The Quakes Preceding the Sixth Seal: Revelation 6:12

East Coast Quakes: What to Know About the Tremors Below

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.

Items lie on the floor of a grocery store after an earthquake on Sunday, August 9, 2020 in North Carolina.

Fault Lines

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.”

While nowhere near to the extent of the West Coast, damaging earthquakes can and do affect much of the eastern half of the country.

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.

Seismic waves actually travel farther in the East as opposed to the West Coast. This is because the rocks that make up the East are tens, if not hundreds, of millions of years older than in the West.

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.

The new prophetic alliance: Xi’s China and Putin’s Russia: Daniel 7

putin xi jinping Russia China
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photograph during their meeting in Beijing, on February 4, 2022. | Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images/Alexei Druzhinin

The new unholy alliance: Xi’s China and Putin’s Russia

By Richard D. Land, Christian Post Executive Editor 

Ominous news greeted freedom-loving people across the globe as the Beijing Olympiad began. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed in their 38th personal meeting between the two heads of state that “a trend has emerged towards redistribution of power in the world.”

The two presidents jointly released a 5,300-word document making it clear that the redistribution was to them and away from the post-Cold War order forged by America and its democratic allies.

This document, “Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on the International Relations Entering a New Era and the Global Sustainable Development,” announced to the world a new partnership between the two nations that is even more comprehensive than the one forged between the Stalinist Soviet Union and Mao’s China.

And the reality is that while Mao’s China was decidedly the junior partner in the previous alliance, there is no doubt that Communist China is the senior partner in this ominous new threat to freedom and national sovereignty anywhere it currently exists.

This new “axis of totalitarianism” is the greatest threat to human freedom and dignity to arise since the end of the Cold War symbolized by the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

As William Galston so aptly put it in The Wall Street Journal op-ed, “The New Axis of Autocracy,” America and her allies around the world are now confronted by a hostile “axis of autocracy stretching from the Baltic to the Pacific.”

Walter Russell Mead, WSJ’s columnist and foreign policy expert, explained the new situation in even more ominous terms:

The 2022 Winter Olympics will be remembered for geopolitics, not sports. It’s where Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin declared war on the post-Cold War world order and the American primacy that sustained it. Issuing a joint statement that criticized the U.S. by name six times and outlined an ambitious program of anti-Western collaboration from Ukraine to the South China sea, the two leaders left no doubt that the world’s holiday from history has come to an end.

Emboldened by American fecklessness and grotesque incompetence in its shameful withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Biden’s perennial weakness has turned out to be more temptation than either the Russians or President Xi could withstand. 

Let’s remember that the closest to an actual nuclear exchange between the U.S. and the Soviet Union happened in the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. Why did that happen? After President Kennedy’s perceived weakness in the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Premier Khrushchev and the Soviet government did not believe JFK would use military force to stop the deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba until it was almost too late to avoid warfare that would have inevitably involved at least a partial release of nuclear weapons by each side.

The greatest danger of nuclear war is MISCALCULATION — when at least one side, maybe both, underestimates what would drive the other side to cross the nuclear threshold.

I believe we are in greater danger than we know of just such a miscalculation escalating into a war over Ukraine or Taiwan that would involve the three nations possessing the largest nuclear arsenals to be involved in a real, live shooting war. I am reminded of one diplomat asking another, as Europe slaughtered the cream of a whole generation of its men in World War I, “How did all this start?” to which the other replied, “If we only knew!”

America’s perceived weakness in the Afghanistan debacle has caused the Russians and the Chinese to underestimate (I hope and pray) President Biden. The Chinese are waiting with bated breath to see how the American-led NATO alliance responds.

If NATO caves and Ukraine is invaded, China will begin preparations to move against Taiwan unilaterally, and both Russia and China will say to our allies around the world, “You think America is going to keep its commitments to defend you? Don’t you believe it! Did they keep their word to the Afghans? Did they keep their word to the Ukrainians?”

When the old Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, for one brief moment Ukraine became the third-largest nuclear power in the world. I wrote first about this in The Christian Post on March 31, 2014.

The Clinton administration, rightly concerned about these nuclear weapons ending up in the hands of terrorists or aggressor nations, urged the Ukrainians to give up their nuclear weapons in return for “ironclad” security guarantees. The “Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances” involved Ukraine surrendering all of its “nukes” and signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty whereby Britain, Russia, and the U.S. pledged to protect Ukraine’s “territorial integrity.”

