New Worries About the Iranian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 8

PHOTO/TWITTER/@elicoh1 - ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de Israel, Eli Cohen
photo_cameraPHOTO/TWITTER/@elicoh1 – Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen

New warnings from Israel about nuclear Iran

Pedro González


“If we delay in regaining unity in the face of Iran’s nuclear threat, we are likely to be too late”. This is the latest warning from Israel, this time from its Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, who has just concluded a tour of Central Europe in which, in addition to visiting Slovakia, Croatia, Hungary and the Czech Republic, he was able to speak at the Slavkok/Austerlitz Forum, in which Bratislava, Prague and Vienna are cooperating.  

Like his predecessors at the helm of Israeli diplomacy, Cohen warned his interlocutors, and indeed the entire European Union, that “we are very close to the point of no return” with respect to Tehran’s nuclear weapons capability. A warning that is not new, and that both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and all the members of his extensive and more than motley coalition government repeat insistently from every platform they are given. This time, however, the warning comes from Israel’s concern over reports of an imminent US-Iran deal, the fine print of which they allegedly do not yet know.  

According to the Israeli channel Kan News, Washington has reportedly offered Tehran to unfreeze financial assets held by the Ayatollahs’ regime in Iraq and South Korea in exchange for a halt to “some of its nuclear activities”. This information coincides with another published by Iran International, which also admits such an exchange, although it does not speak of halting the nuclear programme but of “flexibility” in the negotiations on this programme, although it adds that in such a hypothetical pact Iran would release the five US citizens it is holding hostage.  

The financial assets to be unfrozen would exceed $10 billion, including $7 billion held by South Korea, which Seoul owes Tehran for unpaid oil imports when then-President Donald Trump enacted sanctions in 2019. The sanctions also stipulate that Iraq will not pay Iran the more than $3 billion it owes it for its electricity and gas imports.  

On his tour of Central Europe, Cohen has stressed to his interlocutors Israel’s determination to strengthen the development of the Abraham Accords with its allies, hinting that the acceleration of such a strategy would be motivated by the resumption of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the two great leaders of Shia and Sunni Islam, respectively.  

Cohen had already expressed practically the same points to his Spanish counterpart, José Manuel Albares, during his recent visit to Madrid and in view of Spain’s assumption of the rotating presidency of the European Union as of 1 July, an event whose main thrust and planned initiatives have been considerably reduced due to the call for early general elections.  

On his return to Jerusalem, Cohen also took with him the Hungarian government’s agreement to make Hungary the first EU country to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Orban would thus once again break the unity of the EU-27, and Hungary would be the fifth country to execute a move that is symbolically much more than a simple relocation of a diplomatic representation. Only four countries have so far done so: the United States, Guatemala, Honduras and Kosovo, although several others have also pledged to do so, the latest being Paraguay, which would join African countries Malawi, Togo and UgandaThe Israeli Foreign Minister was quick to emphasise in reporting the news that “Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years”.  

Cohen also sought and obtained from his Magyar counterpart, Peter Szijjartó, that he would agree to denounce the Palestinian Authority before the International Court of Justice, “for paying terrorists to attack Israeli citizens”. 

We really are due for the sixth seal: Revelation 6:12

Opinion/Al Southwick: Could an earthquake really rock New England? We are 265 years overdue

On Nov. 8, a 3.6 magnitude earthquake struck Buzzard’s Bay off the coast of New Bedford. Reverberations were felt up to 100 miles away, across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and parts of Connecticut and New York. News outlets scrambled to interview local residents who felt the ground shake their homes. Seismologists explained that New England earthquakes, while uncommon and usually minor, are by no means unheard of.

The last bad one we had took place on Nov. 18, 1755, a date long remembered.

It’s sometimes called the Boston Earthquake and sometimes the Cape Ann Earthquake. Its epicenter is thought to have been in the Atlantic Ocean about 25 miles east of Gloucester. Estimates say that it would have registered between 6.0 and 6.3 on the modern Richter scale. It was an occasion to remember as chronicled by John E. Ebel, director of the Weston observatory of Boston College:

“At about 4:30 in the morning on 18 November, 1755, a strong earthquake rocked the New England area. Observers reported damage to chimneys, brick buildings and stone walls in coastal communities from Portland, Maine to south of Boston … Chimneys were also damaged as far away as Springfield, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut. The earthquake was felt at Halifax, Nova Scotia to the northeast, Lake Champlain to the northwest, and Winyah, South Carolina to the southwest. The crew of a ship in deep water about 70 leagues east of Boston thought it had run aground and only realized it had felt an earthquake after it arrived at Boston later that same day.

