A Closer Look At The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

A Look at the Tri-State’s Active Fault Line

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Ramapo Fault is the longest fault in the Northeast that occasionally makes local headlines when minor tremors cause rock the Tri-State region. It begins in Pennsylvania, crosses the Delaware River and continues through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic and Bergen counties before crossing the Hudson River near Indian Point nuclear facility.

In the past, it has generated occasional activity that generated a 2.6 magnitude quake in New Jersey’s Peakpack/Gladstone area and 3.0 magnitude quake in Mendham.

But the New Jersey-New York region is relatively seismically stable according to Dr. Dave Robinson, Professor of Geography at Rutgers. Although it does have activity.

“There is occasional seismic activity in New Jersey,” said Robinson. “There have been a few quakes locally that have been felt and done a little bit of damage over the time since colonial settlement — some chimneys knocked down in Manhattan with a quake back in the 18th century, but nothing of a significant magnitude.”

Robinson said the Ramapo has on occasion registered a measurable quake but has not caused damage: “The Ramapo fault is associated with geological activities back 200 million years ago, but it’s still a little creaky now and again,” he said.

“More recently, in the 1970s and early 1980s, earthquake risk along the Ramapo Fault received attention because of its proximity to Indian Point,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Historically, critics of the Indian Point Nuclear facility in Westchester County, New York, did cite its proximity to the Ramapo fault line as a significant risk.

In 1884, according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website, the  Rampao Fault was blamed for a 5.5 quake that toppled chimneys in New York City and New Jersey that was felt from Maine to Virginia.

“Subsequent investigations have shown the 1884 Earthquake epicenter was actually located in Brooklyn, New York, at least 25 miles from the Ramapo Fault,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Indian Point Continues to Have Problems Before the Sixth Seal

2016-03-31-1459451047-2856715-IndianPoint13Indian Point reactor back up and running after six-day shutdown

Thomas C. Zambito4:07 p.m. ET Nov. 10, 2017

Unit 3 was shut down automatically on Nov. 3 after an electrical component in a generator failed

One of Indian Point’s two nuclear reactors was back up and generating power Thursday night after being shut down for six days while workers repaired a generator, officials said.

Unit 3 went back online around 5:30 p.m., Thursday, according to Jerry Nappi, a spokesman for Indian Point owner’s Entergy.

The spent-fuel pool inside Indian Point 3 is seen at the Indian Point Nuclear Generating Station in …more

Xavier Mascareñas/The Journal News

An electrical component in a Unit 3 generator failed around 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 3, forcing an automatic shutdown of the reactor. That component was replaced.

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Inspectors with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission were immediately notified of the shutdown and have monitored repairs over the past week.

“Our preliminary view is that the company’s evaluations have been thorough and comprehensive,” NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said. “We did not identify any immediate safety concerns with its testing of the generator or its restarting of the reactor.”

The repaired generator is housed on the non-nuclear side of the power plant. Once it trips or goes offline the nuclear reactor automatically shuts down, posing challenges for the reactor’s safety system, federal officials say.

Indian Point’s second reactor, Unit 2, remained at 100 percent power throughout the shutdown.

In January, Entergy announced that in 2021 it will shut down the Buchanan power plant after four decades of providing electricity for customers in Westchester County and New York City.

Building Up the South Korean Nuclear Horn

The case for bringing back atomic weapons to South Korea

The United States once deployed as many as 950 nuclear warheads in Korea, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

By Todd Crowell

November 23, 2017 9:15 AM (UTC+8)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 (Mars-12) in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency.

The Korean Peninsula was regarded as an atomic-weapon free zone for about 15 years, or from 1991 when President George H.W. Bush ordered all tactical nuclear weapons out of South Korea to 2006 when North Korea ran its first underground atomic bomb test.

Events have moved rapidly since then, but the difference is that the growing nuclear weapons arsenal is on the northern side of the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas.

That raises the question is it time to re-introduce tactical nuclear weaponry into the South?

The United States deployed tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea from 1958 to December 1991 in a variety of configurations, yields and delivery systems. At its peak, there were an estimated 950 nuclear warheads in Korea, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

Some were artillery shells, some were primitive cruise missile systems such as the Matador, and others were for delivery by fighter-bombers from South Korean air bases such as Osan , south of Seoul, and Kunsan on the west coast.

By the 1990s this inventory had shrunk to around 100 air-delivered bombs and others aboard aircraft carriers. But in 1994 Bush ordered the removal of nuclear weapons from navy vessels save from those carried aboard ballistic missile submarines.

