The Sixth Seal Will be in New York (Revelation 6:12)

By Simon Worrall

PUBLISHED AUGUST 26, 2017

Half a million earthquakes occur worldwide each year, according to an estimate by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Most are too small to rattle your teacup. But some, like the 2011 quake off the coast of Japan or last year’s disaster in Italy, can level high-rise buildings, knock out power, water and communications, and leave a lifelong legacy of trauma for those unlucky enough to be caught in them.

In the U.S., the focus is on California’s San Andreas fault, which geologists suggest has a nearly one-in-five chance of causing a major earthquake in the next three decades. But it’s not just the faults we know about that should concern us, says Kathryn Miles, author of Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake. As she explained when National Geographic caught up with her at her home in Portland, Maine, there’s a much larger number of faults we don’t know about—and fracking is only adding to the risks.

When it comes to earthquakes, there is really only one question everyone wants to know: When will the big one hit California?

That’s the question seismologists wish they could answer, too! One of the most shocking and surprising things for me is just how little is actually known about this natural phenomenon. The geophysicists, seismologists, and emergency managers that I spoke with are the first to say, “We just don’t know!”

What we can say is that it is relatively certain that a major earthquake will happen in California in our lifetime. We don’t know where or when. An earthquake happening east of San Diego out in the desert is going to have hugely different effects than that same earthquake happening in, say, Los Angeles. They’re both possible, both likely, but we just don’t know.

One of the things that’s important to understand about San Andreas is that it’s a fault zone. As laypeople we tend to think about it as this single crack that runs through California and if it cracks enough it’s going to dump the state into the ocean. But that’s not what’s happening here. San Andreas is a huge fault zone, which goes through very different types of geological features. As a result, very different types of earthquakes can happen in different places.

As Charles Richter, inventor of the Richter Scale, famously said, “Only fools, liars and charlatans predict earthquakes.” Why are earthquakes so hard to predict? After all, we have sent rockets into space and plumbed the depths of the ocean.

You’re right: We know far more about distant galaxies than we do about the inner workings of our planet. The problem is that seismologists can’t study an earthquake because they don’t know when or where it’s going to happen. It could happen six miles underground or six miles under the ocean, in which case they can’t even witness it. They can go back and do forensic, post-mortem work. But we still don’t know where most faults lie. We only know where a fault is after an earthquake has occurred. If you look at the last 100 years of major earthquakes in the U.S., they’ve all happened on faults we didn’t even know existed.

Earthquakes 101

Earthquakes are unpredictable and can strike with enough force to bring buildings down. Find out what causes earthquakes, why they’re so deadly, and what’s being done to help buildings sustain their hits.

Fracking is a relatively new industry. Many people believe that it can cause what are known as induced earthquakes. What’s the scientific consensus?

The scientific consensus is that a practice known as wastewater injection undeniably causes earthquakes when the geological features are conducive. In the fracking process, water and lubricants are injected into the earth to split open the rock, so oil and natural gas can be retrieved. As this happens, wastewater is also retrieved and brought back to the surface.

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Different states deal with this in different ways. Some states, like Pennsylvania, favor letting the wastewater settle in aboveground pools, which can cause run-off contamination of drinking supplies. Other states, like Oklahoma, have chosen to re-inject the water into the ground. And what we’re seeing in Oklahoma is that this injection is enough to shift the pressure inside the earth’s core, so that daily earthquakes are happening in communities like Stillwater. As our technology improves, and both our ability and need to extract more resources from the earth increases, our risk of causing earthquakes will also rise exponentially.

After Fukushima, the idea of storing nuclear waste underground cannot be guaranteed to be safe. Yet President Trump has recently green-lighted new funds for the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada. Is that wise?

The issue with Fukushima was not about underground nuclear storage but it is relevant. The Tohoku earthquake, off the coast of Japan, was a massive, 9.0 earthquake—so big that it shifted the axis of the earth and moved the entire island of Japan some eight centimeters! It also created a series of tsunamis, which swamped the Fukushima nuclear power plant to a degree the designers did not believe was possible.

