A Closer Look At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

A Look at the Tri-State’s Active Fault Line

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Ramapo Fault is the longest fault in the Northeast that occasionally makes local headlines when minor tremors cause rock the Tri-State region. It begins in Pennsylvania, crosses the Delaware River and continues through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic and Bergen counties before crossing the Hudson River near Indian Point nuclear facility.

In the past, it has generated occasional activity that generated a 2.6 magnitude quake in New Jersey’s Peakpack/Gladstone area and 3.0 magnitude quake in Mendham.

“There is occasional seismic activity in New Jersey,” said Robinson. “There have been a few quakes locally that have been felt and done a little bit of damage over the time since colonial settlement — some chimneys knocked down in Manhattan with a quake back in the 18th century, but nothing of a significant magnitude.”

Robinson said the Ramapo has on occasion registered a measurable quake but has not caused damage: “The Ramapo fault is associated with geological activities back 200 million years ago, but it’s still a little creaky now and again,” he said.

“More recently, in the 1970s and early 1980s, earthquake risk along the Ramapo Fault received attention because of its proximity to Indian Point,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Historically, critics of the Indian Point Nuclear facility in Westchester County, New York, did cite its proximity to the Ramapo fault line as a significant risk.

“Subsequent investigations have shown the 1884 Earthquake epicenter was actually located in Brooklyn, New York, at least 25 miles from the Ramapo Fault,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Trump Pushes Ever Closer to Martial Law (Revelation 18)

Trump Is Strong-Arming Cities With Even More Federal Troops | Vanity Fair

Charlotte KleinJuly 28, 2020 1:30 PM

Federal police face off with protesters in front of the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in downtown Portland as the city experiences another night of unrest on July 27, 2020.

by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

When it comes to Donald Trump’s theatrical display of “law and order,” city officials are attempting to put their foot down. In a letter on Monday, leaders of six major U.S. cities—Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Kansas City, Albuquerque, and Washington—implored Congress to make it illegal to send federal agents to cities where they are unwelcome, condemning “this administration’s egregious use of federal force on cities over the objections of local authorities.” The Trump administration, however, maintains that there’s still reason for Department of Homeland Security agents to be in Portland, setting up yet another clash between city officials and the White House. “It is not a solution to tell federal officers to leave when there continues to be attacks on federal property and personnel,” U.S. Attorney Billy Williams said, noting that the federal courthouse in Portland will not be left “unprotected to be destroyed by people intent on doing so.”

Trump deployed DHS agents to quell the city’s so-called unrest around July 4, at which time the Associated Press reported the number of nightly protesters to be less than 100. Since the agents arrived, thousands have taken to Portland’s streets, galvanized by their presence and equipped with protective gear. Protesters have been largely peaceful, though some have attempted to break down fencing protection at the courthouse and have thrown objects at officers. City police responding to a shooting in a park near the protests found a bag full of ammunition and Molotov cocktails. Federal agents have reportedly made 83 arrests so far.

Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland—who was himself recently doused with tear gas on the frontlines—has spoken out against the federal presence. On Monday evening, he tweeted that he and City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty had called for “an immediate meeting” with DHS leadership on site and Acting Secretary Chad Wolf “to discuss a cease-fire and the removal of heightened federal forces.” Some see Wheeler’s vocal opposition as hypocritical, given that he has allowed the city’s police force to use riot-control weapons, like tear gas, on peaceful protesters. Kris Cline of the Federal Protective Service told the AP that he believes local law enforcement should be tasked with protecting the Portland courthouse that federal agents now guard. “If the Portland Police Bureau were able to do what they typically do, they would be able to clear this out for this disturbance and we would leave our officers inside the building and not be visible,” Cline said.

Trump, meanwhile, has claimed that federal properties in the city “wouldn’t last a day” without the deployed officers. And according to the Washington Post, he’s sending in even more. The U.S. Marshals Service decided to deploy more deputies last week, and DHS is planning to send an additional 50 Customs and Border Protection agents. This would be a considerable escalation in the federal presence, a tactic that the Post notes has “exhausted federal resources before it exhausted the protesters.” Federal law enforcement officials reportedly fear that existing personnel will not be able to control the streets, where crowds are growing more aggressive and nightly street battles are gaining more media attention.

