Building the Iran and Saudi Nuclear Horns

img_0764Iranian Nuclear Program? Trump Will Soon Have to Decide About the Saudis Too

Zvi Bar’el

Riyadh says it has the right to enrich uranium just as the Iranians have been awarded, while Israel, which is pressuring Trump to leave the Iran deal, may find itself facing two nuclear powers

The short video was posted on social media in fluent Hebrew. “Several Israeli journalists incited Bibi, or Benjamin Netanyahu, against Saudi Arabia and said there’s a Saudi nuclear threat. And I say to you, the Jewish people: Has Saudi Arabia ever threatened its neighbors? The answer is no. Does Saudi Arabia have aspirations to expand in the region? The answer is no. Read the news carefully, people of Israel. Thanks and see you next time.”

The speaker was Loay al-Shareef, a Saudi television host who has close ties with the royal house. This public relations campaign didn’t impress the Israeli government or the U.S. Congress. They began their own campaign to prevent the Trump administration from letting American companies build nuclear reactors for electricity generation in Saudi Arabia.   The fear is that this technology may later be used as the foundation to produce nuclear weapons.

>> Will Saudi Arabia follow Iran and seek nukes? ■ The Middle East is marching toward Israel’s nuclear nightmare scenario ■ Israel is setting the price for Riyadh to go nuclear

These fears need no further proof. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said unequivocally that if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia will too. In a coddling interview with CBS, he said his country only wanted equal rights. In other words, if Washington adheres to the 2015 agreement with Iran, which lets Tehran enrich uranium to a low level, Saudi Arabia deserves that right too.

The Saudis, as opposed to Iran, have their own uranium and want to enrich it. This is the heart of the disagreement between Washington and Jerusalem on one side and Riyadh on the other. According to Section 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act of 1954, Congress has the right to reject any transfer of nuclear technology, materials or equipment to another country – and in doing so prevent uranium enrichment by that country.

In 2009, an agreement was signed with the United Arab Emirates for the construction of nuclear reactors based on this section of the law, but Netanyahu doesn’t consider these restrictions adequate. This month, the prime minister shared his opinion on the matter with members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and some of the senators agreed with the Israeli view.

In comparison, U.S. President Donald Trump is pushing to approve construction of the reactors because of the expected profits for American companies including Westinghouse Electric, whose proposal has a good chance of being chosen by the Saudis. Moreover, Trump owes the Saudis, who a few months ago signed a $35 billion agreement to buy American weapons.

Pakistan, Russia and China

Saudi Arabia declared its intention to build nuclear reactors for “peaceful purposes” – in other words for research and generating electricity – as part of the crown prince’s Saudi Vision 2030 program. The explanation is based on the need to diversify the kingdom’s energy sources and reduce its dependence on oil, as well as preparation for the day when the oil and natural gas run out – in part because of Saudi Arabia’s constant growth in electricity demand.

The plan includes 16 nuclear reactors, with two to be built in the first stage. Each reactor would produce 12,000 to 16,000 megawatts of power. The opponents of the project say Saudi Arabia, which holds the world’s second largest oil reserves, has no need for nuclear power. In addition, the global trend is to move from nuclear power to renewable energy such as wind and solar power, which are both abundantly available in Saudi Arabia. Either way, the crown prince’s statements make this argument rather irrelevant.

Whether Saudi Arabia is serious about its nuclear power plans or not, the nuclear-deterrence equation it has presented puts Washington in a difficult dilemma. If the Americans refuse to sell the Saudis nuclear technology, it can turn to other countries such as Pakistan, with which it has excellent relations, Russia or China. They all have no problem selling nuclear technology to the Saudis – even beyond that needed for civilian purposes.

To strengthen this part of the Saudi argument, Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir has said his country has discussed the construction of the nuclear reactors with at least 10 countries and has even conducted advanced negotiations with China. Under such a scenario, the United States would not be allowed to get its foot in the door of the Saudi nuclear industry, and Russia or China would become strategic allies of the kingdom, say U.S. officials. And this is without mentioning the huge profits the nuclear deal would bring in.

