The Ramapo Fault and the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f9/RamapoFaultSystem.png 

Living on the Fault Line

Posted June 15, 2010 by Wayne J. Guglielmo

The couple checked with Burns’s parents, who live in nearby Basking Ridge, and they, too, had heard and felt something, which they thought might have been an earthquake. A call by Burns some 20 minutes later to the Bernardsville Police Department—one of many curious and occasionally panicky inquiries that Sunday morning, according to the officer in charge, Sergeant John Remian—confirmed their suspicion: A magnitude 2.6 earthquake, its epicenter in Peapack/Gladstone, about seven miles from Bernardsville, had hit the area. A smaller aftershock followed about two and a half hours later.

After this year’s epic earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Mexico, Indonesia, and China, the 2.6 quake and aftershock that shook parts of New Jersey in February may seem minor league, even to the Somerset County residents who experienced them. On the exponential Richter Scale, a magnitude 7.0 quake like the one that hit Haiti in January is almost 4 million times stronger than a quake of 2.6 magnitude. But comparisons of magnitude don’t tell the whole story.

Northern New Jersey straddles the Ramapo Fault, a significant ancient crack in the earth’s crust. The longest fault in the Northeast, it begins in Pennsylvania and moves into New Jersey, trending northeast through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic, and Bergen counties before terminating in New York’s Westchester County, not far from the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant. And though scientists dispute how active this roughly 200 million-year-old fault really is, many earthquakes in the state’s surprisingly varied seismic history are believed to have occurred on or near it. The fault line is visible at ground level and likely extends as deep as nine miles below the surface.

During the past 230 years or so, New Jersey has been at the epicenter of nearly 170 earthquakes, according to data compiled by the New Jersey Geological Survey, part of the United States Department of Environmental Protection. The largest known quake struck in 1783, somewhere west of New York City, perhaps in Sussex County. It’s typically listed as 5.3 in magnitude, though that’s an estimate by seismologists who are quick to point out that the concept of magnitude—measuring the relative size of an earthquake—was not introduced until 1935 by Charles Richter and Beno Gutenberg. Still, for quakes prior to that, scientists are not just guessing.

“We can figure out the damage at the time by going back to old records and newspaper accounts,” says Won-Young Kim, a senior research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, directly across the New Jersey border. “Once the amount and extent of contemporary damage has been established,” Kim says, “we’re then able to gauge the pattern of ground shaking or intensity of the event—and from there extrapolate its probable magnitude.”

Other earthquakes of magnitude 5 or higher have been felt in New Jersey, although their epicenters laying near New York City. One—which took place in 1737 and was said to have been felt as far north as Boston and as far south as northern Delaware—was probably in the 5 to 5.5 range. In 1884, an earthquake of similar magnitude occurred off New York’s Rockaway Beach. This well-documented event pulled houses off their foundations and caused steeples to topple as far west as Rahway. The shock wave, scientists believe, was felt over 70,000 square miles, from Vermont to Maryland.

Among the largest sub-5 magnitude earthquakes with epicenters in New Jersey, two (a 3.8 and a 4.0) took place on the same day in 1938 in the Lakehurst area in Ocean County. On August 26, 2003, a 3.5 magnitude quake shook the Frenchtown/Milford area in Hunterdon County. On February 3 of last year, a 3.0 magnitude quake occurred in the Morris County town of Mendham. “A lot of people felt this one because of the intense shaking, although the area of intensity wasn’t very wide,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim, who visited the site after the event.

After examining the known historical and geological record, Kim and other seismologists have found no clear evidence that an earthquake of greater than 5.3 to 5.5 magnitude has taken place in this area going back to 1737. This doesn’t mean, of course, that one did not take place in the more remote past or that one will not occur in the future; it simply means that a very large quake is less likely to occur here than in other places in the east where the seismic hazard is greater, including areas in South Carolina and northeastern New York State.

Given this low-hazard, high-vulnerability scenario, how far along are scientists in their efforts to predict larger magnitude earthquakes in the New Jersey area? The answer is complex, complicated by the state’s geographical position, its unique geological history, the state of seismology itself, and the continuing debate over the exact nature and activity of the Ramapo Fault.

Over millions of years, New Jersey developed four distinct physiographic provinces or regions, which divide the state into a series of diagonal slices, each with its own terrain, rock type, and geological landforms.

The northernmost slice is the Valley and Ridge, comprising major portions of Sussex and Warren counties. The southernmost slice is the Coastal Plain, a huge expanse that covers some three-fifths of the state, including all of the Shore counties. Dividing the rest of the state are the Highlands, an area for the most part of solid but brittle rock right below the Valley and Ridge, and the lower lands of the Piedmont, which occupy all of Essex, Hudson, and Union counties, most of Bergen, Hunterdon, and Somerset, and parts of Middlesex, Morris, and Passaic.

For earthquake monitors and scientists, the formation of these last two provinces—the Highlands and the Piedmont—are of special interest. To understand why, consider that prior to the appearance of the Atlantic Ocean, today’s Africa was snuggled cozily up against North America and surrounded by a single enormous ocean. “At that point, you could have had exits off the New Jersey Turnpike for Morocco,” says Alexander Gates, professor of geology and chair of the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Rutgers-Newark.

Under the pressure of circulating material within the Earth’s super-hot middle layer, or mantle, what was once a single continent—one that is thought to have included today’s other continents as well—began to stretch and eventually break, producing numerous cracks or faults and ultimately separating to form what became the Atlantic Ocean. In our area, the longest and most active of these many cracks was the Ramapo Fault, which, through a process known as normal faulting, caused one side of the earth’s crust to slip lower—the Piedmont—relative to the other side—the Highlands. “All this occurred about 225 million years ago,” says Gates. “Back then, you were talking about thousands of feet between the Highlands and the Piedmont and a very active Ramapo Fault.”

The Earth’s crust, which is 20 to 25 miles thick, is not a single, solid shell, but is broken into seven vast tectonic plates, which drift atop the soft, underlying mantle. Although the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault neatly divides two of New Jersey’s four physiographic provinces, it does not form a so-called plate boundary, as does California’s infamous San Andreas Fault. As many Californians know all too well, this giant fault forms the boundary between two plates—to the west, the Pacific Plate, and to the east, the North American Plate; these rub up against each other, producing huge stresses and a regularly repeating pattern of larger earthquakes.

