The End of the World is Near

Doomsday Clock says it’s almost end of world as we know it

Nuclear weapons, climate change cited

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Former California Governor Jerry Brown, (L) and former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry unveil the Doomsday Clock in Washington, D.C.   

(CNN) – If you have anything left on your bucket list, do it now, because the world is close to annihilation.

That’s according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which gave its annual presentation of the Doomsday Clock on Thursday.

A group of scientists and scholars, including 15 Nobel laureates, set the clock at 11:58 p.m. — two minutes before the symbolic apocalyptic midnight.

The minute hand didn’t move since last year. But 11:58 p.m. is the closest the clock has ever been to symbolizing doom.

„The fact that the Doomsday Clock’s hands did not change is bad news,“ said Robert Rosner, chair of the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board.

So why are we so close to destruction? Nuclear weapons and climate change, experts say.

„In the nuclear realm, the United States abandoned the Iran nuclear deal and announced it would withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), grave steps towards a complete dismantlement of the global arms control process,“ the Bulletin said.

„The Iran agreement is not perfect, but it serves the interest of the international community in restraining the spread of nuclear weapons.“

As for climate change, „global carbon dioxide emissions — which seemed to plateau earlier this decade — resumed an upward climb in 2017 and 2018,“ the Bulletin said.

Climate change is the biggest risk to business (and the world)

„To halt the worst effects of climate change, the countries of the world must cut net worldwide carbon dioxide emissions to zero by well before the end of the century.“

The scientists lambasted President Donald Trump’s announcement to pull out of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, „the main global accord on addressing climate change.“

The Doomsday Clock hasn’t always spelled doom and gloom since it was first introduced in the 1940s.

Back in 1991, it was set at a whopping 17 minutes before midnight.

But before the clock struck 11:58 p.m. in both 2018 and 2019, the last time the world was considered so close to annihilation was in 1953, when the United States and the Soviet Union were in a nuclear arms race.

China Prepares for Nuclear War

China Just Practiced Launching a Nuclear Weapon

by David Axe Follow @daxe on Twitter L

The Chinese military successfully tested a mock launch of a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile, state media reported on Jan. 21, 2019.

At the same time, experts stressed that China would never be the first country to launch a nuclear attack.

„The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force conducted a simulated intercontinental ballistic missile strike mission from an underground bunker against an imaginary enemy,“ Global Times reported, citing China Central Television.

The report didn’t specify the time or location of the launch or the type of missile involved.

But the exercise underscored Beijing’s main approach to nuclear deterrence. Mount ICBMs on mobile launchers and hide them underground. „China’s strategic missiles are usually placed in deep, protective bunkers,“ Global Times paraphrased military expert Song Zhongping as saying.

Crew must endure underground living in crowded, stressful conditions. „Long-term survival training in closed environments has become routine for the troops to ensure counterattack capability in case a war breaks out,“ Global Times explained.

The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force, or PLARF, is getting new and better missiles with better multiple-independent-reentry-vehicle warheads, or MIRVs, according to a January 2019 report from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.

„The PLARF … continues to enhance its nuclear deterrent, maintaining silo-based nuclear ICBMs and adding more survivable, mobile nuclear delivery systems,“ the DIA explained.

China cur­rently has 75 to 100 ICBMs, including the silo-based CSS-4 Mod 2/DF-5A and MIRV-equipped CSS-4 Mod 3/DF-5B; the solid-fueled, road-mo­bile CSS-10 Mod 1/DF-31 and CSS-10 Mod 2/ DF-31A; and the shorter range CSS-3/DF-4.“

„The CSS-10 Mod 2/DF-31A has a range of more than 11,200 kilometers [6,960 miles] and can reach most locations within the continental United States. China also is developing a new MIRV-capable road-mobile ICBM, the CSS-X-10/DF-41.“

Song told Global Times the new DF-41 might appear in public for the first time during the October 2019 celebrations marking the 70 anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

In addition to land-based missiles, China also deploys nuclear warheads on at least four Type 094 submarines. The Chinese air force is developing a nuclear-capable stealth bomber.

But China’s nuclear arsenal is small compared to America’s and Russia’s own arsenals. Beijing maintains 280 nuclear warheads on ICBMs, medium-range rockets and submarine-launched missiles. The United States possesses 3,800 nukes and deploys 1,750 of them. Russia has 4,350 warheads and deploys 1,600.

The United States and Russia risk a nuclear arms race between them. Between withdrawing various treaties and developing new, seemingly more useable smaller nukes and deterrence-undermining missile-defenses, Washington and Moscow might seem determined to make the world less safe.

U.S. president Donald Trump’s 2018 nuclear-weapons review broadened America’s atomic rules of engagement. Before, it was U.S. policy that only a nuclear sneak attack or some other existential threat would justify a retaliatory atomic strike from the United States.

By contrast, Trump’s nuclear review warned that a major hacking event or an online assault on U.S. financial infrastructure could warrant a nuclear counterattack.

Combined with looser policy, Trump’s own recklessness could elevate the likelihood of atomic war. „The risk is that he will be quicker to order their use in a confrontation with Russia, China, North Korea or Iran and that the conflict will escalate to all-out nuclear war,“ Bruce Blair, a nuclear expert at Princeton University, told The National Interest .

Beijing, on the other hand, has urged restraint and reaffirmed its commitment to a „no-first-use“ policy. „As China promises never to use nuclear weapon first and will only use them in a counterattack, China’s strategic missile storage facilities must be able to survive the first wave of hostile nuclear strike,“ Global Times paraphrased Song as saying.