Here in the U.S., we have nuclear plants that are also potentially vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis, above all on the East Coast, like Pilgrim Nuclear, south of Boston, or Indian Point, north of New York City. Both of these have been deemed by the USGS to have an unacceptable level of seismic risk. [Both are scheduled to close in the next few years.]

Yucca Mountain is meant to address our need to store the huge amounts of nuclear waste that have been accumulating for more than 40 years. Problem number one is getting it out of these plants. We are going to have to somehow truck or train these spent fuel rods from, say, Boston, to a place like Yucca Mountain, in Nevada. On the way it will have to go through multiple earthquake zones, including New Madrid, which is widely considered to be one of the country’s most dangerous earthquake zones.

Yucca Mountain itself has had seismic activity. Ultimately, there’s no great place to put nuclear waste—and there’s no guarantee that where we do put it is going to be safe.

The psychological and emotional effects of an earthquake are especially harrowing. Why is that?

This is a fascinating and newly emerging subfield within psychology, which looks at the effects of natural disasters on both our individual and collective psyches. Whenever you experience significant trauma, you’re going to see a huge increase in PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicide, and even violent behaviors.

What seems to make earthquakes particularly pernicious is the surprise factor. A tornado will usually give people a few minutes, if not longer, to prepare; same thing with hurricanes. But that doesn’t happen with an earthquake. There is nothing but profound surprise. And the idea that the bedrock we walk and sleep upon can somehow become liquid and mobile seems to be really difficult for us to get our heads around.

Psychologists think that there are two things happening. One is a PTSD-type loop where our brain replays the trauma again and again, manifesting itself in dreams or panic attacks during the day. But there also appears to be a physiological effect as well as a psychological one. If your readers have ever been at sea for some time and then get off the ship and try to walk on dry land, they know they will look like drunkards. [Laughs] The reason for this is that the inner ear has habituated itself to the motion of the ship. We think the inner ear does something similar in the case of earthquakes, in an attempt to make sense of this strange, jarring movement.

After the Abruzzo quake in Italy, seven seismologists were actually tried and sentenced to six years in jail for failing to predict the disaster. Wouldn’t a similar threat help improve the prediction skills of American seismologists?

[Laughs] The scientific community was uniform in denouncing that action by the Italian government because, right now, earthquakes are impossible to predict. But the question of culpability is an important one. To what degree do we want to hold anyone responsible? Do we want to hold the local meteorologist responsible if he gets the weather forecast wrong? [Laughs]

What scientists say—and I don’t think this is a dodge on their parts—is, “Predicting earthquakes is the Holy Grail; it’s not going to happen in our lifetime. It may never happen.” What we can do is work on early warning systems, where we can at least give people 30 or 90 seconds to make a few quick decisive moves that could well save your life. We have failed to do that. But Mexico has had one in place for years!

There is some evidence that animals can predict earthquakes. Is there any truth to these theories?

All we know right now is anecdotal information because this is so hard to test for. We don’t know where the next earthquake is going to be so we can’t necessarily set up cameras and observe the animals there. So we have to rely on these anecdotal reports, say, of reptiles coming out of the ground prior to a quake. The one thing that was recorded here in the U.S. recently was that in the seconds before an earthquake in Oklahoma huge flocks of birds took flight. Was that coincidence? Related? We can’t draw that correlation yet.

One of the fascinating new approaches to prediction is the MyQuake app. Tell us how it works—and why it could be an especially good solution for Third World countries.

The USGS desperately wants to have it funded. The reluctance appears to be from Congress. A consortium of universities, in conjunction with the USGS, has been working on some fascinating tools. One is a dense network of seismographs that feed into a mainframe computer, which can take all the information and within nanoseconds understand that an earthquake is starting.

