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

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.

“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.”

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)

The Tragedy of the Children Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Mohamed Zaanoun/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Tragedy of Gaza’s Children

Aug 8, 2019 KEVIN WATKINS

Children and mothers are bearing the brunt of the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which includes widespread malnutrition. Allowing the current situation to slide into a full-fledged catastrophe would be an indefensible dereliction of responsibility by the international community.

GAZA CITY – Wrapped in her mother’s arms in a crowded doctor’s surgery, Muna (not her real name) looks at first glance like any baby waiting to be weighed by a nurse. Look more closely, however, and you see why medical staff at the Ard El-Insan pediatric clinic in Gaza are worried. Muna is nine months old, but she weighs under five kilograms – barely the normal weight for a healthy six-week-old baby.

“This is heartbreaking, but it’s now normal,” a doctor tells me. “Every day we see over 50 cases of children with malnutrition, and the numbers are rising.”

The increasingly dire situation in Gaza – especially for children – is one of the world’s least reported humanitarian emergencies. The territory is mired in a deepening crisis as a result of three wars since 2007, a decade-long Israeli-led blockade, and a budget crisis fueled by intra-Palestinian hostilities and aid cuts. Two years ago, the United Nations described conditions for the two million people inhabiting the tiny coastal strip as increasingly “unlivable.” And the situation has deteriorated since then.

The territory’s economy is in free fall. It contracted by 8% last year alone – and the decline continues. Half the population – including 400,000 children – is now living below the poverty line. The unemployment rate is among the highest in the world, with two-thirds of young people jobless.

Basic services are disintegrating as fast as the economy. The health-care system is collapsing, with providers lacking basic equipment and essential medicines, including antibiotics. Clean piped water is a distant memory. Today, impoverished Gazans queue to buy expensive and often unsafe trucked water. Sewage treatment is also a thing of the past: the equivalent of 43 Olympic-sized swimming pools of raw sewage is pumped into the sea every day. And electricity supply is sporadic.

Children like Muna, and their mothers, are bearing the brunt of the crisis. Earlier this year, Save the Children, UNICEF, and the World Food Programme conducted a survey to document the nutritional status of women and children in vulnerable communities across the Gaza Strip. The results were shocking. Around one in five pregnant women were malnourished. Child malnutrition, although still below emergency levels, has risen fourfold since 2014. And an alarming 40% of children covered by the survey were suffering from diarrhea or acute respiratory infection – potentially lethal diseases for young bodies weakened by hunger.

Humanitarian aid to Gaza is, quite literally, a lifeline. It keeps over half the population from going hungry. Four of every five people – 1.6 million in total – need humanitarian support. But the aid pipeline is under pressure. Donors have provided less than half the $351 million needed for 2019. Deep cuts to the budget of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA, the UN body responsible for Palestinian refugees) have compounded the problem, putting pressure on already overstretched education and health systems.

Other aspects of the tragedy unfolding in Gaza are less visible. Like their peers across the occupied Palestinian territories, Gaza’s children are in the grip of a mental-health crisis. Half of Palestinian children aged 6-12 experience emotional and behavioral disorders, according to the World Health Organization. Adolescents in Gaza bear the scars of traumatic exposure to extreme violence, loss of friends and loved ones, and the toxic stress produced by daily fear and anxiety. One recent survey found that over two-thirds of children in schools close to the perimeter fence separating Gaza from Israel were dealing with psycho-social distress. The fragmented patchwork of mental health care cannot deal with an epidemic of this magnitude.

The Israeli-led blockade is pushing Gaza further toward the cliff edge of a humanitarian emergency. Restrictions on the movement of goods such as fertilizers, medical equipment, and pharmaceuticals have choked off economic recovery, undermined livelihoods, and left the territory’s health clinics without vital supplies. Aid donors complain about delays in the supply of equipment needed for critical infrastructure, including desalination plants.

Tensions between the Palestinian Authority (PA), based in the West Bank, and the Hamas authorities controlling Gaza have added to the crisis. The PA has cut budget transfers to Gaza, leading to further job losses, reduced wages, and greater pressure on basic services.

Ultimately, there will be no peace and development in Gaza without reconciliation, underpinned by a political settlement that respects the rights and protects the security of all Palestinians and Israelis. Gaza cannot be treated as a separate entity. It is an integral part of the future unified state that must be established in peaceful coexistence with Israel across all occupied Palestinian territory.

That prospect seems a long way off. But allowing Gaza to slide into a full-fledged humanitarian catastrophe would be an indefensible dereliction of responsibility by the international community.

Preventing such a disaster will require urgent action. Aid donors must commit to fully funding the UN’s humanitarian appeal, along with UNRWA’s 2019 budget. The malnutrition crisis, neglected for too long, demands a decisive response – and next month, aid agencies are launching a $23 million three-year action plan to address it. Easing the blockade would help tackle poverty and create the jobs Gaza desperately needs. The World Bank has proposed ways to relax import restrictions without compromising Israeli security. Its president, David Malpass, could help broker such a deal.

None of this will be easy. Gaza’s children are now in the eye of a perfect humanitarian storm, and the hopes of an entire generation are fading.

If there is a glimmer of hope, perhaps it can be found by cutting through the tired, polarized debate on Gaza and asking a simple question: does anyone believe that children like Muna should be pushed to the brink of starvation by a crisis they played no part in creating?

For the sake of all Gaza’s children, I hope not.

A Clash with Russia Before the Final War (Daniel)

US fighter jets intercept Russian bombers near Alaska

Washington (CNN) — US and Canadian fighter jets intercepted two Russian long-range bombers off the coast of Alaska Thursday, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which released images of the encounter.

