If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.Based on historical precedent, Armbruster says the New York City metro area is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 once a century.According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.There’s another fault line on Dyckman St. and one in Dobbs Ferry in nearby Westchester County.“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.He adds: “We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought.”“Considering population density and the condition of the region’s infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact,” says the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation on its website.Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale. (ANI)
Incident comes two days after 50-year-old woman was killed in attack Pakistan blamed India for.
According to Pakistan’s foreign ministry, Indian forces have committed more than 3,000 ceasefire violations this year in which 28 people were killed and more than 250 injured [File: Sajjad Qayyum/AFP]
A Pakistani soldier was killed in border clashes with Indian forces in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir on Thursday, Pakistan’s military has said.
The soldier was killed in Satwal sector on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border that divides Kashmir into two parts controlled by Pakistan and India.
“Pakistan’s army responded effectively to Indian firing, causing substantial damage to Indian troops and men,” said Pakistan’s military media wing, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), in a statement.
The incident comes two days after a 50-year-old woman was killed and three people were wounded in the Tatta Pani and Jandrot areas.
Pakistan blamed India for the incident.
Border clashes have increased in recent weeks.
Pakistan accused Indian troops of deliberately opening fire on a United Nations vehicle carrying two observers on the Pakistani side of Kashmir earlier this month.
According to Pakistan’s foreign ministry, Indian forces have committed more than 3,000 ceasefire violations this year in which 28 people were killed and more than 250 injured.
Pakistani authorities summoned a senior Indian diplomat at least three times last week to protest against ceasefire violations.
India does not routinely share data on its shelling in Pakistan but also records civilian casualties due to what it describes as shelling from the Pakistani military.
The nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours have already fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, a region both sides claim in full but administer parts of.
Trump has been an inherently unorthodox president since the moment he was sworn-in, but his atypical approach to leadership has been especially stark since he lost the election to Biden.
Most lame duck presidents wouldn’t dream of threatening war or military action against an adversary – typically focusing on final policies for their legacy as their staffs begin updating their counterparts during the transition – but Trump has not shied away from it whatsoever.
In mid-November, Trump reportedly asked top aides for potential military options against Iran in relation to its nuclear program, but was ultimately talked out of it by senior advisors who warned of the potential for sparking a broader conflict during his final days in office. Iran has violated the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, which has steadily crumbled since Trump withdrew from it in May 2018.
More recently, he’s lashed out at Iran over the attacks on the Baghdad embassy.
“Our embassy in Baghdad got hit Sunday by several rockets. Three rockets failed to launch. Guess where they were from: IRAN,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “Now we hear chatter of additional attacks against Americans in Iraq. Some friendly health advice to Iran: If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over.”
The attack damaged the embassy compound and killed at least one Iraqi civilian, per NPR.
“The Dec. 20, 2020, rocket attack on the green zone in Iraq was almost certainly conducted by an Iranian-backed rogue militia group,” Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for Central Command, said in a statement. He added that the 21-rocket attack was “clearly NOT intended to avoid casualties.”
But Central Command chief Gen. Frank McKenzie earlier this week also told the Wall Street Journal that he doesn’t know “the degree to which Iran is complicit” in the incident.
“We do not seek a war, and I don’t actually believe they seek one either,” McKenzie said.
Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif responded to Trump in a tweet, stating that the president had “recklessly” accused Iran of being behind the attack. “Trump will bear full responsibility for any adventurism on his way out,” Zarif said.
‘Trump is ending the year like he started it, trying to provoke a disastrous war’
Trump’s threats toward Iran after the rocket attack in Baghdad came nearly a year after he ordered a drone strike that killed the country’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, which pushed Washington and Tehran to the brink of war. The Soleimani assasination was partly inspired by a rocket attack in Iraq that killed an American contractor in late December 2019.
But tensions between the US and Iran had reached historic heights before that, largely due to Trump’s controversial decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign to hammer the Iranian economy.
In November, a top Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated. Iran accused Israel of orchestrating the killing. Meanwhile, experts have suggested that the US was also involved, stating that the assassination was part of Trump’s desire to derail Biden’s ambitions of returning to the 2015 deal. Some analysts suspect Trump might take further actions to tie Biden’s hands.
“Friendly reminder before Trump does whatever crazy thing he’s about to do to Iran, this is all his fault,” Stephen Miles, executive director of Win Without War, tweeted on Wednesday. “He inherited a working diplomatic nuclear deal and thawing relations, blew that all up to try out ‘maximum pressure’ which predictably failed, and now here we are yet again.”
