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Brace Yourselves for the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

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Brace Yourselves, New Yorkers, You’re Due for a Major Quake

A couple of hundred thousand years ago, an M 7.2 earthquake shook what is now New Hampshire. Just a few thousand years ago, an M 7.5 quake ruptured just off the coast of Massachusetts. And then there’s New York.

Since the first western settlers arrived there, the state has witnessed 200 quakes of magnitude 2.0 or greater, making it the third most seismically active state east of the Mississippi (Tennessee and South Carolina are ranked numbers one and two, respectively). About once a century, New York has also experienced an M 5.0 quake capable of doing real damage.

The most recent one near New York City occurred in August of 1884. Centered off Long Island’s Rockaway Beach, it was felt over 70,000 square miles. It also opened enormous crevices near the Brooklyn reservoir and knocked down chimneys and cracked walls in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Police on the Brooklyn Bridge said it swayed “as if struck by a hurricane” and worried the bridge’s towers would collapse. Meanwhile, residents throughout New York and New Jersey reported sounds that varied from explosions to loud rumblings, sometimes to comic effect. At the funeral of Lewis Ingler, a small group of mourners were watching as the priest began to pray. The quake cracked an enormous mirror behind the casket and knocked off a display of flowers that had been resting on top of it. When it began to shake the casket’s silver handles, the mourners decided the unholy return of Lewis Ingler was more than they could take and began flinging themselves out windows and doors.

Not all stories were so light. Two people died during the quake, both allegedly of fright. Out at sea, the captain of the brig Alice felt a heavy lurch that threw him and his crew, followed by a shaking that lasted nearly a minute. He was certain he had hit a wreck and was taking on water.

A day after the quake, the editors of The New York Times sought to allay readers’ fear. The quake, they said, was an unexpected fluke never to be repeated and not worth anyone’s attention: “History and the researches of scientific men indicate that great seismic disturbances occur only within geographical limits that are now well defined,” they wrote in an editorial. “The northeastern portion of the United States . . . is not within those limits.” The editors then went on to scoff at the histrionics displayed by New York residents when confronted by the quake: “They do not stop to reason or to recall the fact that earthquakes here are harmless phenomena. They only know that the solid earth, to whose immovability they have always turned with confidence when everything else seemed transitory, uncertain, and deceptive, is trembling and in motion, and the tremor ceases long before their disturbed minds become tranquil.”
That’s the kind of thing that drives Columbia’s Heather Savage nuts.

New York, she says, is positively vivisected by faults. Most of them fall into two groups—those running northeast and those running northwest. Combined they create a brittle grid underlying much of Manhattan.

Across town, Charles Merguerian has been studying these faults the old‐fashioned way: by getting down and dirty underground. He’s spent the past forty years sloshing through some of the city’s muckiest places: basements and foundations, sewers and tunnels, sometimes as deep as 750 feet belowground. His tools down there consist primarily of a pair of muck boots, a bright blue hard hat, and a pickax. In public presentations, he claims he is also ably abetted by an assistant hamster named Hammie, who maintains his own website, which includes, among other things, photos of the rodent taking down Godzilla.

That’s just one example why, if you were going to cast a sitcom starring two geophysicists, you’d want Savage and Merguerian to play the leading roles. Merguerian is as eccentric and flamboyant as Savage is earnest and understated. In his press materials, the former promises to arrive at lectures “fully clothed.” Photos of his “lab” depict a dingy porta‐john in an abandoned subway tunnel. He actively maintains an archive of vintage Chinese fireworks labels at least as extensive as his list of publications, and his professional website includes a discography of blues tunes particularly suitable for earthquakes. He calls female science writers “sweetheart” and somehow manages to do so in a way that kind of makes them like it (although they remain nevertheless somewhat embarrassed to admit it).

It’s Merguerian’s boots‐on‐the‐ground approach that has provided much of the information we need to understand just what’s going on underneath Gotham. By his count, Merguerian has walked the entire island of Manhattan: every street, every alley. He’s been in most of the tunnels there, too. His favorite one by far is the newest water tunnel in western Queens. Over the course of 150 days, Merguerian mapped all five miles of it. And that mapping has done much to inform what we know about seismicity in New York.

Most importantly, he says, it provided the first definitive proof of just how many faults really lie below the surface there. And as the city continues to excavate its subterranean limits, Merguerian is committed to following closely behind. It’s a messy business.

Down below the city, Merguerian encounters muck of every flavor and variety. He power‐washes what he can and relies upon a diver’s halogen flashlight and a digital camera with a very, very good flash to make up the difference. And through this process, Merguerian has found thousands of faults, some of which were big enough to alter the course of the Bronx River after the last ice age.
His is a tricky kind of detective work. The center of a fault is primarily pulverized rock. For these New York faults, that gouge was the very first thing to be swept away by passing glaciers. To do his work, then, he’s primarily looking for what geologists call “offsets”—places where the types of rock don’t line up with one another. That kind of irregularity shows signs of movement over time—clear evidence of a fault.