Meanwhile, officials and protesters elsewhere in the country fear the same tactics will land on their doorsteps. Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, per the Post, “worried that his local police were facing protesters who had been radicalized by the clashes they had heard about in Portland” as protests turned violent over the weekend; two people were shot and wounded after a car barreled through a demonstration, and public property was vandalized. “Aurora cannot become a Portland,” he wrote. Other cities where protests are ongoing also saw an uptick in violence this weekend, the AP notes. In Oakland, California, protesters set a courthouse on fire; in Richmond, Virginia, the same was done to vehicles. And an armed protester was fatally shot at a demonstration in Austin, Texas.

The Build Up of the China Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

China’s Arms Buildup Threatens the Nuclear Balance

By James Anderson

July 29, 2020, 5:00 a.m. ET

A Pentagon leader argues that as Beijing’s weapons grow in size and sophistication, the U.S. and Russia will have to reassess their own arsenals.

Dr. Anderson is the acting under secretary of defense for policy.

Military vehicles carrying DF-41 intercontinental nuclear missiles during a parade in Beijing last October. China plans to soon introduce an air-launched ballistic missile delivered by heavy bombers.Wu Hong/EPA, via Shutterstock

Nuclear arms control is at a crossroads — not because we are approaching the deadline on an extension of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, but because China’s nuclear expansion threatens to upend decades of relative nuclear stability between the United States and Russia.

The United States and Russia have been reducing their strategic nuclear arsenals since the end of the Cold War. The 1991 Start Treaty allowed each side 6,000 deployable strategic nuclear warheads; the 2010 treaty, known as New Start, lowered that limit to 1,550 operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads.

But stability at these lower force levels will be challenged by China’s nuclear ambitions. China is clearly moving away from the small, limited nuclear force of its past. It is fielding modern land- and sea-based strategic systems and plans to introduce an air-launched ballistic missile delivered by heavy bombers in the near future, achieving its own strategic nuclear triad.

The Defense Intelligence Agency estimates that China will at least double the size of its nuclear arsenal over the next decade and is building the production capacity to expand it further. Given China’s secrecy about its nuclear forces, and its manifestly aggressive strategic intentions, this nuclear expansion may go even further, well beyond Beijing’s old “minimum deterrence” doctrine.

Still, it is in China’s interest to reverse its dangerous nuclear buildup, lest it set off a nuclear arms race involving the United States and Russia, and perhaps encourage other nuclear powers to increase their forces to keep pace.

Meanwhile, the United States is replacing its aging nuclear weapons systems. Our intention is to remain within the New Start limits of 700 strategic missiles and bombers and 1,550 deployed strategic warheads.

But as Chinese nuclear forces grow in size and sophistication, the United States will have no choice but to reassess and adjust its own nuclear force requirements. In the past, the United States classified China’s small nuclear arsenal as a subset of U.S. nuclear force requirements, which have been largely driven by the Soviet and then Russian threat.

But this will not remain the case if U.S. nuclear forces remain at historically low levels and China’s continue to expand with no discernible constraint. And the less we know about what China is doing and why, the more the United States must rely on worst case scenarios to size its nuclear forces accordingly.

China’s nuclear expansion and its refusal to engage in meaningful dialogue will affect stability on multiple levels. Increased U.S. nuclear force requirements to ensure credible deterrence against China would affect the United States-Russia strategic nuclear balance and threaten to undermine the prospects for further negotiated reductions. We should assume that Russia will also assess the implications of China’s expansion.

The American special envoy for arms control, Marshall Billingslea, made these points to his Russian counterpart during a meeting in June in Vienna. Russia should clearly see its own self-interest in helping to bring China into discussions on arms control.

These talks need not focus on making China part of an extended New Start agreement. But renewing the treaty for the United States and Russia without conditions for bringing China into a broader arms control process carries risks for future security, even if today it seems the easiest course to take. All the great powers must be invested in such a process.

We ask China to recognize its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to negotiate in good faith on limiting and reducing nuclear arms and, more generally, to take steps toward greater transparency. Transparency is important to foster greater trust and lessen the chance of miscalculation during a crisis. That first step is joining the United States and Russia at the table in Vienna.

