Columbia University Warns Of Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Earthquakes May Endanger New York More Than Thought, Says Study
A study by a group of prominent seismologists suggests that a pattern of subtle but active faults makes the risk of earthquakes to the New York City area substantially greater than formerly believed. Among other things, they say that the controversial Indian Point nuclear power plants, 24 miles north of the city, sit astride the previously unidentified intersection of two active seismic zones. The paper appears in the current issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.
Many faults and a few mostly modest quakes have long been known around New York City, but the research casts them in a new light. The scientists say the insight comes from sophisticated analysis of past quakes, plus 34 years of new data on tremors, most of them perceptible only by modern seismic instruments. The evidence charts unseen but potentially powerful structures whose layout and dynamics are only now coming clearer, say the scientists. All are based at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, which runs the network of seismometers that monitors most of the northeastern United States.
Lead author Lynn R. Sykes said the data show that large quakes are infrequent around New Yorkcompared to more active areas like California and Japan, but that the risk is high, because of the overwhelming concentration of people and infrastructure. “The research raises the perception both of how common these events are, and, specifically, where they may occur,” he said. “It’s an extremely populated area with very large assets.” Sykes, who has studied the region for four decades, is known for his early role in establishing the global theory of plate tectonics.
The authors compiled a catalog of all 383 known earthquakes from 1677 to 2007 in a 15,000-square-mile area around New York City. Coauthor John Armbruster estimated sizes and locations of dozens of events before 1930 by combing newspaper accounts and other records. The researchers say magnitude 5 quakes—strong enough to cause damage–occurred in 1737, 1783 and 1884. There was little settlement around to be hurt by the first two quakes, whose locations are vague due to a lack of good accounts; but the last, thought to be centered under the seabed somewhere between Brooklyn and Sandy Hook, toppled chimneys across the city and New Jersey, and panicked bathers at Coney Island. Based on this, the researchers say such quakes should be routinely expected, on average, about every 100 years. “Today, with so many more buildings and people, a magnitude 5 centered below the city would be extremely attention-getting,” said Armbruster. “We’d see billions in damage, with some brick buildings falling. People would probably be killed.”
Starting in the early 1970s Lamont began collecting data on quakes from dozens of newly deployed seismometers; these have revealed further potential, including distinct zones where earthquakes concentrate, and where larger ones could come. The Lamont network, now led by coauthor Won-Young Kim, has located hundreds of small events, including a magnitude 3 every few years, which can be felt by people at the surface, but is unlikely to cause damage. These small quakes tend to cluster along a series of small, old faults in harder rocks across the region. Many of the faults were discovered decades ago when subways, water tunnels and other excavations intersected them, but conventional wisdom said they were inactive remnants of continental collisions and rifting hundreds of millions of years ago. The results clearly show that they are active, and quite capable of generating damaging quakes, said Sykes.
One major previously known feature, the Ramapo Seismic Zone, runs from eastern Pennsylvania to the mid-Hudson Valley, passing within a mile or two northwest of Indian Point. The researchers found that this system is not so much a single fracture as a braid of smaller ones, where quakes emanate from a set of still ill-defined faults. East and south of the Ramapo zone—and possibly more significant in terms of hazard–is a set of nearly parallel northwest-southeast faults. These include Manhattan’s 125th Street fault, which seems to have generated two small 1981 quakes, and could have been the source of the big 1737 quake; the Dyckman Street fault, which carried a magnitude 2 in 1989; the Mosholu Parkway fault; and the Dobbs Ferry fault in suburban Westchester, which generated the largest recent shock, a surprising magnitude 4.1, in 1985. Fortunately, it did no damage. Given the pattern, Sykes says the big 1884 quake may have hit on a yet-undetected member of this parallel family further south.
The researchers say that frequent small quakes occur in predictable ratios to larger ones, and so can be used to project a rough time scale for damaging events. Based on the lengths of the faults, the detected tremors, and calculations of how stresses build in the crust, the researchers say that magnitude 6 quakes, or even 7—respectively 10 and 100 times bigger than magnitude 5–are quite possible on the active faults they describe. They calculate that magnitude 6 quakes take place in the area about every 670 years, and sevens, every 3,400 years. The corresponding probabilities of occurrence in any 50-year period would be 7% and 1.5%. After less specific hints of these possibilities appeared in previous research, a 2003 analysis by The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation put the cost of quakes this size in the metro New York area at $39 billion to $197 billion. A separate 2001 analysis for northern New Jersey’s Bergen County estimates that a magnitude 7 would destroy 14,000 buildings and damage 180,000 in that area alone. The researchers point out that no one knows when the last such events occurred, and say no one can predict when they next might come.
“We need to step backward from the simple old model, where you worry about one large, obvious fault, like they do in California,” said coauthor Leonardo Seeber. “The problem here comes from many subtle faults. 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. We need to take a very close look.” Seeber says that because the faults are mostly invisible at the surface and move infrequently, a big quake could easily hit one not yet identified. “The probability is not zero, and the damage could be great,” he said. “It could be like something out of a Greek myth.”
