ON THE MAP; Exploring the Fault Where the Next Big One May Be WaitingBy MARGO NASHPublished: March 25, 2001Alexander Gates, a geology professor at Rutgers-Newark, is co-author of ”The Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes,” which will be published by Facts on File in July. He has been leading a four-year effort to remap an area known as the Sloatsburg Quadrangle, a 5-by-7-mile tract near Mahwah that crosses into New York State. The Ramapo Fault, which runs through it, was responsible for a big earthquake in 1884, and Dr. Gates warns that a recurrence is overdue. He recently talked about his findings.Q. What have you found?A. We’re basically looking at a lot more rock, and we’re looking at the fracturing and jointing in the bedrock and putting it on the maps. Any break in the rock is a fracture. If it has movement, then it’s a fault. There are a lot of faults that are offshoots of the Ramapo. Basically when there are faults, it means you had an earthquake that made it. So there was a lot of earthquake activity to produce these features. We are basically not in a period of earthquake activity along the Ramapo Fault now, but we can see that about six or seven times in history, about 250 million years ago, it had major earthquake activity. And because it’s such a fundamental zone of weakness, anytime anything happens, the Ramapo Fault goes.Q. Where is the Ramapo Fault? A. The fault line is in western New Jersey and goes through a good chunk of the state, all the way down to Flemington. It goes right along where they put in the new 287. It continues northeast across the Hudson River right under the Indian Point power plant up into Westchester County. There are a lot of earthquakes rumbling around it every year, but not a big one for a while.Q. Did you find anything that surprised you?A. I found a lot of faults, splays that offshoot from the Ramapo that go 5 to 10 miles away from the fault. I have looked at the Ramapo Fault in other places too. I have seen splays 5 to 10 miles up into the Hudson Highlands. And you can see them right along the roadsides on 287. There’s been a lot of damage to those rocks, and obviously it was produced by fault activities. All of these faults have earthquake potential.Q. Describe the 1884 earthquake.A. It was in the northern part of the state near the Sloatsburg area. They didn’t have precise ways of describing the location then. There was lots of damage. Chimneys toppled over. But in 1884, it was a farming community, and there were not many people to be injured. Nobody appears to have written an account of the numbers who were injured.Q. What lessons we can learn from previous earthquakes?A. In 1960, the city of Agadir in Morocco had a 6.2 earthquake that killed 12,000 people, a third of the population, and injured a third more. I think it was because the city was unprepared.There had been an earthquake in the area 200 years before. But people discounted the possibility of a recurrence. Here in New Jersey, we should not make the same mistake. We should not forget that we had a 5.4 earthquake 117 years ago. The recurrence interval for an earthquake of that magnitude is every 50 years, and we are overdue. The Agadir was a 6.2, and a 5.4 to a 6.2 isn’t that big a jump.Q. What are the dangers of a quake that size?A. When you’re in a flat area in a wooden house it’s obviously not as dangerous, although it could cut off a gas line that could explode. There’s a real problem with infrastructure that is crumbling, like the bridges with crumbling cement.There’s a real danger we could wind up with our water supplies and electricity cut off if a sizable earthquake goes off. The best thing is to have regular upkeep and keep up new building codes. The new buildings will be O.K. But there is a sense of complacency.MARGO NASH
December 26, 2020 in China / Conflict / Current Events / India / Pakistan by James Laforet (updated on December 26, 2020)
Hostilities between China and India have been rising once again since April, and this July, Chinese and Indian soldiers clashed along their shared Himalayan border in the strategically important Galwan Valley. 20 Indian and five Chinese soldiers were killed in hand-to-hand fighting, with both sides blaming the other for initiating the battle. (Reports of barbed wire-wrapped metal rods and nail-studded clubs could indicate premeditation rather than an escalated misunderstanding.) Another recently-surfaced report claimed that in August, China used a high-energy electromagnetic radiation weapon system to force Indian troops to retreat from two strategic hilltops. The microwave-like attack reportedly caused troops to vomit and left them unable to stand after fifteen minutes. Neither encounter violated the no-live-fire rule in place since 1962.