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Those of us charged with ensuring the defense of the United States call on Congress and our allies to help make the case to Russia and China that it is in the interests of all nations to broaden the current arms control framework to verifiably limit the nuclear weapons of all three major powers to secure a more stable and prosperous future.

More from The Times on nuclear weapons.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.

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James Anderson is the acting under secretary of defense for policy.

Iran Shows It’s Military Might (Daniel 8:4)

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard launches underground ballistic missiles during exercise

Ballistic missile fire detected from the drill resulted in American troops being put on alert at Al-Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and Al-Udeid Air Base, the forward headquarters of the US military’s Central Command in Qatar, the military said.

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard launched underground ballistic missiles as part of an exercise involving a fake aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz, state television reported Wednesday, the latest barrage in a drill that saw two American bases temporarily go on alert over the launches.

Ballistic missile fire detected from the drill resulted in American troops being put on alert at Al-Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi pin the United Arab Emirates and Al-Udeid Air Base, the forward headquarters of the US military’s Central Command in Qatar, the military said. Troops sought cover during that time.

Al-Dhafra also is temporarily home to five French-built Rafale fighter jets on their way to India for that country’s air force. Drones separately targeted the bridge of the fake aircraft carrier, according to the state TV report. The TV did not immediately air footage of the launches or the drone attack, nor did it identify the missiles used in the drill. However, the message of the drill was clearly targeted at the United States.

A semiofficial news agency close to the Guard published a graphic overnight that photoshopped the image of an American carrier into the shape of a casket, with a caption quoting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pledging to seek revenge for the US drone strike that killed a top Iranian general in January.

The drill and the American response to it underlined the lingering threat of military conflict between Iran and the US after a series of escalating incidents last year led to the January drone strike. Tehran responded to that strike by firing ballistic missiles that wounded dozens of American forces in Iraq.

While the coronavirus pandemic has engulfed both Iran and the US for months, there has been a growing confrontation as America argues to extend a yearslong UN weapons embargo on Tehran that is due to expire in October.

A recent incident over Syria involving an American jet fighter approaching an Iranian passenger plane also has renewed tensions. Iranian commandos fast-roped down from a helicopter onto the replica in the footage aired Tuesday from the exercise called ?Great Prophet 14.? Anti-aircraft guns opened fire on a target drone near the port city of Bandar Abbas.

State television footage also showed a variety of missiles being fired from fast boats, trucks, mobile launchers and a helicopter, some targeting the fake carrier. A commander said the Guard, a force answerable only to Khamenei, planned to fire ”long-range ballistic missiles” as well during the drill that continued Wednesday.

”The incident lasted for a matter of minutes and an all clear was declared after the threat … had passed,” said US Army Maj. Beth Riordan, a Central Command spokeswoman. Both bases are hundreds of kilometers (miles) away from where Iran put the replica aircraft carrier.

Other footage from the exercise aired by Iran’s state television showed fast boats encircling the mock-up carrier, kicking up white waves in their wake. While Iran’s naval forces are dwarfed by the US Navy, its commanders practice so-called ?swarm? tactics aimed at overwhelming the US carriers that pass through the strait on their way in and out of the Persian Gulf.

It wasn’t immediately clear if all the footage was from Tuesday, as one overhead surveillance image that appeared to be shot by a drone bore Monday’s date. The exercise had been expected as satellite photos released Monday showed the fake carrier being moved into place by a tugboat. A black-and-white satellite photo taken Tuesday by Colorado-based firm Maxar Technologies showed damage to the replica’s bow and several of its fake jet fighters.

Iran Mocks Attack Against Babylon the Great (Daniel 8:4)

In this photo released Tuesday, July 28, 2020, by Sepahnews, Revolutionary Guard’s speed boats circle around a replica aircraft carrier during a military exercise. Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard fired a missile from a helicopter targeting the mock-up aircraft carrier in the strategic Strait…   (Associated Press)

Iran missiles target fake carrier as US bases go on alert | Newser

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard launched missiles Tuesday targeting a mock aircraft carrier in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a drill that included such a barrage of fire the U.S. military temporarily put two regional bases in the Mideast on alert amid tensions between the two countries. 

