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.

Antichrist’s Retirement from Iraqi Politics Shows the Power of the Maraji

Muqtada’s Retirement from Iraqi Politics Shows the Power of the Maraji

Traditionally, the Qom-based clergy supports Khamenei, and the Najaf-based clergy supports Sistani while sharing mutual respect. In a global context, Sistani enjoys the rank of the ‘Supreme Religious Authority’ of the worldwide Shi’ite community, owing to his association with Najaf and his relatively senior age (at ninety-three years old, he is ten years older than Khamenei). Solely out of respect, no clergyman challenges Sistani’s position, however, unlike Khamenei’s position, which is constitutionalised and supported by the Iranian state’s institutions, Sistani’s rank lacks institutionalisation as he holds no political office.

Furthermore, as the head of the state, Khamenei has stretched his influence worldwide, which has likewise resulted in an expansion of Iranian influence. In fact, the spiritual leaders of Bahraini and Nigerian Shi’ite communities, Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassem and Ayatollah Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, respectively, both share deep bonds with the Qom seminary and consider Khamenei to be their leader. In Lebanon, as well, Hezbollah considers Khamenei to be its spiritual leader and follows his edicts. More significantly, in the eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia where the Shi’ites are in the majority, Iran’s influence and Khamenei’s following are immense. The rise of pro-Iran Sheikh Al-Nimr and his execution by Saudi authorities in 2016 only exacerbated the situation in Shi’ite dominated regions of the kingdom. Although, the current Saudi Shi’ite leader, Sheikh Hassan Al-Saffar, is conciliatory and moderate in his approach, decades of marginalisation and discrimination have led to the encroachment of Iranian influence inside Saudi Arabia’s Shi’ite community[viii]. Similarly, across the Indian subcontinent, the influence of the Iranian Revolution has provoked Shi’ite political activism. In Pakistan, the ‘Shia Ulema Council’ shares deep ties with the senior clergy of both Iran and Iraq. Its current head, Allama Syed Sajid Ali Naqvi, is the member of the executive council of the Iran-based ‘Ahlul Bait World Assembly,’ the platform the global Shi’ite clergy use to coordinate their affairs. In India, on the other hand, Khamenei’s following is strong in the Ladakh region through the Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust (IKMT), while various senior Indian-Shi’ite clergymen like Maulana Kalbe Jawad and Ayatollah Aqeel ul Gharavi have been in close association with Khamenei and Qom-based clergy.

The triumph of Khomeini’s concept of Wilayat e-Faqih in Iran led to the mobilisation of Shi’ite masses and the rising influence of Shi’ite clergy across the region. Iran, therefore, provides the opportunity for global Shi’ite clergy to assert their authority and strengthen Shi’ite populations that have traditionally remained politically alienated. The institution of Maraji holds the key for Iran to further its influence since the Khamenei’s following often overlaps with Iran’s influence in the region. While the Iranian Revolution has certainly empowered Shi’ite communities and clergy worldwide, it is also true that, in religious terms, Khamenei and Iran still lag behind Sistani’s global following.

Certainly, the Najaf-based clergy under Sistani has been successful in maintaining its distinctive status vis-à-vis Iran. Previously, Iran had tried to install Ayatollah Sayyid Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi in Najaf to assume leadership in the post-Sistani era, however, he died in 2018. Today, Haeri’s support for Khamenei once again aided Iran in asserting its influence inside Iraq and Najaf. One major feature from which Iran could benefit is the absence of any high-stature Maraji inside Najaf who could replace Sistani. Out of the ‘Four Greats of Najaf,’ Grand Ayatollah Saeed ul Hakim died in 2021 while the other two high ranking clergymen, Grand Ayatollah Basheer Najafi (Pakistan) and Grand Ayatollah Ishaq Fayyadh (Afghanistan), face hurdles due to their advanced age and non-Iraqi ethnicity. It is speculated that in the post-Sistani period, while Najaf would be struggling amid a successorship crisis, Iranian inputs would be paramount. Already Iran enjoys wide influence over Iraq’s political and security apparatus through various mid-rank clergymen like Ammar Al-Hakim, Qais Al-Khazali and Akram Al-Kaabi, all of whom lead their respective political and militant factions, and favour Khamenei’s authority.

Finally, various Ayatollahs like that of Muhammad Baqir Al-Irawani (a close aide to Sistani), Riyad Al-Hakim (Iranian-based Iraqi scholar) and Hasan Al-Jawahiri are the prominent candidates to lead the post-Sistani era – yet none of them have yet acquired the status of Maraji. Therefore, given such challenges, it remains to be seen whether Iran will succeed in reshaping Najaf’s discourse to its benefit, or if Najaf will persist as a distinctly independent seat within global Shi’ism.

China warns the Russian Nuclear Horn

Xi Jinping and Joe Biden shake hands.
China’s leader Xi Jinping shakes hands with US President Joe Biden at their meeting on Monday during the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. 

