The Sixth Seal Is Long Overdue (Revelation 6:12)

ON THE MAP; Exploring the Fault Where the Next Big One May Be Waiting


Published: March 25, 2001

Alexander Gates, a geology professor at Rutgers-Newark, is co-author of ”The Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes,” which will be published by Facts on File in July. He has been leading a four-year effort to remap an area known as the Sloatsburg Quadrangle, a 5-by-7-mile tract near Mahwah that crosses into New York State. The Ramapo Fault, which runs through it, was responsible for a big earthquake in 1884, and Dr. Gates warns that a recurrence is overdue. He recently talked about his findings.

Q. What have you found?

A. We’re basically looking at a lot more rock, and we’re looking at the fracturing and jointing in the bedrock and putting it on the maps. Any break in the rock is a fracture. If it has movement, then it’s a fault. There are a lot of faults that are offshoots of the Ramapo. Basically when there are faults, it means you had an earthquake that made it. So there was a lot of earthquake activity to produce these features. We are basically not in a period of earthquake activity along the Ramapo Fault now, but we can see that about six or seven times in history, about 250 million years ago, it had major earthquake activity. And because it’s such a fundamental zone of weakness, anytime anything happens, the Ramapo Fault goes.

Q. Where is the Ramapo Fault?

 A. The fault line is in western New Jersey and goes through a good chunk of the state, all the way down to Flemington. It goes right along where they put in the new 287. It continues northeast across the Hudson River right under the Indian Point power plant up into Westchester County. There are a lot of earthquakes rumbling around it every year, but not a big one for a while.

Q. Did you find anything that surprised you?

A. I found a lot of faults, splays that offshoot from the Ramapo that go 5 to 10 miles away from the fault. I have looked at the Ramapo Fault in other places too. I have seen splays 5 to 10 miles up into the Hudson Highlands. And you can see them right along the roadsides on 287. There’s been a lot of damage to those rocks, and obviously it was produced by fault activities. All of these faults have earthquake potential.

Q. Describe the 1884 earthquake.

A. It was in the northern part of the state near the Sloatsburg area. They didn’t have precise ways of describing the location then. There was lots of damage. Chimneys toppled over. But in 1884, it was a farming community, and there were not many people to be injured. Nobody appears to have written an account of the numbers who were injured.

Q. What lessons we can learn from previous earthquakes?

A. In 1960, the city of Agadir in Morocco had a 6.2 earthquake that killed 12,000 people, a third of the population, and injured a third more. I think it was because the city was unprepared.There had been an earthquake in the area 200 years before. But people discounted the possibility of a recurrence. Here in New Jersey, we should not make the same mistake. We should not forget that we had a 5.4 earthquake 117 years ago. The recurrence interval for an earthquake of that magnitude is every 50 years, and we are overdue. The Agadir was a 6.2, and a 5.4 to a 6.2 isn’t that big a jump.

Q. What are the dangers of a quake that size?

A. When you’re in a flat area in a wooden house it’s obviously not as dangerous, although it could cut off a gas line that could explode. There’s a real problem with infrastructure that is crumbling, like the bridges with crumbling cement.

There’s a real danger we could wind up with our water supplies and electricity cut off if a sizable earthquake goes off. The best thing is to have regular upkeep and keep up new building codes. The new buildings will be O.K. But there is a sense of complacency.


The French Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

France and weapons of mass destruction

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

France did not sign the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which gave it the option to conduct further nuclear tests until it signed and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 1996 and 1998 respectively. France denies currently having chemical weapons, ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1995, and acceded to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) in 1984. France had also ratified the Geneva Protocol in 1926.


France was one of the nuclear pioneers, going back to the work of Marie Skłodowska Curie and Henri Becquerel. Curie’s last assistant Bertrand Goldschmidt became the father of the French nuclear weapons program.[clarification needed] French Professor Frédéric Joliot-Curie, High Commissioner for Atomic Energy, told the New York Herald Tribune that the 1945 Smyth Report wrongfully omitted the contributions of French scientists.[8]