This second bit of uncertainty is especially troubling for some people, including some in the media who want a neat story. To get around it, they ignore the differences between plate settings and link all of New Jersey’s earthquakes, either directly or implicitly, to the Ramapo Fault. In effect, such people want the Ramapo Fault “to look like the San Andreas Fault,” says Gates. “They want to be able to point to one big fault that’s causing all of our earthquakes.”

Gates does not think that’s the case, and he has been working with colleagues for a number of years to prove it. “What we have found is that there are smaller faults that generally cut from east to west across the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault,” he explains. “These much smaller faults are all over the place, and they’re actually the ones that are the active faults in the area.”

But what mechanisms are responsible for the formation of these apparently active auxiliary faults? One such mechanism, say scientists, is the westward pressure the Atlantic Ocean exerts on the North American Plate, which for the most part resists any movement. “I think we are in an equilibrium state most of the time,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim.

Still, that continuous pressure on the plate we sit on causes stress, and when that stress builds up sufficiently, the earth’s crust has a tendency to break around any weak zones. In our area, the major weak zone is the Ramapo Fault—“an ancient zone of weakness,” as Kim calls it. That zone of weakness exacerbates the formation of auxiliary faults, and thereby the series of minor earthquakes the state has experienced over the years.

All this presupposes, of course, that any intraplate stress in this area will continue to be released gradually, in a series of relatively minor earthquakes or releases of energy. But what if that were not the case? What if the stress continued to build up, and the release of large amounts of energy came all at once? In crude terms, that’s part of the story behind the giant earthquakes that rocked what is now New Madrid, Missouri, between 1811 and 1812. Although estimates of their magnitude have been revised downward in recent years to less than magnitude 8, these earthquakes are generally regarded as among the largest intraplate events to have occurred in the continental United States.

For a number of reasons—including the relatively low odds that the kind of stored energy that unleashed the New Madrid events could ever build up here—earthquakes of plus-6 magnitude are probably not in our future. Still, says Kim, even a magnitude 6 earthquake in certain areas of the state could do considerable damage, especially if its intensity or ground shaking was of sufficient strength. In a state as geologically diverse and densely populated as New Jersey, this is a crucial wild card.

Part of the job of the experts at the New Jersey Geological Survey is to assess the seismic hazards in different parts of the state. To do this, they use a computer-simulation model developed under the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as HAZUS, for Hazards US. To assess the amount of ground shaking likely to occur in a given county during events ranging in magnitude from 5 to 7 on the Richter Scale, NJGS scientists enter three features of a county’s surface geology into their computer model. Two of these features relate to the tendency of soil in a given area to lose strength, liquefy, or slide downhill when shaken. The third and most crucial feature has to do with the depth and density of the soil itself and the type of bedrock lying below it; this is a key component in determining a region’s susceptibility to ground shaking and, therefore, in estimating the amount of building and structural damage that’s likely to occur in that region. Estimates for the various counties—nine to date have been studied—are sent to the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, which provided partial funding for the project.

To appreciate why this element of ground geology is so crucial to earthquake modelers, consider the following: An earthquake’s intensity—which is measured on something called the Modified Mercalli Scale—is related to a number of factors. The amount of energy released or the magnitude of an event is clearly a big factor. But two earthquakes of the same magnitude can have very different levels of intensity; in fact, it’s quite possible for a lower magnitude event to generate more ground shaking than a higher magnitude one.

In addition to magnitude, other factors that affect intensity are the distance of the observer or structure from the epicenter, where intensity is the greatest; the depth beneath the surface of the initial rupture, with shallower ruptures producing more ground shaking than deeper ones; and, most significantly, the ground geology or material that the shock wave generated by the earthquake must pass through.

As a rule, softer materials like sand and gravel shake much more intensely than harder materials, because the softer materials are comparatively inefficient energy conductors, so whatever energy is released by the quake tends to be trapped, dispersing much more slowly. (Think of a bowl of Jell-O on a table that’s shaking.)

In contrast, harder materials, like the solid rock found widely in the Highlands, are brittle and break under pressure, but conduct energy well, so that even big shock waves disperse much more rapidly through them, thereby weakening the amount of ground shaking. “If you’ve read any stories about the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, you know the most intense damage was in those flat, low areas by the Bay, where the soil is soft, and not in the hilly, rocky areas above,” says Karl Muessig, state geologist and NJGS head.

The map that accompanies the online version of the NJGS’s Earthquake Loss Estimation Study divides the state’s surface geology into five seismic soil classes, ranging from Class A, or hard rock, to Class E, or soft soil (state.nj.us/dep/njgs/enviroed/hazus.htm).

Although the weakest soils are scattered throughout the state, including the Highlands, which besides harder rock also contains areas of glacial lakes, clays, and wetlands, they are most evident in the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. “The largest expanses of them are in coastal areas where you have salt marshes or large glacial lakes, as in parts of the Passaic River basin,” says Scott Stanford, a research scientist with NJGS and lead author of the estimate. Some of the very weakest soils, Stanford adds, are in areas of filled marshland, including places along the Hudson waterfront, around Newark Bay and the Meadowlands, and along the Arthur Kill.

Faults in these areas—and in the coastal plain generally—are far below the ground, perhaps several hundred to a thousand feet down, making identification difficult. “There are numerous faults upon which you might get earthquake movement that we can’t see, because they’re covered by younger sediments,” Stanford says.

This combination of hidden faults and weak soils worries scientists, who are all too aware that parts of the coastal plain and Piedmont are among the most densely populated and developed areas in the state. (The HAZUS computer model also has a “built environment” component, which summarizes, among other things, types of buildings in a given area.) For this reason, such areas would be in the most jeopardy in the event of a large earthquake.

For example, in the study’s loss estimate for Essex County, which includes Newark, the state’s largest city, a magnitude 6 event would result in damage to 81,600 buildings, including almost 10,000 extensively or completely; 36,000 people either displaced from their homes or forced to seek short-term shelter; almost $9 million in economic losses from property damage and business interruption; and close to 3,300 injuries and 50 fatalities. (The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation has conducted a similar assessment for New York City, at nycem.org.)

All of this suggests the central irony of New Jersey geology: The upland areas that are most prone to earthquakes—the counties in or around the Ramapo Fault, which has spawned a network of splays, or auxiliary faults—are much less densely populated and sit, for the most part, on good bedrock. These areas are not invulnerable, certainly, but, by almost all measures, they would not sustain very severe damage, even in the event of a higher magnitude earthquake. The same can’t be said for other parts of the state, where the earthquake hazard is lower but the vulnerability far greater. Here, the best we can do is to prepare—both in terms of better building codes and a constantly improving emergency response.