Two US F-22 stealth jets and two Canadian CF-18 fighters intercepted the nuclear-capable Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers after they entered Alaskan and Canadian Air Defense Identification Zones, which extend approximately 200 miles off Alaska’s western coast, NORAD said in a statement.

The Russian aircraft remained in international airspace and never entered US or Canadian sovereign territory, the statement added.

This latest intercept comes at a complicated time in US-Russian relations.

On one hand, President Donald Trump has made it clear that he wants to improve relations with Moscow, but at the same time, the two countries have clashed over a wide range of geopolitical issues, including Russia’s annexation of Crimea, election interference and the attempted poisoning of an alleged Russian spy in Britain.

It is also just the latest in a string of encounters between US and Russian military assets this year.

Russian bomber flights like the one that took place on Thursday are viewed by US military officials as part of Moscow’s effort to train its military for a potential crisis while simultaneously sending a message of strength to adversaries.

US officials say Russian bombers and jets have flown in the area several times a year for the last few years and have similarly been intercepted by US or Canadian jets operating as part of NORAD.

“NORAD’s top priority is defending Canada and the United States. NORAD operators identified and intercepted the Russian aircraft flying near our nations,” said Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, the NORAD commander. “Whether responding to violators of restricted airspace domestically or identifying and intercepting foreign military aircraft, NORAD is on alert 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”

Thursday’s incident comes after NORAD identified two Russian maritime reconnaissance anti-submarine warfare aircraft entering the same zone last week.

“The Russian aircraft remained in international airspace west of mainland Alaska and at no time did the aircraft enter sovereign United States airspace,” NORAD said in a statement about that incident.

The most recent intercept involving Russian aircraft off the coast of Alaska took place in May when two US F-22s intercepted four Russian bombers and two Su-35 fighter jets that flew into the Air Defense Identification Zone.

In January, a US E-3 aircraft, two F-22 fighter jets and two Canadian CF-18 fighter jets similarly “positively identified” two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers entering the Canadian Air Defense Identification Zone.

The US also conducts similar flights in international airspace near the Russian coast though at times, has accused Russian pilots of performing unsafe or unprofessional maneuvers during the encounters.

In June, a Russian jet intercepted a US aircraft flying in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea three times in just under three hours, according to the US 6th Fleet.

The second of the three interactions “was determined to be unsafe” due to the Russian aircraft “conducting a high speed pass directly in front of the mission aircraft, which put our pilots and crew at risk,” the 6th fleet said in a statement at the time.

The Russian aircraft was armed and passed about 150 feet directly in front of the US plane, according to two US officials.

The Russian military disputed the US Navy’s characterization of the intercept as unsafe.

The German Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

Top U.S. Air Force (USAF) and Pentagon officials are working to respond to the German query, the sources said.

Reuters reports that the German defense ministry asked the Pentagon in April on the possibility of certifying the Eurofighter to carry nuclear bombs.

Anonymous sources said Berlin would also like to find out how long is the certification process and the cost involved.

Top U.S. Air Force (USAF) and Pentagon officials are working to respond to the German query, the sources said.

Airbus is confident Eurofighter – a joint project with Britain’s BAE Systems and Italy’s Leonardo – could be certified by 2025. Sources familiar with the Eurofighter said it was possible to reconfigure the European jet to carry nuclear bombs.

But U.S. government sources say that schedule is ambitious given that the F-35 and other aircraft must be certified first. Washington has suggested it could take 7-10 years to certify the Eurofighter for nuclear missions, well beyond the Tornado’s retirement date, according to one German military source.

While urging Europe to boost defence spending, U.S. officials are worried about being shut out of European defence projects after 25 EU governments signed a pact in December to fund, develop and deploy armed forces together.

U.S. officials will also weigh whether the Eurofighter could survive a mission into enemy territory to drop a nuclear bomb without stealth capability at a time when Russia and other potential future enemies have bolstered their sensors and air defences, a second source said.

As we have previously reported the Luftwaffe has a shortlist of existing platforms to replace its Panavia Tornado fighter bombers from 2025 to 2030 but the service “preferred choice” is the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, a German Air Force official said at the International Fighter Conference on Nov. 8, 2017.

According to the same official in fact, the Lightning II can satisfy most of Germany’s requirements and offer other benefits as well.

“The Tornado replacement needs to be fifth-generation aircraft that can be detected as late as possible, if at all. It must be able to identify targets from a long way off and to target them as soon as possible. The German Ministry of Defence [MoD] is looking at several aircraft today, including the F-35 – it is commercially available already, has been ordered by many nations and is being introduced into service today, and has most of the capabilities required.”

But the German Defense Ministry said in a December letter to a lawmaker that the Eurofighter is the preferred choice to replace the Tornado fighter-bomber.

In fact in a letter to a Greens lawmaker who had inquired about the deliberations, the German Defense Ministry said U.S. fighters (the F-35 as well as Boeing’s F-15 and F/A-18 aircraft) were secondary options.

This article by Dario Leone originally appeared on The Aviation Geek Club in 2018.

Image: Wikimedia.

Russia May Be Testing Nuclear Weapons Again

Is Russia Testing Nuclear Weapons Again?

August 8, 2019 Topic: Security Blog Brand: The Buzz

And you were worried about North Korea.

by Mark B. Schneider

In May 2019, Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley, Jr., Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, in an important speech at the Hudson Institute, stated:

Russia’s development of new warhead designs and overall stockpile management efforts have been enhanced by its approach to nuclear testing. The United States believes that Russia probably is not adhering to its nuclear testing moratorium in a manner consistent with the “zero-yield” standard.