As far as the United States is concerned, an even larger danger lies in wait because – as opposed to Iran – the Saudis have no knowledge or experts of their own to build such reactors or make nuclear weapons, so whichever of the powers wins the bidding for the project, it will be happy to have to operate and maintain the reactors.

An example of such a case is the reactors Russia will finance, build and operate in Egypt in cooperation with Egyptian engineers, or the reactor that will soon be launched in Turkey with Russian President Vladimir Putin in attendance. But completely different than Turkey or Egypt, which have made very clear they have no aspirations for nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia hasn’t ruled this out.

This possibility greatly worries Israel, which has worked intensively to convince Trump and members of Congress that although Saudi Arabia may be considered a close friend of Washington at the moment, the kingdom is unstable and radical Islamist movements freely operate there. Also, the construction of nuclear reactors would train a generation of Saudi engineers and other nuclear experts who would be able to develop a military nuclear program in the future.

Saudi Arabia, which hired the expensive services of three top-tier American lobbying firms, will explain in response that if it wanted nuclear weapons it could just buy them and doesn’t need to train its own experts. The U.S. State Department knows this claim quite well and has presented it to Trump as a reason to agree to the sale of American nuclear technology to the Saudis – and in doing so require them to meet strict American supervision.

Known unknowns

Until the balance of nuclear deterrence between Saudi Arabia and Iran comes about, if it ever does, the United States will have to reach an agreement with the Saudis not just over uranium enrichment. Another issue that will require Trump to provide answers to Congress is the supervision of the Saudi reactors.

For now, the model for the oversight of the Iranian nuclear deal has proved itself – at least according to the International Atomic Energy Agency – and could serve as a basis for any agreement with Saudi Arabia.

But countries can progress to dangerous stages in nuclear weapons development without UN inspectors or intelligence agencies detecting it. (Or the other way around; for example, the IAEA asked to tighten its supervision of an Iraqi nuclear program that no longer existed.) For example, there’s a lack of oversight over the nuclear programs of Pakistan, India, North Korea and Israel, which are not signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and don’t forget the Israeli intelligence failure in identifying the Syrian nuclear reactor so late.

Saudi Arabia, which has not signed the Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which includes safeguards for much stricter supervision than the original treaty did, will not find it hard to move on from civilian nuclear energy to military use while staying below the international radar.

The question is whether a battle of honor and prestige will break out over the Saudi demands and whether the United States will be forced to say yes in order to preserve its good relations between with Riyadh, or whether Saudi Arabia will suffice with a more modest alternative such as a sophisticated defense pact with Washington and a U.S. commitment to protect the kingdom from any threat, Iranian or otherwise. The crown prince is now visiting the United States on a three-week trip, which will end around the time Trump will have to decide on the Iran agreement.

The paradox lies in the Saudi opposition to the Iranian nuclear deal. Ostensibly, the kingdom, which says deterring Iran is a weighty justification for its own nuclear needs, should support the Iran agreement and try to convince Tehran not to abandon it. The deal is supposed to neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat and give the Saudis time to develop their own program without the risk of a regional war that could turn into an international conflagration.

After failing in Yemen and suffering serious defeats in Syria, the Saudis can’t allow themselves another such war where they’ll be dependent on Washington’s willingness to do the dirty work.

Israel, which has been pressing Trump to leave the Iranian deal, or at least make changes that Iran would be unlikely to agree to, may find itself facing two nuclear powers instead of one: Iran, which has declared that it will restart its nuclear program if the agreement is violated, and Saudi Arabia, which would want to acquire nuclear weapons too as a deterrent against an Iran freed from the bonds of its nuclear agreement.

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.”

***********************

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

Preparing for World War 3 (Revelation 8)

Pakistan armyWorld War 3: Radicalised Pakistan army rely on India conflict to survive SLAMS activist

PAKISTAN’S army has been accused of colluding with terrorists as tensions with India continue to climb and confrontations along the contested border known as the Line of Control (LoC) persist, an activist has claimed.

