Mar-a-Largo raid was said to be about documents relating to nuclear weapons as Garland prepares to unseal parts of the warrant

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” — President Harry S. Truman

Important Takeaways:

  • Donald Trump Mocks Claim He Had Classified Documents on Nuclear Weapons at Mar-a-Lago
  • The Washington Post cited “people familiar with the investigation,” who claimed the FBI was searching Trump’s home for “classified documents relating to nuclear weapons.”
  • No other details were provided.
  • “Nuclear weapons issue is a Hoax, just like Russia, Russia, Russia was a Hoax, two Impeachments were a Hoax, the Mueller investigation was a Hoax, and much more,” Trump wrote on social media.
  • “Why wouldn’t the FBI allow the inspection of areas at Mar-a-Lago with our lawyers, or others, present,” he asked. Made them wait outside in the heat, wouldn’t let them get even close – said “ABSOLUTELY NOT.”
  • The former president also raised concerns the FBI was planting information on site, as some of his supporters have speculated.
  • Some details of the raid are expected to be released after Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday the Department of Justice had filed a motion to unseal parts of the warrant, citing “substantial public interest” in the details.
  • Trump agreed to cooperate.

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North Korea: Our Nuclear War Deterrent is Ready

Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • North Korea’s Kim says ‘ready to mobilize’ nuclear weapons
  • In Kim’s latest speech to mark the armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War — known as “Victory Day” in the North — he said the country’s armed forces were “thoroughly prepared” for any crisis.
  • “Our country’s nuclear war deterrent is also ready to mobilize its absolute power faithfully, accurately and promptly in accordance with its mission,”
  • The North has carried out a record-breaking blitz of sanctions-busting weapons tests this year, including firing an intercontinental ballistic missile at full range for the first time since 2017.
  • Nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington have been stalled since a summit between Kim and then-US president Donald Trump in February 2019 broke down over sanctions relief
  • The Kim regime has since rejected Washington and Seoul’s repeated offers to resume talks, claiming the United States must first drop its “hostile” policies.

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Mitt Romney is the latest to say we should be prepared for Russia to go nuclear

Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • U.S. should prepare for a ‘cornered, delusional’ Vladimir Putin using nuclear weapons, Mitt Romney says
  • The United States and NATO should prepare for a Russian nuclear strike if a “cornered and delusional” Vladimir Putin should turn to those weapons in his country’s ongoing war in Ukraine, Sen. Mitt Romney says
  • Russia’s foreign minister and its ambassador to the U.S. have both signaled that Russia’s “debacle” in Ukraine could lead to a nuclear strike, and Putin himself has noted that he has weapons his opponents do not and that he will “use them, if needed,” according to the Utah Republican.
  • CIA Director William Burns has warned of the possibility that Putin could use a tactical nuclear weapon, even if there is no “practical evidence” right now to suggest it is imminent.

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14th missile launch from N.K

Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile Amid Rising Animosities
  • North Korea launched a ballistic missile toward its eastern waters on Wednesday, South Korean and Japanese officials said, days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to speed up the development of his nuclear weapons “at the fastest possible pace” and threatened to use them against rivals.
  • The launch, the North’s 14th round of weapons firing this year, also came six days before a new conservative South Korean president takes office for a single five-year term.
  • Japanese Vice Defense Minister Makoto Oniki said that the missile was believed to have landed in waters outside of the Japanese Exclusive Economic Zone.

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Despite Russia’s “rhetorical posturing” William Burns says there’s the “potential desperations after setbacks”

Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • US cannot ‘take lightly’ threat Russia could use nuclear weapons – CIA chief
  • The threat of Russia potentially using tactical or low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine cannot be taken lightly, but the CIA has not seen a lot of practical evidence reinforcing that concern, CIA Director William Burns said
  • He spoke at Georgia Tech of the “potential desperation” and setbacks dealt Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose forces have suffered heavy losses and have been forced to retreat from some parts of northern Ukraine after failing to capture Kyiv.
  • For those reasons, “none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons,” Burns said.
  • That said, despite “rhetorical posturing” by the Kremlin about putting the world’s largest nuclear arsenal on high alert, “We haven’t seen a lot of practical evidence of the kind of deployments or military dispositions that would reinforce that concern.”