Our understanding of nuclear weapon development leads us to believe Russia’s testing activities would help it to improve its nuclear weapons capabilities. The United States, by contrast, has forgone such benefits by upholding a “zero-yield” standard.[1]

This is an extremely important conclusion because it linked covert Russian nuclear testing to the development of new nuclear warhead designs with improved capabilities, which is very significant because of the threat posed by Russia’s ever growing nuclear capability. Despite the uproar in the arms control enthusiast community about his remarks, there is substantial open-source evidence going back over two decades to support his statement. The 2009 U.S. Strategic Commission report stated, “Apparently Russia and possibly China are conducting low yield tests.” [2] Russian press reports concerning Russian conduct of very low-yield hydronuclear tests have appeared since the 1990s.[3] According to Ralph Alewine, then-Director of the Pentagon’s nuclear treaty programs, “We do have information that a seismic event with explosive characteristics occurred in the vicinity of the Russian nuclear test range at Novaya Zemlya on August 16 [1997].” [4] Writing in The New York Times in March 2001, William J. Broad and Patrick E. Tyler reported, “Some [in the intelligence community] have concluded that Russia is lying and is instead detonating small nuclear blasts…” [5] In May 2002, the New York Times again reported that some CIA intelligence analysts were saying, “Russia may already have detonated tiny nuclear devices.” [6]

There are declassified, but highly redacted CIA reports from the late 1990s that clearly discussed Russian hydronuclear testing. One of them observed that “Authorities including First Deputy Minister for Atomic Energy Mikhaylov have said Russia is looking at a range of techniques—including hydronuclear experiments—that they say would allow them to continue warhead design and maintenance research within the limits of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.” [7]Another report said that Mikhaylov had published an article “justifying” hydronuclear tests for weapons safety and the development of new types of nuclear weapons, noting that hydronuclear experiments “are far more useful for Russian weapons development” than subcritical tests.[8] A third declassified CIA report noted that in response to a Western press report of a covert Russian nuclear test, the Russian “Ministry of Atomic Energy claimed no knowledge of a nuclear test, but declared that adherence to the moratorium was the prerogative of the Russian President.” [9]Notably, there was no clear Russian denial.

While the bottom line judgments were redacted from the public CIA reports, it is clear that long reports were not written on non-existent issues. Statements by Mikhaylov about hydronuclear testing were brought up by Senator Richard Shelby during the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) ratification hearings.[10] The CTBT, which sought to ban all nuclear tests, was defeated by a majority vote in the U.S. Senate.

Russian Hydronuclear Testing

In 1999, when Russia made public its new military strategy which entailed the first use of nuclear weapons, President Boris Yeltsin reportedly authorized conducting “hydronuclear field experiments.”[11] However, hydronuclear testing in Russia reportedly started years before the reported Yeltsin decree authorizing it. Hydronuclear tests are those in which a nuclear device is deliberately detonated to produce a very small nuclear yield. The recent statement by Siegfried Hecker, a former Director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, suggesting that hydronuclear tests have a yield of four pounds of TNT[12] is inaccurate. He confused the U.S. definition of “one-point safety” with the Russian definition of “hydronuclear” testing. We know for sure that the Russian definition of a hydronuclear test is much higher than four pounds of nuclear yield. We don’t really know the maximum yield associated with Russian hydronuclear testing or even if all of the reported Russian tests are hydronuclear as distinct from low-yield nuclear.

The Russians, during the Mikhaylov era, talked a lot about hydronuclear tests apparently because Atomic Energy Minister Viktor Mikhaylov was trying to legitimize them under the CTBT. Hydronuclear testing was the most that Mikhaylov could publicly discuss since there was no way to claim that low-yield nuclear testing did not violate the CTBT obligation not to defeat the object and purpose of the Treaty, the announced Russian nuclear testing moratorium or the legal requirement to notify at least two nuclear tests a year under the Threshold Test Ban Treaty (TTBT). The official U.S. statements talk about Russian nuclear testing, not hydronuclear testing.

In January 1999, Lev Ryabev, then-head of the Atomic Energy Ministry’s Nuclear Munitions Development and Testing Department, said that so-called “subcritical” tests could produce very small nuclear yield (i.e., 0.1 gram).[13] This was repeated in a 2006 Russian press report in state-run Ria Novosti on nuclear testing at Novaya Zemlya.[14] This, in effect, makes them very low-yield hydronuclear tests rather than sub-critical tests which by definition can’t release nuclear energy resulting from a supercritical chain reaction. According to a report of Russia’s Sarov nuclear weapons laboratory, the Soviets conducted “89 [hdyronuclear tests] including air, surface and underground (tunnel) experiments” which involved “a mock-up of a nuclear device with no considerable nuclear energy release (its value did not exceed that characteristic for a high explosive).” [15] Viktor Mikhaylov was the main author of this report, which stated that “The nuclear energy released during most of these experiments was less than 100 kg of chemical explosive equivalent.” [16] [Emphasis added]. The implications of this statement are that some, or perhaps almost one-half, of Soviet hydronuclear tests, were over 100-kg of TNT. The Sarov report referenced air-burst hydronuclear tests which suggest a yield that is more likely to be in the low-yield range because it would be silly to stage an air-burst hydronuclear test because of the requirement to obtain data from the test through instrumentation. The Russian definition of a nuclear test is apparently the release of one metric ton of TNT in nuclear yield.[17] If so, hydronuclear tests could have up to one ton of TNT yield. Such tests cannot possibly be detected and identified as nuclear tests seismically.

On April 23, 1999, then-First Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Viktor Mikhaylov stated that Russia would conduct “so-called test-site hydronuclear experiments, where there is practically no release of nuclear energy,” and on April 29, 1999, he stated that “…developed traditional nuclear powers can use hydronuclear experiments to perform tasks of improving reliability of their nuclear arsenal and effectively steward its operation.” [18] [Emphasis added]. These statements are particularly important because they are associated with the announcement of Russia’s new policy with regard to nuclear weapons development. The year 2000 book by Russian nuclear weapons designers, including V.A. Logachev, revealed that “Since 1994, numerous additional hydrodynamic and hydronuclear experiments have been successfully carried out at NZTS [Novaya Zemlya Test Site].” [19] [Emphasis added]. If this report is correct, Mikhaylov conducted hydronuclear tests five years before President Yeltsin reportedly authorized them.