Getty
The stark warning comes as it was confirmed China had sold Islamabad a tracking system
Nadeem Nusrat, an activist from Pakistan, stated that the army has become “radicalised” and is “supporting jihadist groups”.He stated: “In last few decades, Pakistani Army has become radicalised and has been supporting jihadist groups to attack minorities and activists in the country.

“The Pakistani soil has been used to plan and launch major terror attacks.

“The providers and facilitators of terror sanctuaries in Pakistan must be held accountable by the UN and all peace-loving nations.”

 

Mr Nusrat continued to attack the nuclear armed nation for its behaviour and hinted that its military could cease to exist if it was at peace with its South Asian neighbour.He went on: “Pakistan Army’s existence is based on continuous hostility with India.

“Once you take this away from the equation, it will be difficult for Pakistan Army to justify its existence.”

As tensions along the LoC mount and fears of World War 3 grow, Mr Nusrat emphasised that Pakistan and India will not have good relations if the former’s army meddles in politics.

The stark warning comes as it was confirmed China had sold Islamabad a tracking system that could speed up missile development.Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) made the announcement that will surely bolster the nuclear-armed nations devastating arsenal.

Zheng Mengwei, a researcher from the state-run CAS, stated that the technology will give Pakistan “a pair of eyes”.

Pakistan army

Getty

Nadeem Nusrat stated that the army has become ‘radicalised’

He explained: “We simply gave them a pair of eyes.“They can use them to look at whatever they want to see, even the Moon.”

Fears of World War 3 soared on Sunday when five people were killed and two others were injured from heavy shelling along the contested border separating Pakistan and India.

Pakistan armyGetty

Pakistan’s army has been accused of colluding with terrorists

Following the tragic death of the Indian family that found themselves involved in the incident, a New Delhi Defence Spokesman said: “Pakistan began heavy unprovoked firing around 7.45am which lasted for four hours.“Pakistan forces fired automatic and small arms and mortars, and targeted civilian localities deep inside Indian territory — 3 to 4 kilometres from the Line of Control (LoC).

“There is no army deployment or any installation in the area.”

North Korea Prepares to Transfer Nukes Back to Iran

a circuit boardWILL NORTH KOREA GIVE UP NUCLEAR WEAPONS? THESE PHOTOS SUGGEST KIM JONG UN MAY BE SERIOUS

North Korea has suspended activity at its main nuclear site, according to recent satellite imagery and expert analysis that appeared to support Pyongyang’s offers to solve the crisis on the Korean Peninsula diplomatically.

President Donald Trump’s decision to accept an unprecedented invitation to meet North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un came after South Korean officials assured the Republican leader that Kim was willing to denuclearize in exchange for peace. As suspicions arose as to what North Korea’s true intentions were, leading analysts Frank V. Pabian, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. and Jack Liu found a major slowdown at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in a report posted Friday to 38 North, a project of the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

“Imagery from early March had shown signs of continued tunneling excavations at the West Portal, including mining carts and significant amounts of new spoil deposits. Large groups of personnel were also noted in the open support areas serving the nuclear test site’s Command Center. However, imagery from March 17 showed no evidence of tunneling operations or the presence of any personnel or vehicles at any of the support areas including those near the Command Center,” the report read.

“This is an important development given efforts to establish high-level meetings between the United States, South Korea and North Korea. However, whether this is just a temporary development or whether it will continue over time is unclear,” it added.

The Punggye-ri nuclear test site has been the venue of all six North Korean nuclear tests dating back to 2006. Located in the country’s remote northeast, experts have used satellite imagery to carefully follow developments at the top-secret site, which most recently hosted a powerful hydrogen bomb test last September.

In the same New Year’s speech that Kim indicated a willingness to restart dialogue with U.S.-backed South Korea, the young leader vowed to continue developing nuclear weapons and launching ballistic missiles, which were now capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. Neither Kim nor his various state-run media outlets have announced a change in this policy, but North Korea has long maintained its weapons were only necessary for self-defense.

Sets of photographs taken at three main areas on March 2 and March 17 showed substantial signs that Kim actually may be pausing his nuclear ambitions to pursue diplomacy with his sworn enemies. At the West and North Portals, drainage was significantly reduced and tunnel excavation appeared to have come to a halt. Personnel vanished entirely from the main administrative area and command center.