MyQuake is an app where you can get up to date information on what’s happening around the world. What’s fascinating is that our phones can also serve as seismographs. The same technology that knows which way your phone is facing, and whether it should show us an image in portrait or landscape, registers other kinds of movement. Scientists at UC Berkeley are looking to see if they can crowd source that information so that in places where we don’t have a lot of seismographs or measuring instruments, like New York City or Chicago or developing countries like Nepal, we can use smart phones both to record quakes and to send out early warning notices to people.

You traveled all over the U.S. for your research. Did you return home feeling safer?

I do not feel safer in the sense that I had no idea just how much risk regions of this country face on a daily basis when it comes to seismic hazards. We tend to think of this as a West Coast problem but it’s not! It’s a New York, Memphis, Seattle, or Phoenix problem. Nearly every major urban center in this country is at risk of a measurable earthquake.

What I do feel safer about is knowing what I can do as an individual. I hope that is a major take-home message for people who read the book. There are so many things we should be doing as individuals, family members, or communities to minimize this risk: simple things from having a go-bag and an emergency plan amongst the family to larger things like building codes.

We know that a major earthquake is going to happen. It’s probably going to knock out our communications lines. Phones aren’t going to work, Wi-Fi is going to go down, first responders are not going to be able to get to people for quite some time. So it is beholden on all of us to make sure we can survive until help can get to us.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

How Babylon the Great Empowered the Nuclear Horns (Daniel 8 )

World War 3: How ‘monumental’ CIA blunder ‘handed N. Korea and Iran nuclear bomb secret’

WORLD WAR 3 seemed like more than just a possibility during the Cold War, but while the CIA channelled their focus on the Soviet Union, a Pakistani spy managed to gain access to highly classified nuclear secrets in Holland which were later sold to North Korea and Iran, according to claims.

By CALLUM HOARE

PUBLISHED: 17:11, Sat, Jul 25, 2020

UPDATED: 21:47, Sat, Jul 25, 2020

In the Seventies, Dutch technician Frits Veerman worked on a British, German and Dutch uranium enrichment programme at the Physical Dynamic Research Laboratory (FDO), a subsidiary of VMF-Stork in Amsterdam. Mr Veerman, now in his seventies, became a whistleblower on his colleague and best friend – the infamous Pakistani nuclear spy Abdul Qadeer Khan – a man the CIA called “more dangerous than Osama Bin Laden”. In his country though, the nuclear physicist and metallurgist was known as the “father of uranium enrichment project” for his nation’s clandestine atomic bomb programme – he was part of a team who developed the technology.

When Mr Veerman discovered that Khan was a spy, he repeatedly reported Khan to the authorities but says he was ignored, allowing Khan to escape with nuclear blueprints and centrifuge parts from his Amsterdam workplace. 

Khan went on to help build Pakistan’s nuclear bomb with the data gained at FDO and then sold the technology and know-how to North Korea and Iran, sources inside Pakistan have claimed.

Mr Veerman was fired, and claims that for decades he was harassed by security agencies to keep silent.

Now 84, Khan is living under unofficial house arrest in Pakistan, the Financial Times reports.

Frits Veerman worked at the Physical Dynamic Research Laboratory (FDO) (Image: FDO)

They claim he has long had an up-and-down relationship with the authorities and is closely escorted by security officials during his restricted movements, while any visitors to his home are screened in advance. 

Born in Bhopal, British India, in 1936, he went to study in Berlin, and in 1963 switched to the Dutch technical university, Delft, to study metallurgy.

It was not until 1972 that he would join FDO as a metallurgical scientist – who were designing ultracentrifuges for Urenco – a company with a plant in Almelo.

The Dutch did not have atomic bombs and the enrichment was intended for peaceful nuclear energy, but with a little extra work, it could be used for a far more deadly purpose.

FDO had specified that Khan should not work on ultracentrifuges and noted that his wife’s family was Dutch. 

