Iran’s Khamenei defines Iran’s goal of ‘wiping out Israel’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

‘Not anti-Semitic’: Khamenei defines Iran’s goal of ‘wiping out Israel’

Belying Tehran’s relentless threats to ensure ‘nothing left’ of Jewish state, ‘raze’ Tel Aviv and Haifa, leader says aim is to abolish ‘regime,’ get rid of ‘thugs’ like Netanyahu

In this picture released by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting with thousands of students in Tehran, Iran, November 3, 2019. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

In this picture released by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting with thousands of students in Tehran, Iran, November 3, 2019. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

When Iran speaks of wiping Israel off the map, it doesn’t mean the mass slaughter of the country’s Jews but rather eliminating the Jewish state’s “imposed regime,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Friday.

“The disappearance of Israel does not mean the disappearance of the Jewish people, because we have nothing against [Jews],” Khamenei said, speaking alongside senior Iranian officials at the so-called 33rd International Islamic Unity Conference.

“Wiping out Israel means that the Palestinian people, including Muslims, Christians and Jews, should be able to determine their fate and get rid of thugs such as [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu,” Khamenei continued, according to Iranian media.

Khamenei further argued that “had the Islamic world been committed to unity, there would have been no tragedy in Palestine.” He lamented that Muslims couldn’t even adhere to what he called the lowest level of unity — non-aggression between Muslims.

“We are not anti-Semitic. Jews are living in utmost safety in our country. We only support the people of Palestine and their independence,” he said.

“Our position on the case of Palestine is definitive,” he said. “Early after the victory of the [1979 Islamic] revolution, the Islamic Republic gave the Zionists’ center in Tehran to the Palestinians. We helped the Palestinians, and we will continue to do so. The entire Muslim world should do so.”

A Shahab-3 surface-to-surface missile is on display next to a portrait of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at an exhibition by Iran’s army and paramilitary Revolutionary Guard celebrating “Sacred Defense Week” marking the 39th anniversary of the start of 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, at Baharestan Square in downtown Tehran, Iran, September 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iran regularly threatens to annihilate Israel, viewing the country as a powerful enemy allied with the United States and Sunni countries in the region against Tehran and its nuclear ambitions.

Contrary to Khamenei’s claims, those threats commonly refer to the physical destruction of Israeli cities, rather than of just the regime.

In September, Abbas Nilforoushan, the deputy commander of operations of the IRGC, threatened that if Israel attacks Iran, it will have to collect “bits and pieces of Tel Aviv from the lower depths of the Mediterranean Sea.”

“Iran has encircled Israel from all four sides. Nothing will be left of Israel,” said Nilforoushan in an interview with the Iranian news agency Tasnim.

“Israel is not in a position to threaten Iran,” he said according to a translation published by Radio Farda, the Iranian branch of the US government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Iranian senior cleric Ahmad Khatami delivers his sermon during Friday prayer ceremony in Tehran, Iran, on January 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Last year, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a key leader of weekly Muslim prayers in Iran, reacted to reports that Israel viewed a war with Iran-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah as likely by saying: “If you want Haifa and Tel Aviv to be razed to the ground, you can take your chance.”

In September, the commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said that destroying Israel was now an “achievable goal.”

Four decades on from Iran’s Islamic revolution, “we have managed to obtain the capacity to destroy the impostor Zionist regime,” Major General Hossein Salami was quoted saying by the IRGC’s Sepah news site.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami speaks at Tehran’s Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense museum, during the unveiling of an exhibition of what Iran says are US and other drones captured in its territory, on September 21, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

“This sinister regime must be wiped off the map and this is no longer … a dream [but] it is an achievable goal,” Salami said.

Iran has lately been on edge, fearing an attack on the country over a drone-and-missile strike on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry in September attributed to Tehran. Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels claimed the attack, but the US and others allege Iran was behind it.

The attack in Saudi Arabia was the latest incident following the collapse of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, over a year after US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from the accord. The nuclear deal was meant to keep Tehran from building atomic weapons — something Iran denies it wants to do — in exchange for economic incentives.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a sharp critic of the nuclear deal negotiated under the administration of former US president Barack Obama, and welcomed Washington’s pull-back from the accord, urging further pressure on Iran.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Saudi Arabia Slams Iran’s Ongoing Deception over Nuclear Program

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Saudi Arabia Slams Iran’s Ongoing Deception over Nuclear Program

Tuesday, 12 November, 2019 – 12:45
King Salman bin Abdulaziz chairs a cabinet meeting in Riyadh. (SPA)
Asharq Al-Awsat
The Saudi government slammed on Tuesday Iran’s ongoing deception related to its nuclear program.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz chaired the cabinet meeting that was held in Riyadh.

The cabinet hailed the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in monitoring the program, condemning Tehran for its stalling and maneuvering in providing necessary information to the watchdog.

Iran must cooperate fully with the agency and respect IAEA inspectors, stressed the cabinet.

Turning to Yemen, it praised the signing of the Riyadh agreement last week between the legitimate government and Southern Transitional Council. King Salman sponsored the deal and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, presided over the signing ceremony that was held in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia continues to support all efforts to achieve the security and stability of Yemen, lauding the parties for prioritizing their nation’s and people’s interests.

The cabinet highlighted Crown Prince Mohammed’s remarks at the signing ceremony in which he said the Kingdom has been keen on aiding the Yemeni people since the eruption of their country’s crisis.