„Without a first strike against China, China will never use the weapons,“ Global Times stressed. „An ICBM loaded with nuclear warheads will likely never be used as it would precipitate an all-out nuclear war, say analysts. The weapon’s primary purpose is deterrence, and to facilitate political and diplomatic discussions.“

David Axe serves as the new Defense Editor of the National Interest. He is the author of the graphic novels  War Fix, War Is Boring  and Machete Squad.

Image: Reuters. 

Pakistan Prepares for Nuclear War

Tactical nuclear weapons like the Nasr are globally recognised as highly destabilising weapons since their use is very likely to trigger escalation to higher-yield bombs by the adversary

Ajai Shukla  |  New Delhi  Last Updated at January 24, 2019 23:36 IST

The Pakistan Army on Thursday announced a successful „training launch“ of its short-range ballistic missile, „Nasr“, which is believed to have a range of just 60 kilometres.

This „tactical nuclear weapon“ (TNW) has been developed as the Pakistan Army’s weapon of last resort if a successful Indian „cold start“ offensive – a massed attack launched without lengthy mobilisation – rapidly advances into Pakistan, capturing territory and threatening vital cities and installations.

The Nasr TNW, which would carry a small-yield „sub-kilotonne“ nuclear bomb, is not designed to cause widespread damage, in the manner of „city-buster“ nuclear bombs of 20-kilotonnes and above. Instead, it is intended to serve the dual purpose of demonstrating Pakistan’s determination to protect its vital national interests; and to provoke international intervention to stop India.

To avoid provoking a „massive“ Indian retaliation, which New Delhi’s nuclear doctrine mandates and which would involve demolishing several Pakistiani cities with large-yield nuclear weapons, Pakistan’s use of Nasr TNWs would aim to minimise destruction and, therefore, provocation. Analysts believe Pakistan is unlikely to use the Nasr TNW on Indian territory, far less Indian cities. Instead, the Nasr TNW is likely to be used on Indian forces deep inside Pakistan territory.

A video released by the Pakistan Army on Thursday showed a vehicle-mounted, four-tube missile launcher firing a salvo of four missiles. As each missile soars into the sky, troops shout „Allah-o-Akbar„. The video then shows the four missiles striking their targets – flags embedded in the desert sand – within a few tens of metres.

„Nasr is a high precision, shoot-and-scoot weapon system with the ability of in-flight manoeuvrability,“ claimed the Pakistan Army. It suggests that India’s ballistic missile defence system (still being developed) and other air defence system (like the S-400 platform being procured from Russia) would not be able to intercept the Nasr TNW.

The Pakistan Army also claims that the Nasr TNW has augmented „full spectrum deterrence“ – a Pakistani term for deterring India from launching even a conventional attack with mechanised formations, which could threaten vital Pakistani interests.

The video showed General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, who heads Pakistan’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, congratulating scientists and engineers.

TNWs like the Nasr are globally recognised as highly destabilising weapons, since their use is very likely to trigger escalation to higher-yield bombs by the adversary – in this case, India. That tit-for-tat escalation would very quickly degenerate into a full-blown nuclear exchange.

There is also international concern that Nasr batteries, which must necessarily be deployed early in any war, with their nuclear warheads mated with the missile, might fall into the hands of terrorist groups in Pakistan. Alternatively, they might be used without authorisation by a rogue army commander.

Hayat attempted to allay these fears. „He expressed his complete confidence in effective command, control and security of all strategic assets and measures being taken to augment these aspects,“ stated the official release.

The Nasr missile was first revealed after a test-firing in April 2011. The test programme is believed to have concluded in October 2013, after which the system is believed to have entered service.

Also called the Hatf-9, the Nasr is believed to be derived from China’s Sichuan Aerospace Corporation’s the WS-2 Weishi rocket system.

First Published: Thu, January 24 2019. 23:36 IST

Russia Horn displays new missile

Russia displays new missile US says violates nuclear pact

Tal AxelrodJanuary 23, 2019 – 09:36 AM EST

Russia on Wednesday revealed to foreign military members and journalists a cruise missile system that U.S. officials say violates a key nuclear pact signed between Moscow and Washington during the Cold War. 

Russian officials revealed the missile after a briefing held by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, according to Reuters, in their latest attempt to prove the missile does not breach the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and urge President Trump to keep the U.S. in the Reagan-era deal.

Trump said in October that the U.S. would withdraw from the landmark pact after his administration accused Russia of violating the deal. 

Russia’s “decision to violate the INF Treaty and other commitments all clearly indicate that Russia has rebuffed repeated U.S. efforts to reduce the salience, role, and number of nuclear weapons,” the administration wrote in a nuclear strategy document last year. 

The pact bans all land-based missiles with ranges of 310 to 3,420 miles and includes missiles carrying both nuclear and conventional warheads. The original ban between Moscow and Washington resulted in 2,692 missiles being destroyed.

Russia argues that the missile’s range puts it outside the restrictions of the treaty and is not as long as U.S. officials claim. Ryabkov told reporters Wednesday that Washington has made it clear to the Kremlin that its decision to withdraw from the INF is final.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said last week that during talks in Geneva he offered during to allow U.S. experts to inspect the missile, but the offer was declined, according to The Associated Press. The U.S. negotiators instead insisted that the missile be destroyed.

The quagmire between Moscow and Washington sets the stage for Trump to make good on his promise to withdraw from the deal on Feb. 2 in a move that could throw other Russia-U.S. nuclear pacts into question.

History Expects the Sixth Seal in NYC (Revelation 6:12)

If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Based on historical precedent, Armbruster says the New York City metro area is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 once a century.

According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.

A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.

Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.

There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.

There’s another fault line on Dyckman St. and one in Dobbs Ferry in nearby Westchester County.

“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.

He adds: “We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought.”

“Considering population density and the condition of the region’s infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact,” says the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation on its website.

Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.

The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale. (ANI)