South Korea Prepares to go Nuclear (Daniel 7)

A South Korean delegation asks Washington for nuclear weapons

Josh Rogin

The heated debate in South Korea over redeploying U.S. nuclear weapons on its territory has now reached Washington. A senior delegation of South Korean lawmakers is in town making the case to the Trump administration and Congress that such a move is needed to confront North Korea’s growing nuclear capability and place more pressure on China.

We are here to ask for redeployment of tactical nuclear warheads in South Korea,” Lee Cheol Woo, the head of the intelligence committee of South Korea’s National Assembly, told me Thursday morning.

Lee is heading a delegation of members of the Liberty Korea Party, the opposition to President Moon Jae-in’s Democratic Party. He is also the chairman of the assembly’s special committee for nuclear crisis response.

Moon told CNN yesterday that he does not agree that tactical nuclear weapons should be reintroduced to South Korea or that Seoul should develop its own nuclear weapons. He warned it could “lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia.” But Lee’s delegation believes that as the North Korea nuclear crisis worsens, a push by the Trump administration or Congress could help persuade Moon’s government to change its position, as it has already done regarding the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system.

“The ruling party came to power based on their opposition to the deployment of THAAD and having tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea,” Lee said. “But if there were to be additional requests from the U.S. government, then they would have to listen to the many voices that are asking for the additional deployment of nuclear warheads.”

The delegation will meet with the State Department’s special representative for North Korea policy, Joe Yun, and senior Asia-focused lawmakers including Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska).

The delegation touts rising South Korean public support for their initiative. Even before Kim Jong Un’s latest nuclear test, South Korean polls showed that 68 percent support reintroducing nuclear weapons and that 60 percent support South Korea developing nuclear weapons of its own.

The United States stationed nuclear weapons in South Korea for most of the Cold War, but they were removed by President George H.W. Bush in 1991. After South Korea’s defense minister suggested this month it’s worth reviewing the idea, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said “it ought to be seriously considered.” Trump administration officials have said they are not ruling out the possibility, should the South Korean government request it.

Adding nuclear weapons to the already volatile situation on the Korean peninsula seems to run counter to the stated U.S. goal of completely denuclearizing the peninsula. But proponents of the idea lay out three key reasons it could be helpful.

First, North Korea is very close to achieving the capability to launch nuclear weapons via both intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched missiles. That changes the calculus of strategic deterrence. Putting nukes in South Korea would strengthen the ability of the United States and South Korea to retaliate, thereby bolstering that deterrence.

Separately, the Chinese government would surely oppose putting nuclear weapons back in South Korea. Beijing has been subjecting the South Korean economy to severe punishment in response to the THAAD deployment. But the threat of South Korea going nuclear could push Beijing into doing more to rein in Pyongyang.

Lastly, since North Korea is now a de-facto nuclear state, putting nukes back in South Korea could be a bargaining chip for future negotiations with Pyongyang.

But what about Moon’s warning about potential escalation? Kim Tae Woo of Konyang University, a member of Lee’s special committee, said that the benefits of the move outweigh the risks. “First of all, we want to destroy the North Korean belief that they can decouple the alliance by threatening the U.S. continent,” he said. “And also we have to destroy the Chinese belief that China can let the North Korea nuclear program go on.”

The current U.S. strategy is to cooperate with Beijing to increase pressure on North Korea to change its calculus and eventually bring it back to the table. “But do you think the current strategy is working?” Kim said.

So long as Moon is in power, prospects for putting nukes back in South Korea will remain slim. The Trump administration would be unwise to publicly break with Moon on such an important issue. Alliance unity is an important signal to Pyongyang and Beijing. But ignoring the fact that North Korea’s nuclear advancement is changing the strategic situation is also deeply unwise. The only thing worse than failing to prevent a new nuclear arms race would be losing it.

New York City is overdue for a major earthquake

Kathryn Miles

For a city that seems to move at the speed of light, being late is never a good thing. That’s true for budget agreements, that’s true for commuter trains, and as it turns out, it’s probably true for earthquakes as well.

We tend to think of seismic activity as a West Coast problem. Friday demonstrated all too well what a magnitude-8.2 earthquake can do to Mexico and Central America; many of us remember the World Series quake that rocked the San Francisco area in 1989. But New York, which is actually riddled with faults, has a long history of earthquakes: On average, the region has witnessed a moderate quake (about a 5.0 on the Richter scale) every hundred years. The last one was in 1884. Seismologists say we can expect the next one any day now.

