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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.

The Renewed Risk of the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8 )

East Coast Earthquake Preparedness

By By BEN NUCKOLS

Posted: 08/25/2011 8:43 am EDT

WASHINGTON — There were cracks in the Washington Monument and broken capstones at the National Cathedral. In the District of Columbia suburbs, some people stayed in shelters because of structural concerns at their apartment buildings.

A day after the East Coast’s strongest earthquake in 67 years, inspectors assessed the damage and found that most problems were minor. But the shaking raised questions about whether this part of the country, with its older architecture and inexperience with seismic activity, is prepared for a truly powerful quake.

The 5.8 magnitude quake felt from Georgia north to Canada prompted swift inspections of many structures Wednesday, including bridges and nuclear plants. An accurate damage estimate could take weeks, if not longer. And many people will not be covered by insurance.

In a small Virginia city near the epicenter, the entire downtown business district was closed. School was canceled for two weeks to give engineers time to check out cracks in several buildings.

At the 555-foot Washington Monument, inspectors found several cracks in the pyramidion – the section at the top of the obelisk where it begins narrowing to a point.

A 4-foot crack was discovered Tuesday during a visual inspection by helicopter. It cannot be seen from the ground. Late Wednesday, the National Park Service announced that structural engineers had found several additional cracks inside the top of the monument.

Carol Johnson, a park service spokeswoman, could not say how many cracks were found but said three or four of them were “significant.” Two structural engineering firms that specialize in assessing earthquake damage were being brought in to conduct a more thorough inspection on Thursday.

The monument, by far the tallest structure in the nation’s capital, was to remain closed indefinitely, and Johnson said the additional cracks mean repairs are likely to take longer. It has never been damaged by a natural disaster, including earthquakes in Virginia in 1897 and New York in 1944.

Tourists arrived at the monument Wednesday morning only to find out they couldn’t get near it. A temporary fence was erected in a wide circle about 120 feet from the flags that surround its base. Walkways were blocked by metal barriers manned by security guards.

“Is it really closed?” a man asked the clerk at the site’s bookstore.

“It’s really closed,” said the clerk, Erin Nolan. Advance tickets were available for purchase, but she cautioned against buying them because it’s not clear when the monument will open.

“This is pretty much all I’m going to be doing today,” Nolan said.

Tuesday’s quake was centered about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, 90 miles south of Washington and 3.7 miles underground. In the nearby town of Mineral, Va., Michael Leman knew his Main Street Plumbing & Electrical Supply business would need – at best – serious and expensive repairs.

At worst, it could be condemned. The facade had become detached from the rest of the building, and daylight was visible through a 4- to 6-inch gap that opened between the front wall and ceiling.

“We’re definitely going to open back up,” Leman said. “I’ve got people’s jobs to look out for.”

Leman said he is insured, but some property owners might not be so lucky.

The Insurance Information Institute said earthquakes are not covered under standard U.S. homeowners or business insurance policies, although supplemental coverage is usually available.

The institute says coverage for other damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage from burst gas or water pipes, is provided by standard homeowners and business insurance policies in most states. Cars and other vehicles with comprehensive insurance would also be protected.

The U.S. Geological Survey classified the quake as Alert Level Orange, the second-most serious category on its four-level scale. Earthquakes in that range lead to estimated losses between $100 million and $1 billion.

In Culpeper, Va., about 35 miles from the epicenter, walls had buckled at the old sanctuary at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which was constructed in 1821 and drew worshippers including Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. Heavy stone ornaments atop a pillar at the gate were shaken to the ground. A chimney from the old Culpeper Baptist Church built in 1894 also tumbled down.

At the Washington National Cathedral, spokesman Richard Weinberg said the building’s overall structure remains sound and damage was limited to “decorative elements.”

Massive stones atop three of the four spires on the building’s central tower broke off, crashing onto the roof. At least one of the spires is teetering badly, and cracks have appeared in some flying buttresses.

Repairs were expected to cost millions of dollars – an expense not covered by insurance.

“Every single portion of the exterior is carved by hand, so everything broken off is a piece of art,” Weinberg said. “It’s not just the labor, but the artistry of replicating what was once there.”

The building will remain closed as a precaution. Services to dedicate the memorial honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were moved.

Other major cities along the East Coast that felt the shaking tried to gauge the risk from another quake.

A few hours after briefly evacuating New York City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city’s newer buildings could withstand a more serious earthquake. But, he added, questions remain about the older buildings that are common in a metropolis founded hundreds of years ago.

“We think that the design standards of today are sufficient against any eventuality,” he said. But “there are questions always about some very old buildings. … Fortunately those tend to be low buildings, so there’s not great danger.”

An earthquake similar to the one in Virginia could do billions of dollars of damage if it were centered in New York, said Barbara Nadel, an architect who specializes in securing buildings against natural disasters and terrorism.

The city’s 49-page seismic code requires builders to prepare for significant shifting of the earth. High-rises must be built with certain kinds of bracing, and they must be able to safely sway at least somewhat to accommodate for wind and even shaking from the ground, Nadel said.

Buildings constructed in Boston in recent decades had to follow stringent codes comparable to anything in California, said Vernon Woodworth, an architect and faculty member at the Boston Architectural College. New construction on older structures also must meet tough standards to withstand severe tremors, he said.

