Series of small quakes shake before the Sixth Seal: Revelation 6

Series of small quakes shake near South Carolina capital

The Associated PressDec 28, 2021 / 06:10 AM ESTSouth Carolina NewsPosted: / Updated: Dec 28, 2021 / 06:10 AM EST

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A series of mild earthquakes have shaken homes and residents in central South Carolina. 

The U.S. Geological Survey says three quakes Monday in Kershaw County near Elgin registered magnitudes of 3.3, 2.5 and 2.1. 

The first earth-shaker rattled window panes and disrupted wildlife but apparently did not cause injuries or major damage. As the earthquake rumbled, with a sound similar to a heavy construction vehicle, it shook homes, caused glass doors and windows to clatter in their frames and prompted dogs to bark. 

People reported feeling tremors throughout the Columbia area and as far away as Lexington, about 40 miles southwest of the epicenter.

This is What Could Trigger the Next War Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Opinion | 

The writing on the wall: Graffiti showing Hamas militants in Gaza City. Given recent history, Gaza is the obvious arena to look for the next war, after four previous rounds with Israel since late 2008

Trigger Warning: This Is What Could Spark the Next Israeli-Palestinian War

Learning the long menu of potential sparks for the next Israeli-Palestinian escalation – from Sheikh Jarrah to spiking food prices, Hamas to Homesh – is grim, but better to do it before the next warShare in FacebookShare in Twitter

The writing on the wall: Graffiti showing Hamas militants in Gaza City. Given recent history, Gaza is the obvious arena to look for the next war, after four previous rounds with Israel since late 2008Credit: AP Photo/Bernat ArmangueDahlia ScheindlinGet email notification for articles from Dahlia ScheindlinFollow

Feb. 9, 2022

Towards the end of the 19th century, Otto von Bismarck issued a grave prediction: “If there is ever another war in Europe, it will come out of some damned silly thing in the Balkans.”

But by the time Winston Churchill quoted Bismarck in August 1945, the world’s most famous trigger warning was two wars too late. Europe lay in ruins.

By contrast, Israeli media analysts often declare confidently that neither Israel nor the Palestinians want escalation – usually just as the rockets and airstrikes are launching. These analyses feed Israel’s psychological repression of the reality that there is in fact an active, ongoing military conflict here. In turn, Israelis perceive each new escalation as arbitrary Palestinian provocation, proof of an endemic hatred of Israel.

The region could use a well-timed trigger warning. Learning the long menu of potential sparks is grim, but better to do it before the next war. 

The sparks for violence can be unpredictable events or accidents, like the car crash that set off the first Intifada. They can also be orchestrated, such as Ariel Sharon’s infamous, symbolic parade around the Temple Mount, which sparked the second Palestinian uprising. A targeted assassination did the job in 2012, touching off the second Israel-Hamas escalation; by the time this article appears, an Israeli attack that killed three Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades operatives in Nablus on Tuesday may have made even this warning too late.

But given recent history, Gaza is the obvious arena to look for the next war, after four previous rounds since late 2008. With Hamas governing a high-density, youth-heavy territory of soaring unemployment under siege-like Israeli control since 2007, the conditions of life are untenable. Even Israel has sought to improve the economic situation recently, by increasing the number of permits to 10,000 laborers allowed to enter Israel. While work opportunities are welcome in themselves, that number won’t change the overall misery.

A Fatah militant hold his rifle during a rally in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip last year following the truce that ended an 11-day war between Gaza's Hamas rulers and Israel

Hamas is also under pressure from its long-running competition with Fatah, while fending off challenges from Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other factions. Hamas has lost much of the popularity it gained from the war in May; though it still leads over Fatah in surveys, any lingering hopes for electoral success are thwarted by the lack of elections. That makes violence a natural recourse.

The tripwire was nearly crossed in January when a Palestinian security prisoner on hunger strike almost died, Islamic Jihad threatened retaliation, and two rockets slipped out “accidentally” from Gaza to the Israeli shore. An 11th-hour deal to release the prisoner defused the situation. 

Still, Hamas may have other priorities than war at present, such as establishing a stronger political foothold in the West Bank. 

The West Bank itself is also fertile ground for triggers of war. Two high-profile Israeli settlement outposts, Homesh and Evyatar, are now the rallying points for the most extreme settlers and a fresh source of friction with Palestinians nearby. Attacks beget attacks.

