By Ann Marie BarronUpdated May 16, 4:31 AM; Posted May 16, 4:00 AMRubble litters Main Street after an earthquake struck Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in Napa, Calif. A report by the U.S. Geological Survey outlines the differences between the effect of an earthquake in the West vs. one in the East. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – While scientists say it’s impossible to predict when or if an earthquake will occur in New York City, they say that smaller structures — like Staten Island’s bounty of single-family homes — will suffer more than skyscrapers if it does happen.„Earthquakes in the East tend to cause higher-frequency shaking — faster back-and-forth motion — compared to similar events in the West,“ according to a report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), published on its website recently „Shorter structures are more susceptible to damage during fast shaking, whereas taller structures are more susceptible during slow shaking.“DIFFERENCES IN INTENSITYThe report, „East vs West Coast Earthquakes,“ explains how USGS scientists are researching factors that influence regional differences in the intensity and effects of earthquakes, and notes that earthquakes in the East are often felt at more than twice the distance of earthquakes in the West.Predicting when they will occur is more difficult, said Thomas Pratt, a research geophysicist and the central and Eastern U.S. coordinator for the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program in Reston, Va.„One of the problems in the East Coast is that we don’t have a history to study,“ he said. „In order to get an idea, we have to have had several cycles of these things. The way we know about them in California is we dig around in the mud and we see evidence of past earthquakes.“Yet Pratt wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a high-magnitude event taking place in New York, which sits in the middle the North American Tectonic Plate, considered by experts to be quite stable.„We never know,“ he said. „One could come tomorrow. On the other hand, it could be another 300 years. We don’t understand why earthquakes happen (here) at all.“Though the city’s last observable earthquake occurred on Oct. 27, 2001, and caused no real damage, New York has been hit by two Magnitude 5 earthquakes in its history – in 1738 and in 1884 — prompting many to say it is „due“ for another.While earthquakes generally have to be Magnitude 6 or higher to be considered „large,“ by experts, „a Magnitude 5, directly under New York City, would shake it quite strongly,“ Pratt said.The reason has to do with the rock beneath our feet, the USGS report says.OLDER ROCKSIn the East, we have older rocks, some of which formed „hundreds of millions of years before those in the West,“ the report says. Since the faults in the rocks have had so much time to heal, the seismic waves travel more efficiently through them when an earthquake occurs.„Rocks in the East are like a granite countertop and rocks in the West are much softer,“ Pratt said. „Take a granite countertop and hit it and it’ll transmit energy well. In the West, it’s like a sponge. The energy gets absorbed.“If a large, Magnitude 7 earthquake does occur, smaller structures, and older structures in Manhattan would be most vulnerable, Pratt said. „In the 1920s, ’30s and late 1800s, they were not built with earthquake resistance,“ he said, noting that newer skyscrapers were built to survive hurricanes, so would be more resistant.When discussing earthquake prediction and probability, Pratt uses the analogy of a baseball player who averages a home run every 10 times at bat and hasn’t hit one in the past nine games: „When he’s up at bat, will he hit a home run? You just don’t know.“And though it would probably take a magnitude of 7 to topple buildings in the city, smaller earthquakes are still quite dangerous, he said.„Bookshelves could fall down and hit you,“ he said. „People could be killed.“ A lot of stone work and heavy objects fell from buildings when a quake of 5.8 magnitude struck central Virginia in 2011, he noted, but, fortunately, no one was injured.To be safe, Pratt encourages New Yorkers to keep a few days‘ worth of drinking water and other supplies on hand. He, himself, avoids putting heavy things up high.„It always gets me nervous when I go into a restaurant that has heavy objects high on shelves,“ he said. „It’s unlikely you’ll get an earthquake. But, we just don’t know.“
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman poses for camera with the Chinese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Li Huaxin during a visit to Great Wall of China in Beijing, China February 21, 2019. Photo: Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS.
JNS.org – The recent normalization deals between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have fundamentally shifted the region’s alliances. Both Gulf countries maintain close ties with Saudi Arabia, and speculation abounds as to whether or not the Saudis will be the next country to formalize ties with the Jewish state.
