If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.Based on historical precedent, Armbruster says the New York City metro area is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 once a century.According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.There’s another fault line on Dyckman St. and one in Dobbs Ferry in nearby Westchester County.“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.He adds: “We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought.”“Considering population density and the condition of the region’s infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact,” says the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation on its website.Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale. (ANI)
Weatherboy Team Meteorologist
March 7, 2021
In the scheduled March 17 LANTEX 21 exercise, a powerful 8.8 earthquake will be simulated at 36.0 North, 15.0 West in the North Atlantic; it will send a tsunami towards the North America coast. Image: NOAA
Are you and your local officials prepared for a potential destructive tsunami along the US east coast? While most associate tsunami threats with the Pacific basin, as last week’s strong New Zealand earthquakes and Tsunami Watch in Hawaii demonstrated, officials are preparing for the possibility of similar seismic activity in the Atlantic basin that could threaten the U.S. East Coast and the Caribbean by launching two separate drills over the next 2 weeks.
On March 11, through the CaribeWave ’21 Tsunami Warning System Exercise, officials will drill for two hypothetical earthquakes. At 9am ET, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center will act as if a 8.0 magnitude earthquake strikes at 18.2 North 75.3 West near Jamaica. At the time time, an even more powerful 8.5 earthquake will strike near the Northern Lesser Antilles at 18.9 North 62.4 West. In the drill exercise, a simulated tsunami striking portions of Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba, and portions of Central and South America will be practiced with the first quake, while a broader, more impactful tsunami will be simulated with the second.
The second CaribeWave simulation earthquake will trigger a tsunami that’ll radiate out from the Northern Lesser Antilles. During a real tsunami, such a map would only be made available to officially designated Tsunami Warning Focal Points and National Tsunami Warning Centers. Image: NOAA
While the CaribeWave ’21 simulations will be sharing earthquake and tsunami advisory and warning information among officials, none of it should be released to the public. However, test messages will have the following text added in the event they do somehow end up in public channels:
…THIS MESSAGE IS FOR TEST PURPOSES ONLY…
…TEST TSUNAMI THREAT MESSAGE TEST…
**** NOTICE **** NOTICE **** NOTICE **** NOTICE **** NOTICE *****
THIS IS A TEST MESSAGE. THIS MESSAGE IS ISSUED FOR INFORMATION
ONLY IN SUPPORT OF THE UNESCO/IOC TSUNAMI AND OTHER COASTAL
HAZARDS WARNING SYSTEM FOR THE CARIBBEAN AND ADJACENT REGIONS
AND IS MEANT FOR NATIONAL AUTHORITIES IN EACH COUNTRY OF THAT
THIS IS A TEST MESSAGE. NATIONAL AUTHORITIES WILL DETERMINE THE
APPROPRIATE LEVEL OF ALERT FOR EACH COUNTRY AND MAY ISSUE
ADDITIONAL OR MORE REFINED INFORMATION.
**** NOTICE **** NOTICE **** NOTICE **** NOTICE **** NOTICE *****
Days later, on March 17, another significant earthquake and tsunami drill will unfold. Unlike the CaribeWave ’21 event which focuses on preparedness in the Caribbean, the March 17 LANTEX 21 drill is designed to prepare the rest of the North American Coast for tsunami dangers.
The March 17 LANTEX21 drill will simulate an even more powerful 8.8 earthquake in the North Atlantic at 8am ET. The quake, centered at a depth of 9 miles at 36.0 North and 15.0 West will drive a potentially destructive tsunami towards the U.S. and Canadian East Coasts.
In the LANTEX21 drill, a Tsunami Warning will be “issued” for coastal areas of Newfoundland and Labrador from Cape Ray, Newfoundland to Cape Chidley, Labrador while a Tsunami Advisory will be “issued” for Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the balance of the North American east coast from Cape Ray, Newfoundland to Flamingo, Florida.
These earthquake and tsunami drills will help bring awareness to the threats these areas could experience, allowing local officials and residents to be ready when an actual threat arrives. (If any real tsunami threat occurs during the time period of the exercise, the exercise will be terminated.)
