The Sixth Seal Long Overdue (Revelation 6)

ON THE MAP; Exploring the Fault Where the Next Big One May Be Waiting

The Big One Awaits

By MARGO NASH

Published: March 25, 2001

Alexander Gates, a geology professor at Rutgers-Newark, is co-author of “The Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes,“ which will be published by Facts on File in July. He has been leading a four-year effort to remap an area known as the Sloatsburg Quadrangle, a 5-by-7-mile tract near Mahwah that crosses into New York State. The Ramapo Fault, which runs through it, was responsible for a big earthquake in 1884, and Dr. Gates warns that a recurrence is overdue. He recently talked about his findings.

Q. What have you found?

A. We’re basically looking at a lot more rock, and we’re looking at the fracturing and jointing in the bedrock and putting it on the maps. Any break in the rock is a fracture. If it has movement, then it’s a fault. There are a lot of faults that are offshoots of the Ramapo. Basically when there are faults, it means you had an earthquake that made it. So there was a lot of earthquake activity to produce these features. We are basically not in a period of earthquake activity along the Ramapo Fault now, but we can see that about six or seven times in history, about 250 million years ago, it had major earthquake activity. And because it’s such a fundamental zone of weakness, anytime anything happens, the Ramapo Fault goes.

Q. Where is the Ramapo Fault?

A. The fault line is in western New Jersey and goes through a good chunk of the state, all the way down to Flemington. It goes right along where they put in the new 287. It continues northeast across the Hudson River right under the Indian Point power plant up into Westchester County. There are a lot of earthquakes rumbling around it every year, but not a big one for a while.

Q. Did you find anything that surprised you?

A. I found a lot of faults, splays that offshoot from the Ramapo that go 5 to 10 miles away from the fault. I have looked at the Ramapo Fault in other places too. I have seen splays 5 to 10 miles up into the Hudson Highlands. And you can see them right along the roadsides on 287. There’s been a lot of damage to those rocks, and obviously it was produced by fault activities. All of these faults have earthquake potential.

Q. Describe the 1884 earthquake.

A. It was in the northern part of the state near the Sloatsburg area. They didn’t have precise ways of describing the location then. There was lots of damage. Chimneys toppled over. But in 1884, it was a farming community, and there were not many people to be injured. Nobody appears to have written an account of the numbers who were injured.

Q. What lessons we can learn from previous earthquakes?

A. In 1960, the city of Agadir in Morocco had a 6.2 earthquake that killed 12,000 people, a third of the population, and injured a third more. I think it was because the city was unprepared.There had been an earthquake in the area 200 years before. But people discounted the possibility of a recurrence. Here in New Jersey, we should not make the same mistake. We should not forget that we had a 5.4 earthquake 117 years ago. The recurrence interval for an earthquake of that magnitude is every 50 years, and we are overdue. The Agadir was a 6.2, and a 5.4 to a 6.2 isn’t that big a jump.

Q. What are the dangers of a quake that size?

A. When you’re in a flat area in a wooden house it’s obviously not as dangerous, although it could cut off a gas line that could explode. There’s a real problem with infrastructure that is crumbling, like the bridges with crumbling cement. There’s a real danger we could wind up with our water supplies and electricity cut off if a sizable earthquake goes off. The best thing is to have regular upkeep and keep up new building codes. The new buildings will be O.K. But there is a sense of complacency.

MARGO NASH

Photo: Alexander Gates, a Rutgers geologist, is mapping a part of the Ramapo Fault, site of previous earthquakes. (John W. Wheeler for The New York Times)

Preparing for the Nuclear Holocaust (Revelation 16)

Apocalypse now? Cyber threats and nuclear weapons systems

Julia Berghofer |Policy Fellow and Project Manager for the YGLN

It is accepted that all states are vulnerable to cyber threats. Yet, a majority of states have yet to develop coherent cyber strategies or implement sufficient preventive measures. Despite the increase in severe cyber incidents directed at national power plants, companies and nuclear-related military equipment, the threat of cyber interference in national nuclear weapons systems is not being properly tackled. With multinational nuclear supply chains and nuclear command and control systems at risk of being compromised, this must be urgently addressed.