Violence by these settlers is rising and expanding to include left-wing Israeli Jewish activists too. Both Israelis and Palestinians in these West Bank attacks are increasingly taking up firearms rather than knives or stones.

A Palestinian flag flutters on a hilltop in the town of Beita, near Nablus, in the occupied West Bank, as a lift truck hangs a Star of David on poles at the settler outpost of Evyatar

But for flammable material, Jerusalem is the most dependable arena. Historically, the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount is the axis mundi of conflict. The riots of 1929 are named for Hebron but started here, as well as the Al Aqsa (Second) Intifada. 

A fresh wave almost erupted in 2017, when Israeli plans to use metal detectors for Palestinian worshippers symbolized to Palestinians that Israel was asserting greater control over the holy site. It later turned out that Yair Netanyahu, the prime minister’s son, was the main advocate for the policy. With Passover this year overlapping with Ramadan in April and the number of Jews visiting the Temple Mount site on Passover growing annually, the chance of some damned silly thing starting a war grows accordingly.

Just a short distance away, in Sheikh Jarrah, Israel’s juggernaut of Palestinian home eviction and demolitions continues. The Salhiye family was evicted in mid-January; when the police showed up at 8am to remove them, a family member threatened to blow himself up with gas canisters. He didn’t do it, but authorities demolished the family’s home.

In May last year, Hamas made it clear that Jerusalem and Gaza are politically contiguous, by responding to attempted evictions at that time with rockets. Maybe this January, Hamas had other strategic priorities. But if Mahmoud Salhiyeh had self-immolated, strategy wouldn’t have mattered.

The list of flashpoints in Jerusalem continues. Certain high-tension Israeli construction projects have been paused, but new construction for Jewish communities abutting underserved Palestinian neighborhoods supply plenty of tinder in their stead.

And the potential triggers are not only on the Israeli-Palestinian front – violence can come from within each group. In May, Palestinian citizens of Israel showing solidarity with the Sheikh Jarrah residents sparked protests around Israel. Violence erupted between the protestors, Israeli police and ultra-nationalist Jewish groups; mixed cities including Lod, Acre, Jaffa and also Bat Yam, saw the worst violence by, and against, Jewish and Arab citizens in living memory. 

Could it happen again? Lod, a working-class mixed Arab-Jewish city with a growing Jewish religious nationalist “Garin Toranicommunity, was one of the worst flashpoints in May. Fida Shehade, a councilwoman in Lod, told me that, “The circumstances haven’t changed…We [Arabs] are still invisible citizens and the discriminatory, unequal policy exists.”

She pointed to widespread poverty as an ongoing, exacerbating problem. “The city is quieter and trying to get back to normal,” she wrote to me. “But the daily headlines about the police and the right-wing preparing for the ‘next May’ [a euphemism for repeated violence] just increases the lack of trust and lack of dialogue between the residents.”

Surveys by aChord, a social psychology research center, studied Jews and Arabs in Israel’s mixed cities and found that among Arabs, distrust, hatred and fear towards Jews has been growing since May. Jewish trends on those measures were stable or declined slightly – but began from a much higher starting point.

Finally, internal Palestinian violence is more likely than ever. Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership is more decrepit than his health, and still the Palestinian Authority has no a clear succession plan. Elections are a far-fetched fantasy, leaving no civic outlet for massive public frustration. Instead, at the Palestinian Central Council meetings being held this week Abbas reportedly won approval to stack leadership positions with his own people. 

If Abbas does go, factional fighting is a serious possible outcome, whether between Hamas and Fatah or between Fatah factions, and all of these groups are armed. If Abbas stays, but PA forces kill another dissenter like Nizar Banat, the streets could erupt. Even global inflation and price hikes could be the trigger, perhaps pushed by a Russian invasion of key food exporter Ukraine. In Hebron this week, demonstrations partly over rising prices turned violent.

One international observer said the Hebron violence “shows the absence of law and order, and the lack of influence of the PA in Hebron.” A diplomatic source worried about the possibility that PA funds and other donor sources could dry up – and nearly 30 percent of Palestinians working in the public sector won’t get paid. The tinder pile grows.

There are plenty of policy ideas available for avoiding the flare ups, but no substitute for a comprehensive political resolution to the conflict on the horizon. In the meantime, there’s nothing damned silly, irrational or endemic about the hostilities: they are a direct response to empirical circumstances. People created these conditions, and people need to fix them. 