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Iran insists it can enrich uranium to 90% purity – weapons grade – if needed

By Parisa Hafezi

DUBAI (Reuters) -Iran said on Wednesday it could enrich uranium up to 90% purity — weapons grade — if its nuclear reactors needed it, but added it still sought the revival of a 2015 deal that would limit its atomic program in return for a lifting of sanctions.

President Hassan Rouhani’s remark is his second such public comment this year about 90% enrichment — a level suitable for a nuclear bomb — underlining Iran’s resolve to keep breaching the deal in the absence of any accord to revive it.

The biggest obstacle to producing nuclear weapons is obtaining enough fissile material – weapons-grade highly enriched uranium or plutonium – for the bomb’s core.

Iran says it has never sought nuclear weapons.

“Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization can enrich uranium by 20% and 60% and if one day our reactors need it, it can enrich uranium to 90% purity,” Rouhani told a cabinet meeting, Iranian state media reported.

The nuclear deal caps the fissile purity to which Tehran can refine uranium at 3.67%, well under the 20% achieved before the pact and far below the 90% suitable for a nuclear weapon.

Iran has been breaching the deal in several ways after the United States withdrew from the agreement in 2018, including by producing 20% and 60% enriched uranium.

Rouhani, who will hand over the presidency to hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi on Aug. 5, implicitly criticized Iran’s top decision makers for “not allowing” his government to reinstate the nuclear deal during its term in office.

“They took away the opportunity to reach an agreement from this government. We deeply regret missing this opportunity,” the state news agency IRNA quoted Rouhani as saying.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not the president, has the last say on all state matters such as nuclear policy.

Like Khamenei, Raisi has backed indirect talks between Tehran and Washington aimed at bringing back the arch foes into full compliance with the accord. Former U.S. President Donald Trump quit the deal three years ago, saying it was biased in favour of Iran, and reimposed crippling sanctions on Tehran.

The sixth round of nuclear talks in Vienna adjourned on June 20. The next round of the talks has yet to be scheduled, and Iranian and Western officials have said that significant gaps still remain to be resolved.

Two senior Iranian officials told Reuters that president-elect Raisi planned to adopt “a harder line” in the talks after taking office, adding that the next round might resume in late September or early October.

One of the officials said many members of Iran’s nuclear team might be replaced with hardline officials, but top nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi would stay “at least for a while”.

The second official said Raisi planned to show “less flexibility and demand more concessions” from Washington such as keeping a chain of advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges in place and insisting on the removal of human rights and terrorism related U.S. sanctions.

Trump blacklisted dozens of institutions vital to Iran’s economy using laws designed to punish foreign actors for supporting terrorism or weapons proliferation.

Removing oil and financial sanctions is essential if Iran is to export its oil, the top prize for Tehran for complying with the nuclear agreement and reining in its atomic program.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; editing by Jason Neely, William Maclean)

Iran begins process of making enriched uranium metal; U.S., E3 dismayed

By Francois Murphy, Humeyra Pamuk and Arshad Mohammed

VIENNA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Iran has begun the process of producing enriched uranium metal, the U.N. atomic watchdog said on Tuesday, a move that could help it develop a nuclear weapon and that three European powers said threatened talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Iran’s steps, which were disclosed by the International Atomic Energy Agency and which Tehran said were aimed at developing fuel for a research reactor, also drew criticism from the United States, which called them an “unfortunate step backwards.”

U.S. and European officials made clear that Iran’s decision would complicate, and potentially torpedo, indirect U.S.-Iranian talks seeking to bring both nations back into compliance with the 2015 deal, which was abandoned by former U.S. President Donald Trump.

The deal imposed curbs on Iran’s nuclear program to make it harder for Tehran to develop fissile material for nuclear weapons in return for the lifting of economic sanctions. After Trump withdrew, Iran began violating many of its restrictions.

Tehran has already produced a small amount of uranium metal this year that was not enriched. That is a breach of the deal, which bans all work on uranium metal since it can be used to make the core of a nuclear bomb.

