New York Quake Overdue (The Sixth Seal) (Rev 6:12)

New York City Is Overdue For Large Earthquake: Seismologist

http://www.gothamgazette.com/graphics/2008/09/skyesfig3_cropped.gif

Won-Young Kim, who runs the seismographic network for the Northeast at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said the city is well overdue for a big earthquake.

The last big quake to hit New York City was a 5.3-magnitude tremor in 1884 that happened at sea in between Brooklyn and Sandy Hook. While no one was killed, buildings were damaged.

Kim said the city is likely to experience a big earthquake every 100 years or so.

“It can happen anytime soon,” Kim said. “We can expect it any minute, we just don’t know when and where.”

New York has never experienced a magnitude 6 or 7 earthquake, which are the most dangerous. But magnitude 5 quakes could topple brick buildings and chimneys.

Seismologist John Armbruster said a magnitude 5 quake that happened now would be more devastating than the one that happened in 1884.

How Trump is Making Babylon the Great Less Secure

National Security Action: Trump’s Iran Policy Has Left Americans Less Safe

by National Security Action

July 14, 2020

July 14, 2020 – Five years ago, the Obama-Biden administration — in lockstep with allies and partners — negotiated an historic deal to verifiably prevent Iran from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon. From his first day in office, Trump has centered his entire Middle East policy on dismantling Obama’s legacy and tearing up the deal. In doing so, he has made Americans — and our partners around the world — less safe in service of little more than his own ego and vindictiveness. 

Since withdrawing from the Iran deal in 2018, the Trump administration has touted its so-called “maximum pressure” strategy, boldly promising it would cow Tehran and its proxies into submission and set us on a path to securing a “better deal.” The strategy has been an abject failure. Far from being subdued, Iran and its proxies have been emboldened, Americans in the region have paid the ultimate price, and a “better deal” has proven to be a ruse.

It did not have to be this way. While the Iran deal was in effect, U.S. personnel and assets were not being targeted by Iran-backed militias, regional oil facilities and Gulf tankers were not being attacked by Iran or its proxies, diplomacy towards follow-on deals was on the table, and Iran’s nuclear program was verifiably halted, according to our own State Department, Intelligence Community, and international weapons inspectors.

But “maximum pressure” has put an end to all of that.

We have since been to the brink of war with Iran on several occasions — and more could be in store. 

• Beyond jeopardizing our counter-ISIS campaign and our relationship with Baghdad, the strike against Qassem Soleimani triggered a cycle of retaliation and brinksmanship, which careened us towards conflict with Iran and left more than 100 U.S. service members with traumatic brain injuries.

• We are stuck in a cycle of escalation after Iran-backed proxies have increased the tempo of rocket attacks against Iraqi facilities hosting U.S. service members. Late last year, such an attack took the life of an American contractor, and three Coalition members, including two Americans, were killed by mortar fire earlier this year; both attacks were followed by retaliatory American strikes. 

• After Iran downed an unmanned U.S. drone, Trump claimed we were 10 minutes away from an airstrike that would have killed 150 Iranians and potentially triggered a broader conflict. 

We are no closer to the elusive “better deal” that Trump has promised since his campaign. 

Iran’s top leaders continue to insist that they will not negotiate with the United States until sanctions are lifted.

• Trump urged Iran to negotiate before the election so he can claim victory, but Iran soundly rejected the proposal.

• Trump’s ostensible deal-making talents — which he has touted for years — have failed to yield any tangible results to halt North Korea’s nuclear program or to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With Iran, we can only expect more of the same. 

Far from preventing Iran from building nuclear weapons, Tehran has predictably expanded its nuclear program.

• President Hassan Rouhani announced that Iran began enriching uranium at levels higher than allowed by the JCPOA, following Trump’s lead by distancing Tehran from the deal’s strict limits. 

• For the first time in eight years, Iran has obstructed international inspectors’ access to nuclear facilities, making it all the more difficult to monitor the nuclear program’s progress.