China wants Putin to stop threatening nuclear war over Ukraine, according to the White House

Mattathias Schwartz 

Nov 14, 2022, 10:06 AM

  • President Biden of the US and Chairman Xi of China met for more than three hours on Monday morning.
  • The two leaders opposed the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened, according to the White House’s account.
  • On Taiwan, the two leaders reiterated their existing positions and said they sought to avoid military conflict.

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As Vladimir Putin’s threat of nuclear conflict continued to hang over the invasion of Ukraine, the American and Chinese leaders met for more than three hours Monday morning on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, and apparently did what they could to encourage some Russian restraint.

The discussion between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden was private, but much can be gleaned from readouts published by the White House, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Biden’s press conference following the meeting. Most notable was Xi’s “agreement” with Biden that “a nuclear war should never be fought and can never be won,” a view that “underscored” the two leaders’ “opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” according to the White House’s account of the meeting.

Xi reportedly took the same position on Russia’s nuclear threats during a meeting with the German chancellor earlier this month. But for him to again call out the nuclear blackmail of President Vladimir Putin — who has referenced the 1945 US nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and threatened to use Russia’s nukes in Ukraine — carries particular significance in a meeting with Biden.

The Chinese readout of the Xi-Biden meeting was more vague when it came to Russia and Ukraine. It noted that China was “highly concerned” and that “confrontations between major countries must be avoided.” It did not call on Russia to withdraw from its unprovoked invasion, instead calling for negotiations. Despite worries early on by Western countries that the so-called “no-limits friendship” between Xi and Putin meant that China would take Russia’s side in the Ukraine conflict, China has taken a more neutral line.

On Taiwan, the US and China publicly reiterated their pre-existing positions. China took a hard line against an independent Taiwan while the US criticized China for “coercive and increasingly aggressive actions.” In his press conference, Biden said that he and Xi were “candid and clear with one another” and that “there need not be a new Cold War.” US officials have recently claimed that China has accelerated its preparations to potentially seize Taiwan by force. In his remarks, Biden turned down the heat. “I do not think there’s any eminent attempt by the part of China to invade Taiwan,” he said.

The high-level meeting came on the same day as a US-Russia discussion to try to reduce the chances the Ukraine war could escalate. In Turkey, CIA Director William Burns met with his Russian counterpart and warned against Russia using nukes or other terror weapons in its arsenal against Ukraine.

Babylon the Great meets Russian counterpart to discuss nuclear weapons

CIA chief meets Russian counterpart to discuss nuclear weapons in Ukraine, prisoners

Issued on: 14/11/2022 – 17:33

File photo of CIA chief William Burns at a Senate hearing in Washington taken on April 14, 2021. Graeme Jennings/Pool via Reuters/File Photo © Graeme Jennings, Reuters/File photo

Text by:FRANCE 24Follow

US Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns met with his Russian counterpart in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Monday to warn of the consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, which Moscow has threatened to deploy in Ukraine, and to raise the issue of US prisoners in Russian jails, according to US officials. 

A White House National Security Council official said the CIA chief met Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service to discuss “the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons by Russia, and the risks of escalation to strategic stability”. 

The official, who was not authorised to comment publicly about the meeting, said Burns did not discuss any settlement of the war in Ukraine with his Russian counterpart.

Ahead of the meeting, the National Security Council (NSC) said Burns was not meeting with Naryshkin to negotiate anything, as the Ukraine war is in its ninth month and Russia still occupies large swathes of Ukraine territory.

“He is not conducting negotiations of any kind. He is not discussing settlement of the war in Ukraine,” the NSC said in a statement.

“We firmly stick to our fundamental principle: nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine,” it said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Russian state news agency Tass that the talks between Burns and Naryshkin “indeed took place”. Peskov said that “it was the American side’s initiative”.

The visit is the first known high-level face-to-face US-Russian contact since President Vladimir Putin launched the February 24 invasion of Ukraine. 

Burns, a former US ambassador to Russia, was sent to Moscow in late 2021 by US President Joe Biden to caution Putin about the troop buildup around Ukraine.

Putin has repeatedly said Russia will defend its territory with all available means, including nuclear weapons, if attacked.

Turkey plays key role

In Turkey, a top aide to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed that the country hosted the meeting between the heads of the Russian and US intelligence agencies. Communications Director Fahrettin Altun told The Associated Press that the meeting was “related to threats against international security, starting with the use of nuclear weapons”.

Turkey earlier this year hosted Ukrainian and Russian officials for talks and played a key role in a UN-brokered deal that allowed Ukraine to resume exporting grain to world markets.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said Monday’s meeting was hosted by Turkey’s intelligence agency, MIT.