The drill — and the American response to it — underlined the lingering threat of military conflict between Iran and the U.S. after a series of escalating incidents last year led to an American drone strike killing a top Iranian general in Baghdad. Tehran responded to that strike by firing ballistic missiles that wounded dozens of American forces in Iraq. 

While the coronavirus pandemic has engulfed both Iran and the U.S. for months, there has been a growing confrontation as America argues to extend a yearslong U.N. weapons embargo on Tehran that is due to expire in October. A recent incident over Syria involving an American jet fighter approaching an Iranian passenger plane also has renewed tensions. 

Iranian commandos fast-roped down from a helicopter onto the replica in the footage aired Tuesday from the exercise called “Great Prophet 14.” Anti-aircraft guns opened fire on a target drone near the port city of Bandar Abbas. 

State television footage also showed a variety of missiles being fired from fast boats, trucks, mobile launchers and a helicopter, some targeting the fake carrier. A commander said the Guard, a force answerable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, planned to fire “long-range ballistic missiles” as well during the drill that will continue Wednesday. 

Ballistic missile fire detected from the drill resulted in American troops being put on alert at Al-Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and Al-Udeid Air Base, the forward headquarters of the U.S. military’s Central Command in Qatar, the military said. Troops sought cover during that time.

“The incident lasted for a matter of minutes and an all clear was declared after the threat … had passed,” said U.S. Army Maj. Beth Riordan, a Central Command spokeswoman.

Both bases are hundreds of kilometers (miles) away from where Iran put the replica aircraft carrier. 

Al-Dhafra also is temporarily home to five French-built Rafale fighter jets on their way to India for that country’s air force.

Other footage from the exercise aired by state television showed fast boats encircling the mock-up, kicking up white waves in their wake. While Iran’s naval forces are dwarfed by the U.S. Navy, its commanders practice so-called “swarm” tactics aimed at overwhelming the U.S. carriers that pass through the strait on their way in and out of the Persian Gulf. 

It wasn’t immediately clear if all the footage was from Tuesday, as one overhead surveillance image that appeared to be shot by a drone bore Monday’s date. The exercise had been expected as satellite photos released Monday showed the fake carrier being moved into place by a tugboat. 

A black-and-white satellite photo taken Tuesday by Colorado-based firm Maxar Technologies showed damage to the replica’s bow and several of its fake jet fighters.

“Our policies to protect the vital interests of the dear nation of Iran are defensive, in the sense that we will not invade any country from the beginning, but we are completely aggressive in tactics and operations,” Gen. Hossein Salami, the head of the Guard, was quoted as saying. “What was shown today at this exercise at the level of aerospace and naval forces was all offensive.”

State TV footage also showed Guard scuba forces underwater, followed by a cutaway to a blast hole just above the waterline on the replica carrier. 

That appeared to be a not-so-subtle reminder of U.S. accusations last year that Iran planted limpet mines on passing oil tankers near the strait, which exploded on the vessels in the same area. Iran has repeatedly denied the actions, though footage captured by the American military showed Guard members remove an unexploded mine from one vessel.

The replica used in the drill resembles the Nimitz-class carriers that the U.S. Navy routinely sails into the Persian Gulf from the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the waterway through which 20% of all oil traded in the world passes. The USS Nimitz, the namesake of the class, just entered Mideast waters late last week from the Indian Ocean, likely to replace the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Arabian Sea.

It remains unclear when or if the Nimitz will pass through the Strait of Hormuz or not during its time in the Mideast. The USS Abraham Lincoln, deployed last year as tensions initially spiked, spent months in the Arabian Sea before heading through the strait. The Eisenhower came through the strait early last week.

To Iran, which shares the strait with Oman, the American naval presence is akin to Iranian forces sailing into the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Florida. But the U.S. Navy stresses the strait is an international waterway crucial to global shipping and energy supplies. Even as America now relies less on Mideast oil, a major disruption in the region could see prices rapidly rise. 

Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet that patrols the Mideast, said officials were aware of an Iranian exercise she described as “attempting to intimidate and coerce.” 

