The Ramapo Fault and the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

http://earth.columbia.edu/news/images/nj-quake-030201.jpg 

Living on the Fault Line

A major earthquake isn’t likely here, but if it comes, watch out.

Posted June 15, 2010 by Wayne J. Guglielmo

This chart shows the location of the Ramapo Fault System, the longest and one of the oldest systems of cracks in the earth’s crust in the Northeast. It also shows the location of all earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater in New Jersey during the last 50 years. The circle in blue indicates the largest known Jersey quake.

The couple checked with Burns’s parents, who live in nearby Basking Ridge, and they, too, had heard and felt something, which they thought might have been an earthquake. A call by Burns some 20 minutes later to the Bernardsville Police Department—one of many curious and occasionally panicky inquiries that Sunday morning, according to the officer in charge, Sergeant John Remian—confirmed their suspicion: A magnitude 2.6 earthquake, its epicenter in Peapack/Gladstone, about seven miles from Bernardsville, had hit the area. A smaller aftershock followed about two and a half hours later.

After this year’s epic earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Mexico, Indonesia, and China, the 2.6 quake and aftershock that shook parts of New Jersey in February may seem minor league, even to the Somerset County residents who experienced them. On the exponential Richter Scale, a magnitude 7.0 quake like the one that hit Haiti in January is almost 4 million times stronger than a quake of 2.6 magnitude. But comparisons of magnitude don’t tell the whole story.

Northern New Jersey straddles the Ramapo Fault, a significant ancient crack in the earth’s crust. The longest fault in the Northeast, it begins in Pennsylvania and moves into New Jersey, trending northeast through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic, and Bergen counties before terminating in New York’s Westchester County, not far from the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant. And though scientists dispute how active this roughly 200 million-year-old fault really is, many earthquakes in the state’s surprisingly varied seismic history are believed to have occurred on or near it. The fault line is visible at ground level and likely extends as deep as nine miles below the surface.

During the past 230 years or so, New Jersey has been at the epicenter of nearly 170 earthquakes, according to data compiled by the New Jersey Geological Survey, part of the United States Department of Environmental Protection. The largest known quake struck in 1783, somewhere west of New York City, perhaps in Sussex County. It’s typically listed as 5.3 in magnitude, though that’s an estimate by seismologists who are quick to point out that the concept of magnitude—measuring the relative size of an earthquake—was not introduced until 1935 by Charles Richter and Beno Gutenberg. Still, for quakes prior to that, scientists are not just guessing.

“We can figure out the damage at the time by going back to old records and newspaper accounts,” says Won-Young Kim, a senior research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, directly across the New Jersey border. “Once the amount and extent of contemporary damage has been established,” Kim says, “we’re then able to gauge the pattern of ground shaking or intensity of the event—and from there extrapolate its probable magnitude.”

Other earthquakes of magnitude 5 or higher have been felt in New Jersey, although their epicenters laying near New York City. One—which took place in 1737 and was said to have been felt as far north as Boston and as far south as northern Delaware—was probably in the 5 to 5.5 range. In 1884, an earthquake of similar magnitude occurred off New York’s Rockaway Beach. This well-documented event pulled houses off their foundations and caused steeples to topple as far west as Rahway. The shock wave, scientists believe, was felt over 70,000 square miles, from Vermont to Maryland.

Among the largest sub-5 magnitude earthquakes with epicenters in New Jersey, two (a 3.8 and a 4.0) took place on the same day in 1938 in the Lakehurst area in Ocean County. On August 26, 2003, a 3.5 magnitude quake shook the Frenchtown/Milford area in Hunterdon County. On February 3 of last year, a 3.0 magnitude quake occurred in the Morris County town of Mendham. “A lot of people felt this one because of the intense shaking, although the area of intensity wasn’t very wide,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim, who visited the site after the event.