“Boris Litvinov, the chief weapons designer for 31 years” at the Chelyabinsk-70 nuclear weapons laboratory reportedly told Siegfried Hecker, “We didn’t bury it [the hydronuclear device] the way you guys did. We did [tests] out on the surface. We dug a little trench. We put our experiments in there. And we just blew it up. Then we took bulldozers and bulldozed that over, and we took care of it. We thought, who is ever going to go out there?’.” [20] This is a clear violation of the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits all atmospheric nuclear tests, even those of very low-yield.

According to a report by the National Institute for Public Policy on the CTBT, “In November 2003, during an event at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Georgly Rykovanov, then- Director of the Russian nuclear weapons laboratory at Chelyabinsk, explained to his hosts that hydronuclear experiments were being conducted in Russia but at a yield sufficiently low to make them undetectable.” [21

In November 2010, writing in Russian state media, Alexei Fenenko of the Russian National Academy of Scientists said, “Over the past 15 years, significant progress has been made in subcritical and hydronuclear testing.” [22]

In January 2011, Russian Major General (ret.) Vladimir Belous, then a research associate at the World Economics and International Relations Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, wrote that, “Back before the signing of the CTBT in 1994-1995, a series of hydronuclear tests with a total yield of 10 kilograms of TNT was performed at the Novaya Zemlya test site. Currently, hydronuclear tests are considered contrary to the CTBT requirements, since a nuclear explosion, albeit a small one, nevertheless occurs when conducting the experiment.” [23]

The Impact of Hydronuclear Testing on Russian Nuclear Weapons Modernization

Mikhaylov’s statement that hydronuclear tests can improve the reliability of the Russian nuclear arsenal is very significant. In July 2001, he reiterated that “. . . the developed, traditional nuclear powers, using hydronuclear experiments, can perform the task of improving reliability of the nuclear arsenal and effectively track its operation while reducing the risk of possible accident.” [24] It is quite possible that many or even all of the so-called Russian subcritical tests are actually very low-yield hydronuclear tests. The National Institute for Public Policy CTBT report quoted Viktor Mikhaylov in August 2003 as telling Dr. John Foster, former Director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, that at some point Russia would have to test but “he was not convinced that it will definitely have to be a powerful nuclear explosion.” [25] Concerned about hydronuclear testing, Dr. Paul Robinson, then-Director of the Sandia National laboratory, cautioned in his CTBT ratification testimony that, “If the United States scrupulously restricts itself to zero yield while other nations may conduct experiments up to the threshold of international detectability, we will be at an intolerable disadvantage.” [26]

Hydronuclear tests can be used to develop new types of low-yield nuclear weapons. The 2002 study by the National Academy of Sciences on CTBT verification reported:

At the lower end of the very-low-yield category, Russia could develop and test new very-low-yield tactical weapons in the range of 10 to 100 tons. Regarding seismic detection, the 10-ton weapon could confidently be adequately tested under decoupling conditions even at Novaya Zemlya [Russia’s nuclear test site], and might even be tested in a steel or composite containment so that it would give no ground shock at all. Indeed, with its experience in testing and weapons design, Russia could develop a 10-ton nuclear weapon using only hydronuclear tests in the kilogram-yield range, and be reasonably confident of its performance.[27]

In January 2016, Dr. John Foster, probably the greatest living U.S. nuclear weapons designer, stated that hydronuclear tests “of less than one ton” yield could provide high confidence in the “performance [of nuclear weapons] at low yield.” [28] This is very important because, as noted above, the internal Russian definition of a nuclear test is apparently one metric ton of TNT.[29]Hence, the range of hydronuclear testing appears to be up to a ton of TNT yield in Russian testing policy, although this does not exclude the possibility they are really conducting low-yield tests.

Senior Russian officials and Russian press reports during the Bush administration reported that Russia was introducing new and improved nuclear weapons.[30] For example, in 2005, Russian Defense Minister Colonel General Sergei Ivanov asserted, “We will develop, improve and deploy new types of nuclear weapons.” [31] According to Colonel General Vladimir Verkhovtsev, then-chief of the Defense Ministry’s 12th Main Directorate, Russia’s nuclear weapons organization, the newly developed and manufactured nuclear munitions will have “improved tactical and technical specifications….” [32]

A number of Russian press reports indicated that Russia had developed a new warhead with a weight 100-kg with a yield of about 100-kt.[33] This warhead was apparently a new design. According to Russian expatriate Pavel Podvig, an expert on Russian strategic forces, the warhead for the new Bulava-30 SLBM is better than the best Soviet-era designs which he says we’re in “the 110-130-kg range (this includes reentry vehicle body and electronics) and [had] yields of 50 and 75 kt. respectively.” [34] However, Podvig’s claim that this type of increase in yield-to-weight ratios is easy to do without testing is simply not true.