The researchers found concrete evidence for one significant previously unknown structure: an active seismic zone running at least 25 miles from Stamford, Conn., to the Hudson Valley town of Peekskill, N.Y., where it passes less than a mile north of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. The Stamford-Peekskill line stands out sharply on the researchers’ earthquake map, with small events clustered along its length, and to its immediate southwest. Just to the north, there are no quakes, indicating that it represents some kind of underground boundary. It is parallel to the other faults beginning at 125th Street, so the researchers believe it is a fault in the same family. Like the others, they say it is probably capable of producing at least a magnitude 6 quake. Furthermore, a mile or so on, it intersects the Ramapo seismic zone.
Sykes said the existence of the Stamford-Peekskill line had been suggested before, because the Hudson takes a sudden unexplained bend just ot the north of Indian Point, and definite traces of an old fault can be along the north side of the bend. The seismic evidence confirms it, he said. “Indian Point is situated at the intersection of the two most striking linear features marking the seismicity and also in the midst of a large population that is at risk in case of an accident,” says the paper. “This is clearly one of the least favorable sites in our study area from an earthquake hazard and risk perspective.”
The findings comes at a time when Entergy, the owner of Indian Point, is trying to relicense the two operating plants for an additional 20 years—a move being fought by surrounding communities and the New York State Attorney General. Last fall the attorney general, alerted to the then-unpublished Lamont data, told a Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel in a filing: “New data developed in the last 20 years disclose a substantially higher likelihood of significant earthquake activity in the vicinity of [Indian Point] that could exceed the earthquake design for the facility.” The state alleges that Entergy has not presented new data on earthquakes past 1979. However, in a little-noticed decision this July 31, the panel rejected the argument on procedural grounds. A source at the attorney general’s office said the state is considering its options.
The characteristics of New York’s geology and human footprint may increase the problem. Unlike in California, many New York quakes occur near the surface—in the upper mile or so—and they occur not in the broken-up, more malleable formations common where quakes are frequent, but rather in the extremely hard, rigid rocks underlying Manhattan and much of the lower Hudson Valley. Such rocks can build large stresses, then suddenly and efficiently transmit energy over long distances. “It’s like putting a hard rock in a vise,” said Seeber. “Nothing happens for a while. Then it goes with a bang.” Earthquake-resistant building codes were not introduced to New York City until 1995, and are not in effect at all in many other communities. Sinuous skyscrapers and bridges might get by with minimal damage, said Sykes, but many older, unreinforced three- to six-story brick buildings could crumble.
Art Lerner-Lam, associate director of Lamont for seismology, geology and tectonophysics, pointed out that the region’s major highways including the New York State Thruway, commuter and long-distance rail lines, and the main gas, oil and power transmission lines all cross the parallel active faults, making them particularly vulnerable to being cut. Lerner-Lam, who was not involved in the research, said that the identification of the seismic line near Indian Point “is a major substantiation of a feature that bears on the long-term earthquake risk of the northeastern United States.” He called for policymakers to develop more information on the region’s vulnerability, to take a closer look at land use and development, and to make investments to strengthen critical infrastructure.
“This is a landmark study in many ways,” said Lerner-Lam. “It gives us the best possible evidence that we have an earthquake hazard here that should be a factor in any planning decision. It crystallizes the argument that this hazard is not random. There is a structure to the location and timing of the earthquakes. This enables us to contemplate risk in an entirely different way. And since we are able to do that, we should be required to do that.”
New York Earthquake Briefs and Quotes:
Existing U.S. Geological Survey seismic hazard maps show New York City as facing more hazard than many other eastern U.S. areas. Three areas are somewhat more active—northernmost New York State, New Hampshire and South Carolina—but they have much lower populations and fewer structures. The wider forces at work include pressure exerted from continuing expansion of the mid-Atlantic Ridge thousands of miles to the east; slow westward migration of the North American continent; and the area’s intricate labyrinth of old faults, sutures and zones of weakness caused by past collisions and rifting.
Due to New York’s past history, population density and fragile, interdependent infrastructure, a 2001 analysis by the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranks it the 11th most at-risk U.S. city for earthquake damage. Among those ahead: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. Behind: Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Anchorage.
New York’s first seismic station was set up at Fordham University in the 1920s. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in Palisades, N.Y., has operated stations since 1949, and now coordinates a network of about 40.
Dozens of small quakes have been felt in the New York area. A Jan. 17, 2001 magnitude 2.4, centered  in the Upper East Side—the first ever detected in Manhattan itself–may have originated on the 125th Street fault. Some people thought it was an explosion, but no one was harmed.
The most recent felt quake, a magnitude 2.1 on July 28, 2008, was centered near Milford, N.J. Houses shook and a woman at St. Edward’s Church said she felt the building rise up under her feet—but no damage was done.
Questions about the seismic safety of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which lies amid a metropolitan area of more than 20 million people, were raised in previous scientific papers in 1978 and 1985.
Because the hard rocks under much of New York can build up a lot strain before breaking, researchers believe that modest faults as short as 1 to 10 kilometers can cause magnitude 5 or 6 quakes.
In general, magnitude 3 quakes occur about 10 times more often than magnitude fours; 100 times more than magnitude fives; and so on. This principle is called the Gutenberg-Richter relationship.