It’s a different story with the city’s older buildings. The 18th- and 19th-century structures in Boston’s Back Bay, for instance, were often built on fill, which can liquefy in a strong quake, Woodworth said. Still, there just aren’t many strong quakes in New England.

The last time the Boston area saw a quake as powerful as the one that hit Virginia on Tuesday was in 1755, off Cape Ann, to the north. A repeat of that quake would likely cause deaths, Woodworth said. Still, the quakes are so infrequent that it’s difficult to weigh the risks versus the costs of enacting tougher building standards regionally, he said.

People in several of the affected states won’t have much time to reflect before confronting another potential emergency. Hurricane Irene is approaching the East Coast and could skirt the Mid-Atlantic region by the weekend and make landfall in New England after that.

In North Carolina, officials were inspecting an aging bridge that is a vital evacuation route for people escaping the coastal barrier islands as the storm approaches.

Speaking at an earthquake briefing Wednesday, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray inadvertently mixed up his disasters.

“Everyone knows, obviously, that we had a hurricane,” he said before realizing his mistake.

“Hurricane,” he repeated sheepishly as reporters and staffers burst into laughter. “I’m getting ahead of myself!”

___

Associated Press writers Sam Hananel in Washington; Alex Dominguez in Baltimore; Bob Lewis in Mineral, Va.; Samantha Gross in New York City; and Jay Lindsay in Boston contributed to this report.

The Renewed Risk of the First Nuclear War (Revelaiton 8 )

Trinity (nuclear test) - Wikipedia

COLUMN: Renewed nuclear danger

July 16 of this year marks the 75th anniversary of the first nuclear bomb detonation. I don’t foresee any dancing in the street to mark the occasion. In fact, I imagine your nightly newscast will ignore it entirely. Oh, we’ll probably hear something about Hiroshima three weeks later. That first use of the weapon in malice has more historic significance. The two bombs dropped on Japan resulted in 214,000 deaths by the end of 1945.

Frankly, I’m mystified that we hear so little about the threat of nuclear war today considering how consequential such an event would be. It’s a danger far more clear and present than an errant asteroid, or an eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera. Currently, we’re all agog about the novel coronavirus. We’ve lived with a nuclear Sword of Damocles hanging over our collective head for 75 years now, and we tend to think we experienced real danger of thermonuclear war for a period of only 13 days back in 1962. We survived that physically unscathed; that’s probably it for one lifetime, right?

The post-World War II arms race has seen 2,056 nuclear test detonations by at least eight nations; more than half of that total (1,030) were American. The United States has not conducted a nuclear test since 1992, when a bipartisan congressional majority mandated a nine-month testing moratorium. In 1996, the United States was the first to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which verifiably prohibits all nuclear test explosions of any yield. Today, the CTBT has 184 signatories and almost universal support. But it hasn’t formally entered into force due to the failure of the United States, China, Egypt, Iran and Israel to ratify the agreement; and by India, Pakistan and North Korea, which have neither signed nor ratified the measure.

This leaves the door to renewed testing open.According to a May 22 article in The Washington Post, senior national security officials discussed the option of a demonstration of nuclear air detonation at a May 15 interagency meeting. A senior official told the Post that a “rapid test” by the United States could prove useful from a negotiating standpoint as the Trump administration tries to pressure Russia and China to engage in talks on a new arms-control agreement.

Making matters worse, in a party-line vote last month, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) to authorize $10 million specifically for a nuclear test if so ordered by President Trump. Such a test could be conducted underground in just a few months at the former Nevada Test Site outside Las Vegas. This pro-testing contingent of senators is informally known as the Dr. Strangelove Caucus.

The push to restart nuclear weapons testing is happening at a time when tensions between the United States and Russia have stepped up provocative movesin airborne “show of force” demonstrations that can turn hazardous when combat aircraft come nail-bitingly close to each other. The danger expands exponentially when the aircraft involved are nuclear-capable, and when the operations are staged in militarily sensitive areas, such as a first-time U.S. B-1B bomber flight May 21 over the Sea of Okhotsk; or a May 29 flight by two B-1B bombers across Ukrainian-controlled airspace for the first time, coming close to Russian-controlled airspace over Crimea.

Not wanting to be left out of the merriment, Russia conducted a March 12 flight of two nuclear-capable Tu-160 “Blackjack” bombers over Atlantic waters near Scotland, Ireland and France from its base on the Kola Peninsula in Russia’s far north, prompting France and the United Kingdom to scramble interceptor aircraft. In conducting these operations, U.S. and Russian military leaders appear to be delivering two messages to their counterparts. First, despite any perceived reductions in military readiness caused by the coronavirus pandemic, they are fully prepared to conduct all-out combat operations against the other. Second, any such engagements could include a nuclear component at an early stage of the fighting.

Although receiving precious little media attention in the U.S. and international press, these maneuvers represent a dangerous escalation of U.S.-Russian military interactions and could set the stage for a dangerous incident involving armed combat between aircraft of the opposing sides. This by itself could precipitate a major crisis and possible escalation. Just as worrisome are the strategic implications of these operations, suggesting a commitment to the early use of nuclear weapons in future major-power engagements.