US citizens ‘unjustly’ detained in Russia

Ahead of the meeting, US media said Burns was expected to raise the issue of US citizens detained “unjustly” in Russia with the SVR chief.

Russia has imprisoned US basketball star Brittney Griner on drug charges as well as Paul Whelan, an auto supply company official who was arrested in 2018 and convicted of spying.

Washington has reportedly offered a prisoner swap, with speculation that it is willing to exchange jailed Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for the Americans.

Last week Biden voiced hope that his Russian counterpart  would negotiate “more seriously” to free Griner, who was sent to a penal colony on a nine-year sentence after her appeal in Russian courts failed.

“My hope is that now that the election is over that Mr. Putin will be able to discuss with us and be willing to talk more seriously about prisoner exchange,” Biden said.

‘Extremely relevant development’

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The US-Russian contact in Turkey was first reported by Russia’s Kommersant newspaper. 

Beyond the war, Russia and the US have a host of outstanding issues to discuss, ranging from the extension of a key nuclear arms reduction treaty, the Syrian civil war and a Black Sea grain deal.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, when asked at the G20 summit in Indonesia about the US-Russian contact in Turkey, said the UN was not involved.

“It’s very positive that the US and Russia are having talks because that is an extremely relevant development in relation to the future, but we are not involved,” Guterres said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

Scientists Warn First Nuclear War Would Make the World Colder, Darker and Hungrier: Revelation 8

Demonstrators hold anti-nuclear war signs as they gather in the viewing area at the Royal Air Force station in Lakenheath, England, on May 21, 2022.
Demonstrators hold anti-nuclear war signs as they gather in the viewing area at the Royal Air Force station in Lakenheath, England, on May 21, 2022.

Scientists Warn Nuclear War Would Make the World Colder, Darker and Hungrier

BYJon LetmanTruthoutPUBLISHEDOctober 21, 2022

Even as Russian President Vladimir Putin repeatedly warns he could use nuclear weapons if he believed Russian (or Russian-seized) territory was threatened, tensions also remain high in other potential nuclear flashpoints from North Korea and Taiwan to border regions of China, India and Pakistan.

This comes as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has just embarked on its annual nuclear training exercises in Belgium. The U.S. has an estimated 100 non-strategic nuclear weapons deployed at six military bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. Russia is expected to hold its own nuclear exercises soon, though U.S. officials say no notification has yet been provided as required under the New START treaty.

On October 6, President Joe Biden warned that the threat of Armageddon was at its highest point since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. While the world remains focused on the threat of nuclear war, scientists, academics, and other experts are warning how a nuclear conflict would change life on Earth.

Recent reports coauthored by Alan Robock, a distinguished professor in the department of environmental sciences at Rutgers University, paint a portrait of a post-nuclear war world that is colder, darker and hungrier than is usually described in nuclear reporting.

In these reports, scientists explain how nuclear weapons, if used in a range of circumstances, could cause firestorms that would release smoke, soot and pollutants into the upper atmosphere, blocking sunlight and causing a sudden cooling effect long known as “nuclear winter.” Such a disturbance would impact the world’s oceans and dramatically undermine food security, potentially causing a large-scale collapse of agriculture that could lead to global famine.

In the journal AGU Advances, scientists report that global cooling caused by a nuclear war could disturb ocean and sea ice ecology for decades or even centuries, killing off marine life and disrupting natural systems.

second report published in Nature Food illustrates how nuclear weapons, like enormous wildfires, would unleash soot into the stratosphere that could persist for years. Similar to historic massive volcanic eruptions, destruction resulting from the use of nuclear weapons could lead to sudden cooling on a global scale, resulting in widespread crop failure, famine and extreme political instability.

Under a range of nuclear war scenarios, multiple nuclear detonations between 15 to 100 kilotons could kill tens or hundreds of millions of people in a matter of hours or days. U.S. non-strategic nuclear warheads range from 0.3 kilotons to 170 kilotons. The bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki were approximately 15 and 21 kilotons respectively.

In the event of a major nuclear war between Russia and the United States, a resulting nuclear winter could cause as many as 5.3 billion people to die of starvation within two years of such a war.

With sunlight blocked, staple crops like wheat, maize, rice and soybeans would rapidly fail, leaving the world suddenly short of enough food. Countries in northern latitudes (including nuclear-armed Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China and North Korea) would see the greatest decline in calorie production.

Following a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan, calorie reductions may be less severe, but depending on the scenario, other problems like the destruction of infrastructure, radiation poisoning, large-scale death and political upheaval would offer the coldest of comfort.

The disruption to agriculture and resulting food shortages would not be evenly distributed, suggesting some countries in southern latitudes like Australia and New Zealand could experience relatively less severe climate impacts but would face unprecedented waves of refugees fleeing nuclear and climate-impacted countries.

The Nature Food study’s authors conclude: “…the reduced light, global cooling and likely trade restrictions after nuclear wars would be a global catastrophe for food security.”Nuclear winter could cause as many as 5.3 billion people to die of starvation within two years.

