The Upcoming “Regional” Nuclear War (Revelation 9)

Are India and Pakistan heading for a nuclear showdown?

If there is no radical change in India-Pakistan relations, a nuclear exchange in South Asia is only a matter of time.

03 Mar 2016 09:05 GMT
The INS Kursura, which was decommissioned in 2001 after 31 years service, on display as a part of the INS Kurusura Submarine Museum, in Visakhapatnam, near Hyderabad [AFP]
The INS Kursura, which was decommissioned in 2001 after 31 years service, on display as a part of the INS Kurusura Submarine Museum, in Visakhapatnam, near Hyderabad [AFP]
Tom Hussain is a journalist and Pakistan affairs analyst based in Islamabad.
 

For the past few years, global diplomacy has been obsessed with preventing the spread of nuclear weapon ownership. Iran has been forced to deactivate its uranium-enrichment centrifuges after UN Security Council sanctions pummelled its economy into crisis.

Similar sanctions are now being brought to bear against North Korea, because of its absolute refusal to commit to giving up its fledgling nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programme. Indeed, the five permanent Security Council members, despite their many differences, have made a point of working together to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Or so it might seem, from the headlines. Almost unnoticed by the global media, the Indian subcontinent is on the verge of establishing itself as the indisputably most dangerous strategic theatre in the world.

Already bristling with about 200 warheads, divided more-or-less equally between India and Pakistan, the theatre had been limited to “single-strike” capacity, because both sides were reliant on land-based missiles and warplanes to deliver nuclear warheads. 

Strategic stalemate

Technological capabilities being roughly equal, a strategic stalemate of mutually assured destruction has prevailed since the two countries conducted tit-for-tat nuclear weapons tests in May 1998.

When these are conducted, very soon, India will possess, for the first time, a platform that would survive a land-based nuclear exchange and give it “second-strike” capability. India has not yet mastered submarine-launched ballistic missile technology, but rapid advancesin its land-based programme over the past two years indicate that it soon would.

Very soon, India will possess, for the first time, a platform that would survive a land-based nuclear exchange and give it ‘second-strike’ capability.

Naturally, Pakistan wants to re-balance the strategic equation and has asked China, its closest ally, for the technology to reproduce its Jin class of “boomer”. 

China hasn’t yet agreed, but considering the two countries’ close defence ties and common history of antagonism with India, Pakistan is likely to get what it wants, in due course. 

Of course, that assumes Pakistan has not already modified its French submarines to be able to launch ballistic missiles, like it had the US-built F-16 warplanes procured in the 1980s.

Territorial disputes

Thus South Asia is being transformed into a strategic theatre containing three nuclear powers, each with second-strike capability, sharing common borders. Their relationships are definable, largely, by the territorial disputes that have caused wars in which India has been pitted either against China or Pakistan. 

And in the case of India versus Pakistan, there have been six conflicts, two of which qualified as outright wars: that’s an average of one for each of the seven decades since the two countries attained independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

Their attitudes and behaviour towards each other have not changed since the May 1998 tests, either. Within a year, General Pervez Musharraf, then Pakistani army chief of staff, infiltrated mixed units of regular troops and jihadis into the Indian-administered part of the Himalayas, sparking the so-called Kargil War.

An Indian official walks inside the INS Kursura, on display as a part of the INS Kurusura Submarine Museum, in Visakhapatnam, near Hyderabad [AFP]

He did so without the knowledge of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, but still had the audacity to ask the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) to provide air cover when the Indians fought back. 

“You are not the prime minister and I don’t take orders from you,” was the response he got, the PAF chief of staff at the time, Air Chief Marshal Pervez Mehdi Qureshi, told me at a book-launching in Islamabad, shortly before his retirement in 2000. Had Mehdi agreed, the conflict would have escalated.