The more complex, the more vulnerable

Governments and legislators are struggling to keep pace with the rapid development of cyber capabilities. As military systems become more technically complex it would be easy to assume that they are more secure. The opposite is true. Increased automation and connectivity increases vulnerabilities to cyber attacks. Measures such as air-gapping a system (ie. de-connecting it from the internet) can fall short. A recent US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report assessed the cyber security of US weapons systems and found “mission critical cyber vulnerabilities in nearly all weapons systems […] under development.“ While the report does not make reference to any specific system type, one can reasonably assume that nuclear weapons systems are vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Possible kinds of cyber attacks

Cyber attacks can take many forms. Activities range from cyber espionage, data theft, infiltration of nuclear command, control and communications (NC3), denial of service/distributed denial of service (DoS/DDoS) attacks, false alarms (jamming and spoofing), sabotage and physical damage. When directed against nuclear weapons systems, in the worst possible case this may escalate to a deliberate or inadvertent exchange of nuclear weapons.

Another area of concern is the supply chain, comprised of any hardware and software components belonging to the nuclear weapons system, including NC3, platforms, delivery systems and warheads. The supply chain usually includes a string of companies and providers located in different countries with varying cyber security standards, which means there is room for manipulation and sabotage. Take, for instance, a computer chip produced in country A. If a vulnerability were inserted at the production stage it could then be remotely activated at a later point when the chip is integrated into the military system of country B. If the attacker happened to be an “insider“ with unlimited access to a military site, compromising military equipment could be easier. This could be done for instance through an infected USB drive when security standards in a military facility happen to be low, leaving the victim of the attack unaware of the manipulation up until it is too late.

Limited awareness of cyber risks to nuclear systems

There is a lack of awareness within the expert community and among decision-makers and a reluctance by states to implement measures such as common cyber security standards and the sharing of information on vulnerabilities. Among the nuclear weapons states, only in the United States have high-ranking officials, such as Gen. Robert Kehler (ret.) and Air Force Gen. John Hyten (STRATCOM), in two Senate Armed Service Committee hearings in 2013 and 2017 expressed their concerns about a potential cyber attack affecting the U.S. nuclear deterrent. One reason why decision-makers and governments are unwilling to take these steps could be that it seems too unrealistic or improbable a threat, merely belonging to the worlds of science fiction and doomsday scenarios. But there is no reason to assume that the warnings of the GAO, the U.S. 2017 Task Force on Cyber Deterrence or the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) are exaggerated.

Certainly, there has not yet been a major cyber attack on a state-run nuclear weapons programme – at least none we have publicly heard of. But there are a string of examples of cyber interference in nuclear installations or parts of the supply chain related to them. These include: the Stuxnet attack in 2010 affecting over 15 Iranian nuclear facilities which slowed down the development of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons programme; a massive cyber attack on Lockheed Martin in 2009 during which thousands of confidential files on the U.S. F35 Lightning II fighter aircraft were compromised by hackers (they were also able to see information such as the location of military aircraft in flight); the 2017 hacking of the THAAD missile defence system in South Korea; the 2009 Conficker Worm attack on the French Marine Nationale; a 2011 cyber espionage campaign on the French nuclear company Areva; and deep worries over the WannaCry virus possibly targeting parts of the UK Trident system in 2017.

What should decision-makers and policy-makers do?

Governments need to grapple with how to handle rapidly developing cyber capabilities. A critical first step is develop a better understanding of the threat, including by answering the following questions:

• What are the possible targets within the entire supply chain, the nuclear weapons system itself and within the upgrades, modernization and maintenance processes? What kind of vulnerabilities do they have?

• Who are the potential actors likely to carry out a serious cyber attacks? Which state, non-state actor or state-sponsored group would have (1) an interest and (2) the resources and capabilities?

All states possessing nuclear weapons, hosting NATO nuclear weapons on their soil, or running a civil nuclear programme should conduct annual assessments of the cyber resilience of all systems in question.

No less important is improved information sharing on possible and actual vulnerabilities and lessons learned with large technology companies, suppliers, vendors and manufacturers, and the implementation of common security standards. These companies are normally not keen to disclose information on vulnerabilities because of possible reputational damage or for fear of revealing details that potential hackers or competitors could exploit. Government and business must work closely together to overcome these challenges and address joint concerns.

Governments must also invest heavily in research activities in the framework of existing institutions such as the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE), the EU CBRN Centres of Excellence, or in cooperation with the European External Action service (EEAS), the United Nations (UNICRI) and, of course, within national cyber security institutions.

Governments and decision-makers of the nuclear-armed states should also publicly acknowledge that cyber security for nuclear weapons systems is a top tier priority for the safety and security of national military programmes. If the security of nuclear weapons is in question, this not only reduces their credibility and deterrent value but it also poses a massive safety and security risk. This is a risk that no government, population or company can or should manage alone.

The opinions articulated above also do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Leadership Network or any of its members. The ELN’s aim is to encourage debates that will help develop Europe’s capacity to address pressing foreign, defence, and security challenge.