Merguerian has found a lot of them underneath New York City.

These faults, he says, do a lot to explain the geological history of Manhattan and the surrounding area. They were created millions of years ago, when what is now the East Coast was the site of a violent subduction zone not unlike those present now in the Pacific’s Ring of Fire.

Each time that occurred, the land currently known as the Mid‐Atlantic underwent an accordion effect as it was violently folded into itself again and again. The process created immense mountains that have eroded over time and been further scoured by glaciers. What remains is a hodgepodge of geological conditions ranging from solid bedrock to glacial till to brittle rock still bearing the cracks of the collision. And, says Merguerian, any one of them could cause an earthquake.

You don’t have to follow him belowground to find these fractures. Even with all the development in our most built‐up metropolis, evidence of these faults can be found everywhere—from 42nd Street to Greenwich Village. But if you want the starkest example of all, hop the 1 train at Times Square and head uptown to Harlem. Not far from where the Columbia University bus collects people for the trip to the Lamont‐Doherty Earth Observatory, the subway tracks seem to pop out of the ground onto a trestle bridge before dropping back down to earth. That, however, is just an illusion. What actually happens there is that the ground drops out below the train at the site of one of New York’s largest faults. It’s known by geologists in the region as the Manhattanville or 125th Street Fault, and it runs all the way across the top of Central Park and, eventually, underneath Long Island City. Geologists have known about the fault since 1939, when the city undertook a massive subway mapping project, but it wasn’t until recently that they confirmed its potential for a significant quake.

In our lifetimes, a series of small earthquakes have been recorded on the Manhattanville Fault including, most recently, one on October 27, 2001. Its epicenter was located around 55th and 8th—directly beneath the original Original Soupman restaurant, owned by restaurateur Ali Yeganeh, the inspiration for Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi. That fact delighted sitcom fans across the country, though few Manhattanites were in any mood to appreciate it.

The October 2001 quake itself was small—about M 2.6—but the effect on residents there was significant. Just six weeks prior, the city had been rocked by the 9/11 terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center towers. The team at Lamont‐Doherty has maintained a seismic network in the region since the ’70s. They registered the collapse of the first tower at M 2.1. Half an hour later, the second tower crumbled with even more force and registered M 2.3. In a city still shocked by that catastrophe, the early‐morning October quake—several times greater than the collapse of either tower—jolted millions of residents awake with both reminders of the tragedy and fear of yet another attack. 9‐1‐1 calls overwhelmed dispatchers and first responders with reports of shaking buildings and questions about safety in the city. For seismologists, though, that little quake was less about foreign threats to our soil and more about the possibility of larger tremors to come.

Remember: The Big Apple has experienced an M 5.0 quake about every hundred years. The last one was that 1884 event. And that, says Merguerian, means the city is overdue. Just how overdue?

“Gee whiz!” He laughs when I pose this question. “That’s the holy grail of seismicity, isn’t it?”

He says all we can do to answer that question is “take the pulse of what’s gone on in recorded history.” To really have an answer, we’d need to have about ten times as much data as we do today. But from what he’s seen, the faults below New York are very much alive.

“These guys are loaded,” he tells me.

He says he is also concerned about new studies of a previously unknown fault zone known as the Ramapo that runs not far from the city. Savage shares his concerns. They both think it’s capable of an M 6.0 quake or even higher—maybe even a 7.0. If and when, though, is really anybody’s guess.

“We literally have no idea what’s happening in our backyard,” says Savage.

What we do know is that these quakes have the potential to do more damage than similar ones out West, mostly because they are occurring on far harder rock capable of propagating waves much farther. And because these quakes occur in places with higher population densities, these eastern events can affect a lot more people. Take the 2011 Virginia quake: Although it was only a moderate one, more Americans felt it than any other one in our nation’s history.

That’s the thing about the East Coast: Its earthquake hazard may be lower than that of the West Coast, but the total effect of any given quake is much higher. Disaster specialists talk about this in terms of risk, and they make sense of it with an equation that multiplies the potential hazard of an event by the cost of damage and the number of people harmed. When you take all of those factors into account, the earthquake risk in New York is much greater than, say, that in Alaska or Hawaii or even a lot of the area around the San Andreas Fault.

Merguerian has been sounding the alarm about earthquake risk in the city since the ’90s. He admits he hasn’t gotten much of a response. He says that when he first proposed the idea of seismic risk in New York City, his fellow scientists “booed and threw vegetables” at him. He volunteered his services to the city’s Office of Emergency Management but says his original offer also fell on deaf ears.

“So I backed away gently and went back to academia.”

Today, he says, the city isn’t much more responsive, but he’s getting a much better response from his peers.

He’s glad for that, he says, but it’s not enough. If anything, the events of 9/11, along with the devastation caused in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy, should tell us just how bad it could be there.