While Israel may be on the verge of cementing a close alliance with major Sunni Arab states in the face of a common enemy with Iran, at the same time, concern is also growing about a possible nuclear race in the region with China’s help.
A recent report in The Guardian indicates that Chinese geologists say Saudi Arabia may have enough uranium ore reserves for the domestic production of nuclear fuel. At the same time, a Wall Street Journal report said that Western officials have grown concerned about nuclear cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia in the construction of a facility for extracting uranium yellowcake from uranium ore. This facility is being built with the assistance of two Chinese companies. Similarly, The New York Times reported that Western intelligence agencies are “scrutinizing” the Saudi’s work with China to develop nuclear expertise as a cover towards the development of a nuclear weapon.
Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, told JNS that the Saudi-Chinese relationship has existed for many years already. In the 1980s, Saudi Arabia reached out to China because it wanted to obtain Chinese missile technology.
September 23, 2020 3:54 pm
“They acquired from China some of the longest-range ballistic missiles in the Middle East,” he said. “So we have been there.”
But Saudi nuclear capability, even if for peaceful purposes, could still place the Saudis at the threshold of nuclear military capability, which has Israel greatly concerned.
Gold said “one of the challenges for diplomacy is to try and make some of the moderation in Saudi behavior more permanent, and I don’t think we’ve done that. As much as Saudi interests have changed, it is a reversible change. We have to make sure that it has a higher degree of permanence.”
While Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has demonstrated an interest in moderation by creating distance from the extremist Wahhabi ideology of many of Saudi Arabia’s top clerics, it remains unclear whether or not his influence will hold.
According to Gold, Israel and Saudi Arabia “need to take the mutual threat we both face and create a basis for a quasi-alliance, but I’m not sure we are there yet. Relationships with countries you don’t have diplomatic relations with are usually held very tightly in the hands of whoever is the leader. The question is how you make it permanent.”
That question could be answered soon if reports are true that Saudi Arabia will eventually sign a normalization agreement with Israel.
Making such diplomatic relations permanent “could be an agenda item for the US and Israel to work on after the American elections,” said Gold.
‘Chinese companies less hostile’ towards developing nukes
So why did the Saudis turn to China, of all countries, for assistance with its nuclear program, especially since China has helped Pakistan and Iran in the past?
According to Saeed Ghasseminejad, a senior Iran and financial economics adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the Saudis probably have two reasons to go to Chinese companies.
“First,” he told JNS, “if they decide to move towards military nuclear capabilities, China and Chinese companies will be more accommodating or at least less hostile towards such a move.”
“Second, the Kingdom is trying to diversify, if not realign, its strategic foreign partnerships,” said Ghasseminejad. “Working with China on this strategic project is another sign that China and Saudi Arabia are strengthening their bond.”
Bin Salman has said that he would not pursue the nuclear option unless Iran achieved the bomb, which it still has not; however, he has started working on nuclear capability nonetheless. Why?
“In 2015, [former President Barack] Obama signed a deal with Tehran that gave Tehran a patient pathway to a nuclear bomb and gave it an industrial large-scale nuclear capacity, which could quickly turn into a military program,” recounted Ghasseminejad. “The Democratic Party still insists that the [the deal] is the golden standard of nuclear non-proliferation agreements, and they want to go back to it. Saudi Arabia, as a longtime US ally that does not chant ‘Death to Israel,’ obviously wants at least what Iran got.”
“Also,” he added, “for decades, Riyadh and Washington had a deal where Saudis bought US goods and weapons, and helped Washington in managing the oil market, and Washington defended Saudi Arabia.”
However, Ghasseminejad said that recent US actions by both the Obama and US President Donald Trump have made the Saudis more cautious of solely relying on the United States. “Obama actively tried to undermine the Saudis in favor of Tehran, and Trump did nothing when the clerical regime targeted the heart of Saudi’s oil industry,” he said.