Speaking with Truthout Robock, who has been studying nuclear winter since 1984, said that while current computer models are more comprehensive, the basic idea that if sunlight is blocked, the Earth’s surface will be colder and darker hasn’t changed since he began studying the threat.

In the 1980s, after Robock, his colleagues and their Russian counterparts presented similar findings to Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the U.S. and Russian leaders issued a joint statement declaring that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” The same declaration was repeated by the UN Security Council’s five permanent members (P5) with nuclear weapons (Russia, U.S., China, France, U.K.) last January, but their subsequent rhetoric and actions call their commitment to not using nuclear weapons into question.

Unlike in the 1980s, when massive demonstrations against nuclear weapons pressured leaders to sharply reduce their arsenals, today’s threat of nuclear war has not yet translated into worldwide protests.

“We’ve calculated [that] even though the number of weapons has gone down, there’s still enough to produce a nuclear winter if Russia and the U.S. have a nuclear war,” Robock says, noting that unlike the other nuclear-armed nations whose arsenals are limited to no more than a few hundred, both the U.S. and Russia still maintain thousands of nuclear warheads.

“If you wanted to threaten the use of [nuclear weapons] to deter an attack, how many do you have to put on the capital of your enemy? The answer is one,” he says. “Maybe you need two, but a couple hundred is more than enough, so why don’t the U.S. and Russia get down to a couple hundred right now?” Such a reduction in stockpiles, Robock says, would greatly reduce the danger of nuclear winter.

The climatological effects of a nuclear war, Robock says, are not the same as trying to counter the effects of climate change through methods like stratospheric geoengineering or climate intervention. “This would be instant climate change, not gradual climate change. A nuclear winter would cool down a lot and kill all of our crops.”

A Medical Disaster

In February, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) published a report entitled “No Place to Hide: Nuclear Weapons and the Collapse of Health Care Systems” which examined how the detonation of one nuclear bomb could affect 10 major cities. Casualty projections ranged from over 260,000 to more than 1.2 million injured from a single 100-kiloton bomb.

Hospitals and medical systems in cities like London, Beijing or Washington, D.C. no matter how well-equipped, would be unable to adequately respond to a nuclear bomb. Tens or hundreds of thousands of patients in need of care for severe burns, cuts, broken bones, concussions, radiation poisoning, and other grave injuries would overwhelm doctors and nurses. Hospitals would almost certainly be damaged and destroyed, with health care professionals among the dead and injured. Those needing emergency treatment would likely be far greater than the number of patients seen at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The likely damage to vital communications and transportation infrastructure and other critical technology would make it difficult or impossible to provide even basic care as computers, vehicles, and medical and lab equipment were severely disrupted or rendered inoperable. Essential water, electricity and sewage systems could be cut off and in the near term there would be an immediate shortage of medication and medical supplies. In the long term, supply chains that deliver medicine and equipment would be severely impacted.“…even though the number of weapons has gone down, there’s still enough to produce a nuclear winter if Russia and the U.S. have a nuclear war.”

For years, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has also warned that no medical system would be able to respond to the use of nuclear weapons of any size or number. In the words of former ICRC President Peter Maurer, “if a nuclear weapon were to detonate in or near a populated area, no state or international body could adequately address the immediate humanitarian emergency nor the long-term consequences, nor provide sufficient assistance to victims.”

A Civilization-Ending Event

Ira Helfand, a longtime emergency room physician and co-chair of Physicians for Social Responsibility’s Nuclear Weapons Abolition Committee, spoke with Truthout by video call from Massachusetts.

Helfand likens the current nuclear crisis to a global near-death experience, but says that unless humanity recognizes how close we are to death, we risk failing to take the action needed to reduce the threat and avert a future catastrophe. Without profound change, he worries we will not address the underlying conditions that led to the current crisis.

Helfand cites the importance of recent scientific reports in helping make the connection between the climate and nuclear crises. He says that not only would a nuclear war cause a climate disaster, at the same time, the climate crisis increases the chance of a nuclear war. As large regions of the planet are rendered unfit for human habitation, global tension will increase, with climate catastrophes creating more refugees.

“People are talking about the need to relocate perhaps more than a billion people,” says Helfand. “That doesn’t happen smoothly and easily. That generates enormous amounts of conflict.” Ten or 15 years from now when the climate crisis has worsened, the movement of tens or hundreds of millions of people will cause tremendous political instability. If nuclear weapons are “still on the table,” Helfand says, there’s a greater chance they may be used.

He points to burgeoning climate crises in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia where he fears two nuclear-armed countries — India and Pakistan — are on a collision course, not because of ideology, religion or political doctrine, but because of water. Melting Himalayan glaciers, catastrophic flooding, changing rainfall patterns and control over essential water flow could set the stage for a future conflict between Pakistan, India and China.Post-Cold War notions that the threat of nuclear weapons is a thing of the past have quickly faded.

