The Iranian Horn Goes Underground

Iran building underground nuclear facility: UN watchdog

by Agencies , (Last Updated 2 days ago)

BERLIN: Inspectors from the UN’s atomic watchdog have confirmed Iran has started building an underground centrifuge assembly plant after its previous one exploded in what Tehran called a sabotage attack over the summer, the agency’s head told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Iran also continues to stockpile greater amounts of low-enriched uranium, but does not appear to possess enough to produce a weapon, Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the AP in an interview in Berlin.

Following the July explosion at the Natanz nuclear site, Tehran said it would build a new, more secure, structure in the mountains around the area. Satellite pictures of Natanz analyzed by experts have yet to show any obvious signs of excavation at the site in Iran’s central Isfahan province.

“They have started, but it’s not completed,” Grossi said. “It’s a long process.”

He would not give further details, saying it’s “confidential information.” Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s nuclear department, last month told state television the destroyed above-ground facility was being replaced with one “in the heart of the mountains around Natanz.”

Natanz hosts the country’s main uranium enrichment facility. In its long underground halls, centrifuges rapidly spin uranium hexafluoride gas to enrich uranium.

Natanz became a flashpoint for Western fears about Iran’s nuclear program in 2002, when satellite photos showed Iran building an underground facility at the site, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of the capital, Tehran. In 2003, the IAEA visited Natanz, which Iran said would house centrifuges for its nuclear program, buried under some 7.6 meters (25 feet) of concrete. That offers protection from potential airstrikes on the site, which also is guarded by anti-aircraft positions.

Natanz had been targeted by the Stuxnet computer virus previously, which was believed to be a creation of the US and Israel. Iran has yet to say who it suspects of carrying out the sabotage in the July incident. Suspicion has fallen on Israel as well, despite a claim of responsibility by a previously unheard-of group at the time.

Under the provisions of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran is allowed to produce a certain amount of enriched uranium for non-military purposes.

In return, Iran was offered economic incentives by the countries involved.

Since President Donald Trump pulled the US unilaterally out of the deal in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions, however, the other signatories — Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — have been struggling to keep the deal alive.

Meanwhile, Iran has been steadily exceeding the deal’s limits on how much uranium it can stockpile, the purity to which it can enrich uranium and other restrictions to pressure those countries to come up with a plan to offset US sanctions.

Still though, Iran has continued to allow IAEA inspectors full access to its nuclear facilities, including Natanz, Grossi said.

In the latest IAEA quarterly report, the agency reported Iran as of Aug. 25 had stockpiled 2,105.4 kilograms (4,641.6 pounds) of low-enriched uranium, well above the 202.8 kilograms (447.1 pounds) allowed under the JCPOA. It was also enriching uranium to a purity of 4.5%, higher than the 3.67% allowed under the deal.

In the next report, due in the coming weeks, Grossi said: “We continue to see the same trend that we have seen so far.”

According to a widely cited analysis by the Washington-based Arms Control Association, Iran would need roughly 1,050 kilograms (1.16 tons) of low-enriched uranium — under 5% purity — in gas form and would then need to enrich it further to weapons-grade, or more than 90% purity, to make a nuclear weapon.

The IAEA’s current assessment is, however, that Iran does not at the moment possess a “significant quantity” of uranium — defined by the agency as enough to produce a bomb — according to Grossi.

“At the moment, I’m not in contact with my inspectors, but by memory, I wouldn’t say so,” he said.

“All of these are projections and the IAEA is not into speculation” he added. “What may happen? What could happen? We are inspectors, we say the amounts that we see.”

Iran insists it has no interest in producing a bomb, and Grossi noted that before the JCPOA, Iran had enriched its uranium up to 20% purity, which is just a short technical step away from the weapons-grade level of 90%. And in 2013, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium was already more than 7,000 kilograms (7.72 tons) with higher enrichment, but it didn’t pursue a bomb.

“The idea of a ‘significant quantity’ is a technical parameter … that applies in the context of the safeguards agreement to indicate amounts which could be theoretically used for the development of a nuclear weapon,” he said.

“The fact that there could be such an amount would not indicate automatically that a nuclear weapon is being fabricated, so I think we have to be very careful when we use these terms.”

Grossi personally visited Tehran in late August for meetings with top officials and managed to break a months-long impasse over two locations thought to be from the early 2000s where Iran was suspected of having stored or used undeclared nuclear material and possibly conducted nuclear-related activities.

Inspectors have now taken samples from both of those sites, and Grossi said they are still undergoing lab analysis.

“It was a constructive solution to a problem what we were having,” he said. “And I would say since then we have kept the good level of cooperation in the sense that our inspectors are regularly present and visiting the sites.”