The U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command has long since supplanted the Strategic Air Command in its function as our nuclear war delivery system. Its commander, Gen. Timothy Ray, has said, “We have the capability and capacity to provide long-range fires anywhere, anytime, and can bring overwhelming firepower, even during the pandemic.” It really doesn’t matter whether those words reassure or horrify you; the eventual outcome of merely holding weapons of nearly limitless lethality is written in stone.

Sources: Arms Control Association Newsletter, July/August 2020; The Washington Post, May 22, 2020; and JanesDefenseWeekly.com, July 5, 2020.

Gerry Dionne is a writer, musician and coffee-table philosopher who moved to our area when he was 18. He’s in his 70s now, so y’all give him a break.

China’s New Dangerous Nuclear Policy (Daniel 7)

China Rejects US Nuclear Talks Invitation as Beijing Adds to Its Arsenal | Voice o America – English

The report said that nuclear weapons are joining the other issues — including trade deals and 5G — that Trump has put at the center of a series of U.S.-China standoffs. 

General Robert P. Ashley, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said last year that “the resurgence of great power competition is a geopolitical reality.” According to a speech posted on the agency’s website, Ashley said China launched more ballistic missiles for testing and training than the rest of the world combined in 2018, and over the next decade, China is likely to at least double the size of its nuclear stockpile in the course of implementing the most rapid expansion and diversification of its nuclear arsenal in China’s history. 

In Beijing, Washington’s foreign policy choices are increasingly being seen as aggressive and aimed at containing China. They say Chinese officials may see the country’s nuclear weapons program as one way to respond.   

“If left unaddressed, this issue would continue fueling China’s anxiety about its nuclear deterrent and seriously disrupting the stability of the bilateral nuclear relationship,” Tong Zhao, a senior fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing, wrote on June 29. He said this comes “at a time when the world’s existing arms control institutions are falling apart and there are public voices within China calling for massive Chinese nuclear expansion.” 

One of the calls for more weapons came from Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of Global Times. Hu argued in a recent Weibo post that “China needs to expand the number of its nuclear warheads to 1,000 in a relatively short time and procure at least 100 DF-41 strategic missiles.” 

Last October, China had a massive military parade that displayed some of the country’s most advanced military equipment, including a supersonic drone, hypersonic missile and a robot submarine. But the huge intercontinental-range DF-41 ballistic missile took center stage in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. 

Touted as the most powerful missile on the planet in China, the DF-41 is capable of carrying 10 independently targeted nuclear warheads and could theoretically hit the continental United States in 30 minutes, according to the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  

Russia’s New Dangerous Nuclear Policy (Daniel 7)

Russia names new circumstances for deploying nuclear weapons

JUL 13, 2020

Science & Tech

Russia’s nuclear policy remains “defensive.” However, a number of new conditions have been set for when a strike can be delivered.

In mid-June 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the “Fundamentals of Russia’s Nuclear Deterrence State Policy.” The document identifies all cases permitting the use of nuclear weapons. Notably, this is the first time that the text of Russia’s nuclear doctrine has been made publicly available.

“Russia sees nuclear weapons solely as a deterrent and an emergency measure. The country is striving to reduce the nuclear threat and prevent the aggravation of international relations that could provoke military conflicts, including nuclear ones,” reads the doctrine.

At the same time, a number of scenarios have been identified in which Russia could deploy nuclear weapons.

First, this pertains to the “build-up of general forces, including nuclear weapons delivery vehicles, in territories adjacent to the Russian Federation and its allies, and in adjacent offshore areas.”

Second, the “deployment of anti-ballistic missile defense systems and facilities, medium- and shorter-range cruise and ballistic missiles, precision non-nuclear and hypersonic weapons, strike drones, and directed-energy weapons by states that consider the Russian Federation to be a potential adversary.”

Third, the “creation and deployment in space of anti-ballistic missile defense facilities and strike systems.”

Fourth, the “possession by countries of nuclear weapons and (or) other types of weapons of mass destruction able to be used against the Russian Federation and (or) its allies, as well as the means to deliver them.”

Fifth, the “uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear weapons, their means of delivery, and technologies and equipment for their manufacture.”

And sixth, the “deployment of nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles in non-nuclear states.”

Moscow also sets forth additional situations in which it is ready to take “extreme measures.”

Among them is the “receipt of reliable information about the launch of ballistic missiles attacking the territory of Russia and (or) its allies,” as well as the “enemy deployment of nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction against Russia and (or) its allies.”

Furthermore, the command to deploy nuclear weapons will be given in the event of an “enemy attack on critical state and military facilities of the Russian Federation which, if incapacitated, would disrupt a nuclear response,” as well as “aggression using conventional weapons that threatens the existence of the Russian state.”

The new document is the quintessence of everything that President Putin and the country’s military leadership have spoken about in recent years.

“Everything contained in fragments from isolated speeches is now reflected in the national security strategy. We are openly talking about our intentions so that the West doesn’t hit on the idea that Russia is ‘escalating [the international conflict] in order to de-escalate it,’” Viktor Murakhovsky, editor-in-chief of Arsenal of the Fatherland magazine, told Russia Beyond.

