The Sixth Seal Is Long Overdue (Revelation 6:12)

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ON THE MAP; Exploring the Fault Where the Next Big One May Be Waiting

By MARGO NASH

Published: March 25, 2001

Alexander Gates, a geology professor at Rutgers-Newark, is co-author of ”The Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes,” which will be published by Facts on File in July. He has been leading a four-year effort to remap an area known as the Sloatsburg Quadrangle, a 5-by-7-mile tract near Mahwah that crosses into New York State. The Ramapo Fault, which runs through it, was responsible for a big earthquake in 1884, and Dr. Gates warns that a recurrence is overdue. He recently talked about his findings.

Q. What have you found?

A. We’re basically looking at a lot more rock, and we’re looking at the fracturing and jointing in the bedrock and putting it on the maps. Any break in the rock is a fracture. If it has movement, then it’s a fault. There are a lot of faults that are offshoots of the Ramapo. Basically when there are faults, it means you had an earthquake that made it. So there was a lot of earthquake activity to produce these features. We are basically not in a period of earthquake activity along the Ramapo Fault now, but we can see that about six or seven times in history, about 250 million years ago, it had major earthquake activity. And because it’s such a fundamental zone of weakness, anytime anything happens, the Ramapo Fault goes.

Q. Where is the Ramapo Fault?

 A. The fault line is in western New Jersey and goes through a good chunk of the state, all the way down to Flemington. It goes right along where they put in the new 287. It continues northeast across the Hudson River right under the Indian Point power plant up into Westchester County. There are a lot of earthquakes rumbling around it every year, but not a big one for a while.

Q. Did you find anything that surprised you?

A. I found a lot of faults, splays that offshoot from the Ramapo that go 5 to 10 miles away from the fault. I have looked at the Ramapo Fault in other places too. I have seen splays 5 to 10 miles up into the Hudson Highlands. And you can see them right along the roadsides on 287. There’s been a lot of damage to those rocks, and obviously it was produced by fault activities. All of these faults have earthquake potential.

Q. Describe the 1884 earthquake.

A. It was in the northern part of the state near the Sloatsburg area. They didn’t have precise ways of describing the location then. There was lots of damage. Chimneys toppled over. But in 1884, it was a farming community, and there were not many people to be injured. Nobody appears to have written an account of the numbers who were injured.

Q. What lessons we can learn from previous earthquakes?

A. In 1960, the city of Agadir in Morocco had a 6.2 earthquake that killed 12,000 people, a third of the population, and injured a third more. I think it was because the city was unprepared.There had been an earthquake in the area 200 years before. But people discounted the possibility of a recurrence. Here in New Jersey, we should not make the same mistake. We should not forget that we had a 5.4 earthquake 117 years ago. The recurrence interval for an earthquake of that magnitude is every 50 years, and we are overdue. The Agadir was a 6.2, and a 5.4 to a 6.2 isn’t that big a jump.

Q. What are the dangers of a quake that size?

A. When you’re in a flat area in a wooden house it’s obviously not as dangerous, although it could cut off a gas line that could explode. There’s a real problem with infrastructure that is crumbling, like the bridges with crumbling cement. There’s a real danger we could wind up with our water supplies and electricity cut off if a sizable earthquake goes off. The best thing is to have regular upkeep and keep up new building codes. The new buildings will be O.K. But there is a sense of complacency.

MARGO NASH

Russia Increases Her Nuclear Horn

Putin Says Russia Has New Nuclear Weapons That Can’t Be Intercepted : The Two-Way : NPR

Alexei Nikolsky/AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state of the nation address in Moscow on Thursday.

 

President Vladimir Putin said in his annual state-of-the-nation speech that Russia has tested powerful nuclear weapons that render missile defense systems useless.

Those weapons include cruise missiles, nuclear-powered underwater drones and a new hypersonic missile that travels five times the speed of sound.

“The foreign policy part of Putin’s speech focused on how the United States had ignored Russia’s strategic interests long enough,” NPR’s Lucian Kim reported from Moscow. “Putin repeatedly interrupted his speech to show videos of cutting-edge rockets and torpedoes snaking their way to their targets.”

Putin warned that any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies would trigger a response.

The speech precedes Russia’s upcoming presidential elections, set for March 18. Putin is widely expected to win his fourth term in office.

