History Expects the Sixth Seal in NYC (Revelation 6:12)

If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Based on historical precedent, Armbruster says the New York City metro area is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 once a century.

According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.

A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.

Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.

There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.

There’s another fault line on Dyckman St. and one in Dobbs Ferry in nearby Westchester County.

“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.

He adds: “We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought.”

“Considering population density and the condition of the region’s infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact,” says the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation on its website.

Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.

The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale. (ANI)

China Horn’s Military Highlights Nuclear Buildup That Could Overtake America: Daniel 7

Pentagon Report on China’s Military Highlights Nuclear Buildup That Could Overtake America

Dec 9, 2022 3 min read


Patty-Jane Geller

Senior Policy Analyst, Center for National Defense

Patty-Jane is a senior policy analyst for nuclear deterrence and missile defense at The Heritage Foundation.President Xi Jinping of China attends a working session on food and energy security during the G20 Summit on November 15, 2022 in Nusa Dua, Indonesia. Leon Neal / Getty Images


The Pentagon’s new China Military Power Report provides troubling insights on the extent of the growth of the communist regime’s nuclear arsenal.

The United States currently doesn’t have the nuclear forces designed to deter a Chinese nuclear threat of this size.

America may need to reevaluate its own warhead production plans to ensure we can pace the growing Chinese nuclear threat.

The Pentagon’s new China Military Power Report provides troubling insights on the extent of the growth of the communist regime’s nuclear arsenal. It describes a nation bent on multiplying its nuclear forces.

First and foremost, the 2022 report reveals that China could field 1,500 nuclear weapons by 2035. This effectively would equal the nuclear arsenal of the United States, which deploys around 1,550 nuclear weapons (as limited by the New START treaty with Russia).

Last year’s report estimated that China would have 1,000 warheads fielded by 2030, but this new assessment indicates China’s intent to achieve nuclear parity with, or surpass, the U.S.

Second, the new report states that China’s nuclear buildup—which already had been described by the commander of U.S. Strategic Command as a “strategic breakout”—has accelerated.

It’s worth recalling that in 2020, the Pentagon estimated that China would double its stockpile of about 200 nuclear weapons over the decade. The 2022 report now states that China has already done so—in just two years.

Indeed, this acceleration matches the prediction from Adm. Charles Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, that “whatever the time estimate that the intelligence community gives you on anything from China, divide it by two and maybe by four and you will get closer to the right answer.”

These updated estimates also remind Americans that we don’t know when China will stop this nuclear expansion, and that it would be unwise to assume the regime will stop at 1,000 warheads by 2030 or even 1,500 by 2035. Given China’s ambitions to become a top military power and supplant the U.S. on the world stage, what’s to stop it from soaring past parity with the U.S. and trying to achieve nuclear superiority?

Yet the United States currently doesn’t have the nuclear forces designed to deter a Chinese nuclear threat of this size. The size and composition of the U.S. nuclear deterrent was designed around 2010, based on assumptions of a more benign threat environment than the one we see today.

At that time—when decisions about the future U.S. nuclear force were made—China was expected to maintain its historic “minimum deterrence” strategy. No one predicted the rapid nuclear expansion we’re seeing today. As nuclear threats continue to grow, so does the concern that U.S. nuclear forces may not be sufficient to meet the demands of the new and dynamic threat environment.

Third, the Pentagon report notes China’s deliberate effort to expand warhead production. In particular, it highlights Beijing’s increasing capacity to produce plutonium, the nuclear material required for a nuclear weapon.

Access to plutonium has been regarded by some analysts as a limiting factor for China’s nuclear program. But the Pentagon report indicates that China is determined to remedy this. Although the report doesn’t describe China’s warhead production in detail, it estimates a deployed force of 1,000 warheads by 2030 growing to 1,500 fielded warheads by 2035; this could suggest a rough production capacity of around 100 warheads per year in the 2030s.

This would be significant.

By comparison, the U.S. lacks the ability to produce nuclear warheads because it doesn’t have the capacity to produce plutonium pits, which compose the core of any nuclear weapon.

The U.S. currently is working to reconstitute its ability to produce plutonium pits, with the goal of producing 80 pits per year. But this capability isn’t expected to be fully operational until 2032 at the earliest.

In short, the Pentagon report suggests that China still will possess a larger warhead production capacity even if the U.S. fully achieves its own production goals.

What’s more, the goal of producing 80 pits a year is based on the need to replace existing weapons before they age out. The U.S. does have a substantial number of warheads in reserve, but those would require new plutonium pits as well. In other words, U.S. plutonium pit production only will enable the U.S. to replace its existing forces while China’s weapons production will increase its arsenal dramatically.

A Chinese advantage in capacity to produce warheads provides President Xi Jinping a path to nuclear superiority, should he choose to pursue it. The U.S., for its part, would have few options to respond if China decided to continue building beyond 1,500 warheads.

As China continues to improve infrastructure to support nuclear expansion, America may need to reevaluate its own warhead production plans to ensure we can pace the growing Chinese nuclear threat.

The Nuclear Irony of Obama: Daniel 8

Former U.S. President Barack Obama (on screen) delivers a video message to the inaugural meeting of the International Group of Eminent Persons for a World without Nuclear Weapons in Hiroshima on Saturday. Photo: KYODO

Kishida, Obama call for nuclear-free world at international forum in Hiroshima

Dec. 10 06:22 pm JST 50 Comments 

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and former U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday called for a world without nuclear weapons amid Russian threats to use nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine and North Korea’s pursuit of a nuclear arsenal.