Indian Point is NOT radiologically ready for the Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

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With Indian Point, are you radiologically ready?
By Thomas Slater Emergency Preparedness Coordinator
August 23rd, 2018 | NewsNews and Features
Just as there are plans in place for dealing with natural emergencies such as tropical and winter storms, readiness plans are developed for man-made emergencies, which includes radiological hazards.
Nuclear power plants operate in most states in the country and produce about 20 percent of the nation’s power.
Nearly three million people live within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone of an operating nuclear power plant, including West Point, which is situated between 7-to-9 miles from the Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC) in Buchanan of Westchester County.
Although the construction and operation of nuclear power plants are closely monitored and regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, incidents at these plants are possible—and planned for.
If an accident at IPEC were to result in the potential or actual release of radiation, warning sirens in the area would be activated. Commercial and West Point media sources would broadcast Emergency Alert System  messages to advise you on protective measures.
Depending upon the scope and scale of the emergency, protective actions may include “shelter-in-place” or “evacuation” advisories. As radioactive materials rapidly decay and dissipate with distance, the most likely scenario for West Point personnel would be to take shelter rather than trying to evacuate.
If you are instructed to shelter-in-place, the following steps will keep you and your family safe during the emergency.
• Shelter. Go inside your home or the nearest building; choose an inside room with as few windows or doors as possible.
• Shut. Shut and lock all windows and doors to create a better seal; turn off heating or cooling ventilation systems. If at home, make sure the fireplace damper and all ventilation fans are closed.
• Listen. Local officials are your best source of information. If in an office, monitor your computer, television and phones; if at home, listen to your radio or television until you are told it is safe to leave the shelter or to evacuate.
For more details, consult the Orange County Indian Point Emergency Guide, available at https://www.orangecountygov.com/DocumentCenter/View/2368/Indian-Point-Orange-Emergency-Guide-PDF, or call the West Point Emergency Manager at 845-938-7092.
Readiness, through education and preparation, is the best defense. Are you radiological ready?

Pestilence and plague comes soaring back: Revelation 16

‘The next wave has started.’ Capital Region braces as COVID-19 numbers grow

ALBANY — A second wave of coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths is well on its way in the Capital Region. But will it be as bad as the first?

If there’s one thing public health experts and hospital leaders don’t like to do, it’s predict the future — especially when so much of it hangs on the behavior of a weary public and a virus we still don’t know enough about. But they have expressed hope that vigilance on the part of the public, combined with the region’s greatly expanded testing and tracing capabilities, will help shield us from the worst of what could come.

“I feel hopeful, frankly, about the next few months based on how we’ve responded to surges this past month,” said Eli Rosenberg, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University at Albany’s School of Public Health. “I think it’s truly about testing. In March, the virus took off on this scary exponential slope. Suddenly it was this runaway thing and it was so mysterious. Now that it’s less mysterious, now that we have testing and we have tracing, we can react in an intelligent way.”

Signs of a second wave

By nearly every single metric the Capital Region is headed into a second wave.

New daily cases across eight local counties have increased noticeably, coming just 17 cases shy recently of the region’s spring peak of 147 new cases recorded May 1, a Times Union analysis of local county data reveals. The region has topped 100 new daily cases only four times this year — three of which occurred this month.

The five-day rolling average of new daily cases in the region — a more forgiving metric that takes sporadic jumps and anomalies into account — reached its highest point since spring on Monday, with 78 average cases. That average peaked at 117 on May 2, and bottomed out at just 13 on June 17.

The percentage of positive tests performed on residents in the region has also climbed, from 0.5 on Sept. 26 to 1.3 on Oct. 26, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard. This metric can be a less reliable indicator, however, depending on testing capacity at any given time, as well as whether repeat testing of essential workers is taking place.

Most concerning to local officials is the recent rise in hospitalizations. Daily hospitalizations in the region have increased more than 400 percent over the past month alone, from 15 on Sept. 27 to 80 on Oct. 27, according to figures published by the state. Leaders from Capital Region hospitals gathered at Albany Medical Center on Wednesday to warn of the increase, and to urge the public to get vaccinated against flu and remain vigilant about mask use, distancing and hand hygiene.

“It seems as though for us, the next wave has started,” said Dr. Fred Venditti, hospital general director for Albany Medical Center.

There is a glimmer of good news. Venditti and other hospital officials say that while cases are rising, their severity is decreasing.

“What’s interesting is we’re seeing a very, very different outcome for patients being hospitalized now than we did in the spring,” Dr. Steven Hanks, chief clinical officer for St. Peter’s Health Partners, told the Times Union. “The mortality rate seems to be much lower. The number of hospitalized patients who go to the ICU is down compared with spring. The number of patients needing to be ventilated is down compared with spring. And the number of patients who are dying with COVID-19 who are hospitalized is down compared with spring.”

The reasons for this remain unclear, though officials have a few ideas. Doctors have learned when and in what combination to administer therapies to patients to produce the best outcomes, Hanks and Venditti said. There’s also a theory circulating that mask use may be shielding people who are exposed to the virus to smaller viral doses than they would have been otherwise.

“That’s all conjecture,” Hanks said. “But these are all things we’re giving consideration to, including possibly just changes in the virus as the virus mutates in the wild. So that’s the good news part of the story. The bad news is the virus continues to spread.”

While mortality appears to be falling, deaths have picked up pace in recent weeks. The region saw a wave of deaths in the first three months of the pandemic, and then sporadically over the summer. Some counties went months without seeing any. In recent weeks, however, those streaks have ended. As of Tuesday, at least 360 residents of the eight-county Capital Region were known to have died from the virus.

