Russia on Monday, said that it had carried out another successful test launch of its Zircon hypersonic cruise missile. These missiles are hailed by Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of new generation of arms systems that are unrivalled
The missile was fired from Admiral Gorshkov warship in the White Sea. It hit a naval target more than 400 km ?(250 miles) away, said the defence ministry. The ministry said that this was its second test in a fortnight.
A short video clip showed the missile illuminating the night sky with a burst of white light.
Meanwhile, Express has quoted a Russian source who has said that ‘serial production’ of Zircon missiles is underway in Russia.
The United States, China and North Korea are also involved in the contest to hypersonic missiles, the next generation of long-range weapons that are harder to detect and intercept. They travel at more than five times the speed of sound in the upper atmosphere, or around 6,200 km/hour (3,850 mph).
Putin announced an array of new hypersonic weapons in 2018, saying they could hit almost any point in the world and evade a US-built missile shield.
Israel has shared intelligence over the past two weeks with the U.S. and several European allies suggesting that Iran is taking technical steps to prepare to enrich uranium to 90% purity — the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon, two U.S. sources briefed on the issue tell me.
Why it matters: Enriching to 90% would bring Iran closer than ever to the nuclear threshold. The Israeli warnings come as nuclear talks resume in Vienna, with Iran returning to the negotiating table on Monday after a five-month hiatus.
State of play: Enrichment alone will not produce a bomb. Estimates vary as to how long it would take Iran to master the additional technological requirements, but U.S. and Israeli intelligence sources have put the timeline at one to two years.
Iran is already enriching uranium to 60%, far beyond the levels allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal that Donald Trump abandoned and President Biden is now attempting to salvage.
There is no civilian use for 90%-enriched uranium.
Behind the scenes: The intelligence Israel shared with the Biden administration suggests the Iranian preparatory steps would allow Iran to move ahead with 90% enrichment within weeks if it chose to do so, according to one of the U.S. sources.
Israeli intelligence analysts assess that Iran could take that dramatic step soon in an attempt to gain leverage in the Vienna talks, the source said.
Israel also shared an intelligence assessment that Iran’s desire for leverage in Vienna could lead Tehran to further increase attacks against U.S. forces and interests in the region via proxies in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, the U.S. source said.
Asked to comment on this story, a senior Biden administration official declined to discuss intelligence matters but said it was “no secret that the former administration’s decision to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal led to a dramatic and unprecedented acceleration of Iran’s nuclear program,” and that the U.S. was focused on diplomacy with Iran but “prepared to pursue other options should diplomacy fail.”
The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Defense declined to comment.
What they’re saying: Israeli officials have been pushing their U.S. and European counterparts to take a hard line with Iran in Vienna. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a speech on Monday that Israel had shared with its allies “intelligence which points to Iran’s continued race toward a nuclear weapon while violating the 2015 agreement.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who met with his U.K. counterpart Liz Truss in London on Monday, claimed there was indisputable intelligence that Iran intended to secretly continue its nuclear program no matter the result in Vienna.
Truss called the Vienna talks “the last opportunity for the Iranians to come to the table” and agree to return to the 2015 accord. “We will look at all options if that doesn’t happen,” she said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Monday that the U.S. and its European allies “must understand that this opportunity is not a window that could remain open forever.”
Meanwhile, Iran’s hawkish new nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, wrote in the FT that a deal will only be possible if the U.S. is willing to “pay a price” for Trump’s withdrawal, guarantee that it won’t be repeated, and make the first move by removing all sanctions imposed since 2015. The Biden administration has said it will not meet those conditions.
Driving the news: The nuclear talks resumed Monday with a plenary session including the Iranian delegation and diplomats from the EU, France, Germany, the U.K., Russia and China.
The U.S. negotiating team, headed by Iran envoy Rob Malley, is in Vienna but not in the room. They’ll be negotiating indirectly through European mediators.
The latest: The head of the EU delegation, Enrique Mora, said in a press briefing that he was optimistic about the first day of talks but doesn’t think any breakthrough will be reached in the initial round.