He and Savage agree that what makes the risk most troubling is just how little we know about it. When it comes right down to it, intraplate faults are the least understood. Some scientists think they might be caused by mantle flow deep below the earth’s crust. Others think they might be related to gravitational energy. Still others think quakes occurring there might be caused by the force of the Atlantic ridge as it pushes outward. Then again, it could be because the land is springing back after being compressed thousands of years ago by glaciers (a phenomenon geologists refer to as seismic rebound).

“We just have no consciousness towards earthquakes in the eastern United States,” says Merguerian. “And that’s a big mistake.”

Adapted from Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake by Kathryn Miles, published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2017 by Kathryn Miles.

Space Force Races Against the Russian and Chinese Nuclear Horns: Daniel 7

General: Space Force racing ‘to stay ahead of a growing threat’ from China and Russia

China and Russia are developing “a suite of capabilities” to threaten American assets in space, according to a top U.S. general who acknowledged the pressure to keep ahead of these adversaries in orbit.

“One of the main reasons why we established the Space Force was to go fast and to stay ahead of a growing threat,” Gen. John Raymond, the chief of space operations for the U.S. Space Force, told reporters Thursday.

American strategists are trying “to deter conflict from beginning or extending into space,” Raymond emphasized, but China’s emergence as an aggressive space power was heralded in 2007 by its use of a land-based rocket to destroy one of its own weather satellites. Russia likewise has tested anti-satellite weapons, while arms control talks have failed to gain traction as the major powers can’t agree even on the definition of a weapon in space, stoking fears of a full-blown arms race in space.

“The best way we know how to deter conflict from [the] beginning or extending into space is to do so from a position of strength,” Raymond replied when asked if an arms race is already underway. “We’re prepared to protect and defend our capabilities today. We will remain prepared to protect our capabilities into the future.”

HOUSE DEMOCRAT FEARS LOOMING SPACE WAR: ‘WE’LL ALL BE DEAD’

China and Russia have proposed arms control treaties touted as a means to avoid the militarization of space, but U.S. officials regard those as bad-faith proposals crafted by “the two countries that … have turned space into a warfighting domain,” as a senior U.S. diplomat said last month.

“The rapid evolution of such threats requires urgent and pragmatic steps if we are to maintain the safety, security, and stability of the outer space environment,” Ambassador Robert Wood told the Conference on Disarmament.

Raymond continued in that vein on Thursday. “We have seen what China has done with, and Russia, has done in developing a suite of capabilities designed to deny our access to space,” the general said. “Everything from reversible jamming of communications satellites and GPS satellites, to directed energy weapons, to satellites in orbit that are designed to destroy U.S. satellites in orbit, to missiles that are being launched from the ground to destroy satellites like China demonstrated — Russia has the same type of program — and to cyberthreats.”

The Space Forcelaunched in December 2019, has assembled a force of 6,400 personnel, known as “Guardians,” while trying to organize Pentagon efforts to develop and acquire new technologies to maintain an advantage in space.

“There is still significant work to do, but we’ve got the pieces planned out and in place already making a difference,” Raymond said. “And I will say that we are focused and committed to moving fast and developing the capabilities and the tactical timelines that we need to stay ahead of this growing threat and remain the best in the world.”

Those initiatives don’t obviate the need for allied cooperation, in Raymond’s telling, as the general echoed President Joe Biden’s emphasis on partnering with other democracies to counter threats from China.

“I look at the challenges that we face, again, with a very congested, very competitive, and very contested domain, I think there’s even more opportunities,” he said. “And the opportunities stem from a commercial industry that’s thriving, that’s innovative, with technology that’s developing rapidly, and with international partnerships that allow us to protect and defend this domain and to establish safe and professional ways to operate in this domain, and primarily to deter conflict and to make sure that the domain is safe for all so economies can flourish, information can flow, and our nation’s security remains intact.”

Dems Wish to Weaken the US Nuclear Horn

Dems Urge Biden to Seize ‘Watershed Moment’ and Cut Nuclear Stockpile

The administration is being called on to “make bold decisions to lead us towards a future where nuclear weapons no longer threaten all humanity.”

July 22, 2021

A group of 21 Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday urged President Joe Biden to “reject a 21st century arms race” with key actions including making reductions in the nation’s nuclear arsenal and confirming a no-first-use policy.

The call came in a letter (pdf) led by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and John Garamendi (D-Calif.), the co-chairs of the recently formed Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Working Group.

The letter, first reported by The Hill, came as the Biden administration drafts it nuclear weapons doctrine, or Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which is expected to take several months.

“We respectfully ask that you directly guide the NPR process to reduce the role of U.S. nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, forego development of new nuclear weapons, and develop a saner declaratory policy on nuclear weapons use.”

Referencing Biden’s history as a U.S. senator and vice president when he was “a party to every major nuclear weapons debate of the past five decades,” the lawmakers wrote that from “bolstering the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, to building European support for the Intermediate-Nuclear Forces Treaty, to securing votes for ratification of the New START Treaty, you have consistently been on the right side of history.”

