India and Pakistan Rattle Their Nuclear Sabres

Feb 24, 2019

by Eric S. Margolis

While Americans were obsessing over a third-rate actor’s fake claims of a racial assault, old foes India and Pakistan were rattling their nuclear weapons in a very dangerous crisis over Kashmir. But hardly anyone noticed that nuclear war could break out in South Asia.

India and Pakistan, both nuclear-armed, have fought four wars over divided Kashmir since 1947, the lovely mountain state of forests and lakes whose population is predominantly Muslim. India controls two thirds of Kashmir; Pakistan and China the rest. This bitter dispute, one of the world’s oldest confrontations, has defied all attempts to resolve it.

The United Nations called on India to hold a plebiscite to determine Kashmir’s future, but Delhi ignored this demand, knowing it would probably lose the vote.

Muslim Kashmiris have been in armed revolt against harsh Indian occupation since the 1980’s. Some 70,000 civilians, mostly Muslims, have died to date. Today, India stations a million soldiers and paramilitary forces in Kashmir to repress popular demands by Muslim Kashmiris for either union with neighboring Pakistan or an independent Kashmiri state.

India’s human rights groups accuse Delhi of grave human rights violations, including torture, murder, rape and collective punishment. Delhi says it is protecting Kashmir’s Hindus and Sikhs from Muslim reprisals, and blames the uprising on what it calls ‘cross border terrorism’ initiated by old enemy, Pakistan.

Last week, a Kashmiri ‘mujahidin’ rammed his explosive-laden car into a bus filled with paramilitary Indian troops at Pulwama, killing over 40 and provoking outrage across India.

Unable to crush the decades-old uprising in Kashmir, India threatens major reprisal attacks on Pakistan. However, Kashmir is mountainous, offering poor terrain for India’s overwhelming superiority in tanks and artillery. So Indian commanders have long pressed Delhi to allow them to attack further south on the flat plains of Punjab.

Powerful Indian armored strike corps are poised to slice into vulnerable Pakistan and chop it up into pieces. India has also considered heavy air strikes into Pakistani Punjab and even a naval blockade to cut off Pakistan’s oil imports.

Outnumbered and outgunned six to one by India, Pakistan has developed a potent arsenal of nuclear weapons that can be delivered by aircraft, short and medium-ranged missiles and artillery. Pakistan says it will riposte almost immediately with tactical nuclear weapons to a major Indian attack. Both sides’ nuclear forces are on a hair-trigger alert, greatly increasing the risks of an accidental nuclear exchange.

More detail on this threat scenario may be found in my ground-breaking book on the region’s many dangers, ‘War at the Top of the World.’ Rand Corp estimated a decade ago that an Indo-Pak nuclear exchange would kill two million immediately and 100 million in ensuing weeks. India’s and Pakistan’s major water sources would be contaminated. Clouds of radioactive dust would blow around the globe.

India is deeply frustrated by its inability to crush the independence movement in Kashmir, labeling it ‘terrorism.’ True enough, Pakistan’s crack intelligence service, ISI, has links to the many Kashmiri mujahidin groups. But the uprising is also due to often brutal, corrupt Indian rule over Kashmir and the desire by Muslims for self-rule. As I have often written, every people has a god-given right to be misruled by their own people.

Right now, India is debating a major punitive strike against Pakistan. India national elections are imminent. The Hindu nationalist government in Delhi fears being accused of being soft on Pakistan. It was during a similar crisis in the 1980’s that Pakistan’s tough leader, Gen. Zia ul-Haq, flew to Delhi in a surprise visit and averted a war being planned by India.

If India does launch attacks they will likely be large in scale and involve heavy use of tactical air power. If units on either side become bogged down in fighting, commanders may call for the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Far outgunned Pakistan has been clear about such recourse. The urge to be first to strike with nuclear arms will be powerful.