According to Murakhovsky, Russia’s publication of its nuclear policy is an attempt to nudge its partners into extending the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-3), which expires in a year, whereupon Russia and the United States will be free to expand their nuclear arsenals without restriction.

Currently, both Russia and the United States have limited their nuclear arsenals to 1,550 nuclear warheads and 700 carriers (intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine ballistic missiles, heavy bombers).

What nuclear missiles does Russia have

According to the website “Strategic Nuclear Weapons of Russia,” the following missiles are currently in service:

• 46 R-36M2 (SS-18) heavy missiles

• 2 Avangard complexes (UR-100NUTTH, SS-19 Mod 4 missiles)

• 45 Topol (SS-25) mobile ground complexes

• 60 Topol-M (SS-27) silo-based complexes

• 18 Topol-M (SS-27) mobile complexes

• 135 mobile and 14 silo-based complexes with RS-24 Yars missiles

Of these, the R-36M2 and Topol are due to be decommissioned and replaced by the latest Yars (to be sited in the silos of the previous occupants and on trucks) and by the heavy Sarmat ICBM.

Nations Unite For War Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Hamas calls for Hezbollah and Ansar Allah to ‘unite the ranks’ against Israel

By Joe Truzman | July 13, 2020 | Joe.Truzman@longwarjournal.org | @Jtruzmah

Credit: Abid Katib/Getty

In a letter delivered to Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and Ansar Allah’s political bureau, Hamas’ politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh appealed to Axis of Resistance members for support against Israel’s planned annexation of certain areas of the West Bank.

In a report published by Hezbollah’s media relations department, the official representative of Hamas in Lebanon, Dr. Ahmed Abdel Hadi, recently met with Hezbollah’s Hassan Huballah to deliver a letter to Hassan Nasrallah.

In the letter, Haniyeh referred to the “dangers facing the Palestinian cause and the region as a result of these plans [annexation], and to unite the ranks and efforts to address these risks.”

The meeting between the two delegations also addressed the “latest situation in Palestine and the region” including the “Palestinian situation in Lebanon,” the report stated.

In a second letter sent to Ansar Allah’s political bureau, Haniyeh also appealed for support to resist the “dangerous Zionist escalation against the Palestinian people, their lands, rights, sanctities and efforts to annex the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley to the criminal Zionist entity.”

In response, Ansar Allah affirmed its support for the “resistance against the occupation.”

Additionally, the group reiterated its offer of exchanging Saudi prisoners of war for members of Hamas currently serving jail sentences in Saudi Arabia.

“An initiative has been presented by the leader, Abdul Malik Badr al Din al Houthi, may God protect him, regarding mujahideen prisoners of Hamas in the prisons of the Saudi regime, and our readiness to exchange them for a Saudi pilot and a number of other Saudi soldiers,” Ansar Allah stated.

Hamas is aware it is unlikely able to stop Israel from annexing areas of the West Bank, but it can make the process difficult to implement by launching acts of terrorism.

Reaching out to both Hezbollah and Ansar Allah for support adds some pressure on Israel by creating the impression that a coalition of militant groups have united against its plans for annexation.

As previously covered in FDD’s Long War Journal, it is likely Palestinian militant groups will react militarily if Israel goes through with annexation. However, the involvement of Hezbollah, Ansar Allah or any other group outside of the Palestinian territories is unlikely. Hezbollah is in the midst of an economic crisis in Lebanon and Ansar Allah is involved in its own conflict with Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

As long as Israel’s decision remains tentative regarding annexation, Axis of Resistance members will likely continue their words of endorsement for Hamas’ conflict against Israel but ultimately won’t amount to much more than a symbolic gesture of support.

Joe Truzman is a contributor to FDD’s Long War Journal.

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Pompeo’s Flimsy Case Against the Iranian Nuclear Horn

Pompeo’s Flimsy Case For Extending The Arms Embargo On Iran

As part of its continued “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, the Trump administration is pushing to extend a UN arms embargo on the Islamic Republic that is set to expire in October. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently presented the UN Security Council with a list of grievances against Iran, a list full of unsubstantiated claims and half-truths. And like most things Washington accuses Tehran of, the U.S. and its allies in the region are guilty of similar or worse offenses.

The arms embargo on Iran will expire under terms agreed to in the 2015 nuclear deal, an agreement the U.S. withdrew from in 2018 when it reimposed sanctions on Iran. “Because of the flawed nuclear deal negotiated by the previous American administration, the arms embargo on the world’s most heinous terrorist regime is scheduled to expire on October 18th, a mere four months from now,” Pompeo said to the UN Security Council on June 30th.

Pompeo went on to list attacks on U.S. forces and allies in the region that he claimed Iran was behind, either directly or indirectly. “In January, Iran launched an attack on the coalition forces in Iraq with its own advanced missiles,” Pompeo said referring to Iran’s attack on bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops, retaliation for the assassination of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani – crucial context the secretary left out of his remarks.

Pompeo also mentioned Iran’s support for Kataib Hezbollah, a Shia militia that is frequently blamed for attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq. “Iran, even as we sit here today, supplies Shia militia groups like Kata’ib Hizballah – groups which have launched dozens of rocket attacks since the fall of last year against U.S. and coalition forces fighting the important continued important campaign against Daesh,” Pompeo said.

