The Iran Nuclear Facility Deep Deep Underground

It has long been declared by the mullahs of Iran that their nuclear development operation was only for peaceful purposes. Well then why hide it? Associated Press did some good reporting that many other news outlets picked up. This should change the newly formed relationships now in the Middle East and those European leaders need a sobering and honest rethink of Iran.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Near a peak of the Zagros Mountains in central Iran, workers are building a nuclear facility so deep in the earth that it is likely beyond the range of a last-ditch U.S. weapon designed to destroy such sites, according to experts and satellite imagery analyzed by The Associated Press.

The photos and videos from Planet Labs PBC show Iran has been digging tunnels in the mountain near the Natanz nuclear site, which has come under repeated sabotage attacks amid Tehran’s standoff with the West over its atomic program.

With Iran now producing uranium close to weapons-grade levels after the collapse of its nuclear deal with world powers, the installation complicates the West’s efforts to halt Tehran from potentially developing an atomic bomb as diplomacy over its nuclear program remains stalled.

Completion of such a facility “would be a nightmare scenario that risks igniting a new escalatory spiral,” warned Kelsey Davenport, the director of nonproliferation policy at the Washington-based Arms Control Association. “Given how close Iran is to a bomb, it has very little room to ratchet up its program without tripping U.S. and Israeli red lines. So at this point, any further escalation increases the risk of conflict.”

The construction at the Natanz site comes five years after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear accord. Trump argued the deal did not address Tehran’s ballistic missile program, nor its support of militias across the wider Middle East.

But what it did do was strictly limit Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 3.67% purity, powerful enough only to power civilian power stations, and keep its stockpile to just some 300 kilograms (660 pounds).

Since the demise of the nuclear accord, Iran has said it is enriching uranium up to 60%, though inspectors recently discovered the country had produced uranium particles that were 83.7% pure. That is just a short step from reaching the 90% threshold of weapons-grade uranium.

As of February, international inspectors estimated Iran’s stockpile was over 10 times what it was under the Obama-era deal, with enough enriched uranium to allow Tehran to make “several” nuclear bombs, according to the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

President Joe Biden and Israel’s prime minister have said they won’t allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon. “We believe diplomacy is the best way to achieve that goal, but the president has also been clear that we have not removed any option from the table,” the White House said in a statement to the AP.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Near a peak of the Zagros Mountains in central Iran, workers are building a nuclear facility so deep in the earth that it is likely beyond the range of a last-ditch U.S. weapon designed to destroy such sites, according to experts and satellite imagery analyzed by The Associated Press.

The photos and videos from Planet Labs PBC show Iran has been digging tunnels in the mountain near the Natanz nuclear site, which has come under repeated sabotage attacks amid Tehran’s standoff with the West over its atomic program.

With Iran now producing uranium close to weapons-grade levels after the collapse of its nuclear deal with world powers, the installation complicates the West’s efforts to halt Tehran from potentially developing an atomic bomb as diplomacy over its nuclear program remains stalled.

Completion of such a facility “would be a nightmare scenario that risks igniting a new escalatory spiral,” warned Kelsey Davenport, the director of nonproliferation policy at the Washington-based Arms Control Association. “Given how close Iran is to a bomb, it has very little room to ratchet up its program without tripping U.S. and Israeli red lines. So at this point, any further escalation increases the risk of conflict.”

The construction at the Natanz site comes five years after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear accord. Trump argued the deal did not address Tehran’s ballistic missile program, nor its support of militias across the wider Middle East.

But what it did do was strictly limit Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 3.67% purity, powerful enough only to power civilian power stations, and keep its stockpile to just some 300 kilograms (660 pounds).

Since the demise of the nuclear accord, Iran has said it is enriching uranium up to 60%, though inspectors recently discovered the country had produced uranium particles that were 83.7% pure. That is just a short step from reaching the 90% threshold of weapons-grade uranium.

As of February, international inspectors estimated Iran’s stockpile was over 10 times what it was under the Obama-era deal, with enough enriched uranium to allow Tehran to make “several” nuclear bombs, according to the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

President Joe Biden and Israel’s prime minister have said they won’t allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon. “We believe diplomacy is the best way to achieve that goal, but the president has also been clear that we have not removed any option from the table,” the White House said in a statement to the AP.

The Islamic Republic denies it is seeking nuclear weapons, though officials in Tehran now openly discuss their ability to pursue one.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations, in response to questions from the AP regarding the construction, said that “Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities are transparent and under the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.” However, Iran has been limiting access for international inspectors for years.