The Trump administration’s abandonment of our allies has damaged America’s credibility in the international community. 

• Trump left our diplomatic partners high and dry when he unilaterally left the Iran nuclear deal, undermining trust that took years to build.

• Germany, the UK, and France, all close U.S. allies, have vocally opposed Secretary Pompeo’s far-fetched attempt to trigger UN sanctions on Iran by arguing that the U.S. remained a party to the JCPOA.

It didn’t have to be this way, and it won’t if Joe Biden is elected President. 

• Not only did Joe Biden help negotiate and implement the Iran deal, he continues to understand its indispensable role in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. 

• That’s why he has pledged that, if Tehran returns to strict compliance with the deal, he would rejoin the agreement and use our renewed commitment to diplomacy to work with our allies to strengthen and extend it.

• He is clear-eyed that the Iran deal isn’t a panacea — nor was it intended to be — but also understands that its ability to halt the most dangerous threat we could face from Iran, a nuclear weapon, opens the possibility to progress on other fronts.

We are Americans—former senior officials and policy experts, academics and civil society leaders—who have seen first-hand how the United States is stronger, safer and more respected in the world when we stand strong with our allies, pursue principled diplomacy, and stay true to the values that have long defined America at home and abroad. http://www.nationalsecurityaction.org

Why Australia Will Go Nuclear (Daniel 7)

Defence update signals Australia’s waning faith in US extended deterrence | The Strategist

Rod Lyon

Australia’s defence strategic update is not recommended reading for the faint-hearted. It depicts a starkly divided world in which the prospects of conflict are growing. In this post, I’ll explore only one small part of the document, namely paragraph 2.22. It contains only three sentences. But those sentences carry weighty implications.

Let’s begin with the paragraph itself:

Only the nuclear and conventional capabilities of the United States can offer effective deterrence against the possibility of nuclear threats against Australia. But it is the Government’s intent that Australia take greater responsibility for our own security. It is therefore essential that the ADF grow its self-reliant ability to deliver deterrent effects.

If the first sentence sparks a sense of déjà vu, that’s because readers have—probably—seen it before. It’s a sentence lifted from the 2016 defence white paper. There it was part of paragraph 5.20, outlining the benefits which flowed to Australia from its close association with the US:

Australia’s security is underpinned by the ANZUS Treaty, United States extended deterrence and access to advanced United States technology and information. Only the nuclear and conventional military capabilities of the United States can offer effective deterrence against the possibility of nuclear threats against Australia. The presence of United States military forces plays a vital role in ensuring security across the Indo-Pacific and the global strategic and economic weight of the United States will be essential to the continued effective functioning of the rules-based global order. [Emphasis added.]

In its 2016 role, the sentence underlined the contribution made to Australia’s security by US extended nuclear deterrence.

The 2013 defence white paper, released by the Gillard Labor government, contained a similar reference, although not in exactly the same terms. Paragraph 3.41 of that document reads:

Finally, as long as nuclear weapons exist, we rely on the nuclear forces of the United States to deter nuclear attack on Australia. Australia is confident in the continuing viability of extended nuclear deterrence under the Alliance, while strongly supporting ongoing efforts towards global nuclear disarmament.

Similarly, the Rudd government’s 2009 defence white paper made clear the importance of US extended nuclear deterrence—and of its possible failure. See paragraph 6.34:

It also means that, for so long as nuclear weapons exist, we are able to rely on the nuclear forces of the United States to deter nuclear attack on Australia. Australian defence policy under successive governments has acknowledged the value to Australia of the protection afforded by extended nuclear deterrence under the US alliance. That protection provides a stable and reliable sense of assurance and has over the years removed the need for Australia to consider more significant and expensive defence options.

So the first sentence of paragraph 2.22 of the 2020 update seems to stand duty as a reference point for a long tradition of Australian acknowledgement of the importance to Australia of US extended deterrence. Remember the metric involved here: what offers ‘effective deterrence against the possibility of nuclear threats against Australia’? Unsurprisingly, only US conventional and nuclear capabilities offer such an assurance. So at this point the reader of the update might reasonably expect a form of words underlining the growing importance of US extended deterrence in more difficult times. Right?