There is a long history of tension and violence between India and China. In 1962, the two countries fought a short war along the Himalayan border after India gave asylum to the Dalai Lama following the 1959 Tibetan uprising. In September and October 1967, the two sides clashed again in Nathu La and Cho La. In 1975, Chinese soldiers killed four Indian soldiers in Tulung La. According to Indian authorities, the Chinese forces deliberately crossed the border in order to ambush them – allegations which China denied. In 1986, a tense standoff occurred between the two as both sides massed large numbers of troops along their shared border, causing analysts to fear the situation would escalate to all-out war. In 2013, Ladakh’s Depsang Bulge area saw a 21-day standoff, and in 2017, a 72-day standoff occurred after Indian troops moved in Bhutanese Doklam to prevent China from extending a road further South into Doklam. The confrontation ended peacefully, and both sides withdrew.
Over the past several years, China has invested over $70 billion into Pakistan as part of its Belts and Roads initiative, an effort to control important trade routes and increase its economic and political clout. Some analysts are reporting that China has indicated it wishes to heavily invest into the Kashmir region, between India and Pakistan. This would likely increase tensions.
India and Pakistan have disputed ownership of Kashmir since Britain’s hasty retreat from the area in 1947, when the countries established their independence. The two sides fought a short, but bloody, war over the region, with India securing two thirds. This set the stage for a protracted, and sometimes deadly, standoff.
In 1965, a 17-day war between the two, including the largest tank battle since World War II, resulted in thousands of casualties. In the early 1970’s, interventions by both parties in Bangladesh fuelled another clash. The Kargil War began in 1971 when Pakistan occupied the Indian-controlled Kargil area, prompting India to respond militarily. Intense pressure from the international community persuaded Pakistan to withdraw from the region. Pakistan’s departure ended that conflict, but smaller clashes along Kashmir’s border have resulted in many casualties, including the deaths of civilians.
China, India, and Pakistan all have nuclear arms, and perhaps the threat of mutually assured destruction will hold these forces in limbo. However, any nuclear attack will have devastating lasting impacts on civilian populations. The international community must make every effort to ensure that this conflict does not evolve, An independent third party may be vital in facilitating peaceful resolutions to these decades-old conflicts.
James Laforet holds an MA in Public Policy and Administration from Ryerson University and has a background in history and philosophy. He joined the OWP to help promote awareness of ongoing crises worldwide. He is particularly concerned with how climate change will exacerbate conflicts and believes that investments in climate adaption technologies will be key in mitigating future crises.
Sat 26 Dec 2020 01.08 EST
Israeli army says it targeted three Hamas sites in Palestinian territory, including a rocket-manufacturing facility
Israel has targeted a number of sites in Gaza after the army said Palestinian militants had fired rockets into the south of the country.
The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) said Israeli aircraft had struck three Hamas targets including a rocket manufacturing facility, underground infrastructure and a military post.
“Hamas will bear the consequences for all terror emanating from Gaza,” the force said in a tweet.
Palestinian media reported the airstrikes shattered windows in east Gaza City. There were no reports of casualties.
Sirens had sounded earlier in the southern port city of Ashkelon and the area surrounding the Gaza Strip, according to the army statement.
“Two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli territory,” a statement from the army said on Friday, adding that they were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defence system.
There were no reports of damage as a result of the interceptions.
Volleys of missiles from the aerial defence system illuminated the sky in northern Gaza Strip as they exploded trying to hit the incoming rockets.
Israeli emergency medical services said a few people were treated for going into shock.
No Palestinian group in Gaza has claimed responsibility for the rocket fire.
The latest fire from the Hamas-ruled Palestinian enclave came over a month after one rocket was fired from the coastal strip into Israel.
Hamas, considered a terrorist group by Israel, seized control of Gaza from the rival Palestinian movement Fatah in 2007 in a near civil war. Since then Hamas has fought three devastating wars with Israel in the coastal territory where about 2 million Palestinians live.
Israel has since maintained a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip to prevent Hamas from arming.
With Associated Press
IDF spokesperson: Iranian retaliation likely to come from Iraq, Yemen
In an interview given to the Saudi news website Elaph, Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman addressed Iran and the tactics deployed by the IDF in order to address the looming threat.
