Indian Nuclear Plant Leaking Before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Red Flags Raised Over Radioactive Waste at Indian Point Plants

October 8, 2019 By Abby Luby

Left to right, John Sullivan, Marilyn Elie, Margot Frances, Manna Jo Greene and Jeanne Shaw, members of the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, in front of an inflatable, life-size nuclear waste cask last week. Abby Luby Photo

The closure and dismantling of Indian Point plants 2 and 3 in 2020 and 2021, respectively, have raised red flags about the storage and handling of more than 1,700 tons of dangerous radioactive waste.

At a public meeting last Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) answered questions about the decommissioning process. About 90 people crowded into the Morabito Community Center in Cortlandt to ask Bruce Watson, NRC chief of the reactor decommissioning branch, about the regulatory agency’s oversight role during the plant closures.

For three hours, many were frustrated with the unreliable audio system that made it difficult to hear the speakers. A major concern was about Holtec International, a family-owned corporation based in Camden, N.J., slated to purchase, dismantle Indian Point and manage the irradiated nuclear fuel. Although Holtec has more than 30 years’ experience handling radioactive waste, it has come under scrutiny for fast-tracking decommissioning of nuclear plants.

Holtec proposes to dispose of the waste in as little as eight years; the NRC allows 60 years for the process.

“Holtec is a company with a record of bribery, lies and risk-taking. We know the NRC allowed the company into plants in New Jersey and Massachusetts even before objections by citizens’ groups were heard,” charged Richard Webster, legal director for Riverkeeper.

“Can you describe the NRC’s role in approving and selecting companies like Holtec for decommissioning?” asked Peekskill City Councilman Colin Smith during the meeting.

Watson replied that the agency is not privy to contractual details or sale agreements.

“Our sole responsibility is to ensure the applicant is licensed and has the technical and financial ability to own a particular plant,” he said.

When Smith asked for an estimated timeline for transporting the spent fuel rods, Watson said, “Congress promised to take care of high-level waste when they encouraged all these plants to be built. It’s in their ballpark to facilitate the disposal of the spent fuel. It’s way below my pay grade to make that kind of policy. I wish I had an answer for you.”

NRC’s oversight role with Holtec directly ties into the formation of Community Advisory Boards (CABs) as stipulated in a federal law under the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act. Watson indicated that the NRC would be checking in regularly with the progress of the decommissioning, but acknowledged that a heavier oversight role would be put on the Community Advisory Boards.

Many have questioned the authority of the newly formed local CAB, chaired by Buchanan Mayor Theresa Knickerbocker with Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi serving as vice chair.

“We are all in this together,” said Puglisi in defense of the CAB. “We created a task force two years ago when we learned of the decommissioning and have been meeting monthly. We have a large membership including business people, environmentalists, school officials, chamber of commerce, county executives from Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange, along with state representatives.” Puglisi told the NRC to officially recognize the group as a Community Advisory Panel rather than a board.

Knickerbocker said the Community Advisory Panel was a diverse group with Indian Point supporters and critics.

“We are the eyes and ears and the voice for our community,” she said. “Our agenda is the safe decommissioning of Indian Point. This panel will drive the bus for decommissioning.”

The watchdog group Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC) has supported a funded Citizens Oversight Board comprised of impartial members, independent scientists, experts, first responders, plant workers, environmentalists and other informed stakeholders.

“The board should have a budget to hire experts and have appointed environmentalists and volunteers who hold monthly, open meetings,” said IPSEC member Marilyn Elie.

IPSEC maintains a CAB made up of local politicians who might have financial or economic agendas is problematic. IPSEC has drafted citizens’ oversight board legislation that is expected to be introduced to state, county and local lawmakers in January.

Assemblywoman Sandra Galef (D-Ossining) told Watson the NRC should fund the CAB.

“The NRC allowed the nuclear plants to be here, and now that they are being decommissioned, you should be sponsoring and funding the CABs using money in the federal government budget,” Galef said.

Although Indian Point units 2 and 3 generate about 2,000 megawatts of electricity, Con Ed no longer gets electricity from Indian Point. In 2017, the contract between Con Ed and Entergy expired and was not renewed, according to the utility. Up to that point, Indian Point supplied only 560 megawatts to Con Ed.