“We’re in a situation where there has to be a totally different way for great powers to interact with each other,” shifting from a model based on competition to one based on cooperation, Helfand says. “If such a crisis reaches its full fruition and becomes a military conflict between two nuclear-armed states, we’re going to have a civilization-ending event.”

The aftermath of a nuclear war would be chaotic as survivors fought for whatever was left. Any nation that might “come out on top” of a nuclear conflict would have the “ash heap of human civilization” to claim as its own, he says.

Before such a nightmare scenario occurs, Helfand sees an opportunity to come together if our leaders are honest, courageous, truthful and tell people what needs to be done. A paradigm shift in which nations recognize the need to cooperate is necessary if survival is to remain possible. “This just can’t go on indefinitely,” he warns. “Either we’re going to do something very fundamentally different, or we’re going to have a nuclear war and that needs to be clearly understood by everyone.”

This May Be the Last Time

Susi Snyder, financial section coordinator for ICAN, says that even a relatively small nuclear detonation would have a global ripple effect. She points to the COVID-19 pandemic as an example of how a large-scale disruption’s impact can continue for years.

When thinking of a nuclear weapon’s aftermath, Snyder says that beyond the death and destruction, there would be associated disruption of transportation, trade, commerce, travel and global markets. The current war in Ukraine has already fueled food and energy crises in multiple countries, and a nuclear war would be far worse. Any use of a nuclear weapon would jar commodity and resource markets, disrupting trade, creating instability and uncertainty, and suddenly driving the need for alternate sources of food, energy and raw materials. Such abrupt shifts could also threaten human rights and the environment in places that were suddenly in demand.

Depending on how limited or widespread the use of nuclear weapons was, much of what is considered “normal” for most people in developed countries — reliable communications, transportation, the availability of household utilities, food, consumer goods, and even travel and entertainment — could be disrupted or cut off.

The damage from even a relatively “small” or limited nuclear detonation would likely draw humanitarian aid away from other areas. Even in such a scenario, Snyder says, “every place will be affected in some way.” Because a nuclear threat has the potential to harm every part of the planet, Snyder says countries that are usually left out of the nuclear discussion are becoming more vocal, emphasizing the humanitarian and environmental risks to countries geographically far removed from nuclear-armed nations.

Post-Cold War notions that the threat of nuclear weapons is a thing of the past have quickly faded and frustration is growing as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) has failed to end nuclear arms races or deliver complete nuclear disarmament.

Recognizing the urgent need to do away with nuclear weapons, 68 countries have adopted and ratified the much more recent Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which entered into force in 2021. Unlike the NPT, the TPNW prohibits the development, testing, production, acquisition, possession, transfer, stockpiling or threat to use nuclear weapons.

None of the P5 nuclear weapon states or the four other nuclear-armed nations (India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea) recognizes the TPNW. Instead, they embrace the theory of deterrence. Nuclear deterrence — the threat to use one’s nuclear weapons against another state — Snyder says, allows for naked conventional weapon aggression without fear of reprisal, as is being demonstrated by Russia in Ukraine today.

She also notes that there are dozens of multinational corporations which profit from nuclear weapons and have a vested interest in perpetuating their production. She says this raises the question, “Is it ok to incinerate a city in 30 minutes or less? If it’s legitimate, then the pathway is nuclear weapons for everybody. And if it’s not legitimate, then there really is one choice — to end nuclear weapons for everybody.”

In an age when it only takes 45 minutes to go from the decision to launch a nuclear weapon to a detonation that could abruptly bring about the end of life as we know it, we must deliberately and soberly consider the consequences of using nuclear weapons. The luxury of looking away is gone. People around the world — especially in nuclear armed nations — have a responsibility to pressure politicians to abolish these horrific weapons. Without a sharp increase in vocal and mobilized opposition to the unstable and unsustainable nuclear threat, the danger will continue and eventually, many fear, humanity’s luck will run out. Now is the time for each of us to take whatever action we can — because no one knows if or when nuclear weapons will be used again, very possibly for the final time.

Jon Letman

Jon Letman is a freelance journalist on Kauai. He writes about politics, people and the environment in the Asia-Pacific region. Follow him on Twitter: @jonletman.

No push for Iran Obama nuclear talks

Illustration shows Iran's and U.S.' flags
Iran’s and U.S.’ flags are seen printed on paper in this illustration taken January 27, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

No push for Iran nuclear talks, U.S. envoy says, due to protests, drone sales

By John Irish

PARIS, Nov 14 (Reuters) – Iran’s crackdown on protesters and the sale of drones to Russia have turned the United States’ focus away from reviving a nuclear deal, which Tehran has so far rejected, Washington’s special envoy for Iran said on Monday.