The Implications of Possible Russian Low-Yield Nuclear Testing

If Russia is testing at the sub-kiloton level or higher (i.e., at yields of several kilotons or even up to ten kilotons) which is technically possible without detection, or without conclusive detection because of the difficulty of detecting and proving a nuclear test seismically, if conducted in a manner to minimize the seismic signal,[35] the military implications are much more significant than from hydronuclear testing. This, at a minimum, permits full yield tests of low-yield or low-collateral damage nuclear weapons, weapons effects tests and very important tests of new primaries (fission triggers) for new types of thermonuclear weapons. As Dr. Michaela Dodge, then with the Heritage Foundation, has written, “The United States would have a lot to gain from conducting very-low-yield nuclear-warhead experiments. For example, it could further validate computer codes it uses to make judgments about the impacts of aging on nuclear warheads. It could improve the proficiency of people in charge of the U.S. nuclear warhead stockpile and increase overall flexibility and resiliency of the U.S. nuclear posture.” [36]

In a 2012 talk at the Heritage Foundation, Ambassador Dr. Paul Robinson who participated in the CTBT negotiation said, “At that time [1995], we in the U.S. labs requested that the permitted test level should be set to a level which is, in fact, lower than a one-kiloton limit, which would have allowed us to carry out some very important experiments, in our view, to determine whether the first stage of multiple-stage devices was indeed operating, successfully.” [37] The implication of this is that much of what the Clinton administration told the Senate about maintaining the U.S. nuclear stockpile without nuclear testing was a lie. The experts told the Clinton administration that low-yield nuclear testing was necessary and they ignored the advice and promulgated disinformation. Despite this, the CTBT was defeated by a majority vote in the U.S. Senate, a clear commentary on how weak the case for it was.

Russian cheating involving covert low-yield testing would have critical military implications. According to Siegfried Hecker, “[M]ost [new] designs could be adequately tested at yields between one and ten kilotons.” [38] He is apparently talking about new thermonuclear weapons. Testing at 10-kilotons outside of known nuclear test sites is assessed to be possible with intentionally covert testing in salt mines without a serious risk of detection.[39] If the Russian nuclear tests are sub-kiloton, they will have high confidence that their nuclear weapons work while we will have diminishing confidence in ours. Covert testing in the low-kiloton range up to 10-kilotons could have significant implications for the development of new high yield nuclear weapons, giving the Russians confidence that their weapons will work. General Ashley’s statement linking Russian development of new types of nuclear weapons to their nuclear testing practices suggests he may be talking about low-yield testing rather than hydronuclear testing.

Conclusion

Before the political decision by the Clinton administration on a zero-yield CTBT, the only real debate in the U.S. nuclear weapons community was whether the U.S. could live under a 1-kiloton testing threshold. The Clinton administration not only ignored the technical advice it received from the national laboratories but it largely silenced them using threats of retaliation.

As Admiral Robert Monroe, former Director of the Defense Nuclear Agency has noted, “…two respected Los Alamos nuclear experts, raise serious questions about the reliability and performance of U.S. nuclear weapons!” [40] These individuals, John C. Hopkins and David H. Sharp concluded that “…the scientific foundation for assessments of the nuclear performance of U.S. weapons is eroding as a result of the moratorium on nuclear testing.” [41] They pointed out that U.S. nuclear weapons are physically different from the versions that were actually tested and that “the current nuclear test moratorium precludes a decisive determination of whether these changes in physical state adversely affect performance.” [42] This is not the first time nuclear weapons scientists and engineers have told our political leadership this. A New York Timesarticle by James Glanz in November 2000 noted the concerns of nuclear weapons scientist about the reliability of U.S. nuclear weapons without testing.[43] Harold Agnew, former Director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, bluntly said that if significant redesigns of stockpile weapons were needed, “…to consider putting those things in the stockpile without testing is nonsense.” [44]What we have now is almost 30 years of making changes to solve detected problems and in the life extension programs because of necessity without testing while the Russians have tested. Thomas Thomson, a weapons designer at the Lawrence Livermore Nation Laboratory, stated, “I think you just accept the fact that you’re going to have a decline [in weapons reliability] …You try to make it as gradual as possible.” [45] The Russians, on the other hand, are introducing improved nuclear weapons designs.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warned in October 2008 that, “To be blunt, there is absolutely no way we can maintain a credible deterrent and reduce the number of weapons in our stockpile without either resorting to testing our stockpile or pursuing a modernization program.” [46][Emphasis in the original.] We have done neither. By 2003-2005, a consensus emerged in the national laboratories that it would “…be increasingly difficult and risky to attempt to replicate existing warheads without nuclear testing and that creating a reliable replacement warhead should be explored.” [47] Unfortunately, the politicians did not want to hear this assessment. Indeed, even the Bush administration’s proposal to develop inherently more robust nuclear warheads (without nuclear testing) was rejected by the Congress.

Today, we do not have “science-based stockpile stewardship,” but more like “political science-based stockpile stewardship” while, conversely, Russia has science-based development of new and improved nuclear weapons. Our politicians have corrupted the very nature of the scientific process. Because of the liberal ideology that has dictated U.S. nuclear weapons policy for decades, we have much higher cost and much less reliability and certainly no enhancement in effectiveness. Within a decade or two, this is going to result in a national security disaster. There will be increasing uncertainty concerning the effectiveness of a declining U.S. nuclear deterrent while there will be little uncertainty about increasing Russian nuclear capabilities.

Dr. Mark B. Schneider is a Senior Analyst with the National Institute for Public Policy. Before his retirement from the Department of Defense Senior Executive Service, Dr. Schneider served in a number of senior positions within the Office of Secretary of Defense for Policy including Principal Director for Forces Policy, Principal Director for Strategic Defense, Space and Verification Policy, Director for Strategic Arms Control Policy and Representative of the Secretary of Defense to the Nuclear Arms Control Implementation Commissions.  He also served in the senior Foreign Service as a Member of the State Department Policy Planning Staff.

This first appeared in RealClearDefense here.

Notes:

[1] “Russian and Chinese Nuclear Modernization Trends, Remarks at the Hudson Institute, Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley, Jr., Director Defense Intelligence Agency Russian and Chinese Nuclear Modernization Trends, Remarks at the Hudson Institute 29 May 2019,” available at https://www.dia.mil/News/Speeches-and-Testimonies/Article-View/Article/1859890/russian-and-chinese-nuclear-modernization-trends/.