Like most accusations Pompeo makes, no evidence has been presented to corroborate the claim that Kataib Hezbollah was behind rocket attacks against U.S. forces. The series of events that led up to the assassination of Soleimani was sparked by a rocket attack that killed a U.S. contractor in Kirkuk, Iraq, which was blamed on Kataib Hezbollah.

A report from The New York Times revealed that Iraqi intelligence believes the attack in Kirkuk was more likely carried out by ISIS. Abu Ali al-Basri, Iraq’s head of intelligence and counterterrorism, told the Times that the U.S. did not share any information about the Kirkuk attack. “They did not ask for my analysis of what happened in Kirkuk and neither did they share any of their information,” he said. “Usually, they would do both.”

After a rocket attack on Camp Taji in Iraq killed two American soldiers and one British soldier in March, the U.S. pinned the blame on Khataib Hezbollah and bombed targets said to be weapons facilities belonging to the Shia group. The U.S. bombing killed five members of Iraq’s security forces and one civilian. Shortly after the bombing, a new group called the League of Revolutionaries emerged and took credit for the Camp Taji attack. The League also threatened future attacks on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, a frequent target for lone rockets. Many groups inside Iraq want U.S. troops out of their country, including Iraq’s parliament, who voted unanimously in favor of expelling the occupation forces after the killing of Soleimani.

Kataib Hezbollah is part of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU), a group of about 40 Iraqi-state sponsored militias. The PMU was formed in 2014 to fight ISIS and played a crucial role in driving the radical militants out of major cities like Mosul and Fallujah. The drone strike that killed Soleimani on January 3rd also killed Abu Mahdi Al-Mohandes, the commander of the PMU.

In the Spring of 2019, multiple attacks on oil tankers anchored in the Gulf of Oman were blamed on Iran by Pompeo and other Trump administration officials. These claims were never corroborated, the best the U.S. could do was release photos of the damaged ships, and a grainy black and white video of a small boat alongside one of the tankers, nothing even remotely conclusive. This lack of evidence does not stop Pompeo from repeating the allegation that Iran was behind the sabotaged oil tankers as fact. “Iran unleashes ship-mining attacks on commercial vessels in the Gulf of Oman, as it did in May and June of last year,” Pompeo told the Security Council.

Pompeo also accused Iran of being behind the September 2019 attack against Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure that severely damaged the Kingdom’s oil production. Yemen’s Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack, but Pompeo was eager to pin it on his favorite boogeyman. The day the news broke, the top diplomat immediately blamed Iran, ignoring the brutal war the Saudis have been waging against the Houthis.

Despite claims to the contrary in the wake of the attack, the Saudi oil facilities struck in September are in the range of the Houthis drones. The Houthis drone technology rapidly improved over the past few years, and the group has successfully launched many attacks deep inside Saudi territory.

The UN secretary-general released a report in June that discusses the Houthis attack on Saudi oil facilities. The report says, based on the analysis of debris recovered from sights of the September 2019, and debris recovered from other attacks that occurred in 2019, “the Secretariat assessed that the cruise missiles and/or parts thereof used in the four attacks were of Iranian origin.”

Pompeo cited this report in his remarks to the Security Council and said the report “confirmed that weapons used to attack Saudi Arabia in September 2019 were of Iranian origin.” The goalposts shifted with allegations against Iran concerning this attack. Initially, the Trump administration claimed satellite photos showed the attack came from the direction of Iran. Now it seems they have settled on the idea that Iran provided the Houthis with the weapons.

Despite the claims from Pompeo and the UN, it is not clear if Iran directly provided the weapons used in the September attack to the Houthis. A story from the U.S. Embassy in Georgia about the Iranian embargo says the UN report confirmed the weapons were of Iranian origin based on a “U.S. fact sheet.” Some analysts believe the Houthis might build their drones based on Iranian designs and blueprints, which would explain why the UN found similarities between the debris and weapons made in Iran.

The report also went over weapons seized off the coast of Yemen that were said to be of “Iranian origin,” something Pompeo mentioned at the Security Council meeting. Most recently, Pompeo claimed the U.S. seized a vessel off the coast of Yemen that was carrying weapons from Iran on June 28th. Iran denied the charge and said Washington is just looking for an excuse to extend the arms embargo. While Iran openly supports the Houthis politically, they repeatedly deny sending weapons to the Zaydi Shia group, and the U.S.-Saudi blockade on Yemen would make it difficult to do so.

It is not clear how far Tehran’s support for the Houthis goes, but what is clear is Washington’s support for the Saudi-led coalition, the other party to the conflict in Yemen, and the one with the most civilian blood on its hands. Since 2015 the Saudis, along with the UAE and other Gulf allies, have mercilessly bombed Yemen in an effort to oust the Houthis and reinstate President Hadi. Support for the war has been a bipartisan effort, as it was started with the blessing of the Obama administration and eagerly continued by the Trump administration.

Experts agree, if the U.S. ended its support for the Saudi-led coalition, the war would quickly come to an end. But no matter how dire the situation gets on the ground for Yemenis, Washington continues its support for the Saudi’s under the guise of combating “Iranian influence,” even though the Houthi movement is entirely homegrown. Zaydi Shia Imams ruled the areas of North Yemen that the Zaydi Shia Houthis now control for over 1,000 years until 1962 — but these details are lost on Washington.

