The Iranian Horn Attacks Israel:Daniel 8:4

Israel’s Mossad in Iraq attacked, a number of Israelis killed, wounded: Sources

Tuesday, 13 April 2021 11:07 PM  [ Last Update: Wednesday, 14 April 2021 10:10 AM ]

Israel’s Mossad spy agency has come under attack in Iraq, security sources say, with a number of Israeli forces killed or wounded in what was described as a “heavy blow” on the Zionist regime.

Iraq’s Sabereen News, citing security sources, reported late on Tuesday that a facility affiliated with Israel’s Mossad spy agency had been attacked by “unknown resistance forces” in the north of the country.

The Iraqi media said the attack resulted in the death and injury of a “number of Israeli forces,” dealing a “heavy blow” to the regime and its spy agency.

The sources fell short of providing details on the location of the attack and the extent of damage, however, Sabereen said, “Tomorrow, we’ll share some pictures of the operation.”

Reacting to the incident, a high-ranking Iraqi military commander said in an interview with Russian TV network RT that they had not so far received any news about the attack.

Media outlets in northern Iraq have yet to comment on the attack.

The incident came hours after an Israeli ship was attacked in the Emirati port of Fujairah, causing damage but no casualties.

Israeli ship comes under attack off UAE coast: Media reports

Media reports say an Israeli ship called the Hyperion affiliated with the regime’s PCC company has come under attack off the Emirati coast.

Israel’s Channel 12 quoted unnamed regime officials as blaming Iran for the ship attack.

The vessel, called the Hyperion and sailing under the Bahamas flag, was associated with the Israeli Ray Shipping company, the same company that owns a vessel hit by an explosion in the Sea of Oman in February.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hastily accused at the time Iran of attacking the ship, with Iran categorically rejecting the charge.

Israeli media said the Tuesday’s attack on Hyperion was likely carried out with either a missile or a drone.

The attack followed an act of sabotage that targeted the electricity distribution network of Iran’s Shahid Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan nuclear facility in Natanz, which is a uranium enrichment center located in the city of the same name in Iran’s central province of Isfahan.

‘Natanz incident bold act of nuclear terrorism on Iranian soil’

Iran says the Sunday incident in Natanz which saw a nuclear facility lose electricity was “a bold act of nuclear terrorism on the Iranian soil”.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters on Monday that, “The appalling incident that took place in Natanz was the work of the Zionist regime (Israel), given what it was repeatedly saying before and what is still being heard from various sources these days.”

Iran said earlier this month that one of its merchant vessels has been targeted by an explosion of unknown origin in the strategic Red Sea, in the second such incident in less than a month.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters the Saviz ship was struck by the blast on April 5 near the coast of Djibouti, and sustained minor damage.

In a similar incident last month, an Iranian cargo ship was damaged after it was targeted by a terrorist attack en route to Europe in the Mediterranean Sea.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Another attack on Babylon the Great

Drone Attacks Iraq Airport Housing U.S. Troops

One building damaged, no casualties reported in attack on Erbil airport

By Ghassan Adnan and

Updated April 14, 2021 5:56 pm ET

Erbil airport in northern Iraq as seen in 2014.

Photo: joel saget/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

BAGHDAD—A drone carrying explosives attacked a U.S. air base in northern Iraq on Wednesday, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

No casualties were reported in the attack on the airport in Erbil, which doubles as a base for U.S. troops, according to the interior ministry of the Kurdistan Regional Government and the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq.

The attack on the military section of the airport was carried out by a drone carrying explosives, according to a statement from the interior ministry. The drone landed on a storage hangar at the air base, causing a fire that was later extinguished, according to the U.S.-led coalition.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Sabreen, a news agency that supports Iranian-backed paramilitary groups, shared news of the attack.

It follows months of tensions between the U.S. and Iran, whose allied militias in Iraq have launched a series of attacks on U.S. bases in the country.

An attack on the Erbil airport in February killed a contractor working for U.S. forces.

A pro-Iranian militia group claimed responsibility. In retaliation for that attack, the U.S. launched airstrikes on Iran-allied militant groups in Syria.