It continues to seek a political solution to the conflict according to the three references and it seeks an end to foreign meddling in its internal affairs and an end to the Iran-backed Houthi coup.

The Riyadh agreement is a major step forward in resolving the conflict, Information Minister Turki al-Shabanah said after the cabinet meeting.

King Salman also briefed the ministers on the telephone call he held with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the message he received from Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah.

The cabinet hailed the signing of an agreement between Saudi Arabia and the World Economic Forum to establish a Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the Kingdom.

“The center will provide space for the development of the mechanisms, plans and applications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the Kingdom and will contribute to the adoption of technology and best practices in the region and the world,” read a statement after the inking of the deal.

Iran pumps centrifuges with uranium gas as nuclear deal dies

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL JAZEERA NEWS)

 

Iran pumps centrifuges with uranium gas as nuclear deal dies

Latest step means Fordow facility will move from its permitted status as a research plant to an active nuclear site.

Iran stepped up activity at its underground Fordow nuclear plant early on Thursday – a move France said showed for the first time that Tehran explicitly planned to quit a historic deal with world powers that curbed its disputed nuclear work.

“With the presence of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran started injecting [uranium] gas into centrifuges in Fordow,” state television reported.

More:

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran also confirmed the operation, which it said started at 00:00 local time on Thursday (20;30 GMT on Wednesday) following the transfer of 2,800 kg (6,172 lbs) cylinder containing 2,000 kg (4,409 lbs) of uranium hexafluoride from Natanz nuclear facility to Fordow.

Earlier, Iran announced 1,044 centrifuges were installed at Fordow.

The United States,which withdrew from the nuclear deal in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Tehran, reiterated its criticism, calling Iran’s move a “big step in the wrong direction”.

Secretary Pompeo

@SecPompeo

Iran’s plans to increase its nuclear activity at Fordow raise concerns that Iran is positioning itself for a rapid nuclear breakout. It is now time for all nations to reject its nuclear extortion and increase pressure.

1,427 people are talking about this

Iran insists the latest move is not a violation of the nuclear deal, but is based on the Articles 26 and 36 of the agreement.

In another development that could also aggravate tensions between Iran and the West, diplomats said on Wednesday Iran briefly held an inspector for the UN nuclear watchdog and seized her travel documents, with some describing this as harassment.

Iran said the inspector was prevented from entering the Natanz facility because of a concern she might be carrying “suspicious material”, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

It said screening equipment at Natanz flashed a warning sign when the inspector passed through so her equipment was searched, she was denied entry, and the IAEA was subsequently informed.

The incident involving an IAEA inspector appeared to be the first of its kind since Tehran’s landmark deal with major powers was struck in 2015, imposing restraints on its uranium enrichment program in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

Nothing in return

Iran’s decision to inject uranium gas into centrifuges at Fordow, a move that further distances Iran from the accord, was described by Russia as extremely alarming. Iran once hid Fordow from the IAEA until its exposure by Western spies in 2009.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed concern about Tehran’s announcements but said European powers should do their part.

“They are demanding that Iran fulfill all [obligations] without exception, but are not giving anything in return,” he told reporters in Moscow.

The Kremlin has previously called sanctions against Iran “unprecedented and illegal”.

The new nuclear activity was the fourth step announced by Iran since it began responding to Washington’s abandonment of the nuclear deal last year.

French President Emmanuel Macron called Iran’s latest move “grave”, saying it explicitly signaled Iran’s intent for the first time to leave the deal – formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“I think that for the first time, Iran has decided in an explicit and blunt manner to leave the JCPOA, which marks a profound shift,” said Macron, who has been at the forefront of efforts by European signatories to salvage the deal after the US withdrew.

Esfandyar Batmanghelidj@yarbatman

1. One of the most frustrating things about where we are now with the JCPOA is that we are once again focusing so much energy on things like centrifuges when the nuclear issue is plainly *not* central to Iran’s contentious status in the global order.

30 people are talking about this

Enrichment possibilities

Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, told state television the agency has delivered 2,000 kg of uranium or UF6 to the Fordow plant under the supervision of United Nations inspectors, on Wednesday.

“The restarting of the centrifuges will take a few hours and from midnight, the process of injecting uranium gas into them will begin,” he said.

A spokesman for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said its inspectors at the site “will report back on relevant activities”.

The nuclear accord, signed in 2015 by Iran, the US, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, bans nuclear activity at Fordow, a plant located near the city of Qom and capped the level of purity uranium can be enriched at 3.67 percent – suitable for civilian power generation and far below the 90 percent threshold of nuclear weapons-grade.

Before the deal, Iran used Fordow to enrich uranium to 20 percent fissile purity. Officials have said Tehran could again enrich uranium to 20 percent but there is no need for that right now.

With the injection of uranium gas into its centrifuges, Fordow will move from its permitted status of research plant to become an active nuclear site.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

 

Iran breaks further away from crumbling nuclear deal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL-JAZEERA NEWS)

 

Iran breaks further away from crumbling nuclear deal

Tehran now operates twice as many advanced centrifuges banned by 2015 pact, says move is direct result of US withdrawal.

Iran breaks further away from crumbling nuclear deal
Iranians gather in front of the former US Embassy building in Tehran for the 40th anniversary of the 1979 US Embassy takeover [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency]

Iran has taken further steps away from its crumbling nuclear deal with world powers by announcing it is doubling the number of its advanced centrifuges, calling the move a direct result of the United States‘ withdrawal from the agreement last year.

