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

East Coast Earthquake Preparedness


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Yes, the Saudis Will Go Nuclear (Daniel 7)

Will the Saudis Go Nuclear?

Under what circumstances might Riyadh conclude that the clandestine and rapid acquisition of a nuclear arsenal would help address the challenges the country faces?

SINCE THE TRUMP Trump administration’s May 2017 decision to terminate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, many have speculated that the Islamic Republic of Iran will soon resume its nuclear weapons program in response to renewed U.S. unilateral financial and economic sanctions. Even so, the current conventional wisdom is that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia—enjoying Washington’s fulsome political and military support for its regional strategic objectives—will have little interest in acquiring nuclear weapons.

But what if that assumption is wrong? Under what circumstances might Saudi Arabia, currently being led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), conclude that the clandestine and rapid acquisition of a nuclear arsenal would help address the challenges the country faces? In the following pages, I outline how such a scenario would unfold and detail how governments would likely respond to the emergence of a nuclear-armed Saudi Arabia.

IT HAS been a basic U.S. assumption since the mid-1960s that powerful geostrategic friends and allies can be dissuaded from acquiring nuclear weapons so long as they feel secure as the result of an explicit or implicit U.S. extended deterrent against their enemies. The credibility of that commitment depends on both U.S. military forces serving as an instrument of credible extended deterrence and the political, economic and military support to the state in question. Although there has been no formal alliance between them, Washington and Riyadh have maintained a robust strategic partnership since the end of World War II. This partnership is based upon U.S. and European dependence on the free flow of petroleum out the Persian Gulf region at non-inflationary prices, along with Saudi Arabia’s relative military inability to fully provide for its own national defense. Even though the Trump administration has taken an enhanced stance to shore up this partnership via substantial arms sales and a tough geostrategic posture toward Iran, MbS may still opt to pursue other options to enhance his country’s national posture. This could occur due to the financial squeeze on the Saudi economy, faltering internal reform, a sense of regional encirclement by Iran, and an unwillingness of the United States and Israel to take decisive military action against Tehran.

From Riyadh’s perspective, the regional geostrategic environment has deteriorated dramatically in recent years, with Tehran making strategic advances amidst the civil wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. This has generated some anxiety over the prospect of Tehran, or a Shia-dominated Baghdad, stirring up significant domestic unrest in Shia-majority Bahrain and/or Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. Recently, it seemed that the Syrian Civil War was headed toward a near-total victory by the Assad regime, despite continued U.S. military and political support for the quasi-independent state of Rojava in eastern Syria. This past winter, U.S. president Donald Trump decided to pull out the approximately two thousand troops located in eastern Syria, thereby cementing the Assad regime’s victory. That decision was partially reversed: a smaller U.S. presence, along with a French and British contingent, still remains. This continued military assistance to the Syrian Kurds and their local Syrian Arab allies ensures the de facto partition of Syria approximately along the Euphrates River.

This prospect of a nearly complete Assad regime victory has greatly alarmed Riyadh’s ally of convenience, Israel. Jerusalem is now worried that Tehran will establish a quasi-state entity in southern Syria akin to the militant and militarily-competent Hezbollah that is now entrenched in Lebanon. Of great concern is the prospect that Tehran will succeed in deploying precision-guided rockets and mobile short-range ballistic missiles to menace Israel’s military facilities and critical civilian infrastructure. The possibility has greatly heightened the likelihood that Jerusalem will launch a massive air and ground campaign into southern Syria with or without the tacit acquiescence of Assad’s other major ally, the Russian Federation. Such a preventive intervention might spiral out of control and devolve into a full-scale regional war, with sustained Israeli air and missile strikes against strategic targets inside Iran.

Riyadh, in turn, might help Israel by opening an air corridor over northern Saudi Arabia to facilitate Israeli airstrikes. Tehran would likely then retaliate against Saudi Arabia and Gulf Cooperation Council states that help Israel in this regard, striking back via strategic cyberattacks or by long-range precision-guided cruise and ballistic missiles. A conflict of this scale would greatly destabilize the global oil and gas markets, prompting the United States, the European Union (EU), China, Japan, South Korea and India to try to end the conflict as soon as possible. Washington’s role in this conflict would likely be decisive in either encouraging further military escalation or peacefully resolving the conflict. Given the presence and prominence of various Iran hawks in the senior levels of the Trump administration, it is plausible that Washington views any regional war between Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia as an opportunity to inflict severe damage on the regime in Tehran’s energy and military-industrial capacity—and thereby its capacity to govern domestically and project power in the Persian Gulf.

