Iran’s Uranium Reaches 84% Purity
IRAN HAS ENRICHED URANIUM TO 84% PURITY: Inspectors from the UN atomic agency discovered uranium enriched to 84-percent purity in Iran last week, closer than ever to weapons-grade levels, American media reported Sunday, February 19, citing two unnamed senior diplomats.
Iran has been known thus far to have enriched uranium to 60%. A purity of 90% is needed to produce nuclear weapons. International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors are trying to determine whether Tehran deliberately made the move or if it was an “unintended accumulation within the network of pipes connecting the hundreds of fast-spinning centrifuges used to separate the isotopes,” the report said. One diplomat said that Iran had not submitted the necessary paperwork to declare its intention of raising enrichment levels at two nuclear facilities in Natanz and Fordo. The other diplomat noted that even if the material built up accidentally, as has happened in the past, it shows the problems associated with Iran’s activities in producing highly enriched uranium. The IAEA said in a tweet that it was “aware of recent media reports relating to uranium enrichment levels in Iran.” Director-General Rafael Grossi noted that the agency was in talks with Iran regarding the results of recent inspections, the tweet added. (TOI / VFI News)
NASRALLAH THREATENS VIOLENCE AGAINST ISRAEL IF LEBANESE GAS DEVELOPMENT DELAYED: Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah threatened Israel’s Karish gas field again on Thursday, February 16, warning that if there is “procrastination” in extracting gas from Lebanese waters for Lebanon, they will not let the Karish field continue to operate.
“If there is procrastination regarding the issue of oil and gas from Lebanese waters, will we allow Israel to continue extracting oil and gas from Karish? I tell you never, this means if you want us to starve, we will kill you, and I thought well of what I said,” warned Nasrallah. The Hezbollah leader added that the US “must be told to stay away” from the issue of gas and oil extraction off the coast of Lebanon. “I tell the Americans that if they want to sow chaos in Lebanon, you will lose everything,” said Nasrallah. “Those who bet that pain and suffering will make our environment abandon its principles and achievements are delusional.” “If you push Lebanon into chaos, you must wait for chaos in the entire region, foremost of which is your protégé, Israel,” said Nasrallah. “Just as we were ready for war in defense of our oil, we are ready to extend our arms to your protégé Israel.” (JPost / VFI News)
KNESSET PASSES LAW STRIPPING TERRORISTS OF CITIZENSHIP: The Knesset on Wednesday afternoon, February 15, passed a law stripping convicted terrorists who receive payments from the Palestinian Authority of their Israeli citizenship.
The legislation received broad bipartisan support and passed with a supermajority of 94 votes in favor in its third reading. 10 MKs voted against the bill. The new law will allow the Interior Minister to revoke the citizenship of Israeli Arabs who receive payments from the Palestinian Authority after committing terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens or security forces. The terrorist would be deported either to the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria or to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. According to the wording of the law, the PA’s payments to terrorists create a relationship between the PA and the terrorist, allowing for them to be deported to the PA. The Interior Minister will have 14 days to decide to revoke the terrorist’s citizenship and deport him or her. (INN / VFI News)
SYRIA SAYS 5 KILLED, 15 WOUNDED IN ISRAELI STRIKE ON DAMASCUS RESIDENTIAL AREA: The Israeli Air Force allegedly carried out a strike late Saturday night, February 18, targeting a residential neighborhood in Damascus, killing five people and leaving 15 others hurt, Syria’s state news agency reported.
