USGS Evidence Shows Power of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

New Evidence Shows Power of East Coast Earthquakes
Virginia Earthquake Triggered Landslides at Great Distances
Released: 11/6/2012 8:30:00 AM USGS.govEarthquake shaking in the eastern United States can travel much farther and cause damage over larger areas than previously thought.U.S. Geological Survey scientists found that last year’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia triggered landslides at distances four times farther—and over an area 20 times larger—than previous research has shown.“We used landslides as an example and direct physical evidence to see how far-reaching shaking from east coast earthquakes could be,” said Randall Jibson, USGS scientist and lead author of this study. “Not every earthquake will trigger landslides, but we can use landslide distributions to estimate characteristics of earthquake energy and how far regional ground shaking could occur.”“Scientists are confirming with empirical data what more than 50 million people in the eastern U.S. experienced firsthand: this was one powerful earthquake,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “Calibrating the distance over which landslides occur may also help us reach back into the geologic record to look for evidence of past history of major earthquakes from the Virginia seismic zone.”This study will help inform earthquake hazard and risk assessments as well as emergency preparedness, whether for landslides or other earthquake effects.This study also supports existing research showing that although earthquakes  are less frequent in the East, their damaging effects can extend over a much larger area as compared to the western United States.The research is being presented today at the Geological Society of America conference, and will be published in the December 2012 issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.The USGS found that the farthest landslide from the 2011 Virginia earthquake was 245 km (150 miles) from the epicenter. This is by far the greatest landslide distance recorded from any other earthquake of similar magnitude.Previous studies of worldwide earthquakes indicated that landslides occurred no farther than 60 km (36 miles) from the epicenter of a magnitude 5.8 earthquake.“What makes this new study so unique is that it provides direct observational evidence from the largest earthquake to occur in more than 100 years in the eastern U.S,” said Jibson. “Now that we know more about the power of East Coast earthquakes, equations that predict ground shaking might need to be revised.”It is estimated that approximately one-third of the U.S. population could have felt last year’s earthquake in Virginia, more than any earthquake in U.S. history. About 148,000 people reported their ground-shaking experiences caused by the earthquake on the USGS “Did You Feel It?” website. Shaking reports came from southeastern Canada to Florida and as far west as Texas.In addition to the great landslide distances recorded, the landslides from the 2011 Virginia earthquake occurred in an area 20 times larger than expected from studies of worldwide earthquakes. Scientists plotted the landslide locations that were farthest out and then calculated the area enclosed by those landslides. The observed landslides from last year’s Virginia earthquake enclose an area of about 33,400 km2, while previous studies indicated an expected area of about 1,500 km2from an earthquake of similar magnitude.“The landslide distances from last year’s Virginia earthquake are remarkable compared to historical landslides across the world and represent the largest distance limit ever recorded,” said Edwin Harp, USGS scientist and co-author of this study. “There are limitations to our research, but the bottom line is that we now have a better understanding of the power of East Coast earthquakes and potential damage scenarios.”The difference between seismic shaking in the East versus the West is due in part to the geologic structure and rock properties that allow seismic waves to travel farther without weakening.Learn more about the 2011 central Virginia earthquake.

Biden’s Nuclear Foolishness: Following in Obama’s Footsteps: Revelation 16

Source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Jeff Davidson

Opinion

| Jan 25, 2021 12:01 AM

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

It’s been 75 years since our use of the A-Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The U.S. was already stretched to the limits by four years of all-out war with Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, and Truman’s advisors had estimated 400,000 to 800,000 American deaths in a ground invasion of Japan.

For the last four years, the Trump Administration wisely stalled Iran’s nuclear capability, versus the complete imprudence of the Obama Administration enabling them to develop a nuclear facility. The confused and uninformed say that Iran would develop one anyway. Now, Joe Biden is headed down the same foolish path as Obama.

“The Obama Doctrine can be described in just nine words: Embolden our enemies, undermine our friends, diminish our country.” – Frank J. Gaffney Jr.

Only one country in the history of the world has ever produced an atomic bomb from scratch – the United States. It happened in 1945, in New Mexico. Every other country that possesses the atomic bomb stole, copied, or was given the U.S. formula. The U.K. was given the bomb by the U.S. for its part in U.S. research and development efforts. 

This Way, or That Way

The Russians obtained the atomic bomb technology by spying on the U.S. and, eventually, transferred the information to India and to China. China gave the secrets to Pakistan. The U.S. shared the information with France, who passed it on to Israel. 

The procedure in creating a bomb through independent research efforts is a monumental undertaking. Even with an array of brilliant Ph.D.s and scientists in the world, no other country has created the bomb on their own. Iran, or any other rogue nation that develops nuclear capabilities and, ultimately, creates an atomic bomb, will likely build upon the original U.S. technology – via coercion, torture, and/or espionage. 

For ideological reasons, Iran cannot be trusted: Villainous nations should never be allowed to develop nuclear facilities regardless of endless diplomatic machinations. Iran elects figurehead leaders, subordinate to fanatic religious leaders, who deny the Holocaust, proclaim death to America during “negotiations” and vow to destroy Israel. 

Iran’s schools indoctrinate children with hate starting at age four. In Tehran, hanged prisoners dangle on ropes from cranes in public squares so that no one can avoid seeing them. Iranian citizens live in constant fear. Those in the West who believe they can forge a viable understanding with such a nation are naive and prone to commit gross errors of historical proportions. 