“Today, Iran informed the Agency that UO2 (uranium oxide) enriched up to 20% U–235 would be shipped to the R&D laboratory at the Fuel Fabrication Plant in Esfahan, where it would be converted to UF4 (uranium tetrafluoride) and then to uranium metal enriched to 20% U–235, before using it to manufacture the fuel,” an IAEA statement said.

A confidential IAEA report seen by Reuters said the agency had confirmed that Iran had taken the second of the four steps described, making clear it has begun the process.

Britain, France and Germany said on Tuesday they had “grave concern” about Iran’s decision, which violates the nuclear deal formally named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Iran has no credible civilian need for uranium metal R&D and production, which are a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon,” they said in a joint statement issued by Britain’s foreign ministry.

“With its latest steps, Iran is threatening a successful outcome to the Vienna talks despite the progress achieved in six rounds of negotiations,” they said, and urged Iran to return to the talks, which began in April and adjourned on June 20. No date has been set for a next round.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said that Washington was not setting a deadline for the talks but noted “that as time proceeds Iran’s nuclear advances will have a bearing on our view of returning to the JCPOA.”

Price said the United States found it “worrying” that Iran was continuing to violate the agreement “especially with experiments that have value for nuclear weapons research.

“It’s another unfortunate step backwards for Iran,” he said.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy in Vienna and by Humeyra Pamuk and Arshad Mohammed in Washington; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu, Jonathan Landay and Simon Lewis in Washington and by David Milliken in London; Writing by Francois Murphy and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by David Goodman and Sonya Hepinstall)

Iran resumes 20% uranium enrichment amid rising tensions with U.S

By Parisa Hafezi

DUBAI (Reuters) -Iran has resumed 20% uranium enrichment at an underground nuclear facility, the government said on Monday, breaching a 2015 nuclear pact with major powers.

Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Iran’s arch foe Israel, said the move was aimed at developing nuclear weapons and Israel would never allow Tehran to build them.

The enrichment decision, Iran’s latest contravention of the accord, coincides with increasing tensions between Iran and the United States.

Tehran started violating the accord in 2019 in a step-by-step response to Trump’s withdrawal from it in 2018 and the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions lifted under the deal.

The agreement’s main aim was to extend the time Iran would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb, if it chose to, to at least a year from roughly two to three months. It also lifted international sanctions against Tehran.

“A few minutes ago, the process of producing 20% enriched uranium has started in Fordow enrichment complex,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei told Iranian state media.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog confirmed that Iran had started the process of enriching uranium to 20% purity at its Fordow site.

“Iran today began feeding uranium already enriched up to 4.1 percent U-235 into six centrifuge cascades at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant for further enrichment up to 20%,” the IAEA said in a statement on a report that was sent to member states.

The step was one of many mentioned in a law passed by Iran’s parliament last month in response to the killing of the country’s top nuclear scientist, which Tehran has blamed on Israel.

“Our measures are fully reversible upon FULL compliance by ALL (parties to the deal),” tweeted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Tehran insists it can quickly reverse its breaches if U.S. sanctions are removed.

NUCLEAR WATCHDOG

The White House National Security Council had no comment, and referred queries to the U.S. State Department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tehran’s move could further hinder efforts to salvage the pact as its breaches have increasingly worried some of the deal’s other parties, which have urged Iran to act responsibly.

In Brussels, a European Union Commission spokesperson said that the “move, if confirmed, would constitute a considerable departure from Iran’s commitments”.

On Jan 1, the IAEA said Tehran had told the watchdog it planned to resume enrichment up to 20% at the Fordow site, which is buried inside a mountain.

“The process of gas injection to centrifuges has started a few hours ago and the first product of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas will be available in a few hours,” Rabiei said.

Iran had earlier breached the deal’s 3.67% limit on the purity to which it can enrich uranium, but it had only gone up to 4.5% so far, well short of the 20% level and of the 90% that is weapons-grade.

U.S. intelligence agencies and the IAEA believe Iran had a secret, coordinated nuclear weapons program that it halted in 2003. Iran denies ever having had one.