Wrong. There’s nothing in the update about US extended deterrence—which is hard to interpret as anything other than signalling by omission. The update, in short, suggests a loss of faith in US extended deterrence among Australian policymakers. We might speculate about the causes of that. President Donald Trump’s eccentricities have undoubtedly been aggravated by a longer-term shifting global balance. But what matters is the outcome. In a document freighted with growing threats, extended deterrence is horribly absent.

Indeed, let’s go back to paragraph 2.22. The second and third sentences head off in a different direction. The second sentence even begins with the word ‘but’, one of those conjunctions that ties the subsequent thoughts to the previous judgement:

But it is the Government’s intent that Australia take greater responsibility for our own security. It is therefore essential that the ADF grow its self-reliant ability to deliver deterrent effects.

It’s hard to read those sentences as anything other than a claim for greater self-reliance in the deterrence of nuclear threats against Australia. Further, it’s hard to accept that the government believes that an Australia armed solely with conventional weapons can deter an adversarial nuclear-armed great power. After all, it has just said it doesn’t believe that even a US armed solely with conventional weapons can deter such threats: go back and read the first sentence again.

What’s the conclusion? A simple—and tempting—conclusion is that either there’s been some grievous infelicities of meaning in the drafting process, or the update is an attempt to signal the possibility of a future nuclear-armed Australia. But that conclusion places a great deal of weight on three sentences, and on what they don’t say as much as on what they do. The premise of a future Australian nuclear arsenal shouldn’t be based on words that aren’t there.

I suspect something more complex is happening. An Australian government, busily revalidating both the importance of deterrence in national strategic thinking, and the importance of offensive strike to deterrence, is probably arguing here that improving conventional technologies, allied to more capable missile defences, do offer some prospects for offsetting nuclear threats.

That’s a challenging argument to unpack—especially in circumstances where we’re uncertain about how much we can rely on US assistance. Still, those complexities seem to offer a more credible explanation for paragraph 2.22 than the simple, tempting one.

The Horrible Sins of Babylon the Great

Iraq War Vet says he was ‘shown slow-motion sniper kills to desensitize him’ & was ‘systematically trained to kill’

Janine Phakdeetham

Nov 2, 2017 at 12:13pm PDTAN IRAQ War veteran has revealed he was shown footage of targets having their heads blown off by sniper rifles in order to become desensitized to violence before being sent to Baghdad in 2003.

The former elite Marine, Rudy Reyes, added that killing was not an issue because he was “systematically programmed to kill” in the first episode of a BBC documentary series about the conflict.

Reyes describes how he was systematically trained to kill people in BBC documentary Once Upon a Time in IraqCredit: BBC

Rodolfo “Rudy” Reyes, 49, was born on Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base in Kansas City, Missouri.

He was deployed to Iraq ahead of the main invasion to destroy strategic targets in 2003.

“Our mission was to destroy any capacity they had for artillery or mortars. And also, of course, the NBC: nuclear, biological and chemical weapons,” Reyes said.

Reyes took a shot of Tequila at the start of the interview with the BBC, then asked for the bottle.

“In our boot camp, do you know how we say the word ‘yes’? It’s the word “kill”. It’s the only way you can say ‘yes’,” the 49-year-old veteran described the American military process of molding himself and other soldiers into killing machines through training.

Reyes told the BBC how recruits were ordered to say the word ‘kill’ instead of ‘yes’ and went on to say that ‘there was no issue for me killing’Credit: BBC

He continued: “Then we go into ballistics. Then we’re watching real world: head shots, footage of sniper kills. And then they’re slowing it down in slow motion, head expanding three times the size, then vacuum collapse, then brains and skull.”

In the beginning, Reyes questioned if he was capable of committing such horror “because there was still some human in me.”

But as he became desensitized to violence through his deployment, Reyes recalled being part of a group of Marines who killed civilians, including children, who ignored a sign about a US roadblock because they couldn’t read it.

He dubbed himself and his fellow soldiers as “very capable, violent professionals.”

Reyes said: “‘We went three weeks straight with no sleep, straight fighting. No armor, no doors, no roofs…Sixty men spearheading the blitzkrieg to get to Baghdad. That’s immense.”

The three weeks of killing, blowing things up, and no sleep felt “God-like”, Reyes said.

“Imagine seeing the freaking Cobras criss-crossing above you and the bass of the boom, boom, boom, boom… It was god-like.”

When asked if the 2003 Iraq war was worth it, the retired soldier in a bandana replied, “I mean it has to be worth it.”

He paused and continued: “What’s the alternative?”

Reyes left the military in 2005 and is now a TV personality and martial arts instructor.

The New Cold War with the Russian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

Russia’s Basic Principles and the Cyber-Nuclear Nexus

Russian doctrine

June 2020 saw the public release of the Basic Principles of State Policy of the Russian Federation on Nuclear Deterrence – for the first time ever, as previous versions of this document were classified. This has implications for how adversaries should interpret Russian concerns over potential threat.

The Basic Principles is not a war-fighting manual (those generally do not deal with such conceptual areas), nor a declaration. Its main importance is in the broadening of nuclear-related sections of the ‘general’ Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation (1). It is a specific type of strategic planning document, regularly prepared and updated for different areas, including civilian, and is used as a basis for development and acquisitions planning, the legislative process and other bureaucratic work.

Without diving deep into questions of nuclear deterrence, and the roles of nuclear and non-nuclear capabilities, it is important to take note of the conditions set out in the Basic Principles document that might lead to nuclear use by Russia.

In general, the list of conditions follow the traditional Russian approach: nuclear weapons prevent the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction and/or large-scale aggression against Russia and/or her allies. However, there is an important update. Now threats to the nuclear weapons themselves are considered a condition for nuclear retaliation. This is a new as compared to the formulas that exist in the Military Doctrine.

Paragraph 19c of the Basic Principles states: “attack by an adversary against critical governmental or military sites of the Russian Federation, disruption of which would undermine nuclear forces response actions”. This effectively means any interference of any kind against civilian or military infrastructure, which would undermine nuclear retaliation capability. There is a wide consensus within the Russian expert community that this also includes possible cyber threats as well as other non-nuclear dangers. It is commonly understood that “critical sites” include military and civilian government command posts, nuclear forces battle management system, nuclear forces infrastructure and early warning systems. Malicious interference with these sites could lead to catastrophic consequences.

Perception of cyber threats

In general, the threat of cyberattack against Nuclear Command, Control and Communications (NC3) have been discussed at length over last several years with all of the five nuclear weapon states seemingly factoring this threat into their deterrence policies.

In the United States, a formulation similar to that of Russia’s is included in the 2018 US Nuclear Posture Review: “Significant non-nuclear strategic attacks include, but are not limited to, attacks on the U.S., allied, or partner civilian population or infrastructure, and attacks on U.S. or allied nuclear forces, their command and control, or warning and attack assessment capabilities.”

It is challenging to find links between cyber threats and nuclear use in public Chinese documents, especially given the No First Use policy declared and maintained by Beijing. Nevertheless, there are statements comparing consequences of cyber attacks to those of nuclear bombs. Research of the entanglement between non-nuclear and nuclear weapons related systems suggests that there is a serious cyber ‘flavour’ in such risks, and China must be looking for ways to address those.

French “vital interests” that are protected by nuclear weapons are intentionally ambiguous, but Paris pays great attention to the cyber domain. The link between cyber and nuclear threats is mentioned among the principles of the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace.

While in the UK the possible cyber threat to NC3 and nuclear weapons systems themselves is acknowledged by officials, nothing suggests that such attacks might be considered among “the most extreme threats” to be deterred by nuclear weapons. However, London, without any doubt, will be interested in reducing the risks of nuclear use as a result of cyber interference.

