Authorities Expecting The Sixth Seal? (Revelation 6:12)

New York Times


JULY 17, 2014

Here is another reason to buy a mega-million-dollar apartment in a Manhattan high-rise: Earthquake forecast maps for New York City that a federal agency issued on Thursday indicate “a slightly lower hazard for tall buildings than previously thought.”

The agency, the United States Geodetic Survey, tempered its latest quake prediction with a big caveat.

Federal seismologists based their projections of a lower hazard for tall buildings — “but still a hazard nonetheless,” they cautioned — on a lower likelihood of slow shaking from an earthquake occurring near the city, the type of shaking that typically causes more damage to taller structures.

“The tall buildings in Manhattan are not where you should be focusing,” said John Armbruster, a seismologist with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. “They resonate with long period waves. They are designed and engineered to ride out an earthquake. Where you should really be worried in New York City is the common brownstone and apartment building and buildings that are poorly maintained.”

Mr. Armbruster was not involved in the federal forecast, but was an author of an earlier study that suggested that “a pattern of subtle but active faults makes the risk of earthquakes to the New York City area substantially greater than formerly believed.”

He noted that barely a day goes by without a New York City building’s being declared unsafe, without an earthquake. “If you had 30, 40, 50 at one time, responders would be overloaded,” he said.

The city does have an earthquake building code that went into effect in 1996, and that applies primarily to new construction.

A well-maintained building would probably survive a magnitude 5 earthquake fairly well, he said. The last magnitude 5 earthquake in the city struck in 1884. Another is not necessarily inevitable; faults are more random and move more slowly than they do in, say, California. But he said the latest federal estimate was probably raised because of the magnitude of the Virginia quake.

Mr. Armbruster said the Geodetic Survey forecast would not affect his daily lifestyle. “I live in a wood-frame building with a brick chimney and I’m not alarmed sitting up at night worried about it,” he said. “But society’s leaders need to take some responsibility.”

No Hope of Salvaging the Iran Deal

New tensions dim hopes for salvaging Iran nuclear deal

By Richard StoneJun. 17, 2020 , 3:05 PM

In late 2019, reporters visited the Arak Heavy Water Complex, a potential source of plutonium.


Since U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal 2 years ago, other signatories have tried to salvage the agreement in hopes of constraining Iran’s ability to resurrect a nuclear weapons program. They haven’t given up yet. And although Iran has resumed activities proscribed by the deal, including stepping up uranium enrichment, it has kept the door open to a reversal. But a series of disputes has continued to fray the agreement.

This week, questions about Iran’s past clandestine atomic research program—including the disappearance of a missing uranium disk that could be used in a bomb, and illicit explosives testing—took center stage during a meeting of the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). And recent moves by the Trump administration have threatened to derail the conversion of Iranian nuclear facilities to reduce the risk they could contribute to a weapons program.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the 2015 deal is called, offered Iran relief from economic sanctions in exchange for dismantling large pieces of its nuclear program. Although experts generally agree the JCPOA worked, the Trump administration withdrew in May 2018, arguing it didn’t go far enough. New U.S. sanctions have since battered Iran’s economy.

“It hasn’t been easy to watch the deal get dismantled,” says a European diplomat who requested anonymity because talks with Iran are at a sensitive stage. Yet, “So far, Iran has been notably measured in building up its nuclear capabilities,” Christopher Ford, assistant secretary for international security and nonproliferation at the U.S. State Department, recently told journalists.

An IAEA report shared with the governing board last week said Iran has been enriching uranium hexafluoride gas to 4.5% of the fissile isotope uranium-235 (U-235) over the past year. By 20 May, it had stockpiled 1572 kilograms of enriched uranium, ostensibly for use in civilian reactors. Nuclear bombs require enrichment levels exceeding 90% of U-235. “They could have made a lot more uranium at a higher enrichment level, but they haven’t,” says Richard Johnson of the nonprofit Nuclear Threat Initiative.

An enriching pursuit

Iran has revved up uranium enrichment, decreasing the time needed to produce a bomb’s worth of uranium-235.

But Iran has greatly ramped up R&D on advanced centrifuges, which could speed up enrichment and reduce the “breakout time” needed to enrich a bomb’s worth of weapons-grade uranium to 3 months. The JCPOA ensured the breakout time would exceed 1 year; the Western diplomat estimates it is still more than 6 months.