Derek Johnson, CEO of the anti-nuclear weapons group Global Zero, in a tweet said, “I see Trump is ending the year like he started it, trying to provoke a disastrous war with Iran.”
The number of people suffering from coronavirus, COVID-19, in Gaza has increased again due to the continuation of the cruel siege by the Zionist regime, which has caused the humanitarian situation there to deteriorate.
This is while the Zionist regime continues to besiege Gaza Strip and does not intend to lift it.
According to the report, in the past 24 hours, another 250 Palestinians have been infected with the novel coronavirus in the Gaza Strip and 11 people have died in the region due to Covid-19. Thus, the number of corona patients in the Gaza Strip has reached more than 33,000.
Recently, Palestinian resistance groups issued a statement warning of the dire consequences of preventing the importation of medicine and medical equipment needed in Gaza Strip to combat coronavirus.
In their statement, the groups stressed that if the lives of Palestinians are endangered as a result of the Zionist regime’s ban on medical equipment entering Gaza, all options will be considered to counter the regime.
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
By Utkarsh Bajpai*
The past few decades have seen strides being made in all aspects of life – from sticks and stones to weaponry. The extreme case of this phenomenon has been nuclear weapons. The menace caused by nuclear weapons in the past is unforgettable. Images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from 1945 come to mind, after the United States dropped two atomic bombs on the cities.
This squashed the Japanese opposition and effectively ended World War 2, killing over 150,000 in its wake. Seventy-five years after Hiroshima, the nuclear threat is far from over. Even though the number of nuclear warheads has gone down since the Cold War, the number of countries possessing them has gone up – to nine. The aftermath of a nuclear war today can be catastrophic, especially so because of the rise in sophistication of nuclear warhead technology.
Out of the several regions of global tension, arguably the most critical is the one between India and Pakistan. Despite the shared historical, geographic, economic and cultural ties, the relationship between India and Pakistan has been strained ever since the partition of British India in 1947.
India’s nuclear programme dates back to 1944, while still in the shadow of the British rule. After not much progress, India revitalized its nuclear program in 1962, following a Himalayan border war against the Chinese. India refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). After detonating its first nuclear device in 1974 (under the codename “Smiling Buddha”), India became the sixth country to possess and detonate nukes.
This period saw a rising conflict between India and Pakistan, with three wars fought between the neighbours in the period. The First Kashmiri war was in 1947 over Jammu and Kashmir was the first. The second war was the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, again over J&K insurgency.
The third and arguably largest war was the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, which resulted in Pakistan conceding over 50,000 sq miles of territory and millions of its populace in the form of the newly formed Bangladesh. This weakened Pakistan’s standing in South Asia. As a response, then PM Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto aggrandized Pakistan’s nuclear programme.
Two decades and a half later, Pakistan conducted a successful nuclear test in May 1999. This made Pakistan the seventh nation to do so, sending shock waves across the globe. This event marked the beginning of the second distinct nuclear enmity in the world, the first one being the former Soviet Union and the United States.
Instrument of surrender, Dhaka: December 16, 1971
Peace activists’ voice
The tensions between the two nations kept simmering in the next few years. It was around this period that the intellectual community of the nations took notice and acknowledged the peril that nuclear weapons could put the Indian sub-continent in. Voices started being raised on both sides of the borders.
One such voice belonged to Dr Abdul Hameed Nayyar, a Pakistani physicist who did his PhD from London. Nayyar was one of Pakistan’s leading peace activist at the time, who opposed the ongoing nuclear race between India and Pakistan. Nayyar, along with his colleagues, were instrumental in the Peace Movements in Pakistan in 1985. Mass gatherings were held in different regions of Pakistan, where leading figures from the field of academia, politics, military and the likes mobilized support for the denuclearization and peace.
Nayyar and Co, along with counterparts from India, laid the founding bricks of the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD). The objective of this initiative was to create a platform for everyday citizens of the two countries to listen to voices different from the antagonistic voices of the respective Governments.
This organization held biannual joint conventions, alternating venues between both nations. In Nayyar’s admission, PIPFPD mustered resounding support in both countries. The group contributed several research papers, books and articles to spread their message farther. They also pursued the signing of No War Pact between India and Pakistan. However, in the forthcoming years, their efforts lay waste, as the friction between the countries grew.