Admittedly, a moderate quake isn’t going to cause Hollywood-level destruction, nor is it going to raze Manhattan. But it is going to do plenty of damage: upwards of $39 billion in losses and over 30 million tons of debris. That rubble, caused largely by crumbled brick and stone buildings, is going to clog already congested roads, making it impossible for first responders and public transportation to move about the city.

It may be equally difficult to travel below ground in some cases. Take the Steinway Tunnel, a 1.3-mile cast-iron tube that runs deep below the East River. The 7 train passes through it every 20 minutes, often packed with commuters or, this time of year, Mets fans. Construction on the tunnel began around the time of the last earthquake, long before seismic codes or even modern engineering practices had been codified. As a result, there are big craters and gaps where the tunnel lining isn’t actually in contact with the earth around it. In the event of a quake, that’s going to cause the tunnel to rattle around. And because the tunnel runs through both the soft mud of the riverbed and the hard bedrock on either side, different segments are going to rattle around at different speeds and frequencies. That’s doubly bad news for cast iron that was never in very good shape to begin with.

 New York is vivisected by faults. Most of them fall into two groups — those running northeast and those running northwest.Mike Guillen
There are more than a dozen tunnels like the Steinway connecting Manhattan to New Jersey and Long Island. They’re all at risk of serious damage in the event of a quake. Just how much of a risk we can’t say, because little has been done to evaluate their seismic soundness. Vince Tirolo, a longtime engineer for the Metropolitan Transit Authority who now serves as a private consultant and adjunct professor at Columbia University, has been sounding the alarm about these tunnels for years. He says he hasn’t received much of a response from the city. As research for my book, “Quakeland,” I contacted the MTA to ask for an interview with the person handling their emergency management and seismic assessment. I wanted to know why more wasn’t being done to fix these beleaguered tunnels or to assess their risk in the event of an earthquake. They told me they couldn’t accommodate my request. I asked why. Nine months later, I’m still waiting for a response.

East Coast Expecting The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

http://www.standeyo.com/Podcast/Show_Images/New_Madrid/Fig69.jpgUnited States Fault Lines Map – Earthquakes could also happen in East Coast and in the Midwest Cites

[BestSyndication News] Earthquakes are always a concern out in Alaska and in California, as it is full of fault lines that are continually shifting. There are some fault lines that are overdue to shift, especially the California San Andres fault line that runs through the mountain ranges and close to Wrightwood. But did you know there is a United States Fault Lines Map that illustrates great potentials for earthquakes outside of our state?

New Madrid Fault Line

The New Madrid Fault Line has records of over 4000 earthquake reports since 1974. This fault line is also called the New Madrid Seismic Zone and has potential to devastate the states of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi. The biggest part of the New Madrid Fault Line sits in Missouri.

We often forget that this Midwestern fault line is there, but in 1811-1812 there was a series of earthquakes that shook with estimated magnitudes of 8.1 – 8.3, with several aftershocks of 6.0 magnitudes. Since those big ones, the largest earthquake that this fault line produced was in a 6.6-magnitude quake that happened on October 31, 1895. It’s epicenter was in Charleston, Missouri.The damage from these earthquakes were extensive, and there has been recent speculation by the scientific community that believe that this fault line might be shutting down and moving elsewhere. In an issue of Nature, scientist believe the current seismic activity at the New Madrid Fault line is only aftershocks from the earthquake back in 1811 and 1812.

Ramapo Fault Line

The Ramapo Fault Line spans 300 kilometers and affects the states of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. These faults run between the Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont areas to the east.

This fault remains relatively inactive, but scientists believe that it could produce some serious earthquakes. There was a study completed in 2008 that believes a 6 – 7 magnitude earthquake will very likely occur from this fault line. The last time this fault was the most active was believed to be 200 million years ago.

San Andreas Fault Line

The last few years Southern California has been preparing for the next big one with government sponsored Earthquake Drills. Scientist are predicting that the next big one with a magnitude of a 7.0 or higher for this fault line will happen any time, it could be now or 10 years from now. They believe the areas that are going to be hit the hardest are going to be Palm Springs and a number of other cities in San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties in California, and Mexicali municipality in Baja California.

To learn more about earthquakes you can visit http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/

China is Correct: It is Our Fault

China Thinks the North Korea Nuclear Crisis Is All America’s Fault

Josh Keating

The ‘Friendship Bridge’ in the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China across from the city of Sinuiju, North Korea on May 24, 2017 in Dandong, China. Getty Images

This week, the Chinese government ordered North Korean companies operating in China to shut down, the latest sign of rising tensions between the two longtime allies. Those tensions could soon get even worse if, as many observers anticipate, North Korea carries out some provocative action—another nuclear test or missile launch perhaps—during the 19th congress of the ruling Communist Party in Beijing next month.

