NATO Plans For Russian Nuclear Escalation

NATO planning for more Russian missiles: Stoltenberg

by Agencies , (Last Updated 8 hours ago)

BRUSSELS: NATO is planning for “more Russian missiles” after the collapse of a landmark Cold War arms treaty, but will not deploy new nuclear warheads in Europe, the organisation’s chief said Tuesday.

Fears are growing of a new arms race in Europe after Washington started the process of exiting the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty claiming that Russia violated the pact with a new missile system.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would beef up its defences but insisted this did not mean “mirroring” any Russian build-up of missiles.

The fate of the INF treaty, signed by the US and the Soviet Union in 1987 to ban ground-launched mid-range missiles, will be high on the agenda as NATO defence ministers meet in Brussels on Wednesday.

Western capitals want Russia to return to compliance with the treaty by abandoning its new 9M729 missile system.

“We are both urging Russia to come back in compliance but at the same time we are planning for a world without the INF treaty and with more Russian missiles,” Stoltenberg said.

“We don’t have to mirror what Russia does but we need to make sure we have effective deterrence and defence.”

Stoltenberg repeated warnings that the new Russian missiles made nuclear conflict more likely because they are mobile, hard to detect, and give little warning time.

The US Ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, said the Pentagon has already started looking at how best to defend against the new missiles.

“America felt it was time for us to have a defence and not be left without a defence with Russia having missiles that were in violation,” she said.

“What is going to happen going forward? First of all, the defence we would be working on is conventional, not nuclear.”

The INF treaty banned ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (310 to 3,400 miles), ending a dangerous build-up of warheads on mainland Europe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the US pullout by saying Moscow would also leave the treaty, and his defence minister announced plans for new missiles — prompting Trump to vow to outspend Moscow.

While pointing the finger at each other, both Washington and the Kremlin have voiced concern that the bilateral INF treaty does nothing to constrain China, whose rapidly growing military relies on medium-range missiles as a core part of its defence strategy.

Bolton: None of US Will Have Many More Anniversaries

Bolton to Khamenei: You won’t have many more anniversaries

US National Security Adviser sends message to Iran’s Supreme Leader.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton on Monday had a message for Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who continues to verbally attack US leaders.

“This week, Iran marks the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, and what a 40 years it’s been. Tyrannizing its own people and terrorizing the world. Iran continues to seek nuclear weapons, to intimidate peaceful people all around the globe and ballistic missiles to use as delivery systems,” Bolton said in a video posted by the White House.

“Iran under the Ayatollahs remains the central banker of international terrorism, and its conventional military forces are all over the Middle East: In Yemen, Iraq and Syria. Perhaps worst of all, the people of Iran have suffered grievously. Right now, unemployment is at record levels, inflation is at all time highs, the Iranian currency has gone through the floor,” he continued.

“So, Ayatollah Khamenei, for all your boasts, for all your threats to the life of the American president, you are responsible for terrorizing your own people and terrorizing the world as a whole. I don’t think you’ll have many more anniversaries to enjoy,” concluded Bolton.

Khamenei explained last week that the slogan “Death to America”, which Iranians regularly shout at rallies, is directed at President Donald Trump and US leaders including Bolton, and not the American nation.

“As long as America continues its wickedness, the Iranian nation will not abandon ‘Death to America,’” he told a gathering of Iranian Air Force officers marking the 40th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

“‘Death to America’ means death to Trump, (National Security Adviser) John Bolton, and (Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo. It means death to American rulers,” he explained.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, often touted as a “moderate” president, has personally presided over “Death to America” chants during rallies in Iran, even though he claimed that Iranians “respect the American people”.

Similarly, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, with whom the Obama administration negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal, was caught on camera last year joining in a public chant against the US, UK, and Israel.

East Coast Still Unprepared For The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

East Coast Earthquake Preparedness

By By BEN NUCKOLS

Posted: 08/25/2011 8:43 am EDT

WASHINGTON — There were cracks in the Washington Monument and broken capstones at the National Cathedral. In the District of Columbia suburbs, some people stayed in shelters because of structural concerns at their apartment buildings.