After examining the known historical and geological record, Kim and other seismologists have found no clear evidence that an earthquake of greater than 5.3 to 5.5 magnitude has taken place in this area going back to 1737. This doesn’t mean, of course, that one did not take place in the more remote past or that one will not occur in the future; it simply means that a very large quake is less likely to occur here than in other places in the east where the seismic hazard is greater, including areas in South Carolina and northeastern New York State.

But no area on the East Coast is as densely populated or as heavily built-up as parts of New Jersey and its neighbors. For this reason, scientists refer to the Greater New York City-Philadelphia area, which includes New Jersey’s biggest cities, as one of “low earthquake hazard but high vulnerability.” Put simply, the Big One isn’t likely here—but if it comes, especially in certain locations, watch out.

Given this low-hazard, high-vulnerability scenario, how far along are scientists in their efforts to predict larger magnitude earthquakes in the New Jersey area? The answer is complex, complicated by the state’s geographical position, its unique geological history, the state of seismology itself, and the continuing debate over the exact nature and activity of the Ramapo Fault.

Over millions of years, New Jersey developed four distinct physiographic provinces or regions, which divide the state into a series of diagonal slices, each with its own terrain, rock type, and geological landforms.

The northernmost slice is the Valley and Ridge, comprising major portions of Sussex and Warren counties. The southernmost slice is the Coastal Plain, a huge expanse that covers some three-fifths of the state, including all of the Shore counties. Dividing the rest of the state are the Highlands, an area for the most part of solid but brittle rock right below the Valley and Ridge, and the lower lands of the Piedmont, which occupy all of Essex, Hudson, and Union counties, most of Bergen, Hunterdon, and Somerset, and parts of Middlesex, Morris, and Passaic.

For earthquake monitors and scientists, the formation of these last two provinces—the Highlands and the Piedmont—are of special interest. To understand why, consider that prior to the appearance of the Atlantic Ocean, today’s Africa was snuggled cozily up against North America and surrounded by a single enormous ocean. “At that point, you could have had exits off the New Jersey Turnpike for Morocco,” says Alexander Gates, professor of geology and chair of the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Rutgers-Newark.

Under the pressure of circulating material within the Earth’s super-hot middle layer, or mantle, what was once a single continent—one that is thought to have included today’s other continents as well—began to stretch and eventually break, producing numerous cracks or faults and ultimately separating to form what became the Atlantic Ocean. In our area, the longest and most active of these many cracks was the Ramapo Fault, which, through a process known as normal faulting, caused one side of the earth’s crust to slip lower—the Piedmont—relative to the other side—the Highlands. “All this occurred about 225 million years ago,” says Gates. “Back then, you were talking about thousands of feet between the Highlands and the Piedmont and a very active Ramapo Fault.”

The Earth’s crust, which is 20 to 25 miles thick, is not a single, solid shell, but is broken into seven vast tectonic plates, which drift atop the soft, underlying mantle. Although the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault neatly divides two of New Jersey’s four physiographic provinces, it does not form a so-called plate boundary, as does California’s infamous San Andreas Fault. As many Californians know all too well, this giant fault forms the boundary between two plates—to the west, the Pacific Plate, and to the east, the North American Plate; these rub up against each other, producing huge stresses and a regularly repeating pattern of larger earthquakes.

The Ramapo Fault sits on the North American Plate, which extends past the East Coast to the middle of the Atlantic, where it meets the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, an underwater mountain range in constant flux. The consequences of this intraplate setting are huge: First, as Gates points out, “The predictability of bigger earthquakes on…[such] settings is exceedingly poor, because they don’t occur very often.” Second, the intraplate setting makes it more difficult to link our earthquakes to a major cause or fault, as monitors in California can often do.

This second bit of uncertainty is especially troubling for some people, including some in the media who want a neat story. To get around it, they ignore the differences between plate settings and link all of New Jersey’s earthquakes, either directly or implicitly, to the Ramapo Fault. In effect, such people want the Ramapo Fault “to look like the San Andreas Fault,” says Gates. “They want to be able to point to one big fault that’s causing all of our earthquakes.”

Gates does not think that’s the case, and he has been working with colleagues for a number of years to prove it. “What we have found is that there are smaller faults that generally cut from east to west across the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault,” he explains. “These much smaller faults are all over the place, and they’re actually the ones that are the active faults in the area.”

But what mechanisms are responsible for the formation of these apparently active auxiliary faults? One such mechanism, say scientists, is the westward pressure the Atlantic Ocean exerts on the North American Plate, which for the most part resists any movement. “I think we are in an equilibrium state most of the time,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim.

Still, that continuous pressure on the plate we sit on causes stress, and when that stress builds up sufficiently, the earth’s crust has a tendency to break around any weak zones. In our area, the major weak zone is the Ramapo Fault—“an ancient zone of weakness,” as Kim calls it. That zone of weakness exacerbates the formation of auxiliary faults, and thereby the series of minor earthquakes the state has experienced over the years.

All this presupposes, of course, that any intraplate stress in this area will continue to be released gradually, in a series of relatively minor earthquakes or releases of energy. But what if that were not the case? What if the stress continued to build up, and the release of large amounts of energy came all at once? In crude terms, that’s part of the story behind the giant earthquakes that rocked what is now New Madrid, Missouri, between 1811 and 1812. Although estimates of their magnitude have been revised downward in recent years to less than magnitude 8, these earthquakes are generally regarded as among the largest intraplate events to have occurred in the continental United States.

For a number of reasons—including the relatively low odds that the kind of stored energy that unleashed the New Madrid events could ever build up here—earthquakes of plus-6 magnitude are probably not in our future. Still, says Kim, even a magnitude 6 earthquake in certain areas of the state could do considerable damage, especially if its intensity or ground shaking was of sufficient strength. In a state as geologically diverse and densely populated as New Jersey, this is a crucial wild card.

Part of the job of the experts at the New Jersey Geological Survey is to assess the seismic hazards in different parts of the state. To do this, they use a computer-simulation model developed under the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as HAZUS, for Hazards US. To assess the amount of ground shaking likely to occur in a given county during events ranging in magnitude from 5 to 7 on the Richter Scale, NJGS scientists enter three features of a county’s surface geology into their computer model. Two of these features relate to the tendency of soil in a given area to lose strength, liquefy, or slide downhill when shaken. The third and most crucial feature has to do with the depth and density of the soil itself and the type of bedrock lying below it; this is a key component in determining a region’s susceptibility to ground shaking and, therefore, in estimating the amount of building and structural damage that’s likely to occur in that region. Estimates for the various counties—nine to date have been studied—are sent to the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, which provided partial funding for the project.

To appreciate why this element of ground geology is so crucial to earthquake modelers, consider the following: An earthquake’s intensity—which is measured on something called the Modified Mercalli Scale—is related to a number of factors. The amount of energy released or the magnitude of an event is clearly a big factor. But two earthquakes of the same magnitude can have very different levels of intensity; in fact, it’s quite possible for a lower magnitude event to generate more ground shaking than a higher magnitude one.

In addition to magnitude, other factors that affect intensity are the distance of the observer or structure from the epicenter, where intensity is the greatest; the depth beneath the surface of the initial rupture, with shallower ruptures producing more ground shaking than deeper ones; and, most significantly, the ground geology or material that the shock wave generated by the earthquake must pass through.

As a rule, softer materials like sand and gravel shake much more intensely than harder materials, because the softer materials are comparatively inefficient energy conductors, so whatever energy is released by the quake tends to be trapped, dispersing much more slowly. (Think of a bowl of Jell-O on a table that’s shaking.)

In contrast, harder materials, like the solid rock found widely in the Highlands, are brittle and break under pressure, but conduct energy well, so that even big shock waves disperse much more rapidly through them, thereby weakening the amount of ground shaking. “If you’ve read any stories about the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, you know the most intense damage was in those flat, low areas by the Bay, where the soil is soft, and not in the hilly, rocky areas above,” says Karl Muessig, state geologist and NJGS head.