“While we are always watchful of this type of irresponsible and reckless behavior by Iran in the vicinity of busy international waterways, this exercise has not disrupted coalition operations in the area nor had any impacts to the free flow of commerce in the Strait of Hormuz and surrounding waters,” Rebarich said.

___

Associated Press journalists Amir Vahdat and Mohammad Nasiri in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.

India’s New First Use Policy (Revelation 8 )

India Nuclear posture, Policy Shift from No First use to First Use

Abdul HaseebJuly 28, 2020

Nuclear weapons have revolutionized the strategic affairs, but the threat of unbearable destruction caused by these weapons persuaded strategic scholars to think about using these weapons for deterrent purposes and prevent their further proliferation. Every Nuclear Weapon State formulates a Policy according to its threatperception. The creation of the Nuclear Weapon and the consequent nuclear capabilitiespositioned at the behest of Nuclear states has produced a significant dilemma for theinternational community. Harnessing nuclear energy has provided acquirers with a destructive force so devastating, that it has alarmed the global intellectual circles. India’s obscure nuclear Doctrine of no first use in its declaratory form has changed partially if not majorly after it was first announced by Nuclear Security Advisory Board (NSAB), a group of non-governmental experts, in 1999.

Later on, though the Indian government claimed that it is not an official paper but what was written in the text of (NSAB), much of it was already being stated within various official statements. The 1999 document was based on minimum deterrent force but which would also be credible and survivable according to the changing strategic environment. The 1999 doctrine emphasized the need for reliable nuclear power, which would be able to survive the first strike against it and as well as underlined the need for strict political control over nuclear forces. NSAB document also emphasized India’s Nuclear disarmament objectives, but with this, it also discussedthe nuclear triad. However, when details of the official Nuclear Doctrine released in 2003, it was the same as the document published in 1999. Still, there were changes also in this new officially crafted document statement. The Indian Nuclear Doctrine asserts that nuclear weapons are only for Deterrence, and Retaliation is a policy which India will pursue in case of any threat. The NFU policy manifests that India will not be the first country to use nuclear weapons, but if attacked by nuclear weapons, it will retaliate massively.The DND clearly announced its NFU posture, whereby nuclear weapons only used as the retaliatory option against nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. The No Frist use policy is effectively cashed by Indian diplomats, government spokespeople, and various other groups as proof to show the world their commitments as a responsible nuclear state.

“As a responsible nuclear power, India has a policy of credible minimum Deterrence based on a no-first-use posture and non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states… We are prepared to convert these into bilateral or multilateral legally binding arrangements.”

Twenty-two years since the nuclearization of South Asia, the nuclear capabilities and doctrines of Pakistan and India have evolved through considerable alterations.The shift from NFU to FU would have drastic implications for the South Asian region since it could very well disturb the balance of power in the region resulting in the eruption of a nuclear arms race between Pakistan and India. The Indian state has long maintained a minimum credible deterrent, which does not depend on the adversary’s Nuclear stockpile but the ability of the state to ensure a retaliatory strike large enough to inflict “unacceptable damage” and hence ensure Deterrence. The change could also increase the security dilemma in the region, subsequently raising the risk of war through miscalculation. The move from counter-value targeting to counter-force targeting would call for the revamping of Indian nuclear stockpile and nuclear technology. Ensuring the complete detection and elimination of Pakistan’s nuclear capacity would need impressive precision and vast improvements in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. It would require heavy financial backing, putting immense pressure on an already burdened economy. The impact of a nuclear posture change on the foreign policy of the state could be worse since India has long been projecting itself as a responsible nuclear weapon state to the world. This aggressive posture would seriously damage this claim and its standing in the international community. The benign façade has helped India secure crucial international deals such as the NSG waiver as part of the 2008 India-US nuclear deal.

Moreover, India also seeks to join the NSG as a permanent member; the shift would only provide states with substance to stop this from happening. Also, it would give Pakistan a chance to malign India at the international stage accusing it of destabilizing the region’s power balance. India currently does not possess the capability to maintain a high level of accuracy and respond in real-time. Finally, the Indian military nuclear program has been built and structured to suit its no-first-use posture; a change would thus need a complete restructuring of this program and its essential technological factors.