They framed the NPR as “a watershed moment” in which Biden “can reject a 21st century arms race and make bold decisions to lead us towards a future where nuclear weapons no longer threaten all humanity.”

Six recommendations are detailed for inclusion in Biden’s NPR, the first of which references his June joint statement with Russian President Vladimir Putin affirming that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” As such, the NPR should adjust “declaratory policy to assign a reduced role for U.S. nuclear weapons.”

“We hope that the NPR operationalizes your previously stated view that the United States will not need to fire the first shot in a nuclear conflict,” the lawmakers wrote, “and that it configures its nuclear forces away from that warfighting posture accordingly.”

Biden should also direct the Pentagon “to include in its proposed target list a breakdown of the damage expectancy, civilian casualties, and climatic and humanitarian consequences stemming from nuclear weapons use,” given that even geographically limited nuclear conflict “would be felt by all the planet’s inhabitants.”

The NPR should also assess the quantity and “types of new weapons needed to deter nuclear attack,” taking into consideration previous recommendations from the Government Accountability Office to cancel certain nuclear weapons modernization programs.

Other recommendations include an outside review of the proposed Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) that would cost taxpayers an estimated $264 billion through its life cycle; nixing the two new types of lower yield nuclear weapons called for in 2018 in then-President Donald Trump’s NPR; and committing to “pursuing robust diplomacy with Russia and China on arms control” including through a successor agreement to the New START treaty.

“We respectfully ask that you directly guide the NPR process to reduce the role of U.S. nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, forego development of new nuclear weapons, and develop a saner declaratory policy on nuclear weapons use,” the Democrats wrote.

Other signatories to the letter are Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Bill Foster (D-Ill.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), IIhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Ami Bera (D-Calif.).

It’s unclear at this time if the forthcoming NPR will lay out any fundamental changes to U.S. nuclear weapons doctrine that anti-nuclear advocates say are sorely needed.

Speaking earlier this month to Politico, Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said that the “NPR will be a real test as to whether the Biden administration walks its talk on reducing the role, the number, and the cost of nuclear weapons.”

“Biden also has a responsibility to fundamentally reconsider outdated concepts of how much damage—and how many nuclear weapons—are necessary to deter nuclear threats to the United States and our allies,” Kimball said. “Just a few hundred nuclear weapons could destroy Russia and China, kill hundreds of millions of people, and produce an acute planetary climate catastrophe.”

Another explosion outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Palestinian rescuers and onlookers gather at the scene of a blast in Gaza City, the cause of which has not yet been determined, on July 22, 2021. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

1 dead, 10 hurt in Gaza explosion; IDF says not involved

Blast in the Gaza City’s Al-Zawiya marketplace collapses large part of a house, damages dozens of nearby buildings and shops

By Agencies and TOI staff22 Jul 2021, 1:15 pm

One person was killed and 10 were injured Thursday when an explosion tore through a house in a popular marketplace in Gaza City, the Hamas-run interior ministry said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion.

The blast in the Al-Zawiya area collapsed large parts of the house and damaged dozens of buildings and shops nearby, according to the statement.

Police explosives and engineering teams continue to investigate the causes of the explosion. Civil defense teams and the police were able to control the resulting fire.

The blast shook the neighborhood on the third day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

The Israeli army signaled it wasn’t involved, calling the explosion an “internal matter” in Gaza.

Gaza City already was struggling with heavy damage sustained during an 11-day conflict in May between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

The World Bank earlier this month said rebuilding Gaza would cost $485 million, including up to $380 million to repair the physical damage alone.

Israeli officials have said they will condition allowing the reconstruction of Gaza on progress and easing the heightened restrictions on reaching a prisoner exchange with Hamas that secures the return of two Israeli civilians and two soldiers’ bodies held by the terror group.

Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire on Gaza in response to rocket fire killed 254 Palestinians, including 66 children, and wounded more than 1,900 people in 11 days of conflict from May 10, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza. Israel says over 200 of those killed were terror operatives. It says some of the civilian fatalities were caused by rocket fire that fell short and landed in the Strip.

Rocket and other projectile fire from Gaza killed 13 in Israel, including a child and a teenager, an Israeli soldier, one Indian national and two Thai workers. Some 357 people in Israel were wounded.

Blast outside the Temple Walls kills 1, injures 10, shakes crowded area

Palestinian rescuers and security personnel work at the scene of an explosion in the Al-Zawiya market area of Gaza City, Gaza, Thursday, July 22, 2021. At least one person was killed and some 10 injured Thursday when the explosion tore through a house in a popular market, the interior ministry said. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Gaza City blast kills 1, injures 10, shakes crowded area

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — An explosion tore through a house in a popular market in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, killing one person and wounding 10, the Palestinian territory’s interior ministry said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion. 

The blast in the Al-Zawiya area collapsed large parts of the house and damaged dozens of buildings and shops nearby, according to the statement. Explosives engineering teams were investigating; civil defense teams and the police were able to control the ensuing fire.