The Pakistani and Iranian Horns Align (Daniel 8:8)

Pakistan not to support any aggression against Iran

ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a seminar on Wednesday said that Pakistan would not support any aggression against Iran and called for strengthening ties with the neighbouring country.

The seminar on ‘Pakistan-Iran Relation: Challenges and Prospects’ was organised by the Islamabad Policy Institute in the context of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent trip to Tehran. The situation arising out of the US deployment of aircraft carriers in the Middle East also formed the backdrop of the discussion.

Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi, in response to a question, said there was no chance of action against Iran.

In his keynote address, he recalled how Prime Minister Khan and the Iranian leadership overcame their communication gap during the premier’s visit to Iran through some candid talk. “It was a very positive visit. Ice has been broken and foundation has been laid for better ties. We now have to build on it,” he said in his assessment of Mr Khan’s maiden trip to Iran.

The minister, while pointing out that several countries have continued trading with Iran despite US sanctions, said Pakistan too needs to keep its interest supreme and explore ways of completing the gas pipeline.

Mr Zaidi noted that the absence of banking channels had been a major hindrance to development of ties, therefore a barter mechanism was under discussion for promoting bilateral trade.

Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Mushahid Hussain, while presiding over the session, said the two neighbouring countries enjoyed convergences in geography and culture with Allama Iqbal being the cementing factor; and compatibility of interest. “There is no incompatibility of interest on core issues,” he underscored.

However, he observed, there were concerns, mostly in security domain, which were being addressed through an ongoing and sustained security dialogue.

Mr Mushahid said Pakistan would never support a military adventure in the region and would not allow its territory to be used against Iran. He said that scrapping of the Iran nuclear deal was detrimental for global and regional peace.

Pakistan Peoples Party leader Farhatullah Babar hailed PM Khan’s candid remarks on terrorism during Iran visit, saying relations can be improved only by beginning with a clean slate. “There should be truth telling on both sides and the issue of ungoverned spaces on either sides of the border need to be tackled immediately,” he said and regretted that in the past this important relationship was mishandled.

Convener of Pak-Iran Friendship Group in the Senate retired Lt Gen Abdul Qayyum said there should be efforts for developing direct air link between Islamabad and Tehran and bilateral trade even if through barter to avoid US sanctions.

He said Pakistan would never support aggression against Iran or its diplomatic isolation and economic strangulation.

Director General of the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad, Aizaz Chaudhry said that it was incomprehensible that Pakistan and Iran have not fully exploited the potential of their economic cooperation and trade. He believed that border security issues should have been resolved long ago. These issues, he suggested, can be effectively addressed through security and intelligence coordination.

Former foreign minister and President of the Pakistan Council on China Inamul Haque called for exploring ways through which bilateral trade can be enhanced with Iran despite the US sanctions and regularising illegal trade. He also asked for seeing why fencing was required on borders with Iran and Afghanistan.

Iran’s Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost said true success of PM Khan’s visit could be judged by keeping in view the fact that third party has been active to drive a wedge between the two countries. He said there was no conflict of interest between Pakistan and Iran, which provided a good basis for working for developing the relationship to its full potential.

He categorically rejected allegations against Tehran regarding security incidents and said that Iran can never think about destabilising Pakistan or working against its interest.

Iran Threatens Babylon the Great’s Fleet (Daniel 8:4)

 

A high-ranking cleric in the Iranian government claimed Friday that a U.S. carrier strike group headed to the Persian Gulf could be destroyed by a single missile fired by Iran’s military, the latest threat from Tehran amid heightened tensions with the U.S.

Ayatollah Tabatabai-Nejad, who serves in Iran’s Assembly of Experts, said that “their billion [-dollar] fleet can be destroyed with one missile,” Reuters reported, citing an Iranian news agency.

“If they attempt any move, they will… [face] dozens of missiles because at that time [President Hassan Rouhani’s] officials won’t be in charge to act cautiously, but instead things will be in the hands of our beloved leader [Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei],” Tabatabai-Nejad added, according to the news service.

The Trump administration announced Sunday that it would deploy the carrier strike group led by the USS Abraham Lincoln to the region along with a bomber task force to address “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.”

Tabatabai-Nejad, a hard-line conservative cleric, is seen as close to Khamenei in the country, according to Reuters, and his threats could indicate growing pressure from Iran’s conservative wing to press tensions with the U.S.

A top official with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard addressed the tensions as well, stating that “no talks will be held with the Americans, and the Americans will not dare take military action against us,” Reuters reported.

Iran’s government sees the U.S. as “unreliable” following the Trump administration’s decision last year to abandon the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, the Revolutionary Guard official reportedly added.