The map that accompanies the online version of the NJGS’s Earthquake Loss Estimation Study divides the state’s surface geology into five seismic soil classes, ranging from Class A, or hard rock, to Class E, or soft soil (state.nj.us/dep/njgs/enviroed/hazus.htm).

Although the weakest soils are scattered throughout the state, including the Highlands, which besides harder rock also contains areas of glacial lakes, clays, and wetlands, they are most evident in the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. “The largest expanses of them are in coastal areas where you have salt marshes or large glacial lakes, as in parts of the Passaic River basin,” says Scott Stanford, a research scientist with NJGS and lead author of the estimate. Some of the very weakest soils, Stanford adds, are in areas of filled marshland, including places along the Hudson waterfront, around Newark Bay and the Meadowlands, and along the Arthur Kill.

Faults in these areas—and in the coastal plain generally—are far below the ground, perhaps several hundred to a thousand feet down, making identification difficult. “There are numerous faults upon which you might get earthquake movement that we can’t see, because they’re covered by younger sediments,” Stanford says.

This combination of hidden faults and weak soils worries scientists, who are all too aware that parts of the coastal plain and Piedmont are among the most densely populated and developed areas in the state. (The HAZUS computer model also has a “built environment” component, which summarizes, among other things, types of buildings in a given area.) For this reason, such areas would be in the most jeopardy in the event of a large earthquake.

“Any vulnerable structure on these weak soils would have a higher failure hazard,” Stanford says. And the scary truth is that many structures in New Jersey’s largest cities, not to mention New York City, would be vulnerable, since they’re older and built before anyone gave much thought to earthquake-related engineering and construction codes.

For example, in the study’s loss estimate for Essex County, which includes Newark, the state’s largest city, a magnitude 6 event would result in damage to 81,600 buildings, including almost 10,000 extensively or completely; 36,000 people either displaced from their homes or forced to seek short-term shelter; almost $9 million in economic losses from property damage and business interruption; and close to 3,300 injuries and 50 fatalities. (The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation has conducted a similar assessment for New York City, at nycem.org.)

All of this suggests the central irony of New Jersey geology: The upland areas that are most prone to earthquakes—the counties in or around the Ramapo Fault, which has spawned a network of splays, or auxiliary faults—are much less densely populated and sit, for the most part, on good bedrock. These areas are not invulnerable, certainly, but, by almost all measures, they would not sustain very severe damage, even in the event of a higher magnitude earthquake. The same can’t be said for other parts of the state, where the earthquake hazard is lower but the vulnerability far greater. Here, the best we can do is to prepare—both in terms of better building codes and a constantly improving emergency response.

Meanwhile, scientists like Rutgers’s Gates struggle to understand the Earth’s quirky seismic timetable: “The big thing with earthquakes is that you can commonly predict where they are going to occur,” Gates says. “When they’re going to come, well, we’re nowhere near being able to figure that out.”

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Planning for the Big One

For the men and women of the state police who manage and support the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the response to some events, like hurricanes, can be marshalled in advance. But an earthquake is what responders call a no-notice event.

In New Jersey, even minor earthquakes—like the one that shook parts of Somerset County in February—attract the notice of local, county, and OEM officials, who continuously monitor events around the state from their Regional Operations and Intelligence Center (The ROIC) in West Trenton, a multimillion dollar command-and-control facility that has been built to withstand 125 mph winds and a 5.5 magnitude earthquake. In the event of a very large earthquake, during which local and county resources are apt to become quickly overwhelmed, command and control authority would almost instantly pass to West Trenton.

Here, officials from the state police, representatives of a galaxy of other state agencies, and a variety of communications and other experts would assemble in the cavernous and ultra-high tech Emergency Operations Center to oversee the state’s response. “A high-level earthquake would definitely cause the governor to declare a state of emergency,” says OEM public information officer Nicholas J. Morici. “And once that takes place, our emergency operations plan would be put in motion.”