“The 1755 earthquake rocked Boston, with the shaking lasting more than a minute. According to contemporary reports, as many as 1,500 chimneys were shattered or thrown down in part, the gable ends of about 15 brick buildings were broken out, and some church steeples ended up tilted due to the shaking. Falling chimney bricks created holes in the roofs of some houses. Some streets, particularly those on manmade ground along the water, were so covered with bricks and debris that passage by horse-drawn carriage was impossible. Many homes lost china and glassware that was thrown from shelves and shattered. A distiller’s cistern filled with liquor broke apart and lost its contents.”

We don’t have many details of the earthquake’s impact here, there being no newspaper in Worcester County at that time. We do know that one man, Christian Angel, working in a “silver” mine in Sterling, was buried alive when the ground shook. He is the only known fatality in these parts. We can assume that, if the quake shook down chimneys in Springfield and New Haven, it did even more damage hereabouts. We can imagine the cries of alarm and the feeling of panic as trees swayed violently, fields and meadows trembled underfoot and pottery fell off shelves and crashed below.

The Boston Earthquake was an aftershock from the gigantic Lisbon Earthquake that had leveled Lisbon, Portugal, a few days before. That cataclysm, estimated as an 8 or 9 on the modern Richter scale, was the most devastating natural catastrophe to hit western Europe since Roman times. The first shock struck on Nov. 1, at about 9 in the morning.

According to one account: ”Suddenly the city began to shudder violently, its tall medieval spires waving like a cornfield in the breeze … In the ancient cathedral, the Basilica de Santa Maria, the nave rocked and the massive chandeliers began swinging crazily. . . . Then came a second, even more powerful shock. And with it, the ornate façade of every great building in the square … broke away and cascaded forward.”

Until that moment, Lisbon had been one of the leading cities in western Europe, right up there with London and Paris. With 250,000 people, it was a center of culture, financial activity and exploration. Within minutes it was reduced to smoky, dusty rubble punctuated by human groans and screams. An estimated 60,000 to 100,000 lost their lives.

Since then, New England has been mildly shaken by quakes from time to time. One series of tremors on March 1, 1925, was felt throughout Worcester County, from Fitchburg to Worcester, and caused a lot of speculation.

What if another quake like that in 1755 hit New England today? What would happen? That question was studied 15 years ago by the Massachusetts Civil Defense Agency. Its report is sobering:

“The occurrence of a Richter magnitude 6.25 earthquake off Cape Ann, Massachusetts … would cause damage in the range of 2 to 10 billion dollars … in the Boston metropolitan area (within Route 128) due to ground shaking, with significant additional losses due to secondary effects such as soil liquefaction failures, fires and economic interruptions. Hundreds of deaths and thousands of major and minor injuries would be expected … Thousands of people could be displaced from their homes … Additional damage may also be experienced outside the 128 area, especially closer to the earthquake epicenter.”

So even if we don’t worry much about volcanoes, we know that hurricanes and tornadoes are always possible. As for earthquakes, they may not happen in this century or even in this millennium, but it is sobering to think that if the tectonic plates under Boston and Gloucester shift again, we could see a repeat of 1755.

We are now dangerously close to nuclear war: Revelation 8

We are now dangerously close to nuclear war

Story by Hamish de Bretton-Gordon • 3h ago

A Russian Yars intercontinental ballistic missile being launched from an air field during military drills© Provided by The Telegraph

The blowing of the dam at the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (KHPP) by the Russian state is, quite simply, an act of terror by this terrorist state. With his army failing, his air force stuck in its hangars, it would appear Putin is prepared to do almost anything to cling on to the Russian occupied areas of Ukraine and his throne in the Kremlin. This is another war crime to add to the growing list, a list that includes the unlawful deportation of children – something that led to the International Criminal Court to issue a warrant for his arrest. 

The Russian military motivation behind the blast is clear and not unexpected. The vast area to the west of the dam is a ‘tank’ highway to Crimea, and Putin knows his demoralised forces are likely to collapse in the face of Challenger and Leopard tanks charging towards them. The flooding will likely block this axis for many weeks. The ecological and agricultural damage alone will be legion, and with no power coming out of KHPP or Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP), Ukraine is going to be short on electricity for a while.