We gave our solemn pledge to defend Ukraine and we did nothing when the Russians seized the Crimea and chunks of eastern Ukraine in 2014.  Are we going to repeat our shame by going back on our word again? And if and when we do, will anyone believe us ever again when giving solemn security guarantees? What about Taiwan? What about the Philippines? What about Japan? What about the Baltic States? What about Poland?

If we fail to keep our word, there will also be major nuclear proliferation. Does anyone believe that Russia would be threatening to invade Ukraine if the Ukrainians still had their nuclear weapons? Of course not.

If we allow the Russians to further abuse the Ukrainians’ national integrity, then countries like Japan, the Philippines, and Taiwan in the Pacific and Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in the Baltics will pursue nuclear deterrents for themselves. And the world will rapidly become a far more dangerous place.

When Ukraine agreed to surrender its newfound nuclear arsenal, they were hailed as “model citizens.” At the time, however, there were those inside and outside Ukraine who were opposed to giving up what could be the only effective deterrent to Russian aggression, including Andriy Zahorodniuk, a former defense minister who now says, “every time somebody offers us to sign a strip of paper, the response is, ‘Thank you very much. We already had one of those some time ago,’” according to The New York Times.

As I warned in a recent Christian Post opinion piece, if we allow Russia to successfully invade Ukraine, it will signal to the dictators of the world that the strong can impose their will on weaker nations.

This joint declaration by China and Russia has raised the stakes in Ukraine immeasurably. The “holiday from history” is over. America faces a stark choice. After World War I, we retreated to our continent smugly assuming that the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans insulated us from the Old World and its troubles and turmoil, thus sowing the seeds for the worldwide catastrophe that was World War II.

After World War II, America resisted the siren song of isolationism. Instead, under President Truman’s sterling leadership, America constructed a series of alliances and a policy of containment which eventually led to the demise of the Soviet menace.

Now, for the third time in a little over a century, America must choose engagement with, or isolation from, the world. This time we face a more mortal threat than either the Axis Powers or the Soviet “evil empire.”

China has the potential to become the most serious existential threat to American democracy that we have ever encountered. China’s economy is far stronger than any the Soviets ever created. They have the potential to seize the worldwide leadership in technology and research from us and they have used new technologies to make their country the most invasive and monolithic surveillance state mankind has yet seen.

If we withdraw they will gradually dominate the world economy and human freedom will atrophy beyond the borders of the United States.

Also, if China becomes the world’s dominant economic and military power, the U.S. dollar will cease to be the world’s reserve currency. If and when that happens, we will no longer be able to fund our welfare state on credit and massive budget deficits. In other words, we will have to live within our means, and that would severely curtail Social Security and the entire federal welfare state.

Make no mistake! The future of America as we have known it is at stake. The true “evil empire” of Communist China, and her junior partner, Russia, are on the march.

I fear that China is playing three-dimensional chess and the Biden administration is playing “Tic-tac-toe.” The Biden foreign policy team reminds me of “Wynken, Blynken and Nod”sailing “on a river of crystal light, into a sea of dew.”

Not only is Communist China more powerful than the Soviet Union ever was, but America is also far more divided about its identity and purpose than it was during the Cold War. Our current fixation on “diversity, equity, and inclusion” will not prepare us to win an all-out competition with Red China.

We need to do everything we can to get the best scientists and researchers working to beat the Chinese on the frontiers of research, whatever race the “best” is.   

We are doomed to lose that competition if we hobble ourselves by insisting on “equity” if it means sacrificing excellence.

As the NASA administrator said in my favorite movie, “The Right Stuff,” about the original Mercury astronaut program, “The best shall be first.” America must do its best to make certain that our “best and brightest” are competing with China, regardless of ethnicity.

To do less would be equivalent to making sure all team members get to play before you have actually won the game. Make no mistake, somebody is going to win this game, just like the Cold War. Winning and losing both have consequences, and winning has much better consequences for the future of humanity. There are no certificates for “participation” in this contest.

The Chinese and Russian “Joint Declaration” just raised the stakes in Ukraine to a whole new level. I pray we rise to the challenge. The stakes are existential and enormous.

And if we fail this test, the next one will be even more difficult. And we must always remember that the greatest danger of a nuclear exchange is miscalculation.