Former South Korean President Roh Tae-woo could say in 1991, “There do not exist any nuclear weapons [in South Korea] whatsoever.” The Korean Peninsula was effectively a nuclear-free zone.

Also, the atomic weapons stationed in South Korea were not necessarily aimed at North Korea, which in the late 1990s was not really considered a nuclear threat. They were part of a larger targeting regime in the Cold War.

Russia’s Vladivostok and environs were in range of the fighter-bombers based in Korea, for example.

Pyongyang responded to this Bush overture by allowing international inspectors to visit its main nuclear research facility at Yongbyon. It was an invitation it withdrew after the next Bush administration accused the North of cheating on a nuclear freeze agreement in 2002.

Divided opinion

Conservative voices in South Korea have begun to call for the re-introduction of tactical nukes into the South. The main opposition Liberty Korea Party formally endorsed the idea, although current President Moon Jae-in has denied that he supports such an option at this time.

Some politicians in Japan have argued for reintroducing nukes, too.

The former hawkish Japanese defense minister, Shigeru Ishida, often thought to be a potential successor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in September argued that Tokyo should invite the US to base tactical nukes in Japan.

That would violate one of the tenants of Japan’s “Three Nos”, which hold that Japan will not possess, manufacture or allow nuclear weapons into the country (a provision that was overlooked when US aircraft carriers carrying nukes were allowed to dock at Japanese ports.)

Public opinion on the issue seems to differ between South Korea and Japan.

Large percentages of those polled in Japan support remaining non-nuclear, even as they express misgivings about what North Korea is doing. Some polls in South Korea support tactical nukes being reintroduced into the country.

The primary motive for re-introducing nuclear weapons is, of course, enhanced deterrence. But they could also be seen as counters in any future North-South arms limitation talks.

The allies desperately need some bargaining chips since the usual inducements such as signing a peace treaty don’t seem to interest Pyongyang.

The North Koreans look on their nuclear weapons program as a crown jewel, something that they can point to with pride when there isn’t much else to be proud of in that country.

Kim Jong-un has repeatedly said that its nukes are vital to his and his country’s security and are non-negotiable.

It should be clear by now that Pyongyang is indifferent to inducements, unappreciative of any aid during famine years, and largely impervious to economic sanctions. They do not intend to bargain their nukes way for an embassy in Washington.

What’s called for is a two-track diplomatic approach. One track is negotiating a normalizing of relations with Washington and its allies leading to diplomatic relations and a treaty ending the Korean War to replace the existing armistice agreement.

Some would scream “appeasement” or “sellout” over such an approach, in much the same way they cried appeasement with the Agreed Framework in 1995, which allowed the North Koreans to double own on building nuclear weapons.

A second track would be to open nuclear disarmament talks aimed at reducing the number of nukes it controls, possibly ending missile test flights over Japanese territory and other issues.

Kim Jong-un might fancy playing Gorbachev to Donald Trump’s Ronald Reagan. This is where the tactical nukes come in.

It provides the allied side something that it hasn’t had for a long time – a chip that can be bartered away for concessions from the North. The US agrees to remove or destroy one bomb for every bomb the North surrenders or destroys under an international verification regime.

It is difficult to say whether this approach might yield results as it depends on how Kim Jong-un reacts to the spectra of American nukes in full view on his doorstep.

Presumably, an American ballistic missile submarine is prowling even now somewhere submerged in the North Pacific with a full complement of Trident missiles.

But it is literally out-of-sight and out of mind. Nuclear weapons in South Korea would be very much in your face. Deterrent power isn’t the aim; bargaining power is.

The Saudis Join the Alliance (Daniel 8:4)

What’s shaping the Israel-Saudi ‘alliance’

By Jonathan Marcus

Defence and diplomatic correspondent

To all intents and purposes, Saudi Arabia and Israel are de facto allies in the struggle against Iran’s rising influence in the region. It’s a developing, but highly sensitive relationship, but every so often there is a hint of what may be going on beneath the surface.

Last week Israel’s Chief of Staff, General Gadi Eisenkot, said in an interview with UK-based Saudi newspaper Elaph, that Israel was ready to exchange intelligence with the Saudis in order to confront Iran.

“There are shared interests and as far as the Iranian axis is concerned we are in full accord with the Saudis,” he said.

A few days later, speaking after a conference in Paris, a former Saudi justice minister, Dr Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Issa – a close associate of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – told the Israeli newspaper Maariv that “no act of violence or terror that tries to justify itself by invoking the religion of Islam is justified anywhere, including in Israel”.