One of the most egregious Saudi airstrikes took place in Yemen in August 2018, when a coalition plane struck a school bus with a U.S.-made bomb, killing 40 children and 11 adults. This horrific attack did not phase Mike Pompeo, who told Congress a month later that the coalition was taking “demonstratable” action to minimize civilian casualties. Pompeo’s statement ensured U.S. support for the coalition would continue.

And for all Pompeo’s talk of Iran being a “terrorist regime,” it is actually the U.S. weapons sold to Saudi Arabia and the UAE that end up in the hands of al-Qaeda in Yemen. In fact, the Houthis were previously an ally of Washington in its fight against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. A Wall Street Journal report from January 2015 (the Saudi war on the Houthis started in March 2015) lays it all out. “The U.S. has formed ties with Houthi rebels who seized control of Yemen’s capital, White House officials and rebel commanders said, in the clearest indication of a shift in the U.S. approach there as it seeks to maintain its fight against a key branch of al Qaeda,” the report reads.

Another belligerent ally of Washington, which prefers to wage war more covertly than the Saudis, has been ramping up tensions with Iran. Besides regularly bombing what is dubbed as “Iranian targets” in Syria, it appears Israel may be behind a recent string of explosions and fires in Iran. An intelligence source told The New York Times that Israel planted a bomb in the Natanz nuclear facility resulting in a blast that severely damaged the facility. Some experts believe a cyberattack caused the explosion, a method the U.S. and Israel have used together to attack the Islamic Republic in 2010 with the Stuxnet virus.

Pompeo’s appeal to the Security Council will likely fail since Russia and China can veto the motion. Pompeo has argued the U.S. can impose “snapback” sanctions on Iran under conditions of the nuclear deal, but other signatories have pointed out that the U.S. can not enforce an agreement that it has already violated.

Whatever happens with the arms embargo, Pompeo will continue to hurl accusations at Iran. But whenever America’s top diplomat gets up to speak, it would be wise to keep in mind a rather candid admission he made last year in front of an audience at Texas A&M University. “When I was a cadet, what’s the cadet motto at West Point? You will not lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate those who do. I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. We had entire training courses.”

Dave DeCamp is the assistant news editor of Antiwar.com and is based in Brooklyn, NY. Follow him on Twitter @decampdave.

Bullying The Iranian Nuclear Horn

Guardian: “Bullying” By Israel and US Is Forcing Iran to Pursue Nuclear Weapon

Emanuel MillerJuly 13, 2020

Over the last few weeks, a series of unexplained blasts and fires across a range of military, nuclear and industrial facilities throughout Iran have caught the attention of the world media. With so much at stake, and with a “Middle Eastern intelligence official” telling two American newspapers that Israel was behind the blast at Iran’s main nuclear fuel enrichment facility in Natanz, it seems highly probable that Israel was behind at least some of the destruction.

But instead of focusing on the very real threat of Iran achieving nuclear power, a recent op-ed by Simon Tisdall, foreign affairs commentator for The Guardian, characterises the latest sequence of events as “bullying” in a July 12 op-ed entitled, “Sabotage, sanctions and the bullying of Iran is bound to backfire on the west” and even managed to blame the West for Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

While most understand that the prospect of a nuclear Iran is one the world cannot accept, Tisdall chooses to focus not on Iran’s slow, relentless march to the bomb, but on the response of countries compelled to act of genuine concern that one of the most repressive regimes on the planet may be on the way to gaining access to the most terrible weapon known to humanity.

As the suggestion that Iran is being ‘bullied’ wasn’t bad enough, Tisdall goes on to claim that measures taken against Iran are the real cause of Iran’s nuclear obsession:

The problem for Trump and fellow bully-boys Netanyahu and the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is that their toxic recipe isn’t working. In truth, the very opposite of what they supposedly want is happening… Iran, which has always maintained it does not want nuclear weapons, is now moving closer to acquiring a weapons manufacturing capability as a direct consequence of US bad faith.“

You read that right. Tisdall not only credulously, uncritically cites Iran’s claims that “it does not want nuclear weapons,” but then goes on to blame America’s “bad faith” for the fact that Iran is inching closer to acquiring nuclear weapons.

Speaking of Israel’s purported strikes against Iranian infrastructure, Tisdall disparagingly refers to possible American knowledge of the attack as “connivance,” and uncritically quotes an Iranian spokesman who warned, “The method Israel is using is dangerous, and it could spread to anywhere in the world.”

Of course, this is a regime that has spread its very own dangerous “methods” far and wide in the Middle East, establishing proxy militias to fight in and control swathes of Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Gaza and Syria.

At one point, Tisdall gives some background, explaining that “Both the US and Israel regard Iran’s missile programme as a threat.”

Very true. But that sentence is woefully incomplete. So too does Saudi Arabia.

In fact, the Arab angle is almost entirely missing from this article – the specter of the rise of an nuclear Iran has Saudi and much of the Sunni Middle East extremely concerned, to the point that old foes have become new allies in a united front against Iran.

The convenient exclusion of Saudia Arabia serves to cast opposition to Iran as an outgrowth of the “Western imperialism” that the Guardian so loves to castigate.

