New York is America’s Next Major Quake (Revelation 6)

America’s Next Big Quake

Doug Fabrizio

The devastation wrought in Mexico City by a recent massive earthquake may have rattled more than a few nerves along the Wasatch Front. Salt Lake City is, of course, overdue for a significant seismic event. So are other places in the United States, such as Los Angeles, the Pacific Northwest, even New York City. In a new book, science writer Kathryn Miles tours the country in search of the latest research on America’s next big earthquake and what’s being done to address the threat. She joins us Wednesday to talk about it.

Kathryn Miles is the author of several books, including her newest, Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake [Independent bookstores|Amazon|Audible].

Learn more about predicting earthquakes in Utah and how well the state’s buildings could stand-up to a great shake from KUER’s news team.

The Growing Risk of Nuclear War

An unsettled year in nuclear weapons

By John Mecklin, December 24, 2018

In 2018, the world’s arms control architecture teetered on the brink of collapse as the United States withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and threatened withdrawal from the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Negotiations between the United States and North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear program stalled. And Hawaii went through 38 dreadful minutes of believing it was under nuclear missile attack.

The Bulletin’s coverage of these events and many other aspects of the modern nuclear dilemma was truly comprehensive last year. What follows, then, is not a “best of” list, per se, but eight prime examples from the remarkably consistent and excellent offerings our expert authors provided throughout the year. I thank and applaud them all.

Facing nuclear reality, 35 years after The Day After

A special report by Dawn Stover

A comprehensive look at the meaning, in today’s world, of a landmark TV movie, including an interview with Ted Koppel, who led an expert panel discussion after the airing of a film that changed world nuclear history.

Dawn of a new Armageddon

By Cynthia Lazaroff

 The truly gripping account of 38 minutes of chaos that ensued after Hawaii received an all-too-believable warning that it was under what appeared to be a nuclear missile attack.

 

George H.W. Bush worked toward a soft nuclear landing for the dissolving Soviet Union

By Siegfried S. Hecker

How the late president aided the effort to secure the Soviet Union’s nuclear material and scientists as the USSR dissolved.

Expert comment: The INF and the future of arms control

By John Mecklin

A collection of extraordinary experts assesses the import of the Trump administration’s declared interest in leaving the landmark Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a foundation of the world’s arms control regime.

Robert Oppenheimer: The myth and the mystery

By Richard Rhodes

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb explains, in brilliant detail, the reality of J. Robert Oppenheimer, in contrast with his portrayal in the opera Dr. Atomic.

 

Under siege: Safety in the nuclear weapons complex

By Robert Alvarez

One of the premier experts on the US nuclear weapons complex explores an Energy Department attack on the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, which oversees and reports on safety practices in the complex.

Hiroshima & Nagasaki

A collection

Through the decades, the Bulletin has been home to distinguished analysis of the US atomic bombing of two Japanese cities at the end of World War II. This collection provides an authoritative starting point for anyone interested in understanding the lasting meaning of those attacks.

Terrorists Continue to Curse Christ

Anti-Christmas flyer, released by terrorist group Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades in Gaza. (photo credit:” Courtesy)

GAZA TERRORISTS WARN LOCALS: ‘CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS IS EVIL’

By URI BOLLAG

Flyer features a verse from the Quran warning Muslims, “not to go the way of the Jews and the Christians, indeed God is not for the evil people.”

A flyer featuring a burning Christmas tree and threats in Arabic forbidding the celebration of Christmas was published by the Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades, also known as the Specialty Brigade, in Gaza ahead of the Christian holiday.

A verse from the Quran, quoted on the left side of the flyer, warns Muslims “not to go the way of the Jews and the Christians, indeed God is not for the evil people.” The brigades added that it is “absolutely forbidden” to celebrate the holidays in any capacity.

According to a government source, the flyer was aimed not only at Muslims, but also Arab Christians living in the Strip. The non-governmental organization Freedom House has regularly reported that the political rights and civil liberties of Gaza residents are severely constrained by multiple layers of interference.

The Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades is the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, a coalition of armed Palestinian groups considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States, and believed to be the third largest faction in Gaza after Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. The PRC is responsible for a number of terrorist attacks against Israel and has a close relationship with Hezbollah.

The flyer is in contrast to Israel’s efforts to ensure that Christians in Gaza are able to celebrate the holiday.

In a meeting with Christian leaders on December 19, Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun, head of the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), outlined measures the unit will be taking to allow freedom of worship, according to its website. Measures include allowing entrance into Gaza for those wishing to visit their families and permitting more flexible travel, as well as flights abroad via Ben-Gurion Airport. The measures have been in effect since the week prior to Christmas.

There are approximately 1,000 Christians living in the Gaza Strip. Some 600 individuals received special permits for the holidays, a source told The Jerusalem Post.

