East Coast Earthquake Preparedness
By By BEN NUCKOLS
Posted: 08/25/2011 8:43 am EDT
WASHINGTON — There were cracks in the Washington Monument and broken capstones at the National Cathedral. In the District of Columbia suburbs, some people stayed in shelters because of structural concerns at their apartment buildings.
A day after the East Coast’s strongest earthquake in 67 years, inspectors assessed the damage and found that most problems were minor. But the shaking raised questions about whether this part of the country, with its older architecture and inexperience with seismic activity, is prepared for a truly powerful quake.
The 5.8 magnitude quake felt from Georgia north to Canada prompted swift inspections of many structures Wednesday, including bridges and nuclear plants. An accurate damage estimate could take weeks, if not longer. And many people will not be covered by insurance.
In a small Virginia city near the epicenter, the entire downtown business district was closed. School was canceled for two weeks to give engineers time to check out cracks in several buildings.
At the 555-foot Washington Monument, inspectors found several cracks in the pyramidion – the section at the top of the obelisk where it begins narrowing to a point.
A 4-foot crack was discovered Tuesday during a visual inspection by helicopter. It cannot be seen from the ground. Late Wednesday, the National Park Service announced that structural engineers had found several additional cracks inside the top of the monument.
Carol Johnson, a park service spokeswoman, could not say how many cracks were found but said three or four of them were “significant.” Two structural engineering firms that specialize in assessing earthquake damage were being brought in to conduct a more thorough inspection on Thursday.
The monument, by far the tallest structure in the nation’s capital, was to remain closed indefinitely, and Johnson said the additional cracks mean repairs are likely to take longer. It has never been damaged by a natural disaster, including earthquakes in Virginia in 1897 and New York in 1944.
Tourists arrived at the monument Wednesday morning only to find out they couldn’t get near it. A temporary fence was erected in a wide circle about 120 feet from the flags that surround its base. Walkways were blocked by metal barriers manned by security guards.
“Is it really closed?” a man asked the clerk at the site’s bookstore.
“It’s really closed,” said the clerk, Erin Nolan. Advance tickets were available for purchase, but she cautioned against buying them because it’s not clear when the monument will open.
“This is pretty much all I’m going to be doing today,” Nolan said.
Tuesday’s quake was centered about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, 90 miles south of Washington and 3.7 miles underground. In the nearby town of Mineral, Va., Michael Leman knew his Main Street Plumbing & Electrical Supply business would need – at best – serious and expensive repairs.
At worst, it could be condemned. The facade had become detached from the rest of the building, and daylight was visible through a 4- to 6-inch gap that opened between the front wall and ceiling.
“We’re definitely going to open back up,” Leman said. “I’ve got people’s jobs to look out for.”
Leman said he is insured, but some property owners might not be so lucky.
The Insurance Information Institute said earthquakes are not covered under standard U.S. homeowners or business insurance policies, although supplemental coverage is usually available.
The institute says coverage for other damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage from burst gas or water pipes, is provided by standard homeowners and business insurance policies in most states. Cars and other vehicles with comprehensive insurance would also be protected.
The U.S. Geological Survey classified the quake as Alert Level Orange, the second-most serious category on its four-level scale. Earthquakes in that range lead to estimated losses between $100 million and $1 billion.
In Culpeper, Va., about 35 miles from the epicenter, walls had buckled at the old sanctuary at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which was constructed in 1821 and drew worshippers including Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. Heavy stone ornaments atop a pillar at the gate were shaken to the ground. A chimney from the old Culpeper Baptist Church built in 1894 also tumbled down.
At the Washington National Cathedral, spokesman Richard Weinberg said the building’s overall structure remains sound and damage was limited to “decorative elements.”
Massive stones atop three of the four spires on the building’s central tower broke off, crashing onto the roof. At least one of the spires is teetering badly, and cracks have appeared in some flying buttresses.
Repairs were expected to cost millions of dollars – an expense not covered by insurance.
“Every single portion of the exterior is carved by hand, so everything broken off is a piece of art,” Weinberg said. “It’s not just the labor, but the artistry of replicating what was once there.”
The building will remain closed as a precaution. Services to dedicate the memorial honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were moved.
