Preparing for the Great New York Earthquake
Preparing for the Great New York Earthquake
Most New Yorkers probably view the idea of a major earthquake hitting New York City as a plot device for a second-rate disaster movie. In a city where people worry about so much — stock market crashes, flooding, a terrorist attack — earthquakes, at least, do not have to be on the agenda.
A recent report by leading seismologists associated with Columbia University, though, may change that. The report concludes a serious quake is likely to hit the area.
The implication of this finding has yet to be examined. Although earthquakes are uncommon in the area relative to other parts of the world like California and Japan, the size and density of New York City puts it at a higher risk of damage. The type of earthquake most likely to occur here would mean that even a fairly small event could have a big impact.
“The issue with earthquakes in this region is that they tend to be shallow and close to the surface,” explains Leonardo Seeber, a coauthor of the report. “That means objects at the surface are closer to the source. And that means even small earthquakes can be damaging.”
The past two decades have seen an increase in discussions about how to deal with earthquakes here. The most recent debate has revolved around the Indian Point nuclear power plant, in Buchanan, N.Y., a 30-mile drive north of the Bronx, and whether its nuclear reactors could withstand an earthquake. Closer to home, the city adopted new codes for its buildings even before the Lamont report, and the Port Authority and other agencies have retrofitted some buildings. Is this enough or does more need to be done? On the other hand, is the risk of an earthquake remote enough that public resources would be better spent addressing more immediate — and more likely — concerns?
The report by scientists from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University at summarizes decades of information on earthquakes in the area gleaned from a network of seismic instruments, studies of earthquakes from previous centuries through archival material like newspaper accounts and examination of fault lines.
The city can expect a magnitude 5 quake, which is strong enough to cause damage, once every 100 years, according to the report. (Magnitude is a measure of the energy released at the source of an earthquake.) The scientists also calculate that a magnitude 6, which is 10 times larger, has a 7 percent chance of happening once every 50 years and a magnitude 7 quake, 100 times larger, a 1.5 percent chance. Nobody knows the last time New York experienced quakes as large as a 6 or 7, although if once occurred it must have taken place before 1677, since geologists have reviewed data as far back as that year.
The last magnitude 5 earthquake in New York City hit in 1884, and it occurred off the coast of Rockaway Beach. Similar earthquakes occurred in 1737 and 1783.
By the time of the 1884 quake, New York was already a world class city, according to Kenneth Jackson, editor of The Encyclopedia of New York City.”In Manhattan,” Jackson said, “New York would have been characterized by very dense development. There was very little grass.”
A number of 8 to 10 story buildings graced the city, and “in world terms, that’s enormous,” according to Jackson. The city already boasted the world’s most extensive transportation network, with trolleys, elevated trains and the Brooklyn Bridge, and the best water system in the country. Thomas Edison had opened the Pearl Street power plant two years earlier.
All of this infrastructure withstood the quake fairly well. A number of chimneys crumbled and windows broke, but not much other damage occurred. Indeed, the New York Times reported that people on the Brooklyn Bridge could not tell the rumble was caused by anything more than the cable car that ran along the span.
As dense as the city was then though, New York has grown up and out in the 124 years since. Also, today’s metropolis poses some hazards few, if any people imagined in 1884.
In one of their major findings, the Lamont scientists identified a new fault line less than a mile from Indian Point. That is in addition to the already identified Ramapo fault a couple of miles from the plant. This is seen as significant because earthquakes occur at faults and are the most powerful near them.
This does not represent the first time people have raised concerns about earthquakes near Indian Point. A couple of years after the licenses were approved for Indian Point 2 in 1973 and Indian Point 3 in 1975, the state appealed to the Atomic Safety and Licensing Appeal Panel over seismic issues. The appeal was dismissed in 1976, but Michael Farrar, one of three members on the panel, dissented from his colleagues.
He thought the commission had not required the plant to be able to withstand the vibration that could occur during an earthquake. “I believe that an effort should be made to ascertain the maximum effective acceleration in some other, rational, manner,” Farrar wrote in his dissenting opinion. (Acceleration measures how quickly ground shaking speeds up.)