[2] William J. Perry and James R. Schlesinger, America’s Strategic Posture – The Final Report of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, (Washington D.C.: U.S. Institute of Peace, 2009), p. 83, available at http://media.usip.org/reports/strat_posture_report.pdf.

[3] Mark B. Schneider, “Russian Violations of Its Arms Control Obligations,” Comparative Strategy, September 22,

2012, pp. 345-346, available at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01495933.2012.711115?prevSearch

=%255BAbs ract%253A%2Brussia*%2Bmilitary%255D&searchHistoryKey=.

[4] Bill Gertz, “Russia suspected of nuclear testing,” The Washington Times, August 28, 1997, available at http:// http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/1154.htm.

[5] William J. Broad and Patrick E. Tyler, “Russian Compliance with Nuclear Test Ban Stirs U.S. Skepticism,” New York Times, March 4, 2001, available at http://nucnews.net/nucnews/2001nn/0103nn/010304nn.htm.; Alexei Fenenko, “Russia and the future of the CTBT,” Ria Novosti, November 3, 2010, available at http://en.rian.ru/valdai op/20101103/161192733.html.

[6] Thom Shanker, “Administration Says Russia Is Preparing Nuclear Tests,” The New York Times, May 22, 2002, available at http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE0D81639F931A25756C0A….

[7] “Russia: Mikhaylov Pressing for Hydronuclear Experiments,” Senior Intelligence Brief, May 4, 1999, available at www.gwu.edu/nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB200/19990504.pdf.

[8] “Russia: Developing New Nuclear Warheads at Novaya Zemlya,” Office of Russian and European Analysis, Central Intelligence Agency, July 2, 1999, p. 7, available at http://www.gwu.edu/nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB200 /index .htm.

[9] Office of Slavic and Eurasian Analysis, Central Intelligence Agency. “Russians Deny Nuclear Test Took Place,” The Eurasia Intelligence Weekly, March 15, 1996, available at http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/ NSAEBB/ NSAEBB200/19960315.pdf.

[10] Jonathan Medalia, “Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty: Issues and Arguments,” (Washington D.C.: Congressional Research Service, March 12, 2008), available at http://congressionalresearch.com/RL34394/ document.php.

[11] Quoted in Mark B. Schneider, The Nuclear Forces and Doctrine of the Russian Federation, (Fairfax Va.:

National Institute Press, 2006), p. 18, available at http://www.nipp.org/wpcontent/uploads/2014/12/Russian-nuclear-doctrine-N….

[12] Michael R. Gordon, “U.S. Says Russia Likely Defies Test Ban,” The Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2019, available at https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-says-russia-likely-conducting-low-yield….

[13] Mark B. Schneider, “The Future of the U.S. Nuclear Deterrent,” Comparative Strategy, vol. 27, no. 4 ( October 31, 2008), p. 349, available at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/ 01495930802358539.

[14] “Sergei Ivanov visits Novaya Zemlya Nuclear Testing Site,” Ria Novosti, July 7, 2006, available at http://en. rian.ru/analysis/20060726/51869240.html.

[15] USSR Nuclear Tests, Hydronuclear Experiments. Plutonium Inventory, Russian Ministry of Nuclear Energy, 1998, p. 4, available at http://npc.sarov.u/english/issues/peaceful/peacefule.pdf.

[16] V.N. Mikhailov, N.P. Voloshin, A.M. Matushchenko, “NUCLEAR TESTS OF USSR. HYDRONUCLEAR EXPERIMENTS.PLUTONIUM CONSUMPTION STOCK-TAKING,” (Moscow, Russian Federation Ministry for Atomic Energy, Moscow, 1999), available at https://inis.iaea.org/collection/NCLCollectionStore/_Public/29/067 /29067933.pdf.: Vitaly I. Khalturin, Tatyana G. Rautian, Paul G. Richards, and William S. Leith, “A Review of Nuclear Testing by the Soviet Union at Novaya Zemlya, 1955–1990,” Science and Global Security, vol. 13 (2005): p. 28, available at http://www.princeton.edu/∼globsec/publications/pdf/131-2khalturin%20NZ%201-42%20.pdf

[17] Khalturin, Rautian, Richards, and Leith, “A Review of Nuclear Testing by the Soviet Union at Novaya Zemlya, 1955-1990,” op. cit., p. 28.

[18] Quoted in Schneider, “The Future of the U.S. Nuclear Deterrent,” op. cit., p. 349.

[19] Khalturin, Rautian, Richards, and Leith, “A Review of Nuclear Testing by the Soviet Union at Novaya Zemlya, 1955–1990,” op. cit., p. 28.

[20] Ibid., p. 7.

[21] Kathleen Bailey and Thomas Scheber, The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: An Assessment of the Benefits, Costs, and Risks, (Fairfax Va.: National Institute for Public Policy, 2011), p. 16, available at http://www.nipp.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/CTBT-3.11.11-electronic-v….

[22] Alexei Fenenko, “Russia and the future of the CTBT,” op. cit.

[23] “Russia: Prospects Unclear for Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty,” Russian and Miscellaneous Documents (provided by World News Connection), January 2. 2010.

[24] Quoted in Schneider, “The Future of the U.S. Nuclear Deterrent,” op. cit., p. 349.

[25] Bailey and Scheber, The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: An Assessment of the Benefits, Costs, and Risks, op. cit., p. 31.

[26] “Statement of C. Paul Robinson, Director Sandia National Laboratories United States Senate Committee on Armed Services October 7, 1999,” p. 9, available at http://armed-services.senate.gov/statemnt/1999/991007pr.pdf.

[27] Bailey and Scheber, “Technical Issues Related to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty,” op. cit., p. 31.

