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

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.

Trump Ready to Start a Nuclear War

View: Trump is edging us closer to nightmare nuclear scenario

Euronews 26/11/2017

Javier Solana fears that Trump is creating perverse incentives for others to develop nuclear weapons

By Javier Solana

In the summer of 2012, the international relations theorist Kenneth N. Waltz published an article titled “Why Iran Should Get the Bomb,” in which he argued that a nuclear-armed Iran would reestablish a desirable balance of power in the Middle East, by acting as a counterweight to Israel.

Later that year, Waltz also argued that the strategy of combining sanctions with diplomacy was unlikely to dissuade Iran from developing its nuclear capacity. “Short of using military force,” he wrote in Foreign Affairs in September 2012, “it is difficult to imagine how Iran could be prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons if it is determined to do so.”

Waltz was wrong in two ways. First, by defending nuclear weapons as a source of regional or global stability, he profoundly underestimated the danger that they could fall into the hands of terrorists or be used because of a miscalculation.

Second, Waltz failed to foresee the success of the nuclear negotiations with Iran (or their “failure” from the perspective of those who actually wanted a nuclear-armed Iran). Waltz died in 2013, but if he were alive today, he would undoubtedly point out the loose ends of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany), and the European Union adopted in 2015. Yet he also would have to recognize that the JCPOA goes further than what he and many others had thought possible, demonstrating the power of diplomacy, especially to those who had advocated military means.

The JCPOA was a landmark of multilateralism. Despite that – or, perhaps, because of his disregard for multilateralism in all forms – US President Donald Trump has called it the “stupidest deal of all time,” and predicted that it would “lead to a nuclear holocaust.” Countless analysts, such as Stephen M. Walt of Harvard University, have shown these claims to be completely unfounded and hyperbolic in the extreme. But that didn’t stop Trump from refusing in October to “recertify” the JCPOA.

Trump’s move leaves it up to the US Congress to decide whether to re-impose nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, which would amount to a violation of the agreement. Even if Congress decides to do nothing on this front, Trump’s anti-Iran rhetoric and other Republican initiatives in Congress have strained the JCPOA and left it vulnerable.

The JCPOA’s collapse would generate significant risks for the Middle East and the world. A newly restarted Iranian nuclear programme would add a worrisome dimension to Iran’s strategic rivalry with Saudi Arabia. In fact, the two countries’ cold war already seems to be heating up. Saudi Arabia – whose audacious young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has Trump’s full support – recently accused Iran of an “act of war” after a missile was launched from Yemen toward Riyadh.

At a time when the US is already in a nuclear standoff with North Korea, the last thing it needs is to raise a similar risk in the Middle East. Fortunately, Germany, China, France, the United Kingdom, Russia, and the EU have all committed to defending the JCPOA, distancing themselves from the Trump administration’s reluctant stance.

Trump’s foreign policy is adding to a long list of perverse incentives in the area of nuclear proliferation.v Consider the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, which was launched on the pretext that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction. He wasn’t. And when he was brought down, the other two members of US President George W. Bush’s so-called axis of evil, Iran and North Korea, concluded that not having nuclear arms made them vulnerable to American attempts at regime change. This conclusion was further reinforced in 2011, with the US-assisted overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi, who had abandoned his nuclear program eight years earlier.

In North Korea, Kim Jong-un came to power a few weeks after Qaddafi’s summary execution at the hands of rebel fighters, which undoubtedly influenced his approach to international relations. Rather than making Kim back down, Trump’s threats of “fire and fury” have further convinced the North Korean leader that his survival and that of the Kim dynasty depend on nuclear weapons. Punishingly tight sanctions alone will not change his mind. Kim seems perfectly willing to subject the North Korean people to privations of every kind in order to remain in power.

Of course, there are notable differences between North Korea and Iran. The most obvious is that Iran’s nuclear program did not take off, whereas North Korea – which, unlike Iran, withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty – already has an estimated 60 nuclear warheads, and seems to be making progress toward a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the US mainland. In short: an all-out military conflict with North Korea would entail immediate global risks.

Trump may have begun to realise that increasing pressure on North Korea does not preclude sitting down to negotiate with Kim. In fact, combining both methods is the most sensible alternative.

But giving diplomacy a chance will require Trump to abandon his incendiary rhetoric and maximalist positions, and work constructively with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Having recently consolidated his power at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Xi will probably assume a more proactive role in international conflict resolution, especially in areas that affect China directly. An effective global leader must be able to confront his ally and offer a hand to his adversary when circumstances call for it.

Finding a strategy that credibly contains the North Korean threat is the only way to ensure that South Korea and Japan do not make the regrettable choice of joining the nuclear club. As Waltz observed, nuclear arms have a tendency to spread. But that does not mean we should resign ourselves to proliferation, let alone play down its catastrophic potential. International security depends on preserving diplomatic success stories such as the JCPOA, which are crucial to avoid contagion and to put an end, once and for all, to dangerous spirals of antagonism and polarisation.

Javier Solana was EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Secretary-General of NATO, and Foreign Minister of Spain. He is currently President of the ESADE Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics, Distinguished Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Europe.

Copyright: Project Syndicate 2017

New Alliances Leading to the End

New alliances, new wars

Munir Akram

The writer is a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN.

HISTORY attests that the conclusion of military alliances often leads to military conflict. Indeed, alliances are often formed for the purpose of waging war. It is thus ominous that several new alliances, formal and informal, are emerging currently in various parts of the world.

In South Asia, America’s new alliance with India has emboldened the Modi government to adopt a more aggressive posture towards Pakistan. Under the American umbrella, New Delhi is engaged in the brutal suppression of the latest Kashmiri revolt and ceasefire violations along the LoC; it has threatened ‘surgical strikes’ and a ‘limited war’ and made military preparations for a ‘Cold Start’ surprise attack against Pakistan.

India is now part of the ‘Quad’ (the US, Japan, India and Australia), the Asian military group formed to counter China. The consequent overconfidence in New Delhi sparked the recent military stand-off with China at Doklam.

Each component of the Middle East matrix is extremely complex.

Other military ‘alliances’ have been formed in the Middle East recently, including the Iranian alliances with the governments of Iraq and Syria, and the Russian ‘alliance’ with Syria and Iran. These have produced visible military outcomes which remain to be sanctified by political agreements.

President Trump and his inner circle of advisers believe that they have devised a winning strategy to both reverse Iran’s growing influence in the region and realise peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The centrepiece of this strategy is a new informal alliance between the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia. It is presumed that Saudi influence in the Arab and Sunni Muslim world can be used to challenge Iran’s role in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and persuade the Palestinians to negotiate a settlement with Israel that is acceptable to Israelis.

This strategy may have already produced some unintended consequences, such as the ‘isolation’ of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt; intensification of the war in Yemen, and fresh political turbulence in Lebanon.

Each component of the Middle East matrix — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, the Kurds, Yemen and Palestine — is extremely complex. The positions of the regional players are well entrenched. These will not be changed by the new US-initiated power configuration.

It is highly optimistic, and quite naive, to believe that the new alignment can produce a settlement of the century-old Palestine ‘problem’. The present hard-line Israeli government is unwilling to accept the creation of a ‘real’ Palestinian state or to halt its continued encroachment on Palestinian territory. Riyadh has been unable so far to convince President Mahmoud Abbas, much less the Hamas leadership, to open direct negotiations with Israel without its commitment to a two-state solution.

Iran is now the dominant power in Iraq. It was the Iranian-formed Shia militias (and the Kurdish peshmerga) which turned the tide against the militant Islamic State group. The Iraqi government maintains cordial relations with Washington; but it is pro-Iranian leaders, like ex-prime minister Jaafari, who call the shots in Baghdad. Sunni leaders and mavericks like Muqtada al-Sadr have been marginalised.

Moreover, the precipitate Kurdish ‘independence referendum’ in northern Iraq has coalesced the interests of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey against Kurdish separatism which is perceived to be supported by Israel.

In Syria, Bashar al-Assad has just won the civil war with active military support from Iran, Hezbollah and Russia. The Western and Saudi-/GCC-sponsored Sunni insurgency is in tatters. It will be difficult to alter the Syrian power equation now.

In Lebanon, Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, is the dominant component of a fragile coalition between the country’s Shia, Sunni and Christian factions. Ham-handed attempts to destabilise this coalition could lead to another war between Israel and Hezbollah. Fortunately, neither side wants a war, at least at present.

In Yemen, Saudi Arabia has been unable to dislodge the Houthi-led forces, despite a massive bombing campaign. The Houthis, no doubt with Tehran’s support, have escalated the conflict by the recent launch of the missile aimed at Riyadh. There is no military solution in Yemen; the war can be ended only through a political settlement.

It is the convergent desire of the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia to intensify nuclear and missile constraints on Iran through further sanctions and possibly to scuttle the nuclear agreement negotiated between Iran and the six major powers. If, in response, Iran resumes nuclear enrichment, the US and Israel may construe it as justification for a military strike against Iran. An attack on Iran will be hard to justify and likely to produce catastrophic consequences.

While the US-led coalition will find it difficult to reverse Iran’s entrenched positions in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, or to justify military action against it, they may opt to destabilise Iran internally. A low-level insurgency has been under way for some time in Iran’s Baluchistan-Sistan province (as in Pakistani Balochistan). There are disaffected Azerbaijani, Kurdish and other groups which could be used for subversion and sabotage. The recent terrorist attacks in Iran may have been a precursor of such action.

However, Tehran is in a position to escalate reciprocal pressure on the members of this new alliance. Bahrain’s Sunni rulers are vulnerable to their Shia-majority opposition. If pushed further, Qatar could move closer to Iran and possibly disrupt the operation of US airbases there. Iran enjoys considerable influence in Afghanistan with the Shia Hazaras and Persian-speaking Tajiks and increasingly with the Afghan Taliban. It could, if it wished, severely destabilise the Kabul regime and exert military pressure on the US-Nato forces in Afghanistan. Israel could face missile and rocket attacks from Hezbollah in Lebanon and Shia militias now present in Syria.

The heavy reliance on military force and coercion, especially by the US and some of its allies, is intensifying the conflicts in the Middle East, Afghanistan and elsewhere. It has created the danger of war in South Asia and on the Korean peninsula. It is time for the voices of reason and responsibility — in America, China, Russia, Europe and the Arab and Muslim world — to caution against militarism and demand strict adherence by all states, large and small, to the UN Charter’s central principle: the prohibition of the use or threat of use of force in international relations.

The writer is a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2017

Iranian Nuclear Horn Threatens Europe (Daniel 8:4)

Iran Warns Europe: We Will Increase Missile Range if Threatened

Reuters

France has called for an ‘uncompromising’ dialogue with Iran about its ballistic missile program and a possible negotiation over the issue separate from the 2015 nuclear deal

A still image taken from a pro-Houthi video shows what it says was the launch by Houthi forces in Yemen of a ballistic missile aimed at Riyadh’s King Khaled Airport, November 6, 2017. REUTERS TV/REUTERS

The deputy head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned Europe that if it threatens Tehran, the Guards will increase the range of missiles to above 2,000 kilometers (about 1,242 miles), the Fars news agency reported on Saturday.

France has called for an “uncompromising” dialogue with Iran about its ballistic missile program and a possible negotiation over the issue separate from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Iran has repeatedly said its missile program is defensive and not negotiable.

“If we have kept the range of our missiles to 2,000 kilometers, it’s not due to lack of technology. … We are following a strategic doctrine,” Brigadier General Hossein Salami said, according to Fars.

“So far we have felt that Europe is not a threat, so we did not increase the range of our missiles. But if Europe wants to turn into a threat, we will increase the range of our missiles,” he added.

The United States accused Iran this month of supplying Yemen’s Houthi rebels with a missile that was fired into Saudi Arabia in July and called for the United Nations to hold Tehran accountable for violating two UN Security Council resolutions.

Iran has denied supplying Houthis with missiles and weapons.

The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said last month that Iran’s 2,000-kilometer missile range could cover “most of American interest and forces” within the region, and Iran does not need to extend it.

Jafari said the ballistic missile range was based on the limits set by the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is the head of armed forces.

Iran has one of the Middle East’s largest missile programs and some of its precision-guided missiles have the range to strike Israel.

The United States says Iran’s missile programme is a breach of international law because the missiles could carry nuclear warheads in the future.

Iran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons and says its nuclear program is for civilian uses only.

The United States has imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, saying its missile tests violate a UN resolution that calls on Tehran not to undertake activities related to missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.