Other major cities along the East Coast that felt the shaking tried to gauge the risk from another quake.
A few hours after briefly evacuating New York City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city’s newer buildings could withstand a more serious earthquake. But, he added, questions remain about the older buildings that are common in a metropolis founded hundreds of years ago.
“We think that the design standards of today are sufficient against any eventuality,” he said. But “there are questions always about some very old buildings. … Fortunately those tend to be low buildings, so there’s not great danger.”
An earthquake similar to the one in Virginia could do billions of dollars of damage if it were centered in New York, said Barbara Nadel, an architect who specializes in securing buildings against natural disasters and terrorism.
The city’s 49-page seismic code requires builders to prepare for significant shifting of the earth. High-rises must be built with certain kinds of bracing, and they must be able to safely sway at least somewhat to accommodate for wind and even shaking from the ground, Nadel said.
Buildings constructed in Boston in recent decades had to follow stringent codes comparable to anything in California, said Vernon Woodworth, an architect and faculty member at the Boston Architectural College. New construction on older structures also must meet tough standards to withstand severe tremors, he said.
It’s a different story with the city’s older buildings. The 18th- and 19th-century structures in Boston’s Back Bay, for instance, were often built on fill, which can liquefy in a strong quake, Woodworth said. Still, there just aren’t many strong quakes in New England.
The last time the Boston area saw a quake as powerful as the one that hit Virginia on Tuesday was in 1755, off Cape Ann, to the north. A repeat of that quake would likely cause deaths, Woodworth said. Still, the quakes are so infrequent that it’s difficult to weigh the risks versus the costs of enacting tougher building standards regionally, he said.
People in several of the affected states won’t have much time to reflect before confronting another potential emergency. Hurricane Irene is approaching the East Coast and could skirt the Mid-Atlantic region by the weekend and make landfall in New England after that.
In North Carolina, officials were inspecting an aging bridge that is a vital evacuation route for people escaping the coastal barrier islands as the storm approaches.
Speaking at an earthquake briefing Wednesday, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray inadvertently mixed up his disasters.
“Everyone knows, obviously, that we had a hurricane,” he said before realizing his mistake.
“Hurricane,” he repeated sheepishly as reporters and staffers burst into laughter. “I’m getting ahead of myself!”
Associated Press writers Sam Hananel in Washington; Alex Dominguez in Baltimore; Bob Lewis in Mineral, Va.; Samantha Gross in New York City; and Jay Lindsay in Boston contributed to this report.
Day: January 29, 2023
Lethal Israeli raid outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11
Lethal Israeli raid marks deadliest day in over a year
Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians and wounded several others in the West Bank city of Jenin on Thursday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said, prompting the Palestinian Authority to suspend its security coordination with Israel.
Hours after the Jenin raid, a tenth Palestinian was killed in what Israel Police called a “violent disturbance” near Jerusalem.
The death toll makes Thursday the deadliest day for Palestinians in the West Bank in over a year, according to CNN records. It brings the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces this year to 30, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health figures. That toll includes militants being targeted in Israeli raids, individuals who attacked Israelis, and bystanders, CNN reporting shows.
Nine Palestinians, including an elderly woman, were killed during an Israeli raid of the Jenin refugee camp, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.
Israeli security forces said they were operating in Jenin Thursday to apprehend a “terror squad belonging to the Islamic Jihad terror organization,” saying in a statement that it killed three “terrorists.”
“The Islamic Jihad terror operatives were heavily involved in executing and planning multiple major terror attacks, including shooting attacks on IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians,” the joint statement from the Israel Defense Forces, Israel Security Agency and Border Police said.
The statement said two armed suspects were “neutralized” while fleeing and that a third was neutralized at the scene. Another suspect surrendered, they said.
Israeli forces reported no injuries on their side, but said they were aware of “claims regarding additional casualties during the exchange of fire” and were investigating.
The Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC) said Israeli forces initially prevented medics from entering Jenin camp, making it difficult to reach injured individuals, four of whom were in critical condition.
The PRC said Israeli forces also fired tear gas canisters towards the Jenin Government Hospital, causing inhalation injuries among children.
Later on Thursday, a 22-year-old Palestinian man was shot and killed by Israeli troops in Al-Ram near Jerusalem, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said, making him the tenth Palestinian killed that day.