They made the call in separate messages sent to the inaugural meeting of a nuclear disarmament forum comprising former political leaders and scholars in Hiroshima, a western Japan city that was devastated by a U.S. atomic bomb dropped in the closing stages of World War II.

“We owe it to our children to pursue a world without nuclear weapons,” Obama said in a video message to the two-day meeting through Sunday.

Looking back to when he became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima in May 2016, Obama said his trip then “strengthened my own resolve to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons worldwide, and it is this same commitment that brings you all here today.”

Kishida said in his message that he hopes the two days of talks will make “a significant step” toward the abolition of nuclear weapons.

“The actual barrier to nuclear disarmament remains high, or has become higher,” Kishida said.

The world is facing the “biggest threat of nuclear weapon use since the Cold War,” he said, referring to the Ukraine crisis and growing fears that North Korea may carry out its seventh nuclear test and first since September 2017.

The International Group of Eminent Persons for a World without Nuclear Weapons was set up under the initiative of Kishida, a lawmaker from a constituency in Hiroshima who has pressed his vision of a nuclear-free world since taking office in October last year.

Japan will host a summit of the Group of Seven industrialized nations in Hiroshima in May.

The eminent persons meeting involves 15 members and is led by Takashi Shiraishi, chancellor of the Prefectural University of Kumamoto in southwestern Japan and an expert in international politics.

Among the 15 members, 12 are from 11 foreign nations — the nuclear powers of the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and India, and the non-nuclear states of Germany, Argentina, Jordan, Indonesia and New Zealand.© KYODO

The Obama-Biden Iran Plan Won’t Work Anymore: Daniel 8

The Biden Administration’s Iran Plan Won’t Work: Time for Plan B

December 8, 2022 21 min read Download Report

Authors:James Phillips and Peter Brookes


After the Biden Administration’s failed nuclear diplomacy with Iran’s Islamic regime, Washington should implement a strategy to resist the regime’s brutal repression, prevent a nuclear breakout, and punish Iran’s proxy attacks against U.S. interests. If the Administration remains fixated on restoring the illusory nuclear deal, it will pave the way for the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism to acquire the world’s most terrifying weapon. The biggest winners of another nuclear deal would be Iran’s ruthless rulers and their partners in China and Russia, as Tehran would reap billions of dollars to spend on arms and nuclear technology from both countries. Now is the time for Washington to refuse to reward Tehran with sanctions relief and focus on deterring, containing, and defeating Tehran’s multiple threats.


The Biden Administration’s risky efforts to revive the flawed Iran nuclear deal would bolster Iran’s oppressive and aggressive dictatorship.

The White House needs a realistic policy to defeat Iran’s nuclear, regional, and terrorist threats and must hold the regime accountable for its human rights abuses.

Washington must refuse sanctions relief as long as Iran continues its hostile acts and must focus on deterring and defeating Tehran’s multiple threats.


Select a Section 1/0

The Biden Administration’s risky efforts to revive the deeply flawed 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), have been derailed by unacceptable Iranian demands for guarantees and sanctions relief that were not part of the original deal.

But the Administration has signaled that it still wants an agreement and is willing to return to negotiations to seal a deal. Another flawed nuclear deal would bolster Iran’s Islamic dictatorship by lifting sanctions and unfreezing billions of dollars of Iran’s frozen assets, at a time that the regime is crushing a popular revolt at home, launching proxy attacks abroad, supporting Russia’s war on Ukraine, and moving ahead with a worrisome nuclear program with suspected military dimensions.

Reviving the JCPOA would undermine the security of the United States and its allies by enriching, empowering, and emboldening a fiercely hostile regime and its terrorist proxies, while legitimizing Iran’s nuclear program and giving it a patient, but assured, path to nuclear weapons. By discarding the Trump Administration’s “maximum pressure” policy, the Biden Administration has reduced the costs to Iran of continuing its nuclear advances and flouting its obligations under its International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear safeguards agreement.

The United States, along with partners, must now escalate pressure on Iran and declare that the 2015 nuclear agreement is dead. The long-overdue hardening of the Administration’s policy would help it to pivot to containing Iran’s multifaceted nuclear, regional, international, and proxy threats. The Biden Administration should immediately abandon its doomed efforts to accommodate a radical regime infused with an inexorably hostile anti-American ideology and shift to a more realistic and proactive strategy for deterring, containing, and defeating the multitude of Iranian threats.

Protest Problems

The ultra-hardline regime of President Ebrahim Raisi has painted itself into a corner by rejecting the tentative nuclear deal negotiated by the preceding government of President Hassan Rouhani and seeking to extract more concessions from the United States for returning to the JCPOA. After the Biden Administration rejected Iran’s demand to lift sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and guarantee that future American Presidents would abide by the deal, the negotiations became stalemated.

The Raisi regime also sought to clamp down on domestic reformers opposed to its extremist policies by tightening restrictions on political, social, and religious freedoms. It sought to strengthen internal security forces, including the infamous morality police who provoked the current wave of anti-government protests by killing Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who they detained for violating Iran’s strict Islamic dress code.1

Kourosh Ziabari, “Iran’s Hijab Protests Are of Raisi’s Own Making,” Foreign Policy, October 10, 2022, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/10/10/iran​-protests-hijab-mahsa-amini-morality-police-ebrahim-raisi/ (accessed November 30, 2022).