 

After meeting with Kim in Pyongyang, South Korean National Security Director Chung Eui-yong and his delegation flew to Washington on March 8 to meet his U.S. counterpart—whose recent dismissal has experts concerned—and to deliver a personal invitation from the North Korean leader to Trump. Standing in front of the White House, Chung said Trump had accepted the invitation to become the first sitting U.S. president to meet North Korea’s supreme leader.

Last year saw a series of milestone military breakthroughs for North Korea, but the early months of 2018 have brought diplomatic firsts instead. The U.S. has yet to formally play a role in the ongoing inter-Korean dialogue, however, and neither Washington nor Pyongyang have announced any concessions. Upcoming joint U.S.-South Korea military drills would also be a test for Kim, who has considered the exercises a threat to his own security in the past.

Preparing for World War Against Iran (Revelation 15)

Hawks are closing in on the White House. John Bolton, arguably the most abrasive American diplomat of the twenty-first century, will soon assume the top foreign-policy job at the National Security Council. As is his wont, President Trump announced yet another shakeup of his inner circle in a tweet late on Thursday. He dismissed General H. R. McMaster, who couldn’t survive a testy relationship with the impatient President despite his battle-hardened career and three stars on his epaulets. Trump tapped Bolton to take over. A former U.N. Ambassador currently best known as a Fox News pundit, Bolton has advocated far harder positions than Trump, including bombing campaigns, wars, and regime change. The late-day news flash sent chills across Washington, even among some Republicans.

With Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, due to take over from the ousted Rex Tillerson at the State Department, the team deciding American actions across the globe will now be weighted by hard-liners and war advocates. Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired marine general, is the most pragmatic policymaker left. What an irony. (And how long will Mattis stay? He was photographed having dinner with Tillerson on Tuesday.)

Bolton, a Yale-educated lawyer whose trademark is a white walrus mustache, championed the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which produced chaos followed by waves of extremist violence in the region. He also advocated international intervention to oust Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. He has repeatedly urged military action in Iran and North Korea, which he has called “two sides of the same coin.”

In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, written two months ago, Bolton condemned the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran as a “massive strategic blunder”—then went further. American policy, he wrote, “should be ending Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution before its fortieth anniversary,” next February. “Recognizing a new Iranian regime in 2019 would reverse the shame of once seeing our diplomats held hostage for four hundred and forty-four days. The former hostages can cut the ribbon to open the new U.S. Embassy in Tehran.”

Shortly before the Iran deal—brokered by the world’s six major powers—Bolton wrote a piece in the Times entitled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” In it, he predicted, “Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.” Three months later, Iran accepted the nuclear deal, the most significant nonproliferation treaty in more than a quarter century. The deal was endorsed unanimously in a U.N. resolution. Trump has vowed that he will withdraw from the deal without fixes by mid-May, a move that Bolton clearly supports.

Bolton has also long backed a cultlike Iranian opposition group, the Mujahideen-e Khalq, or M.E.K., which has been held responsible for the murder of multiple American military personnel, the attempted kidnapping of a U.S. Ambassador, and other violent attacks in Iran before the 1979 revolution. The M.E.K. was based in Iraq during the regime of Saddam Hussein, who provided arms, financial assistance, and political support. In 1997, it was among the first groups cited on the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations. It wasn’t removed until 2012. Bolton spoke at an M.E.K. rally last year—for the eighth time—in Paris. Other speakers at M.E.K. rallies have reportedly been paid tens of thousands of dollars for their appearances.

Bolton’s policy recommendations on North Korea are also militant, and they break with the man who just hired him. Earlier this month, Trump pledged to meet Kim Jong Un by May. “Talking to North Korea is worse than a mere waste of time,” Bolton wrote in The Hill, in August. “Negotiations legitimize the dictatorship, affording it more time to enhance its nuclear and ballistic-missile capabilities. Today, only one diplomatic option remains, and it does not involve talking to Pyongyang. Instead, President Trump should urge President Xi Jinping that reunifying the Korean Peninsula is in China’s national interest.”