“It seems the same #militia who targeted the airport two months ago are at it again. This is a clear & dangerous escalation,” tweeted Iraq’s former foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari.

A separate rocket attack on a Turkish military base in northern Iraq on Wednesday killed a Turkish service member, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attacks come as the Biden administration is attempting to re-engage Iran, sending officials to another round of indirect talks in Vienna this week aimed at reviving the 2015 agreement that limits Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

But an apparent attack on Iran’s main nuclear facility has threatened to derail those talks. Iran accused Israel of carrying out an act of sabotage at the Natanz nuclear facility on Sunday. Israeli media reported that the attack was carried out by the nation’s Mossad intelligence agency, though Israeli officials declined to comment.

Following the attack on the nuclear facility, Iran said it would begin enriching uranium to 60% for the first time.

Write to Jared Malsin at jared.malsin@wsj.com

Saudi Arabia concerned about the Iranian Nuclear Horn

Saudi Arabia says it is concerned about Iran uranium enrichment

DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it was concerned about Iran’s intention to start enriching uranium to 60% purity and said such a move could not be considered part of a peaceful nuclear programme.

A foreign ministry statement called on Iran to avoid escalation and engage seriously in talks with global powers about a 2015 nuclear pact. The statement also urged the international community to reach an agreement “with stronger parameters of a longer duration”.

Iran’s announcement about its plan to enrich to 60%, bringing the fissile material closer to the 90% level suitable for a nuclear bomb, came after Tehran accused Israel of sabotaging a key nuclear installation and ahead of the resumption of nuclear talks in Vienna.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies, who are also worried about Iran’s ballistic missiles and regional network of proxies, had supported former U.S. President Donald Trump’s move to quit the accord in 2018 and re-impose harsh sanctions on Iran.

Iran responded by breaching several nuclear restrictions.

The Saudi foreign ministry statement on state media said any deal should “also take into consideration the deep concern of regional states over escalatory steps by Iran to destabilise regional security and stability, including its nuclear programme”.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have been locked in several proxy wars in the region, including in Yemen where the Iran-aligned Houthi movement has launched cross-border missile and drone attacks at the kingdom.

Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; writing by Ghaida Ghantous; editing by Jason Neely, William Maclean

European Nuclear Horns Fruitlessly Warn the Iranian Nuclear Horn

U.S., European powers warn Iran over ‘dangerous’ uranium enrichment move

PARIS/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and the European countries party to the Iran nuclear deal pushed back on Wednesday against Tehran’s decision to enrich uranium at 60% purity, with the top U.S. diplomat calling the move “provocative” and questioning Iran’s seriousness about talks.

FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters, before the beginning of a board of governors meeting, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Vienna, Austria, March 1, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo

Iran has said it will enrich uranium to 60% – a big step closer to the 90% that is weapons-grade material – in response to what it says was an act of sabotage by Israel against its key nuclear facility last week.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tehran’s intent raised questions about its seriousness over the talks in Vienna between Iran and the world powers to revive the 2015 nuclear accord.

“We take very seriously its provocative announcement of an intent to begin enriching uranium at 60 percent,” Blinken told a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels. “I have to tell you the step calls into question Iran’s seriousness with regard the nuclear talks,” he said.

The nuclear deal has unravelled as Iran has breached its limits on uranium enrichment in a graduated response to the U.S. withdrawal from the pact in 2018 and Washington’s reinstatement of harsh economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Last week, Iran and fellow signatories held what they described as “constructive” talks to restore the deal ditched by the Trump administration – which saw the terms as too lenient on Tehran.

The explosion at Iran’s uranium enrichment site came on Sunday ahead of a second week of talks. Israel, which supported former U.S. President Donald Trump’s hard line against Iran, has not formally commented on the incident at Iran’s Natanz site, which appeared to be the latest twist in a long-running covert war.

Britain, France and Germany also said Tehran’s new decision to enrich at 60 %, from the 20% it has reached so far, and activate 1,000 advanced centrifuge machines at its Natanz plant was at odds with the talks. They said they rejected “all escalatory measures by any actor”, in an apparent signal to Israel.