[28] Dr. John S. Foster, “FUTURE POSSIBLE PATHS FOR THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS COMPLEX,” January 22, 2016, p. 9.

[29] Khalturin, Rautian, Richards, and Leith, “A Review of Nuclear Testing by the Soviet Union at Novaya Zemlya, 1955-1990, op. cit., p. 28.

[30] “Section II: Minimum Deterrence: Fragile Hope of a Constant and Benign Threat Environment,” (Fairfax Va.: National Institute for Public Policy, September 14, 2014), p. 20, available at https://www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/FOID/Reading%20Room/Other/Litigation%20Release%20-%20Section%20II%20Minimum% 20Deterrence%20Fragile%20Hope.pdf.

[31] Alexei Berezin, “Moscow Emphasizes Quality of its Nuclear Potential,” Ria Novosti, January 13, 2005, available at http://www.ghana.mid.ru/nfr/nfr331.html.

[32] “Nuclear Munitions to be Improved and Revitalized –Russian Federation Ministry of Defense,” Ria Novosti, September 4, 2009, (Translated by World News Connection.)

[33] Section II: Minimum Deterrence: Fragile Hope of a Constant and Benign Threat Environment,” op. cit., p. 21.

[34] “New warheads for Russian missiles,” Voice of Russia, December 22, 2010, available at http://englishruvrru/ 2010/12/20/37280 236 html.

[35] Bailey and Scheber, The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: An Assessment of the Benefits, Costs, and Risks, op. cit. pp. 17-23.

[36] Michaela Dodge, “Russia Likely Conducting Low-Yield Nuclear-Weapons Tests, Intel Chief Says,” (Washington D.C.: The Heritage Foundation, May 29, 2019), available at https://www.heritage.org/missile-defense/commentary/ russia-likely-conducting-low-yield-nuclear-weapons-tests-intel-chief.

[37] Paul Robinson, John Foster, and Thomas Scheber, “The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: Questions and Challenges,” (Washington D.C.: Heritage Foundation Lecture No. 1218, November 7, 2012), available at http://www.heritage. org/ research/lecture/2012/11/the-comprehensive-test-ban-treaty-questions-and-challenges.

[38] Baker Spring and Michaela Dodge, “Keeping Nuclear Testing on the Table: A National Security Imperative,” (Washington D.C.: Heritage Foundation, February 27, 2013), available at https://www.heritage.org/ node/11938/ print-display.

[39] Dr. William Leith, Geologic and Engineering Constraints on the Feasibility of Clandestine Nuclear

Testing by Decoupling in Large Underground Cavities, (Washington D.C.: U.S. Geological Survey,

January 2001), p. 36, available at http://geology.er.usgs.gov/eespteam/pdf/USGSOFR0128.pdf.

[40] Vice Admiral Robert R. Monroe, “In Alarming New Study, Nuclear Lab Scientists Question U.S. Weapons’ Performance,” Investor’s Business Daily, August 7, 2018, available at https://www.investors.com/politics/ commentary/u-s-nuclear-weapons-performance/.

[41] John C. Hopkins and David H. Sharp, “The Scientific Foundation for Assessing the Nuclear Performance of Weapons in the U.S. Stockpile Is Eroding.” Issues in Science and Technology 35, no. 2 (Winter 2018), p. 23, available at https://issues.org/byline/david-h-sharp/.

[42] Ibid.

[43] James Glanz, “Testing the Aging Stockpile In A Test Ban Era,” The New York Times, November 28, 2000, p. 1.

Gazans Renew Arson Balloon Attacks from Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

A fire truck is dispatched to the scene of the fire in the Simhoni forest, Wednesday | Photo: JNF/Moshe Baruchi

Gazans renew arson balloon attacks on southern Israel

Arson investigator from the Ashkelon Fire and Rescue Service determines that a fire that erupted in the Simhoni forest on Wednesday was caused by an explosive-laded balloon released from the Gaza Strip, the first identifiable such attack in a month.

by  Gadi Golan Published on  2019-08-07 17:41 Last modified: 2019-08-07 17:52

A fire that broke out on Wednesday in the Gaza-adjacent Simhoni forest was the result of an arson balloon flown over the Gaza border fence, an arson investigator from the Ashkelon Fire and Rescue Service determined Wednesday afternoon.

The incident marked the first fire in the area to be caused by an arson balloon from Gaza after a respite of about a month from attacks of this kind.

Last month, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi and GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi met with heads of local authorities near Gaza. During the meeting, Kochavi said that the IDF was using every tool at its disposal to put a stop to arson terrorism from the Gaza Strip. Kochavi also briefed the local authority heads on the situation in Gaza, as well as provided an overview of the terrorist organizations which are active there.

The meeting touched on common goals and discussed continued cooperation between the IDF and communities that lie to the east of Gaza.

Iran Continues to Damage the Oil (Revelation 6:6)

A speedboat of the Iran's Revolutionary Guard moves around a British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which was seized on Friday by the Guard, in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, Sunday, July 21, 2019. Iranian officials say the seizure of the British oil tanker was a justified response to Britain's role in impounding an Iranian supertanker two weeks earlier off the coast of Gibraltar, a British territory located on the southern tip of Spain. (Hasan Shirvani/Mizan News Agency via AP)
An Iran Revolutionary Guard speedboat moving around the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero.
Associated Press

Iran is reportedly jamming ship GPS navigation systems to get them to wander into Iranian waters

Ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf have reported unusual GPS interference, among other problems, and the US believes Iran is to blame.

The Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration issued a warning on Wednesday about threats to commercial vessels posed by Iran, saying that ships operating in the region could have a variety of issues, including “spoofed bridge-to-bridge communications from unknown entities falsely claiming to be US or coalition warships.”

At least two incidents were said to involve GPS interference, it said.