‘COVID fatigue is real’

From the beginning, public health experts and epidemiologists worldwide warned that much like the 1918 Spanish Flu, the coronavirus pandemic would occur in waves — hitting hard in the cold months and dying down in the summer. That has generally been true for New York and the Capital Region, though the United States experienced a second wave outside of the Northeast this summer and is now entering its third wave.

Part of the reason is that viruses just have an easier time circulating on dry, cold air. Another reason is that people tend to spend more time indoors when the weather gets cold, and virus from an infected person has fewer places to escape.

Unfortunately, officials fear a confluence of other factors will cause a surge this winter. People are exhausted by the stress and isolation the pandemic has caused, and a sort of “COVID fatigue” has set in that is leading to increased socialization and decreased vigilance, public health officials say.

“COVID fatigue is real,” Rosenberg said. “It’s fatigue at multiple levels — individuals letting their guard down, visiting family more, as the cold season approaches thinking, ‘Oh, I can’t eat outdoors at the restaurants I’ll just try indoors a few times.’ All of that is real.”

While they may have been able to count on people staying away from loved ones in the spring when the virus was new and lockdowns were novel, officials are now worried that the impending holiday season and return of college students from possible hot spots is going to fuel a new surge of cases at the worst possible time.

Albany County Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen said people were already associating the reopening of schools and businesses as a green light for pre-pandemic behaviors.

“People were taking that to mean they could be doing other things, like attending parties and socializing in groups and maybe letting their guard down in terms of wearing masks and keeping distance socially and avoiding large gatherings,” she said. “But those latter three strategies are more important than ever and what people need to understand is the ability for us to keep businesses functioning and schools open are entirely contingent on those behaviors.”

Whalen and other health officials who spoke to the Times Union agreed that people should try and avoid holiday gatherings with family and friends outside of their immediate household this year.

“I know it’s difficult,” she said. “But I think this is a different year and I think people need to take that into consideration in their planning. Because the last thing we want is for families to be brought together for a holiday that’s supposed to be about celebrating the things that we’re thankful for and for that to result in a case or sickness of a loved one.

Preparing for round two

While local health officials are hopeful a second wave won’t be as big as the first, they are preparing for possible contingencies in the coming months.

Hospital leaders on Wednesday urged the public to fight the fatigue and stay vigilant about basic precautions such as hand washing and masking while out in public. They also urged people to get vaccinated against influenza — a move that will help divert people from the hospital at a time when COVID-19 is surging. Local hospitals also announced that they will be mandating all staff, including those at private physician practices, to get vaccinated for flu, with exemptions for medical and religious reasons. That should impact roughly 35,000 health care workers in the region, they said.

“We don’t know where that curve is going to go,” said Dr. David Liebers, an infectious disease specialist at Ellis Medicine. “The more we do proactively, the better. It may be a tough winter but we can make it a better winter with sticking to everything we’ve been doing so far.”

Venditti noted that Albany Med spent the summer looking through its emergency response plan and adjusting where appropriate. Surge plans that hospitals developed in the spring remain on file with the state. And hospitals have built up a 90-day supply of PPE as mandated by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. They’ve also begun disinfecting single-use PPE for re-use — a practice used back in the spring to conserve supplies but which nurses have protested, arguing it puts them at risk.

“We’re definitely trying to be cautious with our use of PPE,” Venditti said. “Having said that, we are only doing what’s been sanctioned by the (Centers for Disease Control) or the Department of Health in terms of re-use … we’re trying to be careful anticipating that two months down the road, a month down the road, we could be in a different circumstance with limited supplies.”

As 2020 comes to a close, hospitals have also filed applications with the state to administer any COVID-19 vaccines that are expected to hit the market for essential workers in January 2021 and the rest of the population by spring.

Until then, individuals have an important role to play in keeping their communities safe, Whalen said.

“If people aren’t compliant and if people keep acting like it’s either a hoax or it doesn’t exist or they don’t like to wear masks, you know, yeah, we could be heading for (another shutdown),” she said. “I sincerely hope that doesn’t come to pass.”

The US-Israeli Plot against Iran WILL FAIL

US-Israeli Plot against Iran Doomed to Failure: Official

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaei denounced the American-Israeli plot to counter Iran through normalization of ties between the Zionist regime and some Arab governments as a nonstarter.

Tasnim News Agency

Addressing an international conference on the decline of the US, held in the former American embassy in Tehran on Tuesday, Rezaei enumerated the signs of waning US power in various arenas, saying, “The recent plot initiated by the US and Israel to unite the Arabs and Israel against Iran will also end in failure.”

The decline of the US government is a significant issue, because the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran presented the region and the world with new ideas in defiance of the Western and American civilization and culture, he added.

The US economy, which shapes the pillar of American power, is lagging behind other emerging economies, Rezaei noted, saying Washington cannot afford to support the oppressing forces outside the US anymore.