The blast shook the neighborhood on the third day of Eid al-Adha, a Muslim holiday.

The Israeli army signaled it wasn’t involved, calling the explosion an “internal” matter in Gaza.

Gaza City is already struggling with heavy damage sustained from an 11-day war in May between Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers. At least 254 people were killed in Gaza during the conflict, including 67 children and 39 women, according to the Gaza health ministry. Hamas has acknowledged the deaths of 80 militants. Twelve civilians, including two children, were killed in Israel, along with one soldier.

The World Bank earlier this month said rebuilding Gaza would cost $485 million, including up to $380 million to repair the physical damage alone.

Small Morning Earthquake Before the Sixth Seal: Revelation 6

Did You Feel It? Small Morning Earthquake Rumbles New Jersey

It was the fourth earthquake to hit the state in the last 12 months

Published June 9, 2021 • Updated on June 9, 2021 at 10:08 am

You may not have noticed it, but there was an actual earthquake in New Jersey on Wednesday morning, 

A magnitude 2.4 quake struck just south of Tuckerton at 7:52 a.m., the U.S. Geological Surveysaid.

The quake was relatively shallow, at a depth of just over 3 miles, and nearly two dozen people noted feeling it in the USGS’s reporting system. The shaking was categorized as “moderate,” with the expectation of only very light damage.

Earthquakes are not necessarily unusual in the state; Wednesday’s temblor was the fourth in the last 12 months, per government data. 

According to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, New Jersey is actually considered overdue for a moderate earthquake, much like the magnitude 5.5 quake that hit in 1884.Copyright NBC New York

Blast outside the Temple Walls kills one person, injures 10: Revelation 11

Blasting in Gaza Strip kills one person, injures 10

An explosion in a market in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Thursday killed one person and injured 10.

The explosion in the Al-Zawiya area caused the collapse of parts of a house and damaged dozens of buildings and shops, said the Palestinian interior ministry as reported by the AP. The cause of the blast is unknown.

The Israel Defense Forces called the explosion an “internal” matter. The blast occurred on the third day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

The World Bank had estimated that reconstruction in Gaza, following the 11-day conflict in mid-May that Hamas instigated by launching rockets into Israel, would cost $485 million.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday that while Israel wants to see a peaceful and prosperous Gaza Strip, the Hamas terror organization that rules it seeks the opposite.

The Russian horn tests new hypersonic nuke: Daniel 7

Russia Tests Hypersonic Zircon Missile
Credit: Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

Russia Tests Hypersonic Zircon Missile

Growing geopolitical rivalries will continue to drive the development of hypersonic and other lethal weapons systems.

Russia has reportedly conducted a successful test launch of a hypersonic cruise missile. Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this week that the new hypersonic missile, Tsirkon (Zircon) was “part of a new generation of missile systems without equal in the world.” The Russian defense ministry in a statement said that the missile was fired from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate in the White Sea and hit a ground target located on the coast of the Barents Sea, more than 350 kilometers away, with the missile travelling at seven times the speed of sound. 

The ministry said that “the tactical and technical characteristics of the Tsirkon missile were confirmed during the tests.” Russia plans to equip its submarines and surface ships with these missiles in the coming years. Even as there are questions about hypersonic missile technology, experts acknowledge that “the combination of speed, maneuverability, and altitude of hypersonic missiles makes them difficult to track and intercept.” 

According to one report, given the speed at which they travel, “the air pressure in front of the weapon forms a plasma cloud as it moves, absorbing radio waves and making it practically invisible to active radar systems.” In addition, the reaction time of even the advanced Aegis-class system is too slow to be able to intercept such missiles. Experts estimate that “it would take fewer than a half-dozen of those missiles to sink even the most advanced American aircraft carrier, such as the USS Gerald R. Ford.”  

In 2018, Putin announced that Russia was developing a series of hypersonic weapons including the Avangard that “could hit almost any point in the world and evade a U.S.-built missile shield.” In 2019, he threatened to use hypersonic missiles to target the U.S. directly if Washington deployed intermediate-range missiles in Europe, after the Trump administration withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Although the U.S. has not yet deployed such missiles in Europe, Russia continues to worry about possible deployments in the future. The U.S. claims that it withdrew from the INF treaty because of Russian cheating. 

Putin has boasted of developing many weapon systems, including the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles and Burevestnik cruise missile, that could evade U.S. missile defense systems. The Zircon missile itself has been tested many times and in October 2020, commenting on one of those tests, Putin claimed that it is a “great event not just in the life of our armed forces but for all of Russia.”  

Some of Russia’s hypersonic missiles are already claimed to be deployed with its armed forces. According to Russian media reports, the government has “deployed two interceptor jets capable of carrying the hyped Kinzhal hypersonic missile for war games in Syria.” Russia’s defense ministry is quoted in the same report as saying that “a pair of MiG-31K aircraft with the ability to use the latest hypersonic missiles from the Kinzhal complex flew from Russian airfields to the Russian airbase Khmeimim in Syria for exercises.”  