With videos and computer graphics displayed on giant screens, Putin showed off the array of new weapons to the hundreds of officials and lawmakers gathered for the address.

“A low-flying, low-visibility cruise missile armed with a nuclear warhead and possessing a practically unlimited range, unpredictable flight path and the capability to impregnate practically all interception lines is invulnerable to all existing and future anti-missile and air defense weapons,” Putin said, according to the state news service TASS. He said the missile was successfully tested late last year.

The underwater drone is capable of operating at “very extreme depths covering intercontinental distances” at speeds much faster than current submarines, torpedoes and surface ships, Putin said.

He also said Russia had tested a new heavy intercontinental ballistic missile, called Sarmat, capable of striking targets by flying over either the North or South poles. The missile can be armed with nuclear warheads, he said, including the new hypersonic ones.

“With the total weight of over 200 tons it has a short active flight path, which complicates its intercept by ABM systems,” said Putin, according to TASS.

Russia’s claims about its nuclear capabilities can be difficult to verify. For example, Russian television flashed a design of their new nuclear-armed underwater drone in 2015. Many experts questioned details in the schematic, and doubted that the weapon is fully developed. But most agree a program looking into nuclear drones exists.

The president also spoke about domestic issues, including highway infrastructure and health care.

“The containment of Russia didn’t succeed,” Putin said. “It’s time to recognize that reality. This isn’t a bluff.”

“No one has listened to us,” he said, according to the AP. “You listen to us now.”

NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel contributed to this report

The Reality of a Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

On January 13, 2018, people in Hawaii were shocked to receive text messages warning of an imminent missile attack. After what many said were the most horrifying 38 minutes of their lives, they received a second message that it was a false alert, the result of human error at the emergency operations centre. But in the context of a simmering crisis between the US and North Korea, the possibility of a missile attack seemed real, and with it the potential for nuclear war. Too often, debates about nuclear weapons revolve around concepts of operationalising nuclear deterrence, escalation ladders and flexible responses. But these debates tend to obscure the fact that nuclear weapons are real and their use is not impossible. A crisis sparked by a false alert, fake news, an inflammatory tweet, a social media gimmick, a computer glitch, a hacked network — any of these could spark conflict that results in nuclear weapons being used. Ironically, attention drawn to a US-North Korea crisis or other potential flashpoints makes the nuclear establishment in Pakistan fairly comfortable. After all, we are not the focal point of what we often think is the Western media’s negative attention. But does that mean there is no cause for worry about a nuclear war in South Asia?

All is not well between India and Pakistan. In recent times, the Indian Air Chief has threatened to target Pakistani nu-clear assets, while the Indian Army Chief talked about calling Pakistan’s “nuclear bluff”. The DG ISPR warned of a befitting response. All this on top of the ever-increasing levels of violence along the Line of Control. These reminders of the fault lines and sabre-rattling between India and Pakistan call for introspection, for thinking through our preparedness to deal with crises, and to gauge our ability to protect citizens from our own follies. We must revisit our fundamental beliefs and unstated assumptions about the possibility of crisis and a war that may turn nuclear. Advocates of nuclear deterrence believe that nuclear weapons prevent war and therefore their inhumanity in some strange ways serves the cause of human survival. Nuclear proliferation optimists flaunt the deterrence role of nuclear weapons by referring to what John Lewis Gaddis called an era of “Long Peace” — itself a debatable notion for those familiar with the intense arguments between Gaddis and Pakistan’s very own Eqbal Ahmad. Eqbal brought home the brutality of the supposed Cold War and “Long Peace” by looking at it from the perspective of its victims.

However, the nuclear industry and deterrence discourse of the Cold War has made nuclear weapons fetish objects and nuclear deterrence sacrosanct for many here as elsewhere. We are fond of quoting Bernard Brodie’s 1946 observation that, “from now on the chief purpose of military strategy is not to win wars; it is instead to prevent one”. Quite often we treat this as a departure point to teach nuclear deterrence during the Cold War without realising that Brodie’s voice was not reflective of a consensus; it was just one among many voices. In fact, the US and the USSR never thought a nuclear war was impossible and spent considerable effort and money planning to fight one. And yet, nuclear war didn’t break out. Was it because it looked too real? Was it because it was too deadly and the human mind too sane to blunder into a nuclear inferno? Or was it mere luck? It is as difficult to answer these questions as it is to determine the precise role of nuclear weapons in preventing war during the Cold War. But it is important to keep thinking about these questions and how they apply to South Asia today. There are no assurances that nuclear weapons won’t be used. Indeed, the fact that we in Pakistan assume that nuclear deterrence prevents large-scale wars itself may create enough reasons for both India and Pakistan to opt for escalation in a crisis.