Dahlia Scheindlin is a political scientist and public opinion expert, and a policy fellow at The Century Foundation. Twitter: @dahliasc

US Needs to Nuke UP in Space: Daniel 7

To catch China and Russia in hypersonic race, US must embrace risk now

The US doesn’t have to replicate Chinese or Russian efforts but invest smarter.

By   TATE NURKINon February 09, 2022 at 9:04 AM

This illustration depicts the Defense Advanced Research Products Agency’s (DARPA) Falcon Hypersonic Test Vehicle as it emerges from its rocket nose cone and prepares to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere. DARPA has conducted two test flights of the vehicle; in the second, in 2011, the HTV reached a speed of Mach 20 before losing control. (Image courtesy of DARPA)

When John Hyten was on his way out as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he lamented that the US had lost its appetite for failure, and as a consequence would find itself trailing in high-risk tech — such as, specifically, hypersonics. In the op ed below, Tate Nurkin of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments echoes Hyten’s warnings and urges the US to embrace not recklessness, but certainly risk if its wants to catch up to geopolitical rivals.

Last week, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks met with CEOs from more than a dozen of America’s defense contractors involved in US hypersonic weapons programs to reinforce the urgency of fielding these systems. According to a Pentagon spokesman, those attending discussed a need to “adopt a ‘test often, fail fast, and learn’ approach which will accelerate the fielding of hypersonic and counter-hypersonic systems.”

This is welcome and timely guidance. Hypersonic weapons are a critical capability for deterring and defeating potential adversaries in the 21st century, and ones the US must develop with superspeed of its own.

Beyond the immediate need for critical investments in hypersonic infrastructure, such as testing ranges, the US must ignore calls to “slow down” in the wake of failed tests, and instead take on even more risk – and more failure – if it doesn’t want to be left behind.

Hypersonic strike systems—both hypersonic glide vehicles (HGV) and air-launched hypersonic missiles—are among the DoD’s most important technology and capability priorities. The 2022 NDAA includes $3.8 billion for hypersonic weapons, up from $3.2 billion in 2021. There are at least six active weapons development programs and dozens of other affiliated research and development efforts across the department.

Some critics of DoD’s hypersonics push have questioned if there is a role for hypersonic systems, arguing that any benefit they provide will be simultaneously incremental and expensive. But the utility of hypersonic strike systems in deterring and fighting modern conflicts is layered and evident.

UX: Making Military Systems Warrior Friendly

The common and shared need to understand and improve UX is a DoD-wide imperative.


Hypersonic weapons are not invincible. However, their combination of attributes—extremely fast, ability to strike at long ranges, difficulty to detect and track by current air and missile defense systems, maneuverability—are especially salient in an environment in which increased speed, range, lethality, and precision are necessary for holding at risk time-sensitive targets and degrading or defeating high-end A2/AD and air defense systems.

China and Russia have fielded three HGV systems, and both are pursuing research and development of air-launched weapons. The aggressiveness of China and Russia’s hypersonic development and their success in fielding early iterations of the technology creates what Mike White, DoD’s principal director for hypersonics, calls a worrying “timescale imbalance” in tactical environments. Potential adversaries will be able to strike targets at range within minutes while US weapons will take tens of minutes or longer to travel the same ranges.

This may be even more worrying considering the belief within DoD and the US government that China and Russia’s HGVs could be armed with nuclear warheads It’s an imbalance that can only be addressed by the American pursuit of hypersonic technology to level the strategic playing field. It also places added emphasis on the need to accelerate the progress of hypersonic defense.

Marines’ new aviation plan in the works: General

The Marine Corps has not published a new aviation plan since 2019, and the new one could mean big changes.


The Pentagon should not feel compelled to match everything China and Russia do. Some of these fielded systems may not have been sufficiently tested across a range of operational conditions and scenarios. More importantly, the US should be strategic and reflective—rather than just reflexive—in the technologies it develops and how it employs them.

And it is not just Russia and China. North Korea’s recently claimed, although dubiously, to have tested a hypersonic weapon. US allies and partners including Japan, France, South Korea, Australia (in conjunction with the US) and India all have active programs as well, reinforcing the prominent role these weapons will play in deterring and, if necessary, defeating emerging threats.