Iran says the new construction will replace an above-ground centrifuge manufacturing center at Natanz struck by an explosion and fire in July 2020. Tehran blamed the incident on Israel, long suspected of running sabotage campaigns against its program.

Tehran has not acknowledged any other plans for the facility, though it would have to declare the site to the IAEA if they planned to introduce uranium into it. The Vienna-based IAEA did not respond to questions about the new underground facility.

The new project is being constructed next to Natanz, about 225 kilometers (140 miles) south of Tehran. Natanz has been a point of international concern since its existence became known two decades ago.

Protected by anti-aircraft batteries, fencing and Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, the facility sprawls across 2.7 square kilometers (1 square mile) in the country’s arid Central Plateau.

usaf gbu57 bomb 3D Model in Projectiles 3DExport Details and source here

Bunker buster developed in the United States, which would take several to deal with this hidden nuclear facility.

Officials Confirm Chinese Balloon Collected Intelligence from Several Sensitive Sites

The administration came out with several lies abut the balloon and continued to claim it had limited value to the Chinese. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs additionally along with other military officials provided China with off-ramps stating the balloon had a glitch and went astray and further told the White House not to shoot it down due to the potential debris field. The Pentagon assessed that the balloon uncovering important information was not great. Even more terrifying is what China has planned with the intelligence gathered and what other rogue/enemy nations have access.

A balloon flies in the sky over Billings, Montana, US, February 1, 2023 in this picture obtained from social media. (Chase Doak/via Reuters)

Now, April 3, 2023, NBC has officially reported some truths.

The Chinese spy balloon that flew across the U.S. was able to gather intelligence from several sensitive American military sites, despite the Biden administration’s efforts to block it from doing so, according to two current senior U.S. officials and one former senior administration official.

China was able to control the balloon so it could make multiple passes over some of the sites (at times flying figure eight formations) and transmit the information it collected back to Beijing in real time, the three officials said. The intelligence China collected was mostly from electronic signals, which can be picked up from weapons systems or include communications from base personnel, rather than images, the officials said.

The three officials said China could have gathered much more intelligence from sensitive sites if not for the administration’s efforts to move around potential targets and obscure the balloon’s ability to pick up their electronic signals by stopping them from broadcasting or emitting signals.

The National Security Council referred NBC News to the Defense Department for comment. The Defense Department directed NBC News to comments from February in which senior officials said the balloon had “limited additive value” for intelligence collection by the Chinese government “over and above what [China] is likely able to collect through things like satellites in low earth orbit.”

China has said repeatedly that the balloon was an unmanned civilian airship that accidentally strayed off course, and that the U.S. overreacted by shooting it down. Officials have not said which company, department or organization the balloon belonged to, despite several requests for comment by NBC News.

After the balloon was shot down in February, Biden administration officials said it was capable of collecting signals intelligence.

The balloon had a self-destruct mechanism that could have been activated remotely by China, but the officials said it’s not clear if that didn’t happen because the mechanism malfunctioned or because China decided not to trigger it.

The balloon first entered U.S. airspace over Alaska on Jan. 28, according to the Biden administration, which said it was tracking it as it moved. Within the next four days, the balloon was flying over Montana — specifically Malmstrom Air Force Base, where the U.S. stores some of its nuclear assets.

The real damage assessment at this point cannot be measured but clearly China spied successfully and will heads roll? Nah…

Biden Admin Using Taxpayer Dollars to Fund CCP Research at UVA

With the decades of proof of the intellectual theft and espionage by the Chinese inside the United States, the Biden administration is not protecting America at all in fact helping to fund the Chinese Communist Party operations inside the United States.

During the Trump administration, espionage was so dangerous, two embassies were shuttered. Then there is the matter of Tik Tok….but now this? Is this a John Kerry climate agenda item and is it going on at other U.S. universities or institutions?

The Free Beacon reports:

The Biden administration is using taxpayer cash to fund a University of Virginia climate change partnership with a Chinese Communist Party-controlled school that conducts research for China’s military.

President Joe Biden’s National Science Foundation last year awarded more than $130,000 to the University of Virginia to conduct climate change research with Beijing-based Tsinghua University, federal spending disclosures show. Tsinghua University, which counts Chinese president Xi Jinping among its alumni, will work with University of Virginia researchers to chart the global “transition to a low-carbon economy,” according to the grant description.Board Approves 'Great and Good' Strategic Plan for University of ... UVA source

Tsinghua University is funded by China’s Ministry of Education and maintains a “CCP Committee” that keeps the school “in accordance with President Xi’s hopes.” It also holds “secret-level security credentials” for classified military research, trains students for China’s nuclear weapons program, and has allegedly carried out cyberattacks for the Chinese government, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. It is also one of several Chinese universities under the supervision of the communist nation’s State Administration of Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense, a CCP agency that works to deepen university involvement in the defense sector.

