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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.

Israel Fights Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

5Israel Launches Broad Air Assault in Gaza Following Border Violence

An explosion from an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Friday.CreditBashar Taleb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

JERUSALEM — Israeli warplanes launched a large-scale attack across the Gaza Strip on Friday, one of the fiercest in years, after a Palestinian sniper killed an Israeli soldier along the border fence during a day of escalating hostilities.

Successive explosions rocked Gaza City at nightfall and the streets emptied as warplanes struck dozens of sites that Israel said belonged to the military wing of Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza.

Israeli security experts said the aerial assault was one of the most intense since a cease-fire ended 50 days of fighting in the territory in 2014. The ferocity of the bombings raised fears that the hostilities could spiral into a war, though analysts said neither side seemed eager to have an all-out conflict.

Indeed, after 1 a.m., about seven hours into the Israeli assault, a Hamas spokesman announced that the cease-fire had been restored with the mediation of Egypt and the United Nations. There was no immediate confirmation of a renewed truce from the Israeli side.

 

Israeli officials have denied reaching new truce agreements with Hamas after recent rounds of violence, but they have sometimes said that Israel would respond to calm with calm. There were no signs that Israel was poised for an imminent ground invasion.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and his defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, spent hours at military headquarters in Tel Aviv on Friday night holding emergency meetings with top officials, a highly unusual event for the start of Sabbath.

At least four Palestinians were killed by initial Israeli artillery and tank fire and in the subsequent airstrikes. Hamas said that three of the four were members of its military wing.

On the Israeli side of the border, the local authorities instructed residents to remain close to bomb shelters as they braced for possible retaliatory rocket fire from Gaza. The military this week placed batteries of its Iron Dome defense system in several locations in central Israel. But there was no immediate rocket bombardment from Gaza, signaling that Hamas may have decided to step back.

Nickolay E. Mladenov, the United Nations special coordinator in the Middle East, had urged the actors in Gaza “to step back from the brink” in a strongly worded post on Twitter on Friday night. “Not next week. Not tomorrow. Right NOW!” he wrote. “Those who want to provoke #Palestinians and #Israelis into another war must not succeed.”

Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, the chief spokesman for the Israeli military, blamed Hamas for escalating tensions over the past three and a half months, since the beginning of the Hamas-orchestrated mass protests along the border fence.

Speaking on Israeli television after 8 p.m., during the main evening news broadcast, General Manelis said the Israeli air assault would continue for several hours and would be “very severe.”

“We’re prepared for a broad array of scenarios and possibilities,” he said, adding, “We are determined to restore security and the sense of security to the Gaza periphery.”

By midnight, about six hours into the attack, the military said it had struck about 60 targets, many of them around three Hamas battalion headquarters in northern, southern and central Gaza. The military said the targets included weapons stores, command-and-control rooms, observation posts and a drone warehouse. Expecting Israeli retaliation for the death of the soldier, the Hamas forces had evacuated their posts ahead of time.

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Tear gas canisters fired by Israeli soldiers landed amid protesters in southern Gaza on Friday.CreditSaid Khatib/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, another Israeli military spokesman, said it was the first time since 2014 that Israel had “taken out” active battalion headquarters. The Israeli soldier who was killed, he noted, was the first to have died in combat in the Gaza border area in the past four years.

This latest flare-up comes after months of tensions fanned by the often-violent protests along the fence dividing Israel and Gaza, during which Israeli snipers have killed more than 140 mostly unarmed Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials. The military says it has been acting to prevent breaches of the fence and to fend off attacks by Gaza militants, like the one that occurred on Friday.

The protests have since evolved into escalating exchanges of Palestinian mortar and rocket fire against Israeli positions and civilian border communities, and waves of Israeli airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza.

Israelis’ nerves have also been frayed by a plague of wildfires set by flaming kites and balloons launched from Gaza into southern Israel, which have charred large tracts of woodland and farmland. One flaming balloon landed in the yard of an Israeli kindergarten this week. It caused no damage or injuries.