The horrific act of brutality resonated powerfully with many Iranians as an unforgivable symbol of the regime’s systematic political and social oppression and moral bankruptcy, leading to protests in more than 100 cities and towns around the country. A tidal wave of protests swept up Iranians of all ethnic backgrounds and walks of life who chanted “Woman, life, freedom!” and “Death to the dictator!” Iran’s dictatorship has arrested more than 18,000 protesters and killed at least 451 people as of November 28, according to human rights activists.2

“Iranian General Acknowledges over 300 Dead in Unrest,” AP News, November 28, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/iran-middle-east-tehran​-6616361facfd71dd3be1ba4c722f3f2d (accessed December 1, 2022).

As in many previous waves of protest, the initial spontaneous demonstrations rapidly escalated into the wholesale rejection of the regime’s legitimacy and unbridled hold on power. Widening cracks in the regime’s base of support became apparent as bazaar merchants, an important source of political support for the 1979 revolution, closed down bazaars in major cities and announced a three-day national strike on November 15, in solidarity with the protesters.

Iran’s government and protesters now are playing a cat and mouse game after more than two months of anti-government demonstrations. The protest campaign has evolved into a decentralized and leaderless mass movement because the regime hunts, jails, or kills any leaders who emerge.3

Marina Ottaway and Haleh Esfandiari, “When Do Protests Succeed? The Case of Iran and the Arab World,” Wilson Center Viewpoint Series, October 17, 2022, https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/when-do-protests-succeed-case-iran-and-arab-world (accessed November 30, 2022).

 Women have played key roles in the revolt, which has been enthusiastically joined by a wide cross section of young Iranians.

The Tehran regime has tried to discredit the protesters by casting them as pawns of the regime’s external enemies, particularly the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. Iran’s “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, denounced the protests as “scattered riots” designed by the enemy.4

“Iran’s Khamenei Calls Anti-Government Protests ‘Scattered Riots’ Designed by the Enemy—Tasnim,” Reuters, October 12, 2022, https://www.reuters​.com/world/middle-east/irans-khamenei-calls-anti-government-protests-scattered-riots-designed-by-enemy-2022-10-12/ (accessed November 30, 2022).

 The regime also has sought to pin the blame for the protests on separatist groups, particularly those operating within Iran’s restive Kurdish and Baluchi ethnic minorities. Internal security forces have been deployed extensively against both groups, as well as against Arabs in southwestern Iran. Approximately 90 percent of the estimated 224 protesters killed as of mid-October have belonged to non-Persian ethnic minority groups.5

Rahim Hamid and Ruth Riegler, “As Anti-Regime Protests Swell Across Iran, Ethnic Minorities Demand Freedom and Equality,” Fikra Forum, October 14, 2022, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/anti-regime-protests-swell-across-iran-ethnic-minorities-demand-freedom-and (accessed November 30, 2022).

In addition to denouncing protesters as “separatists,” the regime has sought to target groups outside Iran as instigators of the unrest as a means of deflecting blame for its own role in provoking protests. The IRGC has launched a series of missile, drone, and artillery attacks against Iranian Kurdish groups in neighboring Iraq.6

David S. Cloud and Laurence Norman, “Iran Attacks Northern Iraq, Targeting Kurdish Groups for Unrest at Home,” The Wall Street Journal, November 14, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/iran-attacks-northern-iraq-targeting-kurdish-groups-for-unrest-at-home-11668433625 (accessed November 30, 2022).

 Iranian officials also have threatened to attack Saudi Arabia for its alleged support of anti-government forces.7

“Iran Warns Saudi Arabia ‘Our Strategic Patience’ May Run Out—Fars,” Reuters, November 9, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/iran​-tells-saudis-its-strategy-patience-not-guaranteed-continue-fars-2022-11-09/ (accessed November 30, 2022). Meanwhile, Tehran reportedly has deployed Arab paramilitary proxy groups from Iraq and Lebanon to help to crush the revolt at home.8Anna Ahronheim, “Hezbollah Iraqi Hashd al-Shaabi Helping Iran Quash Protests,” The Jerusalem Post, October 16, 2022, https://www.jpost.com​/middle-east/article-719797 (accessed November 30, 2022).

As the civil unrest continues, the regime’s hold on power is increasingly threatened. However, it has survived similar waves of anti-regime protest in the past. In 2009, millions of Iranians flooded the streets to oppose the rigged election results that handed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term in office. But the civil unrest was quashed after the leaders of the revolt, known then as the Green Movement, were arrested and muzzled. Former President Barack Obama recently admitted that his failure to publicly affirm U.S. support for the protesters was “a mistake.”9

Stephen Collinson, “A Rare Moment of Public Self-Criticism by a Former President,” CNN, October 18, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/18/politics​/barack-obama-iran-self-reflection-analysis (accessed December 1, 2022).

The current revolt is unlikely to evolve into a successful revolution as long as key internal security forces—particularly the IRGC and its Basij paramilitary branch—remain united and willing to ruthlessly shoot protesters, who lack organizational unity and national leadership. Iran’s oil workers, who played a key role in the 1979 revolution, also have not yet been fully mobilized to support the protesters. But the increasingly frequent eruption of numerous protests in recent years over harsh political, religious, and social restrictions, and economic hardship, corruption, repression, water shortages, and labor disputes, are dangerous signs that the regime’s narrow base of support continues to erode. Each wave of civil opposition, provoked by regime policies, has stripped the government of another layer of legitimacy.