Emergency officials have modeled that plan—one that can be adapted to any no-notice event, including a terrorist attack—on response methodologies developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. At its core is a series of seventeen emergency support functions, ranging from transportation to firefighting, debris removal, search and rescue, public health, and medical services. A high-magnitude event would likely activate all of these functions, says Morici, along with the human and physical resources needed to carry them out—cranes and heavy trucks for debris removal, fire trucks and teams for firefighting, doctors and EMTs for medical services, buses and personnel carriers for transportation, and so on.

This is where an expert like Tom Rafferty comes in. Rafferty is a Geographic Information Systems Specialist attached to the OEM. His job during an emergency is to keep track electronically of which resources are where in the state, so they can be deployed quickly to where they are needed. “We have a massive database called the Resource Directory Database in which we have geolocated municipal, county, and state assets to a very detailed map of New Jersey,” Rafferty says. “That way, if there is an emergency like an earthquake going on in one area, the emergency managers can quickly say to me, for instance, ‘We have major debris and damage on this spot of the map. Show us the location of the nearest heavy hauler. Show us the next closest location,’ and so on.”

A very large quake, Rafferty says, “could overwhelm resources that we have as a state.” In that event, OEM has the authority to reach out to FEMA for additional resources and assistance. It can also call upon the private sector—the Resource Directory has been expanded to include non-government assets—and to a network of volunteers. “No one has ever said, ‘We don’t want to help,’” Rafferty says. New Jersey officials can also request assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), an agreement among the states to help each other in times of extreme crisis.

“You always plan for the worst,” Rafferty says, “and that way when the worst doesn’t happen, you feel you can handle it if and when it does.”

Contributing editor Wayne J. Guglielmo lives in M

China Builds a Doomsday Nuke

Chinese state sponsored physics experiment prompts questions over nuclear salted bombs

February 15, 20189:51am

STATE-sponsored experiments at an ion research facility in China have raised questions about the potential they could be used to build a devastating bomb dreamt up during the Cold War but never seen.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences recently announced that scientists had successfully fired superheated beams of a radioactive isotope of tantalum, a rare metal that can be added to warheads with potentially devastating consequences.

The experiment was carried out at the Institute of Modern Physics in Lanzhou in the north of the country, in part to “meet a critical strategic demand of China’s national defence,” researchers said.

Those responsible reportedly confirmed the project had potential military applications but would not elaborate.

At the centre of the physics experiment tantalum. The rare metal is used as a minor component in alloys and electronics but when you learn it’s named after Tantalus, a villain from Greek mythology, you know it must have some potentially nasty uses.

It is part of a group of heavy metals that could theoretically be added to a nuclear warhead to increase the release of radioactive fallout, causing lasting environmental contamination and rendering a large area uninhabitable in the near future.

Such a thing is known as a “salted bomb”.

These bombs can use elements like gold, cobalt or tantalum to produce a radioactive isotope that maximises the fallout hazard from the weapon rather than generating additional explosive force.

The term refers to the way such bombs are manufactured but also takes its name from the phrase “to salt the earth”, meaning to render the soil unable to host life for years to come.

No salted bomb has ever been atmospherically tested, and as far as is publicly known none have ever been built, according to the online Nuclear Weapon Archive.

But some believe the new research by Chinese scientists could be applied to make such a bomb, or at least be used for other military applications such as shooting the tantalum beam at China’s own military equipment to test its durability in extreme events.

This potential prompted Hong Kong newspaper, the South China Morning Post, to hypothesise that China could be “rebooting a nuclear doomsday device”.

It’s highly unlikely that a salted bomb is the end goal of its latest experiment, but two experts told the Post that they believe the experiments could be used for future military applications such as a laser-like device to achieve targeted damage.