Nevertheless, there has been increasing talk of war in recent days, with Israeli leaders warning Hamas that they would not tolerate a continuation of the arson attacks.

The friction had already led to two recent bursts of conflict, which ended with hurried efforts by Egypt to restore the cease-fire. In one such episode last weekend, two Palestinian youths were killed in an Israeli airstrike on an otherwise empty shell of a building used by Hamas as a training site, and four Israelis were wounded as more than 100 mortar shells and rockets were launched from Gaza.

Israel and Hamas had seemed determined to deter each other from further action. Fawzi Barhoum, the Hamas spokesman, said on Friday that “bombing will be met with bombing, and sniping will be met by sniping.” Hamas vowed to avenge the death of one of its militants on Thursday from Israeli shelling in Rafah in southern Gaza.

Ehud Yaari, an Israeli television analyst and a fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Hamas was “interested in maintaining a controlled level of confrontation with Israel” to press its broader demands for assistance for Gaza, an impoverished and isolated coastal enclave.

The armed, low-intensity skirmishes between Hamas and Israel in recent weeks were intended by both sides not to kill, Mr. Yaari said. “It got out of hand, igniting this cycle,” he added.

Mr. Yaari said Israel’s next moves would largely depend on Hamas. If Hamas did not unleash heavy barrages of rocket fire, he said, there was a good chance that the current confrontation would be contained.

Israel has other military priorities for now, with tensions growing in the north. President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are poised to regain control of the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, and oust rebel insurgents from the areas just beyond Israel’s northern frontier.

Still, Hamas has become increasingly frustrated. Israel has been using new technologies to systematically destroy Hamas’s network of tunnels beneath the fence, one of its main military assets and one in which it has invested heavily.

And instead of the fence protests pressuring Israel to ease its tight control of the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza, Israel has clamped down with even harsher economic sanctions.

Mr. Barhoum, the Hamas spokesman, had said earlier on Friday that the marches on the border would continue, aimed at breaking the Israeli blockade.

“Our people won’t be broken,” he said, “no matter what the sacrifices.”

Iyad Abuheweila and Ibrahim El-Mughraby contributed reporting from Gaza City.

New York Subways at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

How vulnerable are NYC’s underwater subway tunnels to flooding?

Ashley Fetters

New York City is full of peculiar phenomena—rickety fire escapes; 100-year-old subway tunnels; air conditioners propped perilously into window frames—that can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest city denizen. But should they? Every month, writer Ashley Fetters will be exploring—and debunking—these New York-specific fears, letting you know what you should actually worry about, and what anxieties you can simply let slip away.

The 25-minute subway commute from Crown Heights to the Financial District on the 2/3 line is, in my experience, a surprisingly peaceful start to the workday—save for one 3,100-foot stretch between the Clark Street and Wall Street stations, where for three minutes I sit wondering what the probability is that I will soon die a torturous, claustrophobic drowning death right here in this subway car.

The Clark Street Tunnel, opened in 1916, is one of approximately a dozen tunnels that escort MTA passengers from one borough to the next underwater—and just about all of them, with the exception of the 1989 addition of the 63rd Street F train tunnel, were constructed between 1900 and 1936.

Each day, thousands of New Yorkers venture across the East River and back again through these tubes buried deep in the riverbed, some of which are nearing or even past their 100th birthdays. Are they wrong to ponder their own mortality while picturing one of these watery catacombs suddenly springing a leak?

Mostly yes, they are, says Michael Horodniceanu, the former president of MTA Capital Construction and current principal of Urban Advisory Group. First, it’s important to remember that the subway tunnel is built under the riverbed, not just in the river—so what immediately surrounds the tunnel isn’t water but some 25 feet of soil. “There’s a lot of dirt on top of it,” Horodniceanu says. “It’s well into the bed of the bottom of the channel.”