President Raisi was known as one of the regime’s most brutal enforcers while rising through the ranks to head Iran’s Islamic judiciary. He has no answer for resolving festering grievances, except for more heavy-handed repression. If his administration survives this round of protests, it inevitably will be confronted with other rebellions. By blocking reforms and rigging elections, Iran’s rulers have pushed Iran’s long-suffering people into the streets to demand a counterrevolution.

Nuclear Bad News

Tehran has made steady progress in developing its nuclear enterprise, putting it closer to testing or fielding a nuclear weapon—if it chooses to do so. According to one assessment, Iran’s “breakout time”—the time needed to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon—is now effectively “zero.”10

David Albright and Sarah Burkhard, “Iranian Breakout Timeline Now at Zero,” Institute for Science and International Security, June 1, 2022, https://isis​-online.org/isis-reports/detail/iranian-breakout-timeline-now-at-zero/ (accessed November 30, 2022).

 Iran now has enough enriched uranium to fashion a nuclear explosive.

Indeed, even the Biden Administration publicly expressed concern: In June 2022, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Congress: “[Iran’s nuclear] program is galloping forward…. The longer this goes on, the more the breakout time gets down…it’s now down, by public reports, to a few months at best. And if this continues, it will get down to a matter of weeks.”11

Natasha Bertrand, “Iran Is Seeking Russia’s Help to Bolster Its Nuclear Program, US Intel Officials Believe,” CNN, November 4, 2022, https://www.cnn​.com/2022/11/04/politics/iran-russia-nuclear-program/index.html (accessed November 30, 2022).

This frank statement from the Secretary of State is supported by evidence gathered by the IAEA—the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog— which detailed Tehran’s violations of a number of provisions of the JCPOA, including:12

International Atomic Energy Agency, “Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in Light of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015),” September 7, 2022, https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/22/09/gov2022-39.pdf (accessed November 30, 2022).

  • Uranium enrichment. Iran has increased uranium enrichment levels beyond the 3.67 percent low enriched uranium allowed under the JCPOA to 60 percent highly enriched uranium. Iran has claimed that it is capable of enriching uranium to 90 percent weapons-grade uranium.13“Iran Says It Can Enrich Uranium to 90% Purity—Weapons Grade—If Needed,” The Jerusalem Post, July 14, 2022, https://www.jpost.com/breaking​-news/rouhani-iran-can-enrich-uranium-to-90-percent-purity-if-needed-673799 (accessed November 30, 2022). According to a June 2022 analysis, Iran now “has enough 60 percent enriched uranium or highly enriched uranium (HEU) to be assured it could fashion a nuclear explosive.”14Albright and Burkhard, “Iranian Breakout Timeline Now at Zero.”
  • Uranium stockpiles. Iran has increased the amount of enriched uranium in its fissile material stockpiles, which now vastly exceeds JCPOA limitations. A recent estimate assesses that in six months, Iran could amass enough enriched uranium for five nuclear weapons.15Ibid.
  • Advanced centrifuges. Iran is involved in the development, manufacture, and operation of advanced centrifuges, including the IR-2, IR-4, and IR-6, beyond the IR-1 centrifuges initially allowed under the JCPOA.16“Iran Expands Advanced Centrifuge Work Underground, IAEA Finds,” Voice of America, June 8, 2022, https://www.voanews.com/a/iran-expands​-advanced-centrifuge-work-underground-iaea-finds-/6609017.html (accessed November 30, 2022). Moreover, the total number of installed centrifuges exceed the number permitted by the JCPOA.17Paul K. Kerr, “Iran and Nuclear Weapons Production,” Congressional Research Service, July 25, 2022, https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf​/IF/IF12106#:~:text=Iran’s%20number%20of%20installed%20centrifuges,currently%20exceed%20JCPOA%2D%20mandated%20limits (accessed November 30, 2022). By expanding the quantity and capabilities of its centrifuge cascades, Iran reduces the time needed to produce a nuclear weapon.

Beyond Iran’s JCPOA violations, the IAEA asserts that Iran has failed to abide by its safeguard commitments as a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. As a result, in September, the IAEA stated that is “not in a position to provide assurance that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.”18

David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Andrea Stricker, “The IAEA’s Iran NPT Safeguards Report,” Institute for Science and International Security, September 8, 2022, https://isis-online.org/isis-reports/detail/the-iaeas-iran-npt-safeguards-report-september-2022 (accessed November 30, 2022).

 In its most recent quarterly report, the IAEA warned that it was unable to verify the exact size of Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium due to limitations that Tehran imposed on U.N. inspectors last year and the removal of the agency’s monitoring and surveillance equipment at sites in Iran in June.19

Emily Schultheis, “UN Agency: Iran Increases Highly Enriched Uranium Stockpile,” Associated Press, November 9, 2022, https://apnews.com/article​/iran-middle-east-business-nuclear-vienna-72426b6d7677294a0595ab15d9bec60f (accessed November 30, 2022).

Menacing Missile Moves

It is unclear how far Iran is from fashioning a nuclear warhead for a ballistic missile. One troubling assessment published in June 2022 judged that Iran could “deploy nuclear weapons on ballistic missiles in a year or two.”20

Albright and Burkhard, “Iranian Breakout Timeline Now at Zero.”

 This estimate could certainly be achieved if Iran were to receive outside technical assistance, such as from Russia.

