The United States Geological Survey says the 3.3 magnitude quake hit several mikes south of the town of Ormstown, Quebec a little after 5:30 A.M. There are some slightly conflicting reports, as the Montreal Gazette reports that the quake was a 3.6 magnitude. Ormstown is located around 20 minutes north of the New York border.
The Times Union says the quake was felt as far south as the town of Ticonderoga in Essex County, and as far west as the city of Ogdensburg on the New York-Ontario border. The effects were also felt as far north as Montreal.
Some strike even closer to home. In April 2017, a 1.3 tremor occurred around two and half miles west of Pawling. In early 2016, an even smaller quake happened near Port Chester and Greenwich, CT. In the summer of 2019, a quake struck off the New Jersey coast.
United Nations — The U.S. and other global powers are grappling with how to respond to the recent discovery of uranium particles in Iran that were enriched up to almost 84% — very close to the purity required to make nuclear weapons. A team of inspectors from the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) found the tiny amount of high enriched uranium at one of Iran’s nuclear facilities during a scheduled visit and included it in their report.
The IAEA report, obtained by CBS News, noted the discovery of some particles enriched to 83.7% at the Fordow nuclear plant, but did not conclude that Iran was stockpiling uranium enriched above 60%, which the world already knew Iran was doing. Any uranium refined to over 60% purity is considered high enriched, and at any such level it is a relatively short technological step to achieve the 90% required for weapons.
Iran has long said it does not intend to build nuclear weapons and insisted that its atomic work is entirely for civilian medical and research purposes. The country explained the latest findings of the IAEA team as the result of “unintended fluctuations.”
Negotiations to strike a new deal or revise the one the U.S. walked away from have foundered, and various signatories to the pact, which include Iran, Russia, China, France, Germany, the U.K. and U.S., have been alarmed by every one of the steps forward by Iran in the interim. The discovery of even trace amounts of uranium enriched so close to 90% set alarm bells ringing yet again this week.
“We are highly concerned by the IAEA Director’s General confirmation of the presence of high enriched uranium (HEU) particles containing up to 83.7% U-235 at the Fordow facility,” Peter Stano, lead spokesman for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Commission, told CBS News.
Stano said discussions between the IAEA and Iran to clarify the matter were ongoing and expected to conclude “soon,” but he didn’t speculate on their outcome.
Some JCPOA signatories including the U.S. argue there is no legitimate need in a civilian nuclear program for uranium enriched to even 60%, which they note is well above the limit that had been imposed by the agreement. The pact limited Iran’s uranium stockpile to 661 pounds and its enrichment level to 3.67%, which is what’s needed for the country’s nuclear power plants.
Next step: Censuring Iran?
A report in The Wall Street Journal cited diplomats involved in the discussions as saying the U.S. and its European nations were split on how to respond to the findings in the latest IAEA report. A high-ranking U.S. official familiar with the talks told CBS News, however, that there was “no split,” but the U.S. was concerned by the revelation.
“At this point, the question is whether there should be a censure resolution against Iran at the IAEA’s Board of Governors next week,” Ali Vaez, of the International Crisis Group thinktank, told CBS News, referring to the mechanism within the agency by through which its global members can lodge a formal complaint.
IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi arrived Friday in Iran, and Veaz said if he manages to resolve at least some of the concerns during his one-day visit, “especially the 84% enrichment issue, then it [a formal censure of Iran] can be avoided.”
Vaez said the only “disagreement” among the Western powers was that the “U.S. prefers to wait for the outcome of the trip before it decides about censuring Iran, whereas the Europeans seem keen on doing it anyway.”
The IAEA said in its report that it would “increase the frequency and intensity of agency verification activities” at Fordow given the discovery of the high enriched uranium particles.
The European Union has been pushing hard to wrap up the ongoing talks about reviving the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
Spano, of the European Commission, which is the EU’s executive branch, said the new concerns about Iran’s enrichment activities “only underlines how important it is to conclude the talks about reviving the JCPOA as soon as possible, since this deal provides an international oversight of Iran’s nuclear program and would bring Iran back to respecting and fulfilling its commitments.”