Israel is monitoring Tehran’s movement in the region and expects that an Iranian attack could come from Iraq and Yemen, IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman told the Saudi news website Elaph.
In an interview published on Friday, Zilberman addressed Iran and the tactics deployed by the IDF in order to respond to the threat, which he said is likely to arise from Iraq and Yemen.Zilberman referred to Iraq and Yemen as Iran’s second circle after Lebanon and Syria, considered the first circle in its proxy conflict with Israel, and said that Israel has been monitoring the situation in both countries closely.
He noted that Iran has developed a wide range of capabilities in the area – and specifically in Iraq and Yemen – that include advanced drones and remote-guided missiles, which they manage to operate without detection, indicating “a great Iranian ability in this area.”He stressed that everyone should be on high alert regarding the Iranian threat, which he described as a “powder keg liable to explode,” considering the many blows Iran has received in the past year without being able to properly respond.
These include the assassination of Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani, its sites continuously being targeted in Syria, the mysterious explosions in several of its nuclear facilities, the assassination of its top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, international sanctions and the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has had a devastating effect on the country.
Nearing the one-year mark since the assassination of Soleimani that took place on January 3, 2020, Zilberman noted that Iran may use the occasion to launch an offensive against Israel or the US, which are considered one entity in Iran’s eyes.
Asked about the incident of an Israeli Navy submarine being spotted crossing the Suez Canal earlier this week, Zilberman said he could not confirm the report but noted that the IDF operates freely in the Middle East and that Israeli submarines sail to “different places, far and near.”
Addressing various unprecedented recent operations attributed to the IDF, Zilberman said he considers 2020 a year of “security par excellence for the State of Israel.”
In this regard, he noted that the Jewish state has proven its ability to carry out targeted and smart operations, considering that the IDF has led more operations in the past year than usual and has received close to no response.
He added that Israel has no intention of stopping its efforts of preventing Iran from taking hold of areas in Syria and Lebanon, indicating that the extended array of anti-aircraft systems deployed in Syria is no obstacle for the IDF.
Asked about Israel’s involvement in Lebanon and the recent rising tension with Hezbollah, Zilberman avoided giving a direct answer but said that Israel knows about the current efforts being undertaken by Hezbollah and will know how to neutralize any weapon or technology of the terrorist group – by military means or otherwise.
Regarding recent cyberattacks carried out against Israel by Iranian hacker groups, Zilberman admitted that Iranian efforts on this front have increased and have succeeded somewhat – explaining that the Iranian hackers usually target civilian companies that work with the military – but stressed that the damage was insignificant. He did, however, hint at the possibility that 2021 will see even more attacks of this kind, as cyberattack warfare replaces the modern battlefield.
“Any calculations known to us today could change for an unknown reason,” Zilberman told Elaph when asked about a looming war, adding that the current echelon leading the IDF is innovative in its thinking about the future and its unknown threats, and is working hard to ensure that Israel will always be prepared.
On Monday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi addressed the Iranian threat during a ceremony for exemplary soldiers, saying that Iran will pay a heavy price if any Israeli is targeted.
“We are hearing more and more threats against Israel coming from Iran,” he said. “If Iran and its partners… attack the State of Israel, they will [pay] a heavy price… I am simplifying things and describing the situation to our enemies as it is,” he added. “Our retaliation plans are prepared, and they have been practiced.”
President-elect promised to reduce ‘excessive’ spending on nuclear arsenal and shrink its role in strategy, but critics say updates are overdue
By Michael R. Gordon
Updated Dec. 24, 2020 1:22 pm ET
WASHINGTON—The incoming Biden administration is planning a review of the nation’s $1.2 trillion nuclear-modernization program with an eye toward trimming funding for nuclear weapons and reducing their role in Pentagon strategy.
President-elect Joe Biden promised during the campaign to reduce the U.S.’s “excessive expenditure” on nuclear arms and criticized President Trump’s decision to develop new sea-based weapons, including a submarine-launched cruise missile.
The new administration is also likely to review the Pentagon’s decision to develop a new land-based intercontinental ballistic missile, which is estimated to cost more than $100 billion when its warhead is included, some former officials said.
“We have to modernize our deterrent,” said one former official. “But we cannot spend the amount of money that is currently being allocated.”