Israel Border Police said they were responding to a “violent disturbance” in the city and that “a terrorist who shot fireworks from a short range at our forces “was neutralized.” The force said in a statement that one of its officers had also fired at and hit a second person who allegedly shot fireworks at them.
On Friday Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Twitter he had informed his security teams to “prepare for action with a variety of offensive measures and high-quality targets, in case it is necessary to continue to act – until peace is restored to the citizens of Israel.”
The militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) on Friday has taken responsibility for firing rockets towards Israel overnight Thursday, the leader of the group in Gaza, Sheikh Khaled Al-Batsh, told crowds.
Al-Batsh said Friday that the PIJ’s armed wing, Al-Quds Brigades, fired rockets in response to the deadly raids in Jenin by the Israeli Defense Forces, while Hamas’ armed wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, “fired anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli planes that raided sites in the Strip.”
“The plot today aims to allow the enemy to swallow the West Bank, build settlements and annex lands, to gradually impose its alleged policy, as happened in the Golan Heights, Jerusalem, and all areas that are subject to settlement,” Al-Batsh said in Gaza.
The group also said “the way to restore rights and dignity and expel the occupation is through fighting only.”
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh has called on the United Nations and international human rights organizations to “intervene urgently to provide protection … and stop the bloodshed of children, youth and women.”
The Palestinian Authority also announced it will cease security coordination with Israel starting immediately, its Deputy Prime Minister Nabil Abu Rudineh told a news conference in Ramallah in the wake of the raid.
“In light of the repeated aggression against our people and the flouting of the signed agreements, including security ones, we consider that security coordination with the Israeli occupation government no longer exists as of now,” Abu Rudineh said.
The Islamic Jihad welcomed the Palestinian’s Authority’s decision to cancel the security coordination with Israel, and urged Arab countries to stop the normalization of relations with Israel.
Coordination between Israel and the Palestinians involves a range of civilian and security matters, including sharing of some intelligence for security operations targeting militant groups – seen as key to preventing terror attacks.
But Palestinian Authority leadership has come under pressure to cut the coordination, especially over the past year which has seen some of the highest levels of violence and death for both Palestinians and Israelis in years.
The Palestinian Authority previously suspended security coordination for several months in 2020, after Israel announced plans to annex parts of the West Bank as part of former President Donald Trump’s peace plan. The annexation did not proceed and security coordination resumed.
Last year was the deadliest for both Palestinians in the West Bank and for Israelis in nearly two decades, CNN analysis of official statistics on both sides showed.
Israel’s Ben Gvir orders police to take down Palestinian flags, testing limits of his authority
Israel’s top military officer told CNN “fighting terrorism is a complex mission,” in the wake of Thursday’s fatal Israeli raid. Herzi Halevi, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff, was speaking to CNN’s Hadas Gold shortly after the raid, and before he had been fully briefed on it.
An IDF spokesperson later told CNN the military was responding to intelligence about an imminent attack.
“We went into Jenin in daylight,” the spokesperson said, underlining that the decision to operate in daylight rather than overnight, as the IDF usually does, shows how “urgent” the mission was.
When the forces arrived at the targeted building they “came under heavy fire and returned fire.”
The suspects were barricaded in a house when the IDF arrived, “so in addition the forces used an anti-tank shoulder-fired missile.”
“We are aware of reports a woman in her 60s, to our sorrow, was killed during the operation. We do not yet know on whom to assign responsibility, who fired and where she was,” the spokesperson added.
Israel is increasing its defensive posture against Palestinian militant attacks in the wake of the raid, the Ministry of Defense said.
The Israeli Defense Forces told CNN on Friday that Gaza militants fired seven rockets towards Israel overnight Thursday that entered Israeli air space.
Four were intercepted and three exploded in an open area, the IDF said, adding that several more had been launched but exploded inside the Gaza Strip.
Israel said earlier that in response to the rockets from Gaza, it launched air strikes targeting an “underground rocket manufacturing site belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization in Maghazi in the central Gaza Strip.”
“This strike will significantly impede Hamas’ intensification and armament efforts,” it said in a statement posted on the force’s official Telegram channel.
CNN’s Mia Alberti, Mohammed Najib and Ibrahim Dahman contributed reporting.