The Australian and American Nuclear Horns Join Forces: Daniel 7

Australia, U.S. Teaming to Develop High-Tech Cruise Missiles

EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES

The United States and Australia have joined forces to build air-launched hypersonic cruise missiles that could shift the military balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region.

Defense officials see hypersonics as potentially game-changing weapons. Their ability to travel at speeds greater than Mach 5 with extraordinary maneuverability could provide U.S. and allied forces a new quick-strike option capable of overwhelming enemy defenses, experts say.

The new U.S.-Australian project known as the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment, or SCIFiRE, is an Allied Prototyping Initiative that was formally announced by the two nations in December. The aim is to advance air-breathing hypersonic technologies into full-size prototypes that are cost-effective and provide “a flexible, long-range capability, culminating in flight demonstrations in operationally relevant conditions.”

“This initiative will be essential to the future of hypersonic research and development, ensuring the U.S. and our allies lead the world in the advancement of this transformational warfighting capability,” Michael Kratsios, U.S. acting undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, said in a press release.

High-ranking Australian officials are also touting the bilateral effort.

“The SCIFiRE initiative is another opportunity to advance … our Air Combat Capability Program to support joint force effects to advance Australia’s security and prosperity,” said Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, chief of the Royal Australian Air Force.

“Working with our defense scientists here in Australia and our partners in the U.S. Air Force and across the U.S. Department of Defense … we are maximizing our learning during development to better define the capabilities and needs as the system matures,” he added.

While Pentagon officials have made no bones about the fact that developing and fielding hypersonics is a top priority to keep pace with China, Australia’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update only went so far as to say that the government’s plans to acquire advanced strike capabilities would “potentially” include hypersonic weapons.

However, the technology is also a high priority for Canberra, even though the language in the document was “somewhat vague,” said Malcolm Davis, a senior defense analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a prominent think tank.

“The way Australia does policy, I think maybe it’s a little bit more cautious in its public pronouncements than the U.S. is,” he said. “But when you look beneath the surface and you speak to people in defense, it’s a very different picture. They are very focused on this. They are very clear in where they’re going.

“The very fact that we’ve now signed this agreement with the United States a mere few months after the release of the defense strategic update should tell you that we are very committed to developing hypersonic weapons,” he added.

Concerns about China are motivating Canberra’s push for new long-range strike capabilities.

Although the defense strategic update doesn’t explicitly name China as a threat, “everyone understands that’s what the document is about,” Davis said.

The Pentagon has a number of other hypersonics projects underway such as the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon, also known as ARRW or “Arrow,” which would utilize rockets to boost the systems into their glide phase.

However, SCIFiRE’s pursuit of air-breathing propulsion technology could offer an advantage by enabling hypersonic missiles to be carried by a broader array of tactical aircraft than the rocket-propelled systems.

“Scramjet technology in cruise missiles allows us to make hypersonic weapons that are cheaper and smaller — small enough to be able to go onto our fighter inventory,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Will Roper told reporters during a Defense Writers Group event. “As we look to [aircraft] programs like F-15EX that can carry quite a lot of weapons externally, having something that can be a hypersonic strike platform closer in creates another conundrum for an adversary.”

Davis said the systems could be carried by Australia’s F/A-18F Super Hornets, and perhaps by robotic wingmen that are being designed to accompany fighter jets into battle.

Boeing Australia has already built an Airpower Teaming System drone, and the U.S. Air Force has its own robotic wingman program known as Skyborg.

Jim Faist, the Pentagon’s director of defense research and engineering for advanced capabilities, noted that digital engineering tools will be used to explore options.

“We’re trying to build digital twins of these systems,” he said in an interview. “The hope is that through digital twins, we can accelerate the transition onto many different types of platforms. … It’s part of the design work on SCIFiRE. We’ll be looking at that ease of integration on disparate platforms that we have in the services.”

While the new cruise missiles will initially be deployed on aircraft, Davis envisions the technology evolving over time into sea-launched or ground-launched systems.

“It’s an air-launched hypersonic strike weapon for attacking ground targets or maritime targets, but it also blazes the trail for much more capable, longer-range weapons systems down the track,” Davis said.

Notably, both countries intend for the weapons to remain conventional and not be armed with nuclear warheads.

Pentagon officials see a number of benefits in partnering with Australia.

The U.S. treaty ally was previously a major contributor to a long-running joint research initiative known as the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation, or HIFiRE, program, which explored the fundamental science of the technology and its potential for next-generation aeronautical systems.

Building the new prototypes and putting them through their paces will require complex infrastructure such as wind tunnels for the development cycle as well as ranges that can accommodate full-scale flight tests, Faist noted.

Australia has “world-class” flight-testing capabilities, he added, including a facility in Woomera.

The Australians also bring a lot of know-how to the table, U.S. officials say.

“They really are excellent in the science and technology of hypersonics and … they have worked closely with us for a long time. And we like working with them,” said Robert Joseph, the U.S. Air Force’s chief scientist.

Additionally, the Asia-Pacific ally will bear an “equitable” portion of the costs of the SCIFiRE project, Faist said. “They do have tremendous investment in this program.”

Canberra’s force structure plan released in 2020 allotted $9.3 billion for high-speed long-range strike and missile defense, including hypersonic development, test and evaluation. The Pentagon is also investing billions of dollars in its hypersonics portfolio.

Faist declined to say how much funding the two sides are allocating for SCIFiRE specifically, but noted that it will be a “larger budget” R&D effort.

There is also an intention to pursue co-production of the systems, which could help drive down costs.

When might the new weapons be battle ready?

“I expect over the next few months as we share our technical data we’ll have a better sense of how quickly we’ll be able to get to fielding, but I’m not predicting long,” Roper told reporters in December.

“Scramjet [propulsion technology development] is moving faster than I expected,” Roper said. “I predicted it would take longer to get those hypersonic engines matured. And thanks to some stellar approaches to manufacturing, the acceleration period is compelling us to go ahead and start thinking through future programs of record.”

The ARRW program started in 2017, and production could kick off as early as 2021, he noted. “I think we can go just as fast on scramjet.”

Faist said flight testing will be completed by 2025, but officials hope to accelerate that timeline.

For Australia, “the aim is to get this sort of capability operational in this decade, because this is the decade of danger where we are going to face the greatest risks from China,” Davis said.

It’s possible that a new weapon could be ready in the next few years, he said.

“We’ve been doing this research now for some time in the university sector,” he noted. “We’ve got that deep background, that foundation of scientific research and development and understanding, and I think that should hopefully accelerate the process of them taking that from essentially a science experiment to an operational piece of capability much more quickly than if we were starting afresh now.”

Steps are being taken to help the technology make it across the so-called “Valley of Death” between R&D and large-scale production.

Faist said there is a commitment by both nations to transition to a program of record if the project is successful.

Although Faist’s office launched the Allied Prototyping Initiative, the Air Force’s Life Cycle Management Center and program executive officer for weapons are responsible for executing SCIFiRE. The same office will also be responsible for overseeing the follow-on effort once the prototyping and flight testing wrap up, Faist noted.

“That was the other part of the decision on where to do this program,” he said. “It made sense to really build up on the Air Force program management side the internal ability to manage and execute on SCIFiRE, so that then the same team can move out on the program of record.”

Faist said source selection for SCIFiRE had not been completed, but generally speaking the Pentagon would like to have multiple suppliers. A follow-on program of record would be re-competed, he noted.

The weapons will likely be purchased in large quantities on par with other tactical air-launched cruise missiles, Faist said.

“Typically you’re going to get a higher number of production buys on these because of affordability,” he said. “This is a big game-changer for a lot of providers to get into the hypersonic business area, whether as a prime or a supplier.”

Babylon the Great Explores AI Nukes: Revelation 16

U.S. commission cites ‘moral imperative’ to explore AI weapons

Jeffrey Dastin and Paresh Dave

(Reuters) – The United States should not agree to ban the use or development of autonomous weapons powered by artificial intelligence (AI) software, a government-appointed panel said in a draft report for Congress.

The panel, led by former Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, on Tuesday concluded two days of public discussion about how the world’s biggest military power should consider AI for national security and technological advancement.

Its Vice Chairman Robert Work, a former deputy secretary of defense, said autonomous weapons are expected to make fewer mistakes than humans do in battle, leading to reduced casualties or skirmishes caused by target misidentification.

“It is a moral imperative to at least pursue this hypothesis,” he said.

The discussion waded into a controversial frontier of human rights and warfare. For about eight years, a coalition of non-governmental organizations has pushed for a treaty banning “killer robots,” saying human control is necessary to judge attacks’ proportionality and assign blame for war crimes. Thirty countries including Brazil and Pakistan want a ban, according to the coalition’s website, and a United Nations body has held meetings on the systems since at least 2014.

While autonomous weapon capabilities are decades old, concern has mounted with the development of AI to power such systems, along with research finding biases in AI and examples of the software’s abuse.

The U.S. panel, called the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, in meetings this week acknowledged the risks of autonomous weapons. A member from Microsoft Corp for instance warned of pressure to build machines that react quickly, which could escalate conflicts.

The panel only wants humans to make decisions on launching nuclear warheads.

Still, the panel prefers anti-proliferation work to a treaty banning the systems, which it said would be against U.S. interests and difficult to enforce.

Mary Wareham, coordinator of the eight-year Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, said, the commission’s “focus on the need to compete with similar investments made by China and Russia … only serves to encourage arms races.”

Beyond AI-powered weapons, the panel’s lengthy report recommended use of AI by intelligence agencies to streamline data gathering and review; $32 billion in annual federal funding for AI research; and new bodies including a digital corps modeled after the army’s Medical Corps and a technology competitiveness council chaired by the U.S. vice president.

The commission is due to submit its final report to Congress in March, but the recommendations are not binding.

(Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco and Paresh Dave in Oakland; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

The Coming Nuclear Space War: Revelation 17

How Space Became the Next ‘Great Power’ Contest Between the U.S. and China

The Biden administration faces not only waves of Chinese antisatellite weapons but a history of jumbled responses to the intensifying threat.

The Space Force created during the Trump administration seeks new weapons to ensure its superiority in “a war-fighting domain.”

Beijing’s rush for antisatellite arms began 15 years ago. Now, it can threaten the orbital fleets that give the United States military its technological edge. Advanced weapons at China’s military bases can fire warheads that smash satellites and can shoot laser beams that have a potential to blind arrays of delicate sensors.