Speaking to reporters in Paris, Robert Malley insisted that the United States would leave the door open to resume diplomacy “when and if” the time came, but for now Washington would continue a policy of sanctions and pressure.

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Talks to revive a 2015 accord between Iran and world powers have been at a stalemate since September. Western states accuse Iran of making unreasonable demands after all sides appeared to be nearing a deal.

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“If these negotiations are not happening, it’s because of Iran’s position and everything that has happened since (September),” Malley said.

“Our focus is not an accord that isn’t moving forward, but what is happening in Iran … this popular movement and the brutal crackdown of the regime against protesters. It’s the sale of armed drones by Iran to Russia … and the liberation of our hostages,” he said referring to three American nationals held in Iran.

Anti-government protests broke out in September over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while she was in police custody. The EU, the United States, Canada and Britain have imposed sanctions over human rights abuses in Iran as well as for its drone sales to Moscow.

Iran has continued its nuclear programme, installing hundreds more advanced centrifuges. The machines enrich uranium, increasing the country’s ability to enrich well beyond the limits set by the 2015 deal. Iran began breaching those terms in 2019 in response to a U.S. withdrawal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump.

The 2015 agreement limited Iran’s uranium enrichment activity to make it harder for Tehran to develop nuclear arms, in return for lifting international sanctions. Iran denies wanting to acquire nuclear weapons.

Malley declined to give a timeframe on how long Washington would accept the status quo, but said if diplomacy failed the United States was ready to use other tools.

“If Iran takes the initiative to cross new thresholds in its nuclear programme, then obviously the response will be different and coordinated with our European allies,” Malley said, without elaborating.

“There is no magic in which we will find a new formula.” Diplomats said Malley would hold talks in Paris with French, German and British counterparts on Tuesday

The Antichrist Wants to Be Iraq’s Ayatollah Khomeini

A crowd of men protesting hold flags and a large portrait of Sadr.
A crowd of men protesting hold flags and a large portrait of Sadr.

Moqtada al-Sadr Wants to Be Iraq’s Ayatollah Khomeini

Despite the Shiite cleric’s apparent efforts against Iranian influence in Iraq, his chief inspiration is Iran’s founder and most famous supreme leader.

By Shayan Talabany, an analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.

August 5, 2022, 2:43 PM

In recent months, Iraqi populist Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has gone from the forefront of efforts to formulate a government in Iraq to leading the country toward what he calls a “revolution.” Sadr’s supporters are now protesting in and occupying Iraq’s parliamentary building and the International (Green) Zone of Baghdad, catapulting Iraq’s government formation process into chaos.

After his success in Iraq’s October 2021 parliamentary elections, Sadr appeared to shake up Iraqi politics by forming a government that excluded his Iranian-backed opponents from power. As the leader of the bloc with the largest number of seats, Sadr rejected the formula for consensus-based power-sharing governments that has been the norm since former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003.

Instead, Sadr formed a tripartite “Save the Homeland” alliance with the largest Kurdish party, Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), as well as parliamentary speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi’s Sovereignty Alliance, a Sunni political bloc—thereby cementing a majority in Iraq’s parliament. The alliance was then tasked with forming Iraq’s government.

For many, the alliance signaled a fresh start and what some hoped would be dwindling Iranian influence in the country. International and regional endorsements came flooding in, with some commentators calling Sadr Iraq’s (and the United States’) “best hope”—a notable shift from commentary on Sadr post-2003 when Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia was leading a violent insurgency in Iraq, including against U.S. troops. Many Western analysts as well as regional leaders now believe Sadr could save Iraq from unruly Shiite militias or at least align Iraq with the anti-Iran camp of the United States and its regional allies.

But on June 12, Sadr upended the government formation process when he asked all of his 73 parliamentary members to resign to allegedly help break the political deadlock that has left Iraq without a government around nine months after parliamentary elections. His more pro-Iranian political opponents, the Coordination Framework alliance, were then tasked with forming a government, and on July 25, they announced Mohammed al-Sudani as their prime ministerial candidate. Subsequently, Sadr called for protests against Sudani’s candidacy. Hundreds of Sadr’s supporters took to the streets, storming Iraq’s parliament and Green Zone while chanting anti-Iran slogans and holding up images of Sadr.

Just days earlier, on July 18, the first of a series of leaked audio recordings of former Iraqi Prime Minister and Coordination Framework head Nouri al-Maliki insulting and criticizing fellow members of the Coordination Framework and Sadr were released by a U.S.-based Iraqi journalist. The audio allegedly reveals Maliki hinting at a coming intra-Shiite war. The leak has undoubtedly played a part in the recent developments, emboldening Sadr to make his recent moves. Working to Sadr’s benefit, the recordings have affected Maliki’s standing both within the Shiite front and vis-a-vis Tehran, which has traditionally pushed for a large, unified Shiite bloc in Iraq.