Han Dejun, a professor of nuclear science and technology at Beijing Normal University, said of the tantalum accelerator experiment: “The most likely application that I can think of is in nuclear research.

“By generating a powerful beam of tantalum ions we can observe how the metal interacts with other elements and change form in high-speed collisions. It simulates what will happen in a real nuclear reaction.”

Beijing National Space Science Centre associate researcher Cai Minghui said: “In theory, the particle beam of a heavy element such as tantalum can be used as a directed energy weapon.”

Meanwhile a third expert from China’s Arms Control and Disarmament Association said the likelihood the research could lead to the Chinese Communist Party stockpiling salted bombs was “very low”.

“These are highly immoral weapons,” he said.

A COLD WAR CREATION

The idea of a salted bomb was initially proposed by Hungarian-American physicist Leo Szilard during the Cold War.

The scientist was instrumental in the beginning of the Manhattan Project. Along with Albert Einstein, he helped write a letter to US president Franklin D. Roosevelt encouraging him to begin building the atomic bomb.

The British did test a kind of salted bomb that used cobalt as an experimental radiochemical tracer in September 1957. The device was exploded underground in the Maralinga range in Australia, however the experiment was regarded as a failure and not repeated.

The US also tested a dirty bomb in an open field in 1953. While dirty bombs use conventional explosives rather than nuclear devices, the weapon was loaded with 30kg of the same isotope used in the Chinese test, releasing a lethal dose of gamma rays over the target area, according to a declassified US Defence Technical Information Centre document.

China doesn’t want to fall behind in nuclear technology and research. But given the serious environmental consequences and the threat of the spread of contamination from the detonation of salted bombs, it is highly unlikely it would seek to resurrect such devices.

A NEW NUCLEAR MINDSET

Compared to the United States and Russia, China has a maintained a relatively small nuclear arsenal since its first nuclear test in 1964.

At last count, the Communist Party was estimated to contain just 270 warheads, compared to the 6800 held by the US and Russia’s 7000, according to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

However the Asian superpower has stepped up the quantity and quality of its nuclear arsenals in recent years.

According to Science and Global Security website, Beijing is estimated to have between 14 and 18 tons of highly enriched uranium and 1.3—2.3 tons of weapon-grade plutonium stockpiled. This enough for anywhere between 750 and 1600 nuclear weapons

In November, China unveiled a next-generation nuclear weapon that is said to be able to strike “anywhere in the world”.

The nuclear warhead, called the Dongfeng-41, will be capable of reaching distances of at least 12,000km — putting the US well into the line of target. With a speed of up to Mach 10 (around 12,000kp/h), it can carry up to 10 nuclear warheads.

The weapon is scheduled to enter China’s arsenal this year.

Babylon the Great looks to counter rivals’ hypersonic missiles

Pentagon looks to counter rivals’ hypersonic missiles

BY Agencies

Even as the Pentagon hustles to ensure that its defenses keep pace with North Korea’s fast-growing rocket program, US officials increasingly are turning attention to a new generation of missile threat.

These weapons under development by China and Russia – as well as by the United States – can fly at many times the speed of sound and are designed to beat regular anti-missile defense systems.

The hypersonic missiles could change the face of future warfare, as they can switch direction in flight and do not follow a predictable arc like conventional missiles, making them much harder to track and intercept.

China’s hypersonic weapons development outpaces ours… we’re falling behind,” Admiral Harry Harris, who heads the military’s Pacific Command, warned lawmakers on Wednesday.

“We need to continue to pursue that and in a most aggressive way in order to ensure that we have the capabilities to both defend against China’s hypersonic weapons and to develop our own offensive hypersonic weapons,” he added.
In its proposed $9.9 billion requested budget for 2019, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is asking for $120 million to develop hypersonic missile defenses, a big increase from the $75 million in fiscal 2018.