Russia is not alone in these efforts. China has been making consistent efforts at developing hypersonic weapons. In 2019, at the military parade on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, China showcased the DF-17 missile for the first time. Even though the U.S. has known about the DF-17 prototype for close to a decade, Mike Griffin, the U.S. undersecretary for research and engineering at the Department of Defense, in 2018 revealed that China had done “20 times as many hypersonic weapons tests as has the United States over the last decade.” Like Russia, China’s pursuit of hypersonic missiles appears to have been spurred by U.S. missile defense developments, which could potentially neutralize the traditional ballistic missiles that Russia and China possess.  

Reacting to Russia’s latest test, NATO in a statement said that it “create[s] a greater risk of escalation and miscalculation.” It added that “Russia’s new hypersonic missiles are highly destabilizing and pose significant risks to security and stability across the Euro-Atlantic area.” The statement also said that the NATO allies remain “committed to respond in measured way to Russia’s growing array of conventional and nuclear-capable missiles,” but clarified that it will not undertake efforts to “mirror what Russia does, but we will maintain credible deterrence and defense, to protect our nations.”  

Growing geopolitical rivalries will continue to drive the development of hypersonic and other lethal weapon systems. With the U.S., Russia, and China all pursuing these technologies, it has already given way to a spiraling arms race. Countries like India and Australia have had to respond as well, albeit at different levels.
Authors

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan
Contributing Author

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

Dr. Rajeswari (Raji) Pillai Rajagopalan is the Director of the Centre for Security, Strategy & Technology (CSST) at the Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.

China’s nuclear horn growing faster than projected: Daniel 7

China’s offensive threat growing faster than projected: US Air Force General

WASHINGTON : China is building up its offensive air capabilities far faster than US military planners expected in their national defence strategy three years ago, an Air Force General said on Wednesday.

In a US Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Planning and Programs Lt. Gen. David Nahom told Congress said, “The threat is accelerating much more than we thought back in 2018,”

Speaking on the issue of Navy and Air Force weapons systems divestments, Nahom said that China was pushing ahead as fast as it could to expand its military power including air combat capabilities.

“China’s actions show a sense of urgency, they see a future that is different from the one that we would want to see and they are taking action to realise that future,” Nahom said.

Their efforts include a massive build of military power and a clear intent to use that military to gain an advantage.”

The US Air Force has said it plans to divest more than 200 aircraft with its fiscal 2022 budget request. According to the US Air Force, they wish to use the cuts to free up USD 1.3 billion to reinvest in their sixth-generation fighter, hypersonic weapons and other emerging technologies.

Earlier this month, the United States had expressed concern about China’s accelerated build-up of its nuclear arsenal after a Washington Post report revealed that Beijing has been constructing more than 100 new missile silos in a desert area located in the western part of the country.

“These reports and other developments suggest that the PRC’s (China) nuclear arsenal will grow more quickly and to a higher level than perhaps previously anticipated,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said when asked about reports that Beijing is building more than 100 nuclear missile silos.

“This build-up is concerning and it raises questions about the PRC’s intents.”

The spokesperson stressed that China’s nuclear buildup reinforces the need for arms control measures and urged Beijing to work together on arms control in order to avoid arms races.

Ties between the US and China continue to deteriorate under the Biden administration and both global powers have clashed over several economic and human rights issues.

Nuclear Nightmare: Why The Pakistani Nuclear Horn Is Cause For Concern

Nuclear Nightmare: Why Pakistan’s Nukes Are Cause For Concern

Here’s What You Need to Know: Experts believe the country’s nuclear stockpile is steadily growing.

Sandwiched between Iran, China, India and Afghanistan, Pakistan lives in a complicated neighborhood with a variety of security issues. One of the nine known states known to have nuclear weapons, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and doctrine are continually evolving to match perceived threats. A nuclear power for decades, Pakistan is now attempting to construct a nuclear triad of its own, making its nuclear arsenal resilient and capable of devastating retaliatory strikes.

Pakistan’s nuclear program goes back to the 1950s, during the early days of its rivalry with India. President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto famously said in 1965, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”

The program became a higher priority after the country’s 1971 defeat at the hands of India, which caused East Pakistan to break away and become Bangladesh. Experts believe the humiliating loss of territory, much more than reports that India was pursuing nuclear weapons, accelerated the Pakistani nuclear program. India tested its first bomb, codenamed “Smiling Buddha,” in May 1974, putting the subcontinent on the road to nuclearization.

Pakistan began the process of accumulating the necessary fuel for nuclear weapons, enriched uranium and plutonium. The country was particularly helped by one A. Q. Khan, a metallurgist working in the West who returned to his home country in 1975 with centrifuge designs and business contacts necessary to begin the enrichment process. Pakistan’s program was assisted by European countries and a clandestine equipment-acquisition program designed to do an end run on nonproliferation efforts. Outside countries eventually dropped out as the true purpose of the program became clear, but the clandestine effort continued.

