The Sixth Seal Will be in New York (Rev 6:12)

Earthquakes Can Happen in More Places Than You Think

By Simon Worrall


Half a million earthquakes occur worldwide each year, according to an estimate by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Most are too small to rattle your teacup. But some, like the 2011 quake off the coast of Japan or last year’s disaster in Italy, can level high-rise buildings, knock out power, water and communications, and leave a lifelong legacy of trauma for those unlucky enough to be caught in them.

In the U.S., the focus is on California’s San Andreas fault, which geologists suggest has a nearly one-in-five chance of causing a major earthquake in the next three decades. But it’s not just the faults we know about that should concern us, says Kathryn Miles, author of Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake. As she explained when National Geographic caught up with her at her home in Portland, Maine, there’s a much larger number of faults we don’t know about—and fracking is only adding to the risks.

When it comes to earthquakes, there is really only one question everyone wants to know: When will the big one hit California?

That’s the question seismologists wish they could answer, too! One of the most shocking and surprising things for me is just how little is actually known about this natural phenomenon. The geophysicists, seismologists, and emergency managers that I spoke with are the first to say, “We just don’t know!”

What we can say is that it is relatively certain that a major earthquake will happen in California in our lifetime. We don’t know where or when. An earthquake happening east of San Diego out in the desert is going to have hugely different effects than that same earthquake happening in, say, Los Angeles. They’re both possible, both likely, but we just don’t know.

One of the things that’s important to understand about San Andreas is that it’s a fault zone. As laypeople we tend to think about it as this single crack that runs through California and if it cracks enough it’s going to dump the state into the ocean. But that’s not what’s happening here. San Andreas is a huge fault zone, which goes through very different types of geological features. As a result, very different types of earthquakes can happen in different places.

There are other places around the country that are also well overdue for an earthquake. New York City has historically had a moderate earthquake approximately every 100 years. If that is to be trusted, any moment now there will be another one, which will be devastating for that city.

As Charles Richter, inventor of the Richter Scale, famously said, “Only fools, liars and charlatans predict earthquakes.” Why are earthquakes so hard to predict? After all, we have sent rockets into space and plumbed the depths of the ocean.

You’re right: We know far more about distant galaxies than we do about the inner workings of our planet. The problem is that seismologists can’t study an earthquake because they don’t know when or where it’s going to happen. It could happen six miles underground or six miles under the ocean, in which case they can’t even witness it. They can go back and do forensic, post-mortem work. But we still don’t know where most faults lie. We only know where a fault is after an earthquake has occurred. If you look at the last 100 years of major earthquakes in the U.S., they’ve all happened on faults we didn’t even know existed.

Earthquakes 101

Earthquakes are unpredictable and can strike with enough force to bring buildings down. Find out what causes earthquakes, why they’re so deadly, and what’s being done to help buildings sustain their hits.

Fracking is a relatively new industry. Many people believe that it can cause what are known as induced earthquakes. What’s the scientific consensus?

The scientific consensus is that a practice known as wastewater injection undeniably causes earthquakes when the geological features are conducive. In the fracking process, water and lubricants are injected into the earth to split open the rock, so oil and natural gas can be retrieved. As this happens, wastewater is also retrieved and brought back to the surface.

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Different states deal with this in different ways. Some states, like Pennsylvania, favor letting the wastewater settle in aboveground pools, which can cause run-off contamination of drinking supplies. Other states, like Oklahoma, have chosen to re-inject the water into the ground. And what we’re seeing in Oklahoma is that this injection is enough to shift the pressure inside the earth’s core, so that daily earthquakes are happening in communities like Stillwater. As our technology improves, and both our ability and need to extract more resources from the earth increases, our risk of causing earthquakes will also rise exponentially.

After Fukushima, the idea of storing nuclear waste underground cannot be guaranteed to be safe. Yet President Trump has recently green-lighted new funds for the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada. Is that wise?

The issue with Fukushima was not about underground nuclear storage but it is relevant. The Tohoku earthquake, off the coast of Japan, was a massive, 9.0 earthquake—so big that it shifted the axis of the earth and moved the entire island of Japan some eight centimeters! It also created a series of tsunamis, which swamped the Fukushima nuclear power plant to a degree the designers did not believe was possible.

Here in the U.S., we have nuclear plants that are also potentially vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis, above all on the East Coast, like Pilgrim Nuclear, south of Boston, or Indian Point, north of New York City. Both of these have been deemed by the USGS to have an unacceptable level of seismic risk. [Both are scheduled to close in the next few years.]

Yucca Mountain is meant to address our need to store the huge amounts of nuclear waste that have been accumulating for more than 40 years. Problem number one is getting it out of these plants. We are going to have to somehow truck or train these spent fuel rods from, say, Boston, to a place like Yucca Mountain, in Nevada. On the way it will have to go through multiple earthquake zones, including New Madrid, which is widely considered to be one of the country’s most dangerous earthquake zones.

Yucca Mountain itself has had seismic activity. Ultimately, there’s no great place to put nuclear waste—and there’s no guarantee that where we do put it is going to be safe.

The psychological and emotional effects of an earthquake are especially harrowing. Why is that?

This is a fascinating and newly emerging subfield within psychology, which looks at the effects of natural disasters on both our individual and collective psyches. Whenever you experience significant trauma, you’re going to see a huge increase in PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicide, and even violent behaviors.

What seems to make earthquakes particularly pernicious is the surprise factor. A tornado will usually give people a few minutes, if not longer, to prepare; same thing with hurricanes. But that doesn’t happen with an earthquake. There is nothing but profound surprise. And the idea that the bedrock we walk and sleep upon can somehow become liquid and mobile seems to be really difficult for us to get our heads around.

Psychologists think that there are two things happening. One is a PTSD-type loop where our brain replays the trauma again and again, manifesting itself in dreams or panic attacks during the day. But there also appears to be a physiological effect as well as a psychological one. If your readers have ever been at sea for some time and then get off the ship and try to walk on dry land, they know they will look like drunkards. [Laughs] The reason for this is that the inner ear has habituated itself to the motion of the ship. We think the inner ear does something similar in the case of earthquakes, in an attempt to make sense of this strange, jarring movement.

After the Abruzzo quake in Italy, seven seismologists were actually tried and sentenced to six years in jail for failing to predict the disaster. Wouldn’t a similar threat help improve the prediction skills of American seismologists?

[Laughs] The scientific community was uniform in denouncing that action by the Italian government because, right now, earthquakes are impossible to predict. But the question of culpability is an important one. To what degree do we want to hold anyone responsible? Do we want to hold the local meteorologist responsible if he gets the weather forecast wrong? [Laughs]

What scientists say—and I don’t think this is a dodge on their parts—is, “Predicting earthquakes is the Holy Grail; it’s not going to happen in our lifetime. It may never happen.” What we can do is work on early warning systems, where we can at least give people 30 or 90 seconds to make a few quick decisive moves that could well save your life. We have failed to do that. But Mexico has had one in place for years!

There is some evidence that animals can predict earthquakes. Is there any truth to these theories?

All we know right now is anecdotal information because this is so hard to test for. We don’t know where the next earthquake is going to be so we can’t necessarily set up cameras and observe the animals there. So we have to rely on these anecdotal reports, say, of reptiles coming out of the ground prior to a quake. The one thing that was recorded here in the U.S. recently was that in the seconds before an earthquake in Oklahoma huge flocks of birds took flight. Was that coincidence? Related? We can’t draw that correlation yet.

One of the fascinating new approaches to prediction is the MyQuake app. Tell us how it works—and why it could be an especially good solution for Third World countries.

The USGS desperately wants to have it funded. The reluctance appears to be from Congress. A consortium of universities, in conjunction with the USGS, has been working on some fascinating tools. One is a dense network of seismographs that feed into a mainframe computer, which can take all the information and within nanoseconds understand that an earthquake is starting.

MyQuake is an app where you can get up to date information on what’s happening around the world. What’s fascinating is that our phones can also serve as seismographs. The same technology that knows which way your phone is facing, and whether it should show us an image in portrait or landscape, registers other kinds of movement. Scientists at UC Berkeley are looking to see if they can crowd source that information so that in places where we don’t have a lot of seismographs or measuring instruments, like New York City or Chicago or developing countries like Nepal, we can use smart phones both to record quakes and to send out early warning notices to people.

You traveled all over the U.S. for your research. Did you return home feeling safer?

I do not feel safer in the sense that I had no idea just how much risk regions of this country face on a daily basis when it comes to seismic hazards. We tend to think of this as a West Coast problem but it’s not! It’s a New York, Memphis, Seattle, or Phoenix problem. Nearly every major urban center in this country is at risk of a measurable earthquake.

What I do feel safer about is knowing what I can do as an individual. I hope that is a major take-home message for people who read the book. There are so many things we should be doing as individuals, family members, or communities to minimize this risk: simple things from having a go-bag and an emergency plan amongst the family to larger things like building codes.

We know that a major earthquake is going to happen. It’s probably going to knock out our communications lines. Phones aren’t going to work, Wi-Fi is going to go down, first responders are not going to be able to get to people for quite some time. So it is beholden on all of us to make sure we can survive until help can get to us.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Pakistan’s weapons programme surest route to nuclear-level war: US think tank

Pakistan’s tactical nuclear-weapons programme is dangerous for safety and security reasons, and also because it is the surest route to escalating conventional war to the nuclear level according to a report by an American think-tank.

The Shaheen-III missile is displayed during the Pakistan Day parade in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 23, 2016. (REUTERS File Photo)

Updated: Nov 26, 2017 19:04 IST

Press Trust of India, Washington

Pakistan’s tactical nuclear- weapons programme is not only dangerous for safety and security of the region, but also it is the surest route to escalating conventional war to the nuclear level, according to a report by an American think-tank.

In its report ‘Asia in the Second Nuclear Age’, the Atlantic Council, however, said Pakistan does not appear to have operationalised its tactical nuclear-warfare plans yet.

“Pakistan’s tactical nuclear-weapons programme is dangerous for safety and security reasons, and also because it is the surest route to escalating conventional war to the nuclear level. However, Pakistan does not appear to have operationalised its tactical nuclear-warfare plans yet,” said the report released this month.

The greatest threat in the region comes not from the development of large, sophisticated, and diversified nuclear arsenals, but from the continued stability of the institutions guarding them. “In this regard, the future stability of Pakistan remains a wild card,” said the report.

In the last four decades, the Pakistani deep state’s pursuit of low intensity conflict in Afghanistan and India, via the vehicles of radical jihadi non-state actors, has produced terrible blow back effects on Pakistan itself.

Read more | India’s nuclear-weapon inventory set to increase: ReportNoting that both the Pakistani state and civil society have become the targets of terror attacks, it said some of the attacks have occurred, with insider help, on sensitive military bases where nuclear weapons are likely stored.
“The possibility that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons could be stolen or that schisms in Pakistan’s military might cause nuclear command-and-control failures is not as fantastic as it once seemed,” said the report.

Authored by Gaurav Kampani and Bharath Gopalaswamy, the report concludes that in the nuclear dynamic in the Indo- Pacific region, India and Pakistan are novice developers of nuclear arsenals; the weapons in their inventory are first- generation fission weapons.

Likewise, their delivery systems are the first in the cycle of acquisitions, the report said, adding that their hardware acquisitions generate outside concern because of the scope of their ambitions.

Observing that both nations plan to deploy a triad capability, the report said nonetheless, this ambitious goal and the selection of technologies underline the central lesson of the nuclear revolution, which is force survival (to enable an assured second-strike capability).
It said force survival through secure second-strike capabilities is also China’s goal.

“It is the only nuclear power among the three that is actually modernizing, i.e., replacing aging delivery systems with newer and better designs,” the report said.

“Thus far, the evidence suggests that Chinese and Indian explorations of multiple-reentry vehicle technologies are aimed at reinforcing deterrence through the fielding of more robust second-strike capabilities,” the report said.

It said that this conclusion is also supported by the fact that neither India nor China has, nor is developing, the ancillary intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems necessary to execute splendid first-strike attacks.

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Former Joint Chiefs chairman: Likelihood of nuclear war is rising

Dave Lawler

Retired Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said on ABC’S „This Week“ that nuclear war has become „more probable than it used to be. And it scares me to death, quite frankly.“

Mullen also said he has concerns about the fact that generals have taken such high-ranking and high-profile roles in the Trump administration, and that he was disappointed that John Kelly has shown he’ll be „supportive of the president no matter what.“

Full quotes:

On Kelly: I mean, certainly what happened very sadly a few weeks ago when he was in a position to both defend the president in terms of what happened with the gold star family and then he ends up — and John ends up politicizing the death of his own son in the wars. It is indicative of the fact that he clearly is very supportive of the president no matter what. And that, that was really a sad moment for me.
Does he recognize Flynn these days?: „No, I don’t know the Mike Flynn that I have seen since he made a decision to endorse very strongly and publicly President Trump.“
On nuclear war: „I think it’s more probable than I it used to be. And it scares me to death, quite frankly. They’re the most dangerous weapons in the world. And certainly if we have someone in North Korea that has a lethal legacy, is very, very unpredictable, and sees this as a way to solidify his future, that he could well not just attain them but potentially use them.“
On refusing an order: „Well, I think any senior military officer always approaches it from the standpoint of we’re not going to follow an illegal order. That said, the president is in a position to give a legal order to use those weapons. And the likelihood that given that order that it would be carried out I think would be pretty high.“
On North Korea: „I still worry about the peninsula and the potential outcome there. I worry there is more uncertainty than there was a year ago, in principle because of the rhetoric that is there. I know that the Trump administration has addressed this issue from day one, so they’re very serious about creating options and have created options. It’s still a very difficult place to know what’s actually going on.“