As well as operating twice as many advanced centrifuges banned by the 2015 accord, Tehran is working on a prototype that is 50 times faster than those allowed by the deal, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, said on Monday.

More:

Salehi said Iran is now operating 60 IR-6 advanced centrifuges. Such a centrifuge can produce enriched uranium 10 times as fast as the first-generation IR-1s allowed under the accord.

By starting up these advanced centrifuges, Iran further cuts into the one year that experts estimate Tehran would need to have enough material for building a nuclear weapon – if it chose to pursue one.

Daryl Kimball, director of the US-based Arms Control Association, told Al Jazeera that though Iran was taking worrisome steps, these were quickly reversible if there were to be some diplomatic arrangement to bring both sides back into compliance.

“Our interpretation is that Iran is trying to increase the pressure on Britain, France and Germany in particular to find some arrangement that will allow them to sell the oil they were buying when Iran was not under sanctions.”

“That requires some level of US support to waive sanctions against European firms by the United States. So far, the US has no agreed to do that.”

Salehi also announced that scientists were working on a prototype he called the IR-9, which worked 50-times faster than the IR-1.

Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari reporting from Tehran said the feeling in Iran is that since the US withdrew from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, the remaining signatories – France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Europe and Russia – have yet to uphold their end of the deal.

Iran’s healthcare system threatened by US sanctions: Rights group

“Salehi stressed that is why Iran is moving forward with its nuclear program,” Jabbari said.

“This deal has been on its final legs for the last few months. Various European diplomats have been trying to salvage it by convincing the US and Iran to come back to the negotiating table, but Iran’s position is that until the US lifts its sanctions that it has imposed on the country since last year, they will not come back to any negotiations,” Jabbari said.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Iranian government said on Monday that President Hassan Rouhani will announce further steps away from the accord sometime soon. An announcement had been expected this week.

Iran has previously broken through its stockpile and enrichment limitations, trying to pressure Europe to offer it a new deal, more than a year since US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew Washington from the accord.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned that the announcement jeopardised the 2015 nuclear accord, urging Tehran to return to the pact.

“Iran has built very advanced centrifuges, which do not comply with the agreement,” Maas told a news conference. “They have announced in early September that they would not comply with the nuclear accord and we think this is unacceptable.”

Anniversary

Salehi’s announcement came as Iran on Monday marked the 40th anniversary of the 1979 US Embassy takeover that started a 444-day hostage crisis.

Demonstrators gathered in front of the former US embassy in central Tehran as state television aired footage from other cities across the country marking the anniversary.

“Thanks to God, today the revolution’s seedlings have evolved into a fruitful and huge tree that its shadow has covered the entire” Middle East, said General Abdolrahim Mousavi, the commander of the Iranian army.

On Sunday, during a speech to mark the upcoming anniversary, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei again ruled out negotiations with Washington, citing its un-trustworthiness.

“Nothing will come out of talking to the US, because they certainly and definitely won’t make any concessions,” Khamenei said, according to his official website.

The collapse of the nuclear deal coincided with a tense summer of mysterious attacks on oil tankers and Saudi oil facilities that the US blamed on Iran.

Tehran denied the allegation, though it did seize oil tankers and shoot down a US military surveillance drone.

Can Europe save the Iran nuclear deal?

INSIDE STORY

Can Europe save the Iran nuclear deal?

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

India-Pak nuke war could trigger another ice age: Study

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

An India-Pak nuke war could trigger another ice age: Study

In the scenario, simulated using state-of-the-art global climate models, India and Pakistan use 100 and 150 strategic nuclear weapons respectively, releasing 16-36 million tonnes of soot (black carbon) in smoke that would rise into the upper atmosphere, blocking solar radiation.

INDIA Updated: Oct 03, 2019 07:25 IST

Dhrubo Jyoti
Dhrubo Jyoti
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The study, published in the journal Science Advances, looks at a nuclear war scenario between the two neighbours in 2025.
The study, published in the journal Science Advances, looks at a nuclear war scenario between the two neighbors in 2025. (Reuters file photo)

At least 50 million people could die and the world will be hit by a decade-long global atmospheric catastrophe if a nuclear war broke out between India and Pakistan, said a new study published on Wednesday, though Indian experts termed the chances of such a conflict astonishingly small.

The study, published in the journal Science Advances, looks at a nuclear war scenario between the two neighbors in 2025.

In the scenario, simulated using state-of-the-art global climate models, India and Pakistan use 100 and 150 strategic nuclear weapons respectively, releasing 16-36 million tonnes of soot (black carbon) in smoke that would rise into the upper atmosphere, blocking solar radiation.

Also Watch | ‘Pakistan’s plans will fail if J&K moves towards development’: Jaishankar

‘Pakistan’s plans will fail if J&K moves towards development’: Jaishankar
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has hit out at Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. Speaking at a center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, Jaishankar said that the decision to abrogate Article 370 was not taken lightly.
Pause

Unmute

Current Time 0:07
Duration 3:02
Loaded: 27.16%

Fullscreen

This could lead to a decline in sunlight reaching the Earth by 20 to 35%, cooling the surface by between two and five degree Celsius.

“In addition, severe short-term climate perturbations, with temperatures declining to values not seen on Earth since the middle of the last Ice Age, would be triggered by smoke from burning cities,” read the paper.