Iran has invested significantly in its missile programs and now has the largest missile arsenal in the Middle East. Iran’s ballistic missiles are already capable of striking the entirety of the region and southeastern Europe. Western intelligence officials assess that Iran may be in the process of transferring surface-to-surface missiles to Russia for use in Ukraine, in addition to the hundreds of armed drones it already has transferred to Russia’s armed forces.21

Kylie Atwood, “Iran Is Preparing to Send Additional Weapons Including Ballistic Missiles to Russia to Use in Ukraine, Western Officials say,” CNN, November 1, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/11/01/politics/iran-missiles-russia (accessed November 30, 2022).

Tehran is also developing missiles with longer ranges under cover of its space program. In November, in defiance of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, the IRGC tested a space-launch vehicle which Tehran claims is for the purpose of eventually putting civilian satellites into orbit.22

“Iran Says It Tests Satellite-Carrying Rocket, U.S. Calls Move ‘Destabilising,’” Reuters, November 5, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/science​/iran-successfully-tests-ghaem-100-space-launcher-state-tv-2022-11-05/ (accessed November 30, 2022).

Iran’s space program serves as a convenient, but plausible, cover for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program that could one day hit distant targets—including the U.S. homeland.

Time for a Realistic Iran Policy

Even if renewed negotiations yield another nuclear agreement, which looks increasingly unlikely, it will not be the “longer and stronger” agreement the Biden Administration promised,23

United States Institute of Peace, “The Iran Primer: Biden Foreign Policy Team on Iran,” updated January 21, 2021, https://iranprimer.usip.org/blog​/2020/nov/24/biden-foreign-policy-team-iran (accessed November 30, 2022).

 but instead a “shorter and weaker” one that will not address the JCPOA’s shortcomings, such as its “sunset provisions,” verification regime, and failure to capture Iran’s burgeoning ballistic missile program.24

James Phillips and Peter Brookes, “Iran’s Nuclear Humpty Dumpty: The JCPOA Should Not Be Put Back Together Again,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 3661, October 13, 2021, https://www.heritage.org/middle-east/report/irans-nuclear-humpty-dumpty-the-jcpoa-should-not-be-put​-back-together-again.

The Biden Administration appears to be committed to a dangerously incoherent Iran policy. The wave of protests against Iran’s Islamic dictatorship has exposed once again the unscrupulous nature of a cold-blooded regime that murders its own people and lies about it.

Yet the Biden Administration chooses to believe that the regime will adhere to promises on nuclear proliferation issues that it repeatedly has broken in the past. Succumbing to wishful thinking, the Administration remains committed to negotiating an illusory nuclear deal that would grant Tehran up to $275 billion in financial benefits during its first year in effect, and $1 trillion by 2030.25

Saeed Ghasseminejad, “Tehran’s $1 Trillion Deal: An Updated Forecast of Iran’s Financial Windfall from a New Nuclear Agreement,” Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, August 19, 2022, https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2022/08/19/tehrans-1-trillion-deal/ (accessed November 30, 2022).

 This huge financial infusion would reward Tehran for temporary limits on uranium enrichment that might at best delay, but not halt, Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.

Yet the Biden Administration has made it clear it is still eager to press ahead with nuclear negotiations despite Tehran’s ongoing repression and human rights abuses. Even worse, it has ignored glaring signs of Tehran’s bad faith: assassination threats against former U.S. officials,26

Iran has been linked to assassination threats against former National Security Advisor John Bolton, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and former State Department Iran coordinator Brian Hook. See James Phillips, “Iran’s Foiled Assassination of Bolton Proof Nation Poses Lethal Threat to U.S.,” Heritage Foundation Commentary, August 15, 2022, https://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary​/irans-foiled-assassination-bolton-proof-nation-poses-lethal-threat-us.

 multiple proxy attacks against U.S. troops in the Middle East,27

Andrew Devereux, “Iranian Proxies Increase Operational Tempo in Syria and Iraq,” Terrorism Monitor, Vol. 20, No. 4, The Jamestown Foundation, February 25, 2022, https://jamestown.org/program/iranian-proxies-increase-operational-tempo-in-syria-and-iraq/ (accessed November 30, 2022). and foiled attempts to kidnap or kill Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad in New York City.28Luc Cohen and Joel Schectman, “Man Arrested with Rifle Outside New York Home of Iranian–American Journalist,” Reuters, August 1, 2022, https://​www.reuters.com/world/us/man-arrested-with-rifle-outside-ny-home-iranian-american-journalist-2022-08-01/ (accessed November 30, 2022).

The Biden Administration must respond much more strongly to Iran’s threats, provocations, and attacks. It is long past time for it to get tough on Iran’s outlaw regime and to protect and advance U.S. interests. The Administration must shore up its diplomatic demands by fully using all the tools of national power, including punitive economic sanctions and the threat of military force, if necessary, to prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear weapons capability.

The Administration needs a more realistic and proactive approachto defeat Iran’s nuclear, regional, international, and terrorist challenges and hold the regime accountable for its human rights abuses. It must compel Iran’s regime to pay a much higher price for those actions, or Tehran will continue to act with impunity.