It is worth noting that this scenario is far from impossible: the prospect of direct military conflict between the United States and Iran has risen substantially over the past year, as Tehran has attempted to drive up the price of oil and natural gas through a series of semi-clandestine attacks on a number of petroleum tankers in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The United States, in turn, has sent ground, air and naval reinforcements to the region to deter further Iranian military action and signal that it is prepared for outright retaliation for the same. This scenario nearly came to pass during this early summer, when President Trump seriously considered but rejected a “kinetic” military response to the Iranian shoot down of a U.S. Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk reconnaissance drone flying over the Gulf of Oman. Even more dramatic and destabilizing was the Iranian precision drone/cruise missile attack on key oil production facilities during the late summer that was followed by no immediate Saudi and/or U.S. military response. A future escalation towards outright war remains well within the realm of possibility.

To the disappointment of Riyadh, a decisive military showdown between Washington/Jerusalem and Tehran as described above may not occur. The prospect of a significant increase in the price of oil following a major armed clash in the region would likely stay the hand of the Trump administration. After all, given that the current state of the world economy is burdened with the prospect of an escalating U.S.-China trade war, a spike in oil and gas prices might very well trigger a dramatic global economic slowdown, if not an outright recession. Washington may instead conclude that financial and trade pressures on the EU, Japan and China to renew harsh economic sanctions against Iran is the most optimal course of action. Yet implementing this approach takes time and does little to curb Iran’s expanding influence in Yemen and Iraq. The realization that Washington cannot be fully relied upon to restrain Tehran’s advances, even with a friendly administration in the White House, might prove to be a tipping point for MbS and his allies in Riyadh—if the United States cannot deter Iran, then Saudi Arabia must find its own means to do so.

BEYOND INTERNATIONAL considerations, domestic factors may also push MbS and his allies to pursue a nuclear arsenal. Riyadh recognizes that the nation’s economy is dependent on oil and fears that the emergence of a “peak oil demand” situation within the next decade will leave the Kingdom without economic recourse. Thus, MbS has launched a major effort to move the Saudi economy away from being primarily an exporter of oil and gas to a producer of advanced, twenty-first-century technological, industrial and agricultural products. To help stimulate this economic transformation, MbS has also set out to modernize the Kingdom’s political and economic system of Saudi patronage and conservative religious rule. But while this agenda may have Saudi Arabia’s best interests in mind, it also overturns the country’s political culture and presents MbS and his allies with an unprecedented opportunity to consolidate power. Naturally, domestic opposition has risen up and is keen to criticize the prince when possible. The prince is staking his present and future reign on the implementation of his reform program, and that success will either placate or silence his critics over the long term.

Unfortunately for MbS, top-down reform efforts are fraught with risk, and the early results from his campaign are not promising. For example, the plan to sell shares of the country’s state-owned oil company (Saudi Aramco) on the global market to generate more than 100 billion dollars of income remains a complex and much delayed initial public offering. That delay is prompted in part by the vulnerability of Aramco’s key infrastructure to future precision missile attacks by Iran. In the near-term, Riyadh has opted to go into greater international debt by issuing a new round of bonds, using the assets of Saudi Aramco as collateral. On a related note, the Kingdom’s expensive economic transformation means that there is a need to more carefully manage the costs of the country’s military buildup, perhaps even making some budget cuts. Instead, Riyadh has seen fit to continue purchasing hundreds of advanced fighter bombers that are likely to remain on the flight line due to a lack of trained and competent Saudi pilots.

Don’t Forget: Nuclear Weapons Are Part of the Prophecy (Revelation 16)


Don’t Forget: Nuclear Weapons Are an Existential Threat, Too

A new study shows just how bad a nuclear war could get. We need a plan to eliminate this risk permanently.