This could reduce precipitation by up to 30% and diminish the rate at which plants store energy as biomass by almost a third on land. “Crops would be affected by colder temperatures, less precipitation, less sunlight, and more ultraviolet radiation due to ozone depletion,” Alan Robock, a professor at Rutgers University and one of the authors of the paper, told HT.

The paper found a high casualty figure because both India and Pakistan are densely populated, and based its calculation on a scenario where both countries attack urban centres. Under its scenario, Pakistan’s losses would be about twice those of India in terms of a percentage of the urban population.

“Smoke from burning cities will rise into the stratosphere and spread globally within weeks. Widespread agricultural failures are likely,” Owen B Toon, lead author and professor at the University of Colorado, told HT. Impact on food production is seen to range from crop-growing regions of North America and Eurasia, Southeast Asia and fisheries in the north Atlantic and Pacific.

Robock said such instant climate change was only experienced after super volcanic eruptions, such as the Toba eruption roughly 74,000 years ago in present day Sumatra, Indonesia. It is one of the largest Earth’s largest known eruptions.

Nuclear rhetoric in the sub-continent has been charged in recent weeks, especially by Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan who warned at the United Nations General Assembly of a potential of a nuclear war over Kashmir.

But experts said the chances of such a conflict realistically breaking out are next to zero. “The possibility is almost non-existent is because of the shared culture and communities. The two countries have never fought wars of annihilation because you’re literally cutting too close to the bone. Our wars have been very limited,” said Bharat Karnad, a professor at the Centre for Policy Research in Delhi. He added that the rhetoric around nuclear war is often used for deterrent purposes.

First Published: Oct 02, 2019 23:33 IST

Trump Flirts With $15 Billion Bailout for Iran

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE DAILY BEAST)

 

Trump Flirts With $15 Billion Bailout for Iran, Sources Say

Trump says he hates the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran. But he’s toying with a French proposal to get the Iranians to comply with it: a $15 billion line of credit to Tehran.

EXCLUSIVE

NICHOLAS KAMM

President Donald Trump has left the impression with foreign officials, members of his administration, and others involved in Iranian negotiations that he is actively considering a French plan to extend a $15 billion credit line to the Iranians if Tehran comes back into compliance with the Obama-era nuclear deal.

Trump has in recent weeks shown openness to entertaining President Emmanuel Macron’s plan, according to four sources with knowledge of Trump’s conversations with the French leader. Two of those sources said that State Department officials, including Secretary Mike Pompeo, are also open to weighing the French proposal, which would effectively ease the economic sanctions regime that the Trump administration has applied on Tehran for more than a year.

The deal put forth by France would compensate Iran for oil sales disrupted by American sanctions. A large portion of Iran’s economy relies on cash from oil sales. Most of that money is frozen in bank accounts across the globe. The $15 billion credit line would be guaranteed by Iranian oil. In exchange for the cash, Iran would have to come back into compliance with the nuclear accord it signed with the world’s major powers in 2015. Tehran would also have to agree not to threaten the security of the Persian Gulf or to impede maritime navigation in the area. Lastly, Tehran would have to commit to regional Middle East talks in the future.

While Trump has been skeptical of helping Iran without preconditions, In public, the president has in public at least hinted at an openness to considering Macron’s pitch for placating the Iranian government—a move intended to help bring the Iranians to the negotiating table and to rescue the nuclear agreement that Trump and his former national security adviser John Bolton worked so hard to torpedo.

At the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France last month, Trump told reporters that Iran might need a “short-term letter of credit or loan” that could “get them over a very rough patch.”

Iranian Prime Minister Javad Zarif made a surprise appearance at that meeting. To Robert Malley, who worked on Iran policy during the Obama administration, that visit indicated that “Trump must have signaled openness to Macron’s idea, otherwise Zarif would not have flown to Biarritz at the last minute.” “Clearly, Trump responded to Macron in a way that gave the French president a reason to invite Zarif and Zarif a reason to come,” he said.

The French proposal would require the Trump administration to issue waivers on Iranian sanctions. That would be a major departure from the Trump administration’s so-called “maximum pressure” campaign to exact financial punishments on the regime in Tehran. Ironically, during his time in office, President Barack Obama followed a not-dissimilar approach to bring the Iranians to the negotiating table, throttling Iran’s economy with sanctions before pledging relief for talks. The negotiations resulted in the Iran nuke deal that President Trump called “rotten”—and pulled the U.S. out of during his first term.

Trump’s flirtations with—if not outright enthusiasm toward—chummily sitting down with foreign dictators and America’s geopolitical foes are largely driven by his desire for historic photo ops and to be seen as the dealmaker-in-chief. It’s a desire so strong that it can motivate him to upturn years worth of his own administration’s policymaking and messaging.

And while President Trump has not agreed to anything yet, he did signal a willingness to cooperate on such a proposal at various times throughout the last month, including while at the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France, according to four sources with knowledge of the president’s conversations about the deal.

Several sources told The Daily Beast that foreign officials are expecting Trump to either agree to cooperate on the French deal or to offer to ease some sanctions on Tehran. Meanwhile, President Trump is also consideringmeeting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September.