Critiques of America’s hypersonic weapons programs have also frequently and forcefully centered on the pace and success rate of DoD’s hypersonic testing. It is true that the handful of flight tests that have taken place in 2020 and 2021 are not enough.

As former Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin noted last year, “We need to be doing one test a week and not one test a quarter.” Any bureaucratic challenges slowing testing are compounded by a lack of sufficient availability of testing ranges, according to a recent internal DoD report obtained by Bloomberg News.

It is also true that several tests have failed, which notionally is not necessarily a poor outcome. As a Pentagon statement following an October 2021 failed test pointed out, “experiments and tests both successful and unsuccessful are the backbone of developing highly complex and critical technologies at tremendous speed, as the department is doing with hypersonic technologies.”

However, nearly all these failures have been due to problems unrelated to the hypersonic technologies, meaning that the hypersonic technology was not deployed and lessons about it were not yet learned.

To focus exclusively on these failures and call for a more deliberate approach to hypersonic development, though, is to ignore or discount the progress DoD has made and the successful tests that have occurred, as well as the DoD’s increasing use of high-performance computing modeling and simulation capabilities in conjunction with testing.

Some recent examples: In October, Sandia National Laboratory launched three sounding rockets on-board of which tests of 23 sub-systems were successfully run. A month earlier, DARPA completed a successful free-flight test of its Hypersonic Air Breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC). There have also been three successful tests of Lockheed Martin’s solid-state engine for the Navy’s Intermediate Range Conventional Prompt Strike (IR-CPS) program in the past year. In fact, in January the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael Gilday assessed that the IR-CPS program “has actually met or exceeded every benchmark and milestone over the last couple of years.”

Building on these successes and other developments across the Pentagon’s extensive hypersonic portfolio will require a more aggressive approach to testing and experimentation, including investing now in test range capacity, both in the U.S. and with key allies such as Australia.

More fundamentally, achieving DoD’s admittedly ambitious objectives for testing and fielding defenses against hypersonic weapons will require a heightened tolerance of risk. This does not mean embracing carelessness or recklessness. It does mean infusing urgency with a broad perspective on hypersonic development, learning as much as possible from each opportunity, and not being deterred from achieving long-term success by episodic short-term setbacks.

Tate Nurkin is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and Forward Defense at the Atlantic Council.

Iran’s New Nuclear Weapons: Daniel 8

Missile launchers in a tunnel purportedly in Iran, from footage broadcast on the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network in 2015. AFP Photo
Missile launchers in a tunnel purportedly in Iran, from footage broadcast on the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network in 2015. AFP Photo

Iran unveils new missile with reported region-wide range

Weapon can reach US bases in the region as well as targets inside Israel, state TV says


Feb 9, 2022

Iran unveiled a new missile on Wednesday with a reported range that would allow it to reach US bases in the region and targets inside Israel.

The missile uses solid fuel and has a range of 1,450 kilometres, Iranian state TV reported. It is called the Khaibar-buster, a reference to a Jewish castle overrun by Muslim warriors in the early days of Islam.

Former UK army chief says war against Iran would be a ‘failure of statecraft’

The television report said the domestically manufactured weapon had high accuracy and could defeat missile shield systems. The information has not been independently verified.

Israel’s closest point to Iran is about 1,000km from the republic.

The report comes as negotiations continue in Vienna to revive Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. Iran, which has long said it does not seek nuclear weapons, insists its missile programme is only a deterrent.

Iran has missiles that can travel up to 2,000km.

Last month, it tested an engine for a solid-fuel rocket designed to launch satellites.

The Obama Iran Deal is About to End

Ted Cruz arrives at a closed Iran briefing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the US Capitol on Wednesday. Getty Images
Ted Cruz arrives at a closed Iran briefing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the US Capitol on Wednesday. Getty Images

Iran nuclear deal: US officials give ‘sobering and shocking’ update

With Iran’s breakout time to build a nuclear weapon down to a matter of weeks, some senators are threatening a vote to block US re-entry into the JCPOA

Bryant Harris


Feb 9, 2022

Several key US officials on Wednesday briefed the Senate on the status of diplomatic efforts to revive the nuclear deal with Iran, with a number of senators describing the updates as “sobering”.

The briefers at the closed hearing were Robert Malley, the lead US negotiator in the indirect nuclear talks with Iran in Vienna, National Security Council co-ordinator for the Middle East Brett McGurk, and an intelligence community official.