By Olivia Alperstein, October 16, 2019. Originally published in OtherWords.

There’s a growing awareness now that climate change is an existential threat to humanity. Inspiring movements are demanding solutions, and politicians are scrambling to offer them.

That’s good. But there’s another existential threat that gets a lot less attention: nuclear war. And a new study suggests it’s time to pay attention — and eliminate nuclear weapons before they eliminate us.

The study, published this October in Science Advances, warns that “rapidly expanding nuclear arsenals” could rapidly cause a “global catastrophe.” It examines the possible repercussions of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan, but it’s relevant to anyone who lives on this planet — and especially in a heavily nuclear-armed country like ours.

The study paints a grim picture. In a conflict between Indian and Pakistan, it says, up to 50 million people would die if 15-kiloton weapons are used. Almost 100 million would die if 50-kiloton weapons are used. And about 125 million if 100-kiloton weapons are used.

Casualties would occur not only in the nuclear explosions themselves, but also due to smoke emissions and other environmental damage resulting from the aftermath of a nuclear exchange.

Because of the dense populations of cities in Pakistan and India, even a war with the lowest-yield weapons could kill as many people as died in all of World War II. But unlike World War II, these casualties would occur within a single week.

“Perhaps for the first time in human history,” the authors conclude, “the fatalities in a regional war could double the yearly natural global death rate.”

The study’s release is particularly timely, given that India and Pakistan are currently locked in another tense standoffover Kashmir. But the authors also point out that their analysis could be used to model potential impacts of a nuclear war between any two nations.

Indeed, India and Pakistan aren’t the only countries increasing tensions and heightening the risk of a nuclear exchange.

A new nuclear arms race between the United States and Russia is giving young people like me a firsthand, time travel-free look at the Cold War era we were too young to experience. This year, President Donald Trump asked Congress to fund a new so-called “low-yield” nuclear weapon, which is touted as being “more usable.”

But if this study shows anything, it’s that no nuclear weapon should be considered “usable.” Any nuclear exchange anywhere is likely to have catastrophic consequences for the earth’s climate and human health everywhere.

The world can’t afford to ignore these disturbing findings, which emphasize the urgent need to prevent nuclear conflict and to reduce — and eliminate — nuclear arsenals.

Pakistan and India have only a fraction of the nuclear weapons possessed by the United States and Russia — and only a fraction of their potential destructive power. Right now, the United States and Russia are currently engaged in a super-high-stakes game of chicken of their own.

We’ve come very close to nuclear war in the past. Human health and survival are at stake in preventing what we cannot cure. No nation on earth can afford the catastrophic regional and global consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.

There is no such thing as a small nuclear war. American decision-makers at every level of government need to heed this study’s findings and work to advance commonsense policies to reduce and eliminate the nuclear weapons threat — before it eliminates us.

Olivia Alperstein is the Media Relations Manager at Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Gunshot Wounds Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Patients at the MSF clinic in Gaza (Photo: MSF-F)

MSF: Over 1,000 patients in Gaza suffering from ‘severe infections’ from gunshot wounds sustained in Great March of Return

News Yumna Patel on September 4, 2019

In the year since the Great March of Return began, thousands of Palestinians, mostly young men, from the Gaza Strip have suffered life changing injuries at the hands of Israeli forces.

Now, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which has been treating hundreds of Gazans wounded during protests, says it is “dealing with immense challenges” when treating patients who were shot by the army.

According to a new report released by MSF, more than 1,000 Palestinians who were shot by the Israeli army over the past year have developed  “severe bone infections” that are becoming increasingly difficult to treat.

Israeli forces have injured more than 7,400 Palestinians during the protests, “with around half suffering from open fractures, where the bone is broken near the wound.” MSF said.

“Their serious and complex wounds require months – if not years – of dressing, surgery and physiotherapy,” MSF said.

The group noted that while gunshot wounds are naturally prone to infection, the nature of the injuries in Gaza — splintered bones and large wounds that stay open for longer — “drastically” increase the risk of infection.

