Pakistan Breaks Away from the US (Daniel 8)

ISLAMABAD: The days of Pakistan depending on the US to meet its military and other requirements are over, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told Arab News during an exclusive interview.

The world should recognize Pakistan’s efforts in fighting the “world’s war” on terror, he said, in his first interview since returning from the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York in September.

“If one source dries up, we have no option but to go to another source. It may cost more, it may consume more resources, but we have to fight that war, and that’s what we emphasized to all the people that we met,” Abbasi added.

“Any sanctions or restraints… put on our systems only degrades our efforts to fight terror, and it affects the whole equation in this region,” he said.

“We have major US weapons systems in our military, but we’ve also diversified. We have Chinese and European systems. Recently, for the first time we inducted Russian attack helicopters.”

Complexity of governance

It has been two months since Abbasi assumed office after being voted in by Parliament via special elections on Aug. 1. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the ruling party, holds the numbers in Pakistan’s National Assembly, and Abbasi being a staunch loyalist and trusted comrade of Nawaz Sharif was the suitable choice.

He has hit the ground running, facing a barrage of domestic and international challenges including terrorism, an energy deficit, and economic and regional volatility.

“It’s a complex job,” he said, adding that governing a country with a ballooning population of over 207 million is no walk in the park.

“Pakistan is one of the largest countries in the world… It’s a nuclear power. We have a challenging neighborhood. There’s a war on terror in the country. There are issues in Afghanistan. There’s a very large foreign military presence there… We have a neighbor to the east with which we’ve had several wars. They (India) are also a nuclear power. We have a dispute. They occupied Kashmir, which is our territory… The economic challenge is (also) there.”

Elections

Abbasi, 58, is a US-qualified electrical engineer with a bachelor’s degree from the University of California and a masters from George Washington University.

He was a pilot for 40 years, and is Pakistan’s first premier to have flown an F-16 aircraft during an air force training exercise.

He entered mainstream politics in 1988 and later became an MP. Being part of a politically connected family helped him become an accomplished politician, being elected to Parliament six times.

Abbasi is also a prosperous businessman, having launched Pakistan’s first successful budget airline and keeping it profitable when other private carriers shut down.

The incumbent government’s term finishes on June 4, 2018, and he is confident that the next general elections will be held within two months of that.

“Whatever happens, elections will happen on time and in early August. Pakistan will, God willing, have a new government. Hopefully the same party (PML-N) will come to power,” he said, smiling.

UNGA and US

Abbasi and his delegation held meetings with several “key players” on the sidelines of the UNGA, including eight heads of state, the UN secretary-general, US Vice President Mike Pence and international investors.

The meeting with Pence was “very constructive,” Abbasi said, adding that there was “also a small interaction with President (Donald) Trump at his reception.”

This was the first high-level communication between the two allies since Trump strongly criticized Pakistan in his Afghanistan and South Asia strategy that he unveiled on Aug. 21.

“There was no meeting scheduled (with Trump). In fact, the meeting with Vice President Pence wasn’t scheduled. It was at their request,” Abbasi said. “This was a visit to the UN to basically present Pakistan’s case at the General Assembly.”

Bilateral ties

The “candid” discussion with Pence was essential for official engagements in the future because when Trump’s policy statement on South Asia came out, there were “a lot of apprehensions on what it meant, and what it meant for Pakistan-US relations,” Abbasi said.

“I think we moved substantially forward in that direction. Whatever concerns they (the US) have, we’ve shown our willingness to address those concerns.”

The meeting paved the way for one between Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday in Washington.

They discussed Trump’s South Asia policy, and Asif told Tillerson that Islamabad pursues a zero-tolerance approach to “all terrorist and militant groups.”

This was in response to Trump’s assertion that Pakistan harbors “agents of chaos,” which he blames for Afghanistan’s continued instability.

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary James Mattis said the US was willing “one more time” to work with Pakistan on Afghanistan, but would resort to measures set by Trump in case of non-compliance regarding the allegations of support for militants.

Abbasi said: “We can categorically state that we don’t provide any sanctuaries to anybody. The bottom line is… today we have a common objective: To destroy terror and bring peace to Afghanistan.”

Afghanistan

“We’re partners in the war on terror, and that’s what we emphasized. We emphasized to everybody we met there (at the UNGA) that nobody wants peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan,” added Abbasi.

“The reality today is that much of the area bordering Pakistan is controlled by the Taliban. The people we’re fighting in Pakistan today, their sanctuaries are in Afghanistan, their leadership is living there, the planning is done there, the logistical bases are there, and they regularly cross the border and attack our installations. We recently had a suicide attack on the deputy chairman of the Senate. He survived, but 22 people were killed. It was by an Afghan national who had crossed the border to attack his convoy deep inside Pakistan,” Abbasi said.

“We’re fencing our border. We’re open to Afghan liaison officers. We have Afghan refugees here. So if anything is pinpointed and the intelligence is provided, we take action,” he added. “Whatever happens in Afghanistan affects us. Whatever happens here affects them.”

India’s role

Pakistan wants peace in Afghanistan via a solution that “is owned and led by the Afghans,” said Abbasi, warning that Washington’s desire to include India would be detrimental.

“We don’t believe that injecting India into the Pakistan-US relationship will help resolve anything, especially in Afghanistan, where we don’t see any role for India. India has a relationship with the US. That is between them and the US.”

Pakistan wants an “equal relationship or partnership with the US, like every other nation,” he said.

It wishes to work with the US “to resolve regional” and “global issues… ranging from the economy to nuclear” matters.

Cost of war

Pakistan has fought “a very hard and vicious” war on terror, said Abbasi, adding that “200,000 of our troops are deployed. We have 6,500 shaheeds (martyrs) in the army. We have 21,000 of our citizens who’ve been killed, including police personnel. Almost 35,000 people have been seriously injured.”

He added: “Nobody has fought a bigger war on terror than we have, with our own resources. Even the most conservative economic estimates of Pakistan’s losses are over $120 billion. It has been a very difficult war, but our army has performed very well.”

Trump Creates Another Nuclear Crisis

 

During his first address to the United Nations General Assembly this month, US President Donald Trump took the opportunity to lash out at two countries in particular.

He described North Korea – or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) as Pyongyang calls itself – as a “depraved” regime with a “twisted” mentality that consists of a “band of criminals” equipped with “nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles”. Trump then threatened to “totally destroy” the country if the US was force

In similar vein, he labelled Iran a “corrupt dictatorship” and pronounced the Iran nuclear deal – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and concluded between Tehran and world powers in July 2015 – as “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into”.

Obviously, for the US administration, there is a close link between these two challenges – will the North Korean nuclear crisis have serious policy implications for Washington’s attitude towards JCPOA?

‘The same mistake’

Most proponents of the Iran nuclear deal, including former Obama administration officials, attribute the North Korean crisis to a lack of effective diplomacy and meaningful negotiations which helped the Iran deal materialise in the first place.

For these policymakers and analysts, the escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula is further proof that the JCPOA should not only be maintained, but should also be used as a model to defuse the spiralling nuclear crisis in Southeast Asia.



Joe Cirincione is president of the Ploughshares Fund, an American organisation advocating the reduction and dismantlement of nuclear weapons. “We have already made the same mistake with North Korea that we did with Iran,” he argues, “by refusing to close a deal when we could have eliminated any nuclear capability, and then coming back to negotiations too late, when the country already has piled up nuclear chips they will not give up.”

Yet, he insists, “as difficult as talks with North Korea have proven and will be again, there is no viable alternative”.

‘Trump pulling out of the Iran deal would create a second nuclear crisis while alienating the same countries we need to address the [North Korean] crisis’

– Ben Rhodes, a national security adviser to Barack Obama

Similarly, in the words of Ben Rhodes, a national security adviser to Obama, “Trump pulling out of the Iran deal would create a second nuclear crisis while alienating the same countries we need to address the [North Korean] crisis”.

Most significantly, German Chancellor Angela Merkel – whose government is a party to JCPOA – has called for an Iran-styled diplomatic initiative to resolve the crisis in the Korean Peninsula.

“I could imagine such a format being used to end the North Korea conflict. Europe and especially Germany should be prepared to play a very active part in that,” she told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung in an interview on 10 September.

‘Hold the world hostage’

But opponents of JCPOA – who consist mostly of Iran hawks in the US government as well as conservative American think tanks – see the Korean situation in a different light.

  • For them, it offers a mirror of where Iran’s nuclear activities can lead in a short time frame if the Islamic Republic, as a “rogue” regime, is not confronted and the “flawed” Iran deal not fixed.

These anti-JCPOA politicians and policy wonks believe that Pyongyang took advantage of the 1994 “Agreed Framework” with the Clinton administration but then jettisoned the accord and dashed for the bomb, which was tested for the first time in 2006. Now they fear that Tehran, too, is intent on following a similar duplicitous route to attain atomic weapons.



Iranians celebrate the nuclear deal in Tehran on 14 July 2015 (AFP)

In congressional testimony on 5 April 2017, Mark Dubowitz, head of the conservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, described JCPOA as the Islamic Republic’s “patient pathway to nuclear weapons” and added: “At the heart of the JCPOA is a fatal flaw: Iran does not need to cheat to reach threshold nuclear weapons capabilities.

“By following the deal, and waiting patiently for key constraints to disappear, Tehran can emerge as a threshold nuclear power with an industrial-size enrichment programme, near-zero breakout time, an easier clandestine sneak-out pathway, [and] an advanced long-range ballistic missile programme.”

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has recently made a similar argument. In a key speech at conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute on 5 September, she linked both cases, asserting that “missile technology cannot be separated from the pursuit of a nuclear weapon. If we continue to not look at the Iranian activity, we will be dealing with the next North Korea”.

If we continue to not look at the Iranian activity, we will be dealing with the next North Korea

– Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the UN 

She added later in the same address that “Iran’s leaders want to use the nuclear deal to hold the world hostage to its bad behaviour”.

John Bolton, a US ambassador to the UN during the George W Bush administration, has raised the stakes even higher and sounded the alarm on “joint Iranian-North Korea nuclear and ballistic-missile programmes. Much of the current JCPOA debate would be strategically irrelevant if, as seems virtually certain, the ayatollahs can send a wire transfer to Kim Jung-un to purchase whatever capability North Korea develops,” he said.

Along these lines, Bolton has proposed a much publicised “strategy” for the Trump administration to exit the Iran deal, a formula that was recently countenanced by 45 former US security officials in a public letter to President Donald Trump.

Opening Pandora’s box

Trump is deeply dissatisfied with the Iran nuclear accord, which he called the “worst deal ever” and an “embarrassment” to the United States. Therefore he will probably side with the second chorus when it comes to making a decision as to whether to stick with JCPOA or scrap it.

Shortly after Tehran published footage of a missile test on 23 September in response to renewed US pressure, Trump tweeted that “Iran just test-fired a ballistic missile capable of reaching Israel. They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!.”

In fact, the footage was of an earlier failed missile test in January, as was later confirmed by Israeli security officials. There was no missile test.

Fake news aside, it does not seem Trump will abandon JCPOA all at once. The US president is required by law to report to Congress every 90 days as to whether Tehran is in compliance with the deal or not. Trump has affirmed, albeit reluctantly, that the Islamic Republic has abided by the deal twice so far.

But the next deadline is on 15 October – and it’s then he will probably decertify Tehran’s adherence to JCPOA and thus leave the next steps to Congress.

The Republican-dominated body has shown an exceptional eagerness to levy sanctions against the Islamic Republic for its missile programme and support for militant groups in the region. It may see the decertification as a golden opportunity to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions on Tehran.

Congress may see decertification as a golden opportunity to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions on Tehran

This will open a Pandora’s box, so to speak, and be the end of the Iran nuclear deal, particularly if Europeans finally give in to US pressure and try to “fix or nix” the accord, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it, despite their current rhetoric to the contrary.

Tehran will likely respond with escalation, given the effect of such a policy and previous decisions of the leadership in similar circumstances, which may include the resumption of sensitive nuclear activities prohibited under the deal.

Bottom line: Washington, while grappling with the North Korean nuclear challenge, should brace itself for another rapidly spiralling crisis in the Middle East, potentially culminating in a military confrontation, if it messes with the Iran deal.

– Maysam Behravesh is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science and a Research Fellow in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES), Lund University. He was a senior editor of the Wiley-published journal Asian Politics & Policy and editorial assistant of the Sage-published quarterly Cooperation and Conflict. Maysam is also a regular contributor to Persian-language media outlets including BBC Persian.

The Futility of the Nuclear Peace Prize

The Long Nuclear History Behind the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize
Friday’s announcement that the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize went to The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) represents just the latest step in the long relationship between the Oslo-based Norwegian Nobel Committee and nuclear technology.