Tsunamis are giant waves caused by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions under the sea. Out in the depths of the ocean, tsunami waves do not dramatically increase in height. But as the waves travel towards land, they build up to higher and higher heights as the depth of the ocean decreases. The speed of tsunami waves depends on ocean depth rather than the distance from the source of the wave. Tsunami waves may travel as fast as jet planes over deep waters, only slowing down when reaching shallow waters. While tsunamis are often referred to as tidal waves, this name is discouraged by oceanographers because tides have little to do with these giant waves.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program (NTHMP) are providing the framework for the LANTEX21 tsunami exercise, which is being conducted to assist tsunami preparedness efforts throughout the Atlantic region. Recent earthquakes and their associated tsunamis, such as those in Samoa (2009), Haiti (2010), Chile(2010, 2015), and Japan (2011) attest to the importance of proper planning for tsunami response. Similar recent exercises in the Pacific and Caribbean Basins have proven effective in strengthening preparedness levels of emergency management organizations. This exercise will provide simulated tsunami alert messages from the NOAA/NWS National Tsunami Warning Center (NTWC) for the eastern coasts of Canada and the United States as well as Puerto Rico and the US/British Virgin Islands.
Active tectonics and historic seismicity in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake source zone (GB = Gorringe Bank, AP = Abyssal Plain, LTV = Lower Tagus Valley; the arrows indicate the rotation of the Africa Plate). Source: AIR
The area where the simulation will occur is not a stranger to violent tsunami-generating earthquakes. The Africa-Eurasia plate boundary extends from the Mid-Atlantic ocean ridge triple junction near the Azores eastward to the Strait of Gibraltar. Here, the Africa plate rotates counterclockwise relative to the Eurasia plate at a rate of about 4 mm/year. While that motion is relatively slow compared to other active plate boundaries found elsewhere around the world, several large magnitude earthquakes have occurred here. In 1755, there was a 7.6 magnitude quake there; in 1816, a magnitude 7.6 quake struck here; in 1969, a 7.9 earthquake struck here.
A modeled tsunami from the simulated LANTEX21 earthquake would impact the east coast of North America, with some areas impacted more than others. The model indicated a significant tsunami along the Canadian and Caribbean coasts, but with less impact elsewhere. Every earthquake has different characteristics, so what’s modeled in this simulation may be very different when a real earthquake does strike this region in the future.
During the simulated LANTEX21 tsunami event, test Tsunami Warning and Tsunami Advisory messages will be issued for residents of the U.S. East Coast, eastern Canada, and the Caribbean. As with the CaribeWave’21 endeavor, these bulletins shouldn’t make it out to the public. However, in some previous disaster exercises, such emergency bulletins were accidentally shared with the public. Just last week, a Tornado Warning alert was accidentally shared with hundreds of thousands of people via emergency cell phone alerts during a drill there. People shouldn’t be alarmed by any test messages; as with CaribeWave’21, LANTEX21 messages should be marked that it’s a drill and only a test message.
A tsunami warning is issued when a tsunami with the potential to generate widespread inundation is imminent, expected, or occurring. Warnings alert the public that dangerous coastal flooding accompanied by powerful currents is possible and may continue for several hours after initial arrival. Warnings alert emergency management officials to take action for the entire tsunami hazard zone. Appropriate actions to be taken by local officials may include the evacuation of low-lying coastal areas, and the re-positioning of ships to deep waters when there is time to safely do so. Warnings may be updated, adjusted geographically, downgraded, or canceled. To provide the earliest possible alert, initial warnings are normally based only on seismic information.
A tsunami advisory is issued when a tsunami with the potential to generate strong currents or waves dangerous to those in or very near the water is imminent, expected, or occurring. The threat may continue for several hours after initial arrival, but significant inundation is not expected for areas under an advisory. Appropriate actions to be taken by local officials may include closing beaches, evacuating harbors and marinas, and the repositioning of ships to deep waters when there is time to safely do so. Advisories are normally updated to continue the advisory, expand/contract affected areas, upgrade to a warning, or cancel the advisory.