MDA Director of Operations Gary Pennett told Pentagon reporters this week that the potential deployment by America’s rivals of hypersonic weapons – which could be launched from planes, ships or submarines and carry either nuclear or conventional payloads – would create a “significant” gap in US sensor and missile interceptor capabilities.

“The key challenge to US national security and the security of US friends and allies is the emergence of new threats designed to defeat the existing” ballistic missile defense system, Pennett said. So, why the sudden alarm?

According to reports in the Japan-based Diplomat magazine, China has developed – and last year tested – a new type of hypersonic missile called the DF-17. The US Office of the Director of National Intelligence this week stated China “has tested a hypersonic glide vehicle.”

Russia too is believed to be developing its own hypersonic weapon called the Zircon. According to Russian news agency Tass, it is to go into serial production this year.

Though the Pentagon is warning about hypersonics, the United States has been developing the technology for years.

The Air Force says its X-51A Waverider cruise missile, tested in 2012, could travel at speeds faster than Mach 6 (3,600 miles per hour, 5,800 kilometers per hour).
That’s more than one mile a second, and future iterations are expected to go much faster.

Part of the reason China has been able to advance its hypersonic missile programs is that it is not subject to anti-missile treaties signed between the United States and Russia.

The 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty banned short- and intermediate-range ground-launched missiles.

The Two Nuclear Horns of Iran and Pakistan (Daniel 8)

Iranian leadership for unbreakable ties with Pakistan

The Nation

Mashhad – Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani regard Pak-Iran ties as the top priority and have directed the foreign ministry to work on achieving the goal, a senior Iranian official said.

Dr Mohammed Ajam, minister counsellor of the Iranian foreign ministry, told The Nation that Tehran was making all efforts to remove misunderstandings between the two Muslim-majority nations.

“We believe Pakistan is under the US pressure not to come too close to Iran. Pakistan should not link Pak-Iran ties to Pak-US relations. Pakistan is a sovereign country and can have equally good ties with several countries,” he maintained. He said: “Iran and Pakistan share interests. If and when our leadership is invited to visit Pakistan , we will not delay it (the visit). The rehbar (the Supreme Leader) and the president think Iran-Pakistan ties should be the top priority. We always work to retain friendship with Pakistan . This is in accordance with the directions of the top leadership .”

On Friday, President Rouhani, who is on a visit to India, urged all Muslims to set aside internal disputes. “Iran wants unity, independence and support for the East. The enemies of Islam want to represent Islam as a religion of violence. Islam is not a religion of violence. Islam is a religion of moderation, Islam is a religion of kindness,” he said.

Pakistan has lifted sanctions against Iran after the country’s nuclear deal with world powers. In 2016, Pakistan was active to ease Iran-Saudi Arabia tensions after the latter executed 47 people on terrorism charges including Nimr al-Nimr, a Shia religious leader, and Fares Al-Shuwail Al-Zahrani, a convicted Al-Qaeda leader.

Nimr’s execution had spurred Iranian demonstrators into ransacking the Saudi embassy in Tehran, prompting several Saudi allies to break off diplomatic ties with Iran.

Pakistan and Iran are hoping to complete the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project soon to resolve Pakistan’s energy crisis. The IP pipeline project – also called Peace Pipeline – is aimed at constructing a pipeline from Iran’s South Pars fields in the Persian Gulf to Pakistan ‘s major cities of Karachi and Multan.

The pipeline can carry 110 million cubic meters of gas a day. Iran will initially transfer 30 million cubic meters of gas per day to Pakistan , but will eventually increase the gas transfer to 60 million cubic meters per day.

Pakistan and Iran are economic partners. This cooperation lasted throughout the cold war, with Iran supporting Pakistan in its conflicts with arch-rival, India. In return, Pakistan supported Iran militarily during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s.

Recent difficulties have included disputes over trade and political position. While Pakistan ‘s foreign policy maintains balanced relations with Saudi Arabia, the United States, and the European Union, Iran tends to warn against it and raised concerns about Pakistan’s alleged backing of the Taliban during the fourth phase of civil war in Afghanistan in the last years of the 20th century. Iran was concerned after former army chief Raheel Sharif’s appointment as the head of the Saudi Arabia-led military alliance but Islamabad assured Tehran that the coalition was not anti-Iran.