Con Edison, the plants’ operator at the time, agreed to set up seismic monitoring instruments in the area and develop geologic surveys. The Lamont study was able to locate the new fault line as a result of those instruments.
Ironically, though, while scientists can use the data to issue reports — the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission cannot use it to determine whether the plant should have its license renewed. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission only considers the threat of earthquakes or terrorism during initial licensing hearings and does not revisit the issue during relicensing.
Lynn Sykes, lead author of the Lamont report who was also involved in the Indian Point licensing hearings, disputes that policy. The new information, he said, should be considered — “especially when considering a 20 year license renewal.”
The state agrees. Last year, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo began reaching out to other attorneys general to help convince the commission to include these risks during the hearings.
Cuomo and the state Department of Environmental Conservation delivered a 312-page petition to the commission that included reasons why earthquakes posed a risk to the power plants. The petition raised three major concerns regarding Indian Point:
A spokesperson for Entergy told the New York Times that the plants are safe from earthquakes and are designed to withstand a magnitude 6 quake.
Lamont’s Sykes thinks the spokesperson must have been mistaken. “He seems to have confused the magnitude scale with intensity scale,” Sykes suggests. He points out that the plants are designed to withstand an event on the intensity scale of VII, which equals a magnitude of 5 or slightly higher in the region. (Intensity measures the effects on people and structures.) A magnitude 6 quake, in Sykes opinion, would indeed cause damage to the plant.
The two reactors at Indian Point generate about 10 percent of the state’s electricity. Since that power is sent out into a grid, it isn’t known how much the plant provides for New York City. Any abrupt closing of the plant — either because of damage or a withdrawal of the operating license — would require an “unprecedented level of cooperation among government leaders and agencies,” to replace its capacity, according to a 2006 report by the National Academies’ National Research Council, a private, nonprofit institution chartered by Congress.Indian Point Nuclear Plant
Beyond the loss of electricity, activists worry about possible threats to human health and safety from any earthquake at Indian Point. Some local officials have raised concerns that radioactive elements at the plant, such as tritium and strontium, could leak through fractures in bedrock and into the Hudson River. An earthquake could create larger fractures and, so they worry, greater leaks.
In 2007, an earthquake hit the area surrounding Japan’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, the world’s largest. The International Atomic Energy Agency determined “there was no significant damage to the parts of the plant important to safety,” from the quake. According to the agency, “The four reactors in operation at the time in the seven-unit complex shut down safely and there was a very small radioactive release well below public health and environmental safety limits.” The plant, however, remains closed.
A quake near Indian Point would clearly have repercussions for New York City. But what if an earthquake hit one of the five boroughs?
In 2003, public and private officials, under the banner of the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation, released a study of what would happen if a quake hit the metropolitan area today. Much of the report focused on building damage in Manhattan. It used the location of the 1884 quake, off the coast of Rockaway Beach, as its modern muse.
If a quake so serious that it is expected to occur once every 2,500 years took place off Rockaway, the consortium estimated it would cause $11.5 billion in damage to buildings in Manhattan. About half of that would result from damage to residential buildings. Even a moderate magnitude 5 earthquake would create an estimated 88,000 tons of debris (10,000 truckloads), which is 136 times the garbage cleared in Manhattan on an average day, they found.
The report does not estimate possible death and injury for New York City alone. But it said that, in the tri-state area as a whole, a magnitude 5 quake could result in a couple of dozen deaths, and a magnitude 7 would kill more than 6,500 people.
Ultimately, the consortium decided retrofitting all of the city’s buildings to prepare them for an earthquake would be “impractical and economically unrealistic,” and stressed the importance of identifying the most vulnerable areas of the city.
Unreinforced brick buildings, which are the most common type of building in Manhattan, are the most vulnerable to earthquakes because they do not absorb motion as well as more flexible wood and steel buildings. Structures built on soft soil are more also prone to risk since it amplifies ground shaking and has the potential to liquefy during a quake.