Exactly when Pakistan had completed its first nuclear device is murky. Former president Benazir Bhutto, Zulfikar Bhutto’s daughter, claimed that her father told her the first device was ready by 1977. A member of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission said design of the bomb was completed in 1978 and the bomb was “cold tested”—stopping short of an actual explosion—in 1983.

Benazir Bhutto later claimed that Pakistan’s bombs were stored disassembled until 1998, when India tested six bombs in a span of three days. Nearly three weeks later, Pakistan conducted a similar rapid-fire testing schedule, setting off five bombs in a single day and a sixth bomb three days later. The first device, estimated at twenty-five to thirty kilotons, may have been a boosted uranium device. The second was estimated at twelve kilotons, and the next three as sub-kiloton devices.

The sixth and final device appears to have also been a twelve-kiloton bomb that was detonated at a different testing range; a U.S. Air Force “Constant Phoenix” nuclear-detection aircraft reportedly detected plutonium afterward. Since Pakistan had been working on a uranium bomb and North Korea—which shared or purchased research with Pakistan through the A. Q. Khan network—had been working on a uranium bomb, some outside observers concluded the sixth test was actually a North Korean test, detonated elsewhere to conceal North Korea’s involvement although. There is no consensus on this conclusion.

Experts believe Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile is steadily growing. In 1998, the stockpile was estimated at five to twenty-five devices, depending on how much enriched uranium each bomb required. Today Pakistan is estimated to have an arsenal of 110 to 130 nuclear bombs. In 2015 the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center estimated Pakistan’s bomb-making capability at twenty devices annually, which on top of the existing stockpile meant Pakistan could quickly become the third-largest nuclear power in the world. Other observers, however, believe Pakistan can only develop another forty to fifty warheads in the near future.

Pakistani nuclear weapons are under control of the military’s Strategic Plans Division, and are primarily stored in Punjab Province, far from the northwest frontier and the Taliban. Ten thousand Pakistani troops and intelligence personnel from the SPD guard the weapons. Pakistan claims that the weapons are only armed by the appropriate code at the last moment, preventing a “rogue nuke” scenario.

Pakistani nuclear doctrine appears to be to deter what it considers an economically, politically and militarily stronger India. The nuclear standoff is exacerbated by the traditional animosity between the two countries, the several wars the two countries have fought, and events such as the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, which were directed by Pakistan. Unlike neighboring India and China, Pakistan does not have a “no first use” doctrine, and reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, particularly low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, to offset India’s advantage in conventional forces.

Pakistan currently has a nuclear “triad” of nuclear delivery systems based on land, in the air and at sea. Islamabad is believed to have modified American-built F-16A fighters and possibly French-made Mirage fighters to deliver nuclear bombs by 1995. Since the fighters would have to penetrate India’s air defense network to deliver their payloads against cities and other targets, Pakistani aircraft would likely be deliver tactical nuclear weapons against battlefield targets.

Land-based delivery systems are in the form of missiles, with many designs based on or influenced by Chinese and North Korean designs. The Hatf series of mobile missiles includes the solid-fueled Hatf-III (180 miles), solid-fueled Hatf-IV (466 miles) and liquid-fueled Hatf V, (766 miles). The CSIS Missile Threat Initiative believes that as of 2014, Hatf VI (1242 miles) is likely in service. Pakistan is also developing a Shaheen III intermediate-range missile capable of striking targets out to 1708 miles, in order to strike the Nicobar and Andaman Islands.

The sea component of Pakistan’s nuclear force consists of the Babur class of cruise missiles. The latest version, Babur-2, looks like most modern cruise missiles, with a bullet-like shape, a cluster of four tiny tail wings and two stubby main wings, all powered by a turbofan or turbojet engine. The cruise missile has a range of 434 miles. Instead of GPS guidance, which could be disabled regionally by the U.S. government, Babur-2 uses older Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) and Digital Scene Matching and Area Co-relation (DSMAC) navigation technology. Babur-2 is deployed on both land and at sea on ships, where they would be more difficult to neutralize. A submarine-launched version, Babur-3, was tested in January 2017 and would be the most survivable of all Pakistani nuclear delivery systems.

Pakistan is clearly developing a robust nuclear capability that can not only deter but fight a nuclear war. It is also dealing with internal security issues that could threaten the integrity of its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan and India are clearly in the midst of a nuclear arms race that could, in relative terms, lead to absurdly high nuclear stockpiles reminiscent of the Cold War. It is clear that an arms-control agreement for the subcontinent is desperately needed.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the DiplomatForeign PolicyWar is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009, he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.

This article first appeared in 2017.

I Image: Reuters

The China Nuclear Horn Threatens Babylon the Great: Daniel

China says US troops would have 'no chance' of stopping an invasion of Taiwan
China says US troops would have ‘no chance’ of stopping an invasion of TaiwanCredit: Alamy

WW3 fears as China boasts US would have ‘no chance’ stopping invasion of Taiwan

8:53 ET,

THERE are fears WW3 could be closer than previously thought after China boasts that the US would have “no chance” of stopping an invasion of Taiwan.