There is no doubt that Sadr has played the nationalist card in recent years. However, like many of Iraq’s political power brokers, his relationship with Iran is complex and multifaceted, and the West needs to understand this.

Despite Sadr’s apparent efforts to act as a bulwark against Iranian influence in Iraq, his chief inspiration is perhaps Iran’s founder and most famous supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Sadr’s strategic mix of Iraqi nationalism, anti-Westernism, and Shiite Islamism is straight out of Khomeini’s playbook.

For decades, Sadr has made calculated political moves. He has maintained a careful balancing act between various interests in Iraq, including those of Iran and the Persian Gulf states. In the past, where Iraqi political actors have thrown off this balance, the country has faced increased instability. Someone as well versed in Iraqi politics as Sadr would be acutely aware that a majority government designed to exclude pro-Iranian parties and figures from the outset would not be feasible and could easily erupt into civil war.

Which raises the question: Is Sadr’s recent strategy wishful thinking or a deliberate effort at destabilization?

Moqtada al-Sadr, Iraqi militia leader and Shiite Muslim cleric, gives a news conference in the central holy shrine city of Najaf, on November 18, 2021.
Moqtada al-Sadr, Iraqi militia leader and Shiite Muslim cleric, gives a news conference in the central holy shrine city of Najaf, on November 18, 2021.

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Over the years, Sadr has shifted from presenting himself as a Shiite sectarian militia leader to a pro-democracy reformist and Iraqi nationalist, carefully and pragmatically cultivating his political endorsements and rhetoric to seize Iraq’s political mood. Despite what one may think about his authenticity, Sadr has, unlike any other Iraqi leader of his time, framed his politics and rhetoric to capture popular sentiment on the Iraqi streets. Anti-Iran sentiments, anti-Turkish sentiments, Iraqi nationalism, and general dissatisfaction with corruption and status quo politics have all featured in his rhetoric.

Sadr’s politics are not necessarily inherently anti-Iran nor are they wholly driven by personal rivalries, such as the one with Maliki. Instead, it is Sadr’s pragmatism, political deftness, and cautious self-posturing that have allowed him to take advantage of and create moments of instability.

Based on his years of tactical shifts, it is unlikely that Sadr ever wanted to be part of a majority government, and he was likely counting on the alliance to fail. In doing so, Sadr would be able to say that he tried to work in the country’s best interests, but that ultimately, his efforts were unsuccessful thanks to what he calls the country’s corrupt elite.

Much like Khomeini did in Iran, Sadr and his father before him built their appeal in Iraq over the years based on their popularity with the country’s poor and disenfranchised Shiites: Iraq’s very own mostazafin (meaning the “oppressed” or “downtrodden” and used by Khomeini and others to describe Iranians whom the monarchy had neglected and on whose behalf the Iranian Revolution was supposedly waged). Sadr has cleverly shaped his politics around growing sentiments in Iraq and the wider Middle East, where an overwhelming majority of people are rejecting the ideology of politicized religious movements and instead favoring pragmatic governments that can create more jobs for young people, reform religious institutions, and enhance public services.

Sadr has shown flexibility in his political alliances and rhetoric to reflect these desires. He has attempted to support and hijack the rise in protests Iraq has witnessed since 2018 because he knows that the country’s future requires a deep understanding of its street politics. It was Iraq’s Tishreen (“October”) protests beginning in 2019 that eventually pushed Iraq’s former premier out and resulted in early elections. Tishreen saw Iraqis take to the streets demanding an end to sectarian governance, foreign interference, and state-sanctioned corruption as well as calling for better employment, public services, and living conditions.

Sadr is no stranger to the modern history of the Middle East and the power of street mobilization to overthrow regimes, including in Iran in 1979. But like Khomeini before him, despite Sadr’s efforts to seize the moment, he is also constrained by his image: his family history, his religious background, and a particular brand of Shiite Islamist politics.

Sadr comes from a highly revered line of Iraqi Shiite clerics. One of Moqtada’s great uncles was among the leaders of the 1920 Iraqi revolt against the British occupation. Moqtada’s father-in-law and cousin once removed, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr (1935-1980), is widely considered to be one of the most significant Shiite scholars of the 20th century. His ideas helped develop models of clerical activism distinct from the more quietist approach dominant in the Najaf clerical establishment of the time.

Baqir al-Sadr was one of the founders of the Shiite Islamic Dawa Party in the 1960s and served as its guiding ideological leader. After the establishment of Khomeini’s Islamic Republic in neighboring Iran, which was arguably in part inspired by Baqir al-Sadr’s ideas, Hussein’s regime accused Baqir al-Sadr of trying to lead a similar revolution in Iraq. Fearing this, the regime executed Baqir al-Sadr in 1980. More than 40 years later, Moqtada al-Sadr seems to want to realize that revolution.