A day after the East Coast’s strongest earthquake in 67 years, inspectors assessed the damage and found that most problems were minor. But the shaking raised questions about whether this part of the country, with its older architecture and inexperience with seismic activity, is prepared for a truly powerful quake.

The 5.8 magnitude quake felt from Georgia north to Canada prompted swift inspections of many structures Wednesday, including bridges and nuclear plants. An accurate damage estimate could take weeks, if not longer. And many people will not be covered by insurance.

In a small Virginia city near the epicenter, the entire downtown business district was closed. School was canceled for two weeks to give engineers time to check out cracks in several buildings.

At the 555-foot Washington Monument, inspectors found several cracks in the pyramidion – the section at the top of the obelisk where it begins narrowing to a point.

A 4-foot crack was discovered Tuesday during a visual inspection by helicopter. It cannot be seen from the ground. Late Wednesday, the National Park Service announced that structural engineers had found several additional cracks inside the top of the monument.

Carol Johnson, a park service spokeswoman, could not say how many cracks were found but said three or four of them were “significant.” Two structural engineering firms that specialize in assessing earthquake damage were being brought in to conduct a more thorough inspection on Thursday.

The monument, by far the tallest structure in the nation’s capital, was to remain closed indefinitely, and Johnson said the additional cracks mean repairs are likely to take longer. It has never been damaged by a natural disaster, including earthquakes in Virginia in 1897 and New York in 1944.

Tourists arrived at the monument Wednesday morning only to find out they couldn’t get near it. A temporary fence was erected in a wide circle about 120 feet from the flags that surround its base. Walkways were blocked by metal barriers manned by security guards.

“Is it really closed?” a man asked the clerk at the site’s bookstore.

“It’s really closed,” said the clerk, Erin Nolan. Advance tickets were available for purchase, but she cautioned against buying them because it’s not clear when the monument will open.

“This is pretty much all I’m going to be doing today,” Nolan said.

Tuesday’s quake was centered about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, 90 miles south of Washington and 3.7 miles underground. In the nearby town of Mineral, Va., Michael Leman knew his Main Street Plumbing & Electrical Supply business would need – at best – serious and expensive repairs.

At worst, it could be condemned. The facade had become detached from the rest of the building, and daylight was visible through a 4- to 6-inch gap that opened between the front wall and ceiling.

“We’re definitely going to open back up,” Leman said. “I’ve got people’s jobs to look out for.”

Leman said he is insured, but some property owners might not be so lucky.

The Insurance Information Institute said earthquakes are not covered under standard U.S. homeowners or business insurance policies, although supplemental coverage is usually available.

The institute says coverage for other damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage from burst gas or water pipes, is provided by standard homeowners and business insurance policies in most states. Cars and other vehicles with comprehensive insurance would also be protected.

The U.S. Geological Survey classified the quake as Alert Level Orange, the second-most serious category on its four-level scale. Earthquakes in that range lead to estimated losses between $100 million and $1 billion.

In Culpeper, Va., about 35 miles from the epicenter, walls had buckled at the old sanctuary at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which was constructed in 1821 and drew worshippers including Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. Heavy stone ornaments atop a pillar at the gate were shaken to the ground. A chimney from the old Culpeper Baptist Church built in 1894 also tumbled down.

At the Washington National Cathedral, spokesman Richard Weinberg said the building’s overall structure remains sound and damage was limited to “decorative elements.”

Massive stones atop three of the four spires on the building’s central tower broke off, crashing onto the roof. At least one of the spires is teetering badly, and cracks have appeared in some flying buttresses.

Repairs were expected to cost millions of dollars – an expense not covered by insurance.

“Every single portion of the exterior is carved by hand, so everything broken off is a piece of art,” Weinberg said. “It’s not just the labor, but the artistry of replicating what was once there.”

The building will remain closed as a precaution. Services to dedicate the memorial honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were moved.

Other major cities along the East Coast that felt the shaking tried to gauge the risk from another quake.

A few hours after briefly evacuating New York City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city’s newer buildings could withstand a more serious earthquake. But, he added, questions remain about the older buildings that are common in a metropolis founded hundreds of years ago.