Russia Expands Her Nuclear Horn

Russia Begins Testing Nuclear Weapon That Can Travel Underwater And ‘Nothing’ Can Stop It, Report Says

By Tom O’Connor On 12/25/18 at 4:13 PM

Moscow has reportedly begun testing an underwater nuclear weapon that has been touted as invincible by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Poseidon, previously known as the Status-6 Oceanic Multipurpose System and dubbed Kanyon by the U.S.-led NATO Western military alliance, is a state-of-the-art nuclear-capable drone being developed by the Russian armed forces. Citing a defense industry source, the state-run Tass Russian News Agency reported Tuesday that the Russian navy had begun trails for the weapon at sea.

“In the sea area protected from a potential enemy’s reconnaissance means, the underwater trials of the nuclear propulsion unit of the Poseidon drone are underway,” the source said, according to the official outlet.

Russia’s nuclear-capable “doomsday” drone, named Poseidon by Russia and Kanyon by the U.S., is seen in this simulation played by Russian President Vladimir Putin during his state of the nation address, on March 1. RUSSIAN MINISTRY OF DEFENSE

The Poseidon’s true power has never been revealed, but rumors of its existence have swirled among defense circles for years. In September 2015, The Washington Free Beacon cited Pentagon sources as saying Russia was developing submarines armed with “Kanyon” nuclear-capable drones dubbed “city busters,” with “tens” of megaton explosive power and capable of traveling long distances at high speeds. Two months later, Russian state media outlet NTV showed blueprints of a nuclear-capable underwater drone, titled “Status-6 Oceanic Multipurpose System,” while covering a meeting of officials.

Putin revealed the drone’s existence during his State of the Nation address in March, along with an arsenal of other advanced weapons said capable of thwarting even the most modern defense systems—and many of which were capable of being fitted with nuclear warheads. At the time, he said that Russia had completed its development of “an innovative nuclear power unit” 100 times smaller than existing submarine reactors, but still more powerful and capable of hitting its maximum capacity 200 times faster, while carrying “massive nuclear ordnance.”

“We have developed unmanned submersible vehicles that can move at great depths (I would say extreme depths) intercontinentally, at a speed multiple times higher than the speed of submarines, cutting-edge torpedoes and all kinds of surface vessels, including some of the fastest,” Putin told his federal assembly in March. “It is really fantastic. They are quiet, highly maneuverable and have hardly any vulnerabilities for the enemy to exploit. There is simply nothing in the world capable of withstanding them.”

The Poseidon received its name later that month after the Russian Defense Ministry held a poll in which users also dubbed the Peresvet laser weapon system and 9M730 Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile.

A number of reports have claimed that the weapon may be capable of producing massive, radioactive tsunamis that would pose a threat to major cities. Some experts have corroborated this theory, although they have questioned the tactical effectiveness of this strategy.

Russia has set out to modernize its strategic and conventional arsenal in response to a perceived threat posed by the U.S. military dominance and development of a global missile shield made possible by Washington’s withdrawal of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty in 2001. President Donald Trump has since threatened to pull out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty banning land-based missile systems ranging from 310 to 3,400 miles, while Moscow has claimed that the Trump administration has not responded to offers to start talks regarding the renewal of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

Washington has accused the Kremlin of attempting to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election in Trump’s favor, something Putin and his officials have denied. Though the Republican leader set out to rebuild deteriorating ties between Washington and Moscow upon coming to office, the U.S. has since expanded sanctions against Russia and relations have only worsened between the two leading powers.

The Saudi Nuclear Bomb

A Saudi Bomb

November 27, 2018Paul Pillar

by Paul R. Pillar

The Trump administration’s handling of nuclear negotiations with Saudi Arabia promises to lay bare some realities about security issues and nuclear programs in that part of the world that the administration has refused to acknowledge. A front-page article by David Sanger and William Broad in The New York Times reviews some of the still unresolved questions. The Saudi regime insists on producing its own nuclear fuel, which would be different from terms the United States has negotiated with some other states, including the United Arab Emirates, that have sought U.S. assistance in developing their nuclear programs. The Saudis have balked at comprehensive international inspections to detect any work on nuclear weapons. And Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) has explicitly threatened to develop nuclear weapons, ostensibly in response to any similar development by Iran.

A useful model for approaching this situation involves Iran. The model is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the multilateral accord commonly known as the Iranian nuclear deal, which Donald Trump has castigated and on which his administration has reneged by imposing new economic sanctions despite continued Iranian compliance with the agreement. The JCPOA closed all possible pathways to development of an Iranian nuclear weapon through stringent restrictions on the enrichment of uranium, the gutting of reactors that otherwise might be used to produce plutonium, and the prohibition of any reprocessing by Iran of nuclear fuel. The agreement also established a thorough inspection system that involves not only routine monitoring of nuclear facilities but also the ability of international inspectors to inspect any other sites they may have reason to suspect are housing nuclear-related activity, with the other parties to the agreement being able to outvote Iran in the event of disagreement about the relevance of a requested inspection. This is the kind of highly intrusive inspection arrangement that the Saudis reportedly are refusing to apply to themselves.