A comprehensive assessment needs to be made by Indian authorities about the policy options at their disposal before taking further action to avoid harm to the Indian state as well as other states in its vicinity. Destabilizing the strategic balance in the region and will result in catastrophe. The nuclear environmentstabilized by India having a no first use (NFU) policy giving India’s conventional strength against Pakistan. So, no scenario needs to use nuclear weapons first against Pakistan. Secondly, India is in a position where their Nuclear forces are in a place to deter nuclear use against it, which enables it to select or adopt no first use policy.

Moving away from no first use policy will have severe implications on India. First is that adopting a FU option will put both India and Pakistan in the dilemma of first-strike instability for which Pakistan might have fear for survivability. India having a policy, is a firewall in a potential conflict between both India and Pakistan.

Further, if India adopts the first-use option, then it will directly affect their global aims and visions. For example, they are continuously striving to get a permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Recently India got wavier from the United States in the case of NSG. All these actions and global aims of India indicate that they are moving towards a liberal environment, and their economy is still rising. So, if they adopt the policy of FU, then their mere focus will be profoundly moving to their nuclear program,which will not besuitable for India in any case. The Strategic Ally of India in the South Asian region is the United States, and one of India’s primary foreign policy goals is to contain China in the region with support from the US. If India shifts its policy of nuclear use option from NFU to FU, then naturally, China will have to adopt the same policy of FU.

Nonetheless, a drastic change in the shift of nuclear policy would not suit the Indian state in the current era. Without any doubt, India’s nuclear posture and expansion are forcing Pakistan, a relatively weak state in terms of conventional capability, into a security dilemma. In any case, the cons outweigh the pros in this case. Hence, sticking to the current nuclear policy with minor adjustments could be suitable for the Indian state, but a drastic change would only damage its interests.

Abdul Haseeb is about to complete his degree in Strategic Studies from National Defence University Pakistan.His major area of interest includes Strategic stability in South Asia. Geo-Politicsin Indo-Pacific Ocean, Program and Policies of nuclear weapon state, Foreign Policy of Pakistan and US, Cybersecurity and National security and Threat Perception

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Defense

75th Anniversary of Trinity Nuclear Test & Possible Resumption of Nuclear Testing

Published

4 hours ago

on

July 29, 2020

Trinity test untethered the nuclear demon with potential apocalyptic power. According to United States, 1945’s Japan needed a psychological shock strong enough to make it surrender unconditionally at the cost of putting future generations on the verge of irreversible calamity. The uncertainty attached with these nuclear tests remain unpredictable even after 75 years with two devastating nuclear attacks, crises like Cuban missile crisis, and more than 2000 nuclear explosive tests. Although nuclear non-proliferation and arms control has a predominant place in nuclear realm to contain the unleashed demon with consequential threats, yet nuclear testing remained a practiced phenomenon.

Trinity test took place under strained circumstances, war pressure and complete uncertainty of results. The uncalculated risks taken at the time of first explosion and unsatisfying anti-radioactive measures following the tests were strong enough to convince the administrative and decision-making body to realize the emerging challenges in the wake of nuclear weapon discovery. Scientist are always afraid of being accused of providing mass destructive means to nations. The committee headed by German scientist James Frank issued the Frank Report, that attempted to first demonstrate the power of the weapons to members of the United Nations. Yet, there were no signs of reconsideration of retreating from use of nuclear bomb and begin with pure deterrence with just a warning of use of nukes. It was due to the fact that Truman wanted to end the war soon and maybe because Japan seemed to be stubborn enough to consider the warning.

United States reserves the pride of being an initiator nuclear weapon state with the legacy of conducting more than half of up-till-date global nuclear device tests. U.S. nuclear testing practice is on a hold since 1992 as a result of nuclear test ban treaty. Recently, U.S. officials alarmed the world with possibility of resuming nuclear weapon tests. The reasons behind are less technical -checking the reliability of nuclear stockpiles- and more political in nature. It is surely another psychological shock from the United States, this time not for any single war mongering state but the whole world.