This makes the Upper East Side the most vulnerable area of Manhattan, according to the consortium report. Because of the soil type, the ground there during a magnitude 7 quake would shake at twice the acceleration of that in the Financial District. Chinatown faces considerable greater risk for the same reasons.
The city’s Office of Emergency Management agency does offer safety tips for earthquakes. It advises people to identify safe places in their homes, where they can stay until the shaking stops, The agency recommends hiding under heavy furniture and away from windows and other objects that could fall.
A special unit called New York Task Force 1 is trained to find victims trapped in rubble. The Office of Emergency Management holds annual training events for the unit.
The Buildings Department created its first seismic code in 1995. More recently, the city and state have adopted the International Building Code (which ironically is a national standard) and all its earthquake standards. The “international” code requires that buildings be prepared for the 2,500-year worst-case scenario.
With the state’s adoption of stricter codes in 2003, the Port Authority went back and assessed its facilities that were built before the adoption of the code, including bridges, bus terminals and the approaches to its tunnels. The authority decided it did not have to replace any of this and that retrofitting it could be done at a reasonable cost.
The authority first focused on the approaches to bridges and tunnels because they are rigid and cannot sway with the earth’s movement. It is upgrading the approaches to the George Washington Bridge and Lincoln Tunnel so they will be prepared for a worst-case scenario. The approaches to the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 42nd Street are being prepared to withstand two thirds of a worst-case scenario.
The terminal itself was retrofitted in 2007. Fifteen 80-foot tall supports were added to the outside of the structure.
A number of the city’s bridges could be easily retrofitted as well “in an economical and practical manner,” according to a study of three bridges by the consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff. Those bridges include the 102nd Street Bridge in Queens, and the 145th Street and Macombs Dam bridges, which span the Harlem River. To upgrade the 155th Street Viaduct, the city will strengthen its foundation and strengthen its steel columns and floor beams.
The city plans upgrades for the viaduct and the Madison Avenue bridge in 2010. The 2008 10-year capital strategy for the city includes $596 million for the seismic retrofitting of the four East River bridges, which is planned to begin in 2013. But that commitment has fluctuated over the years. In 2004, it was $833 million.
For its part, New York City Transit generally is not considering retrofitting its above ground or underground structures, according to a report presented at the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2004. New facilities, like the Second Avenue Subway and the Fulton Transit Center will be built to new, tougher standards.
Underground infrastructure, such as subway tunnels, electricity systems and sewers are generally safer from earthquakes than above ground facilities. But secondary effects from quakes, like falling debris and liquefied soil, could damage these structures.
Age and location — as with buildings — also add to vulnerability. “This stuff was laid years ago,” said Rae Zimmerman, professor of planning and public administration at New York University. “A lot of our transit infrastructure and water pipes are not flexible and a lot of the city is on sandy soil.” Most of Lower Manhattan, for example, is made up of such soil.
She also stresses the need for redundancy, where if one pipe or track went down, there would be another way to go. “The subway is beautiful in that respect,” she said. “During 9/11, they were able to avoid broken tracks.”
The city has not made preparing its infrastructure for an earthquake a top priority — and some experts think that makes sense.
“On the policy side, earthquakes are a low priority,” said Guy Nordenson, a civil engineer who was a major proponent of the city’s original seismic code, “and I think that’s a good thing.” He believes there are more important risks, such as dealing with the effects of climate change.
“There are many hazards, and any of these hazards can be as devastating, if not more so, than earthquakes,” agreed Mohamed Ettouney, who was also involved in writing the 1995 seismic code.
In fact, a recent field called multi-hazard engineering has emerged. It looks at the most efficient and economical way to prepare for hazards rather than preparing for all at once or addressing one hazard after the other. For example, while addressing one danger (say terrorism) identified as a priority, it makes sense to consider other threats that the government could prepare for at the same time (like earthquakes).