“I do believe they’d like to make a deal. If they do, that’s great. And if they don’t, that’s great too,” Trump told reporters Wednesday. “But they have tremendous financial difficulty, and the sanctions are getting tougher and tougher.” When asked if he would ease sanctions against Iran in order to get a meeting with Iran Trump simply said: “We’ll see what happens. I think Iran has a tremendous, tremendous potential.”

Spokespeople for the State Department, White House, and Treasury did not provide comment for this story. A spokesperson for the National Security Council simply referred The Daily Beast to Trump’s Wednesday comments on Iran. Bolton didn’t comment on Wednesday, either.

“By the end he viewed [Bolton] as an arsonist hell bent on setting fire to anyone’s agenda that didn’t align with his own—including the president’s.”
— source close to Mike Pompeo

Trump’s willingness to discuss the credit line with the French, the Iranians and also Japanese President Shinzo Abe frustrated Bolton who had for months had urged Trump against softening his hard line against the regime in Tehran.

Bolton, who vociferously opposed the Macron proposal, departed the Trump administration on explicitly and mutually bad terms on Tuesday. On his way out of door, Trump and senior administration officials went out of their way to keep publicly insisting he was fired, as Bolton kept messaging various news outlets that Trump couldn’t fire him because he quit. The former national security adviser and lifelong hawk had ruffled so many feathers and made so many enemies in the building that his senior colleagues had repeatedly tried to snitch him out to Trump for allegedly leaking to the media.

On Tuesday afternoon, Bolton messaged The Daily Beast to say that allegations about him being a leaker were “flatly incorrect.

At a press briefing held shortly after Bolton’s exit on Tuesday, neither Secretary of State Mike Pompeo nor Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin showed much sympathy for Bolton’s falling star in Trumpworld. “There were many times Ambassador Bolton and I disagreed,” Pompeo told reporters. “That’s to be sure, but that’s true with a lot of people with whom I interact.”

According to those who know Pompeo well, the secretary’s public statement was a glaring understatement.

“By the end he viewed [Bolton] as an arsonist hell bent on setting fire to anyone’s agenda that didn’t align with his own—including the president’s,” said a source close to Pompeo who’s discussed Bolton with the secretary in recent weeks. Pompeo “believes him to be among the most self-centered people he’s ever worked with. A talented guy, no doubt, but not someone who was willing to subordinate his ego to the president’s foreign-policy agenda.”

Whether or not the president follows through with supporting Macron is unclear, as Trump is known to consider or temporarily back high-profile domestic or foreign policy initiatives, only to quickly backtrack or about-face.

IAEA: Iran Installing More Advanced Centrifuges for Uranium Enrichment

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

IAEA: Iran Installing More Advanced Centrifuges for Uranium Enrichment

Monday, 9 September, 2019 – 10:30
Iran is moving towards enriching uranium by installing more advanced centrifuges in breach of the 2015 nuclear deal. (AFP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Iran is moving towards enriching uranium by installing more advanced centrifuges in breach of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Monday.

The deal only lets Iran produce enriched uranium with just over 5,000 of its first-generation IR-1 centrifuge machines. It can use far fewer advanced centrifuges for research but without accumulating enriched uranium.

But in response to US sanctions imposed since Washington withdrew from the deal in May last year, Iran has been breaching the limits it imposed on its atomic activities step by step.

Last week Tehran said it would breach the deal’s limits on research and development, the term applied to Iran’s use of advanced centrifuges.

An IAEA spokesman said Iran had informed it that it was making modifications to accommodate cascades – or interconnected clusters – of 164 of the IR-2m and IR-4 centrifuge. Cascades of the same size and type were scrapped under the deal.

Inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog have verified that smaller numbers of various advanced centrifuges had been or were being installed, the spokesman added.

“All of the installed centrifuges had been prepared for testing with UF6,” though none of them were being tested with UF6 on Sept. 7 and 8, he said, referring to the uranium hexafluoride feedstock for centrifuges.

He added that Iran had told the agency it would modify lines of research centrifuges so that enriched uranium was produced, which is not allowed under the deal.

In a confidential report to member states, the IAEA also said Iran had made those modifications on some lines.

Iran defended Sunday its decision to use advanced centrifuges as IAEA acting chief Cornel Feruta urged Tehran to offer “time and active cooperation” with his inspectors.

Feruta met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s nuclear program, while in Tehran.

He is serving as the IAEA’s acting director after the death of late director-general Yukiya Amano in July.

While Iran continues to pull away from the deal, Tehran has made clear it wants IAEA inspectors to continue their work. But officials blamed European leaders for being unable so far to offer a way for Iran to sell its crude oil around US sanctions.

A proposal by France to offer a $15 billion line of credit failed to materialize. China, Britain, France, Germany and Russia all were parties to the accord.

Be glad Iran’s satellite launch failed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER)

 

Be glad Iran’s satellite launch failed

Satellite imagery provided to Fox News suggests that an Iranian satellite launch this week failed quite spectacularly.

The rocket blew up on its launchpad or shortly after launch.

This is good news for the United States and regional security. Iran claims that its satellite program is peaceful and designed only to monitor the weather, but the reality is very different. Iran’s satellite program is just a cover for the regime’s development of a competent ballistic missile program. Because satellites are launched from Earth into a controlled orbit trajectory, they help Iran better understand how to get ballistic missiles onto their targeting course.

That is something the U.S. doesn’t want to see happen. There is no good reason for Iran to build ballistic missiles, aside from striking distant targets with nuclear weapons.