And China’s cyberattacks can, at least in theory, cut off the Pentagon from contact with fleets of satellites that track enemy movements, relay communications among troops and provide information for the precise targeting of smart weapons.

Among the most important national security issues now facing President Biden is how to contend with the threat that China poses to the American military in space and, by extension, terrestrial forces that rely on the overhead platforms.

The Biden administration has yet to indicate what it plans to do with President Donald J. Trump’s legacy in this area: the Space Force, a new branch of the military that has been criticized as an expensive and ill-advised escalation that could lead to a dangerous new arms race.

Mr. Trump presented the initiative as his own, and it now suffers from an association with him and remains the brunt of jokes on television. But its creation was also the culmination of strategic choices by his predecessors, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, to counter an emboldened China that raised bipartisan alarm.

“There’s been a dawning realization that our space systems are quite vulnerable,” said Greg Grant, a Pentagon official in the Obama administration who helped devise its response to China. “The Biden administration will see more funding — not less — going into space defense and dealing with these threats.”

The protective goal is to create an American presence in orbit so resilient that, no matter how deadly the attacks, it will function well enough for the military to project power halfway around the globe in terrestrial reprisals and counterattacks. That could deter Beijing’s strikes in the first place. The hard question is how to achieve that kind of strong deterrence.

Lloyd J. Austin III, a retired four-star Army general who was confirmed last week as Mr. Biden’s secretary of defense, told the Senate that he would keep a “laserlike focus” on sharpening the country’s “competitive edge” against China’s increasingly powerful military. Among other things, he called for new American strides in building “space-based platforms” and repeatedly referred to space as a war-fighting domain.

“Space is already an arena of great power competition,” Mr. Austin said, with China “the most significant threat going forward.”

The new administration has shown interest in tapping the innovations of space entrepreneurs as a means of strengthening the military’s hand — what Mr. Austin in his Senate testimony called “partnerships with commercial space entities.” The Obama and Trump administrations both adopted that strategy as a uniquely American way of sharpening the military’s edge.

Experts clash on whether the United States is doing too little or too much. Defense hawks had lobbied for decades for the creation of a military Space Corps and called for more spending on weapons.

But arms controllers see the Space Force as raising global tensions and giving Beijing an excuse to accelerate its own threatening measures. Some go further and call it a precipitous move that will increase the likelihood of war.

In decades past, especially during the “Star Wars” program of the Reagan administration, conflict in space was often portrayed as shootouts in orbit. That has changed. With few exceptions, the weapons are no longer seen as circling the planet but as being deployed from secure bases. So, too, the targets are no longer swarms of nuclear warheads but fleets of satellites, whose recurring, predictable paths while orbiting the Earth make them far easier to destroy.

A main question is whether the antisatellite moves and countermoves will lower or raise the risks of miscalculation and war. That debate is just beginning.

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A U.S. Army rocket is launched during an exercise in Kuwait in 2003. Chinese officials noticed how much the U.S. military’s successes were rooted in space dominance.

Beijing’s Surge

For years, the Chinese studied — with growing anxiety — the American military, especially its invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. The battlefield successes were seen as rooted in space dominance. Planners noted that thousands of satellite-guided bombs and cruise missiles had rained down with devastating precision on Taliban forces and Iraqi defenses.

While the Pentagon’s edge in orbital assets was clearly a threat to China, planners argued that it might also represent a liability.

“They saw how the U.S. projected power,” said Todd Harrison, a space analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. “And they saw that it was largely undefended.”

China began its antisatellite tests in 2005. It fired two missiles in two years and then made headlines in 2007 by shattering a derelict weather satellite. There was no explosion. The inert warhead simply smashed into the satellite at blinding speed. The successful test reverberated globally because it was the first such act of destruction since the Cold War.

The whirling shards, more than 150,000 in all, threatened satellites as well as the International Space Station. Ground controllers raced to move dozens of spacecraft and astronauts out of harm’s way.

The Bush administration initially did little. Then, in a show of force meant to send Beijing a message, in 2008, it fired a sophisticated missile to shoot down one of its own satellites.

Beijing conducted about a dozen more tests, including ones in which warheads shot much higher, in theory putting most classes of American spacecraft at risk.

China also sought to diversify its antisatellite force. A warhead could take hours to reach a high orbit, potentially giving American forces time for evasive or retaliatory action. Moreover, the speeding debris from a successful attack might endanger Beijing’s own spacecraft.

In tests, China began firing weak laser beams at satellites and studying other ways to strike at the speed of light. However, all the techniques were judged as requiring years and perhaps decades of development.

Then came the new idea. Every aspect of American space power was controlled from the ground by powerful computers. If penetrated, the brains of Washington’s space fleets might be degraded or destroyed. Such attacks, compared with every other antisatellite move, were also remarkably inexpensive.

In 2005, China began to incorporate cyberattacks into its military exercises, primarily in first strikes against enemy networks. Increasingly, its military doctrine called for paralyzing early attacks.

In 2008, hackers seized control of a civilian imaging satellite named Terra that orbited low, like the military’s reconnaissance craft. They did so twice — first in June and again in October — roaming control circuits with seeming impunity. Remarkably, in both cases, the hackers achieved all the necessary steps to command the spacecraft but refrained from doing so, apparently to reduce their fingerprints.