Highlighting a steep decline in the US military power under the rule of both Republicans and Democrats, the Iranian official said the American defeats in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria have sapped Washington’s defense power.

“The US has lost its leadership in many parts of the world, while alternative models such as the Saudi-led proxy wars on Yemen have also gone nowhere,” he underlined.

Rezaei also said that Iran should seize the opportunity provided by the decline of the US to make progress and take advantage of new sciences.

In comments in November 2018, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei highlighted the diminishing influence of the US government in all areas of power, saying Washington has even discredited “liberal democracy” which is known as the basis of Western civilization.

There is a consensus among major international experts that the US power is dwindling in all areas, the Leader underscored, adding that, conversely, the Iranian nation is moving forward and has a bright future.

Ayatollah Khamenei also branded the US government as the loser of confrontation with the Islamic Republic over the past 40 years, saying the fact in confrontation between the US and Iran is that “the victorious side in this challenge has been the Islamic Republic of Iran and the loser has been the US.”

More protests against Macron outside the temple walls

Israel Embassy in France decries ‘anti-French acts’ of Palestinians in Gaza

The Israeli Embassy in France condemned Monday the “anti-French acts” and protesters who burned photos of French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday night in Gaza.

“We wholeheartedly condemn the anti-French acts and the burning of photos of President Emmanuel Macron by Palestinian activists in the Gaza Strip. Especially when this occurs with the tacit encouragement of Hamas,” the embassy tweeted.

Follow Israel Hayom on Facebook and Twitter 

In the city Khan Younes in the Gaza Strip, a handful of demonstrators burned photos of Emmanuel Macron and called for the defense of the prophet and of Islam, according to witnesses.

The Iranian horn continues to expand: Daniel 8

Rafael Grossi, director-general of the IAEA, talked to the AP news agency in Berlin [Markus Schreiber/AP]

Iran starts building underground nuclear facility: IAEA | Middle East | Al Jazeera

UN’s atomic watchdog confirms Iran has started building an underground centrifuge assembly plant.

Inspectors from the United Nations’ atomic watchdog have confirmed Iran has started building an underground centrifuge assembly plant after its previous one exploded in what Tehran called a sabotage attack, according to the agency’s head.

Iran also continues to stockpile greater amounts of low-enriched uranium, but does not appear to possess enough to produce a weapon, Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told The Associated Press on Tuesday in an interview in Berlin.

Following the July explosion at the Natanz nuclear site, Tehran said it would build a new, more secure, structure in the mountains around the area.

Satellite images of Natanz analysed by experts have yet to show any obvious signs of construction at the site in Iran’s central Isfahan province.

“They have started, but it’s not completed,” Grossi said. “It’s a long process.”

He would not give further details saying it’s “confidential information”. Iran’s mission to the UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Flashpoint for Western fears

Natanz hosts the country’s main uranium enrichment facility. In its long underground halls, centrifuges rapidly spin uranium hexafluoride gas to enrich uranium.

Natanz became a flashpoint for Western fears about Iran’s nuclear programme in 2002, when satellite photos showed Iran building an underground facility at the site, about 200km (125 miles) south of the capital, Tehran.

In 2003, the IAEA visited Natanz, which Iran said would house centrifuges for its nuclear programme, buried under about 7.6 metres (25 feet) of concrete. That offers protection from a potential air attack on the site, which also is guarded by anti-aircraft positions.

Natanz had been targeted by the Stuxnet computer virus previously, which is believed to be a creation of the United States and Israel.

Iran has yet to say who it suspects of carrying out the sabotage in the July incident. Suspicion has fallen on Israel, despite a claim of responsibility by a previously unheard-of group at the time.

Under provisions of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, Iran is allowed to produce a certain amount of enriched uranium for non-military purposes but receives strict inspections to ensure it is not developing weapons.

In return, Iran was offered economic incentives by the countries involved and significant sanctions relief.

Since President Donald Trump pulled the US unilaterally out of the deal in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions, the other signatories – Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and China – have struggled to keep the deal alive.

Meanwhile, Iran has been steadily exceeding the deal’s limits on how much uranium it can stockpile, the purity to which it can enrich uranium, and other restrictions to pressure those countries to come up with a plan to offset US sanctions.

Still though, Iran has continued to allow IAEA inspectors full access to its nuclear facilities, including Natanz, Grossi said.

In the latest IAEA quarterly report, the agency reported as of August 25 Iran had stockpiled 2,105.4kg (4,641.6 pounds) of low-enriched uranium, well above the 202.8kg (447.1 pounds) allowed under the nuclear deal.

It was also enriching uranium to a purity of 4.5 percent, higher than the 3.67 percent allowed under the accord.

In the next report, due in coming weeks, Grossi said: “We continue to see the same trend that we have seen so far.”

‘Significant quantity’

According to a widely cited analysis by the Washington-based Arms Control Association, Iran would need about 1,050kg (1.16 tonnes) of low-enriched uranium – under 5 percent purity – in gas form and would then need to enrich it further to weapons-grade, or more than 90 percent purity, to make a nuclear weapon.