And second, as Angus Kress Gillespie, author of Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, points out, New York’s underwater subway tunnels are designed to withstand some leaking. And withstand it they do: Pumps placed below the floor of the tunnel, he says, are always running, always diverting water seepage into the sewers. (Horodniceanu says the amount of water these pumps divert into the sewer system each day numbers in the thousands of gallons.)

Additionally, MTA crews routinely repair the grouting and caulking, and often inject a substance into the walls that creates a waterproof membrane outside the tunnel—which keeps water out of the tunnel and relieves any water pressure acting on its walls. New tunnels, Horodniceanu points out, are even built with an outside waterproofing membrane that works like an umbrella: Water goes around it, it falls to the sides, and then it gets channeled into a pumping station and pumped out.

Of course, the classic New York nightmare scenario isn’t just a cute little trickle finding its way in. The anxiety daydream usually involves something sinister, or seismic. The good news, however, is that while an earthquake or explosion would indeed be bad for many reasons, it likely wouldn’t result in the frantic flooding horror scene that plays out in some commuters’ imaginations.

Horodniceanu assures me that tunnels built more recently are “built to withstand a seismic event.” The older tunnels, however—like, um, the Clark Street Tunnel—“were not seismically retrofitted, let me put it that way,” Horodniceanu says. “But the way they were built is in such a way that I do not believe an earthquake would affect them.” They aren’t deep enough in the ground, anyway, he says, to be too intensely affected by a seismic event. (The MTA did not respond to a request for comment.)

One of the only real threats to tunnel infrastructure, Horodniceanu adds, is extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused flooding in the tunnels, which “created problems with the infrastructure.” He continues, “The tunnels have to be rebuilt as a result of saltwater corroding the infrastructure.”

Still, he points out, hurricanes don’t exactly happen with no warning. So while Hurricane Sandy did cause major trauma to the tunnels, train traffic could be stopped with ample time to keep passengers out of harm’s way. In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed all the MTA’s mass transit services to shut down at 7 p.m. the night before Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit New York City.

And Gillespie, for his part, doubts even an explosion would result in sudden, dangerous flooding. A subway tunnel is not a closed system, he points out; it’s like a pipe that’s open at both ends. “The force of a blast would go forwards and backwards out the exit,” he says.

So the subway-train version of that terrifying Holland Tunnel flood scene in Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight is … unrealistic, right?

“Yeah,” Gillespie laughs. “Yeah. It is.”

Got a weird New York anxiety that you want explored? E-mail tips@curbed.com, and we may include it in a future column.

Iran Refuses to Deal with the Donald (Daniel 8:4)

 

President Donald Trump asked to meet with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani numerous times during the U.N. General Assembly session in New York last year, the Iranian leader’s chief of staff claims.

“Trump asked the Iranian delegation eight times to have a meeting with the president,” Mahmoud Vaezi told reporters, Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported Thursday.

In October, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said that the Trump administration had requested a meeting but that the Iranian delegation had refused, according to the news agency. However, the alleged insistence by the Trump administration to hold a face-to-face sit-down was not previously reported.

Responding a request for comment, the U.S. delegation to the U.N. referred Newsweek to the White House. The White House and the State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Vaezi said that Iran maintains a “clear position” with respect to the U.S. He added that the current Iranian administration and the Iranian people “will not yield to pressure.” The presidential aide also took a dig at North Korea, saying that “Trump should know that Iran and its people are different from” the Asian nation.

Trump has long been a staunch critic of Iran and frequently condemned the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In May, the president announced that the U.S. would officially withdraw from the agreement, which was signed with Iran and five other world powers. Following Trump’s decision, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promised to implement the “strongest sanctions in history” against Tehran.

Earlier this month, Trump said that he expects Iran will feel the impact of the sanctions and call him to make a new deal. However, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Monday that Trump will have to “initiate” any call himself. Previously, Iran said it would negotiate only with the other signatories.