Space officials were troubled by more than China’s moves and weapons. The modern history of the American military centered on building global alliances. Beijing was rushing ahead as an aggressive loner, and many officers feared that Washington was too hidebound and burdened with the responsibilities of coalition-building and arms-control treaties to react quickly.

“The Chinese are starting from scratch,” Paul S. Szymanski, a veteran analyst of space warfare, argued in an Air Force journal. They’re not, he added, “hindered by long space traditions.”

Washington’s Response

In its second term, the Obama administration made public what it called an “offset strategy” to respond to China and other threats by capitalizing on America’s technological edge.

Just as the United States had developed, first, a vast nuclear arsenal and, second, smart weapons, this so-called third offset would seek an advantage by speeding the rise of robotics, high-speed arms and other breakthroughs that could empower the armed forces for decades.

Unlike earlier offsets, officials said, the objective was to rely less on federal teams than the tech entrepreneurs who were fast transforming the civilian world.

“We must really capture the commercial sector,” Robert O. Work, a deputy secretary of defense, said in a 2015 speech explaining the new initiative.

The advances in space were to be defensive: swarms of small, relatively cheap satellites and fleets of recycled launchers that would overwhelm Beijing with countless targets. For Mr. Obama, innovative leaps were to do for American space forces what Steve Jobs did for terrestrial gadgets, running circles around the calcified ministries of authoritarian states.

After decades in which adversaries — from stateless terrorists to those with traditional militaries — sought to exploit narrow advantages over the more powerful United States, the Pentagon was now finding an unconventional edge all its own.

The Obama administration was already applying the commercial philosophy to NASA, turning the space agency into a major funder of entrepreneurial strides. It was pumping billions of dollars into the development of private rockets and capsules meant to carry astronauts into orbit.

The military joined in. The beneficiaries included Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, and Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Their space companies — Mr. Musk’s SpaceX and Mr. Bezos’s Blue Origin — sought to turn rocket launchers from throwaways into recyclables, slashing their cost.

Military officials believed that the new system would make it possible to quickly replace satellites in times of war.

The third offset also sought to shrink the size of satellites. Over decades, the big ones had grown into behemoths. Some cost $1 billion or more to design, construct, outfit, launch and keep in service. One type unfurled an antenna nearly as large as a football field. But civilians, inspired by the iPhone revolution, were building spacecraft as small as loaves of bread.

Military planners saw smaller, cheaper, more numerous craft as making antisatellite targeting vastly more difficult — in some cases impossible — for an adversary.

The initiative aided companies such as Planet Labs, which sought to build hundreds of tiny Earth-observing satellites, and Capella Space, which designed small radar-imaging satellites meant to see through clouds. It also bolstered SpaceX, where Mr. Musk envisioned a fleet of thousands of communication satellites.

The administration, increasingly worried about Beijing’s strides, also raised its spending on offensive space control — without saying exactly what that meant.

Federal investment in the tech entrepreneurs totaled $7.2 billion, most of it during the Obama years, according to a NASA report. It said the funds went to 67 companies. The approach differed from the usual Pentagon method, which dictated terms to contractors. Instead, the private sector led the way. As predicted, the small investments made a big difference.

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By the end of the Obama administration, SpaceX was firing payloads into space and successfully returning booster rockets to Earth in soft landings.

Mr. Obama tweeted his congratulations in April 2016 when, for the first time, a SpaceX booster landed successfully on a platform at sea.

Two years later, Mr. Trump unveiled the Space Force, prompting jokes on Twitter and late-night television and even a Netflix sitcom. But in March, the unit said it had taken possession of its first offensive weapon, calling the event historic. Based on land, the system fires energy beams to disrupt spacecraft. Lt. Col. Steve Brogan, a space combat specialist, said the acquisition “puts the ‘force’ in Space Force and is critical for space as a war-fighting domain.”

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The Trump administration last year asked Congress for a start on what it called counter-space weapons, putting their expected cost at many hundreds of millions of dollars. The military’s classified budget for the offensive abilities is said to run much higher. In word and deed, the administration also backed new reliance on the swarms of commercial strides.

Trump officials described their steps as a response not only to Beijing’s progress but its plans. In 2019, the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency warned that China appeared to be deploying a new generation of extremely powerful lasers that could flash to life by the middle of this decade, putting new classes of American satellites at risk.

Analysts say the Biden administration might keep the Space Force, which has bipartisan support in Congress. Military experts see its high profile as sending Beijing a clear message.

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“You have to have an organizational constituency,” said James E. Cartwright, a retired Marine Corps general and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011. “That’s starting to happen. You’ve got a new emphasis on space — on people who get up every day thinking about how to manage these threats.”

Last year, China successfully launched a new model of its most powerful rocket, the Long March 5. The vehicle is meant to send up to six astronauts to the moon.

The stars of the current space age include not only famous entrepreneurs but a new generation of unknown dreamers and doers.

Developing states, small companies and even high schools are now lofting spacecraft into orbit. New Zealand hosts a spaceport. Turkey and Peru have their own spy satellites. Tiny Luxembourg runs more satellites than Spain, Italy or Germany. India in 2019 fired an antisatellite weapon into orbit. Last year, Iran launched its first military satellite.