This will be the first LANTEX drill since the COVID-19 global pandemic. LANTEX20, and PACIFEX20, the Pacific-based tsunami drill, was scrubbed in 2020 due to pandemic fears. However, the CaribeWave ’20 exercise went on as scheduled on March 19, 2020. LANTEX and CaribeWave were held in 2018, 2016, and 2016 too.
For more information on the U.S. Tsunami Warning system, visit http://www.tsunami.gov.
The flight by the two heavy bombers came as a pro-Iran satellite channel based in Beirut broadcast Iranian military drone footage of an Israeli ship hit by a mysterious explosion only days earlier in the Mideast. While the channel sought to say Iran wasn’t involved, Israel has blamed Tehran for what it described as an attack on the vessel.
The U.S. military’s Central Command said the two B-52s flew over the region accompanied by military aircraft from nations including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It marked the fourth-such bomber deployment into the Mideast this year and the second under President Joe Biden.
Flight-tracking data showed the two B-52s flew out of Minot Air Base in North Dakota, something Central Command did not mention in its statement on the flights though authorities later published images of the flight crew preparing its departure there.
The military did not directly mention Iran in its statement, saying the flight was to “deter aggression and reassure partners and allies of the U.S. military’s commitment to security in the region.”
However, such flights had become common in the last months of former President Donald Trump’s administration. Trump’s 2018 decision to unilaterally withdraw from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers sparked a series of escalating incidents in the region.
Biden has expressed a desire to return to the deal if Iran honors the deal’s limits on its nuclear program. However, tensions remain high after militias in Iraq — likely backed by Iran — continue to target American interests.
Biden last month launched an airstrike just over the border into Syria in retaliation, joining every American president from Ronald Reagan onward who has ordered a bombardment of countries in the Middle East.
Meanwhile Sunday, Beirut-based channel Al-Mayadeen aired footage of the Helios Ray, a Bahamian-flagged roll-on, roll-off vehicle cargo ship hit by the blasts Feb. 26 in the Gulf of Oman.
The grainy footage included areas blurred out on the video, likely coordinates and other information displayed by the Iranian military drone. The footage at one point showed what appeared to be a hole in the side of the vessel.
Al-Mayadeen did not say when the footage was shot, nor explain the circumstance by which the Iranian drone was following the ship. The U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, which patrols the Mideast and often has tense encounters with Iran, declined to comment on the footage.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed Iran for the blasts, something denied by Tehran. However, the Gulf of Oman saw a series of similar attacks in 2019 that the U.S. Navy then blamed on Iran.
Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.
March 6, 2021 Tyler Dinwoodie
This is a call to action for the United States federal government and its citizens. America’s rise to global economic predominance more than a century ago is rapidly coming to an end. The People’s Republic of China has achieved what Imperial Germany and the Soviet Union never could: economic parity with the United States. While China is strategically intent on replacing the United States as the most powerful country in the world, that parallelism has not, in fact, yet arrived. However, forecasts demonstrate that the critical moment of equivalency will inevitably come later this decade. When that moment materializes – and it will – the fundamental basis of world-power politics over the past 100-plus years will have fundamentally changed. China’s inevitable subordination of the United States will assuredly result in a paradigm shift in the global balance of economic and military power.
What if China controlled the world’s oil supply, while actively buying oil assets across the planet? Undoubtedly, the West and its allies would be terrified, and rightfully so. Western countries would secure and bolster their domestic supplies to reduce dependence. While it is good this is not happening with oil, the same cannot be said for rare earths and critical materials. In fact, China’s monopoly over the global rare-earth supply chains is more dangerous to the United States than OPEC’s ability to single-handedly control the world’s oil prices. Like oil and natural gas, rare earths are vital to U.S. national and economic security. The unique magnetic, electric, optical, and chemical properties of rare earths have made them an integral part of modern life. The assured long-term supply of these materials and the resilience of their supply chains underpins our economic, technological, and national-defense capabilities. Rare earths are critical, non-substitutable inputs required in countless high-tech, green-energy, transportation, and defense applications, powering everything from electric vehicles to the several hundred F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft used by the U.S. Department of Defense to defend the nation and its allies. Over the past several decades, U.S. actions (and inaction) pertaining to rare earths have resulted in a vacuum on the world stage that China has been more than happy to fill. By dominating global commercial rare-earth production, China effectively controls the United States and its allies in ways that the West does not entirely understand. In contrast, China completely understands the unique importance of rare earths – and has for decades. China knows that those who control the critical-materials supply chains will hold the balance of industrial and economic power in 21st century. The communist country has positioned rare earths as an essential component of its 100-year plan for global dominance by 2049, the centennial of China’s communist revolution.
With deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing, the future of global supply chains is uncertain. Even as White House messages continue to raise questions about the direction of U.S. trade policy, trade-war tariffs remain in effect. As a consequence, the United States faces significant risk, due to its staggering overreliance on rare earths and other critical materials imported from China.
The U.S. government has introduced several notable and well-intentioned efforts and initiatives regarding rare earths since May 2019, including President Biden’s most recent and commendable Feb. 24, 2021, Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains, intending to address the resilience and reliability of American critical supply chains – in particular, rare earth materials – as a matter of national and economic security. President Biden acknowledged the strong bipartisan support from both senators and House members in order to protect and strengthen American competitiveness.
However, despite these positive, albeit early-stage initiatives, to date, the U.S. government has yet to crystallize a feasible, cogent strategy to address the significant national-security vulnerabilities resulting from inadequate access to rare earths. More specifically, a near-term strategy to establish a secure, complete, economic commercial-scale rare-earth elements to rare-earth oxides (REE-to-REO) supply chain, capable of producing rare-earth oxides from multiple US and US-allied commercial rare-earth concentrate suppliers. This is due, in part, to the complexities in understanding the multi-faceted, intricate and opaque nature of the rare-earths industry.
The rare-earths industry must be viewed in terms of its various supply-chain segments or nodes. Essentially, there are two main components:
1. Upstream mining; and
2. Downstream refining, metallization and magnet/component manufacturing
The upstream entails the mining and processing of rare-earth mineral ores into rare-earth concentrates (node one of the supply chain). The downstream is composed of three nodes: the refining/separation of rare-earth concentrates into commercial, high purity, finished rare-earth oxide and compounds (node two of the supply chain), rare-earth metals and magnetic material manufacturing (node three of the supply chain), and rare-earth bearing components and applications manufacturing (node four of the supply chain). Specifically, it is node two of the rare-earth downstream that requires immediate action by the U.S. government.
China has already demonstrated its willingness to use rare earths as a geopolitical weapon
In late May 2019, the official newspaper of China’s Communist Party warned that China could cut off the sale of rare earths to the United States as a counter measure in the ongoing U.S.-China trade war. The news sent shockwaves through tech and manufacturing industries that rely on rare-earth materials.
“Don’t underestimate the Chinese capacity to counter-attack. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.”
The Chinese Communist Party (May 19, 2019)
“Military equipment firms in the United States will likely have their supply of rare earths restricted.”
The Chinese Communist Party (June 17, 2019)
The above statements from the Chinese government were in response to China’s use of rare earths as bargaining leverage against the U.S. Those familiar with Chinese diplomatic language know the significant weight of the statements, specifically the rarely used Chinese phrase of “don’t say I didn’t warn you” – language China used before it went to war with India (in 1962) and Vietnam (in 1979).
On Feb. 16, 2021, the Financial Times published a feature article titled China targets rare earth export curbs to hobble US defence industry, outlining how China is exploring limiting the export of rare earths – including rare-earth minerals, oxides, metals, and alloys – that are crucial for the American defense industry and other critical, high-tech applications. It was reported that China’s government officials sought to determine how severely American and European companies (including defense contractors) would be affected if China restricted rare-earth exports during a protracted bilateral dispute, and to better understand how quickly the USA could secure alternative sources of rare earths and increase its own production capacity.