There was no comment from the Israel Defense Forces, in line with its policy of not generally commenting on air raids in the country. Israeli officials have previously said the IDF does not target civilians and seeks to avoid damage to residential areas as much as possible. According to British media, the strike targeted an area in the Kafar Sousah neighborhood in the Syrian capital, near a large and heavily guarded security complex, and close to Iranian installations. A Syrian opposition media outlet claimed the strikes targeted Iranian militia officials at the so-called Iranian school in Kafar Sousah. It also said that the damage to the residential buildings in Kafar Sousah was caused by a misfired Syrian anti-aircraft missile. The strike was later condemned by Russia, a key backer of the Syrian regime in the over decade-long civil war, which called the attack a “flagrant violation” of international law. “We strongly urge the Israeli side to stop armed provocations against the Syrian Arab Republic and refrain from steps that are fraught with dangerous consequences for the entire region,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. (TOI / VFI News)
IRAN PLANNING HIT SQUADS TO ASSASSINATE DIASPORA JEWS: Iran has been “mapping” Jewish communities outside Israel to be hit by assassination squads that would be activated if Israel attacks its nuclear facilities, according to a French journalist who was one of the few Westerners to meet with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Apparently, unbeknownst to Khamenei and senior regime members, Catherine Perez-Shakdam is also Jewish. She found out about the hit squad program while in Iran for her audience with Khamenei, according to a Jewish media outlet. She discovered that Iran had “mapped” a large number of Jews to be targeted for assassination in the event of an Israeli attack at a high-level meeting in Tehran. The plan involved identifying senior Jewish figures and focusing on “how to strike and where.” According to Perez-Shakdam – who also met President Ebrahim Raisi and the late Qasem Soleimani who was assassinated by the US three years ago – the kill teams would be activated in the event of a war between Israel and Iran, so that “the diaspora would have a very nasty surprise.” She told the Jewish media outlet that Khamenei was only afraid of one thing: an Israeli attack. “He believes Netanyahu’s threats and he knows that, for now, Israel is militarily superior,” she said. (INN / VFI News)
SYRIAN GOVERNMENT, REBELS CLASH IN EARTHQUAKE-HIT REGION: Syrian government forces and rebels have clashed overnight in northwest Syria for the first time since an earthquake devastated the region on February 6, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Friday, February 17.
The northwest, one of the region’s most badly affected by the earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey, is controlled by insurgents opposed to the government of President Bashar Assad in Damascus. The Observatory said government forces had shelled the outskirts of the rebel-town of Atareb. This coincided with clashes with heavy machine guns between government and rebel forces at a nearby frontline, it said. Observatory Director Rami Abdulrahman said 235 people in Atareb and the nearby areas had died in the earthquake. More than 4,400 people were reported killed by the earthquake in the northwest, according to a UN agency, the bulk of the fatalities in Syria. Government and rebel forces also clashed in another part of the northwest near the government town of Saraqeb, while government forces shelled the outskirts of two villages in Hama province, the Observatory reported. (JPost / VFI News)
14 JEWS RESCUED FROM DEVASTATED TURKISH CITY OF ANTAKYA, GIVEN SHELTER IN ISTANBUL: Fourteen Jews have been rescued in Antakya, a city in southern Turkey whose Jewish community lost its leader and his wife, Saul and Fortuna Cenudioglu, in the catastrophic earthquakes, an Israeli fundraising group said Wednesday, February 15.
The community members, from eight families — most of the city’s remaining Jews — were flown to Istanbul, and are currently in a Jewish nursing home and in the homes of Jewish community members, according to the group, Keren Hayesod. They are expected to stay in Istanbul for the foreseeable future. The city has two more Jewish families, who have been moved to a safe area near Antakya, the group said. Keren Hayesod touted the roles of Istanbul’s Jewish community and Keren Hayesod donors in enabling the operation, singling out Israeli-Kazakh businessman Alexander Machkevitch. “Even in the most difficult days following the disaster, members of Turkey’s Jewish community discovered unity which has characterized the Jewish people throughout the generations,” Machkevitch, honorary president of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, was quoted as saying in a statement from Keren Hayesod. There has been a Jewish community in Antakya for over 2,500 years, and it is mentioned in Flavius Josephus’s “The Wars of the Jews.” Known as Antioch, the city was a key Jewish hub before and after the destruction of the second Jewish Temple in the year 70 CE. (TOI / VFI News)
WORLD’S OLDEST HEBREW BIBLE COULD FETCH UP TO $50 MILLION AT AUCTION: The world’s oldest and most complete Hebrew Bible will go on display in London this week, before an auction in May where it could sell for up to $50 million, Sotheby’s said on Wednesday, February 15.
If the 1,000-year-old Holy Book sells for near its estimated value, the Codex Sassoon would become the most valuable printed text or historical document ever sold at auction, Sotheby’s said.Billionaire investor Kenneth Griffin set the record in 2021 when he paid $43.2 million at a Sotheby’s auction for a first-edition copy of the US Constitution. The Codex Sassoon is named after previous owner David Solomon Sassoon, who acquired the Bible in 1929 and assembled one of the most significant private collections of Judaica and Hebraica manuscripts in the 20th century. The document offers a critical link bridging Jewish oral tradition to the modern Hebrew Bible. It was not until recently that the current owner, collector Jacqui Safra, had the Codex Sassoon carbon dated, confirming it was older than the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex, two other major early Hebrew Bibles, according to Sotheby’s. (JPost / VFI News)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by VFI writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff