The Next Big ONE: The Sixth Seal Of New York City

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ON THE MAP; Exploring the Fault Where the Next Big One May Be Waiting

By MARGO NASH

Published: March 25, 2001

Alexander Gates, a geology professor at Rutgers-Newark, is co-author of ”The Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes,” which will be published by Facts on File in July. He has been leading a four-year effort to remap an area known as the Sloatsburg Quadrangle, a 5-by-7-mile tract near Mahwah that crosses into New York State. The Ramapo Fault, which runs through it, was responsible for a big earthquake in 1884, and Dr. Gates warns that a recurrence is overdue. He recently talked about his findings.

Q. What have you found?

A. We’re basically looking at a lot more rock, and we’re looking at the fracturing and jointing in the bedrock and putting it on the maps. Any break in the rock is a fracture. If it has movement, then it’s a fault. There are a lot of faults that are offshoots of the Ramapo. Basically when there are faults, it means you had an earthquake that made it. So there was a lot of earthquake activity to produce these features. We are basically not in a period of earthquake activity along the Ramapo Fault now, but we can see that about six or seven times in history, about 250 million years ago, it had major earthquake activity. And because it’s such a fundamental zone of weakness, anytime anything happens, the Ramapo Fault goes.

Q. Where is the Ramapo Fault?

A. The fault line is in western New Jersey and goes through a good chunk of the state, all the way down to Flemington. It goes right along where they put in the new 287. It continues northeast across the Hudson River right under the Indian Point power plant up into Westchester County. There are a lot of earthquakes rumbling around it every year, but not a big one for a while.

Q. Did you find anything that surprised you?

A. I found a lot of faults, splays that offshoot from the Ramapo that go 5 to 10 miles away from the fault. I have looked at the Ramapo Fault in other places too. I have seen splays 5 to 10 miles up into the Hudson Highlands. And you can see them right along the roadsides on 287. There’s been a lot of damage to those rocks, and obviously it was produced by fault activities. All of these faults have earthquake potential.

Q. Describe the 1884 earthquake.

A. It was in the northern part of the state near the Sloatsburg area. They didn’t have precise ways of describing the location then. There was lots of damage. Chimneys toppled over. But in 1884, it was a farming community, and there were not many people to be injured. Nobody appears to have written an account of the numbers who were injured.

Q. What lessons we can learn from previous earthquakes?

A. In 1960, the city of Agadir in Morocco had a 6.2 earthquake that killed 12,000 people, a third of the population, and injured a third more. I think it was because the city was unprepared.There had been an earthquake in the area 200 years before. But people discounted the possibility of a recurrence. Here in New Jersey, we should not make the same mistake. We should not forget that we had a 5.4 earthquake 117 years ago. The recurrence interval for an earthquake of that magnitude is every 50 years, and we are overdue. The Agadir was a 6.2, and a 5.4 to a 6.2 isn’t that big a jump.

Q. What are the dangers of a quake that size?

A. When you’re in a flat area in a wooden house it’s obviously not as dangerous, although it could cut off a gas line that could explode. There’s a real problem with infrastructure that is crumbling, like the bridges with crumbling cement. There’s a real danger we could wind up with our water supplies and electricity cut off if a sizable earthquake goes off. The best thing is to have regular upkeep and keep up new building codes. The new buildings will be O.K. But there is a sense of complacency.

MARGO NASH

The Nuclear Reach of Babylon the Great (Daniel 7:7)

ANKARA

The United States has a total of 150 nuclear weapons in five NATO member countries, including Turkey, according to a report on worldwide nuclear arms prepared by the Turkish Parliament.

The report, titled “Data on Nuclear Weapons,” said there were around 15,000 nuclear weapons at 107 sites in 14 countries as of July this year, daily Milliyet reported on Oct. 31.

“Nearly 9,400 of these weapons are in arsenals for military use and the rest are standing idle to be destroyed,” the report read.

It added that some 4,150 of the weapons in arsenals are ready to be used at any minute, while 1,800 are in “high alarm” status, which means they can be prepared for use in a short period of time.

According to the report, 93 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons belong to Russia and the U.S.

The report also said that nuclear weapons belonging to the U.S. are present in five NATO countries that do not themselves have nuclear weapons.

Saying there are nuclear weapons belonging to the U.S. in five NATO countries that do not have nuclear weapons.

“There are nearly 150 U.S. nuclear weapons in six air bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey, which are NATO countries that don’t themselves own nuclear weapons,” it added.

The U.S., China, Russia, France and Britain are nuclear-armed state parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, while India, Pakistan and Israel never became parties even though they own nuclear weapons.

According to the data in parliament’s report, Russia has 7,000 nuclear weapons, the U.S. has 6,800, France has 300, China has 260, Britain has 215, Pakistan has 130, India has 120, Israel has 80 and North Korea has 10 nuclear weapons.

During the Cold War, the U.S. placed nuclear weapons in NATO countries, including Turkey, as part of the organization’s nuclear sharing program. Some of the nuclear weapons placed in the 1960s are still in Turkey today.

At the time, negotiations were carried out between Ankara and Washington in the 1950s and they were concluded at the beginning of the 1960s.

Among those weapons, B61 type bombs are still in the İncirlik air base in the southern Turkish province of Adana. Nuclear warhead Jupiter missiles that were sent to the country during the same time period were only kept in the country between 1961 and 1963.

According to data from the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), the number of B61s in Turkey is estimated to be nearly 50.

The Antichrist not Iraq’s PM is in Control

Riding on the nationalist fervor from defeating the Islamic State (IS) and now through armed confrontation to drive back the Kurds, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi sought to dispel criticism of being a weak leader and simultaneously put himself in the driving seat ahead of national elections in 2018.

However, with many parties with divergent affiliations and allegiances dotting the political and military landscape, Abadi’s political future is far from certain.

The crucial upcoming elections in Iraq will usher a critical post-IS phase in the country. This phase begs a number of questions.

Will the recent show of force against the Kurds backfire on Baghdad? Have Sunni concerns that spawned IS been truly addressed? Can Iraq undertake the huge rebuilding exercise required? Can Baghdad deliver on its elusive reform package? And, importantly, will the growing power and influence of the Shia Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) undercut the political scene?

The heavy-handed approach to damage Kurdish statehood aspirations may have spurred Arab nationalism, but the disproportionate measures against the Kurdish people as a whole only masks the enormous challenges and fractures faced in Iraq.

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki remains fixated on returning to the hot seat and has already amassed a string of allies among the pro-Iranian elements of the PMF as well as support from Iran.

Meanwhile, the PMF itself is deeply polarized with groups split broadly between loyalty to Iran, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, or influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Abadi may give the impression that he commands the PMF forces but, in reality, these forces, who wield significant sway, have a great deal of autonomy. Abadi will remain cautious in approaching and appeasing the PMF, especially the pro-Iranian elements such as the Badr Organization, Sayara al-Salam, and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.

These groups can make or break the Prime Minister, and Abadi will have to achieve a delicate balancing act. In recent actions against the Kurds, many sides, not least Iran, would have pressured and greatly influenced Abadi’s decision making.

The likes of Sadr, who has assumed an increasingly anti-Iranian stance and who commands significant influence among the working class, will remain a thorn in the side of the future Prime Minister as well as the Iranian-allied groups.

Sadr’s mass protests in 2016 lead to a great dilemma for Baghdad, and he can easily mobilize such protests again if desired. When Maliki tried to reign in Sadr and his militias in the past, it largely backfired.

Almost all political parties have armed wings that further their own agendas. With such a diverse number of groups and end goals, there is every danger of intra-Shia fighting that will complicate the huge work that Baghdad has in front of it.

With the Kurds dominating the news, the Sunni voice has taken a quieter tone. However, the same sectarian undertones that saw Iraq slip into a vicious cycle of violence long before IS even took power have not been addressed. The Sunni insurgency is far from over, and Baghdad needs to take practical and meaningful measures to appease the long disenfranchised Sunni population.

With Shia militias dominating the security apparatus, the Sunnis remain as wary as ever.

Abadi’s strong reaction against the Kurds was as much for the audience in Baghdad as that in Erbil. However, with a tussle for power and influence among several groups and pressure to appease many state and non-state actors, Abadi’s quest to retain power is far from certain.

Bashdar Pusho Ismaeel is a London-based freelance writer and analyst whose primary focus and expertise is on the Kurds, Iraq, and current Middle Eastern affairs.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Kurdistan 24.

Preparing for War with Iran

 

With the US President Donald Trump’s decertification of Iran nuclear deal, the prospect of peace and stability in the Middle East appears to be a distant dream. Largely seen as dangerously irresponsible act,

Trumps policy decision has not only casted a dark shadow over peace and stability in Middle East but has also escalated the ongoing tensions and conflicts among various competing forces whose interests diverge more than they converge on the complex geopolitical landscape of Middle East.

The 2015 Iran nuclear deal or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a multilateral, international agreement negotiated between Iran and five permanent members of UN Security Council plus EU. The deal which lifted US-led international sanctions in return for crippling limitations imposed on Iran’s capabilities to acquire nuclear weapons is now under serious strain since US president Donald Trump refused to recertify the deal on October 13, despite reluctantly doing so twice before.

Trump has taken this decision in complete defiance of international community and the remaining signatories of the deal. Also, the endorsement of Iranian unwavering compliance with the deal by International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) that intrusively inspects Iran’s nuclear program has no effect on Trump. Even some key policy makers in his own administration namely Rex Tillerson, Sect. defence James Mattis voiced for staying in the deal as long as it is working but Trump seems adamant in his approach and seeks options to tighten the noose around Iran which he blames for promoting terrorism and destabilizing the region.

So let’s try to understand what led Donald Trump to take such an infamous decision? What policy objectives does he want to achieve? What will be Iran’s response? And finally how it affects regional security environment in the Middle East?

By now it should be clear that Trump decision has less to do with Iran’s compliance with the deal per se and more so with Iran’s regional activities. It seems that the decision is primarily aimed at restoring the waning credibility and supremacy of US in shaping the outcomes and pleasing Washington’s allies like Israel and gulf countries including Saudi Arabia. These countries perceive Iran’s growing presence in areas like Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen a blow to their strategic interests.

Moreover, now that the Middle East is heading towards a post Islamic State ( IS ) era after the near complete military defeat of IS, the US is now looking determined to secure its interests vis-a vis Iran and its regional ally Russia. When it comes to Iraq, Iran has an upper hand which is not acceptable to US and allies. Iraq’s predominantly Shia government rebuffed a statement by US secretary of state Rex Tillerson in which he called on Iranian backed forces to go home. Most importantly, Iran’s Missile program and missile tests is a thorn on the side of US that he wants to contain. This combined with Iran’s growing resurgence regionally has caused the mounting hostilities.

Since assuming power and even during the election campaigned Trump expressed his displeasure with Iran nuclear deal describing it the “worst deal ever” and “an embarrassment to the US” that he will end.

However, at least for now Donald Trump has stopped short of entirely walking away from the deal and has opened the window for congress to come up with an improved version that should allay Donald Trump’s primary concerns related to the “sun set clauses” of the deal and Iran’s missile program.  But the trouble is that Iran has already ruled out any possibility of renegotiating the deal and has rebuked Donald Trump for tinkering with international agreements protected by UN Security Council resolution.

Trump’s predicament is further compounded by the fact that Washington’s key European allies have also vowed to protect the deal and have instead suggested that issues outside of the scope of the deal should be dealt separately. EU considers the deal as an important foreign policy achievement that serves the purpose of non-proliferation while demonstrating diplomacy and negations as the most viable and cost effective methods of conflict resolution.

Bolstered by this international support in favour of the deal, Iran is very unlikely to step back from its ballistic missile program that it argues and rightly so is out of the deal’s scope. This will inevitably lead the two states in to war with each other if a situation so arises.

The US has already imposed economic sanctions on various entities of Iran including its powerful paramilitary force IRGC thus making the situation precarious. In the worst case scenario,  if Trump administration fails to come up with an agreeable revised version of the deal and Iran resists US pressures, the deal can find itself in a trash and economic sanctions lifted under the deal could be re-imposed thereby potentially leading Iran to pursue nuclear capability if it so desires.

This seems plausible given the fact that Russia and China and most probably EU will continue their economic relations with Iran. Thus, it can only be hoped that sense prevails and all stake holders once again reconsider their respective stances and try to overcome their differences through negations and diplomacy since Middle East cannot afford further deterioration. It’s time to rehabilitate and reconstruct the region for wandering refugees to return home and live a peaceful life.