Yes, a nuclear war is too dreadful an idea to think about. But that doesn’t change the fact that there are wars, and savagery and brutal weapons that have the ability to annihilate human species from the face of this earth. Our inhibition does not change the fact that organisations and states continue to develop the instruments of death. In sum it is important to understand that the possibility of escalation in a future crisis in South Asia cannot be precluded only because we know nuclear weapons are too deadly or because others have not fought nuclear wars. It is equally important to resolve conflicts and find ways to reduce and eventually eliminate all weapons of mass destruction in South Asia and elsewhere.

By arrangement with Dawn

Nuclear Horns Grow in the Middle East (Revelation 7-8)

Ran Porat

A new Israeli report (February 2018) reveals a dramatic trend of expanding nuclear capabilities among Arab countries over the next few years. Former senior IDF officer and leading security expert Sha’ul Shay from the Herzliya Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS) reveals a surge in the number of research and power-generating nuclear facilities about to be erected in the Middle East and North Africa. Dozens of nuclear reactors are in various stages of planning in the UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Algeria, Tunisia and even Sudan (led by the wanted war criminal, Omar al-Bashir).

Two notable trends emerge from Shay’s report. The first is that the nuclear arena reflects Russia’s growing influence over the Middle East. By exporting nuclear facilities, Moscow is complementing its show of “hard” military and diplomatic might in Syria with economic “soft” power. Russia is the contractor building most of the reactors (South Korea is constructing the others, but has far fewer contracts), and will continue to supply the numerous advisors, materials and equipment needed for the ongoing operation of these facilities by its local clients for decades to come.

In addition, the report also highlights a trend toward increased nuclear cooperation between Arab and Muslim nations in the form of bilateral agreements. Saudi Arabia is a party to most of these agreements, separately signing nuclear cooperation agreements, for example, with both Egypt and Jordan.

The drive for nuclear power is purportedly motivated by a growing need in these developing economies for a reliable energy source to meet increased demand in the future. Yet, as always in the Middle East, there is much more here than meets the eye. Many of these countries are fossil fuel rich countries and at the same time, have also pledged to move their power production over the next decades towards sustainable renewable energies. So why are they now opting for costly nuclear plants – together with the nuclear waste problems such facilities produce?

The real motivation is the perception that atomic capabilities amount to “a status symbol and a response to the Iranian nuclear program”, according to Shay. He is echoing the sober warning given by Israel’s then defence minister, Moshe Ya’alon, in 2016: “We see signs that states in the Arab world are planning to acquire nuclear weapons, because they are unwilling to sit quietly alongside a nuclear Iran or [an Iran] on the verge of a nuclear bomb.”

Iran’s long shadow is evident as the major catalyst for the increased Arab push for nuclear power. Teheran’s frantic race for nuclear capabilities and the nuclear agreement it signed with the international community – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – are major reasons for the urgency among Middle Eastern countries to possess their own nuclear plants and nuclear know-how. It is a strategic move meant to balance the further empowerment of the Shi’ite regime, as supported by its nuclear aspirations, by introducing balancing Sunni nuclear capabilities.

In that context, the JCPOA has become a double-edged sword. If Iranian compliance and the quality of monitoring on the Iranian nuclear project are adequate, the agreement may be effective in delaying Teheran’s efforts to achieve a bomb within a decade – until its sunset clauses kick in. Yet at the same time, the agreement gives rival Sunni Arab neighbouring countries more time to gradually and thoroughly develop nuclear capabilities of their own.