Some analysts suggest that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has instituted a hard-line policy of no engagement with Washington under the Trump administration. Iranian leaders remain deeply distrustful of Western nations, particularly the U.S. Tensions have increased since Trump’s election, especially following the withdrawal from JCPOA and the president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December.

“The biggest obstacle to a U.S.-Iran dialogue is not Trump but Khamenei,” Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow in the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told The New York Times. “Trump flew halfway around the world to meet with Kim Jong Un. Khamenei hasn’t left Iran since 1989.”

Saeid Golkar, a senior fellow on Iran policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, wrote for Al Jazeera earlier this month and said it would “delegitimize” Khamenei’s “domestic rhetoric” and “push away supporters at home and abroad” if he chose to negotiate directly.

“The U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal was the ultimate proof he needed for his claim that Washington could not be trusted,” Golkar wrote.

One Step Closer to Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

See the source imageAsia’s nuclear nemeses

Author: S Paul Kapur, Naval Postgraduate SchoolOn 3 June 2018, India conducted the sixth test of its Agni V intermediate-range ballistic missile. The launch reportedly brought the weapon one test away from eligibility for induction into India’s Strategic Forces Command. With a range of 5000 kilometres, the nuclear-capable Agni V can strike targets across China — a point that Indian officials and analysts have publicly stressed.

The China-centric nature of the rhetoric surrounding the missile serves as a reminder that although South Asia watchers often focus on India’s rivalry with Pakistan, India’s real strategic competitor is China.

China’s economy and military are far larger than India’s and are growing rapidly. China–India territorial disputes — which triggered the bloody 1962 border war that India lost badly — remain unresolved. The assertive nature of China’s recent regional behaviour suggests to Indian leaders that Beijing may try to settle such disagreements through coercion and fait accompli. If these trends continue, India could find itself economically and militarily outmatched and hard pressed to resist coercive Chinese pressure.

India views nuclear weapons as an important backstop against Chinese power. Despite pledging to maintain only a credible minimum deterrent’, India continues to take steps to improve its nuclear capabilities. These measures include the production of fissile material to expand its nuclear arsenal; development of both ballistic and cruise missiles to deliver nuclear weapons further, faster and with greater accuracy; and pursuit of a full nuclear triad that includes sea-based nuclear weapons to enhance force survivability.

India could also revisit its nuclear doctrine of no first use (NFU) and adopt a more ambiguous stance. Indeed, it has already begun to do. In 2003, India announced that it would consider using nuclear weapons in response not only to a nuclear attack on its territory, but also in the event of a major chemical or biological weapons attack on its territory or in response to a nuclear, chemical or biological weapons attack on its forces anywhere.

Whether India will take further steps in this direction remains to be seen. The incentives to do so will endure and the possibility is a topic of lively debate in Indian strategic circles.

China claims to not view India as a serious strategic competitor and often expresses its disdain for India’s nuclear capabilities. But the pointed commentary in the Chinese press that followed India’s tests of the Agni V, coupled with Beijing’s substantial support for Pakistan’s ballistic missile program, suggest a degree of concern over India’s growing nuclear prowess. China generally does not try to match other countries’ nuclear capabilities tit for tat, but rather seeks simply to ensure that its arsenal is sufficient to avoid nuclear blackmail. With approximately 260 nuclear warheads compared to India’s 120–130, China will likely maintain this capacity against India for some time.

In contrast to China, Pakistan views India as its primary strategic competitor and designs its nuclear force structure in direct response to India’s military posture — even though significant elements of Indian forces like the Agni V are not Pakistan-centric. Pakistan is extremely sensitive to Indian capabilities and relies heavily on nuclear weapons to counter them. Due to Pakistan’s broader strategic shortcomings and inability to maintain military parity with an increasingly powerful India, Islamabad depends on nuclear forces to protect it against both conventional and nuclear Indian threats.