To address Iran’s intensifying nuclear and regional challenges, the United States should:

Abandon Appeasement and Bolster Deterrence to Prevent Iran from Acquiring a Nuclear Weapon. President Biden should halt efforts to revive the increasingly irrelevant JCPOA and stop counterproductive efforts to bribe Tehran with sanctions relief that it will use to boost its multifaceted threats to the United States and its allies. He should declare that Iran will receive sanctions relief only when it verifiably ends its violations of its nuclear nonproliferation commitments and agrees to permanent, fully verifiable restrictions on its nuclear program that do not expire at arbitrary dates. If Tehran rejects negotiations, President Biden should declare that the United States will use military force, if necessary, alongside allies and partners to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Sanctions alone are not likely to halt Iran’s nuclear program any more than they halted North Korea’s nuclear program. Even Ambassador Dennis Ross, a former Obama Administration official who advocated for the JCPOA, admits that only the credible threat of the use of force would stop the regime: “So long as Iran doubts that the United States will use force against them or their nuclear infrastructure, there is little prospect of a diplomatic outcome that truly affects where its nuclear program is ultimately headed.”29

Dennis Ross, “A New Iran Deal Won’t Prevent an Iranian Bomb,” The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, September 9, 2022, https://www​.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/new-iran-deal-wont-prevent-iranian-bomb (accessed November 30, 2022).

The United States should also boost Israeli deterrence and military capabilities by selling it the arms and equipment that would enable it to destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, some of which is buried deep underground in fortified facilities. Washington should accelerate the sales of aerial refueling tankers, precision-guided munitions, and bunker-buster bombs capable of destroying Iran’s fortified underground nuclear facilities and missile bases.

The Pentagon should also expand its prepositioned military stockpiles in Israel that could be transferred to Israel’s armed services in a crisis, to upgrade the readiness and deterrence power of both countries. Washington should also fortify intelligence sharing, intensify joint military planning, and conduct joint military exercises with Israel.

Ramp Up Sanctions on Iran.The Biden Administration relaxed its enforcement of sanctions in a misguided effort to coax Tehran back into the flawed JCPOA, failing to stem the smuggling of illicit Iranian oil exports to China, Iran’s biggest customer. Washington should crack down on and penalize Chinese firms buying the illicit oil, as well as the oil-smuggling networks that facilitate Iran’s sanction-busting efforts. Oil tankers involved in Iran’s smuggling operations should be confiscated along with their cargoes.The U.S. should sell the smuggled oil, with the revenue returned to the Iranian people through funds created for striking workers and protesters.30

Saeed Ghasseminejad, “By Not Enforcing Sanctions, Biden Helps Khamenei and Hurts Iranians,” The National Interest, November 13, 2022, https://​nationalinterest.org/feature/not-enforcing-sanctions-biden-helps-khamenei-and-hurts-iranians-205810 (accessed November 30, 2022).

 In this manner, enforcing sanctions could also promote freedom inside Iran.

To enable the vigorous enforcement of sanctions, the White House should order: (1) the intelligence community to prioritize intelligence-gathering on Iran’s methods to circumvent economic sanctions, and (2) the State and Treasury Departments to update their lists of Iran’s front companies and foreign enablers of sanctions-busting more frequently, and (3) to share them with appropriate foreign governments to enhance enforcement.

The U.S. should especially target the IRGC for additional sanctions, not only for terrorism, but for its involvement in regional proxy attacks, orchestration of assassination attempts against former U.S. officials, attacks on Iranian dissidents around the world, and human rights abuses, particularly those inflicted in the current crackdown.

Work with European Allies to “Snap Back” U.N. Sanctions on Iran. Although the U.S. is no longer considered a JCPOA participant, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom remain participants, and they can trigger the automatic reimposition of multilateral U.N. sanctions on Iran under the agreement. Once the measure is triggered by one or more JCPOA participants alleging that Iran has violated the agreement, Iran’s relief from U.N. sanctions would automatically expire within 30 days unless the Security Council passes a resolution to continue it. The U.S. or any other permanent member of the Security Council could veto that resolution, making snapback difficult to stop except by the party that triggered it. By invoking the snapback option, the European allies would force Tehran to pay a higher price for violating its nonproliferation commitments under its nuclear safeguards agreement, as well as the JCPOA. Otherwise, more U.N. sanctions are scheduled to expire over time according to the JCPOA, including the U.N. embargo on Iranian ballistic missile sales, which expires in 2023, and the snapback option itself, which expires in 2025.

Collaborate with Allies and Partners to Establish a Highly Favorable Regional Military Balance of Power, Especially in Air and Missiles Defenses. Iran’s clerical regime seldom makes meaningful concessions unless it is firmly confronted by adversaries that it fears will threaten its grip on power. The regime’s decision to reorganize and scale back its nuclear program after 2003 was, undoubtedly, influenced by the U.S. interventions in neighboring Afghanistan and Iraq.31

James Phillips, “The Iran National Intelligence Estimate: A Comprehensive Guide to What Is Wrong with the NIE,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2098, January 11, 2008, https://www.heritage.org/middle-east/report/the-iran-national-intelligence-estimate-comprehensive-guide-what​-wrong-the-nie.

The Biden Administration needs to focus more on disincentivizing, rather than incentivizing, Iranian actions if it wants to protect American national interests from Iranian threats. Like many authoritarian regimes, Tehran understands power. Because U.S. military forces are already stretched thin in meeting global security commitments, Washington must work closely with regional allies and partners to deter Tehran.

The White House should direct the Pentagon to help to enhance the security of regional allies and partners, particularly Bahrain, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, which face the most severe threats from Iran and its terrorist surrogates. Through arms sales, the United States should help them to bolster their defenses against Iranian ballistic and cruise missiles, rockets, and armed drones, with the goal of eventually building an integrated air defense system that also would enhance the security of U.S. forces in the region.