“When you have an open fracture, you need lots of things to get better: different types of surgery, physiotherapy, and avoiding the wound becoming infected, which is a high risk with these types of injuries,” Aulio Castillo, MSF’s Medical Team Leader in Gaza, said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, for many of our patients who have been shot, the severity and complexity of their wounds – combined with the severe shortage of treatments for them in Gaza – means they have now developed chronic infections,” Castillo continued.

Additionally, many of the infections that the group is seeing are resistant to antibiotics, “adding to the already complicated path to recovery that these injured people must tread.”

The “heavy duty” antibiotics required to treat these resistant infections, the group notes, not only carry a higher risk of side effects but are also much more expensive.

MSF pointed out that while the health situation facing these gunshot victims would be tough to treat anywhere in the world, the flailing health system in Gaza is making their work significantly more difficult.

With a health system reeling from the effects of more than a decade of Israeli blockade, Palestinian political in-fighting and Egyptian restrictions on movement, MSF is working to provide care that is otherwise unavailable,” the group said.

Over the past few years, Gaza’s hospitals have repeatedly been under threat of shutting down due to lack of fuel, finances, and sky-high drug prices, all exacerbated by Israel’s crippling blockade.

“It places huge demands on us in terms of the specialist staff we need, the drugs we have to supply and the space we need in order to treat these infections,” Castillo said.

“It’s hard but we’re trying our best to offer these people the surgery and treatment they need.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 30 March 2018 and 31 March 2019, 277 fatalities and over 28,000 injuries were recorded.

Gunshot wounds accounted for 25% of the total casualties, while an estimated 172 people were permanently disabled as a result of their gunshot injuries, including 36 children.

A Nuclear War With Russia

The nuclear-powered battle cruiser Pyotr Velikiy will be taking part in the exercises. Russian Northern Fleet

Massive Nuclear War Games Start in Russian Arctic

More than 12,000 troops are taking part in nuclear war games across Russia’s arctic regions this week.

The Barents ObserverOct. 15, 2019

Swathes of Russia’s artctic seas are closed off for huge nuclear war games taking place this week.

Five submarines, more than 100 aircraft, 200 missile launchers and 12,000 Russian troops will be taking part in the exercise, the Defence Ministry said Monday — the latest major drill testing the readiness of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces.

Civilian ships have been warned to stay clear of the area for the rest of the week, as submarines will be testing their ballistic missile firing capabilities.

Russia’s flagship nuclear-powered battle cruiser Pyotr Velikiy is among the ships taking part.

“During the drills, cruise and ballistic missiles of various types will be launched, including against the Pemboi, Chizha and Kura firing ranges,” the Defence Ministry said.

The Pemboi test range in the north of Russia’s Komi Republic is traditionally used as a target for cruise missiles launched from aircraft. The Chizha test range is located in the north of Arkhangelsk Oblast on the Barents Sea, while the Kura range is on the other side of Russia in the Far East Kamchatka peninsula.

With the test taking place in both the European Arctic and in the Far East, ballistic missiles are set to fly both ways across the Arctic. In the European section, missile launches would likely take place both from a Delta-IV class submarine and a Borei-class submarine aiming at the Kura range, while missiles launched from Pacific Fleet submarines in the Far East will hit the Chizha test range in Russia’s western Arctic.

The drill comes as the United Nations continues to debate nuclear arms control and the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) between the U.S. and Russia, which limits the number of launchers and warheads, is due to expire in February 2021.

Russia has stressed the importance of prolonging the treaty, while the United States said they will not decide until next year whether to extend the treaty.

Russia Prepares for Nuclear War (Revelation 16)

A Russian RS-24 Yars SS-X-29 thermonuclear intercontinental ballistic missile launcher rolls out of a paint hangar at a strategic missile forces base near the town of Teykovo, about 160 miles northeast of Moscow, in a 2011 file photo. Getty

Russia kicks off huge war games to test its nuclear arsenal

October 15, 2019 / 1:14 PM

Moscow — Russia kicked off a sweeping military exercise of its Strategic Missile Forces on Tuesday. The Defense Ministry said the drills would include 16 practice launches of cruise and ballistic missiles. 

Dubbed “Thunder-2019,” the war games were set to last three days and involve 12,000 troops, 213 missile launchers, 105 aircraft, 15 surface warships and five nuclear submarines.