If Iran can develop and deploy a nuclear-armed ballistic missile, it would achieve two malevolent opportunities. First, it would dangle the annihilation of a major Israeli city (or, if it can build many warheads, Israel itself). Such a development would require Israel to go to war with Iran in order to mitigate the risk of a second Holocaust. But Iran would also hope that Western powers would restrain Israel from that action and isolate the Jewish state into fear.

Second, Iran would extort the U.S., the Sunni-Arab kingdoms, and Europe for economic or political reasons. Considering Iran’s theological project to dominate the Middle East, this extortion threat would either cause a war or allow Iran to subjugate the rights of its neighbors. Certainly, it would spark regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt to build their own nuclear forces.

So, yeah, it’s a good thing that Iran’s satellite blew up on its launchpad.

Earth’s inner core is doing something weird

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC)

 

Earth’s inner core is doing something weird

Data from old Soviet weapons tests are helping scientists get a high-resolution look inside our planet.

ON SEPTEMBER 27, 1971, a nuclear bomb exploded on Russia’s Novaya Zemlya islands. The powerful blast sent waves rippling so deep inside Earth they ricocheted off the inner core, pinging an array of hundreds of mechanical ears some 4,000 miles away in the Montana wilderness. Three years later, that array picked up a signal when a second bomb exploded at nearly the same spot.

This pair of nuclear explosions was part of hundreds of tests detonated during the throes of Cold War fervor. Now, the records of these wiggles are making waves among geologists: They have helped scientists calculate one of the most precise estimates yet of how fast the planet’s inner core is spinning.

Surface-dwellers know that Earth spins on its axis once about every 24 hours. But the inner core is a roughly moon-size ball of iron floating within an ocean of molten metal, which means it is free to turn independently from our planet’s large-scale spin, a phenomenon known as super-rotation. And how fast it’s going has been hotly debated.

© NGP, Content may not reflect National Geographic’s current map policy.

Capitalizing on the zigzagged signals from those decades-old nuclear explosions, John Vidale, a seismologist at the University of Southern California, now has the latest estimate for this rate. In a recent study published in Geophysical Research Letters, he reports that the inner core likely inches along just faster than Earth’s surface. If his rate’s right, it means that if you stood on a spot at the Equator for one year, the part of the inner core that was previously beneath you would wind up under a spot 4.8 miles away.

“It’s a careful, good piece of work,” says Paul Richards, a seismologist at Columbia University who was a coauthor on a 1996 study that first documented super-rotation of the inner core. “Something is changing down there.”

Better understanding the history and current dynamics of the iron blob nestled within our planet could yield more clues to the processes charging and stabilizing our magnetic field—a geologic force field that protects our world from various kinds of harmful radiation. We don’t yet fully understand how this magnetic dynamo works, but scientists strongly suspect it’s tied to the mysterious motions deep inside the planet. (Learn what really happens when Earth’s magnetic field flips.)

“The Earth is this extreme natural lab,” says Elizabeth Day, a deep-earth seismologist at Imperial College London who was not part of the work. Thousands of miles below our feet, pressures are crushing and temperatures are searing. “We can’t easily reproduce all of those in an actual laboratory. But if we can peer into the Earth, we get a bit of insight into this really extreme set of conditions.”

The new work is just one of many attempts to figure out the core’s rate of super-rotation, but offers one of the slowest rates for super-rotation yet suggested. Still, the differences between these studies is not necessarily a bad thing, Day says.

“It doesn’t mean anyone is wrong,” she says. “It just means everyone is looking at slightly different things.”

Core conundrum

Previous work, including the paper Richards coauthored, used various properties of earthquake waves traveling through the planet to deliver their estimates for the inner core’s super-rotation, with several sitting around a few tenths of a degree a year. Such measurements aren’t easy to make, though, and the resolution of many of these analyses were low. But unlike earthquakes, which send out juddering waves, nuclear explosions provide a clean signal to work with.

Play Video

EARTH 101Earth is the only planet known to maintain life. Find out the origins of our home planet and some of the key ingredients that help make this blue speck in space a unique global ecosystem.

“This is like Earth just got hit with a hammer,” Day says.

The issue was extracting the data, which were encoded on nine-track tapes by the Large Aperture Seismic Array in Montana. By the 1990s, the tapes had made their way to the Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory, where Paul Earle, then a graduate student at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, was tasked with extracting the echoes of Soviet nuclear tests from the deteriorating tapes.

Earle spent two weeks in a room full of boxes laden with discs sporting cryptic labels. Many of the tapes were worn, their magnetic information lost to time. Roughly one in 10 couldn’t be read by a tape-player, says Earle, who is now a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

But the effort was worth it. Earle, Vidale, and Doug Dodge of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory used the scattered waves from these nuclear explosions to peer into the planet’s core. By comparing the fingerprint of waves scattered back from explosions at nearly the same location in 1971 and 1974, the team could calculate how much faster the inner core turned relative to the rest of the planet. The process is similar to tracking a moving airplane using radar, Richards notes.

Their initial results, published in a 2000 Nature study, pointed to a rotation rate of 0.15 degrees a year. Vidale then shifted gears and didn’t give the inner core much thought for nearly 15 years.

Digging deeper

That changed in December 2018, when he walked through the bustling poster hall at the American Geophysical Union’s annual conference. There, Vidale spotted the work of Jiayuan Yao, now a research fellow in geophysics at Nanyang Technological University.