China’s ever-increasing demand for rare earths is so significant that it has consistently exceeded domestic supply over the past five years, prompting a surge of Chinese imports from miners in the USA, Australia and Myanmar, in addition to significant Chinese strategic rare-earth investments all over the world. While China’s dominance in rare-earth mining is under threat, it maintains a near monopoly in the most vital aspect of the rare-earth supply chain: the downstream refining processing capacity that turns ores into materials ready for manufacturers i.e., the purification and separation of rare-earth concentrates to produce rare-earth oxides at commercial scale. China dominates the refining of rare earths with more than 80 percent of global capacity.
Rare-earth mining is not the issue; economic, commercial-scale installed capacity to separate rare earths to produce rare-earth oxides is what the USA and its allies actually need, and is in fact the most urgent, missing component of a secure, complete U.S. REE-to-REO supply chain. Currently, 100 perccnt of the rare-earth ore mined in the USA annually is sent to China for processing, as the USA has no refining capacity of its own – yet. However, it should be noted that China’s strength in rare-earth refining has more to do with a historically higher tolerance for pollution than any technological edge.
Admittedly, China’s dominance over the rare-earth supply chain is only part of the leverage it yields over the United States; nevertheless, it is one of the most dangerous. China’s control of the rare-earth market illustrates the perilous interaction between Chinese economic aggression guided by its strategic industrial policies, coupled with vulnerabilities and gaps in America’s manufacturing and defence industrial base. The end result has been a risky trade-off between supply dependency and lower costs. We need to think differently. We need to view the U.S. rare-earth industry with the fundamental objective of being cost competitive (while maintaining the highest quality assurance, quality control, environmental standards, and CSR/ESG traceability/transparency), but not at the expense of U.S. national and economic security. America’s typical ‘lowest-cost-at-any-cost’ mentality has not always served the nation or its citizens well.
The United States and its allies are woefully deficient in what is needed immediately in order to safeguard America’s future. Again, domestic rare-earth mining is not a near-term critical issue. A rare-earth mine is just a part of a complete rare-earth supply chain. The critical problem for the U.S. and its allies is the total lack of U.S.-based installed capacity for the commercial-scale refining of rare-earth elements into rare-earth oxides. Currently, North America has no commercial capacity to refine rare earths. The complete inability of the United States to transform these rare-earth minerals into the required, highly specialized technology materials that power high-tech, green-energy and defense applications – at commercial scale – is an infinitely more critical and time-sensitive problem than developing new rare-earth mining capacity. The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on global critical-materials supply chains only underscores the urgency of this argument. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with ten being the most critical), U.S. rare-earth commercial refining capacity should rank an 11, while the need for new domestic mining capacity should rank a 2 or 3.
Aside from the dozens of potential rare-earth resources explored and identified in the United States and U.S.-allied countries, there are multiple commercial upstream rare-earth concentrate suppliers operating outside of China, including Australia’s Lynas Rare Earths Ltd. (with a more than A$5-billion market capitalization as of Feb. 25, 2021, Lynas commenced production in 2011 and is the only rare-earth company outside of China that produces rare-earth concentrates at commercial scale in Australia for conversion into rare-earth oxides in Malaysia) and Northern Minerals Limited (commenced production in Western Australia in October 2018), among others.
Molycorp 2.0 (those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it)
In June 2017, U.S.-based MP Materials (now MP Materials Corporation, post November 2020 listing on the NYSE, with a staggering $8-billion market capitalization, intraday, on Feb. 25, 2021) acquired the Mountain Pass mine in California for a mere $20.5 million. Mountain Pass was the former crown jewel of previous owner/operator Molycorp Inc.; a U.S. rare-earth producer with a market capitalization of $2.5 billion in December 2010, which filed for bankruptcy in 2015. In January 2018, MP Materials restarted mining operations at Mountain Pass, the only rare-earth mine operating in the United States and the largest unfinished rare-earth concentrate producer in the Western Hemisphere. However, 100 percent of MP Materials’ rare-earth production – generating more than $100M in annual revenue from quarrying approximately 50,000 tonnes of rare-earth mineral concentrate per annum – is sent to China for processing.