The National Science Foundation’s decision to fund the partnership with Tsinghua calls into question the foundation’s vetting process as it enjoys a record-high budget. The bipartisan CHIPS Act, which Biden said would help “counter China,” authorized $80 billion in funding for the National Science Foundation to invest in research and development. But in the case of its University of Virginia grant, the foundation found working with the Chinese on climate change “worthy of support.”

For American Foreign Policy Council fellow Michael Sobolik, the foundation’s decision to use “taxpayer money to facilitate research cooperation with a People’s Liberation Army-affiliated university” is “questionable at best.”

“We’ve seen time and again how the CCP leverages people-to-people ties to further its malign influence within the United States,” Sobolik told the Washington Free Beacon. “When you’re in the midst of a cold war, you can’t play both sides of the ledger. The sooner we accept that reality, the better.”

The National Science Foundation downplayed Tsinghua’s role in the project, with research security strategy and policy chief Rebecca Keiser saying the Chinese school’s involvement stems from “researcher-to-researcher collaboration.”

The foundation “has instituted a first-in-government analytics process to identify research security concerns and ensure transparency when assessing proposals and awards to ensure that any international collaboration provides mutual benefit,” Keiser said in a statement. “In any international research collaboration, [the National Science Foundation] only funds the U.S. side.”

The grant, which started in October and runs through 2026, funds University of Virginia research into “the transition to a low-carbon economy.” Tsinghua and a second Chinese partner, the China University of Petroleum-Beijing, will conduct similar research in China, the results of which “will be used to develop a U.S.-Chinese collaborative course on climate leadership skills.” That collaboration, the grant says, “will lead to better strategies for lowering emissions in the United States that are complementary to those in China.” China is by far the biggest polluter in the world—in 2019, it emitted more greenhouse gases than all developed nations combined.

This is not the first time the University of Virginia has partnered with Tsinghua. The two schools are exchange partners, and the University of Virginia’s engineering department in 2017 developed a “teaching collaboration” with Tsinghua that saw students from both schools pair up for homework assignments. That project, however, does not appear to have received federal money. Beyond the October grant, the National Science Foundation has only funded projects linked to Tsinghua on two other occasions—once under Biden last June and once under former president Barack Obama in April 2011. Both of those grants, which went to Boston University and Drexel University, respectively, funded academic workshops that included participants from Tsinghua.

A University of Virginia spokesman defended the university’s work with Tsinghua, arguing that because the project “does not involve critical technologies or military applications,” it does not compromise U.S. national security interests.

“An important part of researching global challenges like climate change is working with institutions around the world to compare the effects of a warming climate and the efficacy of different proposed solutions,” university spokesman Brian Coy said. “As part of those efforts, we take seriously our responsibility to operate within all U.S. laws and regulations regarding the protection of intellectual property and U.S. national security interests.”

“Our university collaborates closely and transparently with federal regulatory and law enforcement partners in order to ensure our collaborative research efforts contribute to human understanding of global challenges without compromising our interests as a nation,” Coy said.

The university’s partnership with Tsinghua could attract scrutiny from Republican Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin. “Since being elected, the governor has taken steps to protect Virginians from the malign influence of the Chinese Communist Party,” Youngkin spokesman Christian Martinez told the Free Beacon. “Through his TikTok ban on all state devices and networks, prohibiting foreign adversaries, including China, from acquiring the commonwealth’s agricultural land, requesting Fairfax County schools cut ties with CCP-linked entities, and preventing a Trojan horse deal for a CCP-linked battery manufacturer to produce electric vehicle batteries propped up by U.S. tax incentives, the governor has made it clear that there is no room in Virginia for the Chinese Communist Party.”

National Science Foundation director Sethuraman Panchanathan, who serves at the pleasure of the president, in 2014 was put on the foundation’s National Science Board by Obama. Then-president Donald Trump in June 2020 went on to elevate Panchanathan to foundation director. Biden has appointed 10 of the National Science Board’s 24 members.

 

While the National Science Foundation’s grant did not send federal money directly to Tsinghua, the Chinese university has received money from American actors in the past. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—one of America’s largest liberal nonprofits—gave Tsinghua more than $1.5 million in 2021, the Free Beacon reported in January.

 

Meet Zhe Wu and His Low Orbit Balloon Program

It went with almost zero attention that between our US Commerce Department added a handful of companies to a so-called Entity List last week, restricting them from obtaining US technologies in a move blasted by Beijing on Monday as “illegal unilateral sanctions”, almost as soon as the first balloon was shot out of the sky off the coast of South Carolina. Now, just exactly how did our officials know to do that so fast? Now we have to wonder why Treasury has not done the same.