There’s a widely held view in the United States that Chinese pressure has been the key missing factor preventing the resolution of the North Korean nuclear crisis. “China could easily solve this problem!” as President Trump has put it. The case is undoubtedly overstated, but it’s not totally wrong. China does have a decades-old defense treaty with its Cold War ally and serves as its economic lifeline, accounting for 90 percent of the isolated country’s trade. While China is certainly worried about North Korea’s nuclear program, it’s even more worried about what could happen if the North Korean regime collapsed, bringing a massive humanitarian crisis and possibly U.S. troops right up to its border. At this point, it’s probably too late for even China to persuade Kim Jong-un to give up his nuclear program, but it’s undoubtedly true that for years, China has been reluctant to put too much pressure on Pyongyang.

In Beijing, however, the notion that the North Korea crisis is China’s fault seems bizarre. There, the prevailing narrative is that it’s American recklessness, not Chinese reluctance, that turned North Korea into a nuclear threat.

At a meeting with a group of American journalists, including myself, in Beijing last week, Counselor Yu Dunhai of the Chinese Foreign Ministry dismissed the idea that China could resolve the crisis. “The key is not in our hands,” he said. “China certainly can play a big role, because we are the closest neighbor and have a lot of influence, but only China can’t solve the problem. The key lies with the U.S. If the two sides [the United States and North Korea] do not talk, China can do nothing.”

Yu suggested that North Korea has developed nuclear weapons because it “feels very insecure. They think a nuclear bomb is the solution.” That insecurity, he argues, results from the heavy U.S. troop presence in South Korea and U.S.-led military exercises in the region.

In Yu’s view, “we almost achieved the denuclearization of the peninsula during President Clinton’s administration,” but progress was derailed when George W. Bush labeled North Korea a member of the “axis of evil” and invaded fellow axis member Iraq, convincing Pyongyang of the necessity of developing a nuclear deterrent. He also put some blame on the Obama administration for its lack of engagement with the problem. “During Obama’s administration, they used the term ‘strategic patience,’ and North Korea’s nuclear program developed very fast during that time,” he said.

“China feels very frustrated,” says Tong Zhao, a nuclear policy analyst at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing. Tong suggests that Chinese leaders believe “the crisis is getting worse because the U.S. won’t listen to us. U.S. provocations only make North Korea more paranoid.”

There’s some truth to this storyline, but also some holes in it. Kim Jong-il sought nuclear weapons years before Bush invaded Iraq. And the North Koreans’ conventional arsenal and their relationship with China have been an invasion deterrent since the 1960s: They don’t need nukes for self defense.

China’s statements, including its calls for calm as the war of words between Trump and Kim has escalated this month, often have the tone of an exasperated adult trying to separate two brawling grade-schoolers. In fairness to China, the two current leaders of the United States and North Korea have made that tone pretty easy to maintain.

If a full Chinese embargo on North Korea is seen as the golden bullet in Washington, the Chinese equivalent is a scenario known as “double suspension”: North Korea agrees to suspend its nuclear activities, while the U.S. agrees to suspend military exercises with the South Koreans. This is very unlikely to happen, as Yu acknowledges. “The U.S. says that Military exercises is our legitimate right,” he says. “So there is no way forward.”

The argument that American military activities in East Asia are what has caused the Korean crisis is awfully convenient for China, given that China would love for the U.S. to stop doing that. “To some extent, China shares North Korea’s suspicion of U.S.,” says Zhao. “Both believe the U.S. is a troublemaker and a hegemonic power.”

What we’re left with is a dilemma in which both China and the United States believe the North Korea situation is principally the other country’s fault. In that sense, the crisis can also be viewed as just part of a larger disagreement between the world’s two most powerful countries, one with potentially very dangerous consequences for both countries and everyone else.

The U.S. sees China as narrowly pursuing its own self interest at the expense of the international order, willing to support or at least tolerate unstable and despotic regimes and put other nations at risk if it aids the Chinese rise to economic and military power. China, meanwhile, sees all of America’s talk of a rules-based international order, maintaining global security, and promoting human rights (or at least the talk of those values before Trump’s reign) as a flimsy cover for maintaining its own global preeminence and keeping other powers, namely China, down.

The mutual suspicion behind these views is making it harder for the two countries—which, in truth, are both partly to blame for the North Korea crisis—to work together to solve the problem. It’s a disagreement that could be very dangerous for both countries going forward—and for everyone else.