The assumption that the U.S.’ proposed trilateral arms control initiative would get a strong base to get into reality, through the imposed political pressure on other major nuclear powers, is a mere credulity. Threat of resuming nuclear testing adds to the mistrust among the nuclear weapon states. Following U.S. footsteps, the allied nuclear weapon states could take up the same course, putting rival nations in security dilemma and the domino effect would emerge. It would further devalue the already waning and uncertain future arms control accords. The clear clash of security interests is likely to emerge as a result of United States re-testing while compelling others to follow the course. Resumption of nuclear testing by all existing nuclear weapon states would be resulting in the filling up of nuclear weapons knowledge gap that existed all long the decades providing U.S. with the edge over other nuclear weapon states.

United States needs to address the fact that as a pioneer nuclear weapon state, it is being followed by both, the competitor and friendly nuclear weapon states in its policies and nuclear strategies. Russia and China, as a result, would get more reluctant towards any trilateral approach regarding nuclear arms in near future. In emerging multipolar world post-Covid-19 crisis and potential threats of future crises situation, nuclear testing would stand as an inevitable threat. The decision of resuming nuclear testing would bring about a whole new development in nuclear realm with further weakening of the disarmament cause.

Worsening conditions outside the Temple Walls lead more Palestinians to take their own lives

Gaza 2020: Worsening conditions lead more Palestinians to take their own lives

An increase in suicides in the first half of 2020 illustrates the dire psychological impact of the Israeli siege on Gaza residents

Twenty-three years after he was released from an Israeli prison, Jamal Wadi still struggled with the aftermath of his experience. After three decades of suffering from severe psychological trauma and mental health issues, the 54-year-old Palestinian took his own life on 21 June.

What Palestinians experience goes beyond the PTSD label

The Gaza Strip has been witnessing a surge in suicide rates as it entered its 14th year under a crushing Israeli-led blockade.

The Gaza-based Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights reported that at least 16 people have taken their own lives and hundreds of others attempted suicide in Gaza in the first half of 2020.

Whether influenced by economic difficulties, the traumatic impact of Israeli occupation policies or other factors, rights groups say the surge in suicide attempts is very concerning.

In 2012, the United Nations cautioned that Gaza would be “unlivable” by 2020 given the strains of the crippling siege and the devastation caused by three wars since 2007, numerous smaller military altercations and a brutally repressed protest movement.

Halfway through the year, the sad rise in suicides shows that for many, this warning has taken on another tragic meaning.

‘If I don’t die, they will kill me’

“Since we got married more than 20 years ago, I do not remember seeing Jamal emotionally and mentally stable except during the three months that followed our wedding,” Wadi’s wife, Mervat, told Middle East Eye. “He was a totally different person back then.”

Soon after their wedding in the early 1990s, Wadi was detained by Israeli forces. 

“I thought his imprisonment would last for a couple of days or weeks, but he was imprisoned for seven years,” Mervat said.

Mervat started to notice changes in Wadi’s mental health during prison visits every two weeks, but did not expect that this would lead to severe psychological trauma that would change their entire life.

‘We are more tired than afraid’: Finding strength amid darkness in Gaza

“Almost every time I visited him, I would notice that he had been beaten. They used to keep him in solitary confinement for long periods of time,” she recalled. “I could see that he was not the same anymore. His eyes and the way he looked around him, he was not the same person I married a few months earlier.”

After he was released in 1997, Wadi’s family started a long journey of medical tests and hospital visits to treat what they thought was “only a trauma”, before they were informed that he was suffering from long-term mental and psychological disorders, including schizophrenia, grand mal seizures, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Despite having found employment working for the Palestinian Authority, achieving an often elusive degree of financial stability for Gaza, Wadi struggled to adjust to life after prison.

“He always repeated that he was afraid to go back to prison, and had hallucinations that Israeli forces would break in the house and detain him at any moment,” Wadi’s brother, Sami, told MEE. “No matter how much we tried to reassure him, he would never believe us. He would always scream ‘if I don’t die, they will kill me’.

“But we did not expect such trauma would lead to suicide.”

His relatives believe Wadi took his own life as he saw it as the only way to “rest reassured that he would not return to prison” again.