The two countries came close to war again in 2002, after Pakistani jihadists attacked India’s parliament, prompting the deployment of about one million troops along the border.
Musharraf, by then Pakistan’s military ruler, wilted under immense pressure from the US, which had just invaded Afghanistan.

Cold Start’ doctrine

India has since muddied the waters by talking up a military doctrine called “Cold Start”, whereby it would invade and seize a parcel of Pakistani territory, big enough to be useful as political leverage in negotiations, but small enough not to provoke nuclear retaliation.

That baby was thrown out with the bathwater in 2013, when Pakistan started testing battlefield nuclear devices that could be detonated over such an India-held parcel of Pakistani territory.That is reflective of the mindset the two countries share. Indians and Pakistanis, while essentially the same people divided by a line on a map, have been brought up on a rich diet of hate-inciting propaganda that casts the other as evil, inferior and deserving of subjugation, if not elimination.
In fact, the governments of India and Pakistan have never sought to educate their citizens about the dangers of a nuclear exchange or, for that matter, developed any infrastructure such as fall-out shelters. Thus the nuclear arsenal of either country, generally speaking, is publicly seen as cause for celebration, rather than an existential threat.

Unless there is a highly improbable radical change in diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan, history suggests that a nuclear exchange in South Asia is merely a matter of time.

Tom Hussain is a journalist and Pakistan affairs analyst based in Islamabad.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Conclusion to Economic Consequences of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:15)

Scenario Earthquakes for Urban Areas Along the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States: Conclusions

NYCEM.org
New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation


The current efforts in the eastern U.S., including New York City, to start the enforcement of seismic building codes for new constructions are important first steps in the right direction. Similarly, the emerging efforts to include seismic rehabilitation strategies in the generally needed overhaul of the cities’ aged infrastructures such as bridges, water, sewer, power and transportation is commendable and needs to be pursued with diligence and persistence. But at the current pace of new construction replacing older buildings and lifelines, it will take many decades or a century before a major fraction of the stock of built assets will become seismically more resilient than the current inventory is. For some time, this leaves society exposed to very high seismic risks. The only consolation is that seismicity on average is low, and, hence with some luck, the earthquakes will not outpace any ongoing efforts to make eastern cities more earthquake resilient gradually. Nevertheless, M = 5 to M = 6 earthquakes at distances of tens of km must be considered a credible risk at almost any time for cities like Boston, New York or Philadelphia. M = 7 events, while possible, are much less likely; and in many respects, even if building codes will have affected the resilience of a future improved building stock, M = 7 events would cause virtually unmanageable situations. Given these bleak prospects, it will be necessary to focus on crucial elements such as maintaining access to cities by strengthening critical bridges, improving the structural and nonstructural performance of hospitals, and having a nationally supported plan how to assist a devastated region in case of a truly severe earthquake. No realistic and coordinated planning of this sort exists at this time for most eastern cities.

The current efforts by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) via the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) to provide a standard methodology (RMS, 1994) and planning tools for making systematic, computerized loss estimates for annualized probabilistic calculations as well as for individual scenario events, is commendable. But these new tools provide only a shell with little regional data content. What is needed are the detailed data bases on inventory of buildings and lifelines with their locally specific seismic fragility properties. Similar data are needed for hospitals, shelters, firehouses, police stations and other emergency service providers. Moreover, the soil and rock conditions which control the shaking and soil liquefaction properties for any given event, need to be systematically compiled into Geographical Information System (GIS) data bases so they can be combined with the inventory of built assets for quantitative loss and impact estimates. Even under the best of conceivable funding conditions, it will take years before such data bases can be established so they will be sufficiently reliable and detailed to perform realistic and credible loss scenarios. Without such planning tools, society will remain in the dark as to what it may encounter from a future major eastern earthquake. Given these uncertainties, and despite them, both the public and private sector must develop at least some basic concepts for contingency plans. For instance, the New York City financial service industry, from banks to the stock and bond markets and beyond, ought to consider operational contingency planning, first in terms of strengthening their operational facilities, but also for temporary backup operations until operations in the designated facilities can return to some measure of normalcy. The Federal Reserve in its oversight function for this industry needs to take a hard look at this situation.