Pakistan is expanding its nuclear capabilities to achieve what it calls ‘full-spectrum deterrence’ that focusses on the development of low-yield ‘battlefield’ nuclear weapons. Pakistan hopes that these smaller weapons will make its nuclear threats more credible and enhance its deterrence capability against India. Pakistan’s move toward full-spectrum deterrence will likely create pressure for India to consider building flexibility into its force structure, potentially through the development of smaller nuclear weapons of its own.

These nuclear developments will pose numerous dangers for South Asia, including possible arms-racing pressures, first-use incentives and challenges regarding the physical custody of nuclear materials, technologies, and weapons. Yet the greatest regional danger stems from Pakistan’s emergent battlefield nuclear capability. By lowering the threshold for nuclear use, Pakistani battlefield weapons increase the likelihood that a conventional India–Pakistan conflict will escalate to the nuclear level. Pakistan’s strategy of employing Islamist militants to help it  wrest control of Kashmir from India makes the eruption of a conventional confrontation — potentially triggered by a third-party non-state actor — a constant possibility.

Efforts to improve this situation will need to focus less on technical fixes and more on political choices. Pakistan will have to decide that its efforts to forcibly acquire Kashmir are not worth the cost or the risk and bring them to an end. Even modest steps in this direction could enable India to lower its military pressure on Pakistan, which could in turn help lessen Pakistan’s reliance on nuclear weapons and its need for Chinese support for its nuclear weapons program. This would help to ease India–Pakistan tensions and mitigate at least one irritant in the China–India strategic relationship.

Pakistan has not wavered in its efforts to acquire Kashmir in the seven decades since its founding and the odds that it will change course now are admittedly slim. But unless it does so, South Asia’s most serious nuclear dangers will remain unabated and Pakistan and the region will continue to court disaster.

S Paul Kapur is a professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, California. He is also an Affiliate at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, and a Visiting Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. The views expressed in this article are his alone, and do not necessarily represent those of the Department of Defense.

Russian nuclear horn flexes her muscle (Daniel 7)

Russia Tests New ‘Invincible’ Missiles as Putin Warns Nuclear Treaty With U.S. Will Expire

By Jason Lemon On 7/19/18 at 11:05 AM

Russia has tested “invincible” hypersonic missiles as President Vladimir Putin warned that a nuclear treaty with the U.S. will expire.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced the missile test, The Moscow Times reported Friday, and also announced that it is gearing up to test “fine-tuned” and “unlimited-range” nuclear-powered cruise missiles. Ahead of his re-election in March, Putin revealed the development of a range of new weapons that would be capable of “circumventing” those of the U.S.

Now the new hypersonic Kinzhal missiles have been tested, showing a significantly increased range from about 1,200 miles to more than 1,800 miles. According to media reports, the hypersonic missiles have been tested at least three times. The Russian Defense Ministry also posted a video of a missile test to Facebook on Thursday.

As for the “unlimited-range” nuclear missiles, the ministry told reporters Friday that “ground tests continue” as preparations are made for aerial tests, according to Russian news agency Tass. The missile is “low-flying,” carries a nuclear warhead and is difficult to observe, the ministry explained. It has “an almost unlimited range, an unpredictable trajectory and [the] capability to bypass interception lines.”

According to the ministry, the weapon “is invincible to all the existing and advanced air and missile defense systems.”

“Launching systems are also being designed, while technological processes to manufacture, assemble and test the missile are being improved. This range of work will make it possible to start designing a totally new sort of weapon—a strategic nuclear complex armed with a nuclear-powered missile,” the ministry also noted.

The announcements come as Putin has warned that the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with the U.S. is set to expire. START I was first signed in July 1991 between the former Soviet Union and the U.S. It entered into force in 1994, aiming to regulate both powers strategic offensive arms through limitations and reduction.