“A political clean sweep beckons for those in Iran who, like their hardline American and Israeli counterparts, prefer confrontation to common sense.”

This ties in with a common media misrepresentation of Benjamin Netanyahu as a warmonger. In reality, even staunch critics in Israel recognize the truth that, far from seeking “confrontation,” Netanyahu is a risk-averse leader who has repeatedly declined to go to war.

The extent of Tisdall’s willingness to attack the West is laid clear in the juxtaposition of two sentences: In one, he euphemistically refers to Iran’s funding and arming of militias across the Middle East as mere “harmful meddling in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.” In the next, he thunders that it “It is Trump, not the mullahs, who almost started a war by assassinating Revolutionary Guards general Qassem Suleimani in January – an extrajudicial killing the UN says was unlawful.”

If Tisdall regards Israeli and American leaders as “hardliners,”  then how should the leaders of repressive Iran, a theocratic country which regularly brutalizes its own population, be described? Surely something more extreme?

Not according to Tisdall.

As far as he’s concerned, President Hassan Rouhani and foreign minister Javad Zarif are simply “pro-western reformists and moderates.” This is the same Rouhani who appointed Moustafa Pour-Mohammadi as Justice Minister. Pour-Mohammadi was dubbed “minister of murder” by Human Rights Watch, because he was responsible for Iran’s mass execution of political prisoners in the 1980s. This is the same Javad Sarif who in 2006 refused to acknowledge that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust.

“Reformists” and “moderates” are, it seems, very relative terms. While the two may not be as extreme as others, they are far from truly pro-Western, and merely more diplomatic in promoting the Iranian drive to dominate the Middle East.

Iran’s 18-year long pursuit of nuclear weapons is well-documented. It has ploughed millions into developing centrifuges; built an array of research and enrichment facilities; employed hundreds, if not thousands, of scientists and other workers; and defied international pressure – all in the name of securing nuclear power.

While Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful, the international community has made clear it neither trusts nor believes Iran, with a group of world powers known as the P5+1 securing a deal in 2015 that saw tough economic sanctions lifted after Iran agreed to restrict certain nuclear development and permit international inspectors to enter the country.

For years, Israel remained suspicious, and in 2018, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went public with evidence procured from Iran that showed it had duped the international nuclear inspectors and cheated the agreement. Months later, the Trump administration announced that it would pull out of the deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions. In response, Iran has ramped up its nuclear development to ever-higher levels, sparking concerns of hostilities.

So, just to be clear: Iran is one of, if not the single greatest state sponsor of terrorism on the planet. Its network of proxies reach into Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, and threaten to bring instability to the entire Middle East, and beyond. It has developed a fearsome obsession with Israel, holding events such as missile exhibitions displaying rockets marked with the phrase “Israel must be wiped off the map,” and the wildly offensive “International Holocaust Cartoon Competition.”

All of the above should serve to make abundantly clear that Iran is an international pariah which has long been single-minded in its pursuit of achieving nuclear power. Since 2002, Iran has worked relentlessly to develop nuclear capabilities with the aim of eventually attaining nuclear weapons, a threat so serious that it has led to the rise of alliances between Israel and multiple Sunni states, united in concern at the specter of the rise of a nuclear Iran.

But to read Tisdall’s column, readers would be forgiven for having cause and effect reversed, and thinking that the Iranians’ drive for the bomb is a reaction to Western interference.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Sanctions Will Not Stop The Iranian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:4)

Imam Khamenei: U.S. admits failure of sanctions against Iran

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The Speaker and MPs of the 11th Islamic Consultative Assembly met with Imam Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, via video conferencing on Sunday, July 12, 2020.

In this meeting, Imam Khamenei highlighted the strength and defensive power of the country and reiterated that the enemies – headed by the malicious US government – have admitted the defeat of the sanctions against Iran.

Describing the economic problems of Iran as a “disease,” His Eminence stated, “Considering its strength and defensive power, the country certainly possesses the capability to overcome this disease. This is a fact that has been acknowledged by the enemies who have failed to achieve their goals against Iran despite having imposed the harshest sanctions and exerting all-out pressure.”

He stressed the necessity for unity in facing the massive front of the enemies, and added, “Today, the front of the enemy, whose most malicious, brazen element is the US government, has used all its political, economic and propagandist power to bring the strong Iranian nation to its knees.”

Elsewhere in his statements, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution stated that the participation of an acceptable number of people in the parliamentary elections is a sign of the people’s hopefulness and their expectation that the problems will be solved. Addressing the MPs, he said, “You should appreciate the value of these circumstances.”

Imam Khamenei explained that the spiritual resources of the people, which are rooted in their religious and revolutionary faith, complements their natural, geographical and historic capacities and added, “These spiritual resources should receive due attention and be put to good use considering the fact that they are a very important factor.”

His Eminence referred to “the people’s timely and selfless participation in confronting the first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic,” “their valuable services in the movement to help underprivileged families” and “their glorious and shining presence in the ceremony for the burial of General Soleimani” as instances of the Iranian nation’s spiritual resources. He stated, “The people disappoint the enemy in every move they make against the Islamic Republic. Can anyone imagine a capability and capacity higher than this for a country?”