Meanwhile, scientists like Rutgers’s Gates struggle to understand the Earth’s quirky seismic timetable: “The big thing with earthquakes is that you can commonly predict where they are going to occur,” Gates says. “When they’re going to come, well, we’re nowhere near being able to figure that out.”

***********************

For the men and women of the state police who manage and support the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the response to some events, like hurricanes, can be marshalled in advance. But an earthquake is what responders call a no-notice event.

In New Jersey, even minor earthquakes—like the one that shook parts of Somerset County in February—attract the notice of local, county, and OEM officials, who continuously monitor events around the state from their Regional Operations and Intelligence Center (The ROIC) in West Trenton, a multimillion dollar command-and-control facility that has been built to withstand 125 mph winds and a 5.5 magnitude earthquake. In the event of a very large earthquake, during which local and county resources are apt to become quickly overwhelmed, command and control authority would almost instantly pass to West Trenton.

Here, officials from the state police, representatives of a galaxy of other state agencies, and a variety of communications and other experts would assemble in the cavernous and ultra-high tech Emergency Operations Center to oversee the state’s response. “A high-level earthquake would definitely cause the governor to declare a state of emergency,” says OEM public information officer Nicholas J. Morici. “And once that takes place, our emergency operations plan would be put in motion.”

Emergency officials have modeled that plan—one that can be adapted to any no-notice event, including a terrorist attack—on response methodologies developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. At its core is a series of seventeen emergency support functions, ranging from transportation to firefighting, debris removal, search and rescue, public health, and medical services. A high-magnitude event would likely activate all of these functions, says Morici, along with the human and physical resources needed to carry them out—cranes and heavy trucks for debris removal, fire trucks and teams for firefighting, doctors and EMTs for medical services, buses and personnel carriers for transportation, and so on.

This is where an expert like Tom Rafferty comes in. Rafferty is a Geographic Information Systems Specialist attached to the OEM. His job during an emergency is to keep track electronically of which resources are where in the state, so they can be deployed quickly to where they are needed. “We have a massive database called the Resource Directory Database in which we have geolocated municipal, county, and state assets to a very detailed map of New Jersey,” Rafferty says. “That way, if there is an emergency like an earthquake going on in one area, the emergency managers can quickly say to me, for instance, ‘We have major debris and damage on this spot of the map. Show us the location of the nearest heavy hauler. Show us the next closest location,’ and so on.”

A very large quake, Rafferty says, “could overwhelm resources that we have as a state.” In that event, OEM has the authority to reach out to FEMA for additional resources and assistance. It can also call upon the private sector—the Resource Directory has been expanded to include non-government assets—and to a network of volunteers. “No one has ever said, ‘We don’t want to help,’” Rafferty says. New Jersey officials can also request assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), an agreement among the states to help each other in times of extreme crisis.

“You always plan for the worst,” Rafferty says, “and that way when the worst doesn’t happen, you feel you can handle it if and when it does.”

Contributing editor Wayne J. Guglielmo lives in Mahwah, near the Ramapo Fault.

Israeli tanks shell Hamas military sites outside the Temple Walls

Israeli tanks shell two Hamas military sites after rocket fired from Gaza

By

Christen McCurdy

Israeli tanks shelled two Hamas military posts Saturday, in what Israel describes as retaliation for a rocket fired by Palestinians earlier that day. In this March 2019 file photo, Israeli soldiers work on a Merkava tank at a staging area along the Israel-Gaza border, in southern Israel. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 8 (UPI) — Israeli tanks shelled two Hamas military posts in the northern Gaza strip Saturday in what the Israeli army described as retaliation for a rocket launched toward Israel from Gaza.

Reports differ on whether official sirens or cell phone alarms sounded as the rockets fell, but all sources reported the rockets did not cause any casualties.

“It seems that the rocket fell in an open area. No one was hurt and there was no property damage,” the regional council said.

Reports differ on whether the rocket triggered sirens in the area, with Israeli Defense Forces telling the Times of Israel only cell phone alarms were triggered and Haaretz .

Shortly after the rocket fell, Israeli Defense Forces said it had retaliated for the rocket launch by shelling Hamas posts in Gaza.

“A short while ago IDF tanks struck two military positions belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization in the northern Gaza strip. The strike came in response to the rocket fired toward Israel earlier on,” the IDF said.

Exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian factions — including rockets and explosive-laden balloons — in the Gaza strip has increased since the Jan. 28 release of U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan for peace in the region.

The Increasing Risk of War Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israeli Airstrikes on Gaza Raises Fears of Broader Military Conflict

Published February 7th, 2020 – 08:59 GMT

Highlights

Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz on Tuesday said Hamas had launched balloons and rockets to pressure Israel to ease its blockade as part of the truce.

Strikes by Israeli aircraft on Hamas positions in Gaza early on Thursday have raised fears of a broader military confrontation as anger grows over the Trump peace plan.

Israel carried out limited airstrikes after Palestinians in the enclave fired missiles and launched explosive balloons across the border about 10 days ago. Palestinian security sources reported hits on targets north of a refugee camp near Gaza City and a Hamas facility in the southern Gaza Strip.

The escalation in hostilities brought warnings from Israeli and Palestinian observers that the cease-fire arrangements brokered by Egypt a few months ago could collapse and the situation spin out of control toward a military confrontation.

Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz on Tuesday said Hamas had launched balloons and rockets to pressure Israel to ease its blockade as part of the truce.

In response, Israel has halted steps to ease the blockade imposed 13 years ago, reducing the permits it gives to merchants, stopping the supply of cement and preventing the export of agricultural products.

“The resistance forces in Gaza are in contact with the Egyptian mediator to pressure Israel to implement its obligations related to easing the blockade,” an Islamic Jihad movement leader, Ahmed Al-Mudallal, said.

“We do not want our people to go to war, and the effects of the last war (2014) still remain. But the resistance cannot remain idle in the face of the tight and suffocating siege and Israel stalling in the implementation of its obligations,” he said.

Al-Mudallal warned Israel that any failure to meet its obligations could lead to “an explosion.” However, Hamza Abu Shanab, a political analyst affiliated with Hamas, said imminent war in Gaza is unlikely.