“Iran’s announcements are particularly regrettable given they come at a time when all JCPoA participants and the United States have started substantive discussions, with the objective of finding a rapid diplomatic solution to revitalise and restore the JCPoA,” the three countries said in a statement, referring to the 2015 deal.

“Iran’s dangerous recent communication is contrary to the constructive spirit and good faith of these discussions,” it said of the talks, which resume between Iran and global powers in Vienna on Thursday, aimed at salvaging the accord.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the events of the past week had not necessarily made things easier. “But I am not going to speculate as to whether it means that we can’t reach a deal … We wouldn’t be going if we thought that it was over, but I am not going to say that we expect a breakthrough.”

STAND OFF

In an apparent rebuff later on Wednesday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the United States was trying to impose its terms for rescuing the deal and European powers were doing Washington’s bidding.

“The nuclear talks in Vienna must not become talks of attrition…This is harmful for our country,” Khamenei, who has the last word on Iranian matters of state, was quoted as saying by state television.

Biden took office in January with a commitment to rejoin the deal if Tehran returns to full compliance with its restrictions on enrichment. Tehran has repeatedly said that all sanctions must be rescinded first.

“We have already declared Iran’s policy. Sanctions must be removed first. Once we are certain that has been done, we will carry out our commitments,” Khamenei said, according to semi-official Tasnim news agency.

“The offers they provide are usually arrogant and humiliating and are not worth looking at.”

Iran has “almost completed preparations” to launch 60% enrichment and has notified the International Atomic Energy Agency that it will activate 1,024 more IR-1 centrifuges, its older first generation of the machines at Natanz, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said later on Wednesday.

Iran’s leading Gulf foe Saudi Arabia also weighed in on Wednesday, saying it believed any revival of the nuclear deal should be a starting point for further talks that include regional states to expand the accord.

Rayd Krimly, head of policy planning at the Saudi foreign ministry, told Reuters any deal that fails to effectively address the security concerns of countries in the region would not work, and Riyadh was consulting with the global powers.

“We want to make sure at a minimum that any financial resources made available to Iran via the nuclear deal are not used…to destabilise the region,” he said.

Iran’s deal with the six powers caps the fissile purity to which it can refine uranium at 3.67%. That is well under the 20% achieved before the agreement, and far below the 90% suitable for a nuclear weapon.

Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Washington, Parisa Hafezi and Ghaida Ghantous in Dubai, Francois Murphy in Vienna, Steve Holland and Jarrett Renshaw in Washington; Writing by William Maclean; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Alistair Bell

Canadian nuclear horn rises: Daniel 7

Uranium production to resume in Canada

13 April 2021

Canada’s Cameco and Orano Canada on 9 April both announced plans to resume uranium production. Cameco said that it plans to restart production at its Cigar Lake uranium mine located in northern Saskatchewan. Production at Cigar Lake was temporarily suspended in December 2020 due to increasing risks posed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. At that time, the availability of workers in critical areas was shrinking due to the pandemic, with more individuals screening out or residing in communities with pandemic-related travel restrictions.

“The safety of our workers, their families and communities is always our top priority,” said Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel. “In recent months we have implemented several enhanced safety protocols for Cigar Lake, including increased distancing between passengers on flights, mandatory medical-grade masks for all workers and increased sanitisation and physical barriers in our eating areas. We also worked with the Saskatchewan Health Authority and have established a licensed COVID-19 testing facility at the mine site. These further safety measures, along with the provincial vaccine rollout programme and increased confidence around our ability to manage our critical workforce, have given us greater certainty that Cigar Lake will be able to operate safely and sustainably.”

Cameco said the timing of production restart and the production rate at Cigar Lake will depend on how quickly it is possible to remobilise the workforce. “Cameco will not be in a position to provide updates to our outlook for 2021 until production has resumed and we understand the rate at which we will be able to sustainably operate the mine, it said.

Gitzel said Cameco always intended to resume production. “There are significant costs associated with having the mine in temporary care and maintenance, and we have a home in our contract portfolio for these low-cost pounds. We will also continue to purchase material, as needed, to meet our committed deliveries. Having said that, worker health and safety is our top priority, and we will not hesitate to take further action if we feel our ability to operate safely is compromised due to the pandemic.”