IAEA and outside analysts have also been poring over a cache of documents Israeli agents spirited out of Iran in early 2018. The nuclear archive, as it’s called, has yielded fresh insights into Iran’s past R&D on nuclear weapons and its plans for underground testing that IAEA says call into question the “correctness and completeness” of declarations Iran made in 2003, when it agreed to come clean on its nuclear program and permit inspectors broad access to sites.

Iran had hoped the deal would end questions about its shuttered bomb effort. But IAEA now wants to know the whereabouts of a disk of uranium metal that could be used to generate neutrons for triggering fission in a bomb’s U-235 core. Evidence suggests it was housed at a site called Lavizan-Shian in Tehran, which Iran razed and sanitized in 2003 and 2004. In January, IAEA asked Iran to give its inspectors access to two unnamed sites to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. According to a report last week from the nonprofit Institute for Science and International Security, one site appears to be a testing range for high explosives near Abadeh, in central Iran. During a September 2019 press conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed satellite images indicating that site was razed only in July 2019.

In a 28 January letter to IAEA, Iran rebuffed the agency, declaring it “will not recognize any allegation on past activities and does not consider itself obliged to respond to such allegations.” The dispute has raised fresh questions about Iran’s intentions and gives the United States another cudgel to try to persuade the United Nations Security Council to reimpose nuclear related sanctions.

Other components of the JCPOA are also foundering. Before the agreement, Iran was building a heavy water research reactor in Arak that would accumulate several kilograms of plutonium a year in spent fuel—enough for one or two bombs. The deal mandated a redesign of the Arak reactor to sharply curtail generation of plutonium. Even after walking away from the JCPOA, the United States had supported the redesign by waiving sanctions on other countries taking part in the work—until May, when the State Department decided to let the waivers expire as of 27 July. The move perplexed observers. “I cannot stress enough how bizarre it is to me that we demanded that the Iranians convert the reactor—and now we insist they must not convert it,” says Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

If the Arak redesign falls through, Iran could claim that Western powers are out of compliance with the JCPOA, the diplomat says. Work will continue at Arak, which Iran has renamed Khondab, says Ali Akbar Salehi, president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. “Soon the international community will witness our new achievements at the Khondab Research Reactor,” Salehi told Science. “Although sanctions impose some constraints, it invigorates us.” He did not provide details, and analysts are not sure what Iran’s plans are for the reactor.

U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA has also scuttled a grand plan to turn an underground facility near the holy city of Qom into an international research center. Under the deal, Iran mothballed 700 uranium enrichment centrifuges at the Fordow site and worked with Russia to convert 328 others to producing isotopes for medicine. JCPOA negotiators floated other ideas, including installing a particle accelerator in the cramped space. But late last year, Iran resumed uranium enrichment in one Fordow hall. “That created a bit of a conundrum,” says Johnson, who was involved in the deal’s implementation during the Obama administration. Even minute traces of uranium would contaminate the medical isotope centrifuges. Worsening matters, a few weeks later, the United States canceled a sanctions waiver for the medical isotope work, prompting Russia to back away. Iran will continue to operate a dozen Russian-modified centrifuges on its own.

The failure to convert Fordow to a civilian research center “is a missed opportunity,” says Andrea Stricker, a nonproliferation analyst at the nonprofit Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Despite the nuclear deal’s slow-motion collapse, observers don’t expect Iran to open up the throttle on its program—at least not before the U.S. elections in November. If Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wins, the next administration “may try to resurrect some form of the JCPOA,” Stricker says. “And the Iranians would probably want to test and see what they can get.”

Babylon the Great Continues to Tip The Nuclear Dominoes


If the Trump administration follows through on its threat to re-start nuclear tests, it will complete the unraveling of more than 50 years of arms control agreements, taking the world back to the days when school children practiced “duck and cover,” and people built backyard bomb shelters.

It will certainly be the death knell for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, passed by the UN General Assembly in 1996. The Treaty has never gone into effect because, while 184 nations endorsed it, eight key countries have yet to sign on: the U.S., China, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Israel, Iran, and North Korea.

Evan without ratification, the Treaty has had an effect. Many nuclear-armed countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, and Russia, stopped testing by the early 1990s. China and France stopped in 1996 and Indian and Pakistan in 1998. Only North Korea continues to test.