“The conditions are not ripe for a wide military confrontation, and every party, whether Hamas or Israel, knows that the price of this confrontation will be great and painful,” he said.

According to Abu Shanab, Hamas is trying to take advantage of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s preoccupation with elections early next month, and build pressure to improve life in Gaza, without entering into a war.

“Netanyahu is practicing a balanced policy, as he does not want the understanding in Gaza to collapse,” he said.

Abu Shanab believes the chances of a large-scale military confrontation in the near future remain slim.

“Netanyahu does not want to gamble, and Hamas does not want to lose the improvements since the cease-fire deal was reached,” he said.

Political scientist Prof. Tayseer Muheisen agrees that Netanyahu’s strategy is based on achieving gains in Gaza and the region without war since any military confrontation will threaten his political life.

On the other hand, “Hamas relies on slow pressure to achieve gains related to easing the suffocating siege imposed on Gaza without bearing the consequences and losses of the war,” Muheisen said.

He said that factions in Gaza have only limited options to put pressure on Netanyahu, but would resort to conflict only in the event that Israel continues to evade its obligations under the cease-fire.

“The situation in Gaza will remain the same. There will not be a major development and each party will maintain its deliberate responses,” he said.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

Via SyndiGate.info

Copyright: Arab News © 2020 All rights reserved.

ISIS Responsible For Trump’s Ignorant Decision

‘Bombshell’: Iraqi Officials Say ISIS—Not Iran—Likely Behind Rocket Attack Trump Used to Justify Soleimani Assassination

“Al-Qaeda attacked the U.S. on 9/11 and we went to war with Iraq. If this report is true, ISIS attacked the U.S. and we nearly went to war with Iran.”

President Donald Trump addresses the nation from the Grand Foyer at the White House on Wednesday, January 8, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

In a “bombshell” revelation that calls into question one of the Trump administration’s stated justificiations for assassinating Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani—a move that nearly sparked a region-wide military conflict—Iraqi intelligence officials told the New York Times that they believe ISIS, not an Iran-linked militia, was likely responsible for the Dec. 27 rocket attack that killed an American contractor at an air base near Kirkuk, Iraq.

The Times reported Thursday that “Iraqi military and intelligence officials have raised doubts about who fired the rockets… saying they believe it is unlikely that the militia the United States blamed for the attack” was responsible.

“The U.S. almost started WWIII based on questionable evidence.”
—CodePink

“All the indications are that it was Daesh,” Brigadier General Ahmed Adnan, the Iraqi chief of intelligence for the federal police at the K-1 air base, told the Times, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS. “We know Daesh’s movements.”

The Trump administration has not released a single piece of evidence showing that the Iraqi militia Khataib Hezbollah, which has ties to Iran, was responsible for the attack on K-1. The group has denied carrying out the attack.

The U.S. responded to the rocket attack days later with deadly airstrikes on Khataib Hezbollah targets in Iraq and Syria, setting off a dangerous escalatory spiral that brought Iran and the U.S. to the brink of war.

On Jan. 2, the U.S. assassinated Soleimani with a drone strike in Baghdad ordered by President Donald Trump. Following the assassination, which was widely condemned as an act of war, the U.S. Department of Defense issued a statement claiming without evidence that Soleimani “orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months—including the attack on December 27th—culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel.”

But Iraqi officials told the Times that “based on circumstantial evidence and long experience in the area where the attack took place,” there is good reason to be skeptical about U.S. claims that Khataib Hezbollah was behind it.

As the Times reported:

The rockets were launched from a Sunni Muslim part of Kirkuk Province notorious for attacks by the Islamic State, a Sunni terrorist group, which would have made the area hostile territory for a Shiite militia like Khataib Hezbollah.

Khataib Hezbollah has not had a presence in Kirkuk Province since 2014.

The Islamic State, however, had carried out three attacks relatively close to the base in the 10 days before the attack on K-1. Iraqi intelligence officials sent reports to the Americans in November and December warning that ISIS intended to target K-1, an Iraqi air base in Kirkuk Province that is also used by American forces…

These facts all point to the Islamic State, Iraqi officials say.

“We as Iraqi forces cannot even come to this area unless we have a large force because it is not secure,” Brig. Gen. Adnan said of the area from which the rocket attack was launched. “How could it be that someone who doesn’t know the area could come here and find that firing position and launch an attack?”

In response to the Times report, Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council, tweeted: “Al-Qaeda attacked the U.S. on 9/11 and we went to war with Iraq. If this report is true, ISIS attacked the U.S. and we nearly went to war with Iran.

U.S. officials insisted to the Times that they have “solid evidence” showing that Khataib Hezbollah carried out the attack, but they have not released any of this evidence to the public or to Iraqi officials.

“We have requested the American side to share with us any information, any evidence, but they have not sent us any information,” Lt. Gen. Muhammad al-Bayati, chief of staff for former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, told the Times.

Ilan Goldenberg, Middle East security director at the Center for a New American Security think tank, tweeted that the U.S. Congress “must ask questions about this and get the intel.”

Responsible Statecraft managing editor Benjamin Armbruster agreed.

“Congress needs to investigate ASAP,” Armbruster tweeted.

Iraq’s new PM is backed by the Antichrist and the same old violence

Iraq’s new PM is backed by powerful cleric Sadr, and the same old violence

Mohammed Allawi represents the same establishment protesters want to get rid of, and this is best encapsulated by Moqtada al Sadr’s u-turn on the protest movement.

After an eleventh-hour agreement between the major parliamentary blocs, Iraqi President Barham Salih appointed Mohammed Allawi as prime minister-designate last weekend, finally moving forward with a candidate to replace caretaker premier Adel Abdul Mahdi who was effectively forced to resign due to his violent mishandling of the protest movement that has rocked Iraq since October last year.

President Salih has charged Allawi with forming a new cabinet within a month, and Allawi has promised a government staffed with ministers who are competent and not compromised by their political connections.

While all this sounds promising, Iraqi protesters who have been out on the streets calling for change since October have made it abundantly clear that they are simply not interested in buying whatever Allawi has to sell. Sadr and other Shia clerics who pretended to be on the people’s side are rightly seen as establishment figures whose priority is the survival of the system that lines their pockets.

Allawi is more of the same

Within minutes of the announcement of his appointment last Saturday, the demonstrators filled the streets of Iraqi cities, including Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, with chants of “Allawi is rejected! Allawi is rejected!”.

Allawi’s entreaties to the protesters to keep up their demonstrations “because if you are not with me, I [Allawi] won’t be able to do anything,” seemed to have little effect on the people.

The fact that Allawi had to admit to being powerless to make any substantive changes without massive pressure external to Baghdad’s halls of power has vindicated the protesters’ position that Allawi is an unsuitable candidate.

Allawi very much embodies the “new order” class of Iraqi political elites that emerged following the US-led invasion that toppled decades of Baathist rule in 2003.

A Shia Arab, the 65-year-old Allawi began his political career in the aftermath of the American invasion and twice served as communications minister under Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, likely the most sectarian politician Iraq has ever seen since its independence in 1932.

Allawi resigned both times alleging corruption and interference in personnel appointments in his ministry.

But if he knew Maliki was corrupt the first time around, the question remains as to why he accepted to work for him again? After all, it is not as though Maliki, who ruled Iraq for eight years over an orgy of sectarian bloodlust, made any attempt at showing he was reformed.

Despite his seemingly principled stance in vacating his post due to corruption, Allawi was oddly silent when Iraqi protesters were mauled in their thousands during Iraq’s first significant protest movement that began in 2012 and lasted until Maliki violently murdered protesters in 2013. That opened the floodgates for Islamic State terrorists to burn a third of the country.

In the present day, about 500 protesters have been killed, yet Allawi is unashamedly asking them to stay in the street to die for his sake.

Iraqi politicians need to start respecting the intelligence of their constituents. They are willing to die, but for freedom, not for an establishment figure like Allawi, who has already shown a disregard for the rights and lives of demonstrators in previous years.

Further, it will not escape their attention that he is the cousin of Iraq’s first post-invasion prime minister, Iyad Allawi, who was a pillar of the corrupt system that is now in place and that has reduced the lives of Iraqis to a pitiful tragedy of sectarianism, a lack of economic opportunity, and rampant and untameable corruption.

Clerics sell protesters out

Another aspect causing consternation and outright terror within the protest movement is the position of radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr who supports Allawi. 

Sadr has spent years, since Maliki’s days in power, attempting to portray himself as an Iraqi patriot and nationalist who was not beholden to foreign interests and an anti-establishment figure.

In reality, he and his various militias have long been supported by Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which probably explains his position following the US assassinating IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani earlier this year.

Allawi’s premiership prompted Sadr to withdraw his previously fervent support for Iraqi protesters. He ordered his faithful flock of largely impoverished, working-class Shia to return to their business, back the prime minister and back out of the political scene now that he had gotten what he wanted.

When Sadr realised that the protest movement was a broad church and very few heeded his call to end the demonstrations, Sadr showed Iraq and the rest of the world who he really is by having his thugs murder a dozen protesters.

The radical cleric was not doing anything new but was acting according to his character and the modus operandi he had established since 2003, namely the use of militia violence against civilians to achieve political ends.

The first to feel his wrath were the Sunnis who were exposed to his death squads. Now, it is the turn of the Shia who refuse to bend the knee to his will.

Protesters were hopeful that Sadr would be taken to task by the world’s leading Shia authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, in his sermon this Friday. While Sistani mentioned the attacks in Najaf as being “unjust”, he neglected to mention Sadr by name and refused to issue a fatwa, or edict, to make his position about violence against protesters clear.

Instead, he spent most of his sermon slamming the security forces for not doing enough, despite it being obvious that this failure to protect and to serve is due to the power of the Shia militias outweighing that of the security forces, not to mention many state security units being staffed by partisan militiamen in the first place.

Sistani’s failure to outright condemn Sadr is merely the latest in a long line of examples of the Najaf and Karbala-based clergy being unwilling to oppose one another publicly.

Sistani, a man who issued a fatwa to fight Daesh militants and who effectively exposed Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to a sacking-by-fatwa, was incapable of telling Shia militias not to kill protesters and providing a religious authority for what few independent security forces units that still exist to stand up to these violent thugs.

This sadly shows that, while Iraq may have a new prime minister, it is still subject to the same old violence, and the same old corruption that forced Iraqis out into the streets in the first place.

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of TRT World.

We welcome all pitches and submissions to TRT World Opinion – please send them via email, to opinion.editorial@trtworld.com

Tallha Abdulrazaq is an award-winning academic and writer, with a specialism in Middle Eastern strategic and security affairs.

Trump’s “peace plan” is unwittingly uniting Palestinians against it (Revelation 11)

US peace plan may unwittingly unite Palestinians against it

Fatah and Hamas are working to put aside their differences to foil the “deal of the century,” which the White House unveiled Jan. 28. All n”Palestinians, including the two long-divided movements, denounced the peace plan, which Palestinians say heavily favors Israel.

Palestinians are evaluating the negative implications of the deal, as well as its potential to turn the page on the Palestinian division. Their similar take on the peace plan stirs talk about how determined they are to achieve reconciliation and refuse the deal in one united voice. They are discussing the remaining points of contention between them, a possible meeting between their leaders — be it in Gaza or outside of it — and their demands from each other to achieve reconciliation.

In a rare step following the deal’s introduction, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on most Palestinian faction leaders, including Hamas leaders in the West Bank, to come to the presidential headquarters in Ramallah. Hamas figures responded to the invitation, including several former ministers and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council such as Nasser al-Din al-Shaer, Samir Abu Aisha, Ayman Daraghmeh, Omar Abdul Razak and Ahmed Atoun.

Also that day, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called Abbas and stressed his rejection of the deal, the importance of national unity, and Hamas’ readiness to work jointly with Fatah politically and in the field to thwart the US plan.

Mahmoud Mardawi, a member of Hamas’ National Relations Office, told Al-Monitor, “The declaration of the deal and the stances of several Arab states have disappointed Palestinians who are leaning toward clearing the air internally and restoring chances for Hamas and Fatah to work together and beef up their cooperation to foil the deal. But the strategic decision is in the hands of Abbas, who should take serious action regarding the reconciliation, rather than [uttering] the usual platitudes. The bilateral meetings between Fatah and Hamas should not be part of a public relations campaign … that would soon fade away. Otherwise, we would be committing a strategic error that would play against the Palestinian cause for future generations.”

At a special meeting held Feb. 3 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to discuss the US peace plan, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation announced it rejects the deal and called on member states not to deal or cooperate with the US administration for its implementation.