ICAN, which played a key role in the negotiations that led to the recent signing of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations, scored the prize in honor of “its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.” It’s the latest group of people involved in world nuclear-disarmament efforts to be recognized with the Nobel Peace Prize, an award that’s also been presented to such advocates in 1959, 1962, 1974, 1982, 1985, 1990, 1995 and 2005.

But disarmament and non-proliferation are not the only parts of the nuclear past that have been recognized by the Nobel Committee.

In the first decades of the prize’s existence, for obvious reasons, it was much more likely to see nuclear technology recognized in science categories, as awards went to those whose work would make nuclear weapons possible. A prominent example is the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics, awarded to Enrico Fermi for work that led to the discovery of nuclear fission. He was a leader of the Manhattan Project, the American lab that produced nuclear weapons, and TIME called him “the world’s foremost nuclear physicist” in 1945, while his New York Times obituary described him as “an architect of the atomic age.” The Nobel Committee has given out more than 30 prizes honoring various research that enhances the study of nuclear activity, dating all the way back to 1903. (A list of such prizes up until 2000 can be found here.)

But as the science and implications of nuclear weapons started to be better understood — almost immediately from the time they were first used — efforts to regulate the use of them increased, and so did the Nobel Prizes on the other side.

In fact, in 1946, one year after the first wartime use of nuclear weapons, TIME noticed nuclear scientists were “conspicuously absent” from the list of lineup of honorees that year.

As the magazine pointed out, there was deep history behind that decision: Alfred Nobel is said to have endowed the Peace Prize specifically as “penance” for having introduced dynamite into the world; it would thus be “embarrassing” for the prize committee to honor the inventors of something being hailed as “super-dynamite.”

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And so the Peace Prizes for disarmament activists began.

One of the earliest people to receive the Peace Prize for such efforts was Philip Noel-Baker, who won the 1959 Peace Prize in part for his visions for an international agreement to curb the spread of nukes, which was published in the manifesto The Arms Race: A Programme for World Disarmament.

In fact, it was Baker’s work that inspired the American cardiologist Bernard Lown to start a group called International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), which was in turned recognized with a Nobel in 1985. “His views had a profound intellectual impact on me,” Lown told People in 1985. “He spelled out the consequences of nuclear war like some ancient Hebrew prophet.” And IPPNW would, in turn, launch ICAN, this year’s winner.

The Peace Prize has also gone to people who have tried to keep the peace as world leaders and diplomats. For example, Eisaku Sato, former prime minister of Japan, won in 1974 for maintaining that his country shouldn’t have nukes and for having signed, on behalf of the nation, the nuclear arms Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). That treaty, which went into effect in 1970, has been described by the United Nations as “the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States.” And in 1990, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev got the prize for his role in landmark treaties designed to reduce arms supplies instead of just capping them.

And yet, the work of activists did not stop the spread of nuclear weapons. As TIME noted in a feature on the diplomats who shared the 1982 prize for their work on disarmament, it was awarded at a time when the world had amassed nearly 5,000 intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, up from 500 in 1962.

The organization says it will continue to honor those who work to ensure peace in the atomic age, frankly, for “as long as the risks of nuclear proliferation and nuclear war continue to exist.”

USGS: NYC Earthquake History Before The Sixth Seal

New York Earthquake History

Strong earthquakes in 1638, 1661, 1663, and 1732 in the St. Lawrence Valley and a shock near Newbury, Massachusetts, in 1727 were felt in New York before the first notable tremor centered within the State was recorded. On December 18, 1737, an earthquake near New York City threw down a number of chimneys (intensity VII). This shock was reported felt at Boston, Philadelphia, and at New Castle, Delaware.

Walls vibrated, bells rang, and objects fell from shelves (intensity VI) at Buffalo from a shock on October 23, 1857. Also, a man seated on a chair was reportedly thrown to the ground. At Lockport, rumbling noises were heard for a full minute. This shock was felt as far as Hamilton, Peterborough, and Port Hope, Ontario, Canada; Rochester, New York; and Erie and Warren, Pennsylvania. The total felt area covered approximately 46,000 square kilometers.