The Dutch intelligence service, then called the Binnenlandse Veiligheidsdienst (BVD), cleared him for secret work and so, that same year, Khan and Mr Veerman started working together.

Mr Veerman started suspecting his colleague was a spy when Khan reportedly invited him to stay in Pakistan, adding that the government would cover his entire trip.

But those fears were crystallised after he apparently saw drawings of centrifuges and classified reports scattered across Khan’s home.

Eventually, Veerman recalls that he went to a phone booth on Amsterdam’s Czaar Peterstraat and rang the director of Ultra-Centrifuge Nederland, which oversaw Dutch ultracentrifuges, but his concerns were reportedly not addressed.

Abdul Qadeer Khan reportedly stole nuclear secrets for Pakistan (Image: GETTY)

Mr Veerman says he reported his suspicions (Image: VMF)

He told the FT: “I should have gone there and rung at the door and told the directorate, and it would all have ended differently. 

“But I wasn’t that mouthy then.”

He says he mentioned his suspicions to senior people at FDO, but they did not seem interested either.

Khan reportedly carried on to be allowed to roam around the plant at Urenco despite lacking the right security clearance. 

In May 1974, India tested its first nuclear weapon and Khan wrote to Pakistani officials, offering to help build one of their own. 

In September, the Prime Minister at the time, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, decided to gamble on him and Pakistan’s embassy in The Hague contacted Khan, according to reports.

Former Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, reportedly asked for help (Image: GETTY)

Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins wrote in their 2007 book ‘The Nuclear Jihadist’ that his employers asked him to translate German documents describing a new centrifuge into Dutch. 

He did the work at the “brain box” in Almelo, where the plant’s most sensitive information was kept. 

But others had now begun to suspect him.

In October 1975, at a nuclear trade show in Basel, Dutch BVD agents trailed Khan as he questioned vendors about nuclear weapons. 

The BVD made plans to arrest him at FDO when he arrived for work one morning, write Mr Frantz and Ms Collins. 

They add that the Dutch foreign ministry approved. 

Pakistan managed to create a nuclear missile (Image: GETTY)

But, the book claims that Ruud Lubbers, then minister of economics, was opposed – a scandal could damage the high-tech sector. 

Mr Lubbers told Japanese TV in 2005 that the Dutch even briefed the CIA on Khan.

He said that the Americans opposed the nuclear ambitions of their Pakistani allies, but the CIA stopped the BVD from arresting Khan.

The Americans apparently wanted to watch him, so as to track Pakistan’s nuclear procurement and Europe’s secretive nuclear suppliers.

Mr Lubbers added that the Americans asked the Dutch “to inform them fully but not take any action”.

The CIA’s failure to stop him in 1975 “was the first monumental error,” Robert Einhorn, who worked on nonproliferation in the Clinton and Obama administrations, told Mr Frantz and Ms Collins.

The CIA would watch Khan for decades.

FDO did not tell Khan he was under suspicion, instead giving him a new job, calling it a promotion, but told him to stop visiting Almelo. 

On December 15, 1975, he left Holland and he flew to Pakistan on leave, taking his wife, daughters and blueprints of centrifuges.

Soon afterwards, from Pakistan, he resigned from FDO.

On January 15 1976, Khan sent Veerman a handwritten letter in Dutch from Karachi and again a year later requesting information on the nuclear research programme.

Khan added that there was “lots of photo work” for Mr Veerman in Pakistan, promising: “You’ll surely have a lot of fun and won’t regret it . When you write me, please do not write your own address on the envelope, please.”

Mr Veerman kept the letters in a safe and in 1978, the FDO informed him of his redundancy.

The Dutch government commissioned a report on Khan only in 1979, after the German TV channel ZDF — using sources other than Veerman — revealed Khan’s espionage to the world.

Nobody then thought Pakistan was close to getting the bomb and the CIA believed it had the matter under control.