At least someone was paying attention and knew of Zhe Wu and his work…yet no other part of any Federal agency or any part of the military was on their game for the last several years?

Okay…sounds about right.

Beijing Nanjiang Aerospace Technology

Established in 2015, Beijing Nanjiang is controlled by a subsidiary of Shanghai-listed real estate company Deluxe Family Co Ltd, which also invests in materials and robotics projects.

The state-run Science and Technology Daily in 2015 hailed the firm’s development of a large silver helium airship as the country’s first “new near-space platform with capabilities for both military and surveillance use”.

State media said the company’s steerable, reusable and continuously powered airship was equipped with broadband communications and “high-definition observation” gear.

China Electronics Technology Group Corporation 48th Research Institute

Part of a state-owned IT giant, the research institute specialises in building power systems and solar energy components, as well as semiconductor equipment.

The institute has worked to develop flexible solar power cells suitable for both military and civilian aircraft, the China National Space Administration said in a document in 2017.

Parent company China Electronics Technology Group Corporation also funds Hikvision, a surveillance camera maker that has been implicated in intensified monitoring of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang.

Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group Co

Founded by military aircraft expert Wu Zhe, the group specialises in research and development of stealth aircraft technologies.

Eagles Men is “devoted to becoming a benchmark business for China’s (strategy of) military-civil fusion”, according to the company’s profile page on the official Chinese Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics website.

The company in 2013 filed a patent for making airship skins stronger.

Wu told state media in 2019 that his team had developed a stratospheric airship able to “fly around the globe”.

Dongguan Lingkong Remote Sensing Technology Co

Set up in 2019, the company counts among its investors a branch of the state-run Beihang University, as well as Eagles Men Aviation.

Public records show Dongguan Lingkong has received licences from local market supervisors to conduct research on remote sensing technology, which allows aircraft to detect conditions on the ground from a high altitude.

Guangzhou Tian-Hai-Xiang Aviation Technology Co

The company was originally established by the Chinese military to develop “vehicle-mounted unmanned reconnaissance aircraft”, according to its official website.

Specialising in surveillance drones, the company was reorganised in 2006 with its current name and under the control of military veteran Li Yuzhuang.

Tian-Hai-Xiang says it has received multiple defence science awards, with its website boasting that the company was “the first unit in the domestic drone industry to equip our military’s first digitalised troops”.

Shanxi Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group Co

A wholly owned subsidiary of Eagles Men Aviation, the company was set up in 2012 with a focus on chemical products, according to Chinese business database Tianyancha.

As report in part from The Wire:

On an October morning in 2007, Wu Zhe, an aircraft design expert at Beihang University, gave a lecture about the “military value of balloons.” He described why it was an area of key scientific research for China and explained different solutions for powering these unique aircraft. When he concluded, according to a university press release, his “erudite knowledge and brilliant speech” received multiple rounds of applause.

Nearly two decades later, Wu and his business partner, a tech investor and executive named Wang Dong, are at the center of a military-linked program that has sent balloons over the U.S. and other nations, setting off a diplomatic crisis in Washington. After days of intense media coverage, on February 4, the U.S. shot down one Chinese balloon off the coast of South Carolina, and has since shot down three more unidentified objects floating in American and Canadian airspace.

On Friday, the Commerce Department announced that they were leveling sanctions against six Chinese companies involved in the balloon program — which U.S. officials say aims to intercept communications and surveil the ground below, including sensitive military sites.

Records show that Wu and Wang are linked to four of the six sanctioned firms. The two men, according to data from WireScreen, have a complex network of companies involved in balloon and aerospace technologies, some of which are closely affiliated with the Chinese military but are not sanctioned by the U.S. government.

In a statement on Friday about the sanctions, Alan F. Estevez, the under secretary of commerce for industry and security, said that “today’s action makes clear that entities that seek to harm U.S. national security and sovereignty will be cut off from accessing U.S. technologies.” Neither of the two Chinese men, through their companies, responded to requests for comment.

Zhe Wu has published at least 23 scholarly papers of his work and they are found here..quite chilling actually. For instance: (note the date)

Hovering control for a stratospheric airship in unknown wind

A novel hovering control methodology for a stratospheric airship is presented by using path following approach in the presence of unknown wind by expressing the wind field in the state equation, which avoids the difficulty of guaranteeing system stability in strong wind for other stabilization methods.