He went on to explain that if an administration run by 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden “will offer Tehran the same patient pathway to a nuclear bomb, and neither Republicans nor Democrats guarantee Riyadh’s security, then the kingdom probably perceives that having nuclear capability is an option, if not the best option, to deter the Islamist regime in Tehran from further and more severe aggression in future.”
Saudi Arabia is having a ‘Shah-moment’
Israel is naturally concerned after it warned the Obama administration that the nuclear deal with Iran would start a Middle East arms race, that now its worries are coming to fruition. Now, Saudi Arabia believes that it needs nuclearization to counter Iran. Who is to say tomorrow it won’t be pointed at Israel?
“Israel is right to be concerned,” said Ghasseminejad. “The Middle East today is full of unstable governments, radicalized societies, apocalyptic militants and messianic politicians.”
Ghasseminejad noted that while the Saudis may currently be a friend of Israel, “MBS is having his Shah-moment.”
As Ghasseminejad described, in the 1960s, the Shah decided that “modernizing the country required weakening the monarchy’s traditional allies and broadening the middle class as the support base for a modern monarch. It was an absolutely successful plan that modernized the country at a fast rate but led to a political disaster. Two decades later, the clergy turned on him and the middle class left him alone and joined the revolution.”
“MBS is following the same plan,” observed Ghasseminejad. “He may succeed in avoiding the Shah’s fate, but it is also possible that he won’t. As a result, it is essential to make sure the conservative kingdoms of the region will not be replaced with a radical Islamist regime, and if they do, their successor will not get their hands on nuclear weapons.”
What happens when the Middle East goes nuclear? Will there be a way down from the ladder at that point?
“A nuclear Middle East will be a ticking nuclear bomb,” said Ghasseminejad. “Some may hope that the imminent threat of a nuclear Armageddon will curb the apocalyptic urges of religious fundamentalists in the region. That is a gamble no sane person should accept.”
By Aimee Wilmoth, WRAL meteorologist
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is already the second most active on record with 68 days left to go.
We have already had to use the Greek alphabet for names as we have exhausted all of the other names. The only other year we have done this is 2005. That was a record-breaking year with 31 tropical or subtropical cyclones and 27 named storms. 2020 is outpacing 2005.
Beta became the earliest 23rd named storm on record, beating Tropical Storm Alpha from 2005 by 34 days. It certainly looks like the 2020 Atlantic season could become the most active on record. And it seems climate change is making these tropical systems worse once they develop.
While the number of hurricanes each year is not increasing, there is an increase in the likelihood that a hurricane will become a major hurricane (Category 3, 4 or 5). The probability that a hurricane will reach Category 3 or higher has increased 38% in the north Atlantic since 1979.
Water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic during hurricane season have risen about 1.85 degrees over the last 100 years. Warmer sea surface temperatures adds energy to storms, giving them a greater potential to strengthen.
Tropical systems are now producing heavier rain and are often moving slower, increasing the amount of rain and adding to the flooding risk. And with sea levels about 7 inches higher than 100 years ago, coastal flooding from storm surge is traveling farther inland and is deeper as well.
All signs point to these trends continuing unless we cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate change is real, and it is having a huge impact on our weather and on our tropical systems.
TEHRAN – As the U.S. announced the return of all UN sanctions on Iran, many Russian officials underlined that the defense cooperation with Iran would continue despite U.S. sanctions, a move that could further undermine the U.S. pressure campaign against Iran.
While the U.S. insists that all UN sanctions have been restored on September 20, all parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including Russia, strongly opposed the U.S. measure at the UN Security Council. Several high-ranking officials said the U.S. measure was null and void.
In a statement on September 19, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the return of “all previously terminated UN sanctions” on Iran.
“Today, the United States welcomes the return of virtually all previously terminated UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran…. Sanctions are being re-imposed on Iran pursuant to the snapback process under UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 2231,” Pompeo said.
All participants to the JCPOA rejected the U.S. move, saying the U.S. had no legal right to resort to triggering the return of UN sanctions because it has lost the legal authority to do so after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal on May 8, 2018. However, the U.S. claimed it was eligible to restore the international sanctions based on UNSCR 2231, which stipulates that “a JCPOA participant state” can reinstate the UN sanctions on Iran in case it didn’t uphold its obligations under the nuclear deal.