Halting the tests helped slow the push to make weapons smaller, lighter and more lethal, although over the years countries have learned how to design more dangerous weapons using computers and sub-critical tests. For instance, without actually testing any weapon, the U.S. recently created a “super fuze” that makes its warheads far more capable of knocking out an opponent’s missile silos. Washington has also just deployed a highly destabilizing low-yield warhead that has yet to be detonated.

Nonetheless, the test ban did — and does — slow the development of nuclear weapons and limits their proliferation to other countries. Its demise will almost certainly open the gates for others — perhaps Saudi Arabia, Australia, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Turkey, or Brazil — to join the nuclear club.

“It would blow up any chance of avoiding a dangerous new nuclear arms race,” says Beatrice Fihn of the Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and “complete the erosion of the global arms control framework.”

A 20-Year Collapse

While the Trump administration has accelerated withdrawal from nuclear agreements, including the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, the Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement, and START II, the erosion of treaties goes back almost 20 years.

At stake is a tapestry of agreements dating back to the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty that ended atmospheric testing. That first agreement was an important public health victory. A generation of “down winders” in Australia, the American Southwest, the South Pacific, and Siberia are still paying the price for open-air testing.

The Partial Test Ban also broke ground for a host of other agreements.

The 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) restricted the spread of nuclear weapons and banned nuclear-armed countries from threatening non-nuclear nations with weapons of mass destruction. Unfortunately, key parts of the agreement have been ignored by the major nuclear powers, especially Article VI that requires nuclear disarmament, followed by general disarmament.

What followed the NPT were a series of treaties that slowly dismantled some of the tens of thousands of warheads with the capacity to quite literally destroy the planet. At one point, the U.S. and Russia had more than 50,000 warheads between them.

The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty reduced the possibility of a first-strike attack against another nuclear power. The same year, the Strategic Arms Limitation Agreement (SALT I) put a limit on the number of long-range missiles. Two years later, SALT II cut back on the number of highly destabilizing multiple warheads on missiles and put ceilings on bombers and missiles.

The 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement banned land-based medium-range missiles in Europe that had put the continent on a hair-trigger. Four years later, START I cut the number of warheads in the Russian and American arsenals by 80 percent. That still left each side with 6,000 warheads and 1600 missiles and bombers. It would take 20 years to negotiate START II , which reduced both sides to 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and banished multiple warheads from land-based missiles.

All of this is on the verge of collapse. While Trump has been withdrawing from treaties, it was President George W. Bush’s abandonment of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 that tipped the first domino.

The death of the ABM agreement put the danger of a first-strike back on the table and launched a new arms race. As the Obama administration began deploying ABMs in Europe, South Korea, and Japan, the Russians began designing weapons to overcome them.

The ABM’s demise also led to the destruction of the Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement (INF) that banned medium-range, ground-based missiles from Europe. The U.S. claimed the Russians were violating the INF by deploying a cruise missile that could be fitted with a nuclear warhead. The Russians countered that the American ABM system, the Mark 41 Aegis Ashore, could be similarly configured. (Moscow offered to let its cruise be examined, but NATO wasn’t interested.)

The White House has made it clear that it will not renew the START II treaty unless it includes Chinese medium-range missiles, but that is a poison pill. The Chinese have about one fifth the number of warheads that Russia and the U.S. have, and most of China’s potential opponents — India, Japan, and U.S. bases in the region — are within medium range.

While Chinese and Russian medium-range missiles do not threaten the American homeland, U.S. medium-range missiles in Asia and Europe could decimate both countries. In any case, how would such an agreement be configured? Would the U.S. and Russia reduce their warhead stockpile to match China’s 300 weapons, or would China increase its weapons levels to match Moscow and Washington? Both are unlikely.

If START II goes, so do the limits on warheads and launchers, and we are back to the height of the Cold War.

Why Is This Happening?

On many levels this makes no sense.

Russia and the U.S. have more than 12,000 warheads between them, more than enough to end civilization. Recent studies of the impact of a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan found it would have worldwide repercussions by altering rain patterns and disrupting agriculture. Imagine what a nuclear war involving China, Russia, and the U.S. and its allies would do.

Partly this is a matter of simple greed.

The new program will cost in the range of $1.7 trillion, with the possibility of much more. Modernizing the “triad” will require new missiles, ships, bombers and warheads, all of which will enrich virtually every segment of the U.S. arms industry.