The Arab League as a whole unanimously rejected the deal Feb. 1, saying it does not meet the minimum rights of the Palestinian people and it violates the principles of the peace process. Yet despite the official stance, the positions of individual ministers there varied. In his speech at the meeting, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warned against the repercussions of the plan. But his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah bin Faisal Al Saud, stressed in his speech that military approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have not achieved peace or security.

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Ahmad Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah expressed his country’s appreciation for the US effort to find a solution to the Palestinian cause. For his part, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa called for considering the peace plan as a way to begin negotiations between Israel and Palestinians, saying Israel is moving forward with peace. Meanwhile, Anwar Gargash, United Arab Emirates minister of state for foreign affairs, stressed his country’s support for efforts aimed at reaching a solution through direct talks between Israel and Palestinians. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stressed the importance of achieving a comprehensive settlement in the region to prevent terrorists and extremists from highjacking the Palestinian cause.

Despite Hamas’ political action against the US plan, it seems the movement was unable to win over some major Arab countries. In light of those positions, Hamas sought to draw on some other Arab and Islamic countries that rejected the deal. On Feb. 1, Haniyeh met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, where they discussed the deal and its consequences.

On Feb. 4, Haniyeh also discussed the deal in a call to Moroccan Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani. The same day, Haniyeh called Lebanon’s parliament speaker, Nabih Berri, to stress the need to consolidate rejection of the deal.

A delegation of Palestinian factions plans to head to Gaza to prepare for Abbas’ ultimate visit there, after receiving an invitation from Haniyeh, Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad announced in a Jan. 29 press statement. Ahmad did not specify when the visits will take place, but he explained they will herald meetings to end the rift and find ways to confront the US peace plan. Haniyeh said he welcomes the visit and considers it a steppingstone for a new phase of the national dialogue.

Fayez Abu Aita, deputy secretary-general of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, told Al-Monitor, “The deal of the century sabotages the Palestinian cause, and Fatah and Hamas should put forth a serious plan that they both agree on to outline their next steps. … They should expedite their endeavors to end the rift.” He said the upcoming meetings can “set the foundations for a new phase.”

Saeb Erekat, a member of the PLO’s Legislative Committee, told Al Jazeera on Jan. 29 that the first steps to defy the deal will be to tackle Palestinian weak spots, including the division. He said the reconciliation will happen, and the division between the West Bank and Gaza Strip will end. Also that day, Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem emphasized to Arabi21 news the importance of setting a national strategy against the US proposal.

Ahmed Youssef, director of the House of Wisdom for Consultation and Conflict Resolution in Gaza, told Al-Monitor, “If the Palestinian Authority (PA) remains opposed to the deal of the century and resists US and Arab pressure to accept it, the chances of reconciliation with Hamas will increase. Gaza is a suitable place to hold the reconciliation meetings between Fatah and Hamas because it is almost totally free from Israel. Hamas might be more inclined toward the PA’s stance of rejecting the deal with peaceful tools and diplomatic action rather than armed attacks. After Trump slammed Hamas during the announcement of the deal, the movement will be more cautious in using arms.”

Trump noted the “essentials” for Palestinians include “stopping the malign activities of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other enemies of peace, [and] ending the incitement of hatred against Israel. Also during the announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted the plan calls for Hamas to be disarmed and for Gaza to be demilitarized.

Fatah and Hamas have repeatedly tried and failed to reconcile since the Palestinian split in 2007. Likewise, Fatah leaders have tried to mend their internal disputes. In a Jan. 28 Facebook post, dismissed Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan called on his rival Abbas to take decisive action to unite the Palestinian position regarding the deal.

Emad Mohsen, spokesperson for the Dahlan-led Democratic Reformist Current, told Al-Monitor, “The deal of the century is pushing Palestinian forces toward unity, ending the rift and restoring the Palestinian militancy project that was weakened and drained due to internal bickering. All Palestinian forces are invited to take the initiative to reject the deal, which has trampled on the two-state solution and the complete liberation of Palestinian territories. The national unity meeting should be held without further ado to put an end to the Oslo Accords.”

Izzadeen Ibrahim, a Palestinian journalist who writes for several news websites, told Al-Monitor, “The catastrophic situation the Palestinian cause has reached due to the rift is making it more difficult to confront the deal. The PA is unable to take real action to address the deal, and Abbas is just making threats that have no real impact. Hamas is in an unenviable situation, as it is besieged in Gaza, and its hands are tied in the West Bank. Any calls for a new uprising without a clear, agreed-upon strategy will be fleeting and will only throw Palestinian generations into a new cycle of frustration.”

Despite the potential rapport building between Fatah and Hamas, PA security has not stopped arresting Hamas members in the West Bank. This casts doubt over the PA’s seriousness in reconciling with Hamas and gives the impression that rapprochement is a tactic rather than a strategic decision.

Some Hamas circles in the West Bank believe Abbas could have asked his security apparatus to release dozens of Hamas detainees to prove his good intentions when he invited Hamas leaders to meet with him. Without real action, reconciliation calls will remain propaganda slogans rather than serious and tangible steps for Palestinians.

The Rising Risk of Nuclear War (Revelation 16)

Risk of Nuclear War Rises as U.S. Deploys a New Nuclear Weapon for the First Time Since the Cold War

The Federation of American Scientists revealed in late January that the U.S. Navy had deployed for the first time a submarine armed with a low-yield Trident nuclear warhead. The USS Tennessee deployed from Kings Bay Submarine Base in Georgia in late 2019. The W76-2 warhead, which is facing criticism at home and abroad, is estimated to have about a third of the explosive power of the atomic bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) called the news “an alarming development that heightens the risk of nuclear war.” We’re joined by William Arkin, longtime reporter focused on military and nuclear policy, author of numerous books, including “Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State.” He broke the story about the deployment of the new low-yield nuclear weapon in an article he co-wrote for Federation of American Scientists. He also recently wrote a cover piece for Newsweek titled “With a New Weapon in Donald Trump’s Hands, the Iran Crisis Risks Going Nuclear.” “What surprised me in my reporting … was a story that was just as important, if not more important, than what was going on in the political world,” Arkin says.

AMY GOODMAN: As the nation focused on President Trump’s impeachment trial, a major story recently broke about a new development in U.S. nuclear weapons policy that received little attention. The Federation of American Scientists revealed in late January the U.S. Navy had for the first time deployed a submarine armed with a low-yield Trident nuclear warhead. The USS Tennessee deployed from Kings Bay Submarine Base in Georgia in late 2019, armed with a warhead which is estimated to have about a third of the explosive power of the atomic bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima.