“That was a sobering and shocking briefing about where we are right now,” Democrat Chris Murphy told The National after the briefing.

“The information we got on breakout time is something we all have to really think about.”

Democrats Bob Menendez and Tim Kaine joined Republican James Risch in echoing Mr Murphy’s assessment. And Republican Ted Cruz called the briefing “troubling”.

Still, the senators remain divided over President Joe Biden’s attempts at diplomacy with Iran. Tehran has made significant technical advances since former president Donald Trump withdrew from the accord in 2018.

Since then, Iran’s breakout time to build a nuclear weapon has fallen from about a year under the original deal down to a matter of weeks. And The Wall Street Journal reported last week that US officials expect Iran’s breakout time to be significantly less than a year under a restored nuclear deal.

“There’s still significant gaps between the US and Iranian side,” Mr Murphy said.

“A deal’s possible, but there’s a lot of work that has to be done.

“There needs to be modifications reflecting the reality of what’s happened since Trump’s decision to withdraw.

“It would largely be a re-entry to the agreement, but you’d have to make some modifications because of their work on advanced centrifuges.”

Any modifications to the original accord could allow Republicans — aided by a few sympathetic Democrats — to force a vote attempting to block a new accord.

Mr Risch, the ranking member on the Foreign Relations Committee, explicitly threatened to do so in a letter to Mr Biden, cosigned by 31 of his Republican colleagues.

“On the Iranian side, during the first year of your administration, the regime has made qualitative progress towards a nuclear arsenal that requires new measures to reverse, far beyond anything envisioned by the [nuclear deal],” they wrote.

Mr Risch told reporters after the Wednesday briefing that the Biden administration’s previous promises for a “longer and stronger” Iran deal are “not going to happen”.

But Mr Risch and his allies are unlikely to muster the 60 votes necessary needed to tank any new agreement, due to a Senate procedural mechanism called the filibuster.

Russian contractors are seen working at the Bushehr nuclear reactor site in south of Iran, Tuesday, April 3, 2007.  Photographer: Yalda Moaiery/document IRAN/ Bloomberg News.
epa04845906 (FILE) A file picture dated 03 February 2007 shows an Iranian technecian at the International Atomic Energy Agency inspecting the site of the uranium conversion plan of Isfahan, central Iran. Foreign ministers from six world powers and Iran finally achieved an agreement to prevent the Islamic republic from developing nuclear weapons, Western diplomats said in Vienna on 14 July 2015.  EPA/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH *** Local Caption *** 52054282
A picture taken on November 10, 2019, shows workers on a construction site in Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant during an official ceremony to kick-start works for a second reactor at the facility. - Bushehr is Iran's only nuclear power station and is currently running on imported fuel from Russia that is closely monitored by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)
A handout picture released by the Iranian president's official website shows a metal-encased rod with 20 percent enriched nuclear fuel as it is inserted into Tehran's reactor on February 15, 2012 . Ahmadinejad unveiled what was described by local media as Iran's first domestically produced, 20-percent enriched nuclear fuel for the capital's research reactor.    AFP PHOTO/HO-- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / IRANIAN PRESIDENCY" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - AFP IS USING PICTURES FROM ALTERNATIVE SOURCES AS IT WAS NOT AUTHORISED TO COVER THIS EVENT, THEREFORE IT IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DIGITAL ALTERATIONS TO THE PICTURE'S EDITORIAL CONTENT, DATE AND LOCATION WHICH CANNOT BE INDEPENDENTLY VERIFIED (Photo by - / PRESIDENT.IR / AFP)
A handout picture released by the official website of the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, shows him (L) and Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation chief Ali Akbar Salehi addressing journalists at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in the Gulf port city of Bushehr on January 13, 2015. Rouhani implicitly warned US lawmakers against adopting any new sanctions linked to Iran's controversial nuclear programme, saying they would fail as his country was beginning to exit the sanctions-era. AFP PHOTO / IRANIAN PRESIDENCY WEBSITE / MOHAMMAD BERNO 
epa03655165 (FILE) A file picture dated 21 August 2010 shows a general view of the Iranian nuclear power plant in Bushehr, southern Iran. Media reports state on 09 April 2013 that an earthquake has struck near Bushehr, the site of Iran's nuclear power station. Currently there is no information on casualties.  EPA/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH *** Local Caption *** 50783062
Mehdi Abrichamtchi (C), Peace and Security Committee Chairman of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) shows to journalists a secret nuclear site in Iran during a press conference on November 18, 2013 in Paris. Iran and six world powers meet in Geneva from November 20 for the third time since the election of President Hassan Rouhani to try to end the decade-old standoff over Tehran's nuclear programme.  AFP PHOTO / Marion Ruszniewski (Photo by Marion Ruszniewski / AFP)
A picture taken on November 10, 2019, shows workers on a construction site in Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant during an official ceremony to kick-start works for a second reactor at the facility. - Bushehr is Iran's only nuclear power station and is currently running on imported fuel from Russia that is closely monitored by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)