Once again, the bitter Kashmir dispute endangers the rest of the world. The great powers should be pressing both India and Pakistan to reach a compromise on this problem. But India has long opposed internationalization of the issue, saying it is a domestic Indian matter. It is difficult to imagine the current Hindu nationalist government in Delhi backing down over Kashmir. But India must be very cautious because behind Pakistan stands its ally China which shares a long, often poorly-defined border with India. Kashmir, not Korea, is the world’s most dangerous border.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2019

The Next Major Quake: The Sixth Seal of NYC

New York is overdue an earthquake from faults under city

New York is OVERDUE an earthquake from a ‘brittle grid’ of faults under the city, expert warns

• New York City last experienced a M5 or higher earthquake in 1884, experts say

• It’s thought that these earthquakes occur on a roughly 150-year periodicity 

• Based on this, some say the city could be overdue for the next major quake 

By Cheyenne Macdonald For Dailymail.com

Published: 15:50 EDT, 1 September 2017 | Updated: 12:00 EDT, 2 September 2017

When you think of the impending earthquake risk in the United States, it’s likely California or the Pacific Northwest comes to mind.

But, experts warn a system of faults making up a ‘brittle grid’ beneath New York City could also be loading up for a massive temblor.

The city has been hit by major quakes in the past, along what’s thought to be roughly 150-year intervals, and researchers investigating these faults now say the region could be overdue for the next event.

Experts warn a system of faults making up a ‘brittle grid’ beneath New York City could also be loading up for a massive temblor. The city has been hit by major quakes in the past, along what’s thought to be roughly 150-year intervals. A stock image is pictured

THE ‘CONEY ISLAND EARTHQUAKE’

On August 10, 1884, New York was struck by a magnitude 5.5 earthquake with an epicentre located in Brooklyn.

While there was little damage and few injuries reported, anecdotal accounts of the event reveal the frightening effects of the quake.

One newspaper even reported that it caused someone to die from fright.

According to a New York Times report following the quake, massive buildings, including the Post Office swayed back and forth.

And, police said they felt the Brooklyn Bridge swaying ‘as if struck by a hurricane,’ according to an adaptation of Kathryn Miles’ book Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake.

The rumbles were felt across a 70,000-square-mile area, causing broken windows and cracked walls as far as Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

The city hasn’t experienced an earthquake this strong since.

According to geologist Dr Charles Merguerian, who has walked the entirety of Manhattan to assess its seismicity, there are a slew of faults running through New York, reports author Kathryn Miles in an adaptation of her new book Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake.

One such fault passes through 125th street, otherwise known as the Manhattanville Fault.

While there have been smaller quakes in New York’s recent past, including a magnitude 2.6 that struck in October 2001, it’s been decades since the last major tremor of M 5 or more.

And, most worryingly, the expert says there’s no way to predict exactly when a quake will strike.

‘That’s a question you really can’t answer,’ Merguerian has explained in the past.

‘All we can do is look at the record, and the record is that there was a relatively large earthquake here in the city in 1737, and in 1884, and that periodicity is about 150 year heat cycle.

‘So you have 1737, 1884, 20- and, we’re getting there. But statistics can lie.

‘An earthquake could happen any day, or it couldn’t happen for 100 years, and you just don’t know, there’s no way to predict.’

Compared the other parts of the United States, the risk of an earthquake in New York may not seem as pressing.

But, experts explain that a quake could happen anywhere.

According to geologist Dr Charles Merguerian, there are a slew of faults running through NY. One is the Ramapo Fault

‘All states have some potential for damaging earthquake shaking,’ according to the US Geological Survey.

‘Hazard is especially high along the west coast but also in the intermountain west, and in parts of the central and eastern US.’

A recent assessment by the USGS determined that the earthquake hazard along the East Coast may previously have been underestimated.

‘The eastern U.S. has the potential for larger and more damaging earthquakes than considered in previous maps and assessments,’ the USGS report explained.

The experts point to a recent example – the magnitude 5.8 earthquake that hit Virginia in 2011, which was among the largest to occur on the east coast in the last century.

This event suggests the area could be subjected to even larger earthquakes, even raising the risk for Charleston, SC.

It also indicates that New York City may be at higher risk than once thought.

A recent assessment by the USGS determined that the earthquake hazard along the East Coast may previously have been underestimated. The varying risks around the US can be seen above, with New York City in the mid-range (yellow).

Children Sacrificed Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Ilan Assayag

Nighttime Riots at Gaza Fence Take Toll on Children From Israel’s Border Communities

Demonstrations at the Gaza border include throwing explosives over the separation barrier and using loudspeakers to simulate ‘Color Red’ alerts, the warning sound for incoming rockets

Almog Ben Zikri

Almost every evening in recent weeks, the Eshkol Regional Council issues a would-be reassuring announcement: Despite the explosions in the area, the communities are not under threat.

But the residents are finding it hard to relax. Hamas has recently increased its nighttime rioting near the Gaza border fence, which includes throwing explosives and using loudspeakers to simulate “Color Red” alerts, often until midnight. The goal is to frighten the residents, and it’s working.

According to the regional council, since the nighttime disturbances have intensified, there have been more calls to the local “resilience center,” which provides mental health treatment and advice to residents. The distress is especially evident among the children; the council has gotten reports of children who refuse to be left alone for even a short period, and of children falling asleep in class because they couldn’t sleep the previous night.

Palestinian protesters take part in a night demonstration near the fence along the border with Israel, east of Gaza City, on February 11, 2019. AFP

A., who’s 10 and in fifth grade, left school early Wednesday. Her father was summoned to pick her up in the middle of the day. Two months ago, A. was diagnosed as suffering from shock and is being treated by the resilience center. For two days she slept in the mamad, the home’s reinforced room. “It’s a catastrophe,” her mother says, adding that this isn’t an environment in which her daughter can get better.

The mother, who has been taking Cipralex, an anti-anxiety drug, since Operation Pillar of Defense over six years ago, said her daughter has been sinking down since the last escalation with Gaza, when 500 rockets were fired at the border communities. The night riots have made it even worse.

“There are loud booms, sometimes very loud; it sounds like cannon fire,” she says. “The noise at night has a very strong influence. The girl has become a jumpy bundle of nerves. It’s very hard to calm her down. She takes a long time getting to sleep and she sleeps very badly.” Very often she doesn’t want to go to school, or she insists that her mother bring her, because if there’s a siren, A. would prefer to be with her mother than “a bunch of girls screaming and crying on the bus.”

Palestinian protesters take part in a night demonstration near the fence along the border with Israel, east of Gaza City, on February 11, 2019. AFP

Last Wednesday night there was an explosion that shook the windows of their home. “Wow, that was a big one,” A. said, while her brother counted the secondary explosions. He said that the presence of a reporter in the house had moderated A.’s response; usually she jumps up, often crying, and runs to the mamad. The brother, meanwhile, has gotten used to playing online games with only one earphone.

A. doesn’t take any comfort from quiet days, describing them as “the quiet before the storm.” The noise from Israel Defense Forces shelling makes her even more nervous than the explosions from the Gaza Strip, because the former are liable to bring rocket fire in response.

She spends hours in the mamad. “Let’s say I’m watching a movie on the phone, I’ll go to the mamad and watch it there, since if there’ll be a Color Red alert, I’ll already be there. When my routine was broken up I was in the mamad for a month, because I was afraid that if there’d be an alarm I wouldn’t get there in time.” She came home early from school Wednesday because, she said, “I just feel overwhelmed. It’s not the most fun childhood in the world.” In contrast to her brother, she has a hard time functioning on a daily basis. “Lately I haven’t been able to concentrate at all. For example, they give us math problems and it takes the other kids half an hour, while it takes me an hour.” She’s also having a hard time dealing with social situations that were no problem for her in the past. “There were a few days when almost every day I would run out of class if someone said something and it annoyed me because I hadn’t slept at night. At home, too, lots of times if someone says something to me, I run to my room and cry.”