MP Materials is majority owned by financier James Litinsky’s Chicago-based hedge fund JHL Capital Group LLC and New York City-based family office QVT Financial LP (James Litinsky is chief executive officer and chairman of MP Materials; former QVT financial partner Michael Rosenthal is MP Materials’ chief operating officer); however, Chinese state-owned rare-earth producer and strategic investor Shenghe Resources Holding Co., Ltd., owns 8 percent[i] of the outstanding common shares of MP Materials Corporation (valued at nearly $650 million, as of Feb. 25, 2020), in addition to being a major shareholder in Greenland Minerals Ltd. since 2016. With a market capitalization of approximately $6 billion (as of Feb. 25, 2020), Shenghe is the second largest rare-earth company in the world, by output, and is rapidly growing with a strong focus on international markets. It should be noted that prior to going public, China owned 9.24 percent of MP Materials, according the MP Materials’ Sept. 8, 2020, response[ii] to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (U.S. NRC) questions regarding the company’s Chinese ownership. However, MP disclosed that“if all of the existing FVAC [Fortress Value Acquisition Corp.: the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that sponsored MP Materials going public on the NYSE] public shareholders were to exercise their redemption rights, then the Shenghe entities’ collective equity interest will be towards the higher end of the 8-11 percent range.”
Chinese nuclear weapons may contain American rare earths
Perhaps of greater concern is that, until recently, the United States had a significant amount of rare-earth-bearing monazite mineral sand that had been sold to the Chinese. The rare-earth mineral sand from Georgia is produced as a by-product of the owner’s commercial operations. Normally, this company ends up with approximately 3,000 tons of monazite material per year, which it had been consistently selling to the Chinese. The owner either had to sell the monazite to the Chinese or incur significant costs to properly dispose of its monazite stockpiles, due to its radioactivity. Without question, the Chinese acquired the rare-earth-rich monazite from Georgia to extract the praseodymium and neodymium rare earths required for ultra-high-strength neodymium magnets, the most widely used rare-earth permanent magnets. The U.S. company declared that the rare-earth mineral sand sold and exported to the People’s Republic of China is for “non-nuclear end-uses,” per the company’s U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Form 7[iii] application. If past experience has taught the United States anything about China, it is this: the Chinese will do whatever they want to do. The irony, of course, is that rare-earth material from the United States could, quite conceivably, be used in Chinese nuclear weaponry.
The solution – a secure, complete U.S. rare-earth supply chain – can be realized quickly and cost effectively
U.S. rare-earth complacency is no longer an option. COVID-19 and the worsening of the U.S.-China trade war has negatively impacted the already-stressed supply chains, reduced international cooperation, reinforced protectionist tendencies, and has opened new fronts of conflict and contestation. Additionally, the lack of a secure domestic rare-earth supply chain could jeopardize American economic recovery efforts and, potentially, contribute to a second global recession, or even depression.
The current U.S. rare-earths situation threatens national security, limits economic productivity and competitiveness, and robs Americans of opportunities for dignified work. With historically expensive start-up costs associated with rare-earth refining and production in the United States, Beijing has effectively undercut the market, precluding a domestic supply chain from forming here. If the United States does not act swiftly, it will fail to address the fundamental reality that China now wields total control over the access and prices of rare earths and can take retaliatory action against individual American entities attempting to rebuild this critical industry. China’s state-backed ability to crash the rare-earth market, at any time, takes the rare-earth problem out of the realm of ordinary market dynamics.
That said, the United States has the technical capability to rapidly build a secure, domestic, commercial rare-earth supply chain, if it chooses to do so – but time is running out. What is conspicuously absent from all of the U.S. government’s rare-earth initiatives to date is a coordinated strategy amongst downstream American rare-earth sector participants, with a sole, consolidated focus on commercial downstream refining capacity, with the following two overarching objectives:
1. In the shortest timeframe possible (in less than two years; by Q4 2023); and
2. At the lowest possible capital costs.
With U.S. government support, spearheaded by the Department of Defense (e.g., legislation to compel U.S. defense contractors to source their rare-earth materials from a complete U.S. rare-earth supply chain), a strategic alliance can be formed between