The answer to China’s fear of an uncontrolled collapse, Bolton wrote, “is a jointly managed effort to dismantle North Korea’s government, effectively allowing the swift takeover of the North by the South.” Not even the South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, supports that idea; he has been trying to broker a rapprochement with the North.

The deepest disagreement between Bolton and Trump may be over Russia—especially its President, Vladimir Putin. In an op-ed last July, Bolton wrote that undermining the U.S. Constitution “is far more than just a quotidian covert operation. It is in fact a casus belli, a true act of war, and one Washington will never tolerate.” He charged that Trump had been duped by Putin in their meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit last summer.

Bolton has worked for three Republican Presidents—Reagan and both Bushes. He gained his reputation as a feisty hawk after George W. Bush appointed him to be Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. By 2005, he was so controversial that his nomination to be U.N. Ambassador failed to win Senate approval, and Bush appointed him as a “recess appointment” when Congress was not in session.

The United Nations was an odd fit. In 1994, Bolton said, “There is no United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that’s the United States, when it suits our interests and when we can get others to go along.” He later said about the world body, “The Secretariat Building in New York has thirty-eight stories. If you lost ten stories today, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”

When I covered the George W. Bush Administration, I often heard grumbling about Bolton being irascible and argumentative. He had deep disagreements with both Secretaries of State, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. He ultimately had a falling out with President Bush, who lamented his support for Bolton. “Let me just say from the outset that I don’t consider Bolton credible,” he said, according to an account in the Times, in 2008. The same year, Bolton countered in the Wall Street Journal, “Nothing can erase the ineffable sadness of an American presidency, like this one, in total intellectual collapse.”

After Bolton’s appointment, on Thursday, I spoke to John B. Bellinger III, the former legal adviser to the N.S.C. and the State Department, who worked with Bolton for two years. “John may be the only senior person in the White House with significant diplomatic experience, both bilateral and multilateral,” Bellinger said. “He has negotiated with most of the governments in the world, which is helpful, given that Trump has not. John tends to annoy and frustrate and try to steamroll other countries. But at least he’s not ignorant of diplomatic relationships.”

Bolton negotiated strong U.N. resolutions on North Korea, Bellinger told me. “He also famously repudiated the U.S. signature to the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court. He’s not a fan of international law or international institutions, which he may think can challenge U.S. sovereignty.” Bellinger was more sanguine about how stubborn Bolton will be at the National Security Council. “We’ll have to hope that some of the aggressive actions John suggested when he was not in government—and more of a provocateur—may look a lot different to him when he’s responsible for the actions or advising the President on final decisions and he has other Cabinet secretaries telling him what the consequences will be.”

Although Bolton has experience in the White House Situation Room, navigating the interagency process may be challenging when he is surrounded by the many people with strong views in this Administration, Bellinger said. “John does not suffer fools gladly. He may have a challenging time as national-security adviser with a President who is not interested in facts or history.”

The Bolton nomination provoked strong reactions in Washington. On the Hill, the Democratic Senator Edward Markey, of Massachusetts, tweeted, “With the appointments of Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, @realDonaldTrump is successfully lining up his war cabinet. Bolton played a key role in politicizing the intel that misled us into the Iraq War. We cannot let this extreme war hawk blunder us into another terrible conflict.”

Jon Soltz, an Iraq War veteran and chairperson of VoteVets, the largest progressive veterans group, called Bolton’s appointment “downright frightening.” In a statement, he said, “A man who was key in sending me and thousands and thousands of my fellow troops to Iraq is now the National Security Adviser to Donald Trump. Let there be no mistake—there is no war for regime change, anywhere, that John Bolton wasn’t for. He sees troops not as human beings, with families, but as expendable resources, in his real-life game of Risk. We are undoubtedly closer to a war in Korea, now, and a war with Iran.”

Soltz added, “To the Trump voters out there we say: You were suckered. You were lied to, and now our troops are going to have to pay the price, for that.”