A., whose sixth birthday party was abruptly ended by a siren, says the security situation has been part of her life ever since she can remember, but it has never been so intense. “The past few months I’m much more sensitive and not as happy as I used to be,” she says. But she has found someone she can identify with. “One of the things that’s given me a lot of hope is reading ‘The Diary of Anne Frank.’ She talks about things that give me the feeling that we are very similar, even though she’s hiding from the Nazis and I’m hiding from Color Red.”

It’s very important to A. that she not be pitied. She says she was offended when Tel Aviv kids sent snacks to the local children during one of the last escalations, as well as when one of the tour guides accompanying her class on a trip said that he saluted them.

“There’s nothing here to salute,” she says. “It’s insulting that people pity me because my parents chose to live in this place.” But it also angers her that people from elsewhere don’t understand the situation in the border region. Last year, when the Eastern Crown festival was held in Eshkol Park, she heard Culture Minister Miri Regev wish the residents a return to routine. “I whispered to my Dad that our routine is explosions,” she said. “I don’t want it to be routine here, I want it to be good here.”

Russia Targets Babylon the Great

After Putin’s warning, Russian TV lists nuclear targets in U.S. | Reuters

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian state television has listed U.S. military facilities that Moscow would target in the event of a nuclear strike, and said that a hypersonic missile Russia is developing would be able to hit them in less than five minutes.

The targets included the Pentagon and the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland.

The report, unusual even by the sometimes bellicose standards of Russian state TV, was broadcast on Sunday evening, days after President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was militarily ready for a “Cuban Missile”-style crisis if the United States wanted one.

With tensions rising over Russian fears that the United States might deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe as a Cold War-era arms-control treaty unravels, Putin has said Russia would be forced to respond by placing hypersonic nuclear missiles on submarines near U.S. waters.

The United States says it has no immediate plans to deploy such missiles in Europe and has dismissed Putin’s warnings as disingenuous propaganda. It does not currently have ground-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles that it could place in Europe.

However, its decision to quit the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty over an alleged Russian violation, something Moscow denies, has freed it to start developing and deploying such missiles.

Putin has said Russia does not want a new arms race, but has also dialled up his military rhetoric.

The Pentagon said that Putin’s threats only helped unite NATO.

“Every time Putin issues these bombastic threats and touts his new doomsday devices, he should know he only deepens NATO’s resolve to work together to ensure our collective security,” Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman, said.

Some analysts have seen his approach as a tactic to try to re-engage the United States in talks about the strategic balance between the two powers, for which Moscow has long pushed, with mixed results.

Real concessions needed at US-NK summit -Markey

In the Sunday evening broadcast, Dmitry Kiselyov, presenter of Russia’s main weekly TV news show ‘Vesti Nedeli’, showed a map of the United States and identified several targets he said Moscow would want to hit in the event of a nuclear war.

The targets, which Kiselyov described as U.S. presidential or military command centers, also included Fort Ritchie, a military training center in Maryland closed in 1998, McClellan, a U.S. Air Force base in California closed in 2001, and Jim Creek, a naval communications base in Washington state.

Kiselyov, who is close to the Kremlin, said the “Tsirkon” (‘Zircon’) hypersonic missile that Russia is developing could hit the targets in less than five minutes if launched from Russian submarines.

Hypersonic flight is generally taken to mean traveling through the atmosphere at more than five times the speed of sound.

“For now, we’re not threatening anyone, but if such a deployment takes place, our response will be instant,” he said.

Kiselyov is one of the main conduits of state television’s strongly anti-American tone, once saying Moscow could turn the United States into radioactive ash.

Asked to comment on Kiselyov’s report, the Kremlin said on Monday it did not interfere in state TV’s editorial policy.

Additional reporting by Tom Balmforth and Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Dan Grebler

Iran Assisted by the Shi’a Horn (Daniel 8)

Iran Boosts Trade In Iraq, Turkey, Russia and Syria Despite US Sanctions

Tehran is now pushing for more trade with Iraq and Russia, and boasting it will not be affected by the sanctions. (Shutterstock)

“Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday that Moscow will continue all-out cooperation with Iran, including in the area of nuclear energy,” Iranian media reported.