Scientists from Lamont-Doherty are also not urging anybody to rush to action in panic. Their report is meant to be a first step in a process that lays out potential hazards from earthquakes so that governments and businesses can make informed decisions about how to reduce risk.
“We now have a 300-year catalog of earthquakes that has been well calibrated” to estimate their size and location, said Sykes. “We also now have a 34-year study of data culled from Lamont’s network of seismic instruments.”
“Earthquake risk is not the highest priority in New York City, nor is dog-poop free sidewalks,” Seeber recently commented. But, he added, both deserve appropriately rational responses.
Earthquake activity in the New York City area
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Although the eastern United States is not as seismically active as regions near plate boundaries, large and damaging earthquakes do occur there. Furthermore, when these rare eastern U.S. earthquakes occur, the areas affected by them are much larger than for western U.S. earthquakes of the same magnitude. Thus, earthquakes represent at least a moderate hazard to East Coast cities, including New York City and adjacent areas of very high population density.
As can be seen in the maps of earthquake activity in this region, seismicity is scattered throughout most of the New York City area, with some hint of a concentration of earthquakes in the area surrounding Manhattan Island. The largest known earthquake in this region occurred in 1884 and had a magnitude of approximately 5. For this earthquake, observations of fallen bricks and cracked plaster were reported from eastern Pennsylvania to central Connecticut, and the maximum intensity reported was at two sites in western Long Island (Jamaica, New York and Amityville, New York). Two other earthquakes of approximately magnitude 5 occurred in this region in 1737 and 1783. The figure on the right shows maps of the distribution of earthquakes of magnitude 3 and greater that occurred in this region from 1924 to 2010, along with locations of the larger earthquakes that occurred in 1737, 1783 and 1884.
The NYC area is part of the geologically complex structure of the Northern Appalachian Mountains. This complex structure was formed during the past half billion years when the Earth’s crust underlying the Northern Appalachians was the site of two major geological episodes, each of which has left its imprint on the NYC area bedrock. Between about 450 million years ago and about 250 million years ago, the Northern Appalachian region was affected by a continental collision, in which the ancient African continent collided with the ancient North American continent to form the supercontinent Pangaea. Beginning about 200 million years ago, the present-day Atlantic ocean began to form as plate tectonic forces began to rift apart the continent of Pangaea. The last major episode of geological activity to affect the bedrock in the New York area occurred about 100 million years ago, during the Mesozoic era, when continental rifting that led to the opening of the present-day Atlantic ocean formed the Hartford and Newark Mesozoic rift basins.
Earthquake rates in the northeastern United States are about 50 to 200 times lower than in California, but the earthquakes that do occur in the northeastern U.S. are typically felt over a much broader region than earthquakes of the same magnitude in the western U.S. This means the area of damage from an earthquake in the northeastern U.S. could be larger than the area of damage caused by an earthquake of the same magnitude in the western U.S. The cooler rocks in the northeastern U.S. contribute to the seismic energy propagating as much as ten times further than in the warmer rocks of California. A magnitude 4.0 eastern U.S. earthquake typically can be felt as far as 100 km (60 mi) from its epicenter, but it infrequently causes damage near its source. A magnitude 5.5 eastern U.S. earthquake, although uncommon, can be felt as far as 500 km (300 mi) from its epicenter, and can cause damage as far away as 40 km (25 mi) from its epicenter. Earthquakes stronger than about magnitude 5.0 generate ground motions that are strong enough to be damaging in the epicentral area.
At well-studied plate boundaries like the San Andreas fault system in California, scientists can often make observations that allow them to identify the specific fault on which an earthquake took place. In contrast, east of the Rocky Mountains this is rarely the case. The NYC area is far from the boundaries of the North American plate, which are in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, in the Caribbean Sea, and along the west coast of North America. The seismicity of the northeastern U.S. is generally considered to be due to ancient zones of weakness that are being reactivated in the present-day stress field. In this model, pre-existing faults that were formed during ancient geological episodes persist in the intraplate crust, and the earthquakes occur when the present-day stress is released along these zones of weakness. The stress that causes the earthquakes is generally considered to be derived from present-day rifting at the Mid-Atlantic ridge.