The United States leads in satellite tallies, mainly because of its space-age legacies and its many entrepreneurs, including those now aiding the military. The Union of Concerned Scientists, based in Cambridge, Mass., currently lists 1,425 for the United States, 382 for China and 172 for Russia.

But China is pushing hard. For three years in a row, it has fired more rockets into space than any other country. It is now a dominating force, analysts say. The rush includes not only antisatellite weapons but many other military and scientific projects, as suggested by its recent retrieval of moon rocks.

In June, Chinese scientists reported new progress in using quantum physics to build what appeared to be the world’s first unbreakable information link between an orbiting craft and its controllers. Laser beams carried the messages. The test raised the prospect that Beijing might one day possess a super-secure network for global communications.

That same month, China finished deploying the last of 35 navigation satellites, the completion of a third-generation network intended to give its military new precision in conducting terrestrial strikes.

A rugged area of mountains and deserts in northwestern China hosts a tidy complex of buildings with large roofs that can open to the sky. Recently, analysts identified the site in the Xinjiang region as one of five military bases whose lasers can fire beams of concentrated light at American reconnaissance satellites, blinding or disabling their fragile optic sensors.

Mr. Biden is inheriting a range of responses to Beijing’s antisatellite moves, including arms both offensive and defensive, initiatives both federal and commercial, and orbital acts both conspicuous and subtle. Analysts call the situation increasingly delicate.

Mr. Work, the third-offset official from the Obama era, and Mr. Grant, his former Pentagon colleague, warned in a report that Beijing might eventually beat Washington at its own game.

“The Soviets were never able to match, much less overcome, America’s technological superiority,” they wrote. “The same may not be true for China.”

The New Space Age

Five Takeaways From the Developing Space War Between China and the U.S.Jan. 24, 2021

Trump Signs Order to Begin Creation of Space ForceFeb. 19, 2019

The Newest Guardians of the Galaxy Are Run by the U.S. MilitaryDec. 19, 2020

China Brings Moon Rocks to Earth, and a New Era of Competition to SpaceDec. 16, 2020

William J. Broad is a science journalist and senior writer. He joined The Times in 1983, and has shared two Pulitzer Prizes with his colleagues, as well as an Emmy Award and a DuPont Award. @WilliamJBroad

Biden Makes Peace with the Russian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Russia, US exchange documents to extend nuclear pact

The Kremlin says Russia and the United States have exchanged documents to extend their last remaining nuclear arms control pact days before it is set to expire

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV Associated Press

January 26, 2021, 3:44 PM ET

MOSCOW — Russia and the United States traded documents Tuesday to extend their last remaining nuclear arms control treaty days before it is due to expire, the Kremlin said.

“In the nearest days, the parties will complete the necessary procedures that will ensure further functioning of this important international legal nuclear arms control tool,” the Kremlin said.

The pact’s extension doesn’t require congressional approval in the U.S., but Russian lawmakers must ratify the move. Top members of the Kremlin-controlled parliament said they would fast-track the issue and complete the necessary steps to extend the treaty this week.

New START expires on Feb. 5. After taking office last week, Biden proposed extending the treaty for five years, and the Kremlin quickly welcomed the offer.

Biden indicated during the campaign that he favored the preservation of the New START treaty, which was negotiated during his tenure as U.S. vice president.

Russia has long proposed to prolong the pact without any conditions or changes, but the Trump administration waited until last year to start talks and made the extension contingent on a set of demands. The talks stalled, and months of bargaining have failed to narrow differences.

The negotiations were also marred by tensions between Russia and the United States, which have been fueled by the Ukrainian crisis, Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and other irritants.

After both Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019, New START is the only remaining nuclear arms control deal between the two countries.

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, praised “the businesslike, no-nonsense decision” to extend the treaty, saying it would help curtail the arms race and “create the potential for more ambitious steps to reduce the nuclear danger and move us closer to a world without nuclear weapons.”

“New START extension should be just the beginning and not the end of U.S. and Russian nuclear disarmament diplomacy,” Kimball said in a statement. “Both countries have a special responsibility and a national interest in reducing their bloated, costly, and deadly nuclear stockpiles.”

Earlier this month, Russia announced that it would follow the U.S. to pull out of the Open Skies Treaty, which allowed surveillance flights over military facilities to help build trust and transparency between Russia and the West.

The Kremlin said Putin and Biden discussed the Open Skies pact along with other issues during their Tuesday call.

While Russia always offered to extend New START for five years — a possibility that was envisaged by the pact at the time it was signed — former President Donald Trump charged that it put the U.S. at a disadvantage. Trump initially insisted that China be added to the treaty, an idea that Beijing bluntly dismissed.

The Trump administration then proposed to extend New START for just one year and also sought to expand it to include limits on battlefield nuclear weapons.

The Shi’a Horn Will Not Allow ISIL Back In

Iran, allies won’t let ISIL terrorists revive in Iraq, region

TEHRAN, Jan. 25 (MNA) – The Iranian Foreign Ministry says Tehran, along with its allies, will not allow the ISIL terrorists to reactivate their movements in Iraq and other countries of the region.