He said Iranian negotiators had agreed to take into consideration the previous six rounds of talks held under the previous, more moderate Iranian government.
Mora said Tuesday’s sessions would focus on sanctions relief, Iran’s top priority, and Wednesday’s on the needed limitations on Iran’s nuclear program.
Bagheri said the prioritization of sanctions relief was an achievement for Iran. He also said he was optimistic.
What’s next: Gantz is expected to visit Washington in the coming days to discuss the Iranian nuclear crisis with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and other senior Biden administration officials.
Nuclear talks resume, US warns of ‘other options’ against Iran
The new round begins after a hiatus triggered by the election of a new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi. (AFP Archive)
The United States has warned it is “prepared to use other options” including military force to ramp up pressure on Iran if nuclear talks fail.
The US National Security Council’s coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, Brett McGurk, issues the warning over the weekend, according to CNN.
“We are still hopeful that diplomacy can find a way, but if it cannot find a way, we are prepared to use other options,” McGurk told the Manama Dialogue organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
“When it comes to military force to prevent a country from obtaining a nuclear weapon, that is a very achievable objective,” he added.
International talks on Iran’s nuclear programme will restart in Vienna on Monday with analysts foreseeing major obstacles to any speedy resumption of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Along with Iran, diplomats from the UK, China, Germany, Russia and France will attend. The US will take part in the talks indirectly led by US Special Envoy to Iran Robert Malley.
US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley also warned that Washington and its partners are likely to exert pressure on Iran if it uses talks as pretext to accelerate its nuclear programme.
Failure to strike a deal could also prompt reaction from Israel which has said military options would be on the table. Tehran’s new negotiating team has set out demands that US and European diplomats consider unrealistic, Western diplomats say.
They include insisting that all US and European Union sanctions imposed since 2017, including those unrelated to Iran’s nuclear programme, be dropped
The talks paused in June on a positive note, with diplomats saying they were “close” to an agreement, but the arrival of ultraconservative Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in office has changed the outlook.
The 2015 deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), offered a lifting of some of the array of economic sanctions Iran had been under in return for strict curbs on its nuclear programme.
But the deal began falling apart in 2018 when then US president Donald Trump pulled outand began reinstating sanctions on Iran.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi visited Tehran last week in the hope of addressing several bones of contention between the agency and Iran. However, he said on his return that “no progress” had been made on the issues he raised.
Palestinians face unbearable living conditions. They endure home demolitions, displacement, illegal Jewish settlement expansion, land usurpation, theft of natural resources and flagrant violations of the sanctity of Islamic and Christian holy shrines in Jerusalem; all part of creeping colonialism, cultural and religious genocide.
This situation is unsustainable. Palestinians are trapped in a vicious cycle of grinding poverty, unemployment and limited access to healthcare, medications, vaccinations, water and electricity. They deserve better. Hasn’t the time come for them to achieve their inalienable human rights like other peoples?
Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
From the announcement in March 2020 of lockdown measures to combat Covid, the then government showed itself to be divisive in its support for some citizens and not for others, despite the impact of the lockdown on all. In its strengthening of measures and loosening to save Christmas 2020, in a populist move, the government caused a spike in Covid cases.
The general election results of February 2020 revealed an opportunity for the formation of a national government, an opportunity missed to present a united front and unite all citizens against a common enemy. The coalition government, formed in June 2020, having ignored the advice of the experts, has proven itself to be indecisive, divisive, ineffective and non-representative of the citizens of this ‘democracy’. The governments of the past two years have brought us to the crippling of our services. Given the deaths, suffering and hardships caused to the citizens are we surprised that a government minister would say to his fellow ministers, “We have to take this deadly seriously.” It is a pity Covid has not been taken “deadly seriously” by our governments over the last two years.
Washington would be ready to ramp up pressure on Tehran if talks collapse
Iran and world powers will meet in Vienna on Monday to try to salvage their 2015 nuclear deal, but with Tehran sticking to its tough stance and Western powers increasingly frustrated, hopes of a breakthrough appear slim.