Like Sadr, Khomeini’s politics have long been analyzed and interpreted. The multiplicity of Iranian identities as well as ideas that Khomeini evoked included a populist assortment of Shiite Islamism, Marxism, and popular anti-colonial, anti-Western, and anti-Israel rhetoric at the time—all of which were instrumental to his pre-1979 appeal and later ability to hijack Iran’s 1979 revolution.

Sadr’s rhetoric has similarly evolved over the years. He encapsulated anti-U.S. sentiment following the 2003 invasion and has maintained staunch anti-imperialism and anti-Israel rhetoric throughout the past two decades, but he also adapted his ideology and focus to change with the times, morphing from explicit Shiite sectarianism in the years following the U.S. invasion to Iraqi nationalism in more recent years. His anti-Iran rhetoric has simultaneously grown alongside increasing anti-Iran sentiment within the country, and when Iraqis took to the streets to denounce Turkish missile strikes on a tourist resort on July 20, Sadr called on his supporters to take to the streets and fight against Turkey.

Sadrists and their affiliates have long held key positions in Iraq’s post-2003 governments, but by refusing to ever hold a direct role in government, Sadr has been able to maintain that he is not accountable for the government’s discrepancies and faults. Instead, he has tried to cultivate a “man of the people” image. Sadr uses his unpredictability to maintain his outsider position because appearing to remain outside of Iraq’s political system is part of his larger goal.

Events of the last week have catapulted Iraq’s government formation process into total chaos. After Sadr’s supporters stormed the parliament and Green Zone following his call for a revolution, tensions became high. Moqtada’s opponents threatened a “counterrevolution,” and many Iraqis feel they are on the brink of a civil war. Now, Sadr has called for a reelection while his supporters continue to gather in and around parliament, prolonging the country’s political instability further. But that is precisely Sadr’s eventual goal: to stir the nation and hijack popular sentiment to become the most powerful man in Iraq.

Sadr stands up rhetorically against Iran because that matches the popular mood, but in reality, Sadr is as close as anyone to it. Sadr wisely recognizes that Iran is still a—if not the most—powerful external actor in Iraq, and his relationship with it is not as strained as he’d like people to think. Iran still has sway over Sadr, and Sadr knows better than to cut off those ties completely.

Sadr continues to visit Iran frequently for family and religious reasons. In 2019, Sadr marked the Islamic holy day of Ashura by visiting Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran. A few months later, in November 2019, during the peak of the Tishreen protests, Sadr was seen in Qom, his former place of study and considered to be the religious capital of Iran. In February of this year, following a meeting with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force Brig. Gen. Esmail Qaani, Sadr came out with a statement in regard to Iraq’s government formation and directly quoted Khomeini saying, “Neither East nor West—a national majority government.” Sadr is not anti-Iran; he just wants to be the primary figure Iranians (and everyone else) have to deal with.

Sadr has positioned himself rhetorically as anti-Iran and anti-foreign imperialism, but despite the many rumors accusing Sadr of collaborating against Iranian interests in Iraq, it is notable, for example, that Iranian-backed factions hit back against the idea of a majority government and possible anti-Iranian activity by targeting not Sadr but the KDP, the smallest party in Sadr’s coalition with just 31 seats, and the KDP-led semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil.

Sadr has his ear to the streets, which has allowed him to play to them with some degree of success. But that audience may be changing more rapidly than even Sadr can keep up with. Iraq’s Tishreen protesters called for a starkly different future for Iraq, one that was progressive and democratic. Despite Sadr’s electoral successes, Iraq’s last elections saw very low voter turnout, and Sadr’s successes seem to be more attributable to his ability to organize and mobilize than to his popularity.

But just as Khomeini’s revolution would likely not win support in Iran today, Sadr’s Iraq project will not cut it for today’s Iraqis. Iran’s high young population today shares different grievances than their parents’ generation. For many of these youth, finding jobs and opportunities, being connected to the world, and enjoying life is of a higher priority than Islamic revolutionary ambitions. Iraq’s youth-led Tishreen movement tells a similar tale: The protesters were ethnically and religiously diverse and progressive, focused on reforming and modernizing Iraq’s political system and preserving its democracy, not overthrowing it. Iraq does not need another strongman dictator; that would be a short-term solution to a sea of problems.

Sadr is playing a long game in Iraq, cautiously posturing himself as the reasonable alternative for Iraq’s leader, both in the country and to regional and international policymakers. Like Khomeini and other populists before him, he is willing to steer Iraq onto a very worrying course to achieve that goal. There is no doubt that Iraq’s politics were already messy and deeply uncertain at times. Yet Sadr’s willingness to worsen Iraq’s political turmoil, delay Iraq’s government formation, and escalate protests further—threatening an all-out war with rival Shiite groups—should surely serve as a warning that he is capable of catapulting the country into something even worse.