Decision-makers and military must now account for the use of cyber weapons, hostilities in cyberspace, and the desire of state and non-state actors to gain an advantage by damaging nuclear weapons and the delivery systems of their adversaries. The vulnerability of nuclear weapons control systems is ‘enhanced’ by the high readiness of the nuclear forces. Theoretically, a crushing ‘decapitating’ and even ‘disarming’ strike could be delivered using cyber weapons. At the same time, awareness of the risk of a cyberattack incentivizes the need to increase the protection of nuclear forces-related networks from acts of unlawful interference, regardless of their source, which contributes to maintaining security.

Understanding the threats, relative symmetry between the US and Russian ‘declarations’ and understanding of the challenge by China, France and the UK provides an opening for potential joint actions, including within the P5 format: a forum of these five countries, recognized as nuclear-weapon states within the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. One such action could be a statement of mutual understanding of the consequences of the interference with NC3 and aspiration to avoid actions that might be perceived as such interference by adversaries and partners.

There is no need to focus explicitly and exclusively on the cyber domain of non-nuclear attacks. P5 countries should attempt to define the crucial elements of their nuclear and other strategic weapons enterprise, any impact on which might lead to nuclear retaliation. For example, some states, or even all of them, may make it clear that they consider a serious threat posed by the use of electronic warfare capabilities for the purpose of “deceiving” the early warning and missile defense systems. This also will show that the line between cyber- and electronic warfare is blurry, to say the least.

Challenges and opportunities

There is a significant challenge with dealing with risks in the cyber domain, namely the attribution of the ‘perpetrator’. This is complicated by the fact that near-identical cyber tools can be used for espionage (collecting information) as well as for attacking the systems they have penetrated. A discussion on procedures for attack attribution and cyber weapon ‘dissection’ within the P5 might offer a platform for practical cooperation. Still, the main challenge is traditional: political will, or rather absence of such to participate in such discussions. ‘Cyber’ has become a toxic subject in relations between Russia, China and ‘the West’ due to mutual accusations and counter-accusations over election meddling, espionage and other ‘grey area’ actions. It will be naïve to expect a swift breakthrough. Nevertheless, cyberspace is officially becoming an operational domain for the military. Counterintuitively, it paves a way towards confidence building and risk reduction measures akin to ‘classic’ military domains. The nuclear domain is where such measures are of existential importance, so P5 countries should be ready for selective engagement.

The P5 format provides the best possible forum for inclusive discussions on nuclear doctrines and threat perceptions. Given the growing common understanding of the nexus between cyber and nuclear risks, the P5 countries can come up with a set of basic principles that deter nuclear use. The major principle should be to avoid making statements and building or acquiring weapons that might be seen as a push towards obtaining the very capability their P5 partners and adversaries are concerned with: to undermine nuclear retaliation capacity. Such principle could be augmented with another one: a requirement to explain intended missions for the capabilities that are perceived as threatening, should any P5 country express such concerns. Addressing the cyber-nuclear nexus therefore offers an unexpected opening for P5 collaboration and preserving the stability of deterrence between the nuclear weapon states.

(1) An updated version of the Military Doctrine is expected in 2020, or early 2021.

The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Leadership Network or any of its members. The ELN’s aim is to encourage debates that will help develop Europe’s capacity to address the pressing foreign, defence, and security policy challenges of our time.

The Nations Prepare to Trample Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Iran offers unconditional support to Hamas, Islamic Jihad

Hamas is sparing no effort to restore its relations with Iran, which announced that it will provide all necessary support to the Palestinians facing the Israeli annexation plan of the West Bank.

Rasha Abou Jalal

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Since Hamas and Islamic Jihad remained on the sidelines in the Syrian civil war and left their respective offices in Damascus in 2012, Iran, a staunch ally of the Syrian regime, suspended its financial support to both movements, cutting off their largest sources of funding.