This type of terrorism is not new and is to be predicted from the tyrant. I had the honour to be one of the Peshmerga’s chemical weapons advisors in the fight with another terror state: ISIS. In 2017, as the Islamic State was falling in Iraq, they blew up the Al Mishraq sulphur mine south of Mosul. From a tactical perspective this had the same effect as blowing the dam at KHPP. The 400,000 tonnes of very toxic sulphur dioxide went across the route of the advancing Iraqi army’s direct approach to Mosul and delayed them for several days, allowing ISIS to dig deeper into the city. At one point the toxic cloud was heading to the Kurdistan capital Erbil, with over one million people in mortal danger. Thankfully the ‘gods’ intervened, and the poison dissipated in the high atmosphere. When you have no limits or concern for civilian casualties like ISIS and Putin, sadly virtually nothing is off limits.

But the Ukrainians are canny, very canny.  No doubt the Ukrainian high command will have planned for such an eventuality and will have numerous lines and methods of attacks to rid themselves of this evil scourge. At the early stages it also looks as though the Russian plan may have backfired, with Russian troops defending this sector scrabbling for high ground and the water needed for Crimea disappearing into the Black Sea.

With no power and no water at this huge nuclear power plant, the chance of the meltdown of reactors and spent nuclear fuel starts to become plausible. Putin has threatened the West with nuclear weapons since the beginning of this war, but even if this is a hollow threat, ZNPP could still be used as an improvised nuclear weapon, with plausible deniability. It is uncertain what contamination would ensue or where it would go, but it would be a global humanitarian and environmental disaster.

The “Special Military Operation” is now in its death throes, with a rampant, confident, well-trained and equipped Ukraine army on the march.  It is becoming clearer that the Russian military will hit a speed bump conventionally, and with a leader and army commanders with no morals or scruples we must brace ourselves for further unconventional violence. The attacking of schools and hospitals was a portent of the evil of Putin’s regime, and blowing the dam is another move of truly terrible intent. 

Whatever it takes, we must ensure Ukraine prevails as quickly as possible, as there is still the spectre of escalation to chemical, biological and – terrifyingly – nuclear war.

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon OBE is former commander of UK and Nato CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear) Forces

Russia prepares to use nuclear weapons: Daniel 7

Yevgeny Prigozhin
Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said he is “afraid” the Kremlin may deploy tactical nuclear weapons on Russian soil. 

Wagner boss ‘afraid’ Russia may use nuclear weapons on its own territory

Snejana Farberov

The head of the Wagner mercenary group admitted that he is “afraid” Vladimir Putin may deploy nuclear weapons in a Russian border region that has been repeatedly raided by pro-Ukrainian rebels.

In an interview with the pro-Moscow Telegram news channel “Donbas Now,” the notoriously outspoken paramilitary leader aired his concerns about the chilling prospect of the Kremlin using tactical nuclear weapons on Russian soil.

“I’m afraid they might get the vile idea of throwing a small nuclear bomb on their own territory,” Prigozhin said, referring to the troubled Belgorod region on the border with Ukraine.

Pro-Kyiv partisan groups of Russians who have been fighting alongside Ukrainian armed forces have launched a series of raids over the border into Belgorod that have infuriated Moscow. 

The village of Sobolevka in the Belgorod region came under fire from Ukrainian forces on June 2
Prigozhin said the embattled Russian Belgorod region on the border with Ukraine might be the target. 


The armed forays, coupled with Ukrainian shelling, have obliterated several towns and villages and have triggered the evacuation of thousands of Russians.

“Isn’t it why we [Russians] are retreating in the Belgorod region, allowing Ukrainian forces to advance?” Prigozhin wondered. “Because throwing [a nuclear bomb] at a foreign territory is scary, but we can throw one at our own, show everyone that we are mentally ill knockouts.” 

Prigozhin described a scenario in which Kyiv’s soldiers would be stationed in some border village on Russian territory, and Moscow’s forces would blast them there with a tactical nuclear weapon. 

But the Wagner chief, who has gained notoriety for launching scathing attacks at Russia’s top military leaders over their handling of the war, darkly joked that the nuclear attack might fail.

“It’s a big question whether the [nuclear weapon] would even function properly, seeing how they maintain the rest [of their equipment],” Prigozhin noted. 

The threat of a nuclear attack has been hanging over Ukraine since the outbreak of the war in February 2022. 

Smoke rises over an area of Novaya Tavolzhanka, Belgorod Region, Russia, in this screengrab taken from a social media video released on June 5, 2023
Ukraine has been shelling Belgorod and its surrounding areas, causing the evacuation of thousands of residents. 