With competing solar and wind markets offering cheaper energy, Entergy’s high price for electricity has priced the company out of the market. Today, Entergy is closing its aging plants across the country.

An upcoming forum on decommissioning Northeast nuclear plants is scheduled for this Thursday, Oct. 10 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. at Hendrick Hudson Free Library in Montrose.

Save the Oil (Revelation 6:6)

Oil prices spike by a record 25% as Trump talks up huge production cuts and Saudi Arabia calls for OPEC meeting

New York (CNN Business) — Hopes are building for a truce in the brutal oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, setting off a record spike in the oil market Thursday.

President Donald Trump suggested massive production cuts could be on the way and Saudi Arabia called for an “urgent” meeting between OPEC, Russia and other unnamed nations to restore “balance” to the oil market.

Even though no date has been set for such a meeting — and no deal on cutting production has yet been announced — the oil market celebrated wildly.

US oil prices soared as much as 35% to $27.39 a barrel after Trump said on Twitter that he hopes and expects Saudi Arabia and Russia will slash output by between 10 million and 15 million barrels per day. Crude closed with a surge of 25% to $25.32 a barrel. That exceeds the previous one-day record that was set exactly two weeks ago.

Trump’s tweet followed a call with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“If it happens, will be GREAT for the oil & gas industry!” the US president tweeted.

Saudi Arabia and Russia have been locked in an epic price war since early March, flooding the oil market with cheap crude just as demand is cratering because of the coronavirus pandemic. Crude has crashed to 18-year lows, crushing American oil companies and energy stocks.

‘Burden sharing’

Although Trump suggested the deep cuts would be coming solely from Saudi Arabia and Russia, there are signs that OPEC is looking for other countries, including perhaps the United States, to join in.

“We need to see burden sharing,” a source within the OPEC+ alliance told CNN Business’ John Defterios. “Not fair for two or three producers within OPEC+ to carry most of the responsibility.

Previous cuts by OPEC and its allies have given US shale producers room to capture market share. The United States recently surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer.

“The Saudis are absolutely crystal clear that they are not doing this alone. It’s not just a Saudi-Russia cut,” said Helima Croft, RBC Capital’s global head of commodity strategy. “They’re done with the situation where they cut and the US grows.”

Some US oil producers have urged officials in Texas to impose caps on the state’s oil production — a step that would run counter to the industry’s free-market ethos. The Railroad Commission of Texas, which regulates the state’s energy industry, hasn’t exercised that power in more than 40 years.

Ryan Sitton, a commissioner on that regulatory body, said Thursday he had a “great conversation” with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak in which they discussed the need to remove 10 million barrels per day from global oil supply.

“While we normally compete,” Sitton said in a tweet, “we agreed that #COVID19 requires unprecedented levels of int’l cooperation.” He added that he will speak to Saudi Arabia’s energy minister soon.

Trump also tweeted that bin Salman had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, the Kremlin denied such a phone call had taken place, news that took some of the heat out of the huge spike in oil prices.

A truce between Saudi Arabia and Russia would aid an oil market that analysts estimate is oversupplied by around 25 million barrels per day. Demand for transport fuels in particular has been decimated by travel restrictions aimed at containing the pandemic.

‘Completely unrealistic’

The official Saudi Press Agency said in a tweet Thursday that the kingdom is seeking a meeting for members of the OPEC+ alliance, which includes Russia, “and another group of countries” in an attempt to try to reach a “fair solution to restore the desired balance of the oil markets.”

It’s not clear who would be part of that additional group of countries.

The tweet said the invitation is part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to support the global economy “and in appreciation of the US President’s request and the US friends’ request.”

Analysts expressed skepticism that Saudi Arabia and Russia would suddenly reverse course and slash production by nearly as much as Trump suggested.

“This is a completely unrealistic expectation,” said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData.

Smith pointed out that even the low end of Trump’s touted production cuts, 10 million barrels, amounts to virtually all of Saudi Arabia’s output.