“Among others, launches of the Yars intercontinental ballistic missile (SS-29) and the Sineva ballistic missile (SS-N-23) will take place,” Yevgeny Ilyin, acting chief of the Ministry’s Directorate for International Military Cooperation, said Monday at a briefing for foreign military attaches.

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He said test launches would be conducted from air, land and sea.

Not the same old drill?

Ilyin said the exercise was scheduled a long time ago, was purely defensive in nature and aimed at training troops to deter a potential enemy. He assured the foreign officials at the briefing that the drill was not directed against any other countries.

Indeed, Russia exercises its nuclear forces every October. Dmitry Stefanovich, a military analyst with the Moscow-based Russian International Affairs Council think tank, told CBS News it’s a regularly scheduled exercise for the entire chain of command.

“What makes it different this year is that it now has a name, and the military announced it beforehand at a briefing for foreign military attaches,” Stefanovich said. “Plus this time there is a fantastic number of missile launchers of Strategic Missile Forces involved, the ground part of the nuclear triad. More than 200 (launchers). It’s the majority of what they have.”

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu first announced the “Thunder-2019” drill in December last year, when he reported to President Vladimir Putin that orders to modernize the country’s strategic nuclear force had been implemented.

Pro-Kremlin news outlets reported then that “Thunder-2019” was intended to be Russia’s response to similar drills in the U.S. called “Global Thunder.”

Post-INF posturing?

Stefanovich believes the similar names are just a coincidence. But he said there may be a connection to the Trump administration’s decision this year to withdrawal the U.S. from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

“According to the script of the drill, there’s escalation along the borders, and it could involve deployment of short- and intermediate-range missiles,” he told CBS News.

Last week, Putin announced that Russia would start developing short- and intermediate-range missiles in response to U.S. plans to deploy such weapons in Asia. They are missiles that were banned for decades under the INF.

Russia formally withdrew from the Reagan-era treaty soon after the U.S., which had accused Moscow of working on new missiles that violated the terms of the accord.

Yes, we have to accept a nuclear North Korea

Do we just have to accept a nuclear North Korea?

By Donald Kirk

Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019 | 2 a.m.

No way can President Donald Trump dream of a foreign policy success on North Korea’s nukes and missiles as a break from the cacophony of one revelation after another of his dubious dealings with Ukraine, China and maybe other foreign powers.

The Americans can conjure all the formulae imaginable for inducing the North Koreans to do away with their nuclear program, but it’s not going to happen. Kim Jong Un needs it too much to bolster the image of his power at home and abroad, and he knows very well that his buddy in the White House is not going to go to war to get him to give up a thing.

That reality begs the question: Should we just accept the fact that North Korea has its nukes and missiles, and that’s that? Without saying so, isn’t that what we’ve been doing for years? No one really believed U.S. military moves, including intimidation by bombers flying up from Guam and war games featuring “assassination” of the leader, would ever go beyond the make-believe stage.

North Korea’s latest rhetoric is keyed to the implicit understanding that the United States is not going to initiate Korean War II just to get rid of the annoyance of North Korea’s nuclear program. The new North Korean negotiator, Kim Myong Gil, probably did not present any serious proposal at all when he saw the U.S. negotiator, Stephen Biegun, in Stockholm recently.

All he did was listen, in the view of Evans Revere, former senior U.S. diplomat in Seoul and then on the Korea desk of the State Department. Finally, after Biegun had been blathering on for eight hours and 30 minutes, Kim figured he’d had enough. The Americans weren’t quite ready to give up sanctions while Kim stuck tenaciously to his nukes and missiles.

One wonders if Kim Myong Gil, who helped negotiate the 1994 Geneva framework under which the North Koreans did suspend their nuclear program under supervision by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, was periodically on the line to Pyongyang during the latest talks. He may well have been getting guidance by phone from the foreign ministry, perhaps the first vice foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, known for yielding nothing in meetings with a string of American visitors, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

None of the yakking has a prayer of working, as Kim Myong Gil presumably is well aware, unless or until the Americans come up with a scheme that would amount to capitulation to North Korea. That goal may not be so far-fetched. The Americans pulled out of South Vietnam in 1973, two years before the North Vietnamese stormed victorious into Saigon.