I pray to God that we get our act together and no one miscalculates. May God bless America and may we be a country once again that He is willing to bless.

Dr. Richard Land, BA (Princeton, magna cum laude); D.Phil. (Oxford); Th.M (New Orleans Seminary). Dr. Land served as President of Southern Evangelical Seminary from July 2013 until July 2021. Upon his retirement, he was honored as President Emeritus and he continues to serve as an Adjunct Professor of Theology & Ethics. Dr. Land previously served as President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (1988-2013) where he was also honored as President Emeritus upon his retirement. Dr. Land has also served as an Executive Editor and columnist for The Christian Post since 2011.

Dr. Land explores many timely and critical topics in his daily radio feature, “Bringing Every Thought Captive,” and in his weekly column for CP.

USGS Evidence Shows Power of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

New Evidence Shows Power of East Coast Earthquakes
Virginia Earthquake Triggered Landslides at Great Distances

11/6/2012 8:30:00 AM

Earthquake shaking in the eastern United States can travel much farther and cause damage over larger areas than previously thought.

U.S. Geological Survey scientists found that last year’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia triggered landslides at distances four times farther—and over an area 20 times larger—than previous research has shown.

“We used landslides as an example and direct physical evidence to see how far-reaching shaking from east coast earthquakes could be,”

said Randall Jibson, USGS scientist and lead author of this study. “Not every earthquake will trigger landslides, but we can use landslide distributions to estimate characteristics of earthquake energy and how far regional ground shaking could occur.”

“Scientists are confirming with empirical data what more than 50 million people in the eastern U.S. experienced firsthand: this was one powerful earthquake,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “Calibrating the distance over which landslides occur may also help us reach back into the geologic record to look for evidence of past history of major earthquakes from the Virginia seismic zone.”

This study will help inform earthquake hazard and risk assessments as well as emergency preparedness, whether for landslides or other earthquake effects.

This study also supports existing research showing that although earthquakes  are less frequent in the East, their damaging effects can extend over a much larger area as compared to the western United States.

The research is being presented today at the Geological Society of America conference, and will be published in the December 2012 issue of the

Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

The USGS found that the farthest landslide from the 2011 Virginia earthquake was 245 km (150 miles) from the epicenter. This is by far the greatest landslide distance recorded from any other earthquake of similar magnitude. Previous studies of worldwide earthquakes indicated that landslides occurred no farther than 60 km (36 miles) from the epicenter of a magnitude 5.8 earthquake.

“What makes this new study so unique is that it provides direct observational evidence from the largest earthquake to occur in more than 100 years in the eastern U.S,” said Jibson. “Now that we know more about the power of East Coast earthquakes, equations that predict ground shaking might need to be revised.”

It is estimated that approximately one-third of the U.S. population could have felt last year’s earthquake in Virginia, more than any earthquake in U.S. history.

About 148,000 people reported their ground-shaking experiences caused by the earthquake on the USGS “Did You Feel It?” website. Shaking reports came from southeastern Canada to Florida and as far west as Texas.

In addition to the great landslide distances recorded, the landslides from the 2011 Virginia earthquake occurred in an area 20 times larger than expected from studies of worldwide earthquakes. Scientists plotted the landslide locations that were farthest out and then calculated the area enclosed by those landslides. The observed landslides from last year’s Virginia earthquake enclose an area of about 33,400 km2

, while previous studies indicated an expected area of about 1,500 km2

from an earthquake of similar magnitude.

“The landslide distances from last year’s Virginia earthquake are remarkable compared to historical landslides across the world and represent the largest distance limit ever recorded,” said Edwin Harp, USGS scientist and co-author of this study. “There are limitations to our research, but the bottom line is that we now have a better understanding of the power of East Coast earthquakes and potential damage scenarios.”

The difference between seismic shaking in the East versus the West is due in part to the geologic structure and rock properties that allow seismic waves to travel farther without weakening.

Learn more

about the 2011 central Virginia earthquake.

Why the US will never adopt a no first use’ nuke policy

Geopolitical expert Brandon J Weichert told The Sun that a no-first-use nuclear strategy 'wouldn't be worth the paper it's written on'
Geopolitical expert Brandon J Weichert told The Sun that a no-first-use nuclear strategy ‘wouldn’t be worth the paper it’s written on’Credit: Getty

Adopting ‘no first use’ nuke policy would be a US disaster giving world dominance to Russia and China, expert warns

10:50 ET,

IF the US was to adopt a “no first use” nuclear weapons policy it would pave the way for China and Russia to exert world dominance, an expert warns.