“From a logic standpoint, from a political standpoint, it doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

Big cuts by Russia would undermine its goal of drowning high-cost US shale producers in a sea of cheap oil.

The recent crash in oil prices to $20 a barrel will likely set off a wave of bankruptcies and job cuts in the US oil industry, including in many Republican-leaning states.

Demand, not supply, is the No. 1 problem

Production cuts by Russia and Saudi Arabia would ease a great deal of pressure in the oil market.

However, the primary cause of the oil crash is weak demand, not excess supply. The extreme restrictions imposed to fight the coronavirus pandemic have caused an unprecedented collapse in oil demand. Highways are empty. Passenger jets have been parked. And factories are not operating.

US gasoline demand, the No. 1 swing factor for global oil demand, is plunging because most Americans have been forced to work from home.

IHS Markit estimates that US gasoline demand could collapse by more than 50% during the coronavirus response period. That would easily surpass the demand lost during the Great Recession.

All of this means that even if there is a truce between Saudi Arabia and Russia, prices may remain under pressure.

— John Defterios contributed to this article.

A Recipe For Nuclear Disaster At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

US allowing longer shifts at nuclear plants in pandemic

AP Apr 2, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. nuclear plants will be allowed to keep workers on longer shifts to deal with staffing problems in the coronavirus pandemic, raising worries among watchdogs and some families living near reactors that employee exhaustion will increase the risks of accidents.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision to temporarily allow longer worker shifts is one way the industry is scrambling to keep up mandatory staffing levels through what will be weeks or months more of the outbreak.

The shift extensions would allow workers to be on the job for up to 86 hours a week. Currently, they’re generally allowed to work up to 72 hours in a seven-day period. As part of the waiver, workers could be assigned to 12-hour shifts for as many as 14 days in a row.

Nuclear plant workers already are having their temperatures checked on arrival for each shift, and employers are studying options including having workers temporarily live at plants full-time.

Ho Nieh, the NRC’s director of reactor regulation, discussed the provision for longer work hours with utility industry executives and others on Thursday. Nieh said federal inspectors on and off site would monitor so that no plant works its employees to the point of bleariness. Regulators would approve, and if needed revoke, expanded shifts on a plant-by-plant basis, Nieh said.

But for Natalie Hildt Treat, a resident of Salisbury, Massaschusetts who is staying at home during the outbreak with her 5-year-old child and husband, the thought that workers at plants such as Seabrook Station, 6 miles away, could soon be grinding through repeated long shifts only added to her concerns.

“This is highly specialized work that needs a lot of attention and focus,” Treat, a nuclear safety activist, said by telephone. It’s a problem, she said, “if people are fatigued or sick.”

There are nuclear reactors in 30 states. In 12 states, nuclear plants provide 30 percent or more of their power. Like the coal industry, however, the U.S. nuclear power industry has struggled in the marketplace as prices of natural gas and renewable energy plunge.

The NRC closely regulates total staffing and staff hours as a condition of reactors’ continued operation. Fatigue has often been deemed a factor in accidents at nuclear plants, as in the former Soviet Union’s 1986 Chernobyl disaster, where key plant staffers had worked multiple shifts.

In the United States in recent days, nuclear plants are reporting some of the first coronavirus cases among their workers.

Over the weekend, the NRC said it would consider on a plant-by-plant basis 60-day exemptions that would let plants keep workers on the job for up to 86 hours in a seven-day period, including up to 12 hours a day for 14 days straight. No plant had received a work-hour waiver as of Thursday, regulators said.

With the expanded hours, managers could shift nuclear plants from five or six crew rotations a day to two — a day shift and a night shift, of 12 hours, Thomas Basso, the senior director of regulatory affairs at the industry’s Nuclear Energy Institute, told regulators Thursday.

That way, plants could minimize exposures and risks of infection among workers, Basso said, increasing the chances of keeping enough workers healthy however long the pandemic lasts.

“The industry will only ask for these exemptions provided safety is ensured,” said Jennifer Uhle, a vice president of the nuclear industry group.

But Edwin Lyman, a nuclear power expert with the Union of Concerned Scientists watchdog group, called proposals like Basso’s “alarming.”