The deployment is facing criticism at home and abroad. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, ICAN, called the news “an alarming development that heightens the risk of nuclear war.” On Capitol Hill, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith said, quote, “This destabilizing deployment further increases the potential for miscalculation during a crisis.” Smith also criticized the Pentagon for its inability and unwillingness to answer congressional questions about the weapon over the past few months. Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov responded by saying, quote, “This reflects the fact that the United States is actually lowering the nuclear threshold and that they are conceding the possibility of them waging a limited nuclear war and winning this war. This is extremely alarming,” he said.

We’re joined now William Arkin, longtime reporter who focuses on military and nuclear policy. He broke the story about the deployment of the new low-yield nuclear weapon in an article he co-wrote for the Federation of American Scientists. He also wrote the cover story for Newsweek, which is headlined “With a New Weapon in Donald Trump’s Hands, the Iran Crisis Risks Going Nuclear.” He’s the author of many books, including Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State.

Bill Arkin, it’s great to have you back.

WILLIAM ARKIN: Thanks for having me on, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: So, to say the least, this has been an explosive week of news in Washington, D.C., and your news, which has hardly gone reported, is — should really be one of the top news stories of these last weeks.

WILLIAM ARKIN: Well, during the very time when the Iran crisis was at its highest, the United States, last December, deployed a new nuclear weapon, the first new nuclear weapon to be deployed, Amy, since the end of the Cold War. So here we have not just a momentous occasion, but a weapon which is intended explicitly to be more usable — and not just more usable against Russia and China, but to be more usable against Iran and North Korea, as well. It seemed to me that looking more deeply at this weapon, looking more deeply at the doctrines behind it, and then, really, what surprised me in my reporting, looking more at Donald Trump and the role that he might play in the future, was a story that was just as important, if not more important, than what was going on in the political world.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about what this — what does it mean, “low-yield” nuclear weapon?

WILLIAM ARKIN: Well, “low-yield” is actually a little bit wrong. The United States actually possesses nuclear weapons with even smaller yields than five to six kilotons, which is what this is estimated at. That’s 5,000 to 6,000 tons. And so, that would be — if you thought of it in Manhattan terms, it would be probably something on the order of 20 square city blocks obliterated and radiation coming from that area. So, to say “low-yield” is, of course, a little bit wrong. But it is the lowest-yield missile warhead available to the strategic nuclear forces.

And the real reason behind deploying a Trident warhead with this low-yield weapon was that the United States, the nuclear planners, felt that they didn’t have a prompt and assured capability to threaten Russia or threaten other adversaries — “prompt” meaning that it would be quickly delivered, 30 minutes, or even, if a submarine is close, as low as 15 minutes, and “assured” meaning that it isn’t a bomber or an airplane that has to penetrate enemy air defenses in order to get to the target. So, those two things, prompt and assured, is what they really wanted. And putting a warhead on the missiles on the submarines allowed them both covert deployments as well as getting close to the target.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about what this means between the United States and Russia.

WILLIAM ARKIN: Well, between the United States and Russia, I think it really doesn’t change very much. The Russians can denounce the Trident warhead, but the reality is that they have 2,000 of their own small nuclear weapons of this sort opposite Europe. And one of the justifications for the deployment of this new nuclear weapon, Amy, was that the Russians in fact had, if you will, a numerical advantage against NATO, and there was a desire to have a more “usable” nuclear weapon in order to eliminate that advantage. I think the U.S.-Russian situation is certainly tense, but it’s not really what this weapon is about. What this weapon is about is having a more usable nuclear weapon against countries like Iran and North Korea, where in fact a shocking first use of nuclear weapons, a preemptive use of nuclear weapons, would be used to either stop a war or to destroy a very important target, say, for instance, if there were a missile on a launchpad ready to strike at that United States.

AMY GOODMAN: In 2017, General John Hyten, who’s now vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. already has military capabilities to respond to Russian deployment of nuclear weapons.

GEN. JOHN HYTEN: The plans that we have right now — one of the things that surprised me most when I took command on November 3rd was the flexible options that are in all our options today. So we actually have very flexible options in our plans. So, if something bad happens in the world and there’s a response and I’m on the phone with the secretary of defense and the president and the entire staff, which is the attorney general, secretary of state and everybody, I actually have a series of very flexible options, from conventional all the way up to large-scale nuke, that I can advise the president on to give him options on what he would want to do.

AMY GOODMAN: Bill Arkin, if you could respond?

WILLIAM ARKIN: Options. That’s what they’re always saying, “options.” They need better options to do this, better options to do that. You have to look at this new weapon and say, “In its most basic terms, what does it give the United States that it doesn’t already have?” And those two things that I already mentioned: a prompt capability, being able to strike at a target in 15 minutes or less, and, second, an assured capability — that is, a missile that’s able to penetrate any enemy air defenses.

That makes it a particularly dangerous weapon in the hands of the current president, because I’ve heard from many people, more than I expected in my reporting, that they were concerned that Donald Trump, in his own way, might be more prone to accept the use of nuclear weapons as one of options when he was presented with a long list of options. One senior officer said to me, “We’re afraid that if we present Donald Trump with a hundred options of what to do in a certain crisis, and only one of them is a nuclear option, that he might go down the list and choose the one that is the most catastrophic.” And that officer said, “In 35 years of my being in the military, I’ve never thought before that I had to think of the personality of the president in presenting military options.”

AMY GOODMAN: So let’s talk about Iran now and what this means for Iran.

WILLIAM ARKIN: Well, the deployment, it happened very quickly. The decision was made in February 2018. The Trident warhead was already on the production line for the strategic submarines. So, at the end of the run of these warheads, they made about 50 new ones that were of the low-yield variety, because the production line was already operating and hot. So it happened very quickly. Ironically, it happened at the very time that the House of Representatives was debating whether or not the weapon should even be deployed. And by the time that was finished and President Trump had signed the defense appropriations bill on 20th of December, the weapon had already been in the field. So, it shows really a disconnect, as well, in the congressional debate between what’s actually happening on the ground and what it is that they’re talking about.

AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, for this to have been passed, you know, the House isn’t the Senate. The House is controlled by Democrats, so the Democrats passed this.