The U.S. resorted to the reinstatement of UN sanctions mainly to prevent the lifting of a UN arms embargo on Iran, which is due to expire in mid-October in accordance with the provisions of the JCPOA. However, the U.S. may have inadvertently undermined the UN arms embargo on Iran, because after the U.S. announced the return of UN sanctions, Russian officials called into question the arms embargo. They underlined Russia’s determination to continue military cooperation with Iran.
“We are not afraid of U.S. sanctions, we are used to them,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters on Monday, a few days after the U.S. announced the restoration of UN sanctions, including the UN arms embargo. “It will not affect our policy in any way. Our cooperation with Iran is multifaceted, defense cooperation will progress depending on the two countries’ needs and mutual willingness.”
“That said, another executive order will not change our approach,” the senior Russian diplomat emphasized, according to the Russian TASS news agency. Ryabkov’s comments came after Western news media reported that the White House was planning an executive order to enforce the UN sanctions.
In a clear sign that Russia would continue the military cooperation with Iran, First Deputy Head of the Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee Vladimir Dzhabarov said Russia will continue military-technical cooperation with Iran despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order punishing foreign states for supplying arms to Tehran.
“So, let they impose sanctions, one less, one more of it. I believe that our military-technical cooperation with Iran will be continued, and I hope that these sanctions will not affect it,” Dzhabarov told Interfax on Monday in comments on Trump’s executive order.
“There are UN Security Council sanctions, and they are compulsory for fulfillment. There are sanctions of one state, namely, the U.S., which thinks for an unclear reason that they are even higher than the UN Security Council,” he added.
In addition, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said there were no limitations on arms deals with Iran right from the start and after mid-October, there would be no limitations whatsoever on arms supplies to and from Iran.
“There is no such thing as an arms embargo against Iran. The Security Council, when it was adopting the comprehensive Resolution 2231, which endorsed [the] Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which settled the nuclear issue for Iran, and this was adopted by consensus under the chapter 7 of the United Nations’ charter,” the chief Russian diplomat said in an interview with Alarabiya’s correspondent in New York.
Lavrov added, “The Security Council in that resolution said that the supply of arms to Iran and from Iran would be subject to consideration by the Security Council and that on the 18th of October, 2020 this regime of sales to Iran would stop. There is no embargo and there would be no limitations whatsoever after the expiration of this timeframe established by the Security Council.”
In the months leading to the expiration of the UN arms embargo, some Russian media outlets showcased the weapons that Iran could purchase from Russia after the expiration of the arms embargo.
Su-30SM fighter jets, the K-300P Bastion-P mobile defense missile system, and the S-400 Air Defense System are among defense weapons that Russia could sell to Iran, according to the Russian website Russia Beyond.
“These hi-tech metal monsters from Russia could bolster Iran defenses from air and naval threats by the end of 2020, unless Iran is once again banned by the UN from purchasing weapons from abroad,” said the website in a report published in January 13, 2020.
Lavrov said there would be no limitation on arms deals with Iran by mid-October. Therefore, after October, Russia would be able to sell defensive arms to Iran. After the expiration of the UN arms embargo, there would be no legal obstacle to Russia selling weapons to Iran. It is expected that the Russians would abide by their statements.
The Head of the Pentagon Mark Esper recently named Russia and China as the main strategic rivals of the United States. The US Defense Secretary repeated this claim during his speech at the Rand Corporation.
“Today, in this era of great power competition, the Department of Defense has prioritized China then Russia, as our top strategic competitors. These revisionist powers are using predatory economics, political subversion, and military force in an attempt to shift the balance of power in their favor, and often at the expense of others,” Esper said.
The US: “World War”
This anti-Chinese and anti-Russia sentiment is amplified by the warmongering statements of Esper’s subordinates.
The new Chief of Staff of the US Air Force Charles Q. Brown Jr. recently stated that the US should prepare for a potential war with Russia or China, the combat losses of which would be comparable to World War II. This message was disseminated in his recent article “Accelerate change or lose”.