“I hope that the NRC will conduct due diligence on industry claims that the best way to reduce the potential for COVID-19 spread among its personnel is to force them to work fourteen 12-hour days in a row,” he said in an email. He called that solution likely “untenable.”

If a plant fails to keep up minimum staffing requirements in the pandemic, regulators could order it to shut down, something that has happened rarely, if ever, to an operating plant, regulators said.

Besides the kind of crew consolidation Basso described, individual nuclear plants also are looking at the possibility of bringing former plant operators back into service. Another option is sequestering crews on site — keeping workers fed and bunked down at the plants during the pandemic, NEI spokeswoman Mary Love said.

At the Tennessee Valley Authority’s three nuclear facilities in Tennessee and Alabama, crews on Thursday were again checking the temperature of each arriving worker and having each fill out a health questionnaire, every day, spokesman Jim Hopson said.

Managers had restricted movement within parts of the sites, and put cleaners on extra hours inside, Hopson said. Sequestering crews remained one of the options, if things get worse, he said.


Travis Loller contributed from Nashville, Tenn.

Trump Warns the Iranian Nuclear Horn

Trump warns Iran of ‘heavy price’ in case of attack on US troops

Trump, without offering details, warns against possible ‘sneak attack’ against US troops in Iraq.

1 Apr 2020

US President Donald Trump speaking during a news conference in the White House in Washington, DC, US [Tom Brenner/Reuters]

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday warned Iran and groups linked to Tehran against attacking US troops or assets in Iraq, citing a possible “sneak attack” but giving no other details.

“Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on US troops and/or assets in Iraq. If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!” Trump said in a post on Twitter.

It was not immediately clear what information Trump was referring to in his tweet, which was posted after he was scheduled to have a 12:00pm (16:00 GMT) intelligence briefing.

A top Iranian military aide had earlier cautioned the US of consequences of “provocative actions” in Iraq, Iranian news agencies reported.

“We advise US politicians and military to take responsibility for the consequences of their provocative actions (in Iraq),” General Yahya Rahim Safavi said, quoted by the semi-official news agency Tasnim. “Any US action will mark an even larger strategic failure in the current president’s record.”

Rahim Safavi made the comments hours before Trump’s tweet.

At odds for decades, the US and Iran have seen relations deteriorate further in the nearly two years since Trump abandoned Iran’s 2015 multilateral nuclear deal and reimposed US economic sanctions on Tehran.

Iran’s president said on Wednesday that, with the advent of the coronavirus, the US had missed a historic opportunity to lift sanctions on his country, though the penalties had not hampered its fight against the infection.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised the possibility that Washington might consider easing sanctions on Iran and other nations to help fight the epidemic, but gave no concrete sign it plans to do so.

“The United States lost the best opportunity to lift sanctions,” Hassan Rouhani said in a televised cabinet meeting. “It was a great opportunity for Americans to apologise … and to lift the unjust and unfair sanctions on Iran.”

The coronavirus has killed more than 3,000 people in Iran with confirmed infections close to 48,000, making it the worst-hit country in the Middle East and prompting China and the United Nations to urge the US to ease sanctions.

“Americans could have used this opportunity and told the Iranian nation that they are not against them,” Rouhani said. “Their hostility (towards Iranians) is obvious.”

Trump has adopted a “maximum pressure” policy on Iran aimed at persuading Tehran to negotiate a broader deal that further constrains its nuclear programme, limits its missile programme and curbs its use of proxy forces in Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.

Washington has offered humanitarian assistance to its longtime foe. But Iran’s top authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has rejected the offer.

People wearing protective clothing carrying the body of a victim who died after being infected with the new coronavirus at a cemetery just outside Tehran, Iran [Ebrahim Noroozi/AP Photo]

Although Iranian authorities have said US sanctions had hindered its efforts to curb the outbreak, Rouhani said, “the sanctions have failed to hamper our efforts to fight” against the coronavirus outbreak.

“We are almost self-sufficient in producing all necessary equipment to fight the coronavirus. We have been much more successful than many other countries in the fight against this disease.”