In 1983 the Netherlands sentenced Khan in absentia to four years in jail for seeking secret information. 

The main evidence was his letters to Veerman, but the sentence was overturned because he had not been served the summons. 

The Dutch then abandoned prosecution. The ministry of justice later admitted that Khan’s legal file had gone missing.

In 1998, Khan also became celebrated as “Mohsin e-Pakistan” (Saviour of Pakistan), after the country detonated six nuclear bombs at a test site, but five years later information leaked that Pakistan has been the source of North Korea’s recent development in nuclear warheads, according to US intelligence officials.

In 2004, Khan confessed on live television to transferring the technology to Libya, Iran and North Korea, but later retracted the statement.

By then, the US couldn’t demand his punishment, as Pakistan was an ally in the “war on terror”.

But Khan is now thought to be out of favour with Pakistan’s government.

While Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has publicly stated Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, current North Korea leader Kim Jong-un has constantly boasted about the county’s nuclear weapons programme and, as of early 2019, it was estimated to have an arsenal of approximately 20–30 nuclear weapons.

Mr Veerman’s life story has been acquired by London-based Ten10 Films and Amsterdam-based Le Boxeur Films for a new series – ‘The Man Who Stole The Bomb,’ written by Nadeem Rajwani and produced by Joris van Wijk (Le Boxeur) and Tendeka Matatu.

Producer Joris van Wijk commented recently: “We’re honoured that Frits has entrusted us with his remarkable story.

“I have had the privilege of getting to know him over the last six months, his relationship with Khan was one of a genuine friendship that was masterfully manipulated and spectacularly betrayed.”

The Trump Administration is Handed Another Humiliating Defeat

President Trump. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Bloomberg)

Opinion | The Trump administration suffers a humiliating — and telling — loss on the Middle East – The Washington Post

August 17, 2020 at 3:31 PM EDT

TWO DAYS after taking credit for the opening of diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the Trump administration suffered a humiliating reverse at the U.N. Security Council that was, in some ways, more telling about the results of its Middle East policies. The United States asked the council to approve an extension of the 13-year-old embargo on arms trade with Iran — something that matters greatly to Israel and U.S. Arab allies, and which most of the democratic world favors. Yet only one member of the 15-member council, the Dominican Republic, sided with Washington. Russia and China opposed the motion, while 11 countries — including Britain, France and Germany — abstained.

The vote could open the way for Iran to obtain Chinese and Russian arms — for example, missiles it could employ against Israel, the UAE or U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf. At the least, it demonstrated how the Trump administration’s attempt to crush Iran’s Islamic regime has instead made it more dangerous, while isolating the United States.

The U.N. defeat was a direct result of President Trump’s repudiation of the 2015 accord limiting Iran’s nuclear program, which was brokered by the Obama administration in collaboration with the European Union, China and Russia. Mr. Trump claimed renewed U.S. sanctions would force a better deal; instead, Iran renewed its enrichment of uranium and launched attacks in the Persian Gulf. Now the arms embargo, which the U.N. resolution ratifying the nuclear pact extended to this October, is also gone. European allies chose not to vote for renewing it, in part because they wish to preserve what remains of the agreement, including U.N. inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities.

Trump administration officials sought to force the support of allies by threatening to invoke another provision of the nuclear deal allowing one of the parties to unilaterally mandate the renewal of the sweeping international sanctions regime that strangled Iran before 2015. But the U.S. right to invoke the provision after withdrawing from the pact is in question: Even Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton, an unquestioned hawk on Iran, called it “too cute by half.” Mr. Bolton warns that such a move, which would involve using the U.S. veto to block a Security Council resolution preventing the resumption of sanctions, might not only fail, but result in the undercutting of the veto power.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a prime architect of the failed Iran policy, railed against the Security Council’s vote, while promising unspecified U.S. action to stop Iran from obtaining new weapons. “We can’t allow the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism to buy and sell weapons,” Mr. Pompeo said. “I mean, that’s just nuts.” Agreed. But if Tehran nevertheless succeeds in doing so, it will be due to the gross malfeasance of Mr. Pompeo — and Mr. Trump’s foolish torching of the Obama administration’s legacy.