Russian contractors work at the Bushehr nuclear reactor site in 2007. The plant opened four years later. Bloomberg

They could, however, draw support from high-profile Democrats opposed to the deal such as Mr Menendez and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer — both of whom were among four Democrats to vote against the original deal in 2015.

Mr Menendez went so far as to deliver an hour-long speech on the Senate floor last week urging the Biden administration to “exert more pressure on Iran” and questioning the wisdom of salvaging the agreement.

And Mr Cruz, who signed on to Mr Risch’s letter, said after the Wednesday briefing that Mr Biden’s only chance of success would be to continue the “maximum pressure campaign” instated under Mr Trump — which consisted of crippling sanctions on Iran.

Notably, the Biden administration has not removed any of Mr Trump’s major economic sanctions on Iran and has indicated it will not do so until an agreement is reached through the indirect talks in Vienna.

The State Department has, however, waived sanctions on Iran’s civilian nuclear programme in a technical step necessary to return to the 2015 nuclear agreement.

“The Biden administration’s prepared to surrender everything,” Mr Cruz told reporters after the briefing.

“They desperately want a deal, and I don’t think there’s anything they’re unwilling to give to get a deal.

“Because they chose to pursue a hard-left policy of appeasement, the next Republican president will rip to shreds whatever disastrous deal they negotiate.”

The Iranian Horn Grows Despite the Talks: Daniel 8

A Shahab-3 surface-to-surface missile is displayed next to a portrait of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at a street exhibition by Iran's army and paramilitary Revolutionary Guard force to celebrate "Defence Week", marking the 41th anniversary of the start of 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, at the Baharestan Square in Tehran, on Sept. 25, 2021.

Iran to unveil new missile despite progress on nuclear deal

The announcement came amid signals that Iran and the West were slowly bridging gaps to make their way toward restoring the 2015 nuclear deal.

A Shahab-3 surface-to-surface missile is displayed next to a portrait of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at a street exhibition by Iran’s army and paramilitary Revolutionary Guard force to celebrate Defense Week, marking the 41st anniversary of the start of 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, at the Baharestan Square in Tehran, on Sept. 25, 2021. – ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images

Al-Monitor Staff

February 8, 2022 —

The head of the aerospace unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Brig. Gen. Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, said Tehran was planning to unveil a new “strategic missile” soon.

The hard-line general told Iran’s state TV that the missile was already available and being kept in the IRGC warehouses.

Hajizadeh did not specify the type of the projectile, which he said was an entirely home-made product.

In late December, the IRGC launched 16 ballistic missiles and five suicide drones in a large-scale exercise that targeted a mock-up model of Israel’s Dimona nuclear facility.

The announcement came on the eve of the resumption of a new round of talks between Tehran and the world powers, who are scrambling to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Despite a months-long stalemate, nearly all parties involved in the Vienna meetings have seen positive prospects on the horizon in recent days.

As the talks were to resume, the hard-line Tasnim News Agency quoted “a source close to the Iranian negotiating team” as saying that Tehran has already finalized “its political decision.” The source threw the ball in the court of the United States, which has been indirectly engaged in the negotiations.

Russia’s representative, Mikhail Ulyanov, who has emerged as an active public relations face of the ongoing diplomatic pushes, declared on his Twitter account that “negotiations seem to be at the final stage.”

It was not clear to what extent Tehran’s strict demands were being addressed in the potential agreement. In his latest public stance, the spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh reasserted the Iranian position on sanctions relief with robust verifications and solid guarantees.

Worried that time could be running out, the United States issued a set of sanctions waivers last week, allowing the Islamic Republic to benefit from foreign companies’ cooperation for civilian purposes in its nuclear program. The Russian envoy has hailed the US move as a step “in the right direction.”