Several countries, including the United Arab Emirates, China, the UK, France, Qatar and Turkey, have sent shipments of medical supplies, including gloves and surgical masks, to Iran.

In the first transaction conducted under a trade mechanism set up to barter humanitarian goods and food after Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Germany said on Tuesday that France, Germany and the UK had exported medical goods to Iran.

As US eases sanctions on Iran, how much quicker could it produce a nuke?

If US eases sanctions on Iran, how much quicker could it produce a nuke?

The coronavirus crisis could be an opportunity for Trump to cite unique and changed circumstances to show flexibility and claim that he did not blink in the two-year game of chicken with Iran.

Sanctions and Iran can be one of the most confusing subjects on the planet.

The US on Tuesday announced that it would continue limited waivers from sanctions so that the EU, Russia and China can continue to provide humanitarian aid and nonproliferation items to the Islamic Republic.

This changed nothing.

The bigger question is whether, due to the coronavirus crisis escalating a humanitarian nightmare in Iran, the US might roll back some of the additional sanctions it has imposed on Tehran since May 2018.US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo showed the first sign of flexibility on this issue in nearly two years after the Trump administration has been taking increasing heat from the UN, the EU and others for rejecting calls to roll back sanctions as Iran’s death toll from corona shoots through the roof.

Until now, the Trump administration has fought off these calls, saying that any additional trade or funds it would allow for Iran would go to the regime, the nuclear program and terrorism – not to the sick and poor general public.

What if the Trump administration changes its tune on the issue, with Pompeo’s statement as a trial balloon?

All along Trump has wanted a deal with Iran, as long as he could claim some kind of improved deal and present it as better than what his predecessor Barack Obama achieved with Iran in 2015.

The coronavirus crisis could be an opportunity for Trump to cite unique and changed circumstances to show flexibility and claim that he did not blink in the two-year game of chicken with Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

IF THE US were to reduce sanctions pressure, how much faster might the Islamic Republic be able to achieve breakout capability?

First, the 12-month breakout period has been eviscerated.

Saying it was responding to US sanctions, Iran started in May 2019 to publicly violate the 2015 nuclear deal’s limits.

By March 3, even the IAEA, which tries to stay on Tehran’s good side, was reporting that Iran had exponentially increased its enriched uranium stock – passing the volume of low-enriched uranium needed for a nuclear weapon.

Depending on your politics and looking at best- or worst-case scenarios, Iran is now viewed as being between three to six months from being able to weaponize that low-enriched uranium.

In predicting how much faster Iran might be able to move toward a nuclear weapon if the US eases sanctions, a key question would be which sanctions were being eased and in exchange for what.

There was a round of non-oil related sanctions in August 2018, a much more damaging round of oil-related sanctions in November 2018 and an ending of broader waivers of sanctions for eight countries in May 2019.

Since then there have been additional layers of sanctions piled on.

In fall 2019, France proposed the US restore broader waivers (the waivers approved on Tuesday were very narrow and related only to humanitarian issues) or the US roll back oil sanctions by half in exchange for Iran returning to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal’s restrictions.

While both the US and Iran rejected this compromise, might it be back on the table now?

If so, the first two items for the US to try to achieve in negotiations would be for Iran to reduce its new enrichment of uranium and uranium stock back down to the 300 kilogram limit, while exporting the excess uranium that has it above the 1,000 kilogram line necessary for a bomb.

Or would Iran be trying to hold out for the US to roll back sanctions with no concessions on its part to return to compliance with the nuclear deal?

In the first scenario, where both sides compromise, the Islamic Republic’s clock for obtaining a nuclear weapon might even be pushed back.

In the second scenario, where the US makes one-sided concessions to Iran due to the corona crisis, there are three possibilities.

One is that Khamenei does not proceed forward, viewing the US concessions as a sign of good faith that he does not want to squander.

A second possibility is that Khamenei views the concessions as a sign of weakness and barrels forward and closer to a nuclear bomb.

In a third scenario, the additional funds Iran gets lead to additional funding of terrorism by its proxies, but do not lead to a drive to get closer to a bomb.