The Impending South Korean Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

Time to Make North Korea and China Think Seoul Wants Nuclear Weapons

South Korean Assemblyman Thae Yong-ho was recently asked whether the North feared the Republic of Korea might develop nuclear weapons. Thae, a former top North Korean diplomat who defected in 2016, said no. Which means Pyongyang believes it can develop nuclear weapons without fear of retaliation. The ROK government should change that.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has good reason to seek nuclear weapons. It is alone militarily, with at best a difficult relationship with its only nominal ally, the People’s Republic of China. Like other poor, small states, it lacks the conventional military strength to withstand an American attack.

Nukes also offer prestige and enable threats, increasing extortion opportunities. Moreover, the North’s nuclear program helps pacify military elites, who pose the only obvious threat to continuation of the Kim dynasty.

Beijing’s influence over North Korean behavior remains quite limited. Contra claims that the North is but a PRC puppet, Pyongyang always has acted independently, recognizing that China cannot easily swallow or coerce its troublesome neighbor.

Indeed, from its formation North Korea has caused Beijing nothing but trouble. Even during the best of times Pyongyang played the PRC against the Soviet Union to maximize the North’s leverage. After America’s intervention in the Korean War, China had to rescue the DPRK as victorious U.S. and allied forces headed towards the Yalu. North Korea’s resentful Kim Il-sung lost control of the war and gave the PRC few thanks for its sacrifices on his nation’s behalf. When Kim consolidated power in the 1950s he purged the pro-Beijing faction.

China’s Mao Zedong criticized Kim’s decision to turn his country into a quasi-monarchy. More recently, the North was outraged by the PRC’s enforcement, however lukewarm, of sanctions. When I visited the DPRK three years ago officials emphasized their desire to be independent of any other country, making clear that China was included in that judgment. Beijing reciprocated the feeling: from 2011 to 2018 the PRC refused to invite Kim to visit, in contrast to his father and grandfather. Only the prospect of the first Trump-Kim summit moved President Xi Jinping to meet with Kim.

The challenge for U.S. policy is two-fold. Although China does not want the North to develop nuclear weapons, the former also is quite concerned about stability. Nor is Beijing in the mood to help Washington.

A nuclear DPRK would be even more independent from Chinese control and could cause even greater harm if it went rogue. While Beijing benefits to some degree from the challenge posed by the North to the U.S. and its allies, excessive belligerence could result in a full-scale war, triggered either by a North Korean attempt to complete reunification 70 years on, or an American to forcibly disarm or oust the Kim dynasty.

At the same time, the stability desired by the PRC is threatened by the tension and conflict stoked by Washington’s disarmament campaign. That is, America’s principal tool to achieve denuclearization, sanctions, also produces instability. Economic stringency could lead either to the North’s collapse or violent action by Pyongyang in an attempt to forestall collapse.

Thus, Beijing hopes to find the Goldilocks solution, the pressure package sufficient to cause the DPRK to act more responsibility without triggering an implosion or aggressive action. This effort is further complicated because China places much of the blame on Washington for pushing the North to get nukes. The critique has some justification. After all, the U.S.—which has regularly threatened to attack North Korea and routinely bombed, invaded, and occupied other American adversaries, such as Iraq and Libya—has given Pyongyang good cause to seek nuclear weapons.

Moreover, China’s relationship with America is both more important than that with the North and much worse than ties even a year ago. The problem is not just overall tensions. Beijing does not want to enhance Washington’s ability to create a containment system directed at the PRC. If Chinese-supported sanctions led to the North’s collapse, the result likely would be reunification dominated by the South, placing an American ally hosting American troops on China’s border. Beijing went to war in 1950 to prevent just such a situation. Which creates yet another reason for the PRC not to help Washington. Despite broad agreement that the North should not be a nuclear state, the Xi government likely sees little benefit from cooperating with the U.S. on the issue, at least now amid talk of a new Cold War.