A rather severe earthquake centered in northeastern New York caused moderate damage along the St. Lawrence River and in the Lake Champlain area in 1877. Crockery was overturned, ceilings cracked, and chimneys were thrown down (intensity VII) from the November 4 tremor. At Saratoga Springs, buildings were shaken and a roaring sound was heard; at Auburn, windows were damaged. The earthquake was felt throughout a large part of New York and New England and eastern Canada, about 233,000 square kilometers.

On August 10, 1884, an earthquake caused large cracks in walls at Amityville and Jamaica (intensity VII). The shock was felt strongly at New York City. In addition, 30 towns from Hartford, Connecticut, to West Chester, Pennsylvania, reported fallen bricks and cracked plaster. The total felt area was estimated at 181,000 square kilometers.

A shock reported as severe, but with no damage noted (intensity VI), occurred in northeastern New York on May 27, 1897. It was felt over the greater portion of New York and parts of adjacent New England States and Quebec, Canada.

A very large area of the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, about 4,200,000 square kilometers, was shaken by a magnitude 7 earthquake on February 28, 1925 (March 1, universal time). A maximum intensity of VIII was reached in the epicentral region, near La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada. A large portion of New York State experienced intensity IV effects; lesser intensities were noted south of Albany.

Extensive damage occurred in the Attica area from a strong shock on August 12, 1929. Two hundred and fifty chimneys were thrown down, plaster was cracked or thrown down, and other building walls were noticeably damaged (intensity VIII). Many cemetery monuments fell or were twisted. Dishes fell from shelves, pictures and mirrors fell from walls, and clocks stopped. An increased flow at the Attica reservoir was noted for several days after the earthquake; a number of wells near the reservoir went dry. There was some damage at Batavia and other points at similar distances. A wall was cracked at Sayre, Pennsylvania. The earthquake was felt throughout most of New York and the New England states, northeastern Ohio, northern Pennsylvania, and southern Ontario, Canada; a total area of about 250,000 square kilometers. Strong aftershocks were felt at Attica on December 2 and 3; dishes fell from shelves and clocks stopped.

The opposite end of the State experienced similar damage from another shock less than 2 years later. On April 20, 1931, an earthquake centering near Lake George threw down about 20 chimneys at Warrensburg and twisted a church spire (intensity VII). A small landslide was reported on McCarthy Mountain. At Glen Falls, walls were cracked, dished broken, and clocks stopped. At Lake George, buildings swayed and store goods fell from shelves. At Luzerne, some Chimneys were damaged and windows broken. The shock was felt over 155,000 square kilometers, but with less intensity in the Catskills than at equal distances in other directions. This anomaly was also noted in the August 12, 1929, Attica earthquakes.

The magnitude 6 1/4 earthquake centered near Timiskaming, Quebec, Canada, on November 1, 1935, caused slight damaged at many points in New York. The damage was limited, in general, to plaster cracks, broken windows, and cracked chimneys. The shock was felt throughout New York, as far south as Washington, D.C., and as far west as Wisconsin. An earthquake centered near Lake Ossipee, New Hampshire on December 24, 1940, caused widespread, though slight, damage in the epicentral region, extending into Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Reports from Dannemora, New York, noted plaster and windows cracked and some dishes broken. The shock was felt over all of New York State.

On September 4, 1944, an earthquake centered about midway between Massena, New York, and Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, caused an estimated $2,000,000 damage in the two cities. The shock destroyed or damaged about 90 percent of the chimneys at Massena (intensity VIII), with similar effects at Cornwall. In addition, masonry, plumbing, and house foundations were damaged at Massena. Many structures were rendered unsage for occupancy until repaired. Press reports indicated a large number of wells in St. Lawrence County went dry, causing acute hardship. Brick masonry and concrete structures were damaged at Hogansburg; some ground cracking was also noted at nearby towns. This earthquake was felt over approximately 450,000 square kilometers in the United States, including all the New England States, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and portions of Michigan and Ohio. A few points in Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin also reported feeling the tremor.

A magnitude 4.7 disturbance on January 1, 1966, caused slight damage to chimneys and walls at Attica and Varysburg. Plaster fell at the Attica State Prison and the main smokestack was damaged (intensity VI). The total felt area was about 46,500 square kilometers.

Abridged from Earthquake Information Bulletin, Volume 7, Number 4, July – August 1975, by Carl A. von Hake.

For a list of earthquakes that have occurred since this article was written, use the Earthquake Search.