The third possibility is the most likely one because the Islamic Republic risks littlewhen it activates its proxies, whereas once it is clearly dashing to breakout for a nuclear weapon, its leaders know they must worry about an Israeli preemptive strike and possibly even one from the US.

Further, Tehran can continue to enrich uranium at a low level and increase its stock, presenting this as an achievement, while at the same time avoiding enriching uranium to higher levels which would set off Israeli and US alarm bells.

So probably a partial reduction in sanctions due to the coronavirus would not lead Iran to rush faster toward a nuclear bomb.

If anything, The Jerusalem Post has learned, the corona crisis has likely slowed down some of Iran’s nuclear activities, because all echelons of the Iranian government have been impacted.

The bigger question, aside from the humanitarian issue, is will a concession now positively influence Tehran toward less conflict, or negatively lead it to believe the US has weakened in its long-term determination over the issue?

Iran Warns Babylon the Great

Aide to Iran’s Khamenei cautions against U.S. “provocative actions” in Iraq

ReutersApril 1, 2020, 12:24 PM MDT

April 1 (Reuters) – A top military aide to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei cautioned the United States on Wednesday of consequences of “provocative actions” in Iraq, Iranian news agencies reported.

“We advise U.S. politicians and military to take responsibility for the consequences of their provocative actions (in Iraq),” General Yahya Rahim Safavi said, quoted by the semi-official news agency Tasnim. “Any U.S. action will mark an even larger strategic failure in the current president’s record.”

Rahim Safavi made the comments hours before U.S. President Donald Trump said that Iran or its proxies planned a sneak attack on U.S. targets in Iraq and warned they would pay a “very heavy price” but gave no details. (Reporting by Dubai newsroom)

Iranian Hegemony Returns to Iraq (Daniel 8:3)

Iran’s Quds Force Commander in Baghdad for 1st Time since Soleimani Killing

Wednesday, 1 April, 2020 – 17:30 –

Quds Force commander Esmail Ghaani. (AP)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force Esmail Ghaani arrived in Baghdad this week for the first time since the killing of his predecessor, Qassem Soleimani, in a US air strike near the Iraqi capital in January.

Iraqi officials confirmed he had arrived on Monday to try and unify Iraq’s fractured political leaders as stiff opposition by one major bloc thwarts the chances the country’s latest prime minister-designate can form a government, reported The Associated Press.

Ghaani’s arrival at Baghdad airport came amid a days-long curfew to stem the spread of the coronavirus that has halted inbound and outbound flights.

The four officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Soleimani, along with Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was killed Jan. 3 in a Washington-directed airstrike outside Baghdad airport. The attack led to deteriorating US-Iraq relations and prompted Iraqi lawmakers to call for the withdrawal of U. troops in a non-binding resolution.

After arriving, Ghaani left the airport under tight security in a three-vehicle convoy.

Soleimani was known to make frequent trips to the Iraqi capital to forge unity during times of political paralysis. But many officials are doubtful Ghaani can establish consensus in Iraq’s deeply fractured political scene, given his poor command of Arabic and lack of personal relationships with key figures.

“This is his first test to see if he can succeed in uniting the Shiite position, as Soleimani was doing,” said a senior Shiite political official, speaking on condition of anonymity to comment freely about the visit, which has not been publicly announced.

Ghaani’s trip coincides with a burgeoning crisis in Iraq as Prime Minister-designate Adnan al-Zurfi faces resistance from certain political blocs amid a deepening fragmentation across the political spectrum. Meanwhile, plummeting oil prices and the financial toll of the coronavirus pandemic have badly damaged the country’s economy.

Previous premier-designate Mohammed Allawi withdrew his candidacy citing political obstruction.

The Fatah bloc in parliament, which came in second after Sairoon in the May 2018 election, vehemently opposes Zurfi. Headed by Hadi al-Ameri, it is composed of parties with affiliated militias under the Popular Mobilization Forces, some of which are Iran-backed.

The Sairoon bloc, led by populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, initially supported Zurfi’s candidacy.

Ghaani has met with Shiite leaders including Ameri, State of Law head Nouri al-Maliki, head of al-Hikma Movement Ammar al-Hakim, as well as President Barham Salih, the officials said.