The Hubris of Democrats

In 1994, American and North Korean (NK) delegations convened in Switzerland to resolve nuclear issues in the Korean peninsula as President Clinton sought better relations with NK. Onsite “negotiator” Jimmy Carter, attempting to resurrect his tenuous presidency, ignored the past 43 years of history, funneling $4 billion dollars to NK after reaching a catastrophic agreement.

Under Carter’s agreement, NK would abide by the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. In exchange, the U.S. would back the construction of “safe nuclear energy facilities” and formally assure that NK would not be threatened by the use of nuclear weapons against them. 

Both nations agreed to improved political and economic relations. Thereafter, South Korea and Japan each invested several billion dollars in NK for nuclear energy plants. In 2003, as construction activities passed critical thresholds, led by the late Kim Jong-il, NK canceled all its international non-proliferation agreements. Fortunately, the light-water nuclear reactors that Bill Clinton offered to help NK build were not useful for devising weapons-grade materials.

The Arrogant Obama Administration

Flash forward 10 years: Obama and his representatives had already proven themselves to be deluded, incompetent, lying, or worse with whatever agreement they sought to concoct. As Obama embraced our enemies and flabbergasted our friends, he wove a dreadful foreign policy. Nothing that other U.S. presidents have done is on par with Obama’s irresponsibility in the most inflammable region on earth. 

As the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, and International Business Times (UK) elaborately explained, Obama unwittingly instigated an Arab nuclear arms race, with the Saudis being the first to jump in. Iran never needs to employ the bomb to destroy Israel. The mere existence of such a bomb will all but vanquish Israel. Nobody will invest there, emigrate there, or presume a healthy national future.

With a neighbor like Iran, the mere threat of deploying an atomic bomb is enough to end Israeli civilization. Regionally and globally, the threat of Iran’s nuclear capability, aided and abetted by the Biden Administration’s bumbling leadership, could wreak havoc on the balance of power. 

Bet the farm that the mess which Biden creates will be exonerated and shielded by the press.

Israeli strike damaged children’s hospital outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Hamas says ‘barbaric’ Israeli strike damaged children’s hospital

Agence France-PresseDecember 26, 2020

Hamas on Saturday denounced as “barbaric” overnight strikes it said damaged a Gaza children’s hospital, while the Israel army said it was responding to rocket fire from the enclave.

The Israel army said it struck three Hamas targets, including a rocket manufacturing site, underground infrastructure and a military post, after two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip.

But Gaza’s ruling Hamas in a statement said a “barbaric” Israeli strike had damaged a children’s hospital and a centre for people with special needs.

Medical sources in Gaza said the strikes “lightly wounded” two civilians, including a child.

“Hamas will bear the consequences for all terror emanating from Gaza,” the Israeli army said in a tweet.

Sirens had sounded on Friday night in the southern port city of Ashkelon and the area surrounding the Gaza Strip, according to an army statement.

“Two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli territory,” the army statement said, adding that they were intercepted by the Iron Dome Aerial Defence System.

There were no reports of damage as a result of the interceptions.

Israeli emergency medical services said several people were treated for shock.

The latest fire from the Palestinian enclave came over a month after one rocket was fired from the coastal strip into Israel.

Islamist group Hamas, which Israel considers a terrorist organisation, seized control of Gaza from 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 two million Palestinians live.

Israel has since maintained a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip to prevent Hamas from arming.

© 2020 AFP

Making Peace with the China and Russian Nuclear Horns: Daniel 7

Revitalizing nonproliferation cooperation with Russia and China

Robert Einhorn

Monday, January 25, 2021

The United States will need partners to overcome the growing challenges that the global nuclear nonproliferation regime will face in the years ahead. In the past, Washington was able on several occasions to work cooperatively with Moscow and Beijing in support of shared nonproliferation goals. But with the sharp deterioration of U.S. bilateral relationships with those two major powers in recent years, that cooperation no longer exists. Despite the current acrimonious state of those relationships, the Biden administration will need to find a way to revitalize cooperative efforts on key nonproliferation issues. After restoring now-abandoned bilateral channels for constructive engagement, the administration should seek common ground with Russia and China in pursuing new negotiations with Iran, curbing the North Korean nuclear and missile threat, rebuilding collaboration in securing nuclear materials and facilities, and reinforcing the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), including by promoting a successful NPT Review Conference, pursuing nuclear risk reduction measures, strengthening International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, and coordinating nuclear export policies.

Challenge

The record of the global nuclear nonproliferation regime has been impressive, defying dire predictions of a world with many nuclear-armed states. Since North Korea acquired nuclear weapons nearly 30 years ago, no additional country has done so. Many factors explain that positive record, but one of those factors has been the ability of the United States to work constructively with Russia and China from time to time in support of shared nonproliferation goals.

However, with no end in sight to the current precipitous decline in Washington’s bilateral relations with Moscow and Beijing, constructive engagement on today’s nonproliferation challenges has become increasingly problematic. Unless the United States and its two great-power competitors can find a way to carve out areas of cooperation in otherwise highly adversarial relationships, few, if any, of those challenges can be effectively addressed, and the remarkably positive record of international efforts to prevent additional countries from acquiring nuclear weapons will be difficult to sustain.

Limits of historic and existing policies

Previous cooperation on nonproliferation

Despite periods of intense bilateral rivalry, the United States often managed to find common ground with the Soviet Union, and later with Russia and China, on preventing nuclear proliferation. At the height of the Cold War, the United States and the USSR recognized that the instabilities and dangers associated with the emergence of additional nuclear-weapon states could jeopardize their national interests, not least because it could create new power centers and undercut their own dominant positions in world affairs and, for Moscow, raise the specter of a nuclear-armed Germany.

In the Soviet era, this shared interest led to close collaboration in addressing proliferation threats, including in drafting the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and establishing the London Group of nuclear exporters, which became the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Later, Washington worked with Moscow to encourage Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine to give up their Soviet-era nuclear weapons and join the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states. They helped ensure through Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction programs that inadequately secured Russian nuclear materials and facilities in the wake of the USSR’s collapse would not leak out and support nuclear developments worldwide.1 Most recently, the United States and Russia worked with other powers to persuade Iran to accept strict limits on its nuclear programs in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

China was a latecomer to nonproliferation. In the nation’s early years, it publicly advocated the spread of nuclear weapons to “break the hegemony of the superpowers.” By the early 1990s, however, it had come to see considerable value in curbing proliferation. It believed that by adhering to nonproliferation norms, it could promote a more stable international environment, needed for its development; maintain the non-nuclear-weapon status of Japan and other Asian neighbors; bolster its credentials as a responsible permanent member of the U.N. Security Council; and build better relations with the United States. Accordingly, it joined the NPT and other instruments of the global nonproliferation regime.

Throughout the 1990s, frequent U.S.-Chinese engagement on nonproliferation was instrumental in encouraging Beijing to put in place its national export control system and cease proliferation-sensitive technology transfers, including any nuclear cooperation with Iran, which China agreed to forgo in exchange for a Clinton administration decision to authorize the U.S. sale of nuclear reactors to China. As host and chair of the six-party talks in the 2000s, China played an active role in pressing North Korea to halt and eliminate its destabilizing strategic capabilities. In subsequent years, China made frequent, often futile efforts at the highest levels to dissuade Pyongyang from proceeding with nuclear and missile tests and to encourage North Korea to accept negotiated limitations.

From sometimes partners to frequent foes

In recent years and especially with the sharp downturn in bilateral relations, Moscow and Beijing have increasingly acted less as Washington’s nonproliferation partners and more as opponents.

This shift has been especially pronounced with regard to Iran, with cooperation as JCPOA negotiating colleagues giving way to strong differences. To a significant extent, opposition by Russia and China to U.S. policies on Iran since 2018 has been shared by Washington’s European allies, but Chinese and Russian opposition has gone well beyond that of the Europeans. Russia and China have aligned themselves closely with Iran and become its principal defenders on most issues of contention.

With Beijing in the lead on North Korea, just as Moscow has the lead on Iran, China and Russia have increasingly distanced themselves from U.S. policy on North Korea and moved closer to Pyongyang. They believe the Trump administration’s harsh sanctions campaign has resulted in North Korea digging in its heels. Worse, they fear that U.S. policy could destabilize the North Korean regime, an outcome that China regards as threatening to its interests and one that many Chinese regard as the actual, unstated goal of U.S. policy on North Korea. Although mostly complying with U.N. sanctions in 2016–2017, Russia and China now seem determined to weaken sanctions and have become complicit in sanctions evasion. They also take issue with what they regard as an unrealistic U.S. approach to negotiations on denuclearization.

Elsewhere, Russia and China have actively opposed efforts by the United States and much of the international community to pursue Syria regarding its noncompliance with its nuclear and chemical weapons nonproliferation obligations. In the wake of Israel’s 2007 destruction of a plutonium-production reactor that North Korea was clandestinely helping Syria build, they have sought to shield Damascus from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) scrutiny of Syria’s nuclear program. In the face of compelling evidence that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against its opponents on many occasions, Russia, supported by China, has gone to great lengths to oppose efforts by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to attribute chemical weapons use to the Syrian government.

Russia has been the leading critic of the “state-level concept,” an IAEA approach to making its safeguards system more effective by taking into account not only information obtained through its own traditional verification activities but also information obtained from other sources, including intelligence supplied by IAEA member states. Moscow has claimed that reliance on third-party information has enabled Western countries, especially the United States, to manipulate the IAEA to serve their political goals, although Russia seems mainly concerned about information that could incriminate its allies, particularly Iran and Syria.

Reducing the risks of terrorists acquiring potentially vulnerable weapons-usable nuclear materials has been a highly successful area of nonproliferation cooperation, especially between the United States and Russia. Such nuclear security cooperation between Moscow and Washington no longer exists, in part because Russia has come to resent the image of dependence on U.S. assistance in securing materials and facilities in Russia. A critical additional factor was the sharp downturn in U.S.-Russian relations after Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, with Washington imposing sanctions in 2014 in response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Moscow retaliated by pulling the plug on key nuclear security programs, and Congress prohibited U.S. funding for nuclear projects in Russia. Emblematic of the near-total breakdown of bilateral cooperation on nuclear security was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision not to attend the 2016 nuclear security summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama.

The reduction in U.S.-Chinese nuclear security cooperation in recent years has been much less dramatic, largely because such cooperation has never been as extensive as U.S.-Russian cooperation. With the downward spiral of U.S.-Chinese relations from 2016 to 2020, however, bilateral cooperation has significantly declined. Some technical, working-level contacts have persisted, but senior-level mechanisms to oversee and steer cooperative engagement no longer meet.

Obstacles to future nonproliferation cooperation

The decline in U.S. nonproliferation cooperation with Russia and China will be difficult to reverse. Clearly, the greatest obstacle is the overall deterioration of U.S. relations with its two great-power competitors. Such cooperation requires a modicum of mutual trust, but today such trust no longer exists. It requires channels of dialogue and communication, but virtually all bilateral channels have been shut down. It also requires a measure of domestic support for bilateral engagement, but public and elite opinion in Russia and China has grown extremely skeptical of the benefits of engagement with the United States, and vice versa.

The continued downturn in bilateral relations could undercut one of China’s historically strong motivations for constructive engagement on nonproliferation: a desire for better relations with the United States. Beijing has tended to take positive nonproliferation steps when relations with Washington were good or improving and to be more uncooperative when relations were declining, especially when it was angered by U.S. actions, such as the accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999, which some Chinese believed was intentional, or major U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

Another related obstacle is that Russia and China, in balancing their interest in nonproliferation against what they see as their interest in strengthening strategic relationships with friendly countries such as Iran, North Korea, and Syria, now apparently assign a higher priority to the latter relative to the former. Sensing an opportunity presented by the prospect of reduced U.S. engagement in the Middle East, Putin has sought to make Russia a major actor and broker in the region, including by intervening militarily to support Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war and working closely with Iran to ensure Assad’s victory and undermine U.S. interests in the region. Similarly, Chinese President Xi Jinping, fearing that U.S.-North Korean and South Korean-North Korean diplomacy could leave China on the sidelines in shaping the future of the Korean Peninsula, decided in 2018 to restore close ties with Pyongyang after a period of estrangement. The growing inclination of Moscow and Beijing to solidify what they regard as strategically useful partnerships helps explain why they now often back Iran, North Korea, and Syria in key nonproliferation disputes and shield them against further harsh sanctions.

An additional obstacle to cooperation, at least in recent years, has been Russian and Chinese opposition to specific nonproliferation policies of the Trump administration. That obstacle could be somewhat reduced under a Biden administration, at least on some issues, such as Iran. On other issues, however, including Syria, the roles and methods of the IAEA and OPCW, and the utility of sanctions as a nonproliferation tool, strong differences predated the Trump administration and would likely remain.

Cooperation remains essential

At a time when U.S. nonproliferation cooperation with Russia and China has all but disappeared, challenges to the global nonproliferation regime appear to be growing.

With the JCPOA largely hollowed out and Iran rebuilding its enrichment program, fear of an Iranian nuclear weapon or at least a latent nuclear weapons capability has returned and, with it, the prospect that Saudi Arabia and perhaps others in the Middle East will pursue a matching capability.

U.S. diplomacy with North Korea has reached a dead end. Pyongyang continues to advance its nuclear and missile programs, and U.S. allies South Korea and Japan, worried by the expanding threat from the North and increasingly uncertain about the reliability of U.S. security guarantees, may rethink the option of acquiring their own nuclear deterrents.

Assertive postures by Russia and China in their respective regions have elevated the security concerns of their non-nuclear neighbors, including Japan in the case of China.

Sophisticated illicit networks trafficking in proliferation-sensitive technologies have made detection of embryonic covert nuclear programs more difficult.

In their aggressive efforts to sell nuclear reactors, some nuclear supplier governments may relax the nonproliferation controls they require their customers to accept.

Continued polarization among parties to the NPT, fueled by dissatisfaction that progress toward nuclear disarmament has stalled and concern that U.S.-Russian arms control agreements are unraveling, has impeded efforts to strengthen nonproliferation controls and could weaken the authority of the treaty as a barrier to the acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Preventing the deterioration of the global nonproliferation regime will require the restoration of cooperation among the world’s three most influential nuclear powers.

Policy recommendations

Despite the highly acrimonious state of U.S. relations with Moscow and Beijing, efforts should be made to explore prospects for nonproliferation cooperation in some key areas.

Resuming channels of engagement

A first critical step is procedural rather than substantive: establishing channels for nonproliferation consultations. Such channels existed with Russia and China during previous U.S. administrations, sometimes under the umbrella of formal, high-level bilateral mechanisms covering a wide range of issues, such as the Clinton administration’s Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission and the George W. Bush administration’s U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue.

Such top-level umbrella mechanisms are probably not feasible today, at least in the immediate future. Yet, less formal, lower-profile bilateral dialogues on nonproliferation can and should be established. These dialogues should be carried out at a high but subcabinet level, such as by undersecretaries or assistant secretaries. They should be dedicated to nonproliferation and not also seek to address nuclear arms control, which should be the focus of separate consultations to allow each subject to be handled in depth in the limited time available and with the required expertise at the table. Consultations should be held on a regular basis and should operate with a minimum of publicity to increase the likelihood of more candid interactions.

If establishing dedicated bilateral mechanisms proves difficult, the countries should look for opportunities to engage on the margins of existing multilateral meetings where relevant officials are present, such as the IAEA General Conference and meetings of the five NPT nuclear-weapon states.

Pursuing new negotiations with Iran

Iran’s nuclear capabilities will remain high on the international nonproliferation agenda in 2021 and beyond. Whatever the fate of the JCPOA, Washington can be expected to seek engagement with Iran to pursue long-term restrictions on its nuclear capacity and address its destabilizing regional activities. In light of strong Iranian mistrust and resentment toward the United States over the Trump administration’s JCPOA withdrawal and “maximum pressure” campaign, it is uncertain whether and on what terms Iranian leaders will be prepared to engage, especially given political dynamics in Tehran in the run-up to the June presidential election.

To persuade Iran to come back to the negotiating table and engage constructively by not insisting on compensation for economic losses from U.S. sanctions or other unrealistic positions, the United States will need the help of its former P5+1 partners. That means rebuilding bridges destroyed by the Trump administration’s self-isolating policies, especially its futile effort to snap back previous U.N. Security Council sanctions. Regaining the support of its European allies and working closely with its Middle Eastern partners will be critical first steps, but collaboration with Russia and China will also be essential.

Although Russia and China presumably continue to agree with the United States on the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, getting them to cooperate with Washington on a new agreement will be more difficult than it was to gain their support in the JCPOA negotiations. They are more inclined now to support Iran as a strategic partner, oppose sanctions as a means of incentivizing Tehran, give Iran the benefit of the doubt on its nuclear intentions, and see the United States rather than Iran as the source of the problem.

A key factor in gaining Chinese and Russian cooperation will be the U.S. negotiating position. If Washington hopes to get them and the Europeans on board, it will need to alter its current demands and adopt an approach that Beijing and Moscow believe is a reasonable starting point for negotiations. That means confining a new agreement to the nuclear issue and not linking progress in the nuclear negotiations to important but separate efforts to address Iran’s regional activities; seeking to limit but not eliminate Iran’s uranium-enrichment program; offering sufficient and credible sanctions relief; and dropping regime change as an explicit or implicit goal of U.S. policy.

Curbing the North Korean threat

Addressing the North Korean nuclear and missile threat will also be a top U.S. goal in 2021. As in the case of Iran, however, cooperation by Russia and China is less likely now than it was just a few years ago. A consistent, long-term goal of both countries, especially China, has been to reduce the U.S. military presence and weaken U.S. alliances in East Asia. With bilateral U.S.-Chinese relations cratering and Beijing’s suspicions of a U.S. Indo-Pacific containment strategy growing, that goal has assumed greater importance and the scope for cooperation has substantially narrowed. China increasingly sees U.S. and Chinese interests on the Korean Peninsula as a zero-sum game, illustrated by Beijing’s accusation that U.S. deployment of a sophisticated missile defense system in South Korea and other U.S. military responses to the North Korean nuclear threat are aimed largely at China.

Nonetheless, while strengthening their ties with Pyongyang and parting ways with the United States on enforcement of sanctions, Russia and China continue to share Washington’s interest in a peaceful, nuclear weapons-free Korean Peninsula, an outcome that would have the benefit, from their perspective, of reducing Washington’s need to respond to North Korean capabilities in a way they would regard as threatening, such as a major buildup of U.S. missile defenses.

Finding common ground on a negotiated solution will require the three countries, especially the United States and China, to modify their current positions. For Washington, that means accepting that denuclearization is a long-term, step-by-step process; that Pyongyang will have to be provided meaningful incentives at each step of the way; and that the first step will be a partial measure with no reliable guarantee that the goal of complete denuclearization will eventually be realized. For Beijing, it means recognizing that it will have to lean heavily on North Korea to get it to accept strict and verifiable measures and that, even if an agreement can be reached that reduces the North Korean threat, the United States and its allies will continue to reinforce their capabilities to deter the North. Russia will need to add its weight to Chinese efforts to encourage more flexible North Korean negotiating behavior. It will also need to work bilaterally with Washington, given their unique arms control experience, to demonstrate to Pyongyang that effective verification measures can be implemented without compromising national security interests.

Revitalizing nuclear security and nuclear energy cooperation

Nuclear security is the most promising area for resuming U.S. cooperation with Russia and China largely because the three countries have a genuine common interest in preventing terrorists from getting their hands on the materials needed to make nuclear weapons or dirty bombs.

Moreover, U.S.-Russian reengagement would be facilitated by the long history of cooperation in this area, by the close personal and institutional ties that developed during that long history, and by the apparent desire of technical experts on both sides to resume cooperation. The United States and China do not have the extensive record of nuclear security cooperation shared by Washington and Moscow, but neither do they have the accumulated resentments and internal opposition toward such cooperation that came to bedevil U.S.-Russian nuclear security programs.

If U.S.-Russian nuclear security cooperation is to be resurrected, it will have to abandon the past donor-recipient relationship and become a more equal partnership, with both sides sharing best practices rather than Russia simply adopting U.S. practices and with each side able to derive the benefits it seeks. That means not only pursuing the nuclear security agenda favored by the United States, but also cooperating in the fields of nuclear science and nuclear energy that the Russian nuclear establishment seeks. Furthermore, it would be useful to recognize if not welcome that Russia’s interest in cooperative projects will often depend on its calculation of commercial gain. A study by prominent U.S.- and Russian-based think tanks has recommended an extensive menu of possible future cooperation that includes developing the next generation of safe and reliable nuclear reactors, creating proliferation-resistant nuclear fuels, improving the safety of nuclear power plants, improving nuclear security and accounting technologies, and enhancing nuclear security in other countries embarking on nuclear energy programs.

Despite the termination of most U.S.-Russian nuclear security cooperation, the two countries have managed to continue as co-chairs of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT), a multilateral partnership dedicated to strengthening the capacity of its members to prevent, detect, and respond to acts of nuclear terrorism. In the months and years to come, they should look for opportunities to expand cooperation, perhaps initially under the umbrella of multilateral forums such as GICNT and IAEA-sponsored conferences, but eventually by setting up dedicated bilateral mechanisms and reestablishing a legal framework for cooperation.2

Resuming and expanding U.S.-Chinese nuclear security cooperation may face fewer hurdles than U.S.-Russian cooperation. Unlike in the case of Russia, there is a legal framework still in place, the 1997 Agreement on the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technology, and an ongoing mechanism that could provide a venue for expert discussions on a range of nuclear security issues. That venue is China’s Center of Excellence, created with U.S. assistance in 2016 for nuclear security exchanges and training. Future cooperation could build on such past efforts as the establishment of a radiation detection training center, a “Megaports Initiative” to enhance detection capability at Shanghai’s container port, and technical exchanges on implementing nuclear export controls. In addition, it could build on previous collaborative work in converting Chinese-built Miniature Neutron Sources Reactors, first in China and then in Ghana and Nigeria, to operate with low-enriched uranium.

Strengthening the NPT regime

The United States and Russia, and China after it joined the NPT in 1992, have been strong supporters of the treaty, and they continue to have a common interest in ensuring that it will remain an effective barrier to nuclear proliferation. Their support has been most evident at NPT review conferences, held every five years, at which the United States, China, and Russia, joined by France and the United Kingdom (the other two NPT nuclear-weapon states) have traditionally banded together to promote successful conference outcomes and to defend their records against criticism from non-nuclear-weapon states-parties that they are not doing enough to fulfill their treaty obligations to pursue nuclear disarmament.

The worsening of bilateral relations among the five, however, has led to a cracking of that solidarity. In preparations for the 2020 review conference, loud recriminations among the five, especially between the United States and Russia, have contributed to a pessimistic outlook for the conference.

• Reducing nuclear dangers. To promote a successful 2020 review conference, which was postponed until 2021 by the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington, Moscow, and Beijing should set aside their differences and seek common ground, including on issues related to nuclear disarmament. Agreement by the United States and Russia to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty would do much to improve conference prospects. So would the beginning of U.S.-Chinese strategy stability talks, which could help avoid a destabilizing arms competition and reduce the likelihood of inadvertent armed conflict between the two world powers, even if Beijing continues its unwillingness to negotiate formal limits on its nuclear forces.

• Cooperating in the P5 process. The P5 process, a consultative mechanism initiated in 2009 to facilitate cooperation among the NPT’s five nuclear-weapon states, has so far produced useful but modest results, such as a glossary of key nuclear terms. To demonstrate to non-nuclear-armed states that they are serious about fulfilling their NPT obligation to reduce nuclear dangers, the five have begun turning to more strategically important efforts, including an in-depth dialogue on nuclear doctrines and policies and an examination of nuclear risk reduction measures. Given the current absence of bilateral channels for strategic engagement, the United States should make the most of the process. Despite the multilateral nature of the process, it can provide a venue for informal bilateral contacts.

• Fixing the NPT withdrawal problem. The United States, Russia, and China should take the lead in reinforcing the effectiveness of the NPT. A major contribution would be to correct one of the treaty’s main shortcomings: if a party exercises its right to withdraw, IAEA safeguards on its nuclear facilities and materials automatically lapse, leaving it legally entitled to use the facilities and materials it acquired under the treaty in a nuclear weapons program. Several past proposals for addressing this problem have had broad support, including among the nuclear-weapon countries, but were never adopted. With some NPT parties now hinting at withdrawal and possibly considering a run for nuclear weapons, the three countries should work together to fix it.

• Strengthening IAEA safeguards. Russia and the United States could also give a significant boost to the IAEA safeguards system by resolving their differences on the agency’s state-level concept. As recommended by a distinguished group of U.S. and Russian experts, the IAEA should make clear that although intelligence and other information supplied by member states can play an important role in helping to direct and focus the agency’s resources and activities, IAEA conclusions on safeguards and compliance questions will be based on objective criteria and will rely on IAEA safeguards methods and investigations, independent of any third-party information. Moreover, to ensure confidence in the impartiality of IAEA safeguards findings and judgments, the agency should be as transparent as possible in communicating to member states how it has reached its conclusions.

• Coordinating nuclear export policies. The United States should seek to engage Russia, China, and other key suppliers of nuclear reactors, materials, and technology on their nuclear export policies. As a matter of law or policy, the United States goes well beyond the agreed NSG standards. It requires, as conditions of supply, that its non-nuclear-weapon state customers adhere to the additional protocol to their IAEA safeguards agreements and accept constraints on enrichment and reprocessing, including in a few cases the renunciation of future enrichment or reprocessing. Motivated in large part by a commercial desire to boost nuclear exports, most other nuclear supplier governments, including Russia and China, are much less demanding of their customers. The proliferation risk is that countries seeking nuclear weapons or at least the nuclear infrastructure that could give them a future nuclear weapons option will choose to deal with suppliers with less stringent controls. Compounding this problem is the generous, government-supported financing arrangements that several supplier countries are prepared to offer to secure nuclear sales. Given the strong determination of U.S. nuclear competitors to export, it would be unrealistic to expect Washington to persuade other supplier governments to adopt rigorous U.S. nuclear export policies on a worldwide basis. There may be cases, however, in which informal coordination of nuclear supply conditions could be pursued. Saudi Arabia could be one such opportunity. Vendors from China, France, Russia, South Korea, and the United States are vying to sell reactors to the country even as its leader says the nation will acquire nuclear weapons if Iran does. Washington would have a difficult time getting the others to match its demand that Saudi Arabia forswear enrichment or reprocessing for an extended period of time, but perhaps they could all agree to require Saudi adherence to an additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement as a condition of supply, something Riyadh has so far resisted.