But this is about more than a rich payday. There is a section of the U.S. military and political class that would actually like to use nuclear weapons on a limited scale. The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review explicitly reverses the Obama administration’s move away from nuclear weapons, reasserting their importance in U.S. military doctrine.

That is what the recently deployed low yield warhead on the U.S.’s Trident submarine is all about. The W76-2 packs a five-kiloton punch, or about one-third the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, a far cry from the standard nuclear warheads with yields of 100 kilotons to 475 kilotons.

The U.S. rationale is that a “small” warhead will deter the Russians from using their low yield nuclear warheads against NATO. The Trump administration says the Russians have a plan to do exactly that, figuring the U.S. would hesitate to risk an all-out nuclear exchange by replying in kind. There is, in fact, little proof such a plan exists, and Moscow denies it.

According to the Trump administration, China and Russia are also violating the ban on nuclear tests by setting off low-yield, hard to detect warheads. No evidence has been produced to show this, and no serious scientist supports the charge. Modern seismic weapons detection is so efficient it can detect warheads that fail to go critical, so-called duds.

Bear baiting — and dragon drubbing in the case of China — is a tried and true mechanism for opening the arms spigot.

Some of this is about making arms manufacturers and generals happy, but it is also about the fact that the last war the U.S. won was Grenada. The U.S. military lost in Afghanistan and Iraq, made a mess of Libya, Somalia, and Syria, and is trying to extract itself from a stalemate in Yemen.

Just suppose some of those wars were fought with low-yield nukes? While it seems deranged — like using hand grenades to get rid of kitchen ants — some argue that if we don’t take the gloves off, we will continue to lose wars or get bogged down in stalemates.

Why Not?

The Pentagon knows the Russians are not a conventional threat, because the U.S. and NATO vastly outnumber and outspend Moscow. China is more of a conventional challenge, but any major clash could go nuclear, and no one wants that.

According to the Pentagon, the W76-2 may be used to respond “to significant non-nuclear strategic attacks” on the U.S. or its allies’ “infrastructure,” including cyber war. That could include Iran.

Early in his term, President Trump asked why the U.S. can’t use its nuclear weapons. If Washington successfully torpedoes START II and re-starts testing, he may get to do exactly that.

Foreign Policy In Focus columnist Conn Hallinan can be read at and

The Nuclear Outlook Bleak But Prophetic (Revelation 16)

Nuclear Outlook Bleak as Russia, US Reduce Arms While Others Continue Modernizing, Think Tank Says

03:36 GMT 15.06.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The overall number of nuclear weapons in the world is decreasing thanks to Russia and the United States, but other nuclear powers continue modernizing their arsenals, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in a press release to its fresh yearly report on disarmament on Monday.

“The decrease in the overall number of nuclear weapons in the world in 2019 was largely due to the dismantlement of retired nuclear weapons by Russia and the USA — which together still possess over 90 percent of global nuclear weapons”, SIPRI said, adding that “despite an overall decrease in the number of nuclear warheads in 2019, all nuclear weapon-possessing states continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals”.

SIPRI went on to say that despite the arsenals of other nuclear states being significantly smaller than those of Russia and the US, all of them either began to develop or deploy new nuclear weapon delivery systems or announced their intention to do so.

According to the Institute, China is “in the middle of a significant modernization of its nuclear arsenal”, which includes developing a so-called nuclear triad for the first time, made up of new land- and sea-based missiles and nuclear-capable aircraft.

“India and Pakistan are slowly increasing the size and diversity of their nuclear forces, while North Korea continues to prioritize its military nuclear programme as a central element of its national security strategy”, the press release read.

As of early 2020, the nine nuclear-armed states — the US, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea — together possessed an estimated 13,400 nuclear weapons, a decrease from 13,865 the year before, according to the press release.

Tension Builds Up Against the S Korean Horn (Daniel 7)

North Korea says it’s sending soldiers to joint border sites

By HYUNG-JIN KIM and KIM TONG-HYUNG, Associated Press

South Korean army’s K-55 self-propelled howitzers are loaded on vehicles in Paju, near the border with North Korea, South Korea, Wednesday, June 17, 2020. North Korea said Wednesday it will redeploy troops to now-shuttered inter-Korean tourism and economic sites near the border with South Korea and…   (Associated Press)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Wednesday that it will send soldiers to now-shuttered inter-Korean cooperation sites in its territory and reinstall guard posts and resume military exercises at front-line areas, nullifying tension-reducing deals reached with South Korea just two years ago.