Mehr News Agency

TEHRAN, Jan. 25 (MNA) – The Iranian Foreign Ministry says Tehran, along with its allies, will not allow the ISIL terrorists to reactivate their movements in Iraq and other countries of the region.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Kahtibzadeh pointed to the recent deadly suicide attacks in Baghdad, saying, “We have deep, historical and multifaceted ties with the Iraqi people. The suffering of the Iraqi people is our suffering; therefore, the recent terrorist incident [in Baghdad] also affected us.”

Iran, along with its allies, will not allow the ISIL terrorists to resume their activities in Iraq and other countries,” the spokesman also said during his weekly presser on Monday.

Emphasizing that terrorism is rooted in ideological and organizational extremism, Khatibzadeh said, “Of course, the tracks of some [foreign] elements have been seen in these actions.”

“There seems to be a third party that tried to fish in the troubled waters by disturbing the situation in the region in order to achieve their own goals,” he stressed.

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Riyadh’s leaving regional violence key for talks

Khatibzadeh referred to the recent remarks by the Iranian and Saudi foreign ministers over talks for resolution of disputes, saying Tehran is ready to hold talks with Riyadh as long as Saudis leave their violence in the region.

“If Saudi Arabia moves away from the vicious cycle of violence and cooperation with extra-regional countries, and this is reflected in Riyadh’s speech and behavior, we will open our arms to talks and take more effective steps.”

The Iranian diplomat said, “We cannot see that the daily bombing in Yemen on the one hand, and talks about peace in Yemen on the other hand.”

He noted that improving such a situation takes courage and a change of discourse on the Saudi side.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has said Riyadh stands ready for rapprochement with Iran but claimed that the Islamic Republic does not commit itself to de-escalating tensions.

The remarks came two days after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif welcomed his Qatari counterpart’s call for the Persian Gulf Arab countries to hold talks with Iran, saying Tehran has long demanded neighborly cooperation towards establishing the strong Middle East.

Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran in January 2016 following angry protests outside its embassy in Tehran over Riyadh’s execution of a prominent cleric. Ever since the country has followed a hostile policy that intensified in line with former US President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” on Tehran.

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Commitment key to US’ return to JCPOA

Khatibzadeh pointed to the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPO), saying that the US return to the pact should be accompanied by responsibility and commitment.

He said it is not possible for a government to unilaterally withdraw from a UNSCR-backed deal one day and return to it later without any promises.

“This is not possible. No one should be allowed to use the deal’s Articles and Clauses for their own purposes and question the whole deal.”

He reiterated, “Returning to JCPOA must be with commitment and responsibility.”

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Iran waiting for information over tanker seized by Indonesia 

Khatibzadeh pointed to the seizure of an Iranian tanker by Indonesia and said that this is a technical issue and the Iranian Road Ministry and Embassy in Indonesia are following up the case.

He said the latest information would be released as soon as possible.

Indonesia seized two oil tankers, one Iranian and one Panamanian, on Sunday claiming they were illegally transferring oil in its waters.

A spokesman for the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency, Colonel Bakamla Wisnu Pramadita, said on Sunday that the Iranian-flagged MT Horse and the Panamanian-flagged MT Frea were seized in waters off Indonesia’s West Kalimantan Province.

He claimed that the tankers have been captured for committing a variety of violations, including not displaying national flags, shutting off their identification systems, anchoring illegally as well as the illegal transfer of fuel between ships, and spilling oil.

Khamenei Puts Pressure on Biden

Iran’s top leader calls West to ‘immediately stop sanctions’

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei arrives to a conference titled “International Conference in Support of Palestinian Intifada,” in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. Iran’s supreme leader has used the podium of the pro-Palestinian gathering in Tehran to call Israel a “fake” nation and a “dirty chapter” of history. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Tehran, Jan 9 (IANS) The Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised speech that the West has a duty to immediately stop the sanctions against Iran, and Iran will resume its commitments if its counterparts fulfill theirs.

“The western front must put an end to this vicious sanctions against the Iranian people, and they must do it immediately. It is their duty to lift all sanctions,” Khamenei said on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.

He also called on officials to make plans for Iran’s economy based on the assumption that the sanctions will not be lifted, relying on internal capacities and implementing resistance economy policies.

Later in the speech, Iran’s top leader said Iran “is not in a hurry” for the U.S. to reintegrate the 2015 nuclear deal, but it has the “reasonable demand” that the sanctions are lifted.

“If they come back to their commitments, we will come back to ours as well,” Khamenei declared.

Talking about Iran’s regional presence, Khamenei said Iran has the duty to act in such a way that its allies will be strengthened, noting that Iran will not change its foreign policy.

He pointed in his speech to the United States as a destabilizing force in “Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and other countries in the region” in its pursuit of the “domination” of West Asia.

Iran’s top leader recalled the western support for electoral protests in Iran in 2009, and said Washington was then seeking to “create insecurity and civil war” in Iran without success, and now, the U.S. is suffering a similar fate in its own territory, referring to the incidents in the U.S. capitol on Wednesday.

Talking about Iran’s defence capabilities, Khamenei said that the country’s authorities “do not have the right” to bring about a situation in which Iran can suffer a military attack without having the means to respond.