlet.

“Now no one can claim for sure that they are there at all. But if they were there, it would most likely be the Feodosia-13 facility in Krasnokamenka or military units based in Sevastopol,” he said.

Babin added that there are also spare storage facilities in case the relevant charges are supplied for the aviation based in Saki. “But this is already something from the Soviet repertoire, where almost every military unit would store some nuclear arms,” the ex-official added.

He also pointed to the main problem related to Russian weaponry – negligence on the part of the military which carries great threats.

“Some drunk soldier or officer is actually much more dangerous than the supreme commander of the Russian army,” Babin said.

“We shouldn’t forget that besides the warheads, missile, aviation charges, and charges for the Kalibr missiles, there is also a problem with rocket fuel. Its leak is no less dangerous than radiation,” the diplomat stressed.

In this context, Babin recalled that the Black Sea is actually enclosed, so “a serious leak of rocket fuel or something of this kind threatens the entire water area.”