A society, whose economy depends increasingly so crucially on rapid exchange of vast quantities of information must become concerned with strengthening its communication facilities together with the facilities into which the information is channeled. In principle, the availability of satellite communication (especially if self-powered) with direct up and down links, provides here an opportunity that is potentially a great advantage over distributed buried networks. Distributed networks for transportation, power, gas, water, sewer and cabled communication will be expensive to harden (or restore after an event).

In all future instances of major capital spending on buildings and urban infrastructures, the incorporation of seismically resilient design principles at all stages of realization will be the most effective way to reduce society’s exposure to high seismic risks. To achieve this, all levels of government need to utilize legislative and regulatory options; insurance industries need to build economic incentives for seismic safety features into their insurance policy offerings; and the private sector, through trade and professional organizations’ planning efforts, needs to develop a healthy self-protective stand. Also, the insurance industry needs to invest more aggressively into broadly based research activities with the objective to quantify the seismic hazards, the exposed assets and their seismic fragilities much more accurately than currently possible. Only together these combined measures may first help to quantify and then reduce our currently untenably large seismic risk exposures in the virtually unprepared eastern cities. Given the low-probability/high-impact situation in this part of the country, seismic safety planning needs to be woven into both the regular capital spending and daily operational procedures. Without it we must be prepared to see little progress. Unless we succeed to build seismic safety considerations into everyday decision making as a normal procedure of doing business, society will lose the race against the unstoppable forces of nature. While we never can entirely win this race, we can succeed in converting unmitigated catastrophes into manageable disasters, or better, tolerable natural events.

ISIS And The Upcoming Dirty Bomb (Daniel 8:4)

Assessing the risk of an ISIS “dirty bomb” 
by Ian Armstrong , March 3, 2016

ISIS’ potential acquisition of radioactive material generates a potential scenario in which the Sunni extremist group may try to produce and use a “dirty bomb”.

Over the past two weeks, radioactive material stolen from a facility in Iraq has reinvigorated fears regarding the capacity for ISIS to obtain nuclear compounds. The subsequent revelation that the ISIS-linked perpetrators of the November Paris attacks were also covertly surveilling a high-ranking Belgian nuclear official have only escalated these concerns further.

In assessing these two developments together, the conclusion is substantial: ISIS nuclear espionage in Belgium demonstrates a focused intention to acquire radioactive substances, and the theft in Iraq denotes the ease and proximity of their attainment. Though the materials were recently found abandoned on the side of an Iraqi freeway, the acquisition of nuclear material may be within the capacity of ISIS.

Considering the immense logistic, scientific, and technical barriers to assembling a full-fledged nuclear device, analysts have broadly recognized that ISIS may instead be plotting to craft a “dirty bomb” — a device combining conventional explosives with nuclear materials.

These estimations, however, raise more questions than are answered, and it is important for such a fear-inducing risk to be wholly represented. How probable really is it for ISIS to develop a “dirty bomb,” and what is the full nature and impact of the impending threat that would follow?

Higher than perceived probability

Due to the relative technical simplicity of a “dirty bomb,” the probability of ISIS launching a radioactive attack depends almost entirely on the acquisition of rare radioactive compounds. With the organization’s nuclear intentions now apparently clear, there are two primary sources from which these high-risk prerequisites could be secured.

In light of the recent developments in Iraq and Belgium, the first and most prominent means through which ISIS might seek lucrative nuclear materials is through force or theft. With nuclear substances found in radiological devices, laboratories, and nuclear power plants around the world, the risk is present both within its base of operations in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in any number of countries where ISIS members are active.