In addition to selling more air and missile defense systems to Arab partners, Washington should also encourage Israel to consider selling some of its own air and missile defense systems to Arab countries that have normalized relations with Israel under the Abraham Accords: namely, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Expand the Abraham Accords to Strengthen Regional Cooperation Against Iran. The Trump Administration brokered the 2020 Abraham Accords that normalized bilateral relations between Israel and Bahrain and Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Morocco and Sudan later signed similar agreements to normalize relations with Israel. Rather than downplaying the accords for political reasons, the Biden Administration should strongly support the expansion of the accords to include Saudi Arabia and other Arab states threatened by Iran. Expanding this diplomatic framework would clear the way for greater Arab–Israeli security cooperation in a regional partnership to deter and, if necessary, defeat Iranian direct and indirect proxy threats. Greater regional security cooperation would help to protect and advance U.S. interests as well as enhance the security of U.S. troops deployed in the region.

Promote Freedom for Iran’s People. The Biden Administration has made symbolic gestures to condemn Tehran’s crackdown and express support for Iran’s long-suffering people. While this is a step in the right direction, it is not nearly enough. The most important help that the United States could give Iranians risking their lives in antigovernment protests is to rule out siding with their oppressors. The U.S. should rule out enriching the Islamic regime with billions of dollars of frozen assets and sanctions relief that would be used to finance totalitarian repression against Iranians and escalating threats to Americans.

Developing an overt and covert information campaign, the U.S. should help to inform Iranians about how most of their economic problems stem from their rulers’ misguided priorities and aggressive foreign policy, which triggered extensive international sanctions. Washington should further expose and publicize the corruption, wealth, and hypocrisy of Iran’s leaders and disseminate information about the billions of dollars the regime has lavished on its terrorist network and military and international adventurism in Syria and Yemen, which have diverted resources from Iranians at home.

Washington also should help Iranians to defeat the regime’s censorship of social media by granting licenses for exports of technology that would help them to communicate with each other and the outside world. Such actions can drive up the long-term domestic costs and political risks that the regime must bear for continuing on its present course. But Washington cannot orchestrate regime change in Iran; it can only help to shape conditions that would make it more likely to happen.32

James Phillips, “How the U.S. Can—and Should—Promote Freedom in Iran,” Heritage Foundation Issue Brief No. 4836, April 12, 2018, https://www​.heritage.org/middle-east/report/how-the-us-can-and-should-promote-freedom-iran.

Conclusion: Boost Iran’s People, Not the Regime

After the Biden Administration’s failed nuclear diplomacy, Washington should return to a more effective strategy to counter the regime’s brutal repression, prevent a nuclear breakout, and punish Iran’s proxy attacks against U.S. interests. If it remains narrowly fixated on restoring the illusory nuclear deal, the Biden Administration will pave the way for the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism to acquire the world’s most terrifying weapon.

Iran’s ruthless rulers and their partners in Russia and China would be the biggest winners of another nuclear deal. Tehran would reap billions of dollars that it could spend on arms and nuclear technology from Russia and China. The biggest losers would be Iran’s people. Now is the time for the United States to rule out rewarding Tehran with sanctions relief until Iran halts its hostile acts and focus on deterring, containing, and defeating Tehran’s multiple threats.

James Phillips is Senior Research Fellow in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation. Peter Brookes is Senior Research Fellow for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Counter Proliferation in the Center for National Defense at The Heritage Foundation.

Russian Horn is expanding its nuclear arsenal: Daniel 7

Russia is expanding its nuclear arsenal, U.S. defense secretary says

Idrees Ali

Fri, December 9, 2022 at 10:14 AM·2 min read

(Adds quotes from Austin)

By Idrees Ali

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb., Dec 9 (Reuters) – Russia is expanding and modernizing its nuclear arsenal, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Friday at a time when Russian President Vladimir Putin, faced with setbacks in Ukraine, has repeatedly suggested he could use nuclear weapons.

Austin’s comments are in line with a recent Pentagon policy document on nuclear arms.

Russia has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, with close to 6,000 warheads, according to experts. Together, Russia and the United States together hold around 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads – enough to destroy the planet many times over.

“Russia is also modernizing and expanding its nuclear arsenal,” Austin said at a ceremony for the incoming commander of U.S. Strategic Command, which oversees the United States nuclear arsenal.

“And as the Kremlin continues its cruel and unprovoked war of choice against Ukraine, the whole world has seen Putin engage in deeply irresponsible nuclear saber-rattling,” Austin said.

Russia has said that it will pay special attention to building infrastructure for its nuclear forces in 2023.

Earlier on Friday, Putin vowed at a news conference that any country that dared attack Russia with nuclear weapons would be wiped from the face of the earth.

Putin said Russia had no mandate to launch a preventative first nuclear strike but that Russia’s advanced hypersonic weapons would ensure Russia could respond forcefully if it ever came under attack.

Putin on Sept. 21 warned the West he was not bluffing when he said he would be ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia. On Sept. 30, he said the United States had created a precedent by dropping two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945.

Russian officials say the West has repeatedly misinterpreted Kremlin statements.

The United States has warned Russia over the consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.

Russia and United States had been due to hold talks in recent weeks on their existing NEW START treaty, which limits the number of warheads each can deploy.