Hawaii Preparing for Nuclear Attack

Retired Admiral Mike Mullen says use of Nuclear force in North Korea is more likely than it used to be. He told ABC This Week, “I think it’s more probable than it used to be, and it scares me to death quite frankly.“ Buzz60



In a throwback to the days of the Cold War with Russia, Hawaii on Friday will begin testing a warning siren to prepare for the possibility of nuclear attack, state officials say.

Vern Miyagi, administrator for the state emergency management agency, said the sirens blasting across the islands would notify the public to „get inside, stay inside and stay tuned“ for more information.

Miyagi likened the warnings to Bert the Turtle, a cartoon character from the 1950s used to warn Americans to „duck and cover“ in the event of a nuclear attack. The increased threat from North Korea is the reason behind the warnings, he said.

„If anybody told me four or five months ago we would be doing this I would have said you are crazy,“ Miyagi said. „But stuff happens.“

The signal test will take place Friday and the first business day of each month after that. The test will take place in conjunction with a general siren warning, a more steady tone, that already takes place each month.

The state is also broadcasting public service announcements and conducting community meetings aimed at educating the public. Miyagi said Hawaiians should have two weeks of provisions stored in their homes, just in case of an attack or a natural disaster.

He acknowledged that state officials do not consider an attack likely but said all have heard the unrelenting threats from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Kim and President Trump have swapped insults and threats since Trump assumed the presidency. Trump has threatened „fire and fury,“ and during a tour of Asia this month urged U.S. troops to be prepared for conflict.

“We dominate the sky, we dominate the sea, we dominate the land and space,” he said.

Kim has called Trump a „lunatic“ and has threatened a pre-emptive strike aimed at annihilating the United States.

New York and Washington, D.C., are almost 7,000 miles from Pyongyang. Honolulu is about 4,600 miles. Closer quarters make Hawaii more vulnerable, but Miyagi dismissed the opinion of many Hawaiians that a nuclear attack would be so devastating that it’s not worth planning for recovery.

„The models as far as casualties, we’re talking about 10%,“ Miyagi said. „It’s not pretty, (but) I’m going to tell the 90% survivors that we stopped planning because you guys were all supposed to die?

„There is an impact, and there is a whole bunch of stuff after,“ he said. „That is why we are preparing.“

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


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.

Why Australia Will Become a Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

Is there a change Australia’s nuclear weapons position under Turnbull?

Prof. Murray Hunter

Since the early 1970s, Australian Governments have been strongly supportive of nuclear non-proliferation under the definitions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), signed by the McMahon Government in 1970 and ratified by the incoming Labor Whitlam Government in 1973.

Australia’s anti-nuclear position was even strengthened under Liberal-Coalition Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, as the “green/anti-nuclear” movement was quickly growing in Australia at the time. With the exception of Prime Minister John Howard, who saw a changing Asia-Pacific nuclear balance, subsequent prime ministers Hawke, Keating, Rudd, and Gillard also strongly followed the non-proliferation line.

Paradoxically, every prime minister supported to various degrees, the development of uranium mining and export as an economic driver. The Fraser and later Rudd Governments argued that uranium exports should be used as a means to strengthen non-proliferation by demanding safeguards from customers.

Uranium exports have been controversial, with strong domestic protests over the years, governments trampling over indigenous wills, and deep party rifts within the Labor movement. Yet on the issue on non-proliferation, Australia had always been at the forefront in international forums.

Prior to the 1970s, Australia took a different view towards nuclear non-proliferation. In 1944, Australia supplied uranium ore to the Manhattan Project. Australian physicist Mark Oliphant played a major role in pushing the atomic bomb program in both Britain and the US before the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941.

However after World War II, the US Government reneged on its agreement to share nuclear technology with its allies. Then Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies, granted Australia’s assistance to Britain in its quest for autonomous nuclear weapons, giving technical assistance and allowing nuclear tests in the Mont Bello Islands, Emu Field and Maralinga, on Australian soil between 1952 and 1963. Australia also participated in the development of the Blue Streak and bloodhound missiles, which were potential nuclear weapon delivery systems with Britain during this era.