The terrorist group has already been reported as having seized roughly 40 kg of uranium compounds from an Iraqi university in 2014, though the United Nations later categorized the materials as “low grade” and insignificant. In fact, the notion that ISIS operatives may have sought radioactive materials from Belgium suggests that local sources — namely Syria and Iraq — have been deemed less adequate for constructing an effective radiological explosive. This is likely a result of neither country possessing the larger sums of radioactive materials seen in countries with nuclear power plants, combined with the consistently poor nuclear security in Belgium.

Recognizing ISIS capabilities and reach, the potential exists for the organization to seek highly radioactive materials from nuclear power plants through the coercion of nuclear officials, as appears to have been the plan in Belgium. These materials yield a significantly greater risk than those obtained from the medical and industrial devices sought after in Iraq and Syria, but are also more challenging to acquire.

The prospect of combining smaller amounts of radioactive materials seized across ISIS territory ultimately presents the greater probability for a “dirty bomb,” albeit with a lower threat from radiation.

A second means through which ISIS might acquire nuclear materials is through the black market, from which deals involving the sale of nuclear materials to the organization have already been thwarted. Such deals have in the past been contained by the FBI and other intelligence agencies, though they are likely to be continued in practice.

Between these two methods for acquiring radioactive substances, the probability of ISIS detonating some form of “dirty bomb” is high.

A broad range of impacts

With a high risk of ISIS potentially utilizing a radioactive explosive device the question now turns to how impactful such an attack would be.

According to senior Iraqi officials, the recently radioactive stolen and later found materials amounted to approximately ten grams of Iridium-192, a standard supply found within medical and industrial devices utilizing radiography. While the scale of harm is determined by a variety of factors such as grade and half-life, and while the materials were ultimately recovered, the figure helps to provide an overview of the impacts expected from an ISIS “dirty bomb”.

Harm caused by radiation is measured in units called microsieverts. Ten grams of Iridium-192 contains roughly 3,500 curies of radiation, which translates into approximately 1.5 million microsieverts per hour to individuals standing 10 feet away if the material is concentrated in one area unshielded. For perspective, 100,000 microsieverts is the lowest yearly dose linked to increased cancer risk, and 2 million microsieverts results in often fatal radiation poisoning. Thus, the ten grams of Iridium-192 available to ISIS through devices scattered across Iraq and Syria is dangerous within minutes of exposure and potentially deadly over hours.

However, it is important to recognize that an equivalent “dirty bomb” would entail the explosive dispersal of radioactive material over a much broader space, diluting the radiation impact significantly and leaving only minor physical risk outside of the initial blast itself.

Since ISIS is most probable to obtain radioactive materials from devices in Iraq and Syria, the physical impact of a hypothetical ISIS device will likely be low and is prone to being overstated. Should ISIS acquire larger amounts of radioactive matter from the less likely scenarios of the nuclear black market or infiltrations of foreign nuclear plants, the threat from radiation becomes a significant concern.

The most probable risk generated by an ISIS “dirty bomb” is the wide-spread panic that would likely follow. Areas surrounding the detonation would be shut-down for weeks or even months depending on the half-life of the substance used, resulting in severe local economic loses.

Geopolitical tensions may also be escalated, as the complex web of countries involved in Syria, Iraq, and the war against the Islamic State would likely ratchet up military involvement on all sides.
In short, the Islamic State’s intentions to construct a radioactive weapon are a concerning probability. The scope of such a weapon’s physical impact is limited. Given the difficulties of covertly transporting radioactive materials, such an attack is most likely to occur within the proximity of ISIS core territory. But the resources and organization of the terrorist group ensure that the threat is a truly global in nature.

America Overdue For The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

New Study: America Overdue For Major Earthquake … In States You Didn’t Suspect

New York Destroyed
Written by: Daniel Jennings Current Events

Most Americans have a reasonable chance of experiencing a destructive earthquake within the next 50 years, the US Geological Survey (USGS) has concluded.