North Korean strategists are counting on Trump and others around him to tire of the endless state of war on the Korean peninsula. Wasn’t Trump hinting at “Korea fatigue” every time he declared what a great deal he’d gotten with Kim Jong Un? If only his subordinates fine-tuned the details, he seriously believed, the North Korean problem would be history.

Kim Myong Gil, who has also dealt with Americans while serving as ambassador at the United Nations, had only to sit back and listen as Biegun rattled off alternatives. They all came down to the bottom line, eventually, somehow, some day the North Korea had to emerge nuclear-free from the miasma of the current talks.

That done, as Trump has said more than once, the North would be the beneficiaries of about all the American aid and advice they wanted.

The North Korean negotiating style was obvious. Having listened to all the gibberish Biegun had to offer, they could say nothing doing. Then the Americans might come up with real concessions. That might still happen. Let’s take a break from overly familiar sights and sounds, the North Koreans might be saying. Maybe the dramatic ending of the talks in Stockholm was a ploy to lure the Americans back for more.

Just imagine, though, the chorus of abuse, the catcalls and insults Trump would have to endure if he made a weak deal with the North Koreans, gave up sanctions and fell for a phony “end-of-war” declaration in the midst of impeachment hearings against him.

Sure, in theory he’d like to sit down again with Kim, but such a gesture would be pointless if it rebounded against him while he was about to be impeached by the House of Representatives. Could it be that the Republican-controlled Senate might approve the impeachment and send Trump packing?

The future of anything to do with Korea is always hard to predict, but Trump must like the numbers he’s getting: in the United States, unemployment way down; in South Korea, President Moon Jae-in’s approval sinking to new lows.

Maybe Vice President Mike Pence won’t need to figure out what’s going on after all.

Donald Kirk has been a columnist for the Korea Times and South China Morning Post, among other newspapers and magazines. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.

Why Are U.S. Nuclear Bombs Still in Turkey?

The best time to get atomic weapons out was several years ago. The second best time is now.

Ankit PandaOctober 15, 2019

The American relationship with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey has been fraught for half a decade, but never this bad. Last week, American troops were intentionally targeted by Turkish artillery units in Northern Syria as Erdoğan’s forces advanced and President Donald Trump ordered the U.S. into a unilateral withdrawal. The Pentagon sternly warned that Turkey’s troops would face “immediate defensive action” from American forces if such an encounter were to be repeated.

This was a doubly unprecedented targeting of the United States military. As a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Turkey is a capital-A ally, treaty-bound to defend the collective security of all its 28 nation members, including the United States. Turkey is also part of a select group of five NATO members—along with Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy—whose territory hosts American nuclear weapons, too.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, newly established U.S. nuclear missile batteries in Turkey were briefly famous, becoming a bargaining chip in the negotiations to avoid atomic war with the Soviet Union. Those missiles were removed in 1963, but 50 B61 nuclear gravity bombs currently reside in specialized underground vaults at Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, some 20 miles from the Mediterranean coast. These air-dropped bombs are capable of delivering a range of nuclear yields, from 300 tons up to 170 kilotons, or roughly eleven times the yield of the bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945. (For a more concrete description of these weapons’ destructive force, watch this.) Turkish F-16 fighters used to be certified to carry and deliver these weapons, but Turkey no longer has the pilots for that task; now, the weapons at Incirlik are there for rotational U.S. aircraft to drop them, if it’s ever necessary.

In light of Turkey’s precipitous Syrian advance, it’s fair to ask whether the U.S. should reconsider its weapons posture at Incirlik—or, as arms-control researcher Jeffrey Lewis put it last week: “Seriously, it’s time to take our fucking nuclear weapons out of Turkey.” That thought apparently also occurred to U.S. officials at the State Department and Department of Energy; sources tell The New York Times that since Erdoğan’s onslaught against the Kurds began, those officials have been “reviewing plans” to get the bombs out of Incirlik. It should have happened much sooner—say, when a coup threatened to topple Erdoğan’s government in 2016, or in the aftermath, as he drifted from the U.S.’s orbit—but removing a nuclear arsenal from Turkish soil is a necessary step in reducing a global danger. Alliances are built on closely shared interests and values, and—presidential phone calls notwithstanding—the U.S. and Turkey no longer have any.