Six rounds of indirect talks were held between April and June. The new round begins after a hiatus triggered by the election of hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi in June as Iran’s president.
Tehran’s new negotiating team has set out demands that U.S. and European diplomats consider unrealistic, Western diplomats say.
“Our demands are clear. Other parties and especially Americans should decide whether they want this deal to be revived or not. They abandoned the pact, so they should return to it and lift all sanctions,” an Iranian official close to the talks told Reuters.
Iran’s demands include the dropping of all U.S. and European Union sanctions imposed since 2017, including those unrelated to Iran’s nuclear programme, in a verifiable process. read more
Iran’s foreign ministry ruled out the possibility of direct meeting between Iranian and U.S. officials in Vienna. Talks between Iran and world powers will resume at 1300 GMT on Monday. S8N2RK02D
In parallel, Tehran’s conflicts with the U.N. atomic watchdog, which monitors the nuclear programme, have festered.
Iran has pressed ahead with its uranium enrichment programme and the IAEA says its inspectors have been treated roughly and refused access to reinstall monitoring cameras at a site it deems essential to reviving the deal.
“If Iran thinks it can use this time to build more leverage and then come back and say they want something better, it simply won’t work. We and our partners won’t go for it,” U.S. envoy Robert Malley told BBC Sounds on Saturday.
He warned that Washington would be ready to ramp up pressure on Tehran if talks collapse.
Iranian officials have insisted in the run-up to Monday that their focus is purely the lifting of sanctions rather than nuclear issues. Highlighting that, its 40-strong delegation mostly includes economic officials.
“To ensure any forthcoming agreement is ironclad, the West needs to pay a price for having failed to uphold its part of the bargain. As in any business, a deal is a deal, and breaking it has consequences,” Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani said in defiant column in the Financial Times on Sunday.
“The principle of ‘mutual compliance’ cannot form a proper base for negotiations since it was the U.S. government which unilaterally left the deal.”
Diplomats have said Washington has suggested negotiating an open-ended interim accord with Tehran as long as a permanent deal is not achieved.
Failure to strike a deal could also prompt reaction from Israel which has said military options would be on the table.
“The talks can’t last forever. There is the obvious need to speed up the process,’ Moscow’s envoy, Mikhail Ulyanov, said on Twitter.
Israeli navy ships attacked on Friday at night, a Palestinian fishing boat with live fire and water cannons, near Gaza city, and abducted five fishermen, before releasing three.
Media sources said the boat was nearly six nautical miles from Gaza city shore and is owned by Palestinians from the local al-Hassi family.
They added that the soldiers abducted Mohammad Nihad al-Hassi, Ahmad Rashad al-Hassi, before taking them to an unknown destination.
The Navy also detained Jamal Jihad al-Hassi, Mohammad Rashad al-Hassi, and Nour Rajab al-Hassi, but released them a few hours later.
The army frequently attacks farmers, shepherds, workers, and fishermen across the eastern parts of the coastal region and in Palestinian territorial waters, leading to dozens of casualties, including fatalities, in addition to preventing the Palestinians from tending to their lands and from fishing to provide for their families.
In March of this year, the Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza said Israeli mines were responsible for an explosion that led to the death of three fishermen.
By Meteorologist Dominic Ramunni Nationwide PUBLISHED 7:13 PM ET Aug. 11, 2020 PUBLISHED 7:13 PM EDT Aug. 11, 2020
People across the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic were shaken, literally, on a Sunday morning as a magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck in North Carolina on August 9, 2020.
Centered in Sparta, NC, the tremor knocked groceries off shelves and left many wondering just when the next big one could strike.
Compared to the West Coast, there are far fewer fault lines in the East. This is why earthquakes in the East are relatively uncommon and weaker in magnitude.
That said, earthquakes still occur in the East.
According to Spectrum News Meteorologist Matthew East, “Earthquakes have occurred in every eastern U.S. state, and a majority of states have recorded damaging earthquakes. However, they are pretty rare. For instance, the Sparta earthquake Sunday was the strongest in North Carolina in over 100 years.”