Yao had combed through tens of thousands of earthquakes in search of pairs that strike at different times in precisely the same location. By comparing the seismic waves that grazed the inner core from 40 of these geologic twins, he hoped to suss out the mysteries held deep in our planet.

“That is really great data,” Vidale recalls thinking. However, Yao’s interpretation of the data didn’t point toward super-rotation, and instead suggested something else seemed to be going on.

Intrigued by this conundrum, Vidale turned back to his dataset on the nuclear explosions, but with the original analysis codes nowhere to be found, he had to start from scratch, digging even deeper into the Cold War-era ripples with an updated method.

His resulting analysis still yielded super-rotation, but it was both slower and more precise than previous estimates, pointing instead toward the newly described rate of 0.07 degree a year between 1971 and 1974.

Certain uncertainty

But while other scientists praise the thoroughness of Vidale’s latest work, the debate seems far from settled.

Yao and his colleagues recently published an intriguing alternative explanation using his data from twin earthquakes. Perhaps, they posit, the inner core is actually rotating at the same speed as the rest of our planet, and the apparent difference could instead be explained by the inner core having a jagged surface that shifts over time, with mountains rising or canyons cutting into the iron orb. (Read about ‘mountains’ taller than Everest that lurk deep inside Earth.)

Vidale finds that analysis intriguing, but while he agrees that there may be more than super-rotation in the mix, he’s skeptical of Yao’s precise explanation.

One possibility, Richards argues, is that blob itself is warping over time.

“It’s like when you throw a pizza up in the air,” he says. “It’s spinning, but it’s flopping around. It’s deforming as it rotates.”

It’s also possible that the rate of inner core rotation varies over time, adds Xiaodong Song, a deep-earth seismologist at the University of Illinois who coauthored the 1996 study first documenting inner core rotation. While Vidale’s latest rate is robust, it’s limited to a single time period, so further confirmation is necessary, he says via email.

“It’s so hard to do these studies,” says Jessica Irving, a deep-earth seismologist at Princeton University. “Every scrap of data becomes valuable, and unfortunately there just aren’t very many scraps of data.” Perhaps more definitive answers may be on the horizon. Analyses are getting better, and data are accruing on seismometers around the world that are constantly listening for our planet’s every tremble.

Solving the puzzle of the inner core, Yao says, “doesn’t need to take another decade.”

Editor’s note: Paul Earle’s affiliation has been corrected. He was a graduate student at Scripps Institute of Oceanography. The story has also been updated to show that Song and Richards were the first to provide seismic evidence of inner core super-rotation.

Maya Wei-Haas is a science staff writer for National Geographic.

 

Iran’s threats are an attempt to negotiate

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS BRIEF) 

 

ORDER FROM CHAOS

Iran’s threats are an attempt to negotiate

Suzanne Maloney

Editor’s Note:By ratcheting up tensions, Iran is hoping to expand the crisis with the United States, force a dialogue, and hopefully find their way out of an increasingly dire set of circumstances, Suzanne Maloney writes. This piece originally appeared in Politico Magazine.

In July 2012, several senior U.S. government officials made a clandestine visit to Muscat, where they met with Iranian diplomats in the first of what would be a series of back-channel negotiations. Officially, nothing like this meeting in Oman was ever supposed to happen: The two countries had severed their formal diplomatic relations decades earlier, and intensifying U.S. economic pressure on Iran had made direct diplomacy more toxic than ever.

But this secret dialogue ended up providing the genesis for the historic 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran, Washington, and five other world powers—the first time that the international community managed to slow the clerical regime’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons capability.

Seven years later, that agreement is on life support. The Trump administration pulled out in May 2018, and Iran has recently begun breaching the deal’s restrictions on its nuclear activities. Tensions are high in the Persian Gulf, with Iran seizing a British ship and announcing plans to execute a ring of supposed CIA spies. Fears are mounting that the two countries are on a collision course, headed toward a wider and far more destabilizing military conflict.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the breakdown: Iranian officials now appear to be negotiating—and rather than using back-channels, they’re doing it in plain sight.

Iranian officials now appear to be negotiating—and rather than using back-channels, they’re doing it in plain sight.

Iranian officials, most notably the foreign minister, have been angling for diplomacy with Washington. And Tehran’s provocations in the Gulf, if you look past the breathless headlines, can be seen as a crucial part of their good cop-bad cop negotiating strategy—one that reinforces persuasion with intimidation. Taken together, the signals suggest that Iranians are setting the table for talks, and if President Donald Trump is serious about wanting to “make Iran great again,” he should make the most of this opportunity before tensions spiral out of control.

Engagement between the Islamic Republic and the government still castigated in its official rhetoric as the “Great Satan” has come a long way lately. In 1979, after the revolution, media coverage of official contacts between Iran’s new leaders and senior U.S. officials sparked furious protests in Tehran that culminated with the seizure of the U.S. Embassy and the 444-day hostage crisis. After the Iran-Contra scandal—in which the U.S. and Iran were again revealed to be doing backdoor deals—even quiet diplomacy with American officials was seen as the kiss of death by the Iranian establishment. For decades, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, spurned any suggestion of official talks with Washington, and his grudging consent to Obama-era nuclear negotiations was vehemently rescinded after Trump’s breach of the deal.