How to change the current unfavorable balance of interests? Convince both the DPRK and China that their actions could result in a South Korean bomb.

That actually shouldn’t be difficult. Polls already indicate that a majority of South Koreans favor a South Korean arsenal. There are advocates in think tanks, the media, and politics. There are obvious reasons why doing so would be a good idea. Especially amid deteriorating relations between the U.S. and PRC. Seoul risks ending up in the historic role as a shrimp among whales, being pressed to choose between the latter. In such a case, an independent nuclear deterrent might look like an unfortunate necessity.

However, set aside the question whether “friendly proliferation” would be the best outcome. The mere possibility of a South Korea bomb could affect the North’s and China’s actions. Pyongyang would realize that it might create a nuclear Frankenstein in the South, beyond America’s control. The PRC would realize that failing to rein in the DPRK could spark secondary proliferation that might not, indeed, probably would not, stop in Seoul. The prospect of Japan and Taiwan becoming nuclear powers would be particularly disturbing for Beijing; Australia and others conceivably could follow as well.

In which case the U.S. might have better success in pushing denuclearization, especially if its proposals were accompanied by appropriate economic and diplomatic concessions. Pyongyang’s reasons for preserving and even expanding its nuclear arsenal would remain strong, but some new negatives would have been introduced to encourage nuclear disarmament. And there is no obviously better path leading to this result, which most everyone other than the North desperately desires.

Washington and Seoul should leaven their diplomatic efforts with some showmanship derived from the game of poker. Even if neither wants South Korea to develop nuclear weapons, a little strategic bluffing could prove useful. The allies have yet to make a compelling case for Pyongyang to abandon what remains the ultimate weapon.

Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. A former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Tripwire: Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in a Changed World and co-author of The Korean Conundrum: America’s Troubled Relations with North and South Korea.

Image: Reuters.

The Powerful Chinese Horn (Daniel 7)

Chinese warplane now capable of dropping most powerful non-nuclear bomb

2020-08-16

Chinese H-6 strategic bomber

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:30 P.M.) – China now appears to have some very large non-nuclear weapons to arm its growing fleet of modern Xi’an H-6K bombers.

According to the National Interest website, the Chinese Air Force has tested a new huge bomb similar to the massive one used by the U.S. Air Force, also known as “the mother of all bombs” (MOAB).

The Chinese bomb, considered the most powerful non-nuclear munition in China, can help Chinese forces bomb caves, tunnel complexes or forest hideouts in preparation for any air attack.

The Chinese company, Norinco, released a promotional video in December 2018, which showed the H-6K, a twin-engine launcher, dropping the weapon. The video then filmed a large explosion.

“The massive explosion could easily and completely eliminate hardened ground targets such as reinforced buildings, forts and defensive shelters,” said Beijing-based military analyst Wei Dongsu.

Based on the displayed video, the H-6K launcher can carry only one bomb, which is about 9 meters long.

The Chinese H-6K bomber, which entered service in 2009, features modern engines and sensors.

Like the new Chinese bomb, the U.S. MOAB is 9 meters long and weighs more than 11 tons. It is a thermal bomb, meaning that it relies on the shock wave instead of metal fragments to cause damage.

These so-called “fuel and air explosives” work by diffusing and then igniting a cloud of flammable gases. Because the gas can circulate in bunkers and even underground, the fuel and air weapon can destroy fortifications and tunnel networks over a radius of hundreds of yards.

The U.S. Department of Defense developed the MOAB missile in early 2003 in order to have the weapon ready for the invasion of Iraq.

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But the MOAB later proved to have great risks if used in densely populated areas, and the giant bombs remained in storage until April 2017, when it was used in Afghanistan.