WILLIAM ARKIN: That’s correct. But in the end, the Senate turned down the House recommendation that the weapon not be deployed. And really, the tragedy here is that all of this occurred while the Tennessee was being loaded with a new missile, while the Tennessee was being prepared to go out on a new patrol, while the Tennessee actually went out into the Atlantic Ocean.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk again about Iran, exactly.

WILLIAM ARKIN: So, Iran is important because in June, when the drone was shot down, the president declined to retaliate militarily. And I think he got a lot of criticism from his party, from his wing, that he had made the wrong decision, that the United States should have retaliated against Iran. I think that stuck with Donald Trump. And I think, in the end, when it came to the killing of Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force, in Baghdad, killed on the 2nd of January, that strike, people have told me, specifically was approved by Donald Trump, enthusiastically pushed by Donald Trump, because it kind of erased the mistake of him not retaliating in June.

At the same time, the United States was also increasing the U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf, in the Iran area. B-52 bombers were flown to Qatar. The USS Abraham Lincoln was sailed into the region. And there was a general buildup of defensive forces in places like Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia.

At this very moment when U.S.-Iranian relations are at such a deep, I think, divide and at a time also when Iran is free — and it’s not clear that they will, but free — to continue to pursue the development of nuclear materials and nuclear weapons, I think that we see maybe the beginning of a little bit of a creation of an argument that Iran is developing weapons of mass destruction and that the United States is going to have to take action against that. And you’ve seen now from the president a number of very blunt statements that have said, “We will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.” That’s not necessarily what anyone I’m talking to in the military is focusing their attention on. They’re much more concerned about Iran in Syria, Iran in Yemen, Iran’s role in Iraq. But in terms of war planning, I think at the highest levels within the U.S. government there’s a general consensus about Iran as being still one of the “axis of evil,” still being in pursuit of nuclear weapons. And the Trump administration, particularly if it’s re-elected, is going to make Iran, I think, the centerpiece of a new defense strategy.

AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, it is President Trump that set that situation up by pulling the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear accord and decimating it.

WILLIAM ARKIN: Yes, that and also the second decision that was made, which was designating the Quds Force as a foreign terrorist organization. This, ironically, in kind of the bureaucracy of terrorism, triggered a number of decisions and a number of actions, one of which was, with foreign terrorist organizations, the U.S. military then begins the process of targeting their leadership. And that’s what resulted in their starting to track Qassem Soleimani and then ultimately killing him. So it seems to me that we have these two separate tracks kind of converging at the same time: a foreign terrorist organization designation, on the one hand, and weapons of mass destruction, on the other.

AMY GOODMAN: The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists recently advanced the Doomsday Clock 20 seconds closer to midnight, the clock a symbolic timekeeper that tracks the likelihood of nuclear war and other existential threats. It now stands closer to catastrophe than at any time since its creation in 1947. This is Mary Robinson, former Irish president, former U.N. human rights chief, speaking last month as the clock was set to 100 seconds to midnight.

MARY ROBINSON: The Doomsday Clock is a globally recognized indicator of the vulnerability of our existence. It’s a striking metaphor for the precarious state of the world, but, most frighteningly, as we have just heard, it’s a metaphor backed by rigorous scientific scrutiny. This is no mere analogy. We are now 100 seconds to midnight, and the world needs to wake up. Our planet faces two simultaneous existential threats: the climate crisis and nuclear weapons.

AMY GOODMAN: Former Irish President Mary Robinson. The significance of the Doomsday Clock, Bill?

WILLIAM ARKIN: I think the real significance is the lack of public interaction and public activism on the question of nuclear weapons. Really, that’s the missing ingredient today, Amy. We have a situation where the United States and Russia are engaged in multi-hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of nuclear modernization, at a time when the United States is at a high level of crisis with Iran and North Korea. And where is the public? Where is the public? And where is the anti-nuclear movement? And where even is any candidate speaking up about this subject?

AMY GOODMAN: Well, speaking of the anti-nuclear movement, the nuclear-armed submarine we’re talking about was deployed from Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia. This is the same base where seven Catholic peace activists were recently found guilty on three felony counts and a misdemeanor charge for breaking into the base on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birth [sic], on April 4th, 2018. This is Plowshares activist Martha Hennessy, the granddaughter of Dorothy Day. It was actually the anniversary of his assassination. But this is Martha Hennessy, the granddaughter of Dorothy Day, speaking after she was convicted.

MARTHA HENNESSY: The weapons are still there. The treaties are being knocked down one after the next. But we are called to keep trying. And we will do this together. And we have no other choice. Thank you so much.

AMY GOODMAN: Martha Hennessy is the granddaughter of the Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day, one of the seven who were found guilty when they went onto that nuclear base. So, Bill, in this last comment, if you can talk about the significance of their action? And also, when you say “low-yield” nuclear weapon, it must calm people. But this is a third of the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima?

WILLIAM ARKIN: So, “low-yield” is merely the title. It’s like saying that a Hummer is a small truck. I think that what’s important for people to take away from this development is that the United States has a new usable nuclear weapon, what the military itself considers to be more usable. That’s the change. And it’s also a weapon that can be stealthily and covertly deployed in the oceans. And that’s a change. And we do it at a time when, at least against Russia and North Korea and Iran, the United States is engaged in nuclear brinksmanship, at a time when it seems to me that the Congress is out to lunch, and there isn’t really an anti-nuclear movement in the United States, a mass movement, that could take up arms against this.

AMY GOODMAN: And the significance of Martha Hennessy, Liz McAlister, the peace activist and widow of Phil Berrigan, and others getting convicted on their protest at the base?

WILLIAM ARKIN: I started writing about nuclear weapons in 1981, when Ronald Reagan became president. I believe that’s about the time when we met. And then we had marches in which hundreds of thousands of people were in Central Park and in Europe and around the world. And today we have nothing of the sort. So, yes, it’s important that these peace workers continue to do their work and continue to do their important attention operations and exercises, their own, if you will, actions against nuclear weapons. But it’s not enough. The public has to be more engaged. And I believe that the Democratic Party candidates for president need to speak up and say something about nuclear weapons, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, there is a debate tonight in New Hampshire. We’ll see if that question is raised. William Arkin, longtime reporter who’s focused on military and nuclear policy, author of many books, including Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State. And we will link to your articles and your cover story in Newsweek magazine.

This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute looking at the coronavirus. Over 31,000 people worldwide have been infected.