Cameco said its strong balance sheet has provided the company with the financial capacity to successfully manage the production disruption at Cigar Lake. As of 31 December 2020, Cameco had $943 million in cash and short-term investments and a $1 billion undrawn credit facility. The Cigar Lake operation is owned by Cameco (50.025%), Orano Canada (37.1%), Idemitsu Canada Resources Ltd (7.875%) and Tepco Resources (5.0%). It is operated by Cameco.

Orano Canada said it will resume production at its McClean Lake uranium mill over the coming weeks in tandem with the announced restart of production at the Cigar Lake uranium mine. Production has been paused at McClean Lake since late December, “but the operation has maintained its staffing levels to minimise disruption to our employees while performing maintenance, training and preparations to enable a smooth restart of the mill”, Orano said.

“I am pleased with the restart of production at the Cigar Lake mine and McClean Lake mill,” said Orano Canada President and CEO Jim Corman. “We are encouraged to see that the vaccine roll out in northern Saskatchewan specifically is having a real impact and that the pace of vaccinations throughout the Province is accelerating.

“Safety remains our utmost priority and we have been proud to continue to offer a safe workplace over this difficult year.”

Orano Canada accounted for the processing of 10 million pounds of uranium concentrate produced in Canada in 2020. Orano Canada has been exploring for uranium, mining and milling in Canada for more than 55 years. It is the operator of the McClean Lake uranium mill and a major partner in the Cigar Lake, McArthur River and Key Lake operations. The company employs over 450 people in Saskatchewan, including about 320 at the McClean Lake operation where over 46% of employees are self-declared Indigenous. Orano Canada is a subsidiary of the multinational Orano group.

Iran’s nuclear payback: Daniel 8

Iran Vows to Increase Uranium Enrichment After Attack on Nuclear Site

Iran also attacked an Israeli cargo ship at sea, raising tensions but causing little or no damage.

Published April 13, 2021Updated April 14, 2021, 1:13 a.m. ET

Centrifuges used to enrich uranium at Iran’s nuclear fuel plant in Natanz in 2019. Thousands were destroyed in an attack on Sunday.Atomic Energy Organization of Iran

Iran said Tuesday that it would begin enriching uranium to a level of 60 percent purity, three times the current level and much closer to that needed to make a bomb, though American officials doubt the country has the ability to produce a weapon in the near future.

Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, did not give a reason for the shift, but it appeared to be retaliation for an Israeli attack on Iran’s primary nuclear fuel production plant as well as a move to strengthen Iran’s hand in nuclear talks in Vienna.

The Israeli attack on Sunday diminishes Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium to 60 percent but it is unclear for how long.

Mr. Araghchi said that Iran had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency of its decision in a letter on Tuesday.

Iran also attacked an Israeli-owned cargo ship off the coast of the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, officials said, the latest clash in its maritime shadow war with Israel. The attack was another sign of increased tensions in the region but was reported to have caused little to no damage.

The uranium enrichment announcement came as American intelligence agencies said that while Iran had gradually resumed production of nuclear material since President Donald J. Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear accord, there was no evidence it had resumed the work needed to fashion that material into a nuclear weapon.

Secretary of State John Kerry meeting with Iran’s foreign minister,  Mohammad Javad Zarif, during  negotiations on a nuclear accord in 2015.Pool photo by Carlos Barria

“We continue to assess that Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities that we judge would be necessary to produce a nuclear device,’’ the agencies said in their annual threat assessment report released on Tuesday.

The report said, however, that “if Tehran does not receive sanctions relief” — as Iran has demanded — “Iranian officials probably will consider options ranging from further enriching uranium up to 60 percent to designing and building a new” nuclear reactor that could, over the long term, produce bomb-grade material. That would take years.

The assessment would seem to give President Biden some breathing room as he enters negotiations in Vienna aimed at restoring some form of the nuclear agreement.

But there are still risks: Iran has a long relationship with North Korea, with which it has exchanged missile technology, and officials have for years been concerned that Iran might seek to buy proven nuclear-weapons technology from the North.