In late 2022,
noted –>

Mystery airship spotted over Philippines near South China Sea

  • Images of an unidentified craft near Subic Bay have sparked speculation it could have been collecting military intelligence
  • There is no evidence the airship was from China, though its design appears similar to types on display at the Zhuhai air show

Images of the stratospheric airship – allegedly taken in Pangasinan province, about 100km (62 miles) from Subic Bay in the northern Philippine island of Luzon – were first posted on Facebook last weekend. The pictures were deleted, but not before they were also shared on Twitter.

There is no evidence that the airship was from China, although its design appears to be similar to several unmanned types developed by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China’s Special Aircraft Research Institute and other scientific academies.

Images of a stratospheric, long-endurance airship, said to have been taken near Subic Bay in the northern Philippines, were shared on social media. Photo: Facebook
The we hear that the objects in the airspace of North America were cylindrical.
Could it be? Below reported from Poland in reference to the same object.
Philippines. A stratospheric airship over the disputed South China Sea -  Polish News
I have asked several out there smarter than me about the connection of the objects with clustered ground hubs..or if ground hubs were dropped by the balloon or objects….I did not need an answer.. Seems there are several that have the answers and we are collaborating AGAIN with China?
An Observation Scheduling Approach Based on Task Clustering for High-Altitude Airship
by Jiawei  Chen, Oizhang Luo and Guohua Wu.

1
School of Computational Science and Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
2
School of Traffic & Transportation Engineering, Central South University, Changsha 410075, China
3
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore 119260, Singapore
Sensors 22 02050 g001 550

You but the judge….

 

There is Never Going to be Adequate Consequences for Putin

The list is long…his war crimes in Syria…his approval for poisoning dissidents and the blasting of a passenger airliner out of the sky…those are just a few.

MH17 probe links Putin to missile that brought down plane


DW: Prosecutors in The Hague said Wednesday that Russian leader Vladimir Putin approved the transfer of missiles to Russian-backed rebel forces in eastern Ukraine who were later responsible for shooting down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.

MH17 was struck down by a BUK missile over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014 as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people on board MH17 died.

The Missile Launcher that Shot Down MH17 - War on the Rocks source

Investigators in the Netherlands said there were “strong indications” based on intercepted phone calls that Putin had personally approved the weapons transfers to its proxy forces in the east of Ukraine.

Russia has long denied any involvement despite a mounting body of evidence to the contrary.

Despite the evidence, the probe is being halted as “all leads have been exhausted” and no further prosecutions could go forward.

The latest announcement comes weeks after a Dutch court convicted two Russians and a Ukrainian of mass murder for the loss of life aboard the flight.

What did investigators say?

In a statement, the Joint Investigation Team of six nations probing the incident said, “There are strong indications that the Russian president decided on supplying the Buk TELAR to the DPR (Donetsk People’s Republic) separatists.”

The Joint Investigation Team consists of investigators from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Ukraine and Malaysia.

Investigators also said Russian officials were said to have delayed a decision on whether or not to send weapons to its proxy forces in the east of Ukraine while Putin was at a D-Day commemoration in France in June of 2014.

They played a recorded conversation of an aide who said, “There is only one who makes a decision,” later adding, “the person who is currently at a summit in France,” a reference to Putin.

As head of state, however, Putin enjoys immunity, investigators noted. They also hedged and suggested that “although we speak of strong indications, the high bar of complete and conclusive evidence is not reached.”

MH17 flight debris on fire in a field in Ukraine
Investigators said all investigatiive avenues in the deadly incident had been exhaustedImage: Dmitry Lovetsky/AP/dpa/picture alliance

Previously, investigators sought to name those responsible for firing the BUK missile that brought down MH17 and those whose responsibility extends to the chain of command. However, investigators conceded there were few avenues left to investigate the catastrophe.

In 2019, investigators released phone calls showing contact between Russian proxy forces occupying part of eastern Ukraine and a Kremlin aide at the time, Vladislav Surkov.

Dutch prosecutor Digna van Boetzelaer told a news conference, “The investigation has now reached its limit, all leads have now been exhausted, the investigation is therefore being suspended.”

The BUK missile that took out the Malaysian Airlines flight was brought from a Russian military base located in the city of Kursk.

Victims of MH17 came from 10 countries, with 196 Dutch, 43 Malaysians and 38 Australian residents on board at the time of the missile strike.

Australia vows to hold Russia accountable

Australia pledged to hold Russia accountable for shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, after a team of international investigators halted its probe into the disaster.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said Russia had repeatedly tried to thwart the investigation, making it “impossible” to collect proof.

However, they added that Australia would “hold Russia to account for its role in the downing of the civilian aircraft.”

ar/jcg (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)