“Tomorrow’s Airmen are more likely to fight in highly contested environments, and must be prepared to fight through combat attrition rates and risks to the nation that are more akin to the World War II era than the uncontested environment to which we have since become accustomed, – the general stated. – The US Air Force must develop and build deep institutional understanding of China and Russia, and reward and retain those Airmen who foster the personal attributes necessary for success in the challenging future ahead”, he wrote.
According to the US military commander, the era when the US was undivided in the air and had “uncontested Air Force Dominance” has come to an end. Without air domination, he argues, neither the US Air Force nor any other kind of troops can conduct their operations on a global scale.
“Competitors, especially China, have made and continue aggressive efforts to negate long-enduring US warfighting advantages and challenge the United States’ interests,” he concluded.
In his opinion, “future warfare will not remain far” from American shores. Therefore, the US Air Force should strengthen its training to counter China and Russia.
General Brown was appointed to his post August 6. Nashoba Air Force, the highest officer position in the US Air Force. His position is yet another indication that the US military sees a possible military confrontation with China and Russia as quite possible in the near future.
China: ready for a war
On September 11, Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the official Chinese newspaper Global Times, which reflects positions on international issues of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, published an article stating that “China must be militarily and morally ready for a potential war.”
The article claims that China does not want war, but has territorial disputes with several neighboring countries, all of which are encouraged by the US as a part of its confrontation with China. There is also the Taiwanese issue; the risk that mainland China will be forced to enter into war has increased dramatically in recent years.
The Global Times states that China should not be afraid to go to war, even if the US is on the other side. Moreover, readiness for such a conflict could become a means of restraining the aggressive aspirations of Washington and its allies.
“Chinese society must therefore have real courage to engage calmly in a war that aims to protect core interests, and be prepared to bear the cost. In that way, China’s comprehensive strength can be effectively transformed into a strategic deterrence against all kinds of provocateurs,” Hu Xijin said.
Such an open call to prepare for war on behalf of the official newspaper of the CPC Central Committee is a sign of serious changes in the foreign policy line of the Chinese leadership. Since Deng Xiaoping, Beijing has avoided public statements about its possible involvement in military conflicts. The country had been focused primarily on peaceful development in the shadow of developed Western states.
Such direct statements make it clear that China is not bluffing: it is ready to use military force with determination. These statements break with the previous paradigm of Chinese foreign policy when Beijing tried to “keep its head down”.
Russia: nuclear retaliation
On August 7, the official body of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Krasnaya Zvezda published an article by Major General Andrey Sterlin and Colonel Alexander Khryapin titled “On the Basics of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Area of Nuclear Deterrence”. Sterlin is the head of one of the departments of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff, well Khryapin is a leading research worker of the Center for Military Strategic Research of the Military Academy of the General Staff.
The article by two high-ranking Russian military officials is intended to explain the document on Russian strategic nuclear planning published for the first time on June 2, “Basic Principles of State Policy of the Russian Federation on Nuclear Deterrence”, to foreign audiences.
The main idea that the Russian military is trying to convey is the possibility of using nuclear weapons in response to any aggression, even if the aggressor does not use nuclear weapons first. This option could be used if any other weapons of mass destruction are used or the existence of Russia is somehow called into question.
Thus, Moscow is expanding its defense posture to the possible use of nuclear weapons, signifying that it will react severly to any attempts to deprive it of its sovereignty. In the same way, the US’ attempts to develop limited-range nuclear weapons in order to resort to an immediate global strike using non-nuclear weapons could be countered by Moscow.
In response to any large-scale aggression, Moscow is ready to punish the aggressor with all its nuclear power.
Tensions on the rise
Ground forces, bombers, fighter jets and naval strike groups – the Pentagon and NATO have intensified in recent days its activity at the borders of Russia’s closest ally in the west – Belarus. The US Tank Battalion recently landed in Lithuania to participate in an exercise called Atlantic Resolve.
According to the Belorussian Defense Ministry, five hundred servicemen, 29 tanks and 43 BMPs were taken to the Lithuanian training range, just 15 kilometers from the Union State border.