The announcement is the latest in a series provocations North Korea has taken in what experts believe are calculated moves to apply pressure on Seoul and Washington amid stalled nuclear negotiations. On Tuesday, the North destroyed an empty inter-Korean liaison office in its territory.

Though North Korea’s recent actions haven’t lead to clashes or bloodshed, it’s still raising animosity on the peninsula to a level unseen since Pyongyang entered nuclear talks in 2018.

The North’s General Staff said military units will be deployed to the Diamond Mountain resort and the Kaesong industrial complex, both just north of the heavily fortified border. The two sites, built with South Korean financing, have been closed for years due to inter-Korean disputes and U.S.-led sanctions.

The North also said it will resume military exercises, reestablish guard posts and boost military readiness in border areas as well as open front-line sites for flying propaganda balloons toward South Korea. Those steps would reverse agreements reached between the Koreas in September 2018 aimed at lowering military tensions along he border.

South Korea’s military expressed regret over the North Korean announcement and warned that the North will face unspecified consequences if it violates the 2018 deals.

Maj. Gen. Jeon Dong Jin at the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters that South Korea maintains military readiness and will strive to prevent military tensions from rising. Vice Unification Minister Suh Ho warned against destroying South Korean assets that remain at the two cooperation sites.

Under the 2018 agreements, both Koreas halted live-firing exercises, removed some land mines and destroyed guard posts along the world’s most heavily armed border.

Some experts argued the moves undermined South Korea’s security more than the North’s as Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal remained intact.

North Korea will likely next dismantle South Korean-built structures, equipment and other assets at the two cooperation sites before performing military drills and firing missiles and shells toward the sea, said Cheong Seong-Chang, an analyst at the Sejong Institute, a think tank in South Korea.

Cheong said the deterioration of ties was now “unavoidable” and South Korea might respond with the resumption of propaganda loudspeaker broadcasts and joint military drills with the United States.

Some analysts see North Korea’s provocations as an attempt to get concessions from Washington and Seoul at a time when its economy, already battered by sanctions, has likely worsened due to the coronavirus pandemic. They say North Korea may be frustrated because the sanctions prevent Seoul from breaking away from Washington to resume joint economic projects with Pyongyang.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday said that recent actions were taken to retaliate for South Korea’s failure to prevent activists from floating propaganda leaflets across the border.

It said the destruction of the building Tuesday was a “reflection of the zeal of our enraged people to punish human scum who challenged the noblest dignity and prestige of our country and those who sheltered the scum, perpetrators of shuddering crime.” It said North Korea will set the intensity and timing for its additional steps while closely monitoring South Korean moves.

North Korea’s state TV showed the scene of the building destruction Wednesday and anchors reading previously published statements on South Korea in an apparent bid to solidify anti-Seoul sentiments at home.

Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, separately revealed that North Korea had rebuffed a recent offer by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to send special envoys to Pyongyang to defuse tension.

Kim Yo Jong, who has spearheaded the North’s recent rhetoric against South Korea, called Moon’s offer a “petty farce” and a “trick” to tide over a crisis. She also slammed Moon’s recent urging of North Korea to return to talks and find a breakthrough with South Korea.

In response, one of Moon’s senior presidential advisers, Yoon Do-han, called Kim Yo Jong’s statement “very rude,” “irrational” and “senseless.” Yoon warned South Korea won’t tolerate similar statements by North Korea any longer, while expressing regret over North Korea’s publicizing of South Korea’s offer to send envoys.

The exchange of verbal salvos between the Koreas is highly unusual under Moon’s government, which has espoused greater rapprochement with North Korea since taking office in 2017. Moon has faced criticism that he was too soft on North Korea even when it publicly conducted weapons tests targeting South Korea.

South Korea’s top official on North Korea offered to resign to take the responsibility for the tensions. It’s wasn’t immediately known if Moon would accept the offer by Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul.

Moon, who met Kim Jong Un three times in 2018, was a driving force behind the diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington, including the first summit between Kim and President Donald Trump in Singapore in June 2018.

Relations between the Koreas have been strained since a second Kim-Trump summit in early 2019 fell apart due to wrangling over the sanctions.