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, called Iran’s announcement on Tuesday “provocative,” and said it “calls into question Iran’s seriousness in regards to the nuclear talks.”

Mr. Araghchi, who was deeply involved in negotiating the 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and the United States, also said Tuesday that Iran would replace the centrifuges damaged by the attack on Sunday on the nuclear plant at Natanz, where an explosion knocked the facility offline. He said that Iran would install an additional 1,000 centrifuges there to increase the plant’s capacity by 50 percent.

An Iranian official also provided a new estimate of the damage caused by the attack, saying that several thousand centrifuges were “completely destroyed.” That level of destruction takes out a large portion of Iran’s ability to enrich uranium.

But the full extent of the damage is unknown, and Iran presumably is vulnerable to continued attacks on its nuclear infrastructure. Until the electric power systems are rebuilt at Natanz, it would be impossible to make new centrifuges spin.

Iran is expected to replace the first-generation centrifuges damaged in the Israeli attack with more advanced, more efficient models.

Iran has another known production facility, Fordow, buried deep inside a mountain, but its capacity is limited.

A satellite image of Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility, which is buried underneath a mountain.Maxar Tech

Iran blamed Israel for the explosion at Natanz on Sunday, an assessment confirmed by American and Israeli intelligence officials. The Israeli government has not commented publicly.

Mr. Araghchi is in Vienna this week for indirect talks with the United States to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. The deal put restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of certain sanctions on Iran, and Mr. Biden has advocated restoring it in some manner.

After the United States withdrew from the deal and Mr. Trump imposed new sanctions, Iran abandoned its commitments under the agreement and increased its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, a level that would have violated the terms of the accord.

Uranium enriched to 60 percent purity would be a further violation, and is a short step from bomb fuel, which is typically considered 90 percent or higher in purity. While uranium enriched to 60 percent can be used as fuel in civilian nuclear reactors, such applications have been discouraged globally because it can so easily be turned into bomb fuel.

Iran has been enriching uranium to roughly 20 percent purity at its Fordow plant, which uses about 1,000 centrifuges.

To raise the level to 60 percent purity, Iran would have to turn over roughly half of those machines onto the new enrichment job. Purifying it to 90 percent would require another hundred or so machines.

In an interview, Olli Heinonen, a former chief inspector for International Atomic Energy Agency, based in Vienna, said that theoretically Iran could go from 60 percent to 90 percent enrichment in a week, compared with a month or so starting from 20 percent.

The Natanz nuclear facility in 2007.Hasan Sarbakhshian/Associated Press

“It’s not a huge difference,” he said.

“At this point, this is a demonstration,” Dr. Heinonen said of Iran achieving the 60 percent level. “They want to show that they can do it.”

The much more difficult step, he said, would be turning uranium enriched to 90 percent into the core of an atom bomb.

In another possible retaliation for the Israeli attack on Sunday, Iran attacked an Israeli-owned cargo ship, the Hyperion Ray, off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, on Tuesday.

According to a person familiar with the details of the ship’s voyage, the ship evaded the attack and was not hit. Israeli news media reported that it suffered light damage.

An Israeli security official said that Israel was seeking to reduce tensions in the Persian Gulf region and that it had no intention of responding with another attack on an Iranian vessel.

The Israeli Army, the Defense Ministry and the prime minister’s office all declined to comment.

In recent days, Israel had asked the United States for help protecting the ship, an American official said.

Israeli officials were concerned that it could be targeted by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in response to last week’s apparent mine attack by Israel on an Iranian military vessel in the Red Sea, the American official said.

A cargo ship owned by the same company, the Helios Ray, was attacked by Iran earlier this year.

The Israeli-owned cargo ship Helios Ray, shown in Dubai in February, was attacked by Iran earlier this year.Kamran Jebreili/Associated Press

Iranian officials also revealed more details about the Natanz attack on Tuesday, suggesting that the damage was greater than Iran previously reported.

Alireza Zakani, a member of Parliament and head of its research center, said on state television that “several thousand of our centrifuges have been completely destroyed,” representing a large portion of the country’s ability to enrich uranium.