White House national security adviser John Bolton said this week that the U.S. will not take military action in the region unless Iranian military forces or allied militia groups attempt such an act first.

“The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces,” he said.

Another Palestinian Killed Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Palestinian said killed in Gaza border riot in test of truce after fighting

30 wounded as thousands gather on border; UN envoy speaks with Hamas chief on implementing understandings with Israel to prevent renewed violence

By TOI staff10 May 2019, 6:20 pm

One Palestinian was killed and 30 were wounded as thousands gathered on the Gaza Strip border Friday for weekly protests, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry. The violence was seen as a major test for the calm that has prevailed since intense fighting last weekend between Israel and terror groups in the coastal enclave.

Some 6,000 Palestinians took part in demonstrations at five locations along the border. Several hundred people were rioting, throwing explosives and rocks at Israeli forces. IDF soldiers responded with tear gas and occasional live fire.

Twenty-four-year-old Abdullah Abed al-A’al was killed on the border near the southern Gaza city of Rafah, Gaza’s health ministry reported. It said 30 were wounded by live fire in the clashes.

The IDF’s Arabic-language spokesman shared footage from the clashes near the southern Gaza city of Rafah on his Twitter account, which appeared to show Palestinians attempting to damage the border fence.

هذا هو المشهد بعد ظهر اليوم في منطقة #رفح خلال أعمال الشغب على #السياج_الأمني. أحداث عنف كبيرة ومحاولات خطيرة للمساس بالسياج بالاضافة الى استعمال وسائل إرهابية. هذه الأحداث تنتج بيئة تتسم بالعنف والإرهاب والتي تختلف تمامًا عن مصلحة سكان قطاع #غزة وخاصةً في شهر #رمضان المبارك pic.twitter.com/mifdvLEDvf

افيخاي ادرعي (@AvichayAdraee) May 10, 2019

Ahead of the protests, UN Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov spoke with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. The two discussed efforts to implement understandings reportedly reached between Israel and Hamas to prevent renewed violence, the Kan public broadcaster quoted Haniyeh’s office as saying.

Israel has refused to officially confirm the ceasefire understandings.

Along with Egypt and Qatar, the UN’s Mladenov has played a lead role in brokering talks on a truce between Israel and Hamas and reaching understandings to end flare-ups between the sides that have broken out periodically since the start of the March of Return border protests last March.

An Egyptian security delegation arrived in Gaza late Thursday to monitor implementation of the Cairo-brokered truce, a Hamas official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In addition to the border rioting, a fire broke out Friday in the nearby Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. Authorities were probing if the blaze was started by an incendiary balloon flown from the Gaza Strip, Hebrew media reported.

Earlier Friday, Israel began easing restrictions on Gaza put in place amid the latest fighting, including reopening a 12 nautical mile fishing zone off the coast of the Strip. It also reopened the crossings into and out of Gaza at midnight Thursday, after they had been closed for Memorial Day and Independence Day, as is standard practice.

Palestinian fishing boats are seen in the Mediterranean Sea at the port in Gaza City on May 10, 2019. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

COGAT, the Defense Ministry body that liaises with the Palestinians, said in a statement late Thursday that the fishing zone expansion is “part of the civilian policy for prevention of deterioration in humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip and is consistent with the policy of distinguishing between terrorists and the general population.”

The statement warned that security forces would “handle any deviation” from the agreement.

Israel expanded the fishing zone to 15 nautical miles in some areas off Gaza’s coast in early April, but subsequently reduced and then canceled the move in response to rocket fire.

The move is thought to be part of a ceasefire agreement reached indirectly between Israel and Palestinian terror groups late Sunday, ending two days that saw almost 700 rockets fired into Israel and hundreds of retaliatory airstrikes by Israel’s air force.

Palestinian terror factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad announced the ceasefire agreement, but Israel has not officially made any comment, in line with its policy of ambiguity regarding such deals.

Four Israelis were killed by projectiles fired from Gaza on Sunday in some of the heaviest fighting seen in years. Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said 29 people were killed in the Strip. At least 11 of those were Hamas or Islamic Jihad terrorists, according to the groups.

A picture taken in Gaza City on May 5, 2019, shows rockets being fired toward Israel. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that the fighting in Gaza has not ended.

Representatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad have also threatened to resume fighting if the ceasefire deal is not implemented.

An Israeli military official said earlier this week that authorities were pressed to end the fighting before the national holidays that ended Thursday and Israel’s hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest next week. The official warned that fighting could resume soon after in the absence of measures aimed at easing humanitarian assistance to those in the Strip.

AFP contributed to this report.