The IAEA’s current assessment is, however, that Iran does not at the moment possess a “significant quantity” of uranium – defined by the agency as enough to produce a bomb – according to Grossi.

“At the moment, I’m not in contact with my inspectors but by memory, I wouldn’t say so,” he said.

“All of these are projections and the IAEA is not into speculation,” he added. “What may happen? What could happen? We are inspectors, we say the amounts that we see.”

Iran insists it has no interest in producing a bomb and Grossi noted before the nuclear agreement, Tehran enriched its uranium up to 20 percent purity, which is just a short technical step away from the weapons-grade level of 90 percent. And in 2013, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium was already more than 7,000kg (7.72 tonnes) with higher enrichment, but it did not pursue a bomb.

“The idea of a ‘significant quantity’ is a technical parameter … that applies in the context of the safeguards agreement to indicate amounts which could be theoretically used for the development of a nuclear weapon,” he said.

“The fact that there could be such an amount would not indicate automatically that a nuclear weapon is being fabricated, so I think we have to be very careful when we use these terms.”

Grossi personally visited Tehran in late August for meetings with top officials and managed to break a months-long impasse over two locations thought to be from the early 2000s where Iran was suspected of having stored or used undeclared nuclear material and possibly conducted nuclear-related activities.

Inspectors have now taken samples from both of those sites, and Grossi said they are still undergoing lab analysis.

“It was a constructive solution to a problem what we were having,” he said. “And I would say since then we have kept the good level of cooperation in the sense that our inspectors are regularly present and visiting the sites.”

Source : AP

How Israel is Striking the Shi’a Horn

Covert strikes against Iran recount Israeli campaign against Iraq

Ted SniderOctober 27, 2020

A handout image supplied by the IIPA (Iran International Photo Agency) shows a view of the reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant as the first fuel is loaded, on August 21, 2010 in Bushehr, southern Iran. (Photo: IIPA/Getty Images)

The country had become an existential threat. It was ruled by a megalomaniac who wanted Israel eliminated. And now he wanted a nuclear bomb. 

The leader claimed his nuclear program was purely a civilian program, but Israel knew that was not true. So, it set the program back. Israel undertook covert assassinations of nuclear scientists. And, when that did not work, it blew up a nuclear facility.

But the country wasn’t Iran. This was Iraq under Saddam Hussein who came to power in 1979 and ruled for 24 years. To challenge the nuclear program, Israel used assassinations, sabotage and targeted strikes in Iraq, a signature that is today found in Iran. 

Over the summer, an explosion obliterated the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility in central Iran. Early sources placed responsibility for the July 3, 2020 strike on Israel, although responsibility is unconfirmed. Subsequent reporting, including by The New York Times, continued to lay the blame on Israel. Making the case stronger, former Israeli defense minister Avigdor Liberman, on July 6, named the Middle Eastern intelligence source who leaked Israel’s role as Mossad chief Yossi Cohen.

Yet Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz denied the allegation, saying “Not every incident that transpires in Iran necessarily has something to do with us. … All those systems are complex, they have very high safety constraints and I’m not sure they always know how to maintain them.” Leaving aside Gantz’ humor, the explosion was not the result of an accident.

BBC reporter Jiyar Gol said he received an email from an unknown group called the Homeland Cheetahs that claimed responsibility for an attack on the Natanz nuclear site two hours earlier. It was only several hours later that Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization announced that there had been an explosion at the Natanz nuclear plant. The group is likely not real, but the email shows that someone knew about the act of sabotage long before it happened.

An unnamed Middle Eastern security official told the Washington Post, “There was an opportunity, and someone in Israel calculated the risk and took the opportunity.”

Looking back to Israel’s intervention in Iraq offers insights into the more current spat of bombings. By 1973, Iraq’s nuclear program began under then Prime Minister Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, although by 1973 Saddam was fully in charge and al-Bakr was a figurehead only. Israel responded by establishing a team called New Era whose job was to frustrate Iraq’s plan to acquire nuclear weapons. One of the first strategies they tried was assassinating nuclear scientists who were key to the program.

Israeli historian Ronen Bergman reported in “Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations,” on April 6, 1979 operatives from Mossad’s especially clandestine Bayonet unit blew up a hangar in France. It housed machines that formed a part of the nuclear reactor France was selling to Iraq. The explosion set back the Iraqi nuclear program.

According to Bergman the switch to target assassinations began with Yehia al-Mashad, an Egyptian nuclear physicist who was hired as a senior scientist in Iraq’s nuclear program. Allegedly, the Mossad began to follow him in early 1980, tracking him for about four months. Then they allegedly killed him in a French hotel by cracking his head with a large, heavy ashtray.

Six months later, the Mossad allegedly checked off the second name on its list: Abd al-Rahman Rasoul. Rasoul was a civil engineer in charge of the construction of buildings for the nuclear project. He was shot to death but a postmortem found a strange virus in his system. He reported feeling like he had food poisoning. In a way, he did. The next to die was Salman Rashid al-Lami. Al-Lami was an engineer who was training to enrich uranium in Geneva. But Switzerland was no safer than France for an Iraqi nuclear scientist. He was killed by a mysterious virus.