The return of these relations, however, seems to be in the offing, especially with the recent events in the region. On May 28, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that his government intends to annex 30% of the West Bank.

A prominent Hamas leader who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity said, “Iran decided to provide the Palestinian resistance with the greatest possible support to confront Israel’s annexation plan of the West Bank. This support will be greater than ever, with no restrictions and in any way the Palestinian resistance wishes.”

Although Iran announced that it would continue to support the Palestinian resistance, a major challenge stands in the way, which is the Palestinian Authority and Israel’s policy to dry up Hamas sources of funding, taking strict measures to prevent money from outside the Palestinian territories from reaching the Islamic movement through local banks. 

“Hamas has its own ways to get the money. Banks are no longer part of its scheme to do so,” the Hamas source said. 

A Reuters report published on April 26, 2019, said that Hamas is increasingly using sophisticated methods to raise money using Bitcoins, which highlights the difficulties facing the authorities to track cryptocurrencies financing groups that some classify as terrorists. 

“It is not important here for the public to know how the support will reach the resistance, but what is important is where and how such support would be used on the ground to thwart the Israeli annexation plan,” the source explained. 

He added, “The Iranian support will mainly be directed to the West Bank that is at risk now with the Israeli annexation plan. Support will also focus on mobilizing the Palestinian people to confront this scheme.”

On July 2, Secretary-General of Fatah’s Central Committee Jibril Rajoub and Hamas leader Salah al-Arouri, who is based in Beirut, held a rare joint video conference to discuss a joint plan of action to counter the Israeli annexation plan.

“We must realize that the battlefield now is the West Bank and our people in Gaza are ready by all means to [counter the plan]. Abu Obaida [spokesman for Hamas’ military wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades] said that the annexation is a ‘declaration of war,’” Arouri said during the conference call.

Islamic Jihad leader Khodr Habib told Al-Monitor, “Iran’s support is of paramount importance for the Palestinian resistance and willl significantly contribute to escalate the resistance against the Israeli occupation in the coming period.”

He stressed that there is ongoing communication between his movement’s leadership and Iranian officials to discuss mechanisms to translate what has been agreed upon in recent contacts with Iran on the ground.

He added, “The resistance factions have been holding regular meetings to develop practical measures to address the Israeli plan. All our efforts in the coming stage will be focusing on resisting and thwarting the [annexation] plan and we will certainly succeed in that.”

Talal Okal, political analyst and writer for the Ramallah-based newspaper Al-Ayyam, told Al-Monitor, “Iran’s recent stance to provide the greatest possible support to Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the framework of confronting the Israeli annexation plan, is the culmination of great efforts made by the leadership of the two movements to restore their relations with Iran.”

He said that Hamas felt it had made a historic mistake by detaching itself from Iran over the Syrian conflict, and by looking for alternative sources of funding, such as Qatari support.

Okal explained that Hamas found out that Qatar’s support is conditioned by maintaining calm with Israel, which is in direct conflict with the movement’s principles and goals aimed at perpetuating the conflict with Israel. Hamas was forced to maintain calm with Israel at the moment in order to receive more funds from Qatar, especially since it has been grappling with a major financial crisis since Egypt established a buffer zone along the borders with the Gaza Strip in 2014 to destroy the border tunnels, he added.

“Hamas realized that it is in imperative need of the Iranian support more than any other source of funding, as Iran would provide it without any conditions or prerequisites,” Okal concluded.

Hassan Abdo, a writer and political analyst close to Islamic Jihad, told Al-Monitor, “The recent contacts between Hamas and Islamic Jihad with Iran — and Khamenei’s message — are proof that all differences between the two parties would remain on hold now as they are insignificant in light of the Israeli annexation scheme.”

He added, “Many other Arab countries turned their back on the Palestinians and contributed in intensifying their blockade, making way for the US deal of the century and the annexation plan, which is part of it. Iran’s position was exactly the opposite.”