For decades, the US has tried to reduce its reliance on nukes but hasn’t made a commitment that it would never use them first.

Dozens of Democrats are lobbying Biden to declare a 'no first use' policy
Dozens of Democrats are lobbying Biden to declare a ‘no first use’ policyCredit: Getty

Dozens of Democrats are calling on President Biden to declare a “no first use” policy although such a radical shift doesn’t appear to be imminent.

It would mean nuclear weapons would be used primarily to deter a potential attack on America and its allies, rather than initiate a conflict.

Geopolitical expert Brandon J Weichert told The Sun that if Washington invoked such a policy America’s enemies would view it as a “sign of weakness”.

He said: “By removing the possibility of a no-first strike nuclear weapons program, Washington is removing any chance of uncertainty in dealing with foes such as Russia or China.

“Uncertainty creates leverage in dealings with rivals that America might otherwise lack.”

Weichert warned that North Korea and Iran would view an NFU policy as “open season” on the world.

He said: “An NFU policy would debilitate the slowly unfolding American strategy of containing China and deterring Russia by removing the credibility of nuclear weapons.

“An NFU policy is simply not worth the paper it would be written on.”

The chilling warning comes after it was reported that more than 50 Democrats urged Biden to declare a “no first use” policy, Air Force Magazine reports.

Lawmakers that signed the letter branded a potential NFU policy a “once-in-a-generation opportunity”.

They called on the president to support diplomatic efforts with Moscow and Beijing and they “questioned the necessity of new nuclear weapons”.

During the 2020 presidential election campaign, Biden implied that the US would be less reliant on nukes.

Biden appeared inclined to support a strategy that could see the US launch an attack in retaliation, but not strike pre-emptively.

Such a strategy would be known as a “sole purpose”, creating the impression that the US would use its nuclear arsenal to deter rogue nations.

Some lawmakers appear to be calling for a shift in policy at a time when China is threatening the US’ dominance as a nuclear power.

Last year’s Pentagon report claimed Beijing was aiming to build around 700 thermonuclear warheads by 2027, and 1,000 warheads by 2030.

Officials in Washington were left reeling afterBeijing allegedly tested a hypersonic missilethat orbited the Earth in July, and apparently launched a second missile during the same test event.

Sam Armstrong, of the Henry Jackson Society, warned that China is developing weapons at a speed that are designed to take out enemy vessels.

Space Force General David Thompson admitted: “We’re not as advanced as the Chinese or the Russians in terms of hypersonic programs.”

Europe appears to be teetering towards war despite diplomatic efforts by world leaders as they try to avoid a conflict.

President Biden told Americans to leave Ukraine “immediately” on Thursday.

He told NBC: “It’s not like we’re dealing with a terrorist organization. We’re dealing with one of the largest armies in the world. It’s a very different situation and things could go crazy quickly.”

Thousands of US troops have been deployed to Eastern Europe to assist NATO allies and at least 130 tons of American weapons are now in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, more than 100,000 Russian troops have been massed by the border for weeks.

Biden doesn’t expect a situation where American soldiers will start helping US citizens evacuate.

He said: “That’s a world war when Americans and Russia start shooting at one another. We’re in a very different world than we’ve ever been.”

Weichert previously warned that the West has “little” to gain should a war over Ukraine break out.

He said: “This is very, very dangerous and could risk destabilizing the world order and sending us into a world war that might go nuclear.”

Meanwhile, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un has boasted that he will be “shaking the world” with more missile tests.

The Supreme Leader claims hydrogen bombs, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and hypersonic missiles, which can dodge US missile detection systems, are amongst his arsenal.

Pyongyang warned that the tests represented “remarkable achievements”, and claimed they strengthened the country’s “war deterrence”.

A record seven tests in January alone and the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile was launched as part of the experiments.

January’s tests also saw the launch of the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile, which is capable of striking U.S. territories in the Pacific Ocean.