Three down.

The assassination program did not stop Saddam. Slain scientists were replaced by new scientists, and the program went on. After a year of extra-judicial killings, the Mossad knew their plan wasn’t working. Assassinations yielded to bombs.

On June 7, 1981, 14 Israeli aircraft took off and headed into Iraqi airspace in an illegal act of war. They dropped bomb after bomb on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor, utterly obliterating it. 

Three decades later, the pattern would repeat itself. 

Almost exactly 30 years after Yehia al-Mashad, the Mossad allegedly detonated a remote controlled bomb planted on a motorcycle next to the car of Massoud Ali Mohammadi. The bomb killed the Iranian physicist. Ten Iranians who were accused of working for the Mossad were arrested. One of them, Jamali Fashi, said in a confession that aired on Iranian state TV and cannot be independently verified, he was given a computer by the Mossad in general and instructions to assassinate Ali Mohammadi. Fashi was convicted and hung in 2012.

In November 2010, a motorcycle was again used to kill Majid Shahriyari. Motorcycle riders attached a magnetized bomb to his car. The future head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Association, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, escaped being killed in the same way on the same day when he jumped out of his car.

In the fourth assassination attempt with a motorcycle, the Iranian physicist and nuclear scientist Darioush Rezainejad was killed when two gunmen on motorcycles shot him. Rezainejad played a key role in Iran’s nuclear program. A source in Israel’s intelligence community told Germany’s Der Spiegal that Mossad was behind the assassination of Rezainejad.

Again employing a motorcycle and a magnetized bomb, this time placed on the roof of the car, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a scientist involved in purchasing equipment for Iran’s nuclear program, was assassinated on January 11, 2012. Thirteen were arrested two weeks later on suspicion of working for Israel.

In November 2011, Major General Hassan Moqqadam, a pioneer in Iranian missile development, was killed in a massive explosion at a military arms depot that houses Iran’s long-range Shahab missiles. That was the second time there had been an explosion at a Shahab missile base. Time magazine revealed that a western intelligence source said that he assumes Mossad was behind the explosion.

Two senior officials in the Obama administration told NBC news that the assassinations were carried out by the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), an Iranian opposition group that spent many years on America’s terrorist list. They also alleged that the MEK was “financed, trained, and armed” by Israeli intelligence. 

In Iran, as in Iraq before it, assassinations proved insufficient to kill the nuclear program. But history has shown us, the pattern of extra-judicial killings and covert strikes will endure. 

Iran Slams Macron for the Truth

Tehran slams France’s Macron over Islamophobic remarks

TEHRAN – Iran has strongly criticized French President Emanuel Macron over his anti-Islam stance after Macron described Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide.

“#Macron’s irrational behavior in public #AntiIslamism shows his crudeness in politics, otherwise he would not have dared to embrace Islam in his quest for leadership in #Europe,” Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), wrote in a tweet on Monday.

“I suggest that he read more history and not rejoice in the support of a declining America & #Zionism,” Shamkhani added.

Earlier this month, Macron pledged to fight “Islamist separatism”, which he said was threatening to take control in some Muslim communities around France.

“In extremism the bodies of people are targeted and in insult their souls,” Velayati says.

His comments, along with his backing of satirical outlets publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), has led to a social media campaign calling for the boycott of French products from supermarkets in Arab countries and Turkey.

Hashtags such as the #BoycottFrenchProducts in English and the Arabic #NeverTheProphet trended across countries including Kuwait, Qatar, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

“Muslims and monotheists of the world condemn in the strongest form the blatant enmity of the foolish and stubborn leaders of France toward the prophet of mercy (PBUH) unanimously,” Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf tweeted on Monday.

Ghalibaf added that such wickedness shows the French leaders’ enmity toward all the heavenly religions.

On Friday, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned what it said was France’s continued attack against Muslims by insulting religious symbols.

The secretariat of the Jeddah-based organization said in a statement it is surprised at the official political rhetoric issued by some French officials that offend French-Islamic relations and fuels feelings of hatred for political party gains.

Velayati calls extremism and offending the prophet two sides of the same coin

Ali Akbar Velayati, a top foreign policy adviser to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, said extremism and offending the prophet are two sides of the same coin which the international Zionism and the global arrogance have adopted against Islam.

“In extremism the bodies of people are targeted and in insult their souls,” Velayati said, criticizing the French government’s pretext of freedom of expression to foment hatred between people.

The veteran politician also called on all Muslims across the world to be vigilant in the face of such conspiracies against Islam.

France has for long tried to impose its own secular culture on its Muslim population, but this has disastrously backfired.

With this regard, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that the West’s imposition of its culture on others is a form of “silent violence”, saying that terrorist groups such as Daesh are the result of such cultural invasion.

“I do not deny the importance and value of cultural interaction,” Ayatollah Khamenei wrote in an open letter to the youth in Western countries after the November 2015 attacks in France.

“Whenever these interactions are conducted in natural circumstances and with respect for the receiving culture, they result in growth, development and richness. On the contrary, inharmonious interactions have been unsuccessful and harmful impositions,” Ayatollah Khamenei stated.