The expectation that Mr. Biden will take a fresh look at the modernization programs has spurred a debate over the future of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.
The incoming Biden administration will reassess the role of nuclear weapons in Pentagon strategy.
PHOTO: STEFANI REYNOLDS/BLOOMBERG NEWS
Trump officials say that the development of new U.S. air, land and sea-based nuclear systems, dubbed the Nuclear Triad in strategic doctrine, is overdue, and that many of the programs were supported by the Obama administration.
“Most of the systems that compose the Triad are operating well beyond their original design lives,” read a Pentagon fact sheet published in November. “They must be modernized or they will be lost.”
Arms-control proponents counter that the spiraling federal deficit and the possibility of new talks with the Russians should open the door for scaling back the nuclear modernization effort. They have drawn up lists of potential cuts for Mr. Biden to consider.
“The increasingly punishing cost of the Trump administration’s excessive nuclear-modernization plans demands a fundamental rethinking,” said Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association, a private group that supports arms-control treaties.
The debate has also been driven by Mr. Biden’s campaign pledge to narrow the role that nuclear weapons play in the U.S. military doctrine, stating that their “sole purpose” should be to deter or respond to a nuclear attack.
‘The increasingly punishing cost of the Trump administration’s excessive nuclear-modernization plans demands a fundamental rethinking.’
— Kingston Reif, the Arms Control Association
Such a move would depart from current U.S. military doctrine, which cautions that the U.S. might use nuclear weapons to respond to “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks” in “extreme circumstances.”
That statement has been taken as a warning that adversaries that use cyberwarfare or germ weapons or mount a major conventional attack against the U.S. and its allies risk triggering an American nuclear response.
Mr. Biden hasn’t said how quickly he might move to implement his “sole purpose” doctrine, noting that he would consult with U.S. military leaders and allies.
Former officials say, however, that narrowing the role of nuclear weapons would necessitate strengthening conventional military capabilities. That, in turn, could put a premium on containing nuclear costs by deferring some systems or trying to negotiate nuclear-weapons reductions with Moscow.
Mr. Biden has said that he wants to extend the New START treaty with Russia, which is due to expire in February, and use the accord as a foundation to pursue future arms-control arrangements.
A spokesman for the Biden transition declined to comment on what steps Mr. Biden might take to defer or cancel U.S. nuclear programs.
The most consequential debate among experts trying to influence Mr. Biden’s nuclear policy is over the Pentagon’s plans to replace its aging Minuteman III missile with a new intercontinental ballistic missile that would be deployed in about a decade. The total cost of buying and maintaining the missile into the 2070s has been estimated by the Pentagon to run as high as $264 billion.
Missiles based in underground silos have long been considered a destabilizing system by arms-control groups, who say the weapons’ vulnerability to attack could put pressure on a U.S. president to use them early in a conflict, potentially on the basis of erroneous warning.
George Perkovich and Pranay Vaddi of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace recommended in a study submitted to the Biden transition team that a next-generation ICBM program be halted pending future arms talks that would seek to set stricter limits on the U.S. and Russian land-based missile force.
“Pausing a decision to build a new ICBM defers a big expense and provides time to pursue arms talks with the Russians,” Mr. Perkovich said. “If the Russians don’t move, you can revisit the program.”
Such an approach would require extending the life of the Minuteman-III missiles, which were first deployed in 1970. That could be done, the Carnegie study says, by cutting the number of deployed Minuteman missiles from 400 to 300 or fewer, and then using components from the excess missiles to maintain the smaller force.
Other experts, however, say the incoming administration should move ahead with the new ICBM program.
“All three legs of the Triad, including Minuteman-III, are getting very long in the tooth,” said Frank Klotz, the former head of the National Nuclear Security Administration and a retired Air Force lieutenant general.
“There is only so much one can do to extend the life of an existing system before it makes more sense, both technically and economically, to replace it with a fundamentally new system,” he added. “We have reached that point.”
Other decisions also loom. One nuclear program that might face cancellation is a sea-launched cruise missile the Trump administration called for in 2018. During the campaign, Mr. Biden told the Council for a Livable World, an advocacy group that supports nuclear cuts, that the U.S. doesn’t need new nuclear weapons.