Europe teeters towards war amid the Ukraine-Russia crisis, while China has tested hypersonic missiles in recent months in a warning to the US and its allies
Europe teeters towards war amid the Ukraine-Russia crisis, while China has tested hypersonic missiles in recent months in a warning to the US and its alliesCredit: AP
And, Kim Jong-un proudly displayed the Hwasong-15 missile during a military parade last month
And, Kim Jong-un proudly displayed the Hwasong-15 missile during a military parade last monthCredit: AFP

Why is Babylon the Great Still in Iraq?

Why Are American Troops Still in Iraq? – Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft

U.S. Army Soldiers from Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division conduct a live-fire mortar and crew-served weapons exercise at Iraq’s Al Asad Air Base on Jan. 18, 2022. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Nathan Smith)Middle East

Why Are American Troops Still in Iraq? 

February 10, 2022 

U.S. troops in Iraq quietly thwarted two separate drone attacks on bases hosting American soldiers in the first week of 2022. The attacks, attributed to Iraqi Shiite militias, are no surprise: America’s presence in Iraq is increasingly unwelcome. More attacks are bound to come as long as the Biden administration decides to keep forces there. With each passing day, the risk of a deadly attack increases.

And for what?

The presence of U.S. troops won’t stop terrorist attacks from happening and they can’t contain Iran, which has cemented its hold on some Iraqi military institutions since 2003. American soldiers are likely to die in vain because, just as in Afghanistan, they have been given the impossible task of acting as an ephemeral thumb on the scale of a foreign country’s politics.

Americans must ask themselves: Is this worth it? The United States withdrew from Afghanistan last year because its presence there no longer served its interests. Neither does staying in Iraq.

Trita Parsi is the Executive Vice President of the Quincy Institute. He is an award-winning author and the 2010 recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. 

Adam Weinstein is a Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute. His research focuses on security, trade, and rule of law in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is a veteran of the Marine Corps and the war in Afghanistan and received his JD from Temple University Beasley School of Law.

January’s Rockets From Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

 A Palestinian boy takes part in a protest against the decision of an Egyptian court to list Hamas' armed wing as a terrorist organization, in Rafah near the border between southern Gaza Strip and Egypt February 5, 2015.  (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS)

‘January rockets from Gaza towards Tel Aviv were intentional’ – defense establishment

The Israeli defense establishment thought a month ago that rockets launched towards Tel Aviv that landed in the Mediterranean were an accident. They now think the opposite.


A Palestinian boy takes part in a protest against the decision of an Egyptian court to list Hamas’ armed wing as a terrorist organization, in Rafah near the border between southern Gaza Strip and Egypt February 5, 2015.


On January 1, 2022, two rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip, falling into the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Central Israel. New intelligence reports indicate that, contrary to Hamas’ claim that they were launched by accident, they were actually launched intentionally – towards Tel Aviv.

At the time, it was estimated that the rockets were launched due to a technical issue, which dictated Israel’s proportional response: An attack on a rocket manufacturing facility in Khan Yunis. 

Israel’s current estimation is that it wasn’t Hamas behind the launch, but rather that other terrorist organizations are responsible for it, and Hamas either turned the other cheek or gave them the green light.

 Iron dome anti-missile system fires interception missiles as rockets fired from the Gaza Strip to Israel, in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, May 19, 2021.  (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)Iron dome anti-missile system fires interception missiles as rockets fired from the Gaza Strip to Israel, in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, May 19, 2021. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

The security situation has been relatively quiet since Operation Guardian of the Walls in May, which is why the Israeli defense apparatus is concerned about actions Hamas is taking to finesse its military capabilities.

Iran has increased its aid to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ,) specifically in the realm of weapons production and rocket precision. 

According to defense officials, Hamas is choosing to keep relatively quiet now to strengthen itself for an escalation in the future.

Ramadan, a historically tense time period, is fast approaching in April, and the Palestinian Authority, which has been more moderate and more willing to cooperate with Israel, is losing its political strength in the West Bank. 

Specter of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East: Revelation 16

The specter of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East


© Getty Images

The Biden administration will soon issue its annual National Security Strategy. But it is already clear that the world isn’t waiting on us. Think Russia-Ukraine tensions or North Korean missile tests. But also think the brazen drone attacks on Abu Dhabi last month, which killed three people — rumored to be only part of a broader attack which included Dubai airport and landmarks there. The perpetrators were the Houthi insurgents in Yemen, probably using Iranian-provided weaponized drones and missiles. Horrifying, but it could become even worse.