Trump and Putin have said they discussed their countries’ respective nuclear arsenals during a controversial summit in Helsinki on Monday. Following the meeting, the Russian Defense Ministry said it is “ready for practical implementation of the agreements in the sphere of international security,” including START.

However, Trump has faced a wave of backlash following the meeting, with lawmakers across party lines criticizing his actions and statements. In a joint press conference with Putin, the president suggested that he trusts the Russian leader’s assurances over those of U.S. intelligence services. Since then, Trump has walked back from those comments, with the White House insisting that he simply misspoke.

On Thursday morning, Trump once again praised his meeting with the Russian leader, calling it a “great success” in a Twitter post. He blamed the “fake news media” as the “real enemy of the people,” suggesting news outlets misrepresented the summit. “We can start implementing some of the many things discussed, including … nuclear proliferation,” the president tweeted.

Russian and U.S. negotiations over nuclear arsenals also came on the heels of reports suggesting Moscow has moved to upgrade some of its nuclear facilities. Satellite images appear to show that Russia has expanded a storage facility in its Kaliningrad enclave, a document released last month by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) revealed.

Iran Shows Its Nuclear Cards (Daniel 8:4)

Iranian official: ‘We hold possession of 950 tons of uranium’

July 19, 2018 at 5:59 am

Head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi said on Wednesday that his country owns about 950 tons of uranium reserves.

“We currently have between 900 and 950 tons of uranium reserves,” he said during a speech he delivered on Iranian official TV channel in which he talked about his country’s nuclear program.

Salehi pointed out that this amount of uranium is sufficient for the nuclear program of his country in light of its long-term goals.

He equally noted the completion of the construction of a facility to produce the necessary “circulation spare parts” for the production of advanced centrifuges, under the directives of the country’s Supreme Leader  Ali Khamenei.

Salehi said a uranium hexafluoride gas plant was being built at a uranium conversion facility in Isfahan to increase gas reserves used as raw material in centrifuges at the uranium enrichment plant.

He stressed that all these activities are being undertaken in accordance with the P5+1 nuclear deal.

The joint comprehensive action plan signed between Iran, the five permanent member states of the UN Security Council, and Germany in 2015, allows Tehran to continue its uranium enrichment activities by 3.67 per cent.

Iran had been enriching uranium by 20 per cent before signing the deal, from which the United States has recently withdrawn.

It is worth mentioning that uranium should be enriched by 90 per cent to reach the production phase of nuclear weapons.

The Ramapo: The Sixth Seal Fault Line (Revelation 6:12)

Image result for ramapo fault lineThe Ramapo fault and other New York City area faults 

 Map depicting the extent of the Ramapo Fault System in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania

The Ramapo Fault, which marks the western boundary of the Newark rift basin, has been argued to be a major seismically active feature of this region, but it is difficult to discern the extent to which the Ramapo fault (or any other specific mapped fault in the area) might be any more of a source of future earthquakes than any other parts of the region. The Ramapo Fault zone spans more than 185 miles (300 kilometers) in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It is a system of faults between the northern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont areas to the east. This fault is perhaps the best known fault zone in the Mid-Atlantic region, and some small earthquakes have been known to occur in its vicinity. Recently, public knowledge about the fault has increased – especially after the 1970s, when the fault’s proximity to the Indian Point nuclear plant in New York was noticed.

There is insufficient evidence to unequivocally demonstrate any strong correlation of earthquakes in the New York City area with specific faults or other geologic structures in this region. The damaging earthquake affecting New York City in 1884 was probably not associated with the Ramapo fault because the strongest shaking from that earthquake occurred on Long Island (quite far from the trace of the Ramapo fault). The relationship between faults and earthquakes in the New York City area is currently understood to be more complex than any simple association of a specific earthquake with a specific mapped fault.