“We think that the design standards of today are sufficient against any eventuality,” he said. But “there are questions always about some very old buildings. … Fortunately those tend to be low buildings, so there’s not great danger.”

An earthquake similar to the one in Virginia could do billions of dollars of damage if it were centered in New York, said Barbara Nadel, an architect who specializes in securing buildings against natural disasters and terrorism.

The city’s 49-page seismic code requires builders to prepare for significant shifting of the earth. High-rises must be built with certain kinds of bracing, and they must be able to safely sway at least somewhat to accommodate for wind and even shaking from the ground, Nadel said.

Buildings constructed in Boston in recent decades had to follow stringent codes comparable to anything in California, said Vernon Woodworth, an architect and faculty member at the Boston Architectural College. New construction on older structures also must meet tough standards to withstand severe tremors, he said.

It’s a different story with the city’s older buildings. The 18th- and 19th-century structures in Boston’s Back Bay, for instance, were often built on fill, which can liquefy in a strong quake, Woodworth said. Still, there just aren’t many strong quakes in New England.

The last time the Boston area saw a quake as powerful as the one that hit Virginia on Tuesday was in 1755, off Cape Ann, to the north. A repeat of that quake would likely cause deaths, Woodworth said. Still, the quakes are so infrequent that it’s difficult to weigh the risks versus the costs of enacting tougher building standards regionally, he said.

People in several of the affected states won’t have much time to reflect before confronting another potential emergency. Hurricane Irene is approaching the East Coast and could skirt the Mid-Atlantic region by the weekend and make landfall in New England after that.

In North Carolina, officials were inspecting an aging bridge that is a vital evacuation route for people escaping the coastal barrier islands as the storm approaches.

Speaking at an earthquake briefing Wednesday, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray inadvertently mixed up his disasters.

“Everyone knows, obviously, that we had a hurricane,” he said before realizing his mistake.

“Hurricane,” he repeated sheepishly as reporters and staffers burst into laughter. “I’m getting ahead of myself!”

___

Associated Press writers Sam Hananel in Washington; Alex Dominguez in Baltimore; Bob Lewis in Mineral, Va.; Samantha Gross in New York City; and Jay Lindsay in Boston contributed to this report.

Tensions rise Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Tensions rise on Israel-Gaza border

Tensions have escalated between activists of rallies and protests, better known as the marches of return, and Israeli soldiers on the border between eastern Gaza Strip and Israel, eyewitnesses and local radio stations reported.

The eyewitnesses said that dozens of Palestinian activists gathered close to the border fence between northeastern Gaza Strip and Israel and exploded sound bombs on Sunday night, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Gaza-based al-Sha’b Radio station reported that several explosions were heard in the area after activists threw several sound and percussion bombs on the border, adding that Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and gunshots at them; no injuries were reported.

Meanwhile, Palestinian sources in Gaza close to Hamas said that the movement informed officials in the Egyptian security intelligence that the movement intends to escalate the marches of return within the coming days.

The sources added that the marches activists decided to use the tools and means they used to carry out before reaching the calm understandings, brokered by Egypt, between Hamas and Israel last November.

The sources added that the decision to escalate the marches activities came after the Israeli occupation didn’t show any commitments to implementing the understandings of calm and cease-fire that were reached in November.

The marches of return and breaking the Israeli siege started on March 30 calling on Israel to end around 12 years of blockade that had been imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007.

Weekly anti-Israel rallies and protests had been organised since the start of the marches, where Gaza health ministry officials said that over 250 Palestinians, including 47 children, were killed and around 26,000 injured.-IANS

Doomsday Is Ticking Closer (Revelation 16)

With the US-Russian Nuclear Treaty in Tatters, Is ‘Doomsday’ Ticking Closer?

By Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer | February 11, 2019 04:57pm ET

“Mike,” the U.S.’s first successful hydrogen bomb test, was detonated on Enewetak Atoll in late 1952, as part of Operation Ivy.