Sources: National Interest, Sputnik

Lifting Iran’s arms embargo endangers the region

Lifting Iran’s arms embargo dangerous for the region

Gulf News

Published:  August 16, 2020 15:41

Tehran has been repeatedly violating the terms of the nuclear deal

President Hassan Rouhani listens to explanations on new nuclear achievements at a ceremony to mark “National Nuclear Day,” in Tehran Image Credit: AP

The United Nations Security Council on Friday rejected a United States proposal to extend the conventional weapons embargo on Iran. Disappointed by the decision, the US said it will continue its own arms embargo on Tehran.

Under the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed by Iran, the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany, the embargo is set to expire in October. For months, the Donald Trump administration, which has exited the deal two years ago, has sought to extend the ban.

Despite the appeals of many countries, including the Gulf Cooperation Council to extend the embargo, the Security Council’s disappointing vote to lift the sanctions seems to reward Iran for its persistent breach of the agreement signed with the international community. The Europeans agree with the US that the potential of weapons flowing in and out of Iran poses a serious threat, but seems to be keen on keeping the futile deal alive.

Since signing the agreement five years ago, Iran has continued to violate it, saying that it will comply fully only after the US returns to the deal.

Iran prevents nuclear inspection 

Last year, to put pressure on the European Union, Tehran reduced its commitments by raising the uranium enrichment level and increasing the number of centrifuges massively and reducing the breakout time (the 90 per cent enrichment needed to build a nuclear bomb) to less than a year. In January, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that his country will no longer abide by the terms of the deal.

The JCPOA restricted Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 3.67 per cent and insisted on international inspections. Before the agreement, Iran reportedly had a massive stockpile of enriched uranium and nearly 20,000 centrifuges — enough to create eight to 10 bombs.

Last year, Iran prevented an inspector from the International Atomic Energy Agency from accessing its suspicious Natanz plant, which is at the heart of its uranium enrichment programme, and seized her documents. The agency described the incident as serious.

Regionally, Iran was to end its destabilising actions and de-escalate tensions with its neighbours. Again, Tehran failed to live up to its commitments. Over the last five years, Iran intensified its interference in the internal affairs in several Arab states besides arming and training its proxy militias in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.

These actions continued unabated while Iran was under an international arms embargo. Just imagine what Tehran will do now when the UN lifts the arms embargo!

Israel continues airstrikes outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israel continues airstrikes on Hamas targets for fifth night following balloon bombs

The IDF attacked military sites in Gaza in response to so-called ‘terror balloons’

Aleks Phillips

Palestinian men prepare a flammable object to be flown toward Israel, near the Israel-Gaza border, in the eastern part of the Gaza Strip. (Image: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash90)

Israel’s airforce has continued bombing Hamas sites in Gaza for a fifth consecutive night, following balloon bombs sent into Israeli territory by groups affiliated to the terrorist organisation.

According to the Israeli defence force, fighter jets and other aircraft “struck a number of Hamas military targets in the Gaza Strip”, including “a military compound and underground infrastructure” belonging to the group.

The IDF said these strikes were in response to a slew of party balloons with improvised explosive devices attached being sent over the border by Hamas-affiliated groups.

The explosives have been branded “terror balloons” by Chai Fahima, head of the police bomb-disposal squad for this district just east of Gaza. There were 19 terror bombs on Saturday, according to Israeli rescue services.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, was “responsible for all events transpiring in the Gaza Strip and emanating from it, and will bear the consequences for terror activity against Israeli civilians,” the IDF claimed.

Israel has also closed the Kerem Shalom goods crossing with Gaza and reduced the territory’s permitted Mediterranean coastal fishing zone. Clashes broke out along the border, with dozens of Palestinians burning tyres and hurling grenades towards the security fence.

The Gazan health ministry said two demonstrators were wounded by Israeli gunfire.