A 2008 study argued that a magnitude 6 or 7 earthquake might originate from the Ramapo fault zone, which would almost definitely spawn hundreds or even thousands of fatalities and billions of dollars in damage. Studying around 400 earthquakes over the past 300 years, the study also argued that there was an additional fault zone extending from the Ramapo Fault zone into southwestern Connecticut. As can be seen in the above figure of seismicity, earthquakes are scattered throughout this region, with no particular concentration of activity along the Ramapo fault, or along the hypothesized fault zone extending into southwestern Connecticut.

Just off the northern terminus of the Ramapo fault is the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, built between 1956 and 1960 by Consolidated Edison Company. The plant began operating in 1963, and it has been the subject of a controversy over concerns that an earthquake from the Ramapo fault will affect the power plant. Whether or not the Ramapo fault actually does pose a threat to this nuclear power plant remains an open question.

More Killing Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

air strikeReport: One dead, three wounded in IDF strike on Gaza Strip

Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip fired two mortar shells at IDF soldiers who were engaged in operational activity near the security fence.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
July 19, 2018 16:24

Smoke rises following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike in Gaza August 21, 2014.. (photo credit: AHMED ZAKOT / REUTERS)

An IDF aircraft struck a Hamas terror cell in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, the IDF spokesperson confirmed.

The cell was responsible for launching incendiary kites and balloons into Israel.

Palestinian reports also stated that an aircraft attacked balloon launchers east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

According to the Hamas-run Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, one Hamas officer was killed and three individuals were wounded in the strike. The officer killed was Abd al-Karim Reduan, Palestinian sources reported.

The IDF statement affirmed that Israel’s defense forces will continue to act intensively against terror activity led by Hamas.

Later on Thursday, Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip fired two mortar shells at IDF soldiers who were engaged in operational activity near the security fence.

KKL-JNF firefighters positioned near the Gaza Strip reported that fires have broken out in 11 locations in southern Israel on Thursday. Two of them are in the region of Be’eri, and nine others are near Kibbutz Kissufim.

Israel has seen a sharp increase in violence and terrorism in the Gaza Strip in recent weeks, culminating last weekend when over 200 rockets and mortars were launched into Israel, and the IDF dropped over 50 tons of explosives on targets within the coastal enclave.

On Monday evening, Israel limited the movement of goods into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom Crossing, stopping the transfer of fuel and gas supplies but allowing essential medicines and food to pass. The fishing zone in the Gaza Strip was also reduced from a range of six to three nautical miles.

Israel has threatened further action if the incendiary kites and balloons do not stop.

Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad responded by saying that there would be “severe consequences” for tightening the siege on Gaza and that additional pressure on the coastal enclave would lead the region to “an explosion.”

Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.

The Antichrist Supports the People (Revelation 13)

 

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose political bloc won Iraq’s May 12 election, called on all politicians to delay efforts to form a new government until the demands of protesters seeking better services in the south are met.

FILE PHOTO: Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who’s bloc came first, meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who’s political bloc came third in a May parliamentary election, in Najaf, Iraq June 23, 2018. REUTERS/Alaa al-Marjani

 

“The winning political parties in the election have to suspend all political dialogues for forming coalitions and until they meet protesters’ rightful demands,” Sadr tweeted, in his first public comments on unrest which has swept the south.

Sadr won the election by promising to alleviate poverty, create jobs and provide better services to Iraqis, many of whom have grown tired of a political elite they see as corrupt.

Thousands have protested in cities in the long neglected south, Iraq’s Shi’ite heartland.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is seeking another term, has said his Shi’ite-led government would provide funding for water and electricity in the oil hub of Basra and others parts of the south.

Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Alison Williams

 

 

Why Nuclear War Will Begin In Asia (Revelation 8)

 

The three main nuclear players of Asia, China, India and Pakistan, have established a “triangular” dilemma due to their security concerns.

This is manifested through the development of advanced conventional and nuclear weapon forces. China is pursuing a military modernisation program to counter the US in the Asia-Pacific region, whereas India’s development of sophisticated strategic forces is aimed towards China and Pakistan. Their acquisition and development of such deterrents of conventional and nuclear forces is a matter of concern for Pakistan and Chinese security planners. In response, it is inevitable for Pakistan to take measures for its security and safety.