The significance of Australian participation, which didn’t go unnoticed by Australian bureaucrats and politicians at the time, was that under section IX.3 of the proposed NPT, Australia would be able to claim nuclear status as it had participated in the production and detonation of nuclear weapons prior to 1st January 1967. Historical reports indicate that the Australian Government’s main motivation at the time, (including US pressure), was to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the local hemisphere, rather than seeking the abolishment of nuclear weapons.

Bureaucratic support from within the Australian defence and security establishment for a nuclear hedging position was strong at the. Wikileaks publication of diplomatic cables between Australia and the US on Iran’s bid to develop nuclear weapons indicated this. Notable Australian diplomat and former Director-General of the Office of National Assessments, Peter Varghese was reported as saying in his briefings to the United States that Australia didn’t see Iran as a ‘rogue state’ in its development of nuclear weapons as “Tehran’s nuclear program (was) within the paradigm of the laws of difference, noting that Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon may be enough to meet it’s security objectives”.

Attempts during the 1950s and 1960s were made by a number of defence personnel, high placed public servants, academics, and right wing elements of the Liberal-Country Party to acquire nuclear weapons. Initially purchasing them from either Britain or the United States was advocated. Later developing an independent nuclear deterrent was favored.

Most of the active proponents for nuclear weapons were defence related personal. They developed a number of plans to acquire nuclear weapons from the British, or have the United States deploy them on Australian soil. Sir Philip Baxter, who was head of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC) at the time, operated a clandestine research program to isolate the isotope U-235 from uranium, the quality needed in the production of nuclear weapons.

Some academics like Professor A. L. Burns of the Australian National University also advocated an Australian nuclear option which was aired by the Australian media at the time, especially in relation to the Chinese testing a nuclear bomb and the belief that Indonesia was also developing nuclear weapons. Pressure groups like the Democratic Labor Party and Returned Soldiers League which were both influential during the 1960s also strongly advocated an Australian nuclear weapon option.

The reluctance of the Australian Government to go ahead with the development of its own nuclear weapons all changed after Prime Minister Menzies retirement, when John Gorton unexpectedly became prime minister after the disappearance of Prime Minister Harold Holt in 1967. John Gorton, an ex-RAAF pilot strongly believed that Australia should have its own independent nuclear deterrent with the Chinese in possession of nuclear weapons in the region. Plans went underway to develop a nuclear facility at Jervis Bay on the South Coast of New South Wales that would house both a nuclear reactor, which could produce weapons grade plutonium, and bomb manufacturing facilities.

Gorton tried to develop an Australian nuclear weapon capability before the NPT was signed. However in March 1971, he was disposed by William McMahon, who cancelled all nuclear weapon development plans. It will always remain a matter of conjecture how much influence the US had in his decision.

Moving back to the present day, two recent reactions to recent events by the Turnbull Government could hint of a change in thinking about Australia’s strong non-proliferation position.

Firstly, Australia’s tradition of supporting non-proliferation in international forums has been broken. Australia failed to support the recent United Nations resolution to outlaw nuclear weapons on the floor of the General Assembly last month to the surprise and astonishment of many interested in this issue. Secondly, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull failed to give Melbourne based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) director Beatrice Fihn a congratulatory call after been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This seems significant in what can be considered Austria’s first Nobel Peace Prize.

In addition Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s rhetoric about nuclear weapons soon about to spread through the region indicates a change in Canberra’s world view.

This is not yet a policy shift, but perhaps recognition that nuclear weapons for Australia may need to be an option. However, even if nuclear weapons were to be an option, the road ahead for any government would be rocky, if not almost fatal without a need the public would accept.

The regional environment has changed dramatically over the last few years. China is rising rapidly economically and will become the world’s largest economy very soon. China’s military capacity is rising in accordance with her aspirations, and is asserting itself in the South China Sea, a region it has historically seen as its sphere of influence. Many pundits would claim that these actions should be expected with China’s re-emergence. However with this expansion of Chinese forces, the balance of power between China vis a vis the US is rapidly shifting.

This is by no means a direct threat to the security of Australia. It’s a new equilibrium that the region should be able to get comfortable with. Many are. However China’s rise in military force is prompting countries like India to upgrade its nuclear arsenal to much more powerful thermonuclear weapons.

The unstable part of the equation is North Korea’s development of thermonuclear weapons and delivery systems which may prompt nuclear latent states like Japan and South Korea change their status. This would make the Asia-Pacific on a par with Europe in regards to the nuclear of nuclear players.