A new customs gate in the Saray district of Turkey’s Van province is expected to boost trade with Iran, according to Turkish media. It is one of several links Tehran is hoping to use to maintain its economy amid US sanctions and following the US-backed summit in Poland that Washington hoped would focus on Iran.

Tehran is now pushing for more trade with Iraq and Russia, and boasting it will not be affected by the sanctions.

Iran said on Saturday it had many options to neutralize the reimposition of the sanctions on its oil exports, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, adding that Tehran’s clerical rulers had no plans to hold talks with Washington.

Apart from closing the Strait of Hormuz, we have other options to stop oil flow if threatened… The US administration lacks ‘goodwill,’ no need to hold talks with America,” Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani told Tasnim. “Iran has plans in place that will neutralize the illegal US sanctions against Iran’s oil exports.”

On Friday, the Islamic Republic News Agency included an article about Russia’s efforts to confront the US regarding trade and Iran.

“Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday that Moscow will continue all-out cooperation with Iran, including in the area of nuclear energy, despite all the pressures from the United States,” the article notes. Russia said that US efforts to “scare” Moscow regarding trade were unacceptable.

RUSSIA HAS been outspoken before on standing by Iran during the dispute with the US. In late January, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met Iraq’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Alhakim in Moscow to discuss “the situation around Iran in the context of increasing sanctions pressure and harsh rhetoric from the US,” according to statements from Moscow.

They hinted that this affects Iraq’s interests. Iraq is increasingly a kind of “near abroad” for Iran’s economy, a key ally amid the increasing pressure from Washington. Iran has cultivated leaders in Iraq, including various Shi’ite-based political parties and also militias. Oil from Iraq is trucked to Iran and products from Iran go into Iraq.

For instance, on February 14 the Kurdistan Regional Government, an autonomous region in northern Iraq, issued a ban on oil exports to Iran. The ban appeared to be the result of pressure from the US, which doesn’t want the trade to continue. But a week after it was announced, Iran sent Ambassador Iraj Masjedi to Iraq and the Kurdistan region.

Soon after, two exemptions to the oil ban were released. On the one hand, Baghdad has discussed the trade with Washington, but on the other hand, Baghdad wants the exemptions.

Iran’s work with Iraq, Turkey and Russia is key to helping it get around the US sanctions and also keep its struggling economy afloat. Turkey had vowed it would not abide by new US sanctions in November. Turkey has also been in close talks with the Trump administration about Syria recently.

Turkey, Iran and Russia are also key players in the Astana process regarding ending the conflict in Syria. As part of that cooperation, Iran seeks to portray itself as advancing regional stability. Keeping Iran’s economy afloat is part of that stability, from Tehran’s perspective, and it seeks to convince its partners in Moscow and Ankara of this.

According to an article from the Atlantic Council on February 22, Iran is increasing its economic activities in Syria as the war winds down. It is shifting from sending aid to Syria, which was key to helping the Assad regime survive the civil war, to seeking economic benefit. Hamidreza Azizi argues that Tehran has signed a number of Memorandums of Understanding with Damascus as part of this effort.

This includes banking channels, agriculture, and other methods of “circumventing US sanctions.” Iran also wants to be involved in post-war reconstruction, “with economic benefit outweighing political considerations.” For the first time, Iran is also encouraging private sector investment, the article notes. A rail link, via Iraq, may even be in the works.

The Syrian nexus for the Iranian economy thus ties Iran, Iraq and Syria increasingly together. This is part of a political corridor of influence stretching to Lebanon, as well as a way for Iran’s economy to access neighboring states. Along with the closer relations Iran seeks with Russia and Turkey as part of the discussions about post-war Syria, the economic issue is of vital importance for Tehran. These recent reports clearly indicate that this is the case.