Du Wenlong, a military expert at China’s Military Culture Society, said US efforts to stall a potential military invasion of the island would end in failure.

Two Chinese submarines in the South China Sea
Two Chinese submarines in the South China SeaCredit: Getty – Contributor
President Joe Biden has reaffirmed the US' commitment to Taiwan's national security
President Joe Biden has reaffirmed the US’ commitment to Taiwan’s national securityCredit: AFP

Asked if a potential military strike on Taiwan could be thwarted by the US, Wenlong said his country’s forces would arrive on the island “in a very short amount of time”, effectively giving American troops “no chance to intervene in a Taiwan Strait conflict”.

The warning comes as tensions rise in the seas around China where the US and Japan are reported to have been holding joint military exercises.

The US also recently signed a $2.2bn (£1.8bn) weapons deal with Taipei to beef up its defences, angering Beijing, and has vowed to continue its freedom of navigation tours in the South China Sea.

In response, China is holding a mammoth six-day war games drill some 135 nautical miles north of Taiwan.

China considers the island as one of its own and has previously vowed to invade if it the self-governing statelet declared independence.

Wenlong told China’s state-controlled broadcaster CCTV that “before US forces arrive, we will have completed all our combat tasks” in the event of an invasion.

“The current drills a short distance away [from Taiwan] could be considered a routine exercise, but I think they’re specially targeted [at Taiwan],” Wenlong continued. 

He said the exercises were a “serious warning” to Taiwan to stop military engagements with the US.

President Xi Jinping has pledged a “complete reunification” with Taiwan when he delivered a speech to mark 100 years of the Chinese Communist party.

BOMB THREAT

The war of words continued on Monday when China threatened to nuke Japan if it intervened in any such conflict.

The communist republic said that it would declare “full-scale war” against Japan – mere days before the Olympics are set to kick off in Tokyo – if the Taiwan disagreement escalates.

Any invasion would represent a serious escalation of hostilities and could drag in the US through its pact to defend Taiwan.

Washington’s regional allies such as South Korea, Japan and Australia could also be sucked into a conflict as would Nato forces such as the UK because the US is a member of the alliance.

But a video channel, allegedly approved by the Chinese Communist Party with close ties to the People’s Liberation Army, took the anger to the next level.

In the new video now deleted, a narrator said: “We will use nuclear bombs first. We will use nuclear bombs continuously.

“We will do this until Japan declares unconditional surrender for the second time.”

“When we liberate Taiwan, if Japan dares to intervene by force – even if it only deploys one soldier, one plane or one ship – we will not only return fire but also wage full-scale war against Japan itself.”

Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso said his troops would “defend Taiwan, under our alliance with the US”.

WAR OF WORDS

The latest military drills comes as the US continues to conduct freedom of navigation operations in the region.

Last week, China claims it “drove away” a US warship that “illegally” entered disputed waters as its military accused Joe Biden of “provocative actions”.

The USS Benfold entered contested waters in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands on Monday – which Beijing claims as its territory.

The southern theatre of command of the People’s Liberation Army says the destroyer entered the area without China’s approval, violating its sovereignty and undermining the stability of the South China Sea.

“We urge the United States to immediately stop such provocative actions,” it said in a statement.

It comes five years after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled that China had no historic claim over the South China Sea – which Beijing said it would ignore.

The islands are claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam, which require either permission or advance notification before a military vessel passes through.

OPERATION INVADE TAIWAN

An article in China’s state-controlled publication has offered a glimpse of a terrifying three-stage plan to invade Taiwan.

The first stage would see DF-16 short-range ballistic missile attacks pulverising airports, early warning radar, anti-air missile bases, and command centres across the island.

The article states: “The attacks against Taiwan’s airports would continue until [Chinese] surface troops had accomplished an assault landing.”

Following this China’s H-6 bombers and J-16 fighter jets would attack naval ports, although the facilities would not be “completely destroyed” so the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) could use them for a landing.

In the second stage, the article states YJ-91 and CJ-10 cruise missiles would be unleashed from land, warships and submarines. 

Military bases, ammunition depots, communications infrastructure and key road junctions would be crippled.

Drones would then be dispatched to assess the damage.

Chinese President and party leader Xi Jinping delivers a speech where he vowed to 'reunify' Taiwan with the 'motherland'
Chinese President and party leader Xi Jinping delivers a speech where he vowed to ‘reunify’ Taiwan with the ‘motherland’Credit: AP
China plans a three-pronged attack on Taiwan
China plans a three-pronged attack on Taiwan

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Finally, the article said warships and land-based rocket forces would wipe-out any remaining obstacles so the military’s marine corps and amphibious landing troops would safely land. 

This was the second time the publication has outlined a scenario for an attack on Taiwan.

Last year it detailed how an assault on the island’s defence systems could occur to coincide with the start of the independence-leaning president Tsai Ing-wen’s second term.