12 km (8 mi) SW of Southold (pop: 5,750) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 12 km (8 mi) N of Hampton Bays (New York) (pop: 13,600) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 14 km (9 mi) ENE of Riverhead (New York) (pop: 13,300) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 19 km (12 mi) WNW of Bridgehampton (New York) (pop: 1,760) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 28 km (17 mi) W of East Hampton North (New York) (pop: 4,140) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 50 km (31 mi) SE of New Haven (Connecticut) (pop: 130,300) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 60 km (37 mi) ESE of Bridgeport (Connecticut) (pop: 147,600) | Show on map | Quakes nearby 449 km (279 mi) ENE of Washington (District of Columbia) (pop: 601,700) | Show on map | Quakes nearby
The IAEA confirmed Tuesday that it had detected particles of uranium enriched to up to 83.7%
Last week, Iran claimed it had not made any attempt to enrich uranium beyond 60 percent
PARIS: France on Thursday called developments in Iran’s nuclear program “very concerning” after the UN nuclear watchdog reported finding uranium particles enriched just under the 90 percent needed for an atomic bomb. “This report states that the direction Iran is taking is very concerning,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre told reporters, adding this development was “unprecedented and extremely serious.” The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed Tuesday that it had detected particles of uranium enriched to up to 83.7 percent, only just short of the 90 percent needed to produce a nuclear device. Last week, Iran claimed it had not made any attempt to enrich uranium beyond 60 percent. The head of the IAEA is to meet with Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran on Saturday to try to “relaunch the dialogue” on the country’s atomic work, a diplomatic source said Wednesday. Iran has been enriching uranium well over the limits laid down in a landmark 2015 deal with world powers, which started to unravel when the United States withdrew from it in 2018.
This is CNBC’s live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine. See below for the latest updates.
Ministers of the Group of 20 nations continue to discuss the war in Ukraine, with Western countries and their allies issuing condemnations of Russia and urging other countries to follow suit.
India is one of the key allies of the U.S. that has consistently refrained from outright condemning Russia, but joined the U.S., Australia and Japan in calling Russia President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threats unacceptable. A senior Russian diplomat at the United Nations warned that increasing Western support for Ukraine could result in an open clash between nuclear powers.
Meanwhile, military strategists are increasingly doubtful of Ukrainian success in the bloody fight for the eastern city of Bakhmut, which is now completely destroyed. Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin claim Russian forces have “practically surrounded” Bakhmut.
Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who is being held on suspicion of spying, in the courtroom cage after a ruling regarding extension of his detention, in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 22, 2019.
Shamil Zhumatov | Reuters
U.S. President Joe Biden said his administration is “pushing” to get former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan released from Russian custody. The quick comments from Biden came before he boarded Marine One on the White House South Lawn.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday that the United States put forward a “serious proposal” for Whelan’s release.
Whelan, who is serving a 16-year sentence in Russia, was arrested in 2018 on charges of acting as a spy for the United States. At the time he was arrested, Whelan was visiting Russia to attend a wedding, according to his brother, David Whelan.
A team inspects the produce in the ship carrying wheat from Ukraine to Afghanistan after inspection in the open sea around Zeytinburnu district of Istanbul, Turkiye on January 24, 2023.
TUR Ministry of National Defence | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
In less than 20 days, the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a United Nations-backed deal aimed at easing Russia’s naval blockade and reopening three key Ukrainian ports, is set to expire.
“The Black Sea Grain Initiative must be renewed at all costs. It’s absolutely critical if we’re going to stop the global food crisis we’re already facing from spinning out of control,” former World Food Program executive director David Beasley told CNBC.
Beasley, who ran the World Food Program for six years before stepping down yesterday, said the globe will see “mass migration and famine” if the deal is not renewed.
“Ukraine is a breadbasket for the world which normally feeds 400 million people, while WFP has reached 36 million people with the food we’ve procured under the initiative,” Beasley told CNBC.
“Just imagine what will happen if these supplies are cut off later this month – we’ll see destabilization, mass migration and famine across the globe. World leaders must keep this vital initiative alive,” he added.
US President Joe Biden meets with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 3, 2023.
Andrew Caballero-reynolds | Afp | Getty Images
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz thanked U.S. President Joe Biden for his leadership on Ukraine during a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office.
“I think it is very important that we give the message that we will continue to do [working together to support Ukraine] so as long as it takes and as long as necessary,” Scholz said sitting next to Biden.
Biden commended Scholz for Germany’s move away from Russian energy sources while increasing defense spending.
“I would argue that beyond your military support, the moral support you gave to Ukrainians has been profound,” Biden said of his German counterpart.
“You’ve driven historic changes at home and you know, increasing defense spending and diversifying away from Russian energy sources I know that’s not been easy and very difficult for you,” Biden said.