An unarmed Trident missile was tested off the coast of California in 2018.
The missile has yet to be developed and its necessity has been challenged by some former officials, who noted that the Pentagon has suggested it could serve as a potential bargaining chip with Moscow.
Mr. Biden has also criticized Mr. Trump’s decision to develop the W76-2, a low-yield warhead for Trident II submarine-launched missiles. The Trump administration says the “low-yield” system would provide the U.S. with more credible options to respond to Russia’s threats without resorting to more powerful strategic weapons, but critics contend it will lower the threshold for nuclear war.
Canceling the program wouldn’t save significant funds since the warhead has already been deployed. Arms-control advocates are divided over the wisdom of replacing it with the older and more powerful warheads as this would put Mr. Biden in the position of supporting the deployment of more destructive weapons.
The complexity of some of the decisions is illustrated by the case of the W93, a newly designed warhead the Trump administration decided to develop for the U.S. submarine-launched missile force. The Arms Control Association has urged Mr. Biden to defer or cancel it, but Rep. Adam Smith, the Washington Democrat who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, says he supports the program, partly because the British plan to put the warheads on their submarine missiles.
“The U.K. is pushing a lot of that,” Mr. Smith said in a seminar hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan think tank. “Do we need to do it right now? That’s a tougher question.”
Write to Michael R. Gordon at email@example.com
TEHRAN – The deputy chief of the IRGC Quds Force has said a harsh revenge awaits those behind the assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq on January 3 of this year.
Talking to reporters on Friday, Brigadier General Mohammad Hejazi said major funerals for martyrs Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and the retaliatory missile attack on the U.S. military base of Ain al-Assad were the two slaps that the U.S. has received in the face from Iran.
“Those are only slaps, while the harsh revenge will be taken,” Hejazi said, according to Tasnim.
He also warned those who ordered and perpetrated the assassination attack, saying the Islamic Republic decides how and when to take revenge based on the situation.
On January 3, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered drone strikes that martyred Major General Soleimani, chief of the IRGC Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).
In the early hours of January 8, the IRGC attacked Ain al-Assad airbase in western Iraq, where U.S. forces were stationed, as part of its promised “tough revenge” for the U.S. terror attack.
Iran has vowed to target whoever had a role in the cowardly assassination of General Soleimani.
“This is a serious message,” IRGC Chief Major General Hossein Salami said back in September.
In remarks on December 16, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said revenge for the assassination is certain and will be exacted at the right time.
Ayatollah Khamenei referred to the great funerals that were held for the two commanders, saying the “unforgettable” ceremonies “surprised the arrogant [powers’] soft war generals and served as a first severe slap in the face of the Americans.”
Ayatollah Khamenei said a tougher slap will still await the arrogant powers by defeating them in the software sector through the efforts of revolutionary youth and faithful elite, and by expelling the U.S. forces from the region through the joint efforts of countries that are part of the resistance front.
“Of course, this harsh slap will be separate from the revenge that will be exacted on those who ordered and perpetrated General Soleimani’s killing, and this revenge is certain [and will be taken] at the [earliest] possible time,” he added.
Ayatollah Khamenei said General Soleimani’s “historic” martyrdom turned him not only into a national hero for Iranians, but also a hero for the entire Muslim community.
BAGHDAD, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) — Iraqi prominent Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Friday warned Iran and the United States not to involve Iraq in their conflict.
“Iraq has become a victim to the U.S.-Iranian conflict and has been greatly affected as if it is an arena for their conflicts,” al-Sadr said on his official Twitter account.
“Therefore, I call on Iran to distance Iraq from its conflict, and I warn the (U.S.) occupier against continuing its conflict … Iraq and the Iraqis are not a party to the conflict,” he added.
The Iraq-U.S. relations have been strained since Jan. 3, when a U.S. drone struck a convoy at the Baghdad airport, killing Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq’s paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces.
Two days after the U.S. drone attack, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution that requires the government to end the presence of foreign forces in the country.
The military bases housing U.S. troops across Iraq and the U.S. embassy in Baghdad have been a frequent target for mortar and rocket attacks by militias. Enditem