But Moscow pulled out on the eve of the meeting, accusing the United States of toxic anti-Russian behavior and trying to manipulate the treaty to its advantage. (Reporting by Idrees Ali; additional reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Howard Goller)

Palestinian President Threatens Return to Terrorism Outside

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas / Getty Images

Palestinian President Threatens Return to Terrorism

Adam Kredo • December 8, 2022 5:30 pm

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas indicated the Palestinian Authority may turn to terrorism, saying “armed resistance” against Israel could commence any day.

“I do not endorse armed resistance at the moment, but I may change my mind later,” President Mahmoud Abbas said in a recent Arabic-language interview translated into English on the Elder of Ziyon website, a blog that tracks Israeli-Palestinian issues. “I do not adopt military resistance at this time, but it is possible that I change my mind tomorrow or after tomorrow, or any time.”

Abbas’s comments come at a troubling time for his Palestinian Authority governing body, which is the weakest it has been in decades. The Iran-backed Hamas terror group, which controls the Gaza Strip, has been challenging Abbas’s power, and several armed faction groups have also joined the fray in recent months. The challenge to Abbas’s rule threatens to topple a fragile security framework with Israel that has been vital to stopping terror attacks on the Jewish state. Abbas’s most recent remarks are likely to inflame an already dangerous situation, according to Middle East observers.

“The assessment right now is that we have not seen this much unrest in the West Bank in pretty much 15 years,” Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the Treasury Department who now works on Middle East issues at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, told the Washington Free Beacon.

Abbas “would be unwise to unleash additional chaos in the West Bank,” Schanzer said. “If things escalate too far, it is highly likely he will be among the most prominent casualties.”

A return to terrorism would also shatter any hopes the Biden administration has of reigniting a long-stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Abbas during the interview blamed Israel for any potential change in policy, saying the Jewish state’s efforts to thwart terrorism are overly aggressive.

“If Israel continues with its actions, I will cancel the security agreement with it. Why continue?” Abbas asked. “Why am I committed to security coordination? And we can breathe without security coordination. Before that, we were breathing, and our people were fighting the occupation.”

The Palestinian Authority is losing power across the West Bank, its onetime stronghold. Israeli forces assess that the PA has already lost control of two key cities—Jenin and Nablus.

Small faction groups are also rising up to challenge Abbas’s rule in the West Bank.

In Nablus, an armed resistance group dubbed the Lion’s Den has been leading attacks on Israeli targets. Al Jazeera in an October report described the group as “changing the face of Palestinian resistance.”

Terrorist groups like the Lion’s Den are not directly affiliated with Hamas or Abbas’s Fatah party, but they appear to get support from both.

This has posed significant challenges for Israel, which must decide whether to enter militant-occupied cities to clear out the terror factions and risk further upsetting Abbas or allow the groups to operate in favor of preserving security agreements with the Palestinian leader.

The shifting landscape has also provided an opening for Iran, which is increasing its support for Hamas in the Gaza Strip and for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel has noted a significant uptick in Iranian weapons-smuggling to Hezbollah, which then transfers the arms into the West Bank—an area typically immune from such activities due to Abbas’s strict control on the territory.

Iran’s goal is to weaken Abbas, who is 87 years old. When the Palestinian leader dies, the power vacuum will become even greater, leaving a clear opening for Iran’s assets in Hamas.

To this end, Iran has created so-called nerve centers in Lebanon and in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, according to Schanzer. The goal is to foment unrest and create security flashpoints with Israel, as well as to erode support for Abbas.

While these efforts have garnered few headlines in the West, Israeli security services have become increasingly concerned.

“The situation could potentially go from bad to worse,” said Schanzer. “Israeli officials right now are signaling that the West Bank is the least stable of the security issues that they’re tracking through the transition” to the incoming government run by Benjamin Netanyahu.

More Iranian Nuclear Horn Lies: Daniel 8

Iran says uranium traces came in waste from abroad

AFP / 09 December 2022 15:56

An Iranian flag. (Credit : AFP/File Photo)

Iran’s nuclear chief has said traces of enriched uranium found on its territory by UN inspectors were brought into the country from abroad, disputing claims of secret nuclear activity.

The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, has for months been pressing Tehran to explain the presence of the nuclear material at three undeclared sites.

The discovery further complicated efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that has been hanging by a thread since the United States unilaterally withdrew from it in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump.

In remarks published Thursday by Hamshahri newspaper, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Mohammad Eslami, said the traces came from waste brought into Iran from other countries.

Eslami said the places visited by UN inspectors were a cattle farm, an abandoned mine and a landfill.

“In the landfill, they took samples from the waste that entered Iran from different countries,” the report quoted him as saying. “This does not mean the place of discovery was a nuclear site or that it was an undeclared nuclear activity.” “The waste came from Iraq and from other countries,” Eslami said.

“We have prevented the entry of much of this waste … They were not nuclear substances from our own manufacturing but perhaps traces from previous use in the country of origin.”

In a resolution last month, the IAEA’s board of governors deplored the lack of cooperation an “technically credible” answers from Tehran. As a result, the agency said it was unable to guarantee the authenticity and integrity of Iran’s nuclear program.

But Eslami said Tehran has “provided documented and argued answers to the request” of the UN nuclear watchdog. An IAEA delegation had planned to travel to Tehran in November, but the visit did not take place.

The 2015 deal was designed to prevent Iran from covertly developing a nuclear bomb, a goal the Islamic Republic has always denied. Efforts to get Iran and the United States back on board with the agreement have stalled