Cindy McCain speaks onstage during the U.S.VETS Salute Gala on November 05, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
FilmMagic | Getty Images
Ambassador Cindy McCain welcomed her appointment as the new executive director of the United Nations World Food Program.
“WFP has been a part of my life for decades, from my time as a humanitarian to today as the U.S. Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome,” McCain wrote in a statement.
“I am ready to roll up my sleeves and spend time both in Rome and in the field, deepening my understanding of WFP’s vital work, and making sure it continues to grow to meet the needs of a hungry world,” she added.
McCain succeeds David Beasley, a former Republican governor of South Carolina, who held the role for six years. McCain is currently the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome.
“The road ahead is daunting, and hunger is on the rise. However, I’m sure of one thing – when we come together as one world, we can save lives,” she said.
“We need justice, we need a tribunal to see all the guilty people behind bars,” he added.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland was among the international lawyers in attendance, a Justice Department official confirmed to NBC News. Garland joined “at the invitation of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General to join President Zelenskyy and international partners,” the official said.
Garland held several meetings and “reaffirmed our determination to hold Russia accountable for crimes committed in its unjust and unprovoked invasion against its sovereign neighbor,” the official added.
U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack, European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan, Head of the European Public Prosecutor Office Laura Kovesi and UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten also attended the meeting.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference on the sidelines of the Group of 20 foreign ministers’ meeting in New Delhi on March 2, 2023.
Olivier Douliery | Afp | Getty Images
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new security assistance package for Ukraine worth $400 million.
The aid, the 33rd such installment, includes more ammunition for U.S.-provided HIMARS and howitzers, as well as ammunition for Bradley fighting vehicles and demolitions munitions and equipment.
“Russia alone could end its war today. Until Russia does so, for as long as it takes, we will stand united with Ukraine and strengthen its military on the battlefield so that Ukraine will be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table,” Blinken wrote in a statement.
A view of Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed at night in Moscow, Russia on October 27, 2022.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
U.S. agents arrested two Americans on Thursday for allegedly running a scheme to illegally export aviation technology to Russia.
Prosecutors said Cyril Gregory Buyanovsky, 59, and Douglas Robertson, 55, both of Kansas, owned and operated KanRus Trading Co. They circumvented U.S. export laws by supplying electronics and other aviation equipment used in Russian aircraft, prosecutors said.
“Since 2020, the defendants conspired to evade U.S. export laws by concealing and misstating the true end users, value and end destinations of their exports and by transshipping items through third-party countries,” the Department of Justice wrote in a release.
“As further alleged, on Feb. 28, 2022, the defendants attempted to export avionics to Russia,” the statement added.
The military journal stated that Moscow could develop a novel military strategy using nuclear weapons to deter potential American aggression, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported on March 2.
According to the report, the article published in the Voennaya Mysl (Military Thought) journal concluded that Washington had “apparently” prepared plans to strike and neutralize Russia because of concerns it might be losing its global dominance.
In response, Russian military experts were “actively developing a promising form of the strategic use of the Russian armed forces – an operation of strategic deterrence forces,” the RIA report said. The article then suggests that Moscow needs to be able to demonstrate to the US that it couldn’t cripple Russia’s nuclear missile system and that a Russian retaliatory strike would be inevitable.
In a separate incident, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on March 1 that the situation around the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is causing increasing concern due to US actions. The Deputy Foreign Minister warned that Moscow would be forced to respond adequately if Washington decides to conduct nuclear tests.
“The situation around the CTBT is causing more and more concern. The responsibility for the fact that the Treaty has not entered into force for more than a quarter of a century of its existence lies, in fact, with the United States, which defiantly refused to ratify it and is showing an obvious inclination to resume testing,” – said Ryabkov, speaking at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.
“We cannot remain indifferent to what is happening. If the United States nevertheless decides to take such a step and be the first to conduct nuclear tests, we will be forced to respond adequately. No one should have dangerous illusions that global strategic parity can be destroyed,” the Deputy Minister emphasized.
Earlier, Russian President Putin had made similar statements. Neither side has officially planned to conduct a nuclear test. However, the article in the Russian journal has shifted the focus to nuclear weapons and a hypothetical nuclear strike, a development that could further escalate tensions between the two bitter rivals.
Russian Journal’s Idea Of Nuclear Posturing
The article in the Voennaya Mysl journal notes that the Pentagon is planning a Russian defeat with an instant strike of at least 65-70% of Russian strategic nuclear forces. The remaining Russian missiles, which in this case will fly toward the United States, the Americans intend to neutralize with the help of the global missile defense system.
After this, the article postulates that the US will deliver a nuclear strike sufficient to destroy the Russian Federation.
In opposition to this plan, “domestic military experts are considering and actively developing a promising form of the strategic use of the armed forces: the operation of the strategic deterrence forces,” the article says. It notes that this type of operation “involves the use of modern strategic offensive and defensive, nuclear and non-nuclear weapons, taking into account the latest military technologies.”
Commenting on the article published in the journal, Russian Political scientist and military expert Ivan Konovalov told Sputnik radio, “The behavior of the United States complicates the state of affairs in strategic nuclear security. The readiness to counter their very dangerous actions is the prerogative of the strategic missile forces.”
Konovalov then suggests that the issue must be approached comprehensively and urges the country to explore the possible options of the US and its allies.
“This is a global multi-sphere operation. That is, not only strategic nuclear forces but also non-nuclear potential will be involved. Moreover, the capabilities of the civilian structures of the allied forces will be connected. That is, a serious global multi-sphere strike is being considered, respectively, we need to prepare based on this”, Konavalov told Sputnik Radio.
The Russian MoD is yet to comment on the article.
It is pertinent to note that since Russia launched its so-called ‘special military operation’ against Ukraine in February 2022, high-ranking officials and personnel have often indulged in nuclear saber rattling, making bellicose statements, and threatening its enemies with the use of tactical nuclear weapons.
In March 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin put the country’s strategic command on alert, invoking fears that he could order the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons. At the time, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “the prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility.”
However, the President has repeatedly warned that if attacked, Russia will defend its territory with all available means, including its nuclear weapons. In the absence of more specific clarification about what Putin considers an attack that could invoke a nuclear response, ambiguity has prevailed.
Further, the article comes after Moscow exited the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) that capped the number of strategic nuclear warheads that Russia and the US could deploy. Russia and the United States possess the largest nuclear stockpile in the world.
In a speech ahead of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin said: “They want to inflict a strategic defeat on us and claim our nuclear facilities,” said Putin. “In this regard, I am forced to state that Russia is suspending its participation in the strategic offensive arms treaty.”
Against that backdrop, the commentary in the Russian journal assumes even more significance and could lead to temperatures soaring between the former Cold War adversaries.
Uranium particles enriched to near bomb-grade levels have been found at an Iranian nuclear facility, according to the UN’s nuclear watchdog, as the US warned that Tehran’s ability to build a nuclear bomb was accelerating.
In a restricted report seen by CNN, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that uranium particles enriched to 83.7% purity – which is close to the 90% enrichment levels needed to make a nuclear bomb – had been found in Iran’s Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP), an underground nuclear facility located some 20 miles northeast of the city of Qom.
The report says that in January, the IAEA took environmental samples at the Fordow plant, which showed the presence of high enriched uranium particles up to 83.7% purity.
The IAEA subsequently informed Iran that these findings were “inconsistent with the level of enrichment at the Fordow plant as declared by Iran and requested Iran to clarify the origins of these particles,” added the report.
FORDOW FACILITY, IRAN-JANUARY 30,2013: This is a satellite image of the Fordow facility in Iran. (Photo DigitalGlobe via Getty Images)DigitalGlobe/Maxar/Getty Images/FILE
Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched up to 60% had also grown from 25.2 kg to 87.5 kg since the last quarterly report, according to the confidential IAEA report.
The IAEA report said discussions with Iran to clarify the matter are ongoing, noting that “these events clearly indicate the capability of the IAEA to detect and report changes in the operation of nuclear facilities in Iran.”
In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian did not directly respond to a question on reports of the enrichment.
Amir-Abdollahian said that the deputy director general of the IAEA, Massimo Aparo, had visited Iran on two occasions in the past weeks and that the IAEA’s director general Rafael Grossi has been invited to visit the country.
Last year, Iran removed all of the IAEA equipment previously installed for surveillance and monitoring activities related to the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The move had “detrimental implications for the IAEA’s ability to provide assurance of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme,” the IAEA report stated.
“We are in close contact with our allies and partners in Europe and the region as we await further details from the IAEA on this potentially very serious development,” added the spokesperson.
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl on Tuesday said that “Iran’s nuclear progress since” the Trump administration withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal “has been remarkable,” adding that in 2018, when the US withdrew, “it would have taken Iran about 12 months to produce one fissile, one bomb’s worth of fissile material.”