Credit: Courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration/Nevada Site Office

When President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from a long-standing nuclear weapons treaty with Russia on Feb. 1, his actions set the stage for what many fear could be a new arms race between the global superpowers.

Trump’s decision was announced less than two weeks after scientists and policy experts with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) presented the 2019 position for the Doomsday Clock — a hypothetical clock whose time symbolizes how close the Earth is to destruction from nuclear war and other global threats.

On Jan. 24, BAS representatives declared that the clock’s hands would continue to stand at 2 minutes to midnight, the closest to absolute annihilation since the peak of the Cold War in 1953. Their dire warning came on the heels of the Trump administration’s statement of intent in October to withdraw the U.S. from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), which was established in 1987 to restrict nuclear arsenals, according to a BAS statement.

Now that the U.S. has officially abandoned one of the last remaining nuclear treaties with Russia, does that nudge the clock closer to doomsday?

Dismantling the deal

When President Ronald Reagan and Russian President Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed the INF treaty, they agreed that their respective countries would cease building nuclear weapons and would destroy all ground-based cruise or ballistic missiles with ranges of between 311 and 3,420 miles (500 and 5,500 kilometers) within three years of the treaty signing.

However, the Trump administration elected to withdraw from the agreement in October of last year, accusing Russia of violating the terms of the INF in 2014. At that time, Russia had deployed a land-based cruise missile known as the SSC-8, which was capable of reaching countries in Europe, The New York Times reported.

That October 2018 decision was alarming enough to prompt BAS officials to keep the hands on the Doomsday Clock at 2 minutes to midnight, Rachel Bronson, BAS president and CEO, told Live Science.

Prior to the Trump announcement, many experts felt that the risk of nuclear war had decreased somewhat since 2017, when tensions between the U.S. and North Korea were surging. But the call to dissolve the INF treaty was one of several factors that informed BAS’s assessment — that the threat of imminent nuclear war isn’t going away anytime soon.

“The arms-control architecture that had been built up over the last three-plus decades is just being dismantled,” Bronson said.

And even if Russia did break the INF treaty in 2014, the withdrawal of the U.S. from the treaty quashed any chance of holding Russia accountable and rallying global condemnation of the country’s actions, Bronson said.

“There’s value in having the treaty, because then the U.S. can hammer at Russia for being in violation of it,” Bronson said. “Without it, there’s nothing keeping them bound even to a facade of trying to reduce reliance to nuclear weapons.” [Apocalypse Now: The Gear You Need to Survive Doomsday]

Eve of destruction

On Feb. 2, Russia announced that it, too, would abandon the INF treaty, Time reported. This raises questions about the uncertain future of another U.S.-Russia agreement, the 1991 START treaty to limit nuclear weapons, which is set to expire in 2020, according to The Washington Post.

What happens next? The world certainly seems to be in a less stable place than it was a year ago, with Russia and the U.S. walking away from their former commitments to limit nuclear weapons and directing resources into new weapons development. In addition, the Trump administration has shown little interest in pursuing new agreements or rekindling negotiations, Bronson said.

It’s still too early to say for sure if the collapse of the INF treaty will inevitably send the hands of the Doomsday Clock swinging closer to midnight than ever before. The clock was created in 1947 specifically in response to the development of nuclear weapons, which introduced threats to the planet that were unprecedented in the history of warfare, Alan Robock, associate editor of the journal Reviews of Geophysics and a professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University in New Jersey, told Live Science in an email.

Even localized nuclear weapons can take their toll on more than the immediate vicinity by triggering “nuclear winter” — generating dense smoke clouds that cool the planet and prevent crops from growing, causing widespread famine, he added. [The Top 10 Largest Explosions Ever]

But the clock — as close as it now stands to a potential Armageddon — should also serve as a reminder that there is still time to reverse this new and dangerous course, Bronson said.

“What the Doomsday Clock does is it allows all of us to jump into this conversation that can often seem so remote and so distant,” she said.

“These are complicated issues. It can often feel like it’s beyond our ability to engage in the subject of arms control as well as the technical aspects of it. The Doomsday Clock allows a broader conversation — and these issues are too important to just leave to the experts,” Bronson said.