At least seven dead in Jerusalem synagogue attack outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11
At least seven dead in Jerusalem synagogue attack, Israeli police say
By Richard Allen Greene, Hadas Gold, Amir Tal and Tara John, CNN
Updated 8:43 AM EST, Sat January 28, 2023
Tensions in Israel and the Palestinian territories remain high after Friday’s shooting, which police chief Yaakov Shabtai described as “one of the worst terror attacks in the past few years.” The shooter in that attack was also later killed by police forces, according to police.
Two people were wounded in a separate shooting attack on Saturday in the City of David area of Jerusalem, according to police and ambulance services. The victims, one in his 20s and another in his 40s or 50s, were taken to the trauma unit of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center, the hospital said.
In a statement the police said, “The shooting suspect was neutralized” after a “large police force was called to the scene.” The incident is being treated as a suspected terror attack, according to a preliminary report issued by Jerusalem police.
Friday’s shooter was also later killed by police forces, according to police, in what police chief Yaakov Shabtai described as “one of the worst terror attacks in the past few years.”
“As a result of the shooting attack, the death of 7 civilians was determined and 3 others were injured with additional degrees of injury,” police said.
Five of the shooting victims were pronounced dead at the scene, Israel’s Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency rescue service said: four men and a woman. Five people were transported to hospitals, where another man and woman were declared dead. Among the wounded is a 15-year-old boy, the MDA said.
Among the wounded is a 15-year-old boy, the MDA said.
The attack occurred around 8:15 p.m. local time on Friday, near a synagogue on Neve Yaakov Street, according to a police statement.
Shabtai said the gunman “started shooting at anyone that was in his way. He got in his car and started a killing spree with a pistol at short range.” He then fled the scene in a vehicle and was killed after a shootout with police forces, police said.
Israeli security forces deploy at the site of a reported attack in a settler neighbourhood of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, on January 27, 2023.Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images
Police identified the gunman as a 21-year-old resident of East Jerusalem, saying in a statement that he appeared to have acted alone. East Jerusalem is a predominantly Palestinian area of the city, which was captured by Israel in 1967.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged people against revenge attacks on Friday night. “I call on the people not to take the law into their own hands. For that purpose we have an army, police and security forces. They act and will act according to the cabinet instructions,” he said.
Friday’s incident came one day after the deadliest day for Palestinians in the West Bank in over a year, according to CNN records.
On Thursday, Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians and wounded several others in the West Bank city of Jenin, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, prompting the Palestinian Authority to suspend security coordination with Israel. A tenth Palestinian was killed that day in what Israel Police called a “violent disturbance” near Jerusalem.
Overnight, on Friday morning local time, Israel launched air strikes on the Gaza strip after rockets were fired towards Israel.
Israeli security forces search a car at the site of a reported attack in a settler neighbourhood of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, on January 27, 2023.Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images
Israel’s controversial National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir visited the scene of the attack on Friday evening, telling people who were chanting angrily that “it cannot continue like this.”
“I can tell you, [the people chanting] you are right. The burden is on us. It cannot continue like this,” Ben Gvir, who also leads the far-right Jewish Power party, said.
Some people on the scene were chanting support for Ben Gvir, saying “You are our voice, we support you.”
CNN’s Hadas Gold and team, who were also at the scene of Friday night’s shooting, heard what sounded like celebratory gunfire and car horns honking from the nearby predominantly Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina.
The White House condemned the “heinous terror attack” at a synagogue in Jerusalem on Friday and said the United States government has extended its “full support” to Israel, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
The US State Department also condemned the “apparent terrorist attack” in Jerusalem “in the strongest terms.”
“This is absolutely horrific,” said State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel. “Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to those killed and injured in this heinous act of violence.”
Patel said no change to the schedule of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s upcoming trip to Egypt, Israel and the West Bank was expected.
Israel’s Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir speaks with Israeli forces on January 27, 2023.Ronen Zvulun/Reuters
France, Germany and the UK also condemned the shooting. “I am appalled by reports of the terrible attack in Neve Yaakov tonight. Attacking worshippers at a synagogue on Erev Shabat is a particularly horrific act of terrorism. The UK stands with Israel,” Neil Wigan, the British ambassador in Israel wrote on Twitter.