However, even with its bitter outcome, the nuclear deal and the intense bilateral contacts throughout the final years of the Obama administration have left an imprint on Iran’s political landscape. Contact with Washington is now effectively normalized in the Islamic Republic—so much so that a meeting between Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and a Republican senator who sought Trump’s endorsement for the encounter barely generates a second glance. Twenty years ago, an Iranian leader’s interview with an American cable news channel was seen as a shocking breakthrough; today, it’s just another Sunday morning, with Zarif deploying his silver tongue to send signals to an audience of one in White House.

Zarif, a polished chief diplomat with an outsized Washington Rolodex, has made two high-profile visits to New York in recent months, meeting with representatives from the media, academia, and Capitol Hill—a kind of public relations tour underscoring that the Islamic Republic is testing the waters with the Trump administration.

Related Books

In typical Iranian fashion, this campaign is happening at the same time Iran’s leaders are sending strong signals against doing any such thing. The U.S. maximum pressure campaign has had catastrophic effects on the Iranian economy, and Iran’s official position, as articulated by Khamenei, is that Iran will not negotiate with a knife to its throat. He has categorically rejected the prospect of bargaining over what Tehran views as the country’s essential defensive capabilities, such as its missile program. When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Tehran last month, apparently at Trump’s behest, he was sent back empty-handed, with a curt rebuff that coincided with a new round of proxy attacks on shipping in the Gulf. Just in case the message wasn’t clear, one of the tankers attacked was owned by a Japanese company.

The one-two punch from Tehran reflects the harsh reality of the regime’s current predicament. Iranian officials insist that they can cope under American pressure, but the concerted campaign to ramp up the threat level even as they flirt with diplomatic overtures betrays an awareness within the theocracy’s highest levels that the country cannot afford an indefinite American economic siege.

Zarif’s media appearances and private meetings here, accordingly, have conveyed a flexible, even cordial message. He offered careful compliments toward Trump with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, praising the president’s “very prudent decision” to call off a military strike initially ordered after Tehran shot down a U.S. drone last month. He dangled some minor overturesaround the nuclear deal in a conversation with print reporters, and in a virtuoso Fox News performance, he played to Trump’s narcissism and his mistrust of his hawkish advisers.

Shortly after Zarif touted to U.S. reporters the possibility of prisoner swaps, Iranian authorities unexpectedly released Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese man with permanent resident status in the United States, after more than three years’ detention on bogus espionage charges. None of this offers the makings of the comprehensive agreement that the Trump administration has advocated, but Iranian maneuvers are beginning to shape a preliminary framework for bilateral negotiations.

Zarif’s artful outreach is consistent with the broader contours of the debate within Iran’s political establishment, where there has been quiet speculation for months about the possibilities for devising a diplomatic pathway out of the country’s current predicament. Well-known dissidents and moderate politicians recently released an appeal for unconditional talks, and even former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, known for his hard-line vitriol but also an idiosyncratic tendency to reach out to Washington, has publicly embraced new diplomacy.

Longtime observers of Iran find it no surprise that Zarif was dispatched to New York even as tensions are rising in the Persian Gulf, with a string of attacks on oil tankers, an oil pipeline, and various U.S.-linked facilities in Iraq, the drone downing, and the latest provocation—Iran’s seizure of a British tanker as it transited the Gulf. The Islamic Republic has made an art form of pairing diplomacy with force, exploiting Zarif’s unctuous charm alongside a punch in the face from the Revolutionary Guard.

While some analysts, echoing Iranian officials, blame factional infighting, Zarif’s smiling warning on CNN that “in such a small body of water, if you have so many foreign vessels … accidents will happen” underscores that Iran’s dual-track approach is deliberate, a coordinated deployment of pressure and persuasion to advance its interests. With a feint and a jab, Tehran is deploying diplomacy and force in tandem in hopes of extricating the regime from an increasingly perilous quagmire.

This game plan offers greater efficacy than any other alternative available to Tehran today. The rest of the world has proven unwilling or unable to circumvent U.S. sanctions or cushion their economic fallout on Iran. At the very least, flexing its muscles in the world’s most important energy corridor can inflate oil prices, improving Tehran’s beleaguered bottom line and complicating Trump’s appeal to his domestic base as he begins his reelection campaign. Mounting tensions may galvanize diplomatic energy from Europe and the other stakeholders to the nuclear deal, and the images of burning tankers offer a powerful warning to Iran’s neighbors of the potential consequences of further escalation. The increasing frictions amplify the gravity of the crisis for the rest of the world, while Iran’s incremental breaches of the nuclear deal provide Tehran with something to trade should an opportunity for bargaining avail itself.

Although Tehran is currently dictating the tempo and intensity of escalation, what happens next depends largely on the Trump administration.

The president has long expressed disdain for costly, protracted U.S. military intervention in the Middle East and he has repeatedly appealed for direct dialogue with Iranian leaders. To achieve that, Washington will have to be ready to compromise on its “maximum pressure” strategy. Tehran is ready to talk, but will require some sanctions relief as the price of admission.

For his part, Trump proclaims to be detached, emphasizing that he is in “no hurry” and insisting that he is “just going to sit back and watch.” Tehran is unlikely to afford him that luxury. Iran is determined to change the status quo, since it is now so unfavorable to their interests. By ratcheting up tensions, the Iranians are hoping to expand the crisis, force a dialogue, and hopefully find their way out of an increasingly dire set of circumstances.

A how-to guide for managing the end of the post-Cold War era. Read all the Order from Chaos content »