Putin has made a series of contradictory pronouncements on the subject, saying the country has a right to use all weapons in its arsenal to protect its territory, but also denying that his regime plans to deploy nuclear warheads.

Speaking at a conference in October, the Russian president said it was unnecessary for Russia to strike Ukraine with atomic weapons.

“We see no need for that,” Putin said at the time. “There is no point in that, neither political, nor military.”

Russian rockets are launched against Ukraine from Russia's Belgorod region, seen from Kharkiv, Ukraine, late Sunday, June 4
Pro-Kyiv Russian partisans have been launching raids on Belgorod, which has infuriated Moscow. 

The threat of a possible nuclear deployment escalated last month, when Moscow announced it would be staging tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus. 

The US believes Russia has about 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons — more than any other country — which include bombs that can be carried by aircraft, warheads for short-range missiles and artillery rounds.

Iran’s Enriched Uranium Stockpile Soars: Daniel 8

Iran’s Enriched Uranium Stockpile Soars: IAEA Concerns Grow

A recent confidential report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) found that Iran now possesses 23 times as much enriched uranium as agreed in the 2015 international nuclear deal. In his latest report, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi discusses verification and monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran and indirectly confirmed the concerns of the confidential report days earlier.

Since February 2021, Iran has not implemented its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Grossi and Tehran’s leadership agreed in March to increase surveillance of nuclear facilities and investigate formerly secret nuclear sites. According to Mr. Grossi, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium has increased by over a quarter in three months.

According to the confidential report, the amount of weapons-grade uranium is estimated at 4.74 tons, which is significantly higher than the maximum amount of 202.8 kilograms stipulated in the agreement.

However, despite this alarming development, the IAEA has suspended its investigation into an undeclared nuclear facility in Iran, according to a separate report obtained by the AFP news agency, ORF reported. Regarding the Mariwan site in the southern province of Fars, the IAEA said it had “no further questions” and considered the matter “closed at this stage.” The agency said it had received plausible explanations from Tehran, however, Mr. Grossi stated, “The inventory of enriched uranium is growing at a very fast pace, and the activities are also growing. So, the presence of the IAEA should be commensurate with that.”

Ceilings defined by JCPOA

Under the 2015 International Nuclear Agreement, a 3.67 percent cap on uranium enrichment was established. However, this agreement was unilaterally terminated by former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018, resulting in Iran’s gradual withdrawal of its obligations under the agreement.

Iran’s increased uranium enrichment and the fact that the IAEA has suspended its investigation into an undeclared nuclear facility raise renewed questions about Iran’s compliance with international agreements and its nuclear ambitions. The international community now faces renewed challenges in negotiating with Iran over its nuclear programs and ensuring security and stability in the region.

Indian response to the Chinese Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Chinese nuclear weapon, Chinese nuclear weapon expansion, chinese defence ministry, indo china defence relations,

Indian response to Chinese nuclear weapon expansion

The Chinese are also investing heavily in space, cyber systems, communication networks, a nuclear recce surveillance system and a targeting philosophy as part of their system based warfare.

Written by Guest

June 5, 2023 13:27 IST

The Chinese also have demonstrated ASAT capability to hit enemy’s military satellites, which support their space-based ballistic missile defence systems. (Representative image/ File photo)

By Lt Gen P R Shankar (R)

It is estimated that China has 410 nuclear warheads at present. As per international assessment this figure is likely to go up to 1500 hundred warheads by 2035. That’s more than a triple jump in just a decade and represents a quantum increase. The country is also building more than 200 silos at multiple locations. In addition to silo-based ICBMs, China  is building more road-mobile ICBMs, strategic nuclear submarines as also increasing its air delivered nuclear capabilities.

China possesses one of the world’s largest missile forces. Its land-based missiles which can carry nuclear warheads include variants of DF-4, DF-5 , DF-21, DF-26, DF-31, and DF-41 ICBMs. In particular, the DF-41 is capable of carrying multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRV). China is concentrating on longer-range, road-mobile, solid-fuel, quicker- launching missiles. It’s nuclear submarine fleet normally carries the JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). The newer JL-3 SLBM with a potential range of 9,000 km could also be carried on its latest nuclear submarines. China’s H-6 bomber and a potential future stealth bomber are both nuclear-capable. It also has air-launched land attack cruise missiles and the ground-launched cruise missiles with nuclear or dual-use capabilities. Overall it has a robust second-strike ability which is being strengthened manifold. With the development and demonstration of an Hypersonic Glide Vehicle capability which can be nuclear tipped, China has acquired an offensive edge which can no more be couched in mere reactive/defensive policies of “no first use”.