That is not a massive force, but the fact that the resumption of US military activity near the borders of Belarus coincided with pro-Western protests in that country, a traditional ally of Russia, raises concerns about preparing or working out a scenario of a possible military invasion with “humanitarian” objectives.
At the same time, the Russian Strategic Air Force is increasingly recording flights by strategic aviation and air scouts. Boeing B-52H Stratofortress bombers first appeared in the Ukrainian sky near the Russian borders a few weeks ago.
At the same time, the United States is conducting major exercises in the Pacific Ocean. Battleships, including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Regan and 11,000 troops were sent to Guam.
A riskier world
The geopolitical confrontation between the United States and Russia or China is reflected in the military planning of these three leading military and nuclear powers of the world. All three countries express their readiness to conduct military operations, including the use of nuclear weapons, to protect their interests and sovereignty.
The lines of confrontation are clearly defined, and the world is becoming more conflict-prone, with military force and the military potential of a state playing a decisive role.
Recent publications by US, Chinese and Russian officials leave no doubt about the determination of each side. From a different perspective, the publicity of these statements means that each side is committed to ensuring that its actions, strategies and intentions do not remain a mystery to the others, and that its basic orientations are calculated and predictable.
This reduces the likelihood of military conflict by miscalculation, despite the crisis in the international legal framework of the current arms control regimes (the US rejection of the INF Treaty, and the termination of the new START 2021).
At the same time, Moscow and Beijing, amid US pressure, are intensifying their military cooperation. Evidence of that is China’s active involvement in the Russian military exercises: “Vostok” in 2018 and “Tsentr-2019” in 2019. In late September 2020, China, together with Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Iran and Pakistan, will participate in the “Caucus 2020” military exercises.
It is no accident that the US mentions China and Russia in pairs, naming both its main geopolitical rivals.
Combining the military capabilities of Moscow and Beijing in a single Eurasian defense continental alliance is the least advantageous outcome for the United States. We should expect further strengthening of activity in this direction, as it is in the interests of both China and Russia. At the same time, the US will have nothing left but to use military pressure on both countries. Other measures of pressure such as sanctions and trade wars have proven too inconsistent.
The alternative to such a large scale conflict is for the United States to completely abandon its claims to world military leadership, which is unlikely due to the blind faith of the entire American political class in American exclusivity and the interests of the American military industrial complex in the country’s immense war budget. The war-machine is not capable of stopping on its own, yet must be stopped.
September 22, 2020 at 9:16 PM EDT
Frustration is mounting inside the Trump administration as Russia gives little indication of whether it will agree to an arms control deal before President Trump faces reelection, according to senior U.S. administration officials, who are trying to secure the deal.
U.S. officials presented a proposal to the Russians two weeks ago in Vienna as part of negotiations that began in June. Under the deal, the United States and Russia would extend the soon-to-expire New START pact for a limited time while negotiating a replacement treaty. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin would sign a political agreement outlining a framework for the replacement treaty and what it would cover.
The administration’s scramble to cut a deal with Russia before the election comes as the president’s top diplomats have been rushing to secure diplomatic achievements as U.S. voters begin going to the polls.
Trump has long sought to negotiate an arms control deal with Moscow, but so far his administration has only pulled out of pacts with the former Cold War foe, citing violations by Russia. In comments Sept. 4, Trump said arms control talks with Russia were a “very important thing”— more important than addressing global warming. Trump and Putin have been discussing a deal for months.
But the Russian government has given the U.S. negotiators little direct feedback outside public commentary since they presented their proposal about two weeks ago, according to U.S. officials. The result is U.S. frustration, which boiled over into comments in a Russian media outlet by Trump’s top nuclear negotiator, Marshall Billingslea, and a response from his Russian counterpart.
The “price of admission” for Russia to secure the deal with the United States will go up if the Kremlin doesn’t agree to terms before the U.S. presidential election, Billingslea warned in an interview Monday with the Russian newspaper Kommersant. Billingslea said the United States would insist on “a number of new conditions” if Russia waits until after the election to decide and Trump wins.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s main arms control negotiator, warned that such ultimatums wouldn’t result in a deal.