Criticisms of the reckless and possibly criminal behavior of the Trump administration are piling up. But no doubt its most damaging foreign policy mistake was its withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement, which was designed to contain Iran’s nuclear program. The Obama administration oversold the deal as transformational, as Wilson Center scholar Robert Litwak has pointed out. But as a transactional deal, it was very effective. It only addressed Iran’s nuclear program — not its missile development and use of proxies to attack Israel and generate mischief across the Middle East and beyond. A recent example is the connection between Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) contractors and cyber espionage in the U.S. 2020 election. But it did the former very well, including capping Iran’s plutonium production and permitting frequent inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

But by pulling out, the Trump administration abandoned a framework that was supported by both Russia and China, in addition to Europe, and unleashed Iran to pursue breakout — uranium enrichment at a level that enables it to produce a nuclear weapon. Breakout is now weeks away, and should Iran go down that path it will spur a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and surely provoke additional attacks by Israel which views (correctly) a nuclear Iran as an existential threat. While Israel lacks bunker-buster bombs to take out Iran’s program by conventional means, it is common knowledge that it has an undisclosed nuclear program. The Biden administration has also made clear it will not let Iran get a nuclear weapon.

Surely, the view of key officials in the former administration (Secretary of State Mike Pompeo among others) — that Iran would not abandon the JCPOA even if the US pulled out —were naive. But worse, Iran has since elected a more hardline regime and has acquired the know-how which, even if the deal is resurrected, cannot be erased.

So now what? The Biden administration faces a hard choice. If it goes back into the deal — with support from the nations that helped to negotiate it — it will surely have to repeal the additional unilateral sanctions put in place by the Trump administration. That will no doubt bring scathing criticism from the right. But not restoring the JCPOA risks something worse: a race in which Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and perhaps others, buy or develop nuclear weapons.

The rumors have been out there for years that Saudi Arabia has purchased nuclear weapons from Pakistan — just as Libya did and subsequently surrendered years ago. Perhaps Turkey has too. Maybe North Korea is also proliferating nuclear-grade material and technology, something that is very hard to detect. Or perhaps either country has some homegrown clandestine effort underway. Terrifying.

So what is the least bad option? To me, it is re-entering the Iran deal, which I personally supported in the first place. The irony is that once it was in place — and not disapproved by Congress — it gained support. On the day Trump disavowed it, I testified before a nearly unanimous panel (in favor) of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that we should keep it. The old adage goes that the perfect should not be the enemy of the good. Now we confront catastrophic consequences as the alternative to the least bad. The better path is clear and there is no time to lose.

Former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) is president emerita of the Wilson Center and author of “Insanity Defense: Why our failure to solve hard national security problems makes us less safe.” 

Iran is Nuclear Ready: Daniel 8:4

Iran could have enough material for nuclear bomb within weeks, US senators warned

Iran could have enough material for nuclear bomb within weeks, US senators warned

Iran is said to be just weeks away from having enough nuclear material to develop a nuclear bomb. (File/AP)


February 10, 202215:23

LONDON: Iran could have enough material to build a nuclear bomb within weeks, US senators have been warned in a closed-door meeting.

The assessment of Tehran’s nuclear capability highlights how Iran’s breakout timeline — the time needed to produce enough enriched uranium for a bomb — has continued to drop.

The warning came just after Iran announced that it had produced ballistic missiles capable of traveling 1,450 km and “penetrating missile shields” such as the US-manufactured Patriot system, used by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries. Iran now has the largest arsenal of ballistic missiles in the region.

Some have taken the news of Iran’s shortening breakout time as a new impetus for the US to conclude a deal with Tehran that would curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

“I see no way to stop Iran’s progress other than re-entering this deal,” Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, chair of the Foreign Relations Committee’s Middle East panel, told Politico.

“And I left the briefing more certain than ever that we better be serious about trying to get back into an agreement.”

Long-running negotiations in Vienna between Washington and Tehran appear to be nearing their conclusion, and the US recently announced some sanctions relief.

But Republican officials said Iran had previously breached the spirit of the deal by spreading instability throughout the Middle East through its proxies, and by producing ever-more ballistic missiles.

“I think the only deal that’s possible is a bad one. And that’s what I fear — that the administration wants a deal so badly that they’ll enter into a really dangerous one,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, told Politico.

Officials say talks in Vienna are now at a crucial stage. Any further delays and Iran may be too close to producing a nuclear weapon to re-join the deal, said the White House.