Another important issue of the strategic equation is Australia’s relative decline in military capacity against other countries within the region. Australia’s ability to project itself militarily is almost non-existent now. Australia’s prestige as a ‘coldwar’ middle power is a long gone myth in the region today. Here, it is more Australian prestige rather than security that is of threat here.

The US extended nuclear deterrent (END) is another myth Canberra must contend with. Unlike Canada which is part of Continental North America and covered by the US nuclear umbrella, Australia is an isolated country in another part of the world. The US sound surveillance system (SOSUS) which is a nuclear submarine early warning system is not deployed around Australia’s continual shelf. In addition, Australia should learn the lesson of US involvement in the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina, where the US was primarily neutral. Australia cannot depend on direct US military assistance in any future potential regional military conflict.

It should also be said here, that Japan and South Korea pay enormous amounts of money for US protection. Australia has been expecting to get it virtually free for too long.

Australia’s capability to develop nuclear weapons is better than most. The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO) at Lucas Heights, replacing the AAEC in 1987 is an internationally renowned centre of nuclear research. Australia has also developed some advanced indigenous uranium refining technology, the SILEX process using lasers, which is much more economical and cheaper than the traditional centrifuge technology. Australia has large reserves of uranium and a stockpile of semi-refined uranium at Lucas heights. Australia also has a certain degree of bomb making technology that it gained from participation with Britain in the nuclear tests during the 1950s and its own endeavours back in the 1970s. Australia has the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fighter, Boeing F/A-18a & B Hornet, and the F/A 18F Super Hornet as capable medium range delivery systems. Australia also has a range of nuclear capable cruise missiles which can be launched from aircraft, ships, and submarines.

However, this doesn’t mean developing a nuclear arsenal would be an easy project for any future government. The project would be a major one requiring special budgeting, which would mean curtailing other budget expenditure. This could be very difficult in today’s economic environment.

In addition, public opinion would most likely be against the idea, unless a major threat was collectively perceived against the nation. North Korean threats against Australia were not enough. The establishment of Japanese and South Korean nuclear arsenals would not be enough. Maybe an event closer to home such as Indonesia developing nuclear weapons would change public opinion. Maybe that might not even be enough. It may take something drastic like a nuclear Indonesia and some sort of Iranian like revolution taking place before public opinion would shift towards favoring a nuclear deterrent for Australia.

This is an unlikely scenario in the short term, but not so remote in the medium to long term. Acting after the event however would just be too late.

In the absence of some form of threat to Australia’s security, public debate would probably be one of the most heated and passionate within Australian society. This would be reflected in the finely balanced Australian Parliament. This debate would have the potential to bring down the Government.

In the absence of bi-partisanship between the major parties on the issue, a Labor Government on current policy would firmly squash any potential nuclear program. It may not even need a change of government, a change of leader within the Liberal Party maybe enough to force the cancellation of any nuclear program.

The nuclear weapon debate is an issue politicians can use to gain power, which would prevent Australia developing nuclear weapons. That’s the dynamics of a democratic system. If France or Britain had to develop nuclear weapons from scratch today, it would almost be impossible through their democratic processes.

Even if Australia decided to go ahead with a nuclear program, tacit approval would be needed from the United States. The US has for years been hedging on this. However with the Trump view of the world (a view that will almost certainly for economic reasons outlive Trump), the US may support allies in the Asia-Pacific taking more responsibility for their own defence. The proposal by Australia to develop its own nuclear arsenal may bring big offers of concessions from the US, where a future administration may offer alternatives.

An indigenous Australian nuclear arsenal would allow Australia to be more independent in foreign policy, something that is needed to handle the changing China-US balance in the region. It would most probably bring the respect of China and free Australia from the need to unquestionably follow the US line. Iraq after all was a disaster that Australia could have avoided. Both Australian bureacrats and government see this.

France is a precedent in Europe which follows an independent foreign policy, and Israel is a precedent in the MENA, where it could be argued that the country has been able to survive in a hostile region due to the deterrents it has in place.

The writer is not arguing that the Turnbull Government has made a complete turn towards a nuclear hedging policy. The writer is arguing that the Turnbull Government understands the possibility of an independent nuclear arsenal may be an option in the near to medium future. It could be preparing the way. It’s the responsibility of defence and the public service to prepare these positions and the government of the day to consider them.

Watch this space and expect to see the concept of an Australian nuclear deterrent discussed more in the media in the near future, particularly when major events favour such a response.