“I am appalled by reports of the terrible attack in Neve Yaakov tonight. Attacking worshippers at a synagogue on Erev Shabat is a particularly horrific act of terrorism. The UK stands with Israel,” Neil Wigan, the British ambassador in Israel wrote on Twitter.
The EU ambassador to Israel, Dimiter Tzantchev, also condemned the “senseless violence,” saying in his tweet, “Terror is never the answer.”
The French embassy in Israel tweeted that the incident was “all the more despicable as it was committed on this day of international remembrance of the Holocaust.”
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres also condemned Friday’s deadly attack, his spokesman said.
“It is particularly abhorrent that the attack occurred at a place of worship, and on the very day we commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day,” he said.
Guterres also expressed worry “about the current escalation of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory,” urging all “to exercise utmost restraint.”
CNN’s Richard Roth, Michael Conte and Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.
Israel, Gaza fighters trade fire outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11
Israel, Gaza fighters trade fire after deadly West Bank raid
By ISABEL DEBREtoday
Fire and smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in central Gaza Strip, Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. Gaza militants fired rockets at Israel and Israel carried out airstrikes as tensions soared following an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank. The raid killed nine Palestinians, including at least seven militants and a 61-year-old woman. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)
JERUSALEM (AP) — Gaza militants fired rockets and Israel carried out airstrikes early Friday as tensions soared following an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank that killed nine Palestinians, including at least seven militants and a 61-year-old woman.
It was the deadliest single raid in the territory in over two decades. The flare-up in violence poses an early test for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government and casts a shadow on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s expected trip to the region next week.
Of the five rockets fired at Israel, three were intercepted, one fell in an open area and another fell short inside Gaza, the military said. It said the airstrikes targeted an underground rocket manufacturing site for Hamas as well as militant training areas.
The rockets set off air raid sirens in southern Israel but there were no reports of casualties on either side.
Both the Palestinian rockets and Israeli airstrikes seemed limited so as to prevent escalation into a full-blown war. Israel and Hamas have fought four wars and several smaller skirmishes since the militant group seized power in Gaza from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.
Thursday’s deadly raid in the Jenin refugee camp was likely to reverberate on Friday as Palestinians gather for weekly Muslim prayers that are often followed by protests. Hamas had earlier threatened revenge for the raid.
Raising the stakes, the Palestinian Authority said it would halt the ties that its security forces maintain with Israel in a shared effort to contain Islamic militants. Previous threats have been short-lived, in part because of the benefits the authority enjoys from the relationship and also due to U.S. and Israeli pressure to maintain it.
The Palestinian Authority already has limited control over scattered enclaves in the West Bank, and almost none over militant strongholds like the Jenin camp. But the announcement could pave the way for Israel to step up operations it says are needed to prevent attacks.
On Thursday, Israeli forces went on heightened alert as Palestinians filled the streets across the West Bank, chanting in solidarity with Jenin. President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning, and in the refugee camp, residents dug a mass grave for the dead.
Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said Abbas had decided to cut security coordination in “light of the repeated aggression against our people.” He also said the Palestinians planned to file complaints with the U.N. Security Council, International Criminal Court and other international bodies.
Barbara Leaf, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, said the Biden administration was deeply concerned about the situation and that civilian casualties reported in Jenin were “quite regrettable.” But she also said the Palestinian announcement to suspend security ties and to pursue the matter at international organizations was a mistake.
Thursday’s gun battle that left nine dead and 20 wounded erupted when Israel’s military conducted a rare daytime operation in the Jenin camp that it said was meant to prevent an imminent attack on Israelis. The camp, where the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group has a major foothold, has been a focus of near-nightly Israeli arrest raids.
Hamas’ armed wing claimed four of the dead as members, while Islamic Jihad claimed three others.
The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the 61-year-old woman killed as Magda Obaid, and the Israeli military said it was looking into reports of her death.
The Israeli military circulated aerial video it said was taken during the battle, showing what appeared to be Palestinians on rooftops hurling stones and firebombs on Israeli forces below. At least one Palestinian can be seen opening fire from a rooftop.
Later in the day, Israeli forces fatally shot a 22-year-old and wounded two others, the Palestinian Health Ministry said, as Palestinians confronted Israeli troops north of Jerusalem to protest Thursday’s raid. Israel’s paramilitary Border Police said they opened fire on Palestinians who launched fireworks at them from close range.
Tensions have soared since Israel stepped up raids in the West Bank last spring, following a series of Palestinian attacks.
Israel’s new national security minister, far-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir, who seeks to grant legal immunity to Israeli soldiers who shoot Palestinians, posted a video of himself beaming triumphantly and congratulating security forces.
The raid left a trail of destruction in Jenin. A two-story building, apparently the operation’s target, was a charred wreck. The military said it entered the building to detonate explosives.
Palestinian Health Minister May Al-Kaila said paramedics struggled to reach the wounded during the fighting, while Akram Rajoub, the governor of Jenin, said the military prevented emergency workers from evacuating them.
Both accused the military of firing tear gas at the pediatric ward of a hospital, causing children to choke. Video at the hospital showed women carrying children into a corridor.
The military said forces closed roads to aid the operation, which may have complicated rescue efforts, and that tear gas had likely wafted into the hospital from nearby clashes.
The Israeli rights group B’Tselem said Thursday marked the single bloodiest West Bank incursion since 2002, at the height of an intense wave of violence known as the Second Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, which left scars still visible in Jenin.
U.N. Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland said he was “deeply alarmed and saddened” by the violence. Condemnations came from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Turkey, which recently reestablished full diplomatic ties with Israel. Neighboring Jordan, as well as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries also condemned the Israeli raid.
The Islamic Jihad branch in Gaza has repeatedly fought against Israel, most recently in a fierce three-day clash last summer that killed dozens of Palestinians and disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands of Israelis.
Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and east Jerusalem last year, making 2022 the deadliest in those territories since 2004, according to B’Tselem. So far this year, 30 Palestinians have been killed.
Israel says most of the dead were militants. But youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in the confrontations also have been killed. So far this year, not including Thursday, one-third of the Palestinians killed by Israeli troops or civilians had ties to armed groups.
Last year, 30 people were killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis.
Israel says its raids are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart attacks. The Palestinians say they further entrench Israel’s 55-year, open-ended occupation of the West Bank, which Israel captured along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians claim those territories for their hoped-for state.
Israel has established dozens of settlements in the West Bank that now house 500,000 people. The Palestinians and much of the international community view settlements as illegal and an obstacle to peace, even as talks to end the conflict have been moribund for over a decade.
Associated Press writers Tia Goldenberg in Tel Aviv, Israel; Areej Hazboun in Jerusalem; Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, and Fares Akram in Hamilton, Ontario, contributed.
Stakes rise as Iran can fuel ‘several’ atom bomb: Daniel 8
Analysis: Stakes rise as Iran can fuel ‘several’ atom bombs
By JON GAMBRELLyesterday
FILE – International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi gives a news conference at the Vienna Airport upon returning from Tehran, Iran, in Vienna, Austria, March 5, 2022. Iran has enough highly enriched uranium to build “several” nuclear weapons if it chooses, the United Nations’ top nuclear official is now warning. But diplomatic efforts aimed at again limiting its atomic program seem more unlikely than ever before as Tehran arms Russia in its war on Ukraine and as unrest shakes the Islamic Republic. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner, File)
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran has enough highly enriched uranium to build “several” nuclear weapons if it chooses, the United Nations’ top nuclear official is now warning. But diplomatic efforts aimed at again limiting its atomic program seem more unlikely than ever before as Tehran arms Russia in its war on Ukraine and as unrest shakes the Islamic Republic.
The warning from Rafael Mariano Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in response to questions from European lawmakers this week, shows just how high the stakes have become over Iran’s nuclear program. Even at the height of previous tensions between the West and Iran under hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran never enriched uranium as high as it does now.
For months, nonproliferation experts have suggested Iran had enough uranium enriched up to 60% to build at least one nuclear weapon — though Tehran long has insisted its program is for peaceful purposes. While offering a caveat on Tuesday that “we need to be extremely careful” in describing Iran’s program, Grossi bluntly acknowledged just how large Tehran’s high-enriched uranium stockpile had grown.
“One thing is true: They have amassed enough nuclear material for several nuclear weapons, not one at this point,” Grossi said.