He described official statements on Monday that the facility would be quickly repaired as false promises.

Foreign intelligence officials have said it could take many months for Iran to undo the damage.

Iranian officials have been livid about the security lapses that have allowed a series of attacks on Iran’s nuclear program over the past year, ranging from sabotage of nuclear facilities to the theft of classified documents to the assassination of Iran’s chief nuclear scientist. Most of these attacks were presumed to have been carried out by Israel.

Mr. Zakani criticized Iran’s security apparatus as lax, saying it had allowed spies to “roam free,” turning Iran into “a haven for spies.”

He said that in one incident, some nuclear equipment belonging to a major facility was sent abroad for repair and that when it returned the equipment was packed with 300 pounds of explosives. In another incident, he said, explosives were placed in a desk and smuggled inside the nuclear facility.

Iran has long maintained that its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed at energy development. Israel claims that Iran had and may still have an active nuclear weapons program and considers the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran an existential threat.

The nuclear talks that began in Vienna last week have been delayed because a member of the European Union delegation tested positive for the coronavirus. The talks could resume as early as Thursday if the member tests negative.

Patrick Kingsley, Ronen Bergman and Steven Erlanger contributed reporting.

Israel Tries to Stop Hamas Election: Revelation 11

No elections without East Jerusalem say Palestinian factions as Israel arrests Hamas members

The New Arab Staff

Palestinains want Jerusalemites to participate [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 April, 2021

Palestinian political factions on Monday unanimously agreed that no elections will take place without Jerusalemites taking part.

Palestinian political factions on Monday unanimously agreed that no election will take place without East Jerusalem residents participating, amid concerns Israel might try to block voting in the occupied areas.

During a meeting held in Ramallah to discuss the upcoming general elections, the factions reiterated East Jerusalem’s Palestinian status and said Israel has no right to prevent Jerusalemites from voting in upcoming elections.

The parties also called on the international community – including the UN, EU, China, Russia – to urge Israel not to “put obstacles in the way of holding elections in all stages across the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, the capital of the Palestinian state”, according to a statement on the Wafa news agency.

The statement urged all parties to encourage voting participation “as part of a comprehensive popular resistance across the pre-1967 occupied territories”.

It also called for Palestinian unity “for the sake of the electoral battle and all the legitimate national rights for freedom and independence in accordance with the laws and resolutions of international legitimacy”.

Prior to the 2006 Palestinian elections, Israeli officials tried to obstruct voting in East Jerusalem, which was illegally annexed by Israel in 1967 and is under Israeli civil and military control.

Unofficial estimates indicate that around 340,000 Palestinians live in occupied Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces arrested Hamas members across the occupied West Bank on Monday.

Hamas member Mustafa Shawer, Palestinian Legislative Council member Omar al-Qawasmi, and Anas Rasras were among those detained during the Monday raids, an anonymous source told Anadolu Agency.

Palestine will head to the polls for the first time in 15 years this summer. The legislative elections will take place on 22 May and a presidential vote on 31 July. 

It is currently unclear whether the votes will take place.

The Mighty Russian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Russia To Remain ‘Largest, Most Capable’ WMD Rival To US – National Intelligence Director

Faizan Hashmi 1 minute ago Tue 13th April 2021 | 09:10 PM

The United States has concluded that Russia will remain the largest and most capable rival to the United States with respect to weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), the Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community issued by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) said on Tuesday

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 13th April, 2021) The United States has concluded that Russia will remain the largest and most capable rival to the United Stateswith respect to weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), the Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community issued by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) said on Tuesday.

We assess that Russia will remain the largest and most capable WMD rival to the United States for the foreseeable future as it expands and modernizes its nuclearweapons capabilities and increases the capabilities of its strategic and nonstrategic weapons,” the report said.

The Iranian Nuclear Horn Defies the West: Daniel 8

Iran has begun 60% uranium enrichment – chief nuclear negotiator

Araqchi also announced that Iran will introduce 1,000 more centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear facility.

Iran announced that it will begin enriching uranium up to 60% at the Natanz nuclear facility attacked earlier this week, which would be an unprecedented level for the Islamic Republic, Iranian state media reported on Tuesday.