For example, across the Tennesse River Valley lies the New Madrid Fault Line. While much smaller in size than those found farther west, the fault has managed to produce several earthquakes over magnitude 7.0 in the last couple hundred years.
In 1886, an estimated magnitude 7.0 struck Charleston, South Carolina along a previously unknown seismic zone. Nearly the entire town had to be rebuilt.
The eastern half of the U.S. has its own set of vulnerabilities from earthquakes.
These older rocks have had much more time to bond together with other rocks under the tremendous pressure of Earth’s crust. This allows seismic energy to transfer between rocks more efficiently during an earthquake, causing the shaking to be felt much further.
This is why, during the latest quake in North Carolina, impacts were felt not just across the state, but reports of shaking came as far as Atlanta, Georgia, nearly 300 miles away.
Reports of shaking from different earthquakes of similar magnitude.
Quakes in the East can also be more damaging to infrastructure than in the West. This is generally due to the older buildings found east. Architects in the early-to-mid 1900s simply were not accounting for earthquakes in their designs for cities along the East Coast.
When a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck Virginia in 2011, not only were numerous historical monuments in Washington, D.C. damaged, shaking was reported up and down the East Coast with tremors even reported in Canada.
There is no way to accurately predict when or where an earthquake may strike.
Some quakes will have a smaller earthquake precede the primary one. This is called a foreshock.
The problem is though, it’s difficult to say whether the foreshock is in fact a foreshock and not the primary earthquake. Only time will tell the difference.
The United State Geological Survey (USGS) is experimenting with early warning detection systems in the West Coast.
While this system cannot predict earthquakes before they occur, they can provide warning up to tens of seconds in advance that shaking is imminent. This could provide just enough time to find a secure location before the tremors begin.
Much like hurricanes, tornadoes, or snowstorms, earthquakes are a natural occuring phenomenon that we can prepare for.
The USGS provides an abundance of resources on how to best stay safe when the earth starts to quake.
Chinese and Russian envoys expressed their solemn stance against the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia at the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Board of Governors meeting in Vienna on Friday.Wang Qun (R), Chinese envoy to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna, and Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna, attend a press conference on the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal and related non-proliferation issues in Vienna, Austria, Nov. 26, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]
The board set up a new agenda suggested by China, and for the first time dedicated discussions on the “Transfer of nuclear materials in the context of AUKUS and its safeguards in all aspects under the NPT (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons).”
The trilateral nuclear submarine deal “endangered the international non-proliferation mechanism and global strategic balance and stability, as well as the post-war international security order,” stated Wang Qun, Chinese envoy to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna, and Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna, at a joint press conference after the meeting.
AUKUS nuclear submarine deal intensified regional tensions and increased the risk of an arms race, and “Russia is deeply concerned about this,” said Ulyanov.
At present, all U.S. nuclear submarines use weapon-grade highly-enriched uranium. If the trilateral nuclear submarine cooperation is to proceed, Australia will obtain a large amount of weapon-grade nuclear materials, which will seriously impact the international nuclear non-proliferation system, Ulyanov said.
The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia concealed the progress of nuclear submarine cooperation from the international community, which is extremely non-transparent, Ulyanov stressed, adding that the three must report the relevant situation in a timely manner.
Wang emphasized that in September, after the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia announced the establishment of AUKUS, under which the United States and the United Kingdom will assist Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out that the trilateral deal will give rise to “five dangers” and “three risks,” affecting non-proliferation regime, regional security and strategic stability, which was widely echoed by the international community.
The three countries draw lines with ideology and create new military blocs, and will exacerbate geographical tensions, said Wang, adding that, at a time when the international community generally opposed the Cold War and division, the United States flagrantly violated its policy of not engaging in a new Cold War, organized an Anglo-Saxon “small circle” and placed its geopolitical interests above international solidarity — a typical Cold War mentality.