The Chinese are also investing heavily in space, cyber systems, communication networks, a nuclear recce surveillance system and a targeting philosophy as part of their system based warfare. It will also do us well to understand that the Chinese have organised their nuclear forces into a Strategic Support Force with a clear line of command and control and integration with the CMC and apex leadership. The Chinese also have demonstrated ASAT capability to hit enemy’s military satellites, which support their space-based ballistic missile defence systems. They are developing their own BMD in addition to the deception which Silos provide to increase the survivability of their nuclear forces. When seen holistically this expansion will transform China’s current nuclear arsenal into one of full spectrum capability including a fully operational triad.

Hither to fore China’s nuclear arsenal was a weapon of political choice with a declared “no first use” policy. It was accompanied with a stated capacity of minimum credible deterrence. However as China has risen globally, it has an unstated nuclear policy which it has put into effect. It has become more ambiguous. The change is based on the threat it perceives from the USA and the need to seek parity as an emerging superpower. Till some time back it was believed that the Chinese lacked the technical ability to detect an incoming first strike. Accordingly it was felt that China does not have a “launch on tactical warning” or “launch on attack “ capability. However that seems to have changed. Recently during the 20 Party Congress Xi Jinping, stated China seeks to ‘establish a strong system of strategic deterrence’ and also called for a boost to ‘new-domain forces with new combat capabilities’. Very clearly the Chinese are developing an expanded nuclear capability to seek parity with USA and impose deterrence on it. Axiomatically, as China increases its nuclear arsenal, ostensibly against USA, the threat to India is inherent and also increases manifold. The asymmetry in capability is also changing equally fast. One needs to understand that as capabilities change intent can also change. Nuclear coercion to settle the Sino Indian issues cannot be ruled out in future.

In addition to the implicit threat from China, one can not forget Pakistan. The latter might be down economically or be in one of its episodic bouts of chaos. However Pakistan, its military, its intelligentsia and its people are prepared to eat grass to expand their nuclear capabilities and are doing so despite being near bankrupt. One must also factor in that the Chinese have long used Pakistan as the catspaw to deal with India. Their iron brother status though rusted has a core of steel when it comes to collusivity against India. This is an additional factor in our nuclear calculations.

So the question is, what does India do in these circumstances? Very clearly from a perspective of numbers alone, India will find itself outmatched. However that is only half the problem. The force multiplication due to MIRVs, multiple silos, hypersonic capability and an effective triad in a networked mode puts the slightly dated Indian nuclear capability on the mat. The entire issue needs a rethink. At the outset it must be mentioned that India still has 164 nuclear warheads with a triad capability in its nascent stage. There would be a networking capability to go along with it and we do have a nuclear command set up. However there are a number of deficiencies in the structure. Some of our delivery systems and warheads could be of an older generation. Having said that there is a need to examine things de-novo in the light of Chinese nuclear expansion and come up with an appropriate response and a road map.

The first thing is that India should not get into a nuclear arms race with the China cum Pakistan combine. However that should not prevent us from expanding our arsenal, to the extent that we possess minimum credible deterrence against China and Pakistan in the new paradigm. We should take stock of issues involved and embark on a program of modernisation and right sizing our arsenal to achieve minimum credible deterrence. Secondly, India must put in place adequate deception and safety measures which will ensure that our delivery systems and warheads side step any first strike and leave us with adequate capability for an assured second strike. A lot of this capability will stem from being able to monitor Chinese activity and gauge political temperatures. It will also mean that we need to have vectors which will be able to penetrate Chinese countermeasures. This means building up a strong space based surveillance capability with adequate back-ups. It will have to be both active and passive in nature. The fundamental nature of our response and posturing will be political and hence we must eschew any loose talk of counterforce capability and stick to countervalue effects. Operationalisation of a triad capability will be invaluable in our context. Expansion of the capability by developing underwater launch capacities will be invaluable. Fast tracking MIRV and hypersonic capabilities must be given priority. In turn, this implies a closer degree of civil military fusion of the entire command and execution chain. Rather than counting the number of warheads it would be more prudent to expand dual use delivery systems including hypersonic systems. Very importantly, the government will have to generate interdepartmental and inter-ministerial synergies to ensure that desired outcomes are achieved in the correct time frames. If one has to put it in succinct terms, the need is to make our nuclear response ‘smart’ based on modern technologies.

In this process it is possible that we might have to do some more simulative testing to have better warheads of latest design. In this endeavour utilising AI based simulation will be beneficial. In this connection we might have to take into account the sensitivities and the leeway our strategic partnerships afford us so that we do not end up with sanctions.