Fissile material must reach 90% purity to be used for a nuclear weapon. Under the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran was meant to enrich uranium to under 5%, until it expired in 2030.

Chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi also said Iran would install 1,000 more centrifuge machines in Natanz, the nuclear site whose regular and emergency electrical grids exploded on Sunday, in an act that Iran has called terrorism by Israel. Sources have confirmed that the Mossad was behind the explosion.

Before 2015 and since Iran began violating the nuclear deal in 2019, Iran enriched its stock to about 20%.

Even the jump to 20% set off alarms globally as taking a major additional step toward a nuclear weapon – especially since there is no viable civilian use for 20% enriched uranium.

But to date, Iran has not enriched uranium up to 60%, often referred to as the next level for jumping toward a nuclear weapon.

US President Joe Biden has called for Iran to return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the world powers’ 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran is called, in exchange for the US lifting sanctions placed on Iran in recent years and an American return to the JCPOA.

Indirect negotiations between Iran and the US were scheduled to continue in Vienna on Thursday, after a one-day postponement. Neither side commented on whether talks would continue nor did the State Department comment on the matter at all by press time.

However, the US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan “reaffirmed the Biden-Harris administration’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and to ensuring Iran will never obtain a nuclear weapon,” in a virtual meeting with his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat on Tuesday. This was their second strategic consultation, and they said they would continue an open dialogue in the months ahead. Sullivan invited Ben-Shabbat to visit Washington later this month.

Russia’s Ambassador in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov, who is involved in the nuclear talks, tweeted that on Thursday, “no doubt that in addition to previous issues the Commission will address the latest steps of Iran in the nuclear field, including 60% enrichment.”

The European parties to the Iran deal – the UK, France and Germany – have spoken out against Iran’s recent increase of enrichment to 20% and its development of uranium metal, pointing out that they have no credible civilian use, but not immediately.

An Israeli official said that enrichment to 60% is “breaking a threshold where it’s very clear what they’re doing and obviously this is well on the way for a weapons-grade material.”

The official explained that this highlights the core problem with the JCPOA, that it allows Iran to maintain “the infrastructure in place that allows it to do this. It’s only a matter of a political decision.”

Sources told The Jerusalem Post that Iran’s threat may be more of a boast as they may not really yet have achieved the capability of enriching uranium at the 60% level. Even if they might have had the capability a few days ago, Sunday’s wiping out of the Natanz power grid might also make the statement more of a future than a present threat.

Still, even a public commitment to enrich at that level would be unprecedented for Iran and could show its seriousness to move closer to the nuclear threshold.

It was unclear exactly how Tehran would increase the number of centrifuges it operates at Natanz after reports that enrichment at the facility could be set back nine months. However, the Islamic Republic has other nuclear facilities, like Fordow.

Iran atomic sites targeted by the West

EXPLAINER: Iran atomic sites targeted by diplomacy, sabotage

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran’s nuclear program has been targeted by diplomatic efforts and sabotage attacks over the last decade, with the latest incident striking its underground Natanz facility.

The attack Sunday at Natanz comes as world powers try to negotiate a return by Iran and the U.S. to Tehran’s atomic accord. The sabotage threatens to upend those negotiations and further heighten regional tensions across the Mideast.

___

FROM ‘ATOMS FOR PEACE’ TO PROLIFERATION

Iran’s nuclear program actually began with the help of the United States. Under its “Atoms for Peace” program, America supplied a test reactor that came online in Tehran in 1967 under the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. That help ended once Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution overthrew the shah.

In the 1990s, Iran expanded its program, including secretly buying equipment from Pakistan’s top nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan. Khan helped create Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and his proliferation aided North Korea in obtaining the atomic bombs it has today. Khan’s designs allowed Iran to build the IR-1 centrifuges that largely power its uranium enrichment.

Tehran insists its atomic program is peaceful. However, Iran “carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device” in a “structured program” through the end of 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency has said. That’s an assessment shared by U.S. intelligence agencies and the State Department. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu long has alleged Iran continues to want nuclear weapons to this day.