“We were in complete shock. We have never expected that this would actually happen,” Sami said. 

But, Sami pointed out, “Jamal is not the only case. I know many freed prisoners who also attempted to commit suicide”.

According to prisoners’ rights organisation Addameer, some 4,700 Palestinians are currently incarcerated by Israel – including 267 from the Gaza Strip.

Growing desperation 

Palestinians have attributed the increase in suicide attempts to the worsening humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip. 

‘No other party is responsible for the occupation’s silent killing of Palestinians’

– Sami, brother of  Jamal Wadi

According to the European Union, the blockade and recurrent hostilities in the coastal enclave have weakened the local economy to the point where some 1.5 million people – around 80 percent of the total population of Gaza – remain aid dependent.

Since the imposition of the siege in 2007, the number of businesses in Gaza has decreased from 3,500 to 250, according to the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor. Today, nearly 54 percent of families in the Gaza Strip live below the poverty line.

Measures taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic have further exacerbated the economic crisis in Gaza, with nearly 26,500 people losing their jobs in the first three months of 2020.

In the first quarter of 2020, the unemployment rate reached 46 percent, compared to around 42.7 percent in the last quarter of 2019, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), revealing how dire the situation was before 2020 – a year that has seen economies across the world mark major losses. 

The worrying numbers are “a testament to the desperation and severe mental health impacts of the closure”, said Nuriya Oswald, the international legal and advocacy director at Al Mezan, adding that those working in the once thriving fishing and agriculture sectors in Gaza are particularly vulnerable due to the threats of Israeli military violence and restrictions impacting their livelihoods.

Haitham Arafat, a 37-year-old father of four, has found himself in dire financial straits after being unable to repay his debts.

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In early July, he attempted to set himself on fire, but was saved by passersby.

“I receive a monthly salary from the Palestinian Authority, but nothing of it remains for me and my children due to my heavy debts,” Arafat said. “I tried to work in many fields to secure another salary but I could not. I have a health problem with my hand that hospitals and doctors in Gaza could not diagnose. I cannot hold anything heavy.”

“I got fed up of feeling helpless. My children are always hungry and I cannot do anything but watch them cry,” Arafat told MEE.

Israel and its allies – including, most recently, US officials in the United Nations – have repeatedly blamed Gaza’s economic, security and psychological woes on the enclave’s de facto leadership, helmed by the Hamas movement.

But many Palestinians, including Wadi’s family, strongly reject these accusations.

“The occupation is to blame; no other party is responsible for the occupation’s silent killing of Palestinians,” Sami said. “My brother and hundreds others who committed or attempted to commit suicide once loved life. But life under occupation has been suffocating to the extent people are starting to prefer death.”

Unlivable conditions

Arafat, who was the only member of his family to survive the Sabra and Shatila massacre in 1982 as an infant, says he feels left alone to face an “unbearable situation”.

Resources exist in Gaza to help people struggling with mental health issues and suicidal thoughts – including the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme

Although there is indeed a rise in the number of suicide attempts, Dr Youssef Awadallah, a psychologist based in the Gaza Strip, told MEE that he was refraining from classifying it as a broad trend in Gaza. 

“In 2019, 22 suicides were registered in all of the Strip, where some two million residents live,” he explained. “We cannot call this a phenomenon, but it is true that the dire economic and social conditions in the Strip are main factors that contribute to exacerbating the problem.” 

Awadallah noted that, contrary to some perceptions, suicide attempts often stem from long periods of personal struggle.

“The idea of suicide does not just suddenly pop into someone’s head and then they commit suicide; it is a result of days and months of deep thinking, when the suicidal (person) becomes convinced that ending their life is indeed a way of relief,” he explained.

Resources exist in Gaza to help people struggling with mental health issues and suicidal thoughts – including the helpline of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme.

While the causes of suicidal thinking are complex and varied, residents of Gaza repeatedly point to the context in which they live as contributing to people’s struggle with mental health.

“If only there was no occupation. Who would think of suicide in Gaza then?” Arafat asked. “We are capable of being independent and leading successful lives, but sleeping and waking up to the same suffocating situation is draining.”