There is also a necessity to take a hard relook at our “no first use” policy. It is not set in stone. With our western adversary openly professing the “right of first use” and our northern adversary virtually abandoning “no first use” it will be wise on our part to reassess our own policy. It needs to be tweaked in such a manner that our adversaries get the message. At the core, there must be a policy shift. Our nuclear programs are all based on “peaceful nuclear science” and its connected activities. The outlook is largely civilian in nature. Whilst this has served us well in the past, there is requirement now to ensure that the weapons program stops being a poor second cousin on all counts. There is no doubt that the core nuclear science research can continue on its traditional path. However aspects pertaining to modernisation, system integration, weaponization, deployment and operations go beyond the realm of civilians thinking and needs to be addressed differently.

In summation, it can be said that India cannot wait and watch idly when China is openly increasing its nuclear arsenal and related capabilities. Whatever increment it does to counter USA will prove to be an overmatch for India hereafter. In this connection, it is reiterated that India does not have to even endeavour to match China weapon to weapon. However India will have to resort to “smart” technologies to modernise our nuclear arsenal and make it more potent and diverse. If it involves incrementally increasing our numbers, so be it. The need to do so is here and now. We cannot afford to hesitate. A growing power like India should reserve the right to defend itself and her people in the best way it can.

The author is PVSM, AVSM, VSM, and a retired Director General of Artillery. He is currently a Professor in the Aerospace Department of IIT Madras. He writes extensively on defence and strategic affairs @ . Disclaimer: Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited.

US, Europe Prepare for the Iranian Nuclear Horn

US, Europe resume discussions over ways to deal with Iran’s growing nuclear program

TehranEdited By: Navya BeriUpdated: Jun 03, 2023, 10:29 PM IST


The United States, France, Germany and the United Kingdom ceased diplomatic efforts to clinch the crisis in the month of September.

The United States and European countries have renewed discussions on ways to confront Iran over its nuclear movements amid growing fears that the Islamic Republic’s fierce extension of its program would trigger a regional war.

by Taboola

The move would highlight a transformation in the Western way of thinking. It would also underline concerns about the growing crisis as Tehran has augmented uranium to such levels that United States officials have cautioned that it could beget adequate material for a nuclear weapon in less than two weeks.

“There is recognition that we need an active diplomatic plan to tackle Iran’s nuclear programme, rather than allowing it to drift,” Financial Times quoted a Western diplomat as saying. “The thing that worries me is that Iran’s decision-making is quite chaotic and it could stumble its way into war with Israel.”

As per FT reports, the United States, France, Germany and the United Kingdom ceased diplomatic efforts to clinch the crisis in the month of September. This came after Tehran infuriated the Western governments by saying no to a draft proposal to revitalise the 2015 nuclear deal, launched a violent crackdown on anti-regime demonstrators, sold armed drones to Russia and arrested a number of European nationals.

However, in recent months, there has been contact with Iranian officials, including a meeting in Oslo in the month of March between the officials from France, Germany and the UK and Iran’s nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani.

The United States’s Iran envoy, Rob Malley, has met several times with Iran’s UN ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani, say, diplomats and analysts, reported FT.

The talks were mainly aimed at the possibility of a prisoner exchange with Iran, FT quoted a person close to the administration as saying. Tehran holds at least three US-Iranian nationals.

Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile over 23 times the limit of 2015 deal

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Wednesday (May 31) that Iran has apparently significantly increased its stockpile of enriched uranium in recent months, continuing its nuclear escalation. 

However, IAEA has received a “possible explanation” from Iran over nuclear material at an undeclared site and has decided to close the file, news agency AFP reported citing a report it has seen. 

In its report, IAEA said that the estimated stockpile of enriched uranium in Tehran had reached more than 23 times what was set as the limit. 

The nuclear deal was signed in 2015 and Iran agreed to a pact with six major powers (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States + Germany) to limit its nuclear programme. It was harder for Iran to obtain a weapon in return for relief from economic sanctions. 

But former US President Donald Trump reneged on the deal in 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran. Trump’s decision led Tehran to start violating the agreement’s nuclear limits about a year later. 

But in recent time, there has been negotiations and talks to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but so far, there has not been any breakthrough.

The US Won’t be able to stop the S Korean Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin hosts an enhanced honor cordon and meeting with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol at the Pentagon in Washington DC, United States, 27 April 2023 (Reuters/Leah Millis).