“Vile groups such as Daesh are the spawn of such ill-fated pairings with imported cultures,” he added.

Ayatollah Khamenei maintained that if the issue of terrorism was simply theological, “we would have had to witness such phenomena before the colonialist era, yet history shows the contrary.”

“Historical records clearly show how colonialist confluence of extremist and rejected thoughts in the heart of a Bedouin tribe, planted the seed of extremism in this region,” he said.

“How then is it possible that such garbage as Daesh comes out of one of the most ethical and humane religious schools which as part of its inner core, includes the notion that taking the life of one human being is equivalent to killing the whole of humanity?” Ayatollah Khamenei noted.

The Clout of the Antichrist’s Men Grows

One year after Iraqi protests, pro-Iran militias’ clout is growing | Hammam Latif | AW

BAGHDAD – An Iraqi politician opposed to Iran’s presence in his country spoke of how hard it will be for the popular protests, which have returned to public squares in Baghdad and other provinces, to achieve what he referred to as liberating “kidnapped Iraq” from its Iranian abductors.

Popular protests demanding the restoration of Iraq’s sovereignty  have returned to Iraqi streets on the first anniversary of the largest wave of protests that erupted in various parts of Iraq on October 25 last year.

In this context, the Iraqi politician told The Arab Weekly that “the kidnapped will eventually be freed from the kidnapper, but I do not expect that the current uprising will be able to do that just now. It will be the blood already spilled and which is going to be spilled in the future that will pave the way for the next wave of anger that will free the kidnapped from the kidnapper’s grip.”

The politician, who heads a parliamentary bloc, wondered aloud: “When and how kidnapped Iraq will be freed” and then answered wishfully, “it won’t be long.”

On Sunday, Tahrir Square in the Iraqi capital filled up once again with demonstrators who flocked from different parts of the capital and other  provinces from the early hours of the morning. Minor skirmishes took place between protesters and security forces in two secondary sites where demonstrators had gathered, near Allawi Garage and al-Sinak Bridge in central Baghdad.

The protest sites were filled with pictures of many politicians, with an “X” mark plastered on them to mark protesters’ opposition to them continuing to be at the forefront of the Iraqi scene. Groups of students flocked to Tahrir Square, in scenes reminiscent of a year ago when thousands of youth in university uniforms marched demanding the return of their homeland.

Although the October protests toppled the government of former Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi and forced the pro-Iranian Shia political forces to let go of their traditional control over appointing the prime minister, allowing Mustafa al-Kadhimi, a non-partisan figure, to head the government, the resulting vacuum turned into an opportunity for new Iranian hegemony over Iraq, represented this time by the growing influence of militia leaders, most of which came under the banner of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF).

At some point, the October 2019 protests seemed to have forced the leaders of the pro-Iranian militias providing a safety belt for Abdul-Mahdi’s government to take one step back. This was confirmed by the emergence of Kadhimi, a person from outside the circles of the political class, which is accused of corruption, mismanagement and embezzlement of public money, as a candidate for the most important position in the country.

Although Kadhimi’s appointment raised hope for change, his experience at the helm of the government has so far proven that change in Iraq is difficult to achieve. Events during his term have revealed the scope of pro-Iranian militias’ influence and the grave dangers involving open confrontation with them.

Since the formation of the Kadhimi government last May, Iraqis have been waiting for action to be taken against the militias allied with the most corrupt leaders in order to restore the country’s sovereignty, but this has yet to happen.

The problem is that pro-Iranian militia leaders, such as Qais Khazali, leader of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, Abu Ali al-Askari, leader of the Kata’ib Hezbollah militia, Akram al-Kaabi, leader of the Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba militia and Abu al-Wala’i, leader of the militia of the Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada Brigades, have succeeded in filling the vacuum left by the departure of the traditional Shia political figures, such as Nuri al-Maliki, Muqtada al-Sadr and Ammar al-Hakim, who faded into the background ounder pressure from the October protests.

A female Iraqi demonstrator takes part in  a gathering to mark the first anniversary of the anti-government protests in Baghdad, Iraq, October 25. (REUTERS)

When Kadhimi tried to act in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the armed forces and deal militarily with the militia groups that were firing Katyusha rockets at foreign missions, airports and army camps in various parts of Iraq, Khazali advised him to “look the other way,” in a clear indication that the chief executive in Iraq must know his limits.

But Kadhimi ignored Khazali’s advice and ordered a counterterrorism force to raid a militia headquarters near Baghdad Airport used for launching Katyusha rockets, where they caught a group of militia members planning to attack the US Embassy red-handed.

This operation was an indication of Kadhimi’s defiant approach but it was a short-lived victory. In an impressive show of force, the militias threatened to liquidate the families of the officers and investigators who were dealing with the case, and the arrested individuals eventually walked free.

The whole incident was a telling example of the growing influence and power of the pro-Iranian militias and of the impossibility of dealing with them with the tools at the government’s disposal.