Earthquakes and geologically mapped faults in the Northeastern U.S.
The northeastern U.S. has many known faults, but virtually all of the known faults have not been active for perhaps 90 million years or more. Also, the locations of the known faults are not well determined at earthquake depths. Accordingly, few (if any) earthquakes in the region can be unambiguously linked to known faults. Given the current geological and seismological data, it is difficult to determine if a known fault in this region is still active today and could produce a modern earthquake. As in most other areas east of the Rocky Mountains, the best guide to earthquake hazard in the northeastern U.S. is probably the locations of the past earthquakes themselves.
The Ramapo fault and other New York City area faults
The Ramapo Fault, which marks the western boundary of the Newark rift basin, has been argued to be a major seismically active feature of this region, but it is difficult to discern the extent to which the Ramapo fault (or any other specific mapped fault in the area) might be any more of a source of future earthquakes than any other parts of the region. The Ramapo Fault zone spans more than 185 miles (300 kilometers) in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It is a system of faults between the northern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont areas to the east. This fault is perhaps the best known fault zone in the Mid-Atlantic region, and some small earthquakes have been known to occur in its vicinity. Recently, public knowledge about the fault has increased – especially after the 1970s, when the fault’s proximity to the Indian Point nuclear plant in New York was noticed.
There is insufficient evidence to unequivocally demonstrate any strong correlation of earthquakes in the New York City area with specific faults or other geologic structures in this region. The damaging earthquake affecting New York City in 1884 was probably not associated with the Ramapo fault because the strongest shaking from that earthquake occurred on Long Island (quite far from the trace of the Ramapo fault). The relationship between faults and earthquakes in the New York City area is currently understood to be more complex than any simple association of a specific earthquake with a specific mapped fault.
A 2008 study argued that a magnitude 6 or 7 earthquake might originate from the Ramapo fault zone, which would almost definitely spawn hundreds or even thousands of fatalities and billions of dollars in damage. Studying around 400 earthquakes over the past 300 years, the study also argued that there was an additional fault zone extending from the Ramapo Fault zone into southwestern Connecticut. As can be seen in the above figure of seismicity, earthquakes are scattered throughout this region, with no particular concentration of activity along the Ramapo fault, or along the hypothesized fault zone extending into southwestern Connecticut.
Just off the northern terminus of the Ramapo fault is the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, built between 1956 and 1960 by Consolidated Edison Company. The plant began operating in 1963, and it has been the subject of a controversy over concerns that an earthquake from the Ramapo fault will affect the power plant. Whether or not the Ramapo fault actually does pose a threat to this nuclear power plant remains an open question.
by TheTower.org Staff | 11.03.17 4:54 pm
Iranian involvement in the Syrian conflict has gradually escalated since the beginning of the uprising in the country in 2011. As the result of international sanctions against Damascus and the drastic weakening of the Syrian economy, Iran has financially propped up the country by granting at least $4.6 billion in credit lines, as well as illicit deliveries of oil and military aid. By mid-2015, it was estimated that total financial support for Syria from Iran amounted to between $6 billion and $20 billion annually.
This aid was granted despite the pressure on the Iranian economy caused by the sanctions, leading to speculation that Tehran would be forced to make a choice between continued expenditure in support of Damascus and domestic priorities. However, the signing of the JCPOA resulted in both the lifting of sanctions and the unfreezing of around $100 billion in assets, considerably reducing pressure on the Iranian economy.
Although Iran had a notable military presence in Syria prior to the nuclear deal, the second half of 2015 saw the beginning of a new influx of direct and indirect assistance. In October of that year, it was reported that hundreds of Iranian troops were arriving in Syria to support a ground offensive in parallel with the then just-commenced Russian airstrikes. By April 2016, it was estimated that between 6,500 and 9,200 IRGC and Iranian paramilitary personnel were stationed in Syria. That same month, Tehran also began to deploy regular Iranian Army troops.
Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian Civil War dates back to 2012. At present, an estimated 7,000 fighters are working to support the Assad regime, with the vast majority of their funding–together with training, weapons and logistics support–coming from Iran. Hezbollah fighters play an incredibly important role in crucial offensives and are currently deployed in Deir Ezzour and around Sokneh City, as well as close to the Lebanese border. Ultimately, Tehran’s policy seeks to sustain Syria as a conduit to Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon to allow Iran to maintain ‘resistance’ against Israel.
Tehran has also supported an array of militias, with the U.S. State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 asserting that “Iran has facilitated and coerced, through financial or residency enticements, primarily Shia fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan to participate in the Assad regime’s brutal crackdown in Syria.”
Of the various Iranian-backed militias in Syria, Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), is the most powerful one. It is an umbrella organization of Shiite militia forces, some of which have been deployed on behalf of the Assad regime since 2013, with a fighting strength of 60,000-140,000. Hash al-Shaabi affiliated groups also operate across the border in Iraq at the behest of the central government in Baghdad, which maintains strong ties to the regime in Tehran. Human rights organizations have accused these groups of carrying out sectarian violence against Sunni civilians in Syria and Iraq.
Below are highlighted some of the most strategically significant sub-groups from within Hashd al-Shaabi through which Iran is pursuing its hegemonic ambitions in Syria and Iraq and has carved out its own “Shia caliphate.”
• Katai’b Hezbollah (KH) is an Iraqi Shiite militia that formed to fight the American occupation in Iraq and has been used as a spearhead force by the IRGC in Syria. The group is regarded as vicious and extremely loyal to Tehran. KH has also long maintained a presence in northern Syria, fighting in Aleppo and now in Deir Ezzour. The commander of the group, Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, widely known by his nom de guerre Abu Mahdi al -Mohandis, was convicted for the American Embassy bombing in Kuwait in 1983 and is a designated terrorist by the U.S. government. He is a close associate of the Quds Force.
• The Badr Organization has ties to the Badr political party in Iraq, but is led by Iranian officers. The group is spearheaded by Hadi Al Amri, who fought on the Iranian side during the Iran-Iraq war and maintains strong ties to Tehran. Under his leadership, the group has overseen flights passing through Iraqi airspace from Iran to Syria containing shipments of weapons in support of the Assad regime. In the Syrian civil war, the Badr Organization has crossed the border from Iraqi Anbar province and deployed fighters to Syria under the banner of the Martyr Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr Forces to push back against Syrian rebels.
• Asa’ib Ahl a-Haq (AAH) is an Iranian-funded Shiite militant organization that was officially founded in January 2006 by Qais al-Khazali as a splinter group from the Mahdi Army. Khazali was recruited in 2006 by the IRGC and AAH fighters have since received extensive training either in Iran or at Hezbollah camps in Lebanon. He was the mastermind behind the kidnapping and killing of four American soldiers in Karbala in 2007. Forces from AAH deployed in Syria are also referred to as the Haidar al -Karar Brigades, which are based in Aleppo and participated in the battle for Aleppo, in which Iranian-backed militia played a central role in helping the Assad regime to retake the city from rebel forces. AAH’s Syrian branch is led by Akram Al Kabi, who is a close associate of Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
• Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS) is a Shiite militant group, formed in 2013, and a close ally to KH and the Badr Organization, as well as the IRGC, from which it receives a large portion of its funding. In Syria, the organization operates mainly around the Saida Zeuynab Shrine in southern Damascus, but has increasingly expanded its operations in support of Assad to other areas of the city, as well as into southern Syria. KSS was implicated in the Assad regime’s chemical weapons attack on the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta on August 21, 2013. It was formed by Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani, who holds both Iranian and Iraqi citizenship, and previously lived in the Islamic Republic for many years.
Seoul, South Korea (CNN) North Korea may be preparing to carry out additional nuclear and missile tests, according to a report based on information from South Korea’s spy agency.