“Either they can stop making their ultimatums and we can start to negotiate something, or there will be no agreement,” Ryabkov told the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. Ryabkov said the U.S. demands don’t correspond to Russia’s idea of what must be done to ensure strategic stability.
In his own separate interview with Kommersant, Ryabkov said “the offer made by the Americans does not look like a good deal” and rejected the U.S. preconditions. Still, U.S. officials didn’t read Ryabkov’s comments as the final word on whether Russia would agree to some sort of deal before the election or thereafter.
At stake is the future of New START, a 2010 treaty that expires in February and restricts the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads and certain launch platforms. If the treaty isn’t extended or replaced, the world’s two biggest nuclear powers will return to an era without substantive restraints on their arsenals for the first time in decades, potentially paving the way for a new nuclear arms race.
Because the Trump administration didn’t begin substantive negotiations until this year, the arms control standoff is colliding with the American political calendar. Moscow is probably calculating whether Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden would offer more favorable terms.
Russia has said it would like to extend the treaty, which includes a clause that can prolong the pact for five years without ratification if both presidents agree. In his online platform, Biden has said he would pursue an extension of New START, which President Barack Obama negotiated.
The Trump administration, however, has argued that New START is insufficient because it doesn’t include China and regulates only a portion of Russia’s nuclear arsenal. The administration is willing to extend the pact only if its replacement addresses those issues and others. China has rejected U.S. calls to join the talks with Russia, citing its smaller nuclear arsenal.
The proposal offered by Billingslea two weeks ago in Vienna goes beyond the parameters of New START to encompass all the nuclear warheads of both countries, a senior U.S. official said. It would include a complex monitoring system allowing both nations to observe which nuclear weapons are coming into Russian or American facilities for refurbishment and which are coming out of the facilities for deployment.
The proposal also allows for an increased number of inspections and faster access to sites that inspectors request to visit, among other things, the senior official said.
U.S. officials drafted the proposal in the form of a political agreement that would become a treaty once China agrees to join the accord — a goal that has eluded U.S. negotiators.
The lack of response by Moscow to the proposal has led some U.S. officials to conclude that Putin has not empowered Ryakbov to cut a deal. Billingslea made his public comments to the Russian newspaper Kommersant in part to underscore the U.S. offer to Putin and seek clarity from the Russian side on its interest in an agreement, according to the U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing diplomatic negotiations.
“So far the proposal stands in the form that we made it in. If and when Moscow expresses a desire to go down this path that, frankly speaking, President Putin has already discussed multiple times with President Trump, then we are ready,” Billingslea told Kommersant.
Promoting himself as a dealmaker, Trump has sought to undertake nuclear arms control negotiations with Russia since the 1980s, when he expressed an interest in conducting talks with the Soviets on behalf of the Reagan administration. When asked about the recent poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny at a Sept. 4 White House news conference, Trump instead emphasized that arms control talks were underway.
“With Russia, we’re right now negotiating a nuclear nonproliferation treaty, which is very important. It’s a very important thing. To me, it’s the most important thing,” Trump said. “Some people say ‘global warming’; I don’t. I say this is far more important.”
The Trump administration began substantive negotiations with Russia over New START in earnest only this year, leaving insufficient time to hammer out an entirely new treaty.
The result is an attempt to extend the current treaty, probably for a year or two, on the condition that Russia agrees to certain elements in a follow-on treaty. Such a deal would allow Trump to tout a nuclear accord with Russia on the campaign trail, even if the specifics of a new treaty haven’t actually been hashed out — and may not result in an actual follow-on pact.
U.S. officials have failed to reach a formal pact with North Korea, which has tested nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles. The administration has also been unable to negotiate a new deal with Iran, which has exceeded the restrictions on its nuclear program set by a 2015 international nuclear agreement that Trump abandoned.