Technically, we didn’t know that those 50 or so warheads were still at Incirlik until the Times report confirmed it this week. It’s general American policy to neither confirm nor deny the specific location of nuclear weapons on vessels and storage sites overseas. That practice was a major part of what led to the late-1980s rupture in the U.S.-New Zealand alliance: Wellington’s Labour government grew uncomfortable with the likelihood of nuclear weapons passing through New Zealand waters, and the U.S. government wouldn’t certify that its vessels were explicitly nonnuclear.

What we do know is that B61 warheads in NATO nations are held for safe storage in special electronic vaults—known as a Weapons Storage and Security System, or WS3—in the floors of hardened bunkers. Deep inside Incirlik, these vaults are some of the last checks against nuclear theft or detonation by, say, a rogue Turkish government or allied militia. Some additional safety is provided by permissive action links—essentially, access entry codes—on the bombs themselves, but these delay rather than prevent unauthorized use. Given sufficient time and access to these weapons, a sophisticated adversary with the resources of a nation-state could likely figure out a way to use them—if not as designed, then in a way that would still release disastrous and deadly radiation. The only way to ensure that doesn’t happen is to physically remove the weapons.

When it comes to occasionally pulling its nuclear weapons out of allied countries, the United States has some well-known experience: It’s removed arms from the United Kingdom, Greece, and a German base under NATO auspices, with little logistical or political difficulty. Turkey’s case appears a bit more fraught: The Times, based on an interview with one unnamed U.S. official, suggested that the American nuclear bombs “were now essentially Erdoğan’s hostages.” That’s literally untrue, since the weapons remain in U.S. Air Force custody, but the underlying idea is that “to fly them out of Incirlik would be to mark the de facto end of the Turkish-American alliance.” But that statement seems inaccurate, too: This dysfunctional alliance can’t and won’t be saved by the physical presence of American bombs on Turkish soil. The weapons are a liability and serve no valid reassurance purpose—not to Turkey specifically, or to NATO more generally. The bombs can most certainly leave, and Turkey can remain as NATO’s intolerable black sheep—its status in the alliance being a problem for another day.

Where those weapons could go after being removed from Turkey is a different thorny question. Given deep-seated European skepticism of American intentions at the moment, accepting a nuclear deployment under a Trump president would kick off a political hurricane—one that each NATO member nation is eager to avoid. But as Turkey expert Aaron Stein notes, the U.S.’s oldest NATO-deployed B61s, including those at Incirlik, were slated for upgrades and maintenance, for which the weapons would rotate out to the United States, likely the Pantex nuclear assembly plant in West Texas. (The bombs are due to receive a new “tail kit assembly” as part of planned modernization to increase their “precision.”) This upgrade has been considerably delayed, but the bombs might need to come home sooner than planned.

That’s because waiting out the current U.S.-Turkish crisis seems… imprudent. President Trump was already beleaguered by Turkey controversies before the anti-Kurdish offensive began: His first national security adviser admitted in federal court that he was a paid Turkish agent. We also learned this week that Trump pressured Rex Tillerson, his first secretary of state, to get a Turkish Erdoğan-connected gold dealer, represented by Rudy Giuliani, free of federal charges in connection with Iranian sanctions violations.

In an attempt to control the damage from the Turkish Syria offensive, Trump has now fallen back on bluster, threatening “to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path.” Defense Secretary Mark Esper has likewise promised that in an upcoming visit to NATO, he will demand consequences for Turkey’s bloody incursion. The U.S. is already in an untenable position, screaming threats at a putative U.S. ally for doing something that Trump assented to in the first place, against virtually all advice from U.S. officials.

At least take nuclear explosives out of the equation. There’s no putting the toothpaste back in the tube—or bringing back the U.S.-allied Kurds who’ve been slaughtered as a result of Turkish cruelty and presidential nihilism—but there are lingering risks that can be managed. Removing the U.S. atomic arsenal from Turkey won’t fix the world, but it could save the world from experiencing its stupidest disaster yet.