Such dynamics have helped establish a multifaceted security trilemma between the three Asian nuclear weapon states, due to which induction and introduction of any technology in conventional and strategic forces of one state is a matter of security concern for other state. This is expressed through India’s offensive policies in pursuit of global power projection, and such dynamics have the ability to disturb the deterrence equilibrium and strategic stability of the region. In this regard, the recent test launch of Agni V demonstrates that India aims to establish credible strategic forces against China, which would not justify its claim of taking a ‘minimalist’ approach against Pakistan.

Trends in India’s missile testing and acquisition in nuclear technologies demonstrates that India is largely supported in its quest of strategic forces modernisation by the states, including United States, France, Russia and other European states. In the SIPRI report of 2018, India is ranked as the largest arms importer of the world and its technological transfer and foreign acquisitions are running in parallel with its motivation to increase the range, payload, reliability and accuracy of missiles, ICBMs, MIRVs, SLBMs and development of space program.

The United States is supporting India’s military developments for its own strategic, economic, political and military goals for the strategic landscape of Asia. Since the US is supporting India as a Great power in South Asia, India has been attempting to prove its conventional and nuclear credentials. Therefore, such aspirations demand from India to obtain more resilient and disastrous military muscles. Therefore, India’s missile inventory, especially the canister launch of Indian ICBM Agni-V, has played a key role in soothing India’s self-image of a regional power and strategic objective of US. Moreover, its operational launch has the ability to increase security dilemma in South Asia, as well as in the whole region, as its range makes its capable of reaching neighbouring states Pakistan and China, as well as the Asian continent as a whole, along with parts of Europe and Africa.

The range of the Agni V is 5,500-5,800 KM and it is capable of carrying a 1,500 kg warhead

On January 18, 2018 first “Pre-induction” successful test of Agni-V was conducted. Agni V is a three stages, solid fuelled, intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The range of the Agni V is 5,500-5,800 KM and it is capable of carrying a warhead of 1,500 Kg. Later in June 2018, the canister-launch test of Agni V was carried out. The canister-launch version of the missile enables the quick transport of the missile and provides the capability to launch it anywhere. Canister launch of the Agni-V will lower the nuclear threshold in the region and increase the crisis instability. Consequently, according to the report, India is working to incorporate MIRVs technology with Agni V for its credible second-strike capability.

The objective of the first three nuclear missiles (Agni-I, Agni II, Agni III) was to counter Pakistan, whereas the other missiles of the series (Agni-IV, Agni-V) are capable of targeting China, due to their increased ranges. The successful canister launch test of Agni V demonstrates that the nuclear capable missile will soon be inducted into Indian Strategic nuclear command. The Canister-launch of the Agni-V will reduce launch times, and pairing it with MIRV technology will have a destabilising effect on the deterrence and strategic balance of Asia. The induction and introduction of operation ready Agni-V will have serious repercussions for geostrategic landscape of the region.

India’s latest developments and missile proliferation indicates the country’s shift to acquire more offensive capabilities. Presently, their focus is on increasing the range of its missiles and shift from liquid to solid fuelled missiles, to enhance the level of readiness, and tri-service operation, of nuclear-tipped missile. These developments are providing pre-emptive capabilities to the nation that is inconsistent with their  nuclear posture of “Credible Minimum Deterrence”. India’s offensive, conventional and missile capabilities deterrence stability negatively influence the security architecture of the region. Therefore, canister launch of Agni-V; marked by advance range, accuracy, payload and higher level of readiness has not only worsened the security dilemma and instability in the region but it is also threatening its’ neighbouring states with its military build-up.

The writer is currently working as Research Associate at Strategic Vision Institute and can be reached at asmaakhalid_90@hotmail.com

Published in Daily Times, July 19th 2018.