This move will stimulate regional countries to step up their military development, and even seek to break through the nuclear threshold, pushing up the risk of military conflicts, which China firmly opposes, he stressed.
Wang pointed out that AUKUS has huge hidden dangers and serious harm. “From the perspective of non-proliferation, it is a sheer proliferation act.”
The key to AUKUS is the transfer of tons of nuclear weapons materials by the two nuclear-weapon states, the United States, the United Kingdom, to Australia, a non-nuclear-weapon state, which obviously violates the purpose of the NPT, he explained.
So far, the three countries have always avoided this basic fact, and even tried to confuse the public. AUKUS is a big trouble for the IAEA’s safeguard arrangements and must be corrected, he said, adding that the international security is threatened unless AUKUS is stopped.
Wang said that the IAEA Board of Governors on Wednesday decided to set up a new agenda item on AUKUS, starting the intergovernmental discussion process, which is the right step towards a proper solution of the issue.
The move fully reflects the serious concerns of the Board Members on the trilateral deal, shows that the matter goes beyond the existing mandate of the IAEA’s secretariat, and that member states must jointly explore and seek solutions through an intergovernmental process, he added.
China has already proposed the establishment of a special committee that all member states can participate in, continue to have in-depth discussions on this issue, and submit reports to the Board and conference, Wang said.
Until the parties reach a consensus, the three shall not carry out nuclear submarine-related cooperation, and the agency secretariat shall not negotiate with the three on safeguards arrangements for the trilateral deal, Wang stressed.
The representatives of China and Russia also stated that they will closely follow the relevant trends of the trilateral deal, jointly maintain and continue to promote the relevant intergovernmental process initiated under the institutional framework, and work with all parties to defend the purpose of the NPT with practical actions, maintain the international nuclear non-proliferation system and jointly maintain global strategic stability and international peace and security
Putin has sparked fears of conflict as Russia begins production of a nuclear missile that is “too rapid to stop.”
PUTIN’S VLADIMIR Russia has prompted new fears of war as it begins mass manufacturing of “too quick to block” rapid hypersonic missiles. The 6670mph weapon, which can carry a conventional or nuclear warhead, has been dubbed “unstoppable” by Moscow. The missile was given the name Zircon by the Kremlin. “A serial manufacture of Zircon missiles is beginning at the NPO Mashinostroyenia [formerly known as OKB-52], while state trials of this product’s surface launches will continue,” a Russian source said. After two successful test launches, flight development testing of the Zircon hypersonic missile from an underwater carrier will begin in 2024 from the Project 885M (Yasen-M) modified nuclear-powered submarine Perm.
The Zircon is a multi-purpose hypersonic missile that can strike both sea and land targets.
President Putin previously stated that Zircon hypersonic missiles can travel at Mach 9 and have a range of 620 miles.
Russia plans to install Zircon hypersonic missile weapons on its submarines and surface ships.
The addition of Zircon to multiple ships and submarines might considerably improve the Russian Navy’s overall capability.
Such missiles are concerning because typical early warning systems in the United States may not be able to detect them.
Hypersonic weapons, such as Russia’s 3M22 Zircon, travel at such a high speed and low altitude that they can pierce typical anti-missile defenses.
In reality, the weapon moves so quickly that the air pressure in front of it generates a plasma cloud, which absorbs radio frequencies and renders it virtually invisible to active radar systems.
In order to intercept incoming threats, the US Aegis missile interceptor systems require 8-10 seconds of reaction time.
The Russian Zircon missiles will have already traveled 14 miles in those 8-10 seconds, and the interceptor missiles will not be able to catch up.
Even if a US ship detected a Zircon missile from 100 miles away, it would only have one minute to respond, according to one technical source.
Russia’s move to hypersonic weapons is most likely a response to the United States’ size, technology, and sheer number of aircraft carriers.
China and North Korea have also conducted such tests, igniting an arms race in the region and sending a message to both friends and foes around the world.
Last month, Russia’s deputy prime minister, Yury Borisov, stated that Russia has surpassed the West. “Brinkwire News Summary.”