A PIPFPD conference
Rising tensions, stubborn governments
To the world’s horror, India and Pakistan entered another war in May 1999, the Kargil War, again on the issue of Kashmir insurgency. Kargil War is the only example of direct warfare between the two nuclear nations. A much more dire incident occurred in December 2001, when the Indian Parliament was attacked by two Pakistani terrorist groups, leading to twelve casualties. These attacks strained the relations between the two states to a new extreme. This also had severe implications for all the diplomatic work done by the PIPFPD.
India, like China, committed to a No First Use (NFU) doctrine in 2003, with the intent of defusing tensions with its neighbours. Under this commitment, India promised to use nuclear weapons only in response to a nuclear attack, and never in retaliation to conventional weaponry. Pakistan felt it would be unable to defeat India in a conventional war, which was its motivation to pursue nuclear weapons.
Thus, till now Pakistan has refused to sign to any such doctrine. As a part of his 2014 election campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s manifesto promised to revise and reupdate India’s nuclear doctrine to make it more relevant to current times. Many interpret this as an upcoming change in India’s NFU doctrine, advocated initially by the Vajpayee led BJP. However, later Modi denied all such speculations.
Relations between the two have been on a knife’s edge since February 2019, when a Pakistan based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad, claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attacks, which led to the deaths of 40 paramilitary police officers. India responded with airstrikes on Pakistani territory, a first in almost half a century. At the time, a war breaking out seemed imminent.
As a response, Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said, “Until now, our nuclear policy has been based on ‘No First Use’, but what happens in the future will depend on the circumstances”. Such statements by the Defense Minister cast shadows of doubts on India’s NFU policy and effectively render it meaningless. To make matters worse, this statement came at a time when the two states were hardly on talking terms. This statement can have dangerous consequences for the two countries.
The different nuclear heads owned by India and Pakistan.
What lies ahead?
No Indian government till now has shown the political intent (or courage) to address the Kashmir issue, to demilitarize it, or enter diplomatic talks with Pakistan to reach a solution. India’s decision to revoke Article 370 and divide India administered Kashmir into two territories, followed by inhumane measures such as the curfew and communications blackout, again put India and Pakistan at loggerheads.
Now, even though hostility has reduced relative to past years, the territorial rivalry remains, and is likely to last for far longer than expected. Pakistan says that it won’t take steps towards disarmament until the United States also does the same. However, hope for a peaceful future, free of weapons of mass destructions remains. Nayyar believes that times will change and the chasm between the people will fill.
He cites the examples of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)-National Register of Citizens (NRC) and farmers’ protests to say that times are changing, and people are finding their voices. Only after India and Pakistan agree on these fundamental issues can a peace future be envisaged, he says. Before India and Pakistan call for worldwide disarmament, they must normalize nuclear relations with each other. A world free from the fears of nuclear war can not be created or sustained without the active involvement of India and Pakistan.
*Second year management student at Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad. This article was written with inputs by Dr Abdul Hameed Nayyar, a physicist and noted peace activist from Pakistan
By Stepan Kravchenko
December 24, 2020, 7:57 AM EST
Updated on December 24, 2020, 8:25 AM EST
Concerns grow over interference in command and control
Russia still relies on nuclear deterrence, Gerasimov says
The extension of military confrontation into the cyber sphere and space raises the risks of incidents involving nuclear weapons, Russia’s top general warned Thursday, highlighting concerns about growing tensions.
“The risks of incidents is rising from interference in systems of command and control over nuclear weapons,” General Valery Gerasimov, chief of the General Staff, said in comments to foreign military attaches in Moscow, according to a transcript published on the Defense Ministry website.
“In this environment, nuclear deterrence remains the key element of ensuring the security of the Russian Federation,” he said, reiterating Russia’s position that it won’t be drawn into an arms race.
Gerasimov’s comments took him to the edge of the newest flashpoint in U.S.-Russian relations: a massive hack against American government agencies and institutions that authorities in Washington have linked to Russia cyber attackers. The Kremlin has denied the allegations.
“The lack of facts is compensated by insinuations,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday. The hacking allegations may be “an attempt to prevent President-elect Biden from developing cooperation with Moscow,” she said, referring to incoming U.S. leader Joe Biden.
In his single term in the White House, Trump expanded America’s nuclear arsenal and undermined decades of arms-control efforts. While president-elect Joe Biden could reverse some of Trump’s atomic initiatives, it’s highly unlikely he can undo all of them.