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Conclusion

Since the NPT negotiations of the 1960s and until fairly recently, the United States has been the leading and most often the dominant player in international efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation, but U.S. dominance is declining. It is now only one of several increasingly capable and aggressive competitors for worldwide nuclear sales, and it no longer has the clout in the international civil nuclear market to exert major influence over the terms of global nuclear trade. It remains by far the world’s strongest military power, but it is being challenged for local military superiority in the western Pacific and eastern Europe, and questions are being raised about the sustainability of its overseas military presence and the reliability of its security guarantees, which have historically reduced incentives for U.S. allies to acquire nuclear weapons. U.S. sanctions are still a formidable coercive tool to fight proliferation, but the targets of coercion have become well practiced in sanctions evasion, and resentment toward what is widely regarded as U.S. overuse of sanctions has given rise to consideration of how to work around or reduce the international economic role of the dollar.3

These developments do not mean the United States will be unable to continue playing its traditional leading role in preventing proliferation. Indeed, U.S. leadership will remain indispensable. No other country or group of countries has the resources, experience, or will to take its place, but it does mean the United States will need partners more than ever. Although Washington will naturally look to its allies and friends around the world to cooperate in the fight against proliferation, it will also need to gain the cooperation of Moscow and Beijing.

Russia and China, however, have pushed nonproliferation interests lower on their hierarchy of national priorities as they pursue their geopolitical interest in supporting partners that pose proliferation risks and their commercial interest in selling nuclear reactors or securing reliable energy supplies. With U.S.-Russian and U.S.-Chinese relations reaching new lows and unlikely to improve for the foreseeable future, prospects for nonproliferation cooperation are uncertain at best.

Still, as difficult as it may be to find common ground and carve out areas of cooperation in otherwise highly adversarial relationships, the Biden administration must make every effort to do so. Cooperation with the two U.S. great-power competitors will not guarantee success in overcoming the growing nonproliferation challenges the international community will face in the years ahead, but the absence of such cooperation will surely increase the risks of failure.

Explosion Outside the Temple Walls Reportedly Leaves 15 Injured: Revelation 11

Explosion In Northern Gaza Reportedly Leaves 15 Injured

January 23, 2021, 12:06 PM

An explosion heard in the Gaza Strip Saturday morning has reportedly left 36 people injured, according to The Times of Israel

The cause of the blast, which allegedly occurred inside the home of a Hamas operative in Beit Hanoun, remains unknown.

Injuries resulting from the blast range from light to moderate, according to local media sources, with no fatalities reported.

The Islamist terror group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, said it has opened an investigation and is combing the area for evidence.

In past incidents, explosions have been set off accidentally by members of Hamas or other terrorist organizations in the Palestinian territory while assembling or handling weapons.

In the predawn hours of Tuesday morning, the IDF launched a retaliatory strike against Palestinian terrorists after a projectile from the Gaza Strip landed in Israeli territory.

In a tweet, the Israeli military said that IDF tanks fired at Hamas positions in retaliation, although no group claimed responsibility for the attack.

The projectile launched from the coastal enclave on Monday landed in open terrain in southern Israel, causing no damage.

Sirens warning of incoming rockets were not activated as the projectile fell too far from any community to pose danger, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson said in a statement.

Israel holds Hamas, the Islamist terror group ruling over Gaza, responsible for all acts of aggression issuing from the coastal territory.

The Growing Pakistani Nuclear Horn: Daniel 8

Pakistan Army’s Ranking improved

By Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan

January 24, 2021

According to data issued by the group on its official website, Pakistan Army has been ranked the 10th most powerful in the world out of 133 countries on the Global Firepower index 2021.Especially the Special Services Group (SSG) is among the best in the world.  Just behind; 1- United States PwrIndx: 0.0721,  2- Russia PwrIndx: 0.0796, 3- China PwrIndx: 0.0858, 4- India PwrIndx: 0.1214, 5- Japan PwrIndx: 0.1435, 6- South Korea PwrIndx: 0.1621, 7- France PwrIndx: 0.1691, 8- United Kingdom PwrIndx: 0.2008, 9- Brazil PwrIndx: 0.2037, 10- Pakistan PwrIndx: 0.2083.

Global Firepower (GFP) list relies on more than 50 factors to determine a nation’s Power Index (‘PwrIndx’) score with categories ranging from military might and financials to logistical capability and geography.

Our unique, in-house formula allows for smaller, more technologically-advanced, nations to compete with larger, lesser-developed ones. In the form of bonuses and penalties, special modifiers are applied to further refine the annual list. Color arrows indicate a year-over-year trend comparison.

The geopolitical environment, especially the regional security situation, is quite hostile. Pakistan is bordering India, a typical adversary and has not accepted Pakistan’s independence from the core of heart, and always trying to damage Pakistan. The Kashmir issue is a long standing issue between the two rivals. On the other hand, the Afghan situation is a permanent security threat for Pakistan. Bordering Iran means always facing a danger of aggression from the US or Israel on Iran, resulting in vulnerabilities in Pakistan. The Middle East is a hot burning region and posing instability in the region. The growing tension between China and the US is also a source of a major headache for Pakistan.

Under such a scenario, Pakistan has to be very conscious regarding its security and sovereignty. Although Pakistan’s ailing economy is not supporting its defense needs, it may not compromise strategic issues for its survival. Pakistan focuses on the quality of its forces instead of quantity. The tough training makes a real difference—the utilization of Science and Technology-enabled Pakistan to maintain its supremacy.

Pakistan is situated at a crucial location – the entrance point to the oil-rich Arabian Gulf is just on the major trading route for energy. Pakistan is at the conjunction of Africa, Europe, Eurasia, Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and China. Pakistan is a pivotal state and always focus of world powers.

During the cold war era, Pakistan sided with the US and protected the region’s American interests. The US military establishment knows well that as long as Pakistan stands with the US, it can achieve all its strategic goals in the region. However, It was the American choice to give more importance to India and ignore Pakistan.

Pakistan is a peace-loving nation and struggling for the promotion of peace globally. Pakistan always raises its voice at the UN and other international forums for oppressed ones and against any injustice. Pakistan. In the history of seven decades, Pakistan was never involved in any aggression against any country. Pakistan’s official stance is, “We are partner for peace with any country, any nation, or individuals.” Pakistan is a partner and supporter of any peace-initiative in any part of the world. 

However, Pakistan is always prepared to protect its territorial integrity and will not allow any aggressor to harm our sovereignty at any cost. Pakistan is determined for its independence and geographical integrity.

Pakistan is no threat to any country or nation. Neither have any intention of expansion. But always ready to give a tough time to any aggressor.

The Iranian Nuclear Horns are Spreading: Daniel 8:4

Nukes, terror, Syria, Iraq, Hezbollah – Iran’s tentacles are spreading

Iran has often used the nuclear program to distract from its real desire: Regional hegemony

Israel is preparing a full-court press to discuss Iran’s threats with the new US administration, according to various media reports. National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat spoke on Saturday with Jake Sullivan, his counterpart in the Biden administration, and Mossad head Yossi Cohen is expected to travel soon to Washington to present Israel’s concerns to his counterparts in the intelligence community.

The discussions are expected to be wide-ranging. According to the report, they will likely include Iran stopping uranium enrichment, ending production of advanced centrifuges and stopping support for various terrorist proxies and militias. The proxies include Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, as well as Iran’s threatening posture in Syria and Iraq. There are other concerns as well.

Sometimes in negotiations, one side outlines its ideal demands at the outset to get only some of them fulfilled at the end. This laundry list looks like that. Throw enough problems at the wall, and surely the US and Israel can work some of them out.

On the other hand, what Israel is sketching out also looks a lot more like an Iranian elephant in the room than just a nuclear problem. Iran has often used the nuclear program to distract from its real desire: to achieve regional hegemony.

The nuclear program is just one part of a vast military-industrial complex in Iran that involves advanced precision-guided ballistic missiles, sophisticated drones, new naval assets and a coterie of militias across the region.

Iran funds and arms Hezbollah, including secret production facilities for weapons. Iran has placed drones in Syria and even tried to put its Khordad air-defense system there. It has moved weapons to the T4 and Imam Ali bases and other centers in Syria. It is trying to move precision-guided munitions production to Lebanon or Syria, has moved drone and missile technology to the Houthis in Yemen, and in 2018, it moved ballistic missiles to western Iraq.

Never in history has a country taken such a multilayered approach so quickly to try to place a footprint across the region. In contrast to Western arms sales to countries in the Middle East, Iran has moved quickly to deploy its systems across the region. It has acted in contravention of international law, mining ships in the Gulf of Oman, attacking Saudi Arabia with drones in 2019 and moving weapons illegally across sovereign countries to illegal militias.

This is Iran’s method.

Iran’s nuclear program is, therefore, not sui generis and has wrongly been examined as its own entity instead of part of a larger Iranian game plan. Iran has often enjoyed letting the world talk about the nuclear program and the rate of enrichment and number of centrifuges, while it focused efforts on putting its first military satellite in orbit and improved its range of solid- and liquid-fueled missiles.

Iran turns the nuclear program on and off depending on how it wants to heat up negotiations. The program is a kind of bogeyman and form of blackmail all rolled into one.

Over the past several years, Israel’s focus shifted to deal with Iran’s entrenchment in Syria. With relative quiet in Lebanon and Hezbollah focused on the Syrian civil war, Israel has launched more than 1,000 airstrikes against Iran’s presence in Syria. Recent reports note Iran may have withdrawn some IRGC assets from Syria, and that some militias may be moving from Deir Ezzor and Albukamal in the northeast to across the border in Iraq.

However, reports have also noted increased threats from Yemen. The US designated the Houthis as terrorists, which the new administration is expected to review, and similarly designated militias in Iraq and key figures, including Abu Fadak of Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq.

US officials also pressed to enable Israel more operational freedom to confront Iran’s militia presence.

This happened, to some extent, after James Mattis left his role as secretary of defense in 2018. It is believed that James Jeffrey and others at the State Department pressed for more support for Israel in its campaign against Iran in Syria.

That means that between 2018 and the end of 2020 there was a kind of hand-in-glove approach: Israel was the fist that hammered the Iranians in Syria, and the US was the glove around the fist, encouraging and supporting it. For the US, this was a win-win because the administration could say it didn’t start any new foreign wars – it just outsourced them to Israel.

For defense experts, some of whom were reportedly skeptical about the abilities of the F-35, there has been a boon as well, with three joint training exercises between US and Israeli F-35 pilots last year. According to an Al Arabiya report last May, Israel has used the F-35 against Iranian targets in Syria. The first reports of the F-35 being used in combat date back to 2018.

Iraq’s government and its pro-Iranian militias blame Israel for carrying out airstrikes in July and August 2019 against Iranian militia targets in Iraq. This caused tensions between Iraq and US air operations. It has also caused the pro-Iran militias to look skyward.

An explosion in Iraq earlier this month led militias to spread rumors of another mysterious strike. That was proven to be false, but the initial blame game illustrates how Israel is viewed. In the fall of 2017, Qais Khazali, an Iraqi pro-Iran militia leader, went to Lebanon and said Iraq’s militias would support Hezbollah if a war broke out with Israel.

Current and future discussions with the Biden administration will focus on the larger Iranian octopus spreading its tentacles across the region. How to deal with that octopus and all its threats is the real hurdle. The nuclear program is just the kind of distracting dress that the octopus wears to distract from the larger looming problem.