Gaza rocket from outside the Temple Walls strikes southern Israel (Revelation 11)

Rockets fired from the Gaza Strip on July 14, 2018. Source: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

Gaza rocket strikes southern Israel; IDF retaliates against Hamas targets

Strikes targeted “underground Hamas infrastructure and military posts,” says the Israeli military.

(June 16, 2020 / JNS) Israel struck several Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Monday night after a rocket launched from the coastal enclave fell in Israeli territory, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

“In response to the rocket that was fired from Gaza into Israel earlier this evening, our fighter jets and tanks just targeted underground Hamas infrastructure and military posts,” the Israeli military said in a statement.

The rocket landed in an open area in the Eshkol region, and no injuries or damage were reported, according to the military.

The conflagration comes after Israel approved the latest Qatari aid package for Gaza, to the tune of $50 million, which is reportedly to be delivered later in the week, and amid heightened tensions due to Israel’s plan to extend its sovereignty to the Jordan Valley, and parts of Judea and Samaria.

According to Al-Jazeera, senior Hamas official Salah al-Bardawil said at a news conference in the Gaza Strip on Monday that “it is the duty of each free Palestinian citizen to rise up against this flagrant aggression on our land.”

One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.

JNS’s influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.

India and China Go To War

20 Indian Soldiers Killed; 43 Chinese Casualties: ANI

Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in a “violent face-off” with Chinese troops at Galwan Valley in Ladakh, the army said on Tuesday, in the most serious escalation between the two countries along the border in five decades. News agency ANI claimed that sources had confirmed 43 Chinese soldiers have been killed or seriously injured because of intercepts, though the army’s statement did not refer to this. A statement on Tuesday confirmed the death of a Colonel and two jawans spoke of “casualties on both sides”. India blamed the clashes on “an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo there”, rebutting China’s claims that Indian soldiers crossed the border.

Here are the top developments in this big story:

Colonel B Santosh Babu of the Bihar regiment, Havildar Palani and Sepoy Ojha laid down their lives for India, the army confirmed earlier on Tuesday. “17 Indian troops who were critically injured in the line of duty at the stand-off location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain have succumbed to their injuries. Indian Army is firmly committed to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation,” the army’s fresh statement said tonight.

The statement opened by saying Indian and Chinese troops “have disengaged” at the Galwan area where they earlier clashed on the night of June 15/16, indicating that they do not expect any fresh violence in the area.

India said the clash arose from “an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo” on the border. “India is very clear that all its activities are always within the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control. We expect the same of the Chinese side,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Anurag Shrivastava.

The clash took place just as Chinese troops were getting ready to move away from a location per an agreement that was part of recent talks between the two sides to defuse tension. The Colonel was reportedly assaulted with stones and Indian soldiers retaliated, which led to close unarmed combat for several hours. The soldiers disengaged after midnight.

Beijing, in an aggressive statement, accused India of crossing the border, “attacking Chinese personnel”. China’s Foreign Ministry was quoted by Reuters as saying India should not take unilateral actions or stir up trouble.

The only admission of casualties on the Chinese side came from the editor of their government mouthpiece Global Times. “Based on what I know, Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley physical clash. I want to tell the Indian side, don’t be arrogant and misread China’s restraint as being weak. China doesn’t want to have a clash with India, but we don’t fear it,” tweeted Hu Xijin, Editor-in-Chief of Global Times.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held meetings with Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met with military chiefs twice as India discussed a response to the escalation.

For more than six weeks, soldiers from both sides have been engaged in a stand-off on at least two locations along the Line of Actual Control — the 3,488 km de-facto boundary between India and China, and rushed additional troops to the border. They have been facing each other at the Galwan River, which was one of the early triggers of the 1962 India-China war, and at the Pangong Tso — a glacial lake at 14,000 feet in the Tibetan plateau.

As part of the talks to defuse tension, the Chinese Army pulled back its troops from the Galwan valley, PP-15 and Hot Springs. The Indian side also brought back some of its troops and vehicles from these areas.

AFP quoted Indian sources and news reports as suggesting that Chinese troops remained in parts of the Galwan Valley and of the northern shore of the Pangong Tso lake, which caused the clash. China has been upset about the Indian construction of roads and air strips in the area, say diplomats. The government has pushed for improving connectivity and by 2022, 66 key roads along the Chinese border will have been built. One of these roads is near the Galwan valley that connects to Daulat Beg Oldi air base, which was inaugurated last October.