Face Off With the Chinese Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8)

South China Sea face-off: Beijing threatens US ships with ‘killer missiles’

CHINA has taunted the US over its “futile” military activities in the South China Sea – as well as making a veiled threat to target aircraft carriers with “killer missiles” as tensions in the region continue to rise.

By CIARAN MCGRATH

16:30, Mon, Jul 13, 2020 | UPDATED: 17:55, Mon, Jul 13, 2020

Meanwhile, one senior military commander has urged Washington to back off, while China’s Southern Theatre Command warned: “There is no way to shake the PLA [People’s Liberation Army].” Beijing claims roughly 90 percent of the important strategic waterway in the South China Sea, and has been accused of bullying neighbouring countries in South East Asia including Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Earlier this month the US military deployed the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Groups to undertake dual carrier operation amid China’s drills around the disputed Paracel Islands, referred to by China as the Xisha Islands, which are also claimed by Vietnam.

State-run newspaper the Global Times, a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party, tweeted: “China has a wide selection of anti-aircraft carrier weapons like DF-21D and DF-26 ‘aircraft carrier killer’ #missiles.

“South China Sea is fully within grasp of the #PLA; any US #aircraftcarrier movement in the region is at the pleasure of PLA: analysts.”

Two Chinese jet fighters during a military drill in the South China Sea near China’s Hainan Island (Image: GETTY)

US aircraft over the Nimitz Carrier Strike Force (Image: EPA-EFE)

In a comment piece carried in the PLA Daily newspaper today, Zhang Junshe, a senior colonel in the Chinese navy, said Beijing would not back down on the question of maritime sovereignty, and said the US needed to back off.

He added: “The US is not a country in the region and it is doing large-scale exercises in the South China Sea, far away from its homeland, yet at the same time it is unreasonably accusing China of doing normal military exercises at its doorstep.

“The double-standard remarks from the US cannot disguise its real motives, which is to push militarisation and destabilise peace in the South China Sea.”

Sailors watch the USS Ronald Reagan from the USS Nimitz (Image: EPA-EFE)

In a statement issued via its official WeChat account, Southern Theatre Command said: “Chinese efforts to stabilise regional peace – while facing a US that is intent on making the South China Sea issue difficult – should be respected.

“It is easy to shake a mountain, but there is no way to shake the PLA.”

The US has already offered several clear indications of its refusal to be cowed.

Fiery Cross Reef, one of many fortified Chinese islands in the South China Sea (Image: GETTY)

A fighter jet takes off from the USS Nimitz (Image: GETTY)

In a statement issued on July 2, the US Department of Defense said Chinese military exercises around the Paracel Islands represented a violation of an ongoing commitment to avoid actions which would “complicate or escalate disputes”.

Separately, and in response to the Global Times tweet, the US Navy’s chief of information posted: “And yet, there they are.

“Two @USNavy aircraft carriers operating in the international waters of the South China Sea. #USSNimitz & #USSRonaldReagan are not intimidated.”

South China Sea mapped (Image: Express)

Speaking about the ongoing US military exercises, a spokesman for the USS Reagan Carrier Strike Group declared: “High-end integrated exercises build unmatched flexibility, endurance, manoeuvrability and firepower in an all-domain warfighting environment.

“These efforts support enduring US commitments to stand up for the right of all nations to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.”

China has backed up its sovereignty claims by building fortifications on numerous uninhabited islands in the South China Sea.

US vs China militaries compared (Image: Express)

Speaking last month, Tobias Ellwood, Tory MP for Bournemouth, who is a member of Parliament’s China Research Group warned a minor confrontation in the region could easily escalate into a major one.

He added: “Ultimately they are creating fortresses across the South China Sea and nobody is challenging them on that, despite international law saying otherwise.

“Once they have got a military presence there they then can use that to expand their own footprint to challenge anybody that comes through.

“It’s getting more and more aggressive – we send ships through occasionally but they are treated with such hostility that you can easily see a minor conflict spiralling out of control.”