Along the lines of nuclear negotiations, Western powers have been pushing to talk Iranian authorities into curtailing their controversial missile program, only to face the adamant argument that Iranian missiles are not up for negotiations.

The IRGC’s plan for a new “strategic missile” was also reminiscent of a similar pattern in 2015. Only a few months after the nuclear deal had been inked, the Guards unveiled a massive “underground missile city” as a message of defiance to Western powers.

Indo-Pak rivalry before the First Nuclear War: Revelation 16

Picture source: Reuters

Enduring Indo-Pak rivalry

1 day ago

The rivalry of India and Pakistan has become the most enduring and unresolved conflict of our time. The main factors behind the rivalry include territorial nature of rivalry, disparate national identities, power symmetry and incompatibility in the strategic goals. Since the birth of the two states in 1947, both countries are engaged in wars and crises. The conflict has affected every dimension of inter-state and societal relations between the two countries. The specific factors involved in the persistence of this conflict are power asymmetry, territorial divisions, incompatible national identities, differing domestic power structures (democracy versus authoritarianism), irredentism, presence of nuclear weapons and the great power involvement.

Since late 1980s, the acquisition of nuclear weapons and terrorist tactics has led to the possibility of war in South Asia with unimaginable consequences. Enduring rivalries are defined as conflicts between two or more states that last for more than two decades with several militarized inter state disputes. The India Pakistan conflict is over territory, national identity and power position in the region. The root cause of the conflict lies in territorial, religious or ethno-cultural differences. Kashmir is the essential bone of contention between them. Among other factors that have influenced their relationship include changes in capabilities including the acquisition of nuclear capabilities, changes in government, domestic pressures, relationships with other states including the United States, Soviet Union and China, and changes in the international environment.

From 1947 to 2001, India and Pakistan were engaged in militarized confrontation. They were  also engaged in significant arms acquisition competitions. From 1947 to 2001, India and Pakistan kept moving between democracy and non-democracy. The democratic transition in Pakistan had a huge impact on the rivalry. The change in leadership is also an important factor that can led to a revolution in diplomacy, peace agreement and reorientation of foreign policy. The conflict resolution mechanism suggests that third parties can reduce and resolve the conflicts. But in the case of India and Pakistan, the involvement of great powers has prolonged  and institutionalized the conflict rather than ending it through negotiation. Thus, it is obvious that  the resolution of the India-Pakistan conflict is not the primary motive of major powers involved

The great powers who are active in South Asia particularly the US and China have their own strategic agenda and do not facilitate regional conflict resolution.

The India-Pakistan rivalry has varied significantly in intensity across time and issue area. The India-Pakistan conflict is both enduring and asymmetric. Asymmetric conflicts involve states of unequal power capability measured in terms of material resources including size, demography, military capability and economic skill. Since 1965, India’s policy has been to maintain deterrence vis-a-vis Pakistan. The presence of unresolved territorial issues encouraged the development of rivalry and is likely to escalate to war and tend to recur. A multi-dimensional analysis is needed to understand what led to the prolongation of the rivalry. The post-1998 crises including the Kargil War (1999) and the attack on the Indian Parliament (2001) followed by the Indian military’s mobilization (2002-03) emphasised on the urgent need towards resolution, which requires both favorable conditions and individual leadership efforts.

The prospects for peace between India and Pakistan are not encouraging. The origins of this rivalry, its intensity of violence, failure of mediation and conflict management and its persistence shows that the relationship is not likely to change. There are several structural factors that increase the probability of violent interaction. The ongoing territorial dispute over Kashmir and low levels of economic development for both states mean that the use of force appears to be a  foreign policy instrument. The rise of Islamism and Hindu nationalism and their role in shaping state ideology and national identities has played a complex role in the rivalry. The Kashmir  conflict has less to do with geo-strategic and economic significance and more with national identity. The addition of nuclear weapons may also increase pressures but both states are aware of the costs and risks associated with nuclear war. The conditions conducive to war are present but the last step remains indeterminate due to human choice.

The first step towards stability in India Pakistan relations would be for the leaders of two sides to move away from nuclear war. Each side needs to communicate to the other that there would be no relative gains but only absolute losses in nuclear war. The India-Pakistan enduring rivalry has survived the twentieth century and shows little signs of termination in future. The general instability in the conflict creates a non-conducive environment for dialogue. The rivalry is one of the longest lasting ones in contemporary world.