This explains Saudi Arabia’s recent heavy investment in nuclear power for itself and other allied Sunni Arab nations. The Saudis also have well-known ties to Pakistan’s nuclear establishment, after historically providing financial support for the creation of the latter’s “first Muslim nuclear bomb”. Some reports suggest that Saudi assistance to Pakistan was in exchange for a promised “nuclear umbrella” to be provided if or when Iran crosses the nuclear threshold. That may mean Pakistan would be supplying the Saudis with gift-wrapped and ready to use nuclear warheads, or simply openly offering a public Riyadh-Islamabad alliance as a counterweight to Iran.

Following the Iranian example, Arab leaders know that the first step on the road towards atomic weapons is a civilian nuclear sector. Theoretical knowledge and practical experience accumulated in setting up and operating power and research nuclear facilities is priceless if or when a state wants to ‘take the leap’ into a military nuclear program. Furthermore, knowledge accumulated through hands-on experience cannot be erased with airstrikes.

Middle Eastern leaders have also learned from the Iranian (and North Korean) examples that tactics of concealment and double-talk can long delay any repercussions for illicit nuclear efforts.

Worse, they see the resounding failure of the international non-proliferation regime to effectively halt or contain any rogue government which is truly determined to acquire a nuclear bomb. In that regard, the impotence of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the US and the West was embodied in the almost relentless drive over recent decades to “persuade” Iran to negotiate an agreement, any agreement, over its nuclear program, faulty as that agreement might be.

What do the Arab leaders learn when they examine the JCPOA and the negotiations that resulted in its birth? For them, it is a clear illustration of how breaching international law and becoming a threat to world security means suffering nothing worse than verbal condemnation, yet all the while being courted and awarded prizes and enticements. Meanwhile, imposing serious consequences for reckless and dangerous behaviour, it has become obvious, requires an international consensus that is, at best, both difficult and very time-consuming to assemble.

A nuclear Middle East is a nightmare on so many levels. It is bad enough to imagine such capabilities at the fingertips of the non-democratic leaders of this very volatile and unstable part of the world. Just think of a scenario where weapons of mass destruction are in the hands of one of the terrorist groups that roam the area nowadays – often with state support. The idea of MAD – Mutual Assured Destruction – which prevented the Cold War between the US and the USSR from escalating into nuclear armageddon – is irrelevant for fundamentalist zealots praising death, and for international terror organisations which have no “homeland” on which retribution can be imposed.

Yet, the allegedly Gordian knot which emanates from Iran’s nuclear ambitions can be cut with enough determination. The first step to accomplish this must be a determined and powerful enforcement of the international arms control regime. The West must pressure Russia to impose highly intrusive monitoring mechanisms on Arab states now going nuclear (Of course, there is the rub – serious and genuine Western-Russian cooperation on this issue does not look likely in the near future). For example, any supply of nuclear advice, material or equipment to these countries should be conditional on signing, ratifying and adhering to the IAEA’s Additional Protocol, which sets-up comprehensive safeguard and monitoring practices on nuclear activities.

Even this is not enough by itself, and not just because the Protocol is imperfect and may be manipulated. It’s insufficient because Iran needs to be made an example of what happens to nuclear-aspiring countries that try to lie and cheat their way to a bomb. For that, pressure on Teheran needs to be maintained and even increased, and the JCPOA, which essentially makes an Iranian nuclear program completely “kosher” after a few short years, must be modified, supplemented or replaced. Above all, the sunset clauses of the agreement – allowing Iran to construct any nuclear infrastructure it wants after 10 or 12 years – must absolutely not be allowed to come into force as written.

Dr. Ran Porat is a researcher at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation (ACJC) at Monash University.

Russian Nuclear Horn Simulates US Attack

Vladimir Putin just sent a really subtle warning to Donald Trump.
Russia flexed its muscles Thursday when it unveiled new “invincible” nuclear weapons. President Vladimir Putin drove home the point by playing a video that appeared to show those missiles, which he said could hit almost anywhere in the world, striking Florida.“With the new system, there is no limitation,” Putin said during his annual address to Russia’s Federal Assembly. “As you can see from this video, it can attack any target through the North Pole or via the South Pole. No missile defense system will be able to withstand it.”The video simulation showed multiple nuclear missiles traveling across the globe and through space before showering down on southern Florida, where President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort happens to be. The footage of Florida being hit was recycled from a 2015 video created by the Russians.
In his speech, Putin said the West has been “ignoring us.” But no longer, he warned.“I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development … you have failed to contain Russia,” he said.