After World War II France’s former position of leadership suffered greatly because of the instability of the Fourth Republic, and the lack of finance available.[9] During the Second World War Goldschmidt invented the now-standard method for extracting plutonium while working as part of the British/Canadian team participating in the Manhattan Project. But after the Liberation in 1945, France had to start its own program almost from scratch. Nevertheless, the first French reactor went critical in 1948 and small amounts of plutonium were extracted in 1949. There was no formal commitment to a nuclear weapons program at that time, although plans were made to build reactors for the large scale production of plutonium.[10] Francis Perrin, French High-Commissioner for Atomic Energy from 1951 to 1970, stated that from 1949 Israeli scientists were invited to the Saclay Nuclear Research Centre, this cooperation leading to a joint effort including sharing of knowledge between French and Israeli scientists especially those with knowledge from the Manhattan Project,[11][12][13] the French believed that cooperation with Israel could give them access to international Jewish nuclear scientists.[14] According to Lieutenant Colonel Warner D. Farr in a report to the USAF Counterproliferation Center while France was previously a leader in nuclear research “Israel and France were at a similar level of expertise after the war, and Israeli scientists could make significant contributions to the French effort. Progress in nuclear science and technology in France and Israel remained closely linked throughout the early fifties. Farr reported that Israeli scientists probably helped construct the G-1 plutonium production reactor and UP-1 reprocessing plant at Marcoule.”[15]

However, in the 1950s a civilian nuclear research program was started, a byproduct of which would be plutonium. In 1956 a secret Committee for the Military Applications of Atomic Energy was formed and a development program for delivery vehicles was started. The intervention of the United States in the Suez Crisis that year is credited with convincing France that it needed to accelerate its own nuclear weapons program to remain a global power.[16] As part their military alliance during the Suez Crisis in 1956 the French agreed to secretly build the Dimona nuclear reactor in Israel and soon after agreed to construct a reprocessing plant for the extraction of plutonium at the site. In 1957, soon after Suez and the resulting diplomatic tension with both the Soviet Union and the United States, French president René Coty decided on the creation of the C.S.E.M. in the then French Sahara, a new nuclear testing facility replacing the CIEES.[17]

In 1957 Euratom was created, and under cover of the peaceful use of nuclear power the French signed deals with Germany and Italy to work together on nuclear weapons development.[18] The Chancellor of Germany Konrad Adenauer told his cabinet that he “wanted to achieve, through EURATOM, as quickly as possible, the chance of producing our own nuclear weapons”.[19] The idea was short-lived. In 1958 de Gaulle became President and Germany and Italy were excluded.[citation needed]

With the return of Charles de Gaulle to the presidency of France in the midst of the May 1958 crisis, the final decisions to build an atomic bomb were taken, and a successful test took place in 1960 with Israeli scientists as observers at the tests and unlimited access to the scientific data.[20] Following tests de Gaulle moved quickly to distance the French program from involvement with that of Israel.[21] Since then France has developed and maintained its own nuclear deterrent, one intended to defend France even if the United States refused to risk its own cities by assisting Western Europe in a nuclear war.[22]

The United States began providing technical assistance to the French program in the early 1970s through the 1980s. The aid was secret, unlike the relationship with the British nuclear program. The Nixon administration, unlike previous presidencies, did not oppose its allies’ possession of atomic weapons and believed that the Soviets would find having multiple nuclear-armed Western opponents more difficult. Because the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 prohibited sharing information on nuclear weapon design, a method known as “negative guidance” or “Twenty Questions” was used; French scientists described to their U.S. counterparts their research, and were told whether they were correct. Areas in which the French received help included MIRV, radiation hardening, missile design, intelligence on Soviet anti-missile defences, and advanced computer technology. Because the French program attracted “the best brains” of the nation, the U.S. benefited from French research as well. The relationship also improved the two nations’ military ties; despite its departure from NATO’s command structure in 1966, France developed two separate nuclear targeting plans, one “national” for the Force de Frappe’s role as a solely French deterrent, and one coordinated with NATO.[22]

France is understood to have tested neutron or enhanced radiation bombs in the past, apparently leading the field with an early test of the technology in 1967[23] and an “actual” neutron bomb in 1980.[a]


There were 210 French nuclear tests from 1960 through 1995. Seventeen of them were done in the Algerian Sahara between 1960 and 1966, starting in the middle of the Algerian War. One-hundred ninety-three were carried out in French Polynesia.[25][26]

A summary table of French nuclear testing by year can be read at this article: List of nuclear weapons tests of France.

Saharan experiments centres (1960–66)

Further information: Gerboise Bleue and Agathe (atomic test)

After studying Réunion, New Caledonia, and Clipperton Island, General Charles Ailleret, head of the Special Weapons Section, proposed two possible nuclear test sites for France in a January 1957 report: French Algeria in the Sahara Desert, and French Polynesia. Although he recommended against Polynesia because of its distance from France and lack of a large airport, Ailleret stated that Algeria should be chosen “provisionally”, likely due in part to the Algerian War.[27]

A series of atmospheric nuclear tests was conducted by the Centre Saharien d’Expérimentations Militaires (“Saharan Military Experiments Centre”) from February 1960 until April 1961. The first, called Gerboise Bleue (“Blue jerboa”) took place on 13 February 1960 in Algeria. The explosion took place at 40 km from the military base at Hammoudia near Reggane, which is the last town on the Tanezrouft Track heading south across the Sahara to Mali, and 700 km/435 mi. south of Béchar.[28] The device had a 70 kiloton yield. Although Algeria became independent in 1962, France was able to continue with underground nuclear tests in Algeria through 1966. The General Pierre Marie Gallois was named le père de la bombe A (“Father of the A-bomb”).

Three further atmospheric tests were carried out from 1 April 1960 to 25 April 1961 at Hammoudia. Military, workers and the nomadic Touareg population of the region were present at the test sites, without any significant protection. At most, some took a shower after each test according to L’Humanité.[29] Gerboise Rouge (5kt), the third atomic bomb, half as powerful as Hiroshima, exploded on 27 December 1960, provoking protests from Japan, USSR, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Ghana.[30]

After the independence of Algeria on 5 July 1962, following the 19 March 1962 Evian agreements, the French military moved the test site to another location in the Algerian Sahara, around 150 km north of Tamnarasset, near the village of In Eker. Underground nuclear explosion testing was performed in drifts in the Taourirt Tan Afella mountain, one of the granite Hoggar Mountains. The Evian agreements included a secret article which stated that “Algeria concede[s]… to France the use of certain air bases, terrains, sites and military installations which are necessary to it [France]” during five years.

The C.S.E.M. was therefore replaced by the Centre d’Expérimentations Militaires des Oasis (“Military Experiments Center of the Oasis”) underground nuclear testing facility. A total of 13 underground nuclear tests were carried out at the In Eker site from 7 November 1961 to 16 February 1966. By July 1, 1967, all French facilities were evacuated.

An accident happened on May 1, 1962, during the “Béryl” test, four times more powerful than Hiroshima and designed as an underground shaft test.[31] Due to improper sealing of the shaft, radioactive rock and dust were released into the atmosphere. Nine soldiers of the 621st Groupe d’Armes Spéciales unit were heavily contaminated by radiation.[32] The soldiers were exposed to as much as 600 mSv. The Minister of Armed Forces, Pierre Messmer, and the Minister of Research, Gaston Palewski, were present. As many as 100 additional personnel, including officials, soldiers and Algerian workers were exposed to lower levels of radiation, estimated at about 50 mSv, when the radioactive cloud produced by the blast passed over the command post, due to an unexpected change in wind direction. They escaped as they could, often without wearing any protection. Palewski died in 1984 of leukemia, which he always attributed to the Béryl incident. In 2006, Bruno Barillot, specialist of nuclear tests, measured 93 microsieverts by hour of gamma ray at the site, equivalent to 1% of the official admissible yearly dose.[29] The incident was documented in the 2006 docudrama “Vive La Bombe!.[33]

Saharan facilities

used for launching rockets from 1947 to 1967.[34]

used for atmospheric tests from 1960 to 1961.

  • C.E.M.O. (Centre d’Expérimentations Militaires des Oasis): In Ekker, in the Hoggar, 150 km/93 mi from Tamanrasset, Tan Afella, Algeria:

used for underground tests from 1961 to 1967.

Pacific experiments centre (1966–1996)

Despite its initial choice of Algeria for nuclear tests, the French government decided to build Faa’a International Airport in Tahiti, spending much more money and resources than would be justified by the official explanation of tourism. By 1958, two years before the first Sahara test, France began again its search for new testing sites due to potential political problems with Algeria and the possibility of a ban on above-ground tests. Many overseas France islands were studied, as well as performing underground tests in the Alps, Pyrenees, or Corsica; however, engineers found problems with most of the possible sites in metropolitan France.[27]

By 1962 France hoped in its negotiations with the Algerian independence movement to retain the Sahara as a test site until 1968, but decided that it needed to be able to also perform above-ground tests of hydrogen bombs, which could not be done in Algeria. Mururoa and Fangataufa in French Polynesia were chosen that year. President Charles de Gaulle announced the choice on 3 January 1963, describing it as a benefit to Polynesia’s weak economy. The Polynesian people and leaders broadly supported the choice, although the tests became controversial after they began, especially among Polynesian separatists.[27]

A total of 193 nuclear tests were carried out in Polynesia from 1966 to 1996. On 24 August 1968 France detonated its first thermonuclear weapon—codenamed Canopus—over Fangataufa. A fission device ignited a lithium-6 deuteride secondary inside a jacket of highly enriched uranium to create a 2.6 megaton blast.

Current nuclear doctrine and strategy

The French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and the American nuclear-powered carrier USS Enterprise (left), each of which carry nuclear-capable fighter aircraft

French law requires at least one out of four nuclear submarines to be on patrol in the Atlantic Ocean at any given time, like the UK’s policy.[35]

In 2006, French President Jacques Chirac noted that France would be willing to use nuclear weapons against a state attacking France by terrorism. He noted that the French nuclear forces had been configured for this option.[36]

On 21 March 2008, President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that France will reduce its aircraft deliverable nuclear weapon stockpile (which currently consists of 60 TN 81 warheads) by a third (20 warheads) and bring the total French nuclear arsenal to fewer than 300 warheads.[37][38]

France decided not to sign the UN treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.[39]

Anti-nuclear tests protests

Protests in Australia in 1996 against French nuclear tests in Pacific

  • In July 1959, after France announced that they would begin testing nuclear bombs in the Sahara, protests were held in Nigeria and Ghana, with the Liberian and Moroccan governments also denouncing the decision. On November 20, 1959 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution supported by 26 Afro-Asian countries expressing concern and requesting “France to refrain from such tests.”[40]
  • By 1968 only France and China were detonating nuclear weapons in the open air and the contamination caused by the H-bomb blast led to a global protest movement against further French atmospheric tests.[10]
  • From the early 1960s New Zealand peace groups CND and the Peace Media had been organising nationwide anti-nuclear campaigns in protest of atmospheric testing in French Polynesia. These included two large national petitions presented to the New Zealand government which led to a joint New Zealand and Australian Government action to take France to the International Court of Justice (1972).[41]
  • In 1972, Greenpeace and an amalgam of New Zealand peace groups managed to delay nuclear tests by several weeks by trespassing with a ship in the testing zone. During the time, the skipper, David McTaggart, was beaten and severely injured by members of the French military.
  • In 1973 the New Zealand Peace Media organised an international flotilla of protest yachts including the Fri, Spirit of Peace, Boy Roel, Magic Island and the Tanmure to sail into the test exclusion zone.[42]
  • In 1973, New Zealand Prime Minister Norman Kirk as a symbolic act of protest sent two navy frigates, HMNZS Canterbury and HMNZS Otago, to Moruroa.[43] They were accompanied by HMAS Supply, a fleet oiler of the Royal Australian Navy.[44]
  • In 1985 the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior was bombed and sunk by the French DGSE in Auckland, New Zealand, as it prepared for another protest of nuclear testing in French military zones. One crew member, Fernando Pereira of Portugal, photographer, drowned on the sinking ship while attempting to recover his photographic equipment. Two members of DGSE were captured and sentenced, but eventually repatriated to France in a controversial affair.
  • French president Jacques Chirac’s decision to run a nuclear test series at Mururoa in 1995, just one year before the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was to be signed, caused worldwide protest, including an embargo of French wine. These tests were meant to provide the nation with enough data to improve further nuclear technology without needing additional series of tests.[45]
  • The French military conducted almost 200 nuclear tests at Mururoa and Fangataufa atolls over a thirty-year period ending in 1996, 46 of them atmospheric, of which five were without significant nuclear yield. In August 2006, an official French government report by INSERM confirmed the link between an increase in the cases of thyroid cancer and France’s atmospheric nuclear tests in the territory since 1966.[46]

Russian Horn Prepares for Nuclear War: Revelation 16

Russia is thought to have 173 Yars nuclear missiles in service, which are capable of ranging the whole of Europe or the US with six nuclear warheads inside each

Russia readies a SECOND monster Yars nuke for combat – as pro-Putin MP threatens ‘hotbed of all nastiness’ London with missile strike

  • Russian state media filmed Yars missile being loaded into silo yesterday
  • More footage of a second missile being readied was released today 
  • Ex-general told state media that Russia should consider a nuclear strike  on London instead of Washington DC


PUBLISHED: 04:36 EST, 15 December 2022 | UPDATED: 12:01 EST, 15 December 2022

Russia has today issued a fresh nuclear threat to the UK after loading a second huge missile into a silo near Moscow.

Footage released by state media shows the Yars rocket, which can be tipped with a nuclear warhead and range all of Europe and the mainland US, being loaded into the ground at the Kozelsky base, 160 miles south of Moscow.

It comes just a day after more footage showed another missile arriving at the same base and as a retired Russian general said Russia should prioritise striking London over Washington DC. 