“Due to the heightened regional tensions, the potential for miscalculation or misidentification could lead to aggressive actions against vessels belonging to US, allied, and coalition partners operating in the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman,” US Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East, said in an emailed statement.

It added that ships had reported experiencing “GPS interference, bridge-to-bridge communications spoofing, and/or other communications jamming with little to no warning.”

In some cases, a US defense official told CNN, Iranian navy and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps vessels have spoofed merchant ships’ automatic identification system to make themselves look like commercial shipping vessels.

The official said Iran had GPS jammers operating on Abu Musa Island, in the Persian Gulf near the Strait of Hormuz, apparently to cause ships and aircraft to inadvertently wander into Iranian waters or airspace, thus justifying a seizure.

Following a string of what the US has characterized as limpet-mine attacks on commercial shipping vessels by Iran, Iranian forces began seizing tankers. After British forces seized an Iranian tanker believed to be in violation of European Union sanctions, the Iranians tried to capture the BP oil tanker British Heritage.

Not long after that incident, Iran said it had seized the UK-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero. While the Royal Navy was able to protect the British Heritage, the Stena Impero sailed unescorted.

In the wake of these incidents, the US has worked to establish a coalition to safeguard commercial shipping in the hotbed region. The British defense ministry has already committed the Royal Navy to this mission.

The US has significant assets in the region, including ships and aircraft that were deployed in recent months to counter Iranian threats, and the British frigate HMS Montrose and destroyer HMS Duncan are already defending ships in the area.

“The US remains committed to working with allies and regional partners to safeguard the freedom of navigation, the free flow of commerce, and the protection of US vessels and personnel in this region,” CENTCOM said.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan May go to war with India again

Pakistani students burn a poster of Indian Premier Narendra Modi during an anti-Indian rally in Lahore, Pakistan Credit: AP

Kashmir crisis: Will nuclear-armed Pakistan go to war with India again?

Ben Farmer, Islamabad

Pakistan has downgraded diplomatic ties with India and suspended trade with its neighbour as the political row over the disputed territory of Kashmir escalates.

India’s announcement that it will abolish self-rule for Kashmir has been denounced as illegal in Islamabad, with the country’s military warning it will  “go to any extent” to support Kashmiris.

What options does Pakistan have?

Why is there pressure on Pakistan to act?

Kashmir has poisoned relations between India and Pakistan since Independence. Both claim the territory, which is now divided between them by a fortified line of control. They have fought three wars over it.

India’s move has been met with widespread protest and anger in Pakistan Credit: AP

The dispute now symbolises the rivalry and mistrust between the neighbours and goes to the ideological heart of Pakistan. Pakistan’s leaders have used protection of the Muslim majority residents of Kashmir as a unifying call for decades and championed Kashmiris’ right to independence.

The unresolved conflict against a far larger neighbour has helped Pakistan foster a heavily militarised state. Moreover, much of Pakistan’s water flows through the Himalayan territory, leaving Pakistani leaders concerned their supply could be held hostage. Delhi’s sudden decision to revoke autonomy in Indian-administered Kashmir has therefore provoked widespread outcry, with accusations the government was blind-sided and has let Kashmiris down. “Even if the government wants to play it carefully, there’s a lot of pressure from the public,” said Umer Karim, a visiting fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.

What are the diplomatic options?

Pakistan’s first move will be to try to occupy the moral high ground and deploy diplomatic resources, predicted Farzana Shaikh, a Pakistan expert at the Chatham House think tank. “We can expect Pakistan to try to mobilise international opinion and show that what India is doing is illegal and in clear breach of UN resolutions,” she said. Imran Khan has said he will  use all diplomatic channels “to expose the brutal Indian racist regime”.

Imran Khan has said he will “expose the brutal Indian racist regime” Credit: AP

But realistically what could the United Nations do? Not much predicts Mr Karim. While forcing India to answer questions on its conduct at the United Nations could be embarrassing to Delhi, it will not change much on the ground, he said. Likewise Pakistan’s first moves are largely symbolic.

Diplomatic ties have been downgraded during rows before and  India has already withdrawn Pakistan’s most-favoured-nation trading status to Pakistan and imposed customs duties of 200 per cent on Pakistani products.

What are Pakistan’s military options?

Pakistan’s military commanders have said they will go to “any extent” to support Kashmir, while the president of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir warned of war. Beyond the rhetoric, analysts believe military options are severely limited.  Kashmir is already one of the most militarised regions in the world.

The neighbours face off against each other and regularly exchange artillery fire along the line of control. Both are also pointing nuclear weapons at each other. In such a stand-off any military action is fraught with the terrible risks of escalation.

And others?

Pakistan has for decades been accused of backing militants and insurgents who are fighting Indian forces in Kashmir. Anti-India jihadist groups have been allowed to live, recruit and fundraise freely in Pakistan, Delhi complains.

Pakistan’s harbouring of militants has also overshadowed ties with the West, though Islamabad says it only provides moral support to Kashmiris.

Could Pakistan-based militants be about to unleash a new wave of attacks?

India’s move in Kashmir comes as Pakistan’s relations with America appeared to be suddenly warming. Imran Khan and army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa were warmly welcomed in Washington by Donald Trump who is desperate for Pakistani help to extricate himself from Afghanistan.American aid and trade beckon, but Washington still wants Islamabad to take “irreversible” steps against militant groups on its territory. Yet, with influential religious hardliners are now baying for militants to be unleashed to wage jihad in Kashmir, that puts Pakistan “in an impossibly difficult position, particularly the military establishment and Gen Bajwa,” said Dr Shaikh.

“Clearly they want to repair relations with the US. What are they going to do about this call for irreversible action against militant groups at a time when everyone across the political spectrum is baying for blood?”