An abridged version was first published in the Asia Sentinel

The Nuclear Risk in Asia (Revelation 8)


It is now a truism among foreign and defence policy practitioners that the post-Cold War nuclear build-up in the Indo-Pacific region constitutes the dawn of the “second nuclear age“, argues the Atlantic Council’s report, Asia in the „Second Nuclear Age“.

From the 1990s onward, China’s decision to stir out of its strategic languor and modernize its nuclear arsenal, along with the resolve of India and Pakistan to deploy operational nuclear forces, and, more recently, North Korea’s sprint to develop reliable long-range nuclear capabilities that can credibly threaten the continental United States, has led many to aver that the second nuclear age will rival the worst aspects of the first.

During the first nuclear age, baroque nuclear arms build-ups, technical one-upmanship, forward deployed nuclear forces, and trigger-alert operational postures characterized the competition between the superpowers and their regional allies. The nuclear rivals embraced nuclear war-fighting doctrines, which internalized the notion that nuclear weapons were usable instruments in the pursuit of political ends, and that nuclear wars were winnable.

Two rivalries

There is a sense of déjà vu among nuclear pessimists that nuclear developments in China, India, and Pakistan could produce similar outcomes. When North Korea’s nuclear advances are factored in, the prognoses become even direr. More specifically, the second nuclear age consists of two separate systems of nuclear rivalry, with potentially dangerous spillover effects.

The first rivalry is centred on India, Pakistan, and China, with a geographic footprint that overlays the larger Indo-Pacific region. The second rivalry encompasses the Northeast Pacific, overlaying the Korean peninsula, Japan, and the United States. North Korean developments, and a potential US overreaction to them, threaten China’s historic nuclear minimalism and its own interests as an emerging global power.

Similarly, US suggestions of global retreat, and the retraction of extended deterrence guarantees to its allies in Northeast Asia, could push those allies to acquire independent nuclear arsenals and intensify the second nuclear age.

Splendid first-strike

Until very recently, the threat of a nuclear war was thought most likely in South Asia, where India and Pakistan are involved in a festering low-intensity conflict (LIC) fostered by deep conflicts about identity and territory. Specific dangers include Pakistan’s threats to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in a conventional war with India. Likewise, India’s investments in ballistic-missile defences (BMD) and multiple-re-entry vehicle (MRV) technology could, in theory, afford future decision-makers in New Delhi the means to execute splendid first-strike (a counterforce attack intended to disable the opponent’s nuclear capacity before it is used) options against Pakistan.

Prognoses of the nuclear rivalry between India and China are generally less threatening. But, when the latter rivalry is considered in the context of ongoing boundary disputes between New Delhi and Beijing, their self-identification as great powers accounting for nearly 50% of global gross domestic product (GDP) by mid-century, their participation in regional balance-of power-systems, and potential operational brushes between sea-based nuclear forces forward deployed in the Indian Ocean, those concerns invariably overshadow any optimism.

Asia’s nuclear future

In the background of the unfolding gloom of the second nuclear age, the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center conducted three workshops in India, Pakistan, and China in the fall of 2016, with the objective of drawing academics, policy practitioners, and analysts in each country to discuss the unfolding nuclear dynamics in the region. All three workshops had a common theme: Assessing Nuclear Futures in Asia.

Under this umbrella theme, workshop participants tackled three specific subjects:

  • The general nature of the strategic competition in Indo-Pacific region;
  • The philosophical approaches shaping nuclear developments in China, India, and Pakistan;
  • The hardware and operational characteristics of their nuclear forces.

The report Asia in the „Second Nuclear Age“ presents the findings of the three workshops, in separate sections on China, India, and Pakistan.

What stands out in these findings is that regional participants generally reject the nuclear pessimism in Western capitals. The nuclear “sky is falling” argument, they maintain, is simply not supported by the evidence, at least when evidence is embedded in its proper context.

Key Conclusions

• While the first nuclear age was riven by deep ideological conflicts between two contrarian political systems that viewed the victory of the other as an existential threat, the nuclear rivalry between China, India, and Pakistan is nothing like that.

All three states accept the legitimacy of the international system, to the extent that they share goals of market capitalism, state sovereignty, and multilateral institutionalism. Undoubtedly, the three states have different domestic political systems: authoritarian capitalist (China), liberal democracy (India), and praetorian democracy (Pakistan). Yet, none of these nuclear powers views the domestic political system of another as jeopardizing its own existence.