At the end of his statements, Imam Khamenei described the resurgence of the Coronavirus and the death of a fairly large number of those who have become infected as “truly saddening.” He thanked the medical professionals throughout the country for their brilliant performance and for the sacrifices they have made until today.

NYC earthquake risk: the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

NYC earthquake risk: Could Staten Island be heavily impacted?

By Ann Marie Barron

Updated May 16, 4:31 AM; Posted May 16, 4:00 AM

Rubble litters Main Street after an earthquake struck Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in Napa, Calif. A report by the U.S. Geological Survey outlines the differences between the effect of an earthquake in the West vs. one in the East. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – While scientists say it’s impossible to predict when or if an earthquake will occur in New York City, they say that smaller structures — like Staten Island’s bounty of single-family homes — will suffer more than skyscrapers if it does happen.

„Earthquakes in the East tend to cause higher-frequency shaking — faster back-and-forth motion — compared to similar events in the West,“ according to a report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), published on its website recently „Shorter structures are more susceptible to damage during fast shaking, whereas taller structures are more susceptible during slow shaking.“

DIFFERENCES IN INTENSITY

The report, „East vs West Coast Earthquakes,“ explains how USGS scientists are researching factors that influence regional differences in the intensity and effects of earthquakes, and notes that earthquakes in the East are often felt at more than twice the distance of earthquakes in the West.

Predicting when they will occur is more difficult, said Thomas Pratt, a research geophysicist and the central and Eastern U.S. coordinator for the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program in Reston, Va.

„One of the problems in the East Coast is that we don’t have a history to study,“ he said. „In order to get an idea, we have to have had several cycles of these things. The way we know about them in California is we dig around in the mud and we see evidence of past earthquakes.“

Yet Pratt wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a high-magnitude event taking place in New York, which sits in the middle the North American Tectonic Plate, considered by experts to be quite stable.

„We never know,“ he said. „One could come tomorrow. On the other hand, it could be another 300 years. We don’t understand why earthquakes happen (here) at all.“

Though the city’s last observable earthquake occurred on Oct. 27, 2001, and caused no real damage, New York has been hit by two Magnitude 5 earthquakes in its history – in 1738 and in 1884 — prompting many to say it is „due“ for another.

While earthquakes generally have to be Magnitude 6 or higher to be considered „large,“ by experts, „a Magnitude 5, directly under New York City, would shake it quite strongly,“ Pratt said.

The reason has to do with the rock beneath our feet, the USGS report says.

OLDER ROCKS

In the East, we have older rocks, some of which formed „hundreds of millions of years before those in the West,“ the report says. Since the faults in the rocks have had so much time to heal, the seismic waves travel more efficiently through them when an earthquake occurs.

„Rocks in the East are like a granite countertop and rocks in the West are much softer,“ Pratt said. „Take a granite countertop and hit it and it’ll transmit energy well. In the West, it’s like a sponge. The  energy gets absorbed.“

If a large, Magnitude 7 earthquake does occur, smaller structures, and older structures in Manhattan would be most vulnerable, Pratt said. „In the 1920s, ’30s and late 1800s, they were not built with earthquake resistance,“ he said, noting that newer skyscrapers were built to survive hurricanes, so would be more resistant.

When discussing earthquake prediction and probability, Pratt uses the analogy of a baseball player who averages a home run every 10 times at bat and hasn’t hit one in the past nine games: „When he’s up at bat, will he hit a home run? You just don’t know.“

And though it would probably take a magnitude of 7 to topple buildings in the city, smaller earthquakes are still quite dangerous, he said.

„Bookshelves could fall down and hit you,“ he said. „People could be killed.“ A lot of stone work and heavy objects fell from buildings when a quake of 5.8 magnitude struck central Virginia in 2011, he noted, but, fortunately, no one was injured.

To be safe, Pratt encourages New Yorkers to keep a few days‘ worth of drinking water and other supplies on hand. He, himself, avoids putting heavy things up high.

„It always gets me nervous when I go into a restaurant that has heavy objects high on shelves,“ he said. „It’s unlikely you’ll get an earthquake. But, we just don’t know.“

Sabotage of the Iranian Nuclear Horn

Natanz blast looks like traditional sabotage.

By the CyberWire staff

An explosion and fire at Iran’s Natanz uranium processing center on July 2nd was initially reported, by Iranian sources and others, to have been caused or facilitated by a cyberattack, but the incident looks increasingly more like an instance of traditional sabotage. The Washington Post cites an anonymous “Middle Eastern security official” as saying the damage was caused by a bomb placed in the facility, and that the operation was an Israeli effort to “send a message” that would deter Iran from accelerating its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Israeli Foreign Minister Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Gantz issued soft denials of Israel’s involvement, according to the Jerusalem Post, with Gantz stating, “Not every incident that transpires in Iran necessarily has something to do with us.”

The Jerusalem Post says the blast appears to have destroyed nearly three-quarters of the facility’s centrifuge assembly hall. Simon Henderson from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, writing in The Hill, explained that the site is no longer suitable for the assembly of the IR-2m centrifuges necessary to enrich uranium that can be used in nuclear weapons. Henderson added that “from Israel’s point of view, the likelihood of Iran obtaining enough highly-enriched uranium for its first nuclear weapon has been delayed by months, perhaps even years.”