Challenges ahead for US efforts to quell South Korea’s nuclear ambitions

3 June 2023

Author: Jennifer Ahn, Council on Foreign Relations

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s state visit to Washington to meet with US President Joe Biden in April 2023 marked the 70th anniversary of the US–South Korea alliance. The meeting provided an opportunity for the two leaders to highlight US–South Korean alignment and deepening cooperation on issues of peninsular, regional and global significance.

Of particular significance during the summit meeting was the unveiling of the Washington Declaration that established the US–South Korea Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG). The Declaration represents a response to several consequential domestic and regional developments.

In South Korea, the public debate over developing nuclear weapons gained unprecedented attention after President Yoon’s comment in January 2023 about the possibility of South Korea going nuclear. Polls in South Korea show the percentage of domestic support for the acquisition of nuclear weapons ranging between the high 60s and mid-70s.

The factors driving the South Korean public’s sentiment include concerns over the US extended deterrence commitment and whether the United States would defend South Korea if North Korea were to simultaneously threaten the US mainland. Advocates of nuclearisation also call for nuclear balance with North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and greater autonomy and agency over South Korea’s ability to defend itself in the face of growing regional and global security challenges.

Regionally, North Korea has continued to advance its military capabilities. Within the first five months of 2023, the country has launched six short-range ballistic missile tests, three cruise missile tests and three intercontinental ballistic missile tests.

These tests — which have used a diverse set of launch sites and delivery systems — signify North Korea’s desire for continued progress within its weapons program through the operationalisation of potential nuclear-use scenarios. These advancements also underscore North Korea’s perception that it must continue strengthening its nuclear forces and maintain its readiness to counter what it views as long-term military threats to the survival of the regime.

In response to the growing threat posed by North Korea’s weapons program, the United States, Japan and South Korea have strengthened trilateral security cooperation with the expansion of military exercises.

In 2023, the three countries have conducted joint military drills for ballistic missile defence, anti-submarine warfare and search-and-rescue and maritime missile defence. These exercises aim to enhance force interoperability and showcase regional trilateral cooperation. Current discussions for the United States, Japan and South Korea to share North Korean missile warning data in real-time further reinforce efforts by the three countries to strengthen deterrence in the region.

The Washington Declaration does not represent a fundamental change in US nuclear policy towards South Korea, such as the redeployment of US nuclear weapons or sharing of US nuclear assets. Rather, the agreement assuages South Korean anxieties about North Korea and US defence commitments through joint planning, enhanced consultations and expanded training and tabletop exercises.

The NCG envisions an increased role for South Korea to consult and coordinate with the United States against a potential North Korean nuclear attack. This addresses the concerns of South Korean advocates who have argued since the early 2000s for strengthening extended deterrence efforts within the alliance and embedding US nuclear deterrence into a broader framework like the NATO Nuclear Planning Group. In this sense, opponents of a nuclear South Korea and moderate nuclear proponents now have a concrete agreement to point to when debating against independent nuclear acquisition.

But the agreement may not prove satisfactory for resolving the South Korean public’s perceived vulnerability against North Korea’s expanding nuclear arsenal. Nor does it assuage nuclear proponents who desire the return of US nuclear weapons or US support for a South Korean nuclear weapons program. For some nuclear advocates, it is likely that only South Korean control over nuclear weapons — whether owned by the United States or South Korea — will resolve the current nuclear debate.

The ability of the NCG to quell South Korean desires for nuclear weapons may depend on the speed and robustness of its implementation. Still, the United States and South Korea will simultaneously need to explore alternative or additional measures for bringing North Korea back to the negotiating table. Extended deterrence and diplomacy should strengthen in conjunction with — rather than at the expense of — one another.

While the Washington Declaration may have moved forward the needle in addressing existing questions regarding US defence commitments to South Korea, South Koreans will continue assessing whether US extended deterrence could come under future threat and how South Korean defence capabilities should evolve alongside regional security threats.

The upcoming US presidential election and the international community’s response to continued North Korean testing will likely contribute to how South Koreans evaluate the path ahead.

Jennifer Ahn is the Research Associate for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.What Other People Are Reading

UN Can’t Stop the Nuclear Meltdown: Jeremiah

This photo taken on September 11, 2022 shows a security person standing in front of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images

U.N. nuclear chief urges Russia and Ukraine to ban attacks at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

May 30, 2023 / 8:16 PM

The U.N. nuclear chief stressed Tuesday that the world is fortunate a nuclear accident hasn’t happened in Ukraine and asked Moscow and Kyiv to commit to preventing any attack on Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and make other pledges “to avoid the danger of a catastrophic incident.”