The report was co-written by Rep. Kim Byung-kee and other members of South Korea’s parliamentary intelligence committee after a closed-door briefing by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) on Thursday.
It said another missile test was possible given there had been “active movement of vehicles around a missile research institute in Pyongyang,” the North Korean capital.
The report added that the NIS “predicts that North Korea will continue to carry out additional nuclear tests and push for the development of miniaturized, diversified nuclear warheads.”
The tests are conducted deep underground in a series of tunnels at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, in North Hamgyong Province.
The report said Tunnel 3 at the site “is ready to carry out a nuclear test at any time.”
It added that excavation work had “recently resumed” on Tunnel 4 though “it would take a considerable amount of time to prepare” it for any future nuclear test.
North Korea last claimed to have successfully conducted a test of a hydrogen bomb in early September — the country’s sixth nuclear test. That explosion created a magnitude-6.3 tremor, making it the most powerful weapon Pyongyang has ever tested.
North Korea working on advanced version of missile that could reach US, source says
On Thursday, the regime dismissed regional press reports that one tunnel at the underground nuclear test site collapsed after Pyongyang’s sixth missile test in September, killing hundreds of North Korean workers.
A report from state news agency KCNA accused Japan of circulating “fake news” after its TV Asahi carried a report, citing an unnamed North Korean official claiming up to 200 people were killed in a tunnel collapse.
In addition to a potential future nuclear test, North Korea is working on an advanced version of its existing KN-20 intercontinental ballistic missile that could potentially reach the United States, less than six months after it launched its first ICBM, a US official told CNN.
Additional improvements are underway to North Korea’s nuclear fuel, missile launchers, guidance and targeting systems as well, officials say. All of this comes as President Donald Trump is about to travel to Asia, where North Korea’s weapons will be a major topic of discussion.
In the first 10 months of this year, North Korea launched 22 missiles and tested a hydrogen bomb, while threatening to fire missiles over the US territory of Guam and conduct an atmospheric nuclear test.
Last month, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Washington “does not accept a nuclear North Korea” and said “any use of nuclear weapons by the North will be met with a massive military response, effective and overwhelming.”
ANKARA: The United States is Iran’s “number one enemy” and Tehran will never succumb to Washington’s pressure over a multinational nuclear deal, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised speech on Thursday.
U.S. President Donald Trump broke ranks with other major powers last month by refusing to formally certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. Under that deal, most sanctions on Iran were lifted in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear work.
“The American president’s foolish remarks against our people show the depth of America’s hostility towards the entire Iranian nation,” Iran’s top authority Khamenei told a group of students.
Since the deal was reached in 2015, Khamenei has continued to denounce the United States publicly, suggesting that antagonism between the two countries since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Tehran would not abate because of the accord.
Iran and the United States severed diplomatic ties shortly after the revolution, when hardline students took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. Iran will mark the anniversary of the American embassy seizure on Saturday.
Trump has called the nuclear agreement, which was reached under his predecessor Barack Obama, “the worst deal ever negotiated” and has adopted a harsh approach to Iran over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Washington has imposed new sanctions on Iran over its missile activity, calling on Tehran not to develop missiles capable of delivering nuclear bombs. Iran says it has no such plans and its missile programme is solely for defence purposes.
The deal’s other signatories, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, and the European Union say Washington cannot unilaterally cancel an international accord enshrined by a U.N. resolution.
Iranian officials have repeatedly said that Tehran would stick to the nuclear accord as long as the other signatories respected it. But it has warned about the consequences if the deal falls apart.
“We will never accept their bullying over the nuclear deal … Americans are using all the wickedness to damage the result of the nuclear talks,” Khamenei said to chants of “Death to America” by students.
“Any retreat by Iran will make America more blatant and impudent … Resistance is the only option.”
Trump also accuses Iran of supporting terrorism in the Middle East. Iran rejects that and in turn blames the growth of militant groups such as Daesh on the policies of the United States and its regional allies.