Those events occurred during the first few weeks of Kadhimi’s premiership, and since then all hope for profound change in Iraqi politics has gradually faded, in parallel with militias’ transformation into the most powerful representative of political Shi’ism in Iraq, supported by Iranian momentum fuelled by Tehran’s need for a violent ally in Baghdad to serve the purposes of its showdown with the United States.

Analysts believe that the current real confrontation in Baghdad is not between the demonstrators and the government, against which they are supposed to protest, but between the government and the militias that insist on keeping their weapons outside the framework of the state, threatening diplomatic missions, controlling government projects and the allocation of their related contracts and implementing demographic change projects in many regions of the country.

In the protest squares now, confusion prevails regarding the nature of the demands that the renewed protest movement must adopt.

Over the past year, it has become clear that a change from within the regime will not be the solution to Iraq’s piled up crises, making the protesters certain they were right to have demanded the end of the whole regime. All Iraqis agree that their country is under Iranian domination. Iran, for its part, has dealt with the Kadhimi government as a front to move to a new stage of its hegemony, which ushers in the rise to power of militias as a substitute for political parties.

Observers considered that the truce between the Kadhimi government and the militias reflects the prime minister and his government’s acknowledgement that they operate in one space while the militias have the right to move freely in another space, which is the state and all of its institutions. The upshot of this arrangement is that the government is effectively stripped of its ability to run the state and driven by fear of being overtly overthrown by the militias

The New Nuclear Treaty is NOT a Victory: Revelation 16

Nuclear weapons ban treaty to enter into force. But is it ‘victory for humanity’? | South China Morning Post

7:25am, 25 Oct, 2020The United Nations announced Saturday that 50 countries have ratified a UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons triggering its entry into force in 90 days, a move hailed by anti-nuclear activists but strongly opposed by the United States and the other major nuclear powers.

As of Friday, the treaty had 49 signatories, and UN officials said the 50th ratification from Honduras had been received.

“This moment has been 75 years coming since the horrific attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the founding of the UN which made nuclear disarmament a cornerstone,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition whose work helped spearhead the nuclear ban treaty. “The 50 countries that ratify this Treaty are showing true leadership in setting a new international norm that nuclear weapons are not just immoral but illegal.”

Thailand, Mexico, South Africa, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Vietnam and the Vatican are among the countries that had already ratified the treaty.

The 50th ratification came on the 75th anniversary of the ratification of the UN Charter which officially established the United Nations and is celebrated as UN Day.

“Today is a victory for humanity, and a promise of a safer future,” Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said in a statement.

The United States had written to treaty signatories saying the Trump administration believes they made “a strategic error” and urging them to rescind their ratification.

New North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles. Photo: AFP

The US letter said the five original nuclear powers – the US, Russia, China, Britain and France – and America’s Nato allies “stand unified in our opposition to the potential repercussions” of the treaty.

It says the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, known as the TPNW, “turns back the clock on verification and disarmament and is dangerous” to the half-century-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, considered the cornerstone of global non-proliferation efforts.

“The TPNW is and will remain divisive in the international community and risk further entrenching divisions in existing non-proliferation and disarmament fora that offer the only realistic prospect for consensus-based progress,” the letter said. “It would be unfortunate if the TPNW were allowed to derail our ability to work together to address pressing proliferation.”

Threat of nuclear conflict hangs over 75th anniversary of Nagasaki attack

Fihn has stressed that “the non-proliferation Treaty is about preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and eliminating nuclear weapons, and this treaty implements that. There’s no way you can undermine the Nonproliferation Treaty by banning nuclear weapons. It’s the end goal of the Nonproliferation Treaty.”

The NPT sought to prevent the spread of nuclear arms beyond the five original weapons powers. It requires non-nuclear signatory nations to not pursue atomic weapons in exchange for a commitment by the five powers to move toward nuclear disarmament and to guarantee non-nuclear states’ access to peaceful nuclear technology for producing energy.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has supported the nuclear weapons ban treaty, calling it “a very welcome initiative”.

“It is clear for me that we will only be entirely safe in relation to nuclear weapons the day where nuclear weapons no longer exist,” he said. “We know that it’s not easy. We know that there are many obstacles.”

He expressed hope that a number of important initiatives, including US-Russia talks on renewing the New Start Treaty limiting deployed nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers and next year’s review conference of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, “will all converge in the same direction, and the final objective must be to have a world with no nuclear weapons”.

The treaty was approved by the 193-member UN General Assembly on July 7, 2017 by a vote of 122 in favour, the Netherlands opposed, and Singapore abstaining. Among countries voting in favour was Iran. The five nuclear powers and four other countries known or believed to possess nuclear weapons – India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel – boycotted negotiations and the vote on the treaty, along with many of their allies.

Beatrice Fihn (right) and Setsuko Thurlow accept the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. File photo: AFP

Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima, who has been an ardent campaigner for the treaty, said: “When I learned that we reached our 50th ratification, I was not able to stand.”

“I remained in my chair and put my head in my hands and I cried tears of joy,” she said in a statement. “I have committed my life to the abolition of nuclear weapons. I have nothing but gratitude for all who have worked for the success of our treaty.”