• At least two among the three nuclear powers – China and India – have vast strategic depth, excellent geographical defences, and strong conventional forces. Neither fears a conventional threat to its existence. Leaderships in both countries have a shared belief that nuclear weapons are political weapons whose sole purpose is to deter nuclear use by others. They also share a common institutional legacy of civilian-dominated nuclear decision-making structures, in which the military is only one partner, and a relatively junior one, among a host of others.

All three factors – the structural, the normative, and the institutional – dampen both countries’ drives toward trigger-ready, destabilizing, operational nuclear postures that lean toward splendid first-strike options.

However, this reassurance does not extend to Pakistan, which – due to the lack of geographic depth and weaker conventional forces against India – has embraced a first-use nuclear doctrine.

Pakistan’s hybrid praetorian system also allows its military near autonomy in nuclear decision-making. This combination of structural and institutional factors has led Pakistan to elect a rapidly expanding nuclear force that, within a decade, could rival the British, French, and Chinese arsenals in size, though not in sophistication.

Evidence also suggests that Pakistan has developed tactical nuclear weapons, although it does not appear to have operationalized tactical nuclear warfare.

• In the nuclear dynamic in the Indo-Pacific region, India and Pakistan are novice developers of nuclear arsenals; the weapons in their inventory are first-generation fission weapons. Likewise, their delivery systems are the first in the cycle of acquisitions. Their hardware acquisitions generate outside concern because of the scope of their ambitions. Both nations plan to deploy a triad capability.

Nonetheless, this ambitious goal and the selection of technologies underline the central lesson of the nuclear revolution, which is force survival (to enable an assured second-strike capability).

China’s goal

• Force survival through secure second-strike capabilities is also China’s goal. It is the only nuclear power among the three that is actually modernizing, i.e., replacing ageing delivery systems with newer and better designs.

Thus far, the evidence suggests that Chinese and Indian explorations of multiple-re-entry vehicle technologies are aimed at reinforcing deterrence through the fielding of more robust second-strike capabilities. This conclusion is also supported by the fact that neither India nor China has, nor is developing, the ancillary intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems necessary to execute splendid first-strike attacks.

Another technology of concern is missile defence. India’s goals vis-à-vis missile defence are still unclear, and its technical successes with the programme are even less evident. Chinese goals are similarly unclear, and appear to be exploratory means for defeating adversarial attempts to stymie its deterrent capability.

• On a more positive note, neither India nor Pakistan is conducting nuclear tests to develop or improve designs for nuclear warheads. The same holds for China. However, Pakistan is rapidly accumulating fissile material, which could increase to four hundred and fifty kilograms of plutonium, sufficient for ninety weapons, and more than 2,500 kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU), sufficient for one hundred simple fission warheads by 2020.

India’s warheads

India is accumulating approximately 16.6 kilograms of fissile material annually, sufficient for a force of approximately 150-200 warheads, though all fissile material is probably not converted into nuclear warheads.

China, however, is no longer producing fissile material. It is only modestly increasing the size of its arsenal, from 264 to 314 warheads. The size of the Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani arsenals will remain a function of the calculations of damage ratios that each believes essential to achieve deterrence. Yet, if current trends remain stable, the size of their arsenals should remain comparable to the French and British nuclear arsenals. The arsenals will be large, but will by no means approach the gargantuan size of the US or Russian nuclear arsenals.

• Like other regional nuclear powers during the first nuclear age, China, India, and Pakistan might also decide to forego one or more vulnerable legs of their nuclear triad. At present, however, there are no indicators of this happening.

The nuclear rivalry in South Asia remains ominous, because Pakistan wages LIC against India via non-state actors, while the latter has devised limited conventional-war options to punish the Pakistani military on Pakistani soil. India has also recently hinted that it could abandon nuclear no first use (NFU) in favour of splendid first-strike options. Simultaneously, however, India is backing away from its purported limited-conventional-war doctrine against Pakistan, on the premise that the LIC does not represent an existential threat to Indian security, and that there are other sophisticated methods for dealing with Pakistan’s aggressions that don’t involve pressing nuclear buttons.

The decline in India’s appetite for limited conventional war against Pakistan, if institutionalized over time, would represent a game changer and significantly reduce the risk of nuclear war in the region.

• The big difference between the first and second nuclear ages is the domestic stability of the nuclear-weapon powers. For the greater part of the first nuclear age, states that wielded nuclear arsenals were stable and boasted strong governing institutions.

In Asia – while China and India represent this continuity of strong state institutions, as well as checks and balances on the military – Pakistan remains internally unstable, and increasingly unable to rein in praetorianism over national security and nuclear policy.

Asia in the „Second Nuclear Age“, Gaurav Kampani and Bharath Gopalaswamy