The principal U.S. negotiator has been Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, for whom this is a learning-on-the-job experience, given that Perry was unaware of the Department of Energy’s nuclear responsibilities and believed his job would consist of promoting the oil industry. This contrasts with Perry’s predecessor who played a key role in negotiation of the highly detailed JCPOA: the nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz.

Although few details of the negotiations have been made public, the Times reports that Perry has been discussing with the Saudis a possible agreement that would place a time limit of 10-15 years on any restriction of Saudi fuel production. Ironically, this is the same time frame as the “sunset clauses” that apply to some (though not all) of the provisions in the JCPOA regarding uranium enrichment and that have been a focus of attack by opponents of the JCPOA.

The Saudi regime has been making noises for several years about wanting to “get whatever Iran gets,” as if the JCPOA involved Iran getting something nuclear rather than having its nuclear program set back and restricted. A reasonable U.S. response to such talk would be to say, “All right, you can have an agreement with terms that match what is in the JCPOA.” This would mean, besides strict limits on the amount and level of uranium enrichment, a total ban on domestic reprocessing of spent reactor fuel. So, Riyadh would have to discard its dreams of using reactors to make its own nuclear fuel.  It would mean the same sort of far-reaching inspection arrangement to which Iran is subject, including challenge inspections of non-declared facilities. And it would mean no assistance from the United States in the form of reactor sales or other help in developing a nuclear program. Saudi Arabia would not “get” anything nuclear from the United States because under the JCPOA Iran didn’t get anything nuclear from the United States either.

In addition, to match Iran’s experience, Saudi Arabia would be subject to punishing economic sanctions until and unless it agreed to all these terms. Or, to be totally consistent with the Trump administration’s policy toward Iran, Saudi Arabia would be subject to punishing economic sanctions even if it did agree to and observe those terms. But this is merely one of the most blatant ways in which the administration’s policies toward the region have been inconsistent and hypocritical.

Although Iran under the shah got a head start over its cross-gulf Arab neighbors in developing a nuclear program, Saudi Arabia has long presented at least as much of a legitimate worry about nuclear weapons proliferation. Riyadh’s security ties to Pakistan—including financing the latter’s nuclear weapons program to produce the first “Islamic bomb”—have provided Riyadh with a valuable chip that it undoubtedly would cash in if it decided to go the same route.

Amid all the talk among opponents of the JCPOA about ballistic missiles, Saudi Arabia has been ahead of its regional neighbors on that count as well. Two decades ago, Saudi Arabia secretly purchased medium-range missiles from China that, although reportedly configured to carry conventional weapons, were of a type originally designed to deliver a nuclear warhead. The Saudis in more recent years have modernized their missile force, again relying on China as the supplier.

Destabilizing regional activity also implies that Saudi Arabia is more of a worry than most states regarding the implications of possible acquisition of nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia has bombed Yemen into becoming a humanitarian catastrophe, has kidnapped and attempted to coerce into resignation the prime minister of Lebanon, and has used diplomatic facilities in foreign countries to assassinate nonviolent dissidents. The impetuous young prince behind these policies has been moving toward one-man rule, shedding even the restraints of what had been a collective family autocracy.

The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has drawn some recent and welcome attention to this pattern of behavior, although it has not budged Donald Trump from his stance of sticking with MbS no matter. Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA) has appropriately observed, “A country that can’t be trusted with a bone saw shouldn’t be trusted with nuclear weapons.”

The administration’s assault on the JCPOA may provide the trigger for Saudi Arabia to try to acquire such weapons. If the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign succeeds in negating completely the economic relief Iran was supposed to have received under the JCPOA, Iranian leaders may yet throw up their hands in disgust and pronounce the agreement null and void. This would release Iran from all its nuclear restrictions under the agreement, which in turn might provide the perfect rationale for Riyadh, especially as long as MbS is in charge, to go for the bomb.

Paul Pillar

Paul R. Pillar is Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Studies of Georgetown University and an Associate Fellow of the Geneva Center for Security Policy. He retired in 2005 from a 28-year career in the U.S. intelligence community. His senior positions included National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia, Deputy Chief of the DCI Counterterrorist Center, and Executive Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence. He is a Vietnam War veteran and a retired officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. Dr. Pillar’s degrees are from Dartmouth College, Oxford University, and Princeton University. His books include Negotiating Peace (1983), Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy (2001), Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy (2011), and Why America Misunderstands the World (2016).