In Jerusalem, Netanyahu said Iran’s enrichment decision could be explained only as a bid to “continue to carry out its intention to develop a military nuclear program.” “Israel will not allow Iran to produce nuclear weapons,” he added

(Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Washington, Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem, Michael Shields and Francois Murphy in Vienna and Marine Strauss in Brussels Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by William Maclean)

UK retakes control of nuclear weapons contract from Lockheed Martin, Serco group

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s defense ministry will take back direct control of the operation and development of the country’s nuclear weapons from a consortium of Lockheed Martin, Serco and Jacobs Engineering in June 2021, it said on Monday.

Operation of the Atomic Weapons Establishment, which maintains the warheads for the Trident submarine-based nuclear deterrent, was awarded to the AWE Management consortium in 1999 under a 25-year contract.

Lockheed Martin owns 51% and Serco and Jacobs Engineering own 24.5% each of the consortium.

The government said ending the commercial arrangement early would improve its agility in managing the UK’s nuclear deterrent and deliver value for money to the taxpayer.

Serco said it was told about the termination of the contract late on Friday. Shares in Serco fell 13% in early deals.

Based in Aldermaston in southern England, AWE is also required to retain the capability to design a new weapon, should it ever be required.

The company said AWE was expected to contribute about 17 million pounds ($22 million) to both its underlying trading profit and pretax profit in 2020.

It said, however, assuming a smooth handover of the contract next year, it expected profit in 2021 to remain broadly in line with current consensus and at similar levels to our expectations for 2020.

Sky News, which first reported the news, said it was not clear if the companies would receive compensation for the termination of the 25-year contract.

Analysts at Jefferies said they expected some compensation was likely as the consortium was now meeting its targets after a period of underperformance about five years ago.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Sarah Young and Louise Heavens)

Iran’s Rouhani: Talks possible if U.S. returns to 2015 nuclear deal

By Parisa Hafezi

DUBAI (Reuters) – If the United States wants an agreement with Iran, it must first come back to Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six powers that Washington abandoned two years ago, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday.

“Washington’s maximum pressure policy on Iran has failed 100%…If Washington wants an agreement with us, then they should apologize for exiting the deal and return to it,” Rouhani told a televised news conference.

Long-tense relations between the two adversaries have almost come to blows since 2018 when U.S. President Donald Trump ditched the deal reached by his predecessor Barack Obama and reimposed sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.

In response to what Washington calls its “maximum pressure” campaign to force Iran to negotiate a new deal, Tehran has breached key limits on nuclear activity imposed by the 2015 accord, under which the Islamic Republic accepted curbs on its uranium enrichment program in return for relief from sanctions.

Trump has pledged to strike a new deal – under which he would seek stricter limits on enrichment, an end to Tehran’s ballistic missile program and involvement in various Middle East conflicts – within weeks if he wins re-election in November.

“Trump has been talking a lot … The next president, whether it is Trump or someone else, must adopt a different approach towards Iran,” Rouhani said.

In response to U.S. sanctions, Tehran has breached key limits on nuclear activity imposed by the 2015 accord.

Last week the United States moved to reinstate global U.N. sanctions on Iran, including an arms embargo, arguing Tehran was in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal even though Washington itself abandoned that agreement two years ago.

Council members France, Britain and Germany (E3), which along with Russia and China remain in the accord, have dismissed the move as void given Washington’s departure from the deal and said it was harming efforts to restrain Iran’s nuclear activity.

But France’s foreign minister, echoing the stance of Britain and Germany, told his Iranian counterpart that Paris was worried about the impact of the arms embargo expiring in October.

“The minister reiterated our concern about Iran’s destabilizing activities and the consequences of the expiration of the…embargo on conventional arms, and told him of the E3’s determination to seek solutions preserving security and regional stability,” ministry deputy spokesman Francois Delmas said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Iran’s arch-enemy in the Middle East, urged Britain to join the U.S. bid to reimpose U.N. sanctions during a visit by British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to Jerusalem.

“Look at Iran’s aggression today, without a nuclear weapon. What a huge danger Iran would be to the entire world if it did get a nuclear weapon,” Netanyahu told Raab, according to a statement released by the premier’s office.

Iran has repeatedly denied seeking nuclear weapons.

(Reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Dubai, John Irish in Paris and Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem; Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)