Paul Sonne covers the U.S. military and national security. He previously reported for the Wall Street Journal from Moscow, London and Washington. Follow
John Hudson is a national security reporter at The Washington Post covering the State Department and diplomacy. He has reported from a mix of countries including Ukraine, Pakistan, Malaysia, China, and Georgia. Follow
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Reportedly, the gathering, arranged by Palestinian groups, saw Israeli troops kidnapping six Palestinian protestors around the holy mosque as clashes erupted. The furious reactions show that in addition to Gaza the West Bank Palestinians are now severely reacting to the compromises made by Arab rulers to Tel Aviv.
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Long years of Israeli suppression and occupation across Palestine has turned West Bank and Gaza Strip into a powder keg ready to go off any moment.
The Palestinian fury has raged recently as a result of a “treasonous” move by the UAE and Bahrain to normalize diplomatic relations with the Israeli regime. On Friday, Thousands of Palestinians after the prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque arranged a gathering in protest to the Arab-Israeli normalization.
Reportedly, the gathering, arranged by Palestinian groups, saw Israeli troops kidnapping six Palestinian protestors around the holy mosque as clashes erupted. The furious reactions show that in addition to Gaza the West Bank Palestinians are now severely reacting to the compromises made by Arab rulers to Tel Aviv.
Fear of a tough Palestinian response pushed the Israelis into a state of worry about the current conditions.
A senior Israeli secretary official, reports said, has highlighted the Israeli security apparatus readiness for possible deterioration of the situation in West Bank and Gaza. The official has reportedly agreed that West Bank is more sensitive than Gaza and the security situation there is poised to explode.
Israeli Maariv newspaper, quoting the security official, said that the current Israeli policy is to avoid tough measures to steer clear of an emergency state that would reflect the reality in the Palestinian region. Still, the paper reported, we should anticipate happenings on the ground. The Israeli official believes that following instructions from President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestinian Authority to the security forces to prevent clashes between the protestors and the Israeli forces, there is a possibility of expansion of the domain of demonstrations.
This displays the state of apprehension the Israelis are living as the West Bank conditions are heading to tensions, making Tel Aviv security leaders follow the situation very closely.
The UAE and Bahrain have claimed that the thaw with the Israeli regime is meant to solve the decades-old Palestinian cause. But this is contrary to a fact experienced over all these long years of the Israeli occupation: Whenever there have been compromises and retreats, further Palestinian rights have been violated by Tel Aviv. The 1993 Oslo agreement was planned to be a temporary 5-year deal and then give place to a permanent one. Such issues as Al-Quds (Jerusalem), Palestinian refugees, Israeli settlements, security, and border demarcation were scheduled to meet their solution under a permanent deal. But not only they were not solved but also Israeli hostility grew stronger and they occupied further regions in West Bank where they built new settlements.
The settlement projects keep ongoing, as many blast Yesser Arafat, the previous president of the Palestinian Authority, for the deal he struck with Tel Aviv. Now despite the Emirati and Bahraini regime’s claims that the agreements with Tel Aviv will serve the good of the Palestinian cause, there is no doubt that such an accord not only is not serving the Palestinian interests but also will pave the way for further Israeli trampling of the Palestinian rights.
Arming West Bank, the viable choice ahead
While the West Bank is now under Israeli siege like Gaza Strip, it seems that the only way the Palestinians can confront the armed-to-the-teeth Israeli occupiers is by taking up arms to defend their land against an unquenchable Israeli thirst for occupation.
Arming West Bank takes a political will and belief of Palestinian authorities in resistance. They have to cooperate and coordinate in pursuit of this strategic idea. Many experts agree that it would be painfully nightmarish for Israeli officials that in the future war West Bank-based Palestinian fighters would need rockets with less than 50 kilometers of range to attack Israeli targets in the north of the occupied territories or ones with less than 10 kilometers of range to insecure Ben-Gurion Airport, instead of rockets that have to travel over 150 kilometers from Gaza before hitting their Israeli targets. And this would be devastating for the Israeli regime if there is a ground battle.
Therefore, with the Israeli violation and occupation unwaveringly constant, the Palestinians have no path but arming to defend themselves against the Israeli atrocity and this matter needs serious pursuit.