This was rare public criticism from inside the Arab world of attacks against Israelis.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says there has been a shift in Arab-Israel relations

And just the other day a former senior Israeli military figure speaking in London told of two recent meetings with senior Saudi princes, both of whom said to him words to the effect that, “you are not our enemy any more”.

Such signals are not sent by accident. They are carefully co-ordinated and intended to warn Iran of the developing relationship as well as to prepare Saudi society given the likelihood that such ties may become ever more apparent.

The Israelis – given the nature of their political culture – tend to speak rather more openly about the relationship than do the Saudis. We know little about its practical realities or its strategic content. But it is real and it is developing.

Threat from Iran

This is at one level “a coalition of circumstance”. The destruction of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq in 2003 by a US-led coalition removed a Sunni Arab strategic counterweight to Shia Iran.

The resulting Shia-dominated political leadership in the new Iraq has close ties to Tehran. It is no accident that Iraqi Shia militias have been active in the fighting in Syria supporting the government of Bashar al-Assad.

Will Saudi Arabia go to war with Iran?
Iran’s decision to back President Assad in the Syrian civil war, along with Russian air power and equipment, helped turn the tide in his favour. It opens up the possibility of an Iranian corridor stretching all the way from Tehran to the Mediterranean – something that many Sunnis see as a foreign, Persian intrusion into the heart of the Arab Middle East.

So the enmity between Iran and Saudi Arabia is both strategic and religious.

For the moment Iran and its allies and proxies, like the Shia militia group Hezbollah in Lebanon, appear to be winning. So a strengthening of the relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia makes sense to both countries.

Both insist that Iran should never be allowed to become a nuclear weapons state. Both are uneasy about aspects of the international agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear activities. And both see an increasingly well-trained and well-equipped Hezbollah in Lebanon as a force for instability in the region.

Trump factor

But there is something more going on here as well. It is not just the problem of a rising Iran. Other crucial factors need to be considered too, notably the impact of the new Trump administration in the United States and the broader trajectory of the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring and the horrific war in Syria.

At first sight neither Saudi Arabia nor Israel should have any complaints about the new administration in Washington.

Mr Trump in visits to both countries seems to have embraced their strategic outlook and he too is deeply sceptical about the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Donald Trump has squarely backed Saudi Arabia’s position on Iran

He is lavishing Washington’s allies in the Gulf with new arms sales of ever more sophisticated weaponry.

But empathy is one thing, practical strategy quite another. However welcome many of the president’s words may be in Israel and Saudi Arabia, both governments know that US policy seems adrift in the region.

The US and its allies have been out-gunned and out-played in Syria by Russia and Iran.

For all the talk the US has not yet put forward a credible and coherent policy for containing Iranian influence.

No wonder the Saudi Crown Prince has decided that his country must be more active in its own interests. There is a sense in which both Israel and Saudi Arabia are adjusting to a waning of US influence in the region and the return of old actors like Russia.

Israeli fears

And there is something more fundamental too. Prince Salman is embarking on a dual strategy of trying to confront Iranian influence while also re-shaping and modernising the kingdom.

The latter is in many ways a response to the upheavals of the Arab Spring and the threat of Islamist violence.

Prince Salman appears to have determined that the region must change if it is to have any future. And change begins at home. Reform may be as important as containing Iran.

Five things about Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

A number of private discussions lead me to believe that this is something that Israel buys into too. They recognise that Prince Salman’s activism comes with many risks.

But they have watched with horror from the sidelines of the war in Syria, not least at what some Israelis see as the “normalisation” of the use of chemical weapons; this prompting a very limited response from the wider international community with Moscow actually lending its protection at the UN Security Council to its Syrian ally.

Israelis see Syria as “a laboratory” of what could be the region’s future. Hence their willingness to stress the positives in what Prince Salman is trying to do.

How far might this Israeli-Saudi dynamic go? Well that depends upon a lot of factors. Will Crown Prince Salman’s bold attempt to change Saudi Arabia’s course succeed? Might he over-reach in terms of Saudi Arabia’s effort to excerpt regional influence?

Israel is concerned about Iran deepening its presence across the border in Syria

Fundamentally, if the Saudi-Israel relationship is to emerge blinking into the sunlight, there needs to be progress on the Palestinian front. The Saudis have long said this must come before they will openly recognise Israel.

Without the renewal of a meaningful peace process that actually promises Palestinian statehood the Saudi-Israel “alliance” must remain in the shadows.