Iran has been a respected, popular, and favoured nation among Pakistanis, with 76 percent of Pakistanis viewing their western neighbour positively, making Pakistan the most pro-Iran nation in the world.

Dr Mohammed Ajam said that Iran and Pakistan had hosted millions of Afghan refugees and must try to resolve the Afghanistan issue together.

“There are around three million Afghans living in Iran. More than half of them are illegal. We have been deporting thousands of Afghans annually who enter illegally and start working here,” he said.

Dr Ajam said that misunderstandings between Iran and Pakistan exist but “they can be removed with sincere efforts. Out leadership is for unbreakable friendship with Pakistan .”

Iran Threatens Israel Again (Daniel 8:4)

Quds Force Commander Calls For ‘Eradication’ of Israel.

Radio Farda

Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds (Qods)Force, has called for the “eradication” of Israel in retaliation for the killing of a Hezbollah commander ten years ago.

Speaking in Tehran at a ceremony commemorating the 39th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution February 14, Soleimani said “The eradication of Israel would be the best revenge for the killing of Imad Mughniyeh.”

Mughniyeh, also known as Abu Rezvan, was a commander with Lebanon’s Shia militant group Hezbollah who was killed in a bomb blast February 12, 2008 during one of his frequent visits to Damascus, Syria. Hezbollah and Iran have always attributed the assassination to Israel’s intelligence service, the Mossad.

“The enemy should know that revenge for Mughniyeh’s blood will not be taken by firing a missile or killing just one person,” Soleimani said at the ceremony, according to IRGC-linked news agency Fars. “The revenge for his blood is the eradication of Israel. The enemy knows this is going to happen most certainly. This is what God has promised and it will definitely happen.”

Soleimani described Israel as “a child-murdering regime that should be uprooted,” adding that “today, there is no element of stability in this regime as Gaza and Lebanon create constant worries for Israel.”

Mughniyeh was considered a terrorist by the U.S. and Israel and was a top priority for capture by both countries.

Iran’s leaders have repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel.Three years ago, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel would not last for another 25 years.

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) greets Jihad Mughniyeh (L), the son of slain Hezbollah top commander Imad Mughniyeh, at Khamanei’s residence in Tehran, undated
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) greets Jihad Mughniyeh (L), the son of slain Hezbollah top commander Imad Mughniyeh, at Khamanei’s residence in Tehran, undated
According to the Fars report, Soleimani quoted Khamenei as saying that Mughniyeh was like a son to Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic.

“Mughniyeh was the man who linked up Palestinian groups with ‘the center of resistance’ by bringing former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to Iran for the first time,” Soleimani said.

At the time of Arafat’s visit to Iran, however, Mughniyeh was a 17-year-old boy with no known influence in Lebanon or among Palestinians.

“Mughniyeh empowered Hamas and turned Gaza into an invincible fortress,” Soleimani said, adding that “one can see Mughniyeh’s fingerprint on any missile fired at Israel from Palestine.”

Soleimani also spoke about his own personal ties with Mughniyeh during the war in Lebanon in 2006, and called Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah “an ayatollah and a sign of God’s presence on Earth.”

Also present at the commemoration ceremony were several Hezbollah members, Ahmed Jibril, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ayatollah Khamenei’s adviser Ali Akbar Velayati, and Mohammad Hussein Abutorabi, a newly appointed leader of Friday prayers in Tehran.

The U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia, several Persian Gulf states, and other countries have listed Hezbollah as a terrorist group, with the U.S. and Israel stressing that Iran is Hezbollah’s main backer.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during a February 15 meeting with Lebanon’s leaders in Beirut that Hezbollah’s increasing militant activity threatens Lebanon’s security.