___

IRAN’S NUCLEAR SITES

Natanz, in Iran’s central Isfahan province, hosts the country’s main uranium enrichment facility. Iran has one operating nuclear power plant in Bushehr, which it opened with Russia’s help in 2011. Iran previously reconfigured its Arak heavy-water reactor so it couldn’t produce plutonium. Its Fordo enrichment site is also dug deep into a mountainside. Tehran also still operates the Tehran research reactor.

___

DIPLOMACY TO DISARRAY

Iran struck the nuclear deal in 2015 with the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and China. The deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, saw Iran dramatically limit its enrichment of uranium under the watch of IAEA inspectors in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. The small stockpile of less-enriched uranium blocked Iran from having enough material to build a nuclear bomb if it chose.

Then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord in 2018, in part over the deal not addressing Iran’s ballistic missile program and its support of allied militant groups in the Mideast. Architects of the deal, containing provisions that expire over time, had said they hoped American officials could build on it for future agreements.

Since the U.S. withdrawal, Iran has in response abandoned all the deal’s limits of its uranium enrichment. It spins advanced centrifuges, grows its stockpile and enriches up to 20% purity — a technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%.

President Joe Biden, who took office in January, has said he’s willing to re-enter the nuclear deal. Countries began negotiations in Vienna last week seeking to find a way forward. Israel, which under Netanyahu has vowed not to see the deal revived, is widely suspected of recently stepping up a shadow campaign targeting Iran.

___

NUCLEAR TERRORISM

With the sabotage of Natanz on Sunday, the head of Iran’s civilian nuclear program described it as “nuclear terrorism.” But it marked merely the latest attack targeting the Iranian program.

Natanz found itself first targeted by a major cyberattack in the late 2000s. Called Stuxnet, the virus attacked control units for centrifuges at Natanz, causing the sensitive devices to spin out of control and destroy themselves. Experts widely attribute the attack to America and Israel, as does Iran.

Another sabotage attack targeted Natanz in July. An explosion ripped apart an advanced centrifuge assembly plant at the site. Afterward, Iran said it would rebuild the site deep inside a nearby mountain. Satellite photos show that work continues. Suspicion widely fell on Israel for the blast as well.

Then there have been a series of assassinations targeting Iranian nuclear scientists over the last decade. The killings involved bombings and shootings. The most-recent killing saw the scientist who founded Iran’s military nuclear program decades ago shot in November by what authorities have described as a remote-controlled machine gun that later exploded. Iran blames Israel for those slayings as well.

___

SINGING AMONG THE CENTRIFUGES

The extent of the damage to Natanz remains unclear at the moment. Iran has yet to broadcast any images of the facility on state television, though an official said first-generation centrifuges had been damaged. It’s unclear if any of the damage will be able to be seen from the air as its centrifuge halls are all underground. NASA fire satellites detected no visible blasts at the facility either Saturday or Sunday.

The longterm effects on Iran’s atomic program as a whole also remain unclear. If the attack halts centrifuges at Natanz, they still spin at Fordo. Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, vowed Sunday to keep advancing the country’s nuclear technology.

The sabotage comes at a sensitive time for outgoing President Hassan Rouhani, whose administration is trying to claw back its signature diplomatic achievement through the Vienna talks. Term-limited from seeking office again, the relative-moderate Rouhani will bow out to whoever wins Iran’s upcoming June presidential election.

If Iran can’t regain the benefits of the deal, it could boost hard-liners within the Islamic Republic. Already, some media outlets demanded Monday for Rouhani to pull out of the Vienna negotiations.

The Natanz sabotage also further links Iran’s nuclear program to the propaganda aired by state television urging the country to resist outside pressure. Before the sabotage, state TV aired a segment showing men in white lab coats singing among Natanz’s silver centrifuges, some holding pictures of the scientists slain in the earlier assassinations.

“We are proud and victorious in science,” the men sang. “We believe in ourselves and don’t pin hopes to foreigners.”

The singers likely weren’t nuclear scientists, however. Iran since the killing has carefully blurred their images, worried about them being targeted again.

___

Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.