John Bolton: foreign policy radical who backs war with Iran and North Korea

Trump’s new national security adviser will drive the White House down a more confrontational road in two crucial regions

Julian Borger

Last modified on Fri 23 Mar 2018 18.00 EDT

Trump’s new national security adviser will drive the White House down a more confrontational road in two crucial regions

Donald Trump has hired an unwavering and radical advocate of war against both North Korea and Iran to oversee his administration’s national security policy.

John Bolton has made a career of deriding diplomacy as a sign of weakness, and has disparaged both the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, and even the current administration’s use of sanctions as means of pressuring the North Korean regime to give up its nuclear arsenal.

Instead, the soon-to-be national security adviser has repeatedly argued, nuclear disarmament in both cases is best achieved through regime change delivered by US military might.

“A close look shows he’s genuinely one of the most extreme, irresponsible, and dangerous voices in the country,” said Adam Mount, a senior fellow and nuclear weapons policy expert at the Federation of American Scientists.

Among Bolton’s recently published opinions, is a piece a month ago in the Wall Street Journal entitled “The Legal Case for Striking North Korea First”. While the 2015 agreement with Iran was being negotiated, he wrote a piece decrying the whole exercise in the New York Times. That was headlined: “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”

Bolton has repeated these lines repeatedly on television, and Trump is widely reported to have chosen him because of his on-screen performances (despite initial reservations about his moustache, apparently). So the implication is that the president is well aware of his policy prescriptions.

He does not have to seek Senate confirmation for the White House post, which is just as well for Bolton. The last time the Senate was asked to confirm him, under the George W Bush administration, it refused on the grounds he was too extreme.

Traditionally, the national security adviser convenes and chairs internal policy debates but Bolton’s record suggests that a moderating role is not his style. At the state department, he doggedly pushed the bogus evidence of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, and when the department’s own intelligence bureau expressed scepticism, Bolton had its officials excluded from meetings.

Everything we know about Bolton’s past suggests he is coming to the White House to drive policy, not to broker it. That calls into question the continuing influence of James Mattis, the defence secretary, the last survivor from the group of moderating voices on foreign policy, the “adults in the room”. Rex Tillerson, gave his last goodbye speech as secretary of state on Thursday and will be formally gone by the end of the month, to be replaced by the far more hawkish and loyal CIA director, Mike Pompeo.

Bolton takes over from HR McMaster early next month, which means that Trump will go forward with a new and bellicose team into two of the most consequential decisions of his presidency.

If Trump does not sign the next sanctions waiver on Iran in mid-May, the US will be in violation of the 2015 agreement, quite possibly triggering a new crisis in the Gulf, and opening a rift in relations with European allies. McMaster and Tillerson had both urged him sign the waivers for that reason. Bolton, by contrast, has spent the past three years urging the destruction of the nuclear deal.

Bolton will also be at Trump’s side when he heads for his planned summit with Kim Jong-un, and his presence will inevitably colour that critical encounter. Bolton, a former lawyer who like Trump avoided going to Vietnam, has advocated three different military options against North Korea: against nuclear facilities, bringing down a missile test, or an assassination of Kim Jong-un.

Bolton has acknowledged the likely devastating North Korean reprisals against South Korean civilians but has argued “no foreign government, even a close ally, can veto an action to protect Americans from Kim Jong-un’s nuclear weapons”.

The conventional wisdom about Bolton was that he would not be a natural choice for Trump as he was hawkish on all fronts, including Russia. However, he has shown himself quite flexible when it comes to Trump’s relations with the Kremlin, playing down the significance of the president’s congratulation of Putin for his election victory, and he has suggested that the hacking of the Democratic party’s emails (said by US intelligence to have been carried out by Russian operatives) could have been a false-flag operation by the Obama administration.

For a president looking to distract attention away from the investigation into his campaign and its Moscow links, by seeking confrontation on the world stage, Bolton may be the perfect fit.

Since you’re here …

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.

I appreciate there not being a paywall: it is more democratic for the media to be available for all and not a commodity to be purchased by a few. I’m happy to make a contribution so others with less means still have access to information. Thomasine, Sweden