Russia is thought to have 173 Yars nuclear missiles in service, which are capable of ranging the whole of Europe or the US with six nuclear warheads inside each

Russian state media released footage of another Yars nuclear missile being loaded into a silo to the south of Moscow on Thursday

Russian state media has released footage of another Yars nuclear missile being loaded into a silo to the south of Moscow

Russia preps missile as military expert calls for London attack

Conscription period lengthened for Russian men amidst Ukraine war

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Vladimir Putin has been ramping up his nuclear sabre-rattling since declaring war on Ukraine back in February, with the West his main target.

Such threats have been dialled back in recent weeks after Beijing told him to stop, but they are slowly building again ahead of Russia’s annual Strategic Missile Forces Day on Saturday.

The last time Russia showed off its Yars missiles was back in October when Putin oversaw the annual Grom nuclear drills.

Submarines, nuclear-capable bombers and Russia’s nuclear missile forces all took part in those exercises – watched over by Putin in his nuclear command centre.

Colonel Igor Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of Russia’s National Defence magazine, said afterwards that the drills were a rehearsal for destroying the UK and US.

Lt. Gen. Andrey Gurulev suggested to Russian state media viewers that Russia should consider striking London with nukes ahead of hitting Washington DC

Lt. Gen. Andrey Gurulev suggested to Russian state media viewers that Russia should consider striking London with nukes ahead of hitting Washington DC

Yars missiles are capable of ranging the whole of Europe and the mainland United States from the Kozelsky base where they are being stationed

Yars missiles are capable of ranging the whole of Europe and the mainland United States from the Kozelsky base where they are being stationed

Russia released footage of the Yars missile being transported a day after showing another missile being taken to the same site

Russia released footage of the Yars missile being transported a day after showing another missile being taken to the same site

China, Russia, the US, UK and France have signed a joint statement committing to reduce the spread of nukes – forcing Beijing to defend plans to expand its stockpile

China, Russia, the US, UK and France have signed a joint statement committing to reduce the spread of nukes – forcing Beijing to defend plans to expand its stockpile

Speaking after the latest Yars missile footage was released, General Gurulev said the West was hell-bent on seeing Ukraine attack Russia.

‘So why are we embarrassed to say that we should strike London?’ he asked.

‘I am not saying that we should demolish everyone. We should destroy critical facilities – control centres, military bases, and airfields.

‘I am sure we should have a catalogue in the General Staff and it is being updated all the time… Is it nuclear…[or not]?

‘If it is not nuclear, you have to calculate how many missile carriers, ships, aircraft, satellite constellation(s)… and long range [drones] are needed.

‘And a strike on London, strange as it may sound, would be the first and last warning to the [real decision-makers – Washington].’

The Kozelsk missile compound in Kaluga region is undergoing modernisation and a revamp, according to reports.

Col. Alexei Sokolov, speaking after the first Yars missile was moved on Tuesday, said the ‘complicated technological operations’ took a few hours.

Vladimir Putin has been threatening to use his nuclear arsenal since starting war in Ukraine earlier this year – but has toned down the rhetoric after warnings from Beijing

Vladimir Putin has been threatening to use his nuclear arsenal since starting war in Ukraine earlier this year – but has toned down the rhetoric after warnings from Beijing

A soldier of Russia strategic missile forces is seen in state media footage transporting one of the Yars nuclear missiles to its silo

A soldier of Russia strategic missile forces is seen in state media footage transporting one of the Yars nuclear missiles to its silo

Moscow carried out a test-launch of one of its Yars missiles back in October, when propagandists said they were rehearsing for a strike on the UK or US

Moscow carried out a test-launch of one of its Yars missiles back in October, when propagandists said they were rehearsing for a strike on the UK or US

He made clear the exercise was aimed at sending a message to the West, with both the UK and US within range.

‘The importance of this operation lies in the fact that the next missile will be put on combat duty on schedule,’ he said.

‘The homeland will get another nuclear missile weapon, which will make it possible to solve any tasks at the strategic level.’

Combat engineer Vadim Vyazovsky told TV Zvezda, the Russian defence ministry’s own channel: ‘I feel proud of Russia that my country is putting such products into service so that the Motherland can sleep well.’ 

The Kozelsk missile is undergoing modernisation and a revamp, said reports.

The Yars is a modification of the Topol-M missile system, and was first deployed in 2009. In the October drill, Russia allegedly practiced its response to a Western nuclear attack. 

It is, however, not Russia’s most-modern nuclear missile – that is the Sarmat 2, which Putin oversaw a test-launch of back in April.

Moscow claims that rocket can carry up to 15 nuclear warheads mounted on its new Avangard hypersonic re-entry vehicles, which carry them to their targets.

According to Putin, these vehicles are so fast and highly manoeuvrable that they cannot be stopped by any current missile defences.

He has regularly used this fact to threaten other nations as his war in Ukraine continues to go badly for the Kremlin.

Installation of huge rocket into a silo in the Kaluga region

Can the World Afford to Give Up on the Iran Nuclear Deal? Daniel 8

Iran nuclear

Can Biden afford to give up on the Iran nuclear deal? 

US envoy’s latest word is Iran is ‘not interested,’ but the EU reaffirms support for the JCPOA while an IAEA team comes to Iran. 

Robert Malley, Biden administration special envoy for Iran, testifies about the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 25, 2022, in Washington, DC. – BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

December 16, 2022

EU: No better option than JCPOA 

The Iran nuclear deal has the feel these days of the Halloween movie series. Just as you can never count on Michael Myers being truly dead, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) seems to have an endless stream of lives and sequels. 

Less than two weeks ago Rob Malley, the Biden administration’s Iran envoy, said that because Tehran is “not interested” in the JCPOA, the US is “focused on other things,” such as “trying to deter and disrupt the provision of weapons to Russia and trying to support the fundamental aspirations of the Iranian people.” 

But what if Iran is interested again? 

On Dec. 9, following a call with Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and UN-mandated coordinator of the JCPOA negotiations, Iran Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian tweeted that “we are on the way to the final stage of a good, strong & durable agreement.” 

Three days later Borrell, briefing the EU Foreign Affairs Council, said, “We do not have a better option than the JCPOA to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.” He added, “This remains in our own interest.” 

Borrell said the EU should separate the human rights-Russia-drones and JCPOA files, calling for continued engagement with Iran “as much as possible” on the nuclear file, despite the current stalemate. 

Iran’s Foreign Ministry responded to the EU on the JCPOA by saying that “Iran’s aim is to sign a lasting agreement” and “is prepared to conclude the talks in line with the draft of the Vienna negotiations, which were the result of months of hard and intensive discussions.” 

Iran soon after agreed to the visit of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) delegation on Dec. 18 to attempt to resolve a longstanding dispute regarding potential Iranian violations of the nuclear safeguards agreement (read the latest IAEA report here). 

Regional contacts and officials are also telling us that Iran is indeed signaling renewed interest in closing the nuclear deal. There may be skepticism of Iran’s intentions, but the stakes are too high not to take to note of what appears to be a possible shift in Tehran’s position.  

Iran may want to change the conversation 

As protests continue in Iran, the Islamic Republic finds it easier to single out enemies abroad, rather than its own reactionary policies, as cause of the unrest. Criticism and sanctions by the US and the EU are seen as part of a campaign, which includes especially Israel and Saudi Arabia, to destabilize the Islamic Republic. Tehran can’t be seen as giving in at home or abroad in its policies while under siege.

For Iran’s clerical rulers, the die may be cast, and the government will remain in a perpetual state of tension and conflict with wide segments of  its population, especially women and youth. Thus, it might be time to try to change the conversation back to the nuclear deal. The economic payoff for Iran, through unfrozen assets and lifting of energy and financial sanctions, would be substantial, as we explain here. 

There also may be a sense among some of Iran’s more pragmatic leaders that they blew it in August, a month before protests broke out following the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini for a hijab violation. A deal was close last summer, but talks broke down after Iran introduced the safeguards issue and asked for even more guarantees in case the US again withdraws from the deal, as former US President Donald Trump did in 2018.   

Netanyahu and the Iran deal 

The return of Benjamin Netanyahu, a committed opponent of the nuclear deal, as Israel’s prime minister, may also be an incentive for Tehran to return to negotiations. Netanyahu told the Saudi media outlet Al-Arabiya this week that he will do whatever he can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, even without Washington’s consent.   

Iran’s leaders would not admit it, but they probably consider a deepening of Israeli-Saudi security coordination against Iran a disaster, especially given the present situation. 

Both Iran and Israel interestingly flashed some realism this year with the signing of US-brokered Israel-Lebanon maritime boundary agreement in October. As we wrote here, that agreement is essentially an Iranian deal, if two steps removed, via the Lebanese government and Hezbollah. Netanyahu, in the Al-Arabiya interview, reiterated his commitment to abide by the deal, despite his criticism of it during the election campaign (Ben Caspit had it here first). 

Ben Caspit has the exclusive this week that Israel’s intelligence leadership sees lasting change as a result of the protests, but, so far, none of the telltale signs that the government is about to fall. 

Regime change is a high bar. Fragile autocratic states under extended siege rarely end with a democratic turnaround. There are numerous cases, none directly comparable, except as an analytical caution: Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, etc.   

Can Biden embrace realism on Iran? 

US President Joe Biden made a return to the Iran nuclear deal a top administration priority.  He has said repeatedly that he will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon on his watch, and that diplomacy is the best approach to meet that goal. 

The incentive for a deal should be as strong as ever. Nuclear diplomacy has never been about rewarding the Iranian government nor investing in its changing for the better. It was and is about keeping Iran from getting the bomb, and the consequences of what would follow if it did, including the possibility of a regional nuclear arms race. 

The IAEA, and the international community, is alarmed that Iran has increased the level of its uranium enrichments to 60%, which is one technical step away from 90%, weapons-grade enrichment level. 

The Biden administration has been careful to say that it has not given up on the JCPOA, just that it has “other priorities.” The deal on the table in August, which technically still stands, is the US/EU-approved draft. A return to the talks, of course, starts with Iran. But if Iran gets interested again, the US should as well, reinstating the JCPOA among the “other priorities.”

The Antichrist Appeals to Iraqi Christians

Sadr-led committee returns at least 200 occupied properties to their Christian owners


BAGHDAD, Iraq – A decree issued by Muqtada al-Sadr earlier this year has so far seen a large number of Christians reclaim the ownership of their properties confiscated by armed groups in the Iraqi capital city Baghdad and other provinces, numbering up to 200 reported confiscations.

The return of properties to their rightful owners includes houses, agricultural land, factories, and shops in Baghdad, Nineveh, Basra, and Kirkuk.

A committee established by Sadr started work in June 2022 with close associates and officials to Sadr involved in resolving the issue that had gripped Christians and other minority groups since 2003.

The committee has so far been able to restore 200 properties to their owners, according to Saed Muhannad Musawi, a member of the Sadr-led committee to return confiscated properties to their Christians owners.

“There are some other properties that we are working to restore to their owners. This initiative has brought happiness to the components including Christians, and Sabians. Today we can notice that justice has been done to them. Some of these families had been asking the government for 15 years, some others for 20 years to restore their properties for them, but they had not obtained any answer,”  Musawi added.

One of those who managed to go back to his house for the first time in six years was Manaf Hanna whose house in Baghdad had been occupied in 2016 by armed men.

“In 2016, a number of people came to our estate and wrote on the front wall ‘this property has sectarian conflict issues’ and soon later they occupied it,”  Hanna, told Rudaw on Thursday.

He added that despite numerous efforts to visit all Iraqi relevant authorities, they failed in all of their efforts to reclaim the ownership of their occupied house. He is now thankful for the influential Shiite leader Sadr.

“We reached out everywhere to restore the ownership of our estate and return home, but they were all too futile. Thanks be to God, under the leadership of Muqtada al-Sadr, my problem was solved today and I returned home,” he added.

Though Sadr does not hold any government power, he is one of the key Shiite leaders across the Iraqi political spectrum.

Iraq’s Christian community has been devastated in the past two decades. Following the US-led invasion in 2003, sectarian warfare prompted followers of Iraq’s multiple Christian denominations to flee, and attacks by ISIS in 2014 hit minority communities especially hard.

There is not yet concrete data about the number of properties owned by Christians and occupied by militia armed men.

Many Christians who fled Iraq after 2003 fearing threats of persecution, left behind their homes. Many of them when they returned, they found out that they had been occupied by militiamen and sold using fabricated deeds.

Fewer than 300,000 Christians remain in Iraq today, but not all live in a permanent place they can call home.

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Iranian Nuclear Horn Has More Than Doubled: Daniel 8

Mohammad Eslami, the head of Iran's atomic organization. FILE PHOTO

Iran’s Nuclear Chief Says Uranium Enrichment ‘More Than Doubled’

Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium has more than doubled, the country’s nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami told lawmakers in Tehran on Saturday.

Eslami referred to a parliament bill passed in December 2020 that required the government to increase high-level enrichment of uranium, demanding that the United States lift all sanctions. Praising the legislation, Eslami said that the decision made possible an unprecedented enrichment capacity.

In November 2020, Iran’s parliament with a hardliner majority – many officers of the Revolutionary Guard – initiated the legislation and passed it in early December, right after newly elected US president Joe Biden signaled his readiness to return the United States to the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran known as the JCPOA.

His predecessor Donald Trump had abandoned the accord in 2018 calling it a “bad deal” and imposing sanctions on Iran.

In early 2021, the Islamic Republic began enriching uranium to 20-percent and shortly after to 60-percent, a short step from acquiring highly enriched fissile material for a nuclear bomb. According to estimates, it now has enough enriched uranium for one atomic bomb.

Eslami claimed that Iran’s nuclear program has led to production of energy and has saved “a lot of money” and reduced fossil fuel consumption.

His claims, however, are refuted by the fact that only a small fraction of Iran’s electricity is produced by its only reactor at Bushehr, while highly enriched uranium is not needed for nuclear power plants, which is not the subject of the dispute with the West.

US Aggravates Nuclear War: Revelation 16

US prolongs Russia-Ukraine conflict for three aims, aggravates nuclear war risk: experts at GT annual forum

Photo: Global TimesA prolonged and expanded Russia-Ukraine conflict will have a far-reaching impact and damage the future of the globe, and increase the risk of a runaway control and nuclear crisis, Chinese foreign affairs experts and scholars warned at the 2023 Global Times Annual Conference on Saturday.

“The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is a typical ‘proxy war.’ The prolonged conflict in Ukraine is inevitable, and its troubles and shocks will further spill over to other parts of the world,” Zhu Feng, a professor of international relations at Nanjing University, said, addressing the 2023 Global Times Annual Conference, held both online and off-line.

The US and the EU have not made substantial efforts to ease Russia-Ukraine conflict, and have even moved in the opposite direction by providing weapons and ammunition. The key to solving the crisis lies in the hands of the US and EU, Zhou Li, former vice minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, noted at the conference.

There are three major uncertainties in the future development of the Russia-Ukraine conflict – direct military confrontation between Russia and NATO members, nuclear contamination in Ukraine, and Russia being forced to use nuclear weapons, Zhu said.

“It is fair to say that the prolonged conflict between Russia and Ukraine is the most important strategic challenge and the most serious uncertainty facing the world today,” Zhu stressed.

Both sides of the Ukraine conflict are locked in a stalemated battle of attrition, which could set the stage for a new round of escalation, the Associated Press reported recently.

Scholars have analyzed the future direction of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and underlined that currently the willingness of the parties to negotiate is far from sufficient.

For Ukraine, it is still in a military stage of counter offensive; for Russia, it hopes to adjust and regain its battlefield advantage; as for the US, it continues military support to Ukraine through advanced military equipment, so all parties are more willing to continue their military moves, according to Wu Xinbo, dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University.

Wu Dahui, deputy dean of the Russian Institute of Tsinghua University, also believes that there is no overlap between the negotiating goals of Russia and Ukraine.

The US has three goals in the Ukraine conflict: to comprehensively weaken Russia, to stabilize the regime in Ukraine, and to push Europe to follow US policies, Wu Xinbo said.

He believes that it will be hard to find a clear solution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict any time soon. But 2024 could be a critical timing for resolving the conflict, given that both US and Russia will have presidential elections in 2024.

Having been drawn into the protracted and intense Russia-Ukraine conflict, and having to deal with inflation and skyrocketing energy costs, more people in the EU have realized how they have been caught in a US trap. Top European officials are furious with the Biden administration and have accused the US of profiting from the Ukraine crisis by selling gas at high prices and selling arms, Politico reported in early December.

In the modern world, countries depend on each other as part of growing globalization, such as oil and gas, which have increasingly become the new frontlines in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. As the conflict deepens, the world could enter a post-post-Cold War era, Zhu said.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, great power relations have eased and the world has entered an era of globalization. However, the Russia-Ukraine conflict is returning the world to a time of great power confrontation, and the real rivalry behind the conflict is between Russia and the US, the expert said.

It is clear that Russia-Ukraine conflict is a continuation of the Cold War conflict. Especially, the Western camp led by the US suppressed other countries with the Cold War mentality and hegemonism, expanded with so-called “democracy versus freedom” narrative, and maintained its geopolitical strategy, so as to maintain the economic and international order under the US’ system, said Zhang Shuhua, director of the institute of political sciences at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The West wants the dividends of the post-Cold War era, which dictates that it must weaken Russia, must mire Russia in war; for the four major groups in the US – the military-conglomerates group, the energy group, the financial group, and the digital oligarchy – they have not been satisfied with the exploited profits and war dividends from the Ukraine conflict, said Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at the Renmin University of China.

In addition, globalization is a relatively long-term process. These above-mentioned factors, taken together, determine the final course of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the way to end it, Wang concluded.