Rafael Mariano Grossi reiterated to the U.N. Security Council what he told the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors in March: “We are rolling a dice and if this continues then one day our luck will run out.”

The IAEA director-general said avoiding a nuclear accident is possible if five principles are observed at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, where fighting on seven occasions, most recently last week, disrupted critical power supplies, “the last line of defense against a nuclear accident.”

Grossi “respectfully and solemnly” asked Ukraine and Russia to observe the principles, saying IAEA experts at Zaporizhzhia will start monitoring and he will publicly report on any violations:

  • Ban attacks from or against the plant, especially targeting reactors and spent fuel storage areas.
  • Ban the storage of heavy weapons or presence of military personnel that could be used for an attack.
  • Ensure the security of an uninterrupted off-site power supply to the plant.
  • Protect “all structures, systems and components” essential to the plant’s operation from attacks or acts of sabotage.
  • Take no action to undermine these principles.

Grossi asked the 15 Security Council members to support the five principles, stressing that they are “to no one’s detriment and to everyone’s benefit.”

The Kremlin’s forces took over the plant after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy opposes any proposal that would legitimize Russia’s control.

Neither the Russian nor Ukrainian ambassador gave a commitment to support the principles.

Ukraine’s U.N. Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya accused Russia of continuing “to actively use the nuclear plant for military purposes.” He said Russia has mined its perimeter and is responsible for shelling that has inflicted “serious damage” on parts of the plant, undermining its safety. He claimed 500 Russian military personnel are at the plant along with heavy weapons, munitions and explosives.

“The threat of dangerous accident as a result of these irresponsible and criminal actions hangs over us,” he said.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said recent news reports indicate that Moscow has disconnected Zaporizhzhya’s vital radiation monitoring sensors, which means the plant’s data is now being sent to the Russian nuclear regulator. 

“This is a clear escalation of Russia’s efforts to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty and authority over the Zaporizhzhya plant. And this undermines our ability to have confidence in the level of nuclear safety at the plant,” she said. “Let me be clear: the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant belongs to Ukraine. And its data must go to Ukraine, not to Russia.”

In response to a question by CBS News correspondent Pamela Falk after the meeting, Grossi addressed that issue: “This flow of information has been interrupted by the Russian management in control,” he said.

“We have addressed this, in this aspect, with the Russian management at the plant, and we are going to be getting the information and transmitting it to the Ukrainian regulator for their information — which is a mitigation, is not an ideal situation,” Grossi said, adding that the solution to the data question indicates the usefulness of the presence of the IAEA to bridge these gaps.

U.K. Ambassador to the U.N. Barbara Woodward was skeptical about how Russia will comply with the principles. 

“New imagery shows Russian forces have established sandbag fighting positions on the rooves of several of the six reactor buildings. This indicates that they will have integrated the actual reactor buildings of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant into tactical defense planning,” Woodward said.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia denied that Russia has ever attacked the Zaporizhzhia plant, placed heavy weapons there or stationed military personnel at the plant to carry out an attack from its territory.

Grossi was guardedly optimistic about the views at the Security Council, although he said he was “not naïve” about the challenges ahead.

“We have gotten pretty close to consensus even though everybody wants a little more. … I think this is very encouraging,” he told told Falk in an exclusive sit-down for CBS News after the meeting.

“You know, we have tried to have a practical approach here. We haven’t been seeking Resolutions or things that are cast in stone or set in paper,” he said.

Asked about the interest expressed by both Ukraine’s Ambassador Kyslytsya  and the U.S. to have an explicit reference in any agreement to include a recognition of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, Grossi told CBS News: “It will be difficult to get universal consensus on that — this is obvious.”

But he went on to say, “The IAEA is very clear, this being part of the U.N. system, that the U.N. Charter should never be violated and national borders are not to be changed by force.”

Grossi said he has an “operational mandate” to do more to prevent a nuclear accident.

Rising Sentiment for South Korean Horn to Develop Nuclear Weapons: Daniel 7

Rising Sentiment in Seoul to Develop Nuclear Weapons

Distrustful of the west, three-quarters of South Koreans say yes

By: Young-geun Kwon

There is intensive debate in South Korea over North Korea’s nuclear threat and whether, in response, Seoul should take more significant measures. Should it nuclearize? Do the US and neighboring powers really want denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula? Can the South Korea-US alliance and the US nuclear deterrent be trusted…