The survey’s new National Seismic Hazard Map show that the risk of earthquakes in parts of the country — such as the Midwest, Oregon and the Rocky Mountains — is far higher than previously thought. All total, Americans in one-third of the country saw their risk for an earthquake increase.
“I worry that we will wake up one morning and see earthquake damage in our country that is as bad as that has occurred in some developing nations that have experienced large earthquakes,” Carl Hedde, a risk management expert at insurer Munich Reinsurance America, said of the map in The Wall Street Journal. “Beyond building collapse, a large amount of our infrastructure could be immediately damaged. Our roads, bridges and energy transmission systems can be severely impacted.”

Among the findings:

  • The earthquake danger in parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois and South Carolina is as high as that in Los Angeles.
  • 42 of the 50 states have a reasonable chance of experiencing a damaging earthquake in the next 50 years.
  • Parts of 16 states have the highest risk of a quake: Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky and South Carolina

“We know the hazard has increased for small and moderate size earthquakes,” USGS scientist William Ellsworth told The Journal. “We don’t know as well how much the hazard has increased for large earthquakes. Our suspicion is it has but we are working on understanding this.”

Frightening Results From New Study

The USGS used new computer modeling technology and data collected from recent quakes such as the one that struck Washington, D.C. in 2011 to produce the new maps. The maps show that many Americans who thought they were safe from earthquakes are not.

New Relocation Manual Helps Average Americans Get Out Of Harms Way Before The Coming Crisis
Some of the survey’s other disturbing findings include:

    • The earthquake danger in Oklahoma, Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Virginia, New York and parts of New England is higher than previously thought.
    • Some major metropolitan areas, including Memphis, Salt Lake City, Seattle, St. Louis and Charleston, have a higher risk of earthquakes than previously thought. One of the nation’s most dangerous faults, the New Madrid fault, runs right through St. Louis and Missouri. It is the nation’s second most active fault. On Dec. 16, 1811, the New Madrid Fault was the site of the most powerful series of earthquakes in American history.
Geological Tectonic Survey

Geological Tectonic Survey

“Obviously the building codes throughout the central U.S. do not generally take earthquake risk or the risk of a large earthquake into account,” USGS Seismologist Elizabeth Cochran told The Journal. Her take: Earthquake damage in the central US could be far greater than in places like California, because structures in some locations are not built to withstand quakes.

Others agree.

“Earthquakes are quite rare in many places but when they happen they cause very intense damage because people have not prepared,” Mark Petersen, the project chief for the USGS’s National Seismic Hazard Map, told The Journal.

This new map should be a wakeup call for Americans.

Pakistan Refuses To Listen To Babylon (Daniel 8)

Pakistan says will not reduce its nuclear weapons

john
March 2, 2016 @ 11:28 AM
 
Published in Top News
 
WASHINGTON: Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz says India is directly involved in inciting terrorism in Balochistan and Karachi and proofs of its involvement have been provided to the neighboring country.

Speaking to media in Washington, Mr. Aziz said Pakistan will consider reducing its nuclear weapons arsenal once India does it.

“India is developing its nuclear stock. Its ability after the (civil nuclear) agreement with the United States to divert more stocks to it, more fissile materials to nuclear weapons has increased much more.”

Later, in a meeting with Defence Writers, Sartaj said. “I think (Pakistan’s top) security concern is strategic and conventional imbalance with India.”

“I think, it is important for Pakistan to really process that reality and put that front and center in its policy,” he said in an apparent reference to the reports that Pakistan has the fastest growing stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world. The nuclear and non-proliferation issue is among the six topics that was discussed during the sixth US-Pak Strategic Dialogue co-chaired by Kerry and Aziz here yesterday.

“Our nuclear program is deterrence. It is India which is expanding its nuclear arsenal at a much faster rate than we are,” Aziz alleged. “The concept of deterrence is a dynamic one. Deterrence has to be effective and our deterrence is India centric. If India would not have started its nuclear program, we would have never done this,” he said.