The Argentine diplomat then referred to Benjamin Netanyahu’s famous 2012 speech to the United Nations, in which the Israeli prime minister held up a placard of a cartoon-style bomb with a burning wick and drew a red line on it to urge the world to not allow Tehran’s program to highly enrich uranium. While the 2015 nuclear deal drastically reduced Iran’s uranium stockpile and capped its enrichment to 3.67%, Netanyahu successfully lobbied then-President Donald Trump to withdraw from the accord and set up the current tensions.
“You remember there was to be this issue of the breakthrough and Mr. Netanyahu drawing things at the U.N. and putting lines — well, that is long past. They have 70 kilograms (155 pounds) of uranium enriched at 60%. … The amount is there,” Grossi said. “That doesn’t mean they have a nuclear weapon. So they haven’t proliferated yet.”
But the danger remains. Analysts point to what happened with North Korea, which had reached a 1994 deal with the U.S. to abandon its nuclear weapons program. The deal fell apart in 2002. By 2005 and wary of U.S. intentions after its invasion of Iraq, Pyongyang announced it had built nuclear weapons. Today, North Korea has ballistic missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads that are capable of reaching the U.S.
Iranian diplomats for years have pointed to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s preachings as a binding fatwa, or religious edict, that Iran wouldn’t seek an atomic bomb. However, Iranian officials in recent months have begun openly talking about the prospect of building nuclear weapons.
Iran’s mission to the U.N., responding to questions about Grossi’s remarks, insisted in comments to The Associated Press on Thursday that Tehran “is prepared to stick to its commitments within the framework of the (deal) provided the other parties do the same.”
“The Iranian nuclear program has never been about making nuclear weapons and enriching has nothing to do with deviating from it,” the mission said, despite Iran accelerating its enrichment after the deal’s collapse.
Iranian state television separately quoted Mohammad Eslami, the head of the country’s civilian nuclear program, as saying Tehran would welcome a visit by Grossi to the country.
As Iran’s rial currency plunges further to historic lows against the dollar amid its crises, Iranian officials including Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian also have made unsupported claims about American officials agreeing to their demands or frozen money abroad being released.
At the State Department, the denials about Iran’s claims have grown more and more pointed.
“We’ve heard a number of statements from the Iranian foreign minister that are dubious if not outright lies, so I would just keep that broader context in mind when you point to statements from the Iranian foreign minister,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Monday in a response to a question.
Price and others in President Joe Biden’s administration say any future talks with Iran remain off the table as Tehran cracks down on the months-long protests after the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman detained in September by the country’s morality police. At least 527 people have been killed and over 19,500 arrested amid the unrest, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group monitoring the protests.
Another part of the Americans’ exasperation — and increasingly of the Europeans as well — comes from Iran arming Russia with the bomb-carrying drones that repeatedly have targeted power plants and civilian targets across Ukraine. It remains unclear what Tehran, which has a strained history with Moscow, expects to get for supplying Russia with arms. One Iranian lawmaker has suggested the Islamic Republic could get Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets to replace its aging fleeting comprised primarily of pre-1979 American warplanes, though such a deal hasn’t been confirmed.
Such fighter jets would provide a key air defense for Iran, particularly as its nuclear sites could increasingly be eyed. Israel, which has carried out strikes to halt nuclear programs in Iraq and Syria, has warned it will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear bomb.
The U.S. and Israel also launched their largest-ever joint air, land and sea exercise this week with over 140 warplanes, an aircraft carrier group and nearly 8,000 troops called Juniper Oak. The Pentagon described the drill as “not meant to be oriented around any single adversary or threat.” However, it comes amid the heightened tensions with Iran and includes aerial refueling, targeting and suppressing enemy air defenses — capabilities that would be crucial in conducting airstrikes.
For now, Grossi said there was “almost no diplomatic activity” over trying to restore the Iran nuclear deal, an agreement he now describes as “an empty shell.” But he still urged more diplomacy as Tehran still would need to design and test any possible nuclear weapon.
“We shouldn’t give up,” he said.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Jon Gambrell, the news director for the Gulf and Iran for The Associated Press, has reported from each of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Iran and other locations across the world since joining the AP in 2006. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.
Pakistani Economic Crisis Will Lead to the First Nuclear War: Revelation 8
Pakistan Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Pakistan Economic Crisis: The Consequences Of A Hostile Nuclear Neighbour That Is Now Bankrupt
byGaurie Dwivedi-Jan 27, 2023 10:29 AM +05:30 IST
- In Pakistan’s impending downfall, China will seek to maximise its investments with strategic gains.Is India prepared?
By now, everyone has seen the images of Pakistan’s total power blackout and the serpentine queues outside fuel stations as the country is surviving on a thin supply of oil.
Pakistan has under $4.4 billion in forex exchange reserves, which can buy less than three weeks of imports.
Trump is correct: providing tanks to Ukraine will lead to ‘nukes’
Trump suggests providing tanks to Ukraine will lead to ‘nukes’ and says ending the war with Russia would be ‘easy’
Jan 26, 2023, 4:48 PM
- Donald Trump appeared to criticize a decision by the US and Germany to provide tanks to Ukraine.
- “FIRST COME THE TANKS, THEN COME THE NUKES,” Trump said on his social media platform.
- Trump also suggested ending the war in Ukraine would be “easy,” without elaborating.
Former President Donald Trump, whose first impeachment was linked to his dealings with Ukraine, on Thursday appeared to criticize the US and Germany over their recent decisions to provide battle tanks to Kyiv at a time when Russia is expected to launch another major offensive. Trump suggested offering tanks to Ukraine would lead to the use of nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, Trump said it would be “easy” to end the war, without providing any suggestions on how this would be accomplished.
“FIRST COME THE TANKS, THEN COME THE NUKES. Get this crazy war ended, NOW. So easy to do,” Trump, who is running for president again in 2024, said in a post on his social media platform Truth Social.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Trump referred to as a “genius” the week Russia launched an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, has repeatedly made nuclear threats throughout the war. Western countries have accused Putin of reckless nuclear saber-rattling. Nuclear experts have expressed grave concerns about Putin’s threats, as leading historians warning that the Russian leader’s rhetoric and actions have presented nuclear dangers even greater than during the Cuban missile crisis at the height of the Cold War.
But many top military analysts and Russia experts also say that Putin’s nuclear threats are largely designed to deter the West from continuing to provide Ukraine with crucial security assistance. The US and other NATO countries have sent billions of dollars worth of aid to Ukraine, including vital weapons that have played a key role on the battlefield and wreaked havoc on Russia’s forces. Ukraine recently pushed hard for the West to provide tanks as it looks to defend against the ongoing Russian invasion but also makes preparations to regain control of occupied territory.
Trump, who has routinely praised Putin, has consistently been a critic of US aid to Ukraine. The former president’s first impeachment was tied to his effort to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy into launching an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, over unfounded allegations of corruption. At the time, Biden was a presidential candidate and Trump’s top political rival.
As he pressured Zelenskyy to launch the inquiries, Trump simultaneously froze congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine as it continued to fight a war against Kremlin-backed rebels in the country’s eastern Donbas region. Much of the fighting in the war Putin launched in late February 2022 has occurred in the Donbas, which is comprised of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions — two out of four Ukrainian territories the Russian leader illegally annexed in September.
Though Trump suggested it would be “easy” to end the war in Ukraine, that is not a view that is widely shared by experts or people with experience in diplomacy. Putin’s decision to illegally annex four Ukrainian territories, declaring them as part of Russia, has made the possibility of talks to end the fighting extraordinarily unlikely. Russian forces do not fully occupy these regions, and Kyiv has been clear it would not agree to any peace terms requiring it to cede territory to Moscow.
“The fact that the Russians have annexed four [Ukrainian] provinces makes an agreement nearly impossible,” Gérard Araud, the former French ambassador to the US and the United Nations, told Insider this week.
Speaking on Putin’s goal of dividing the West to weaken support for Ukraine, Araud also said that “the Russians have always dreamed of having Trump back because in military terms the support of the Americans is really overwhelming compared to the support of the Europeans.”
The US has provided more security aid to Ukraine than any other country — over $27 billion since Russia invaded. But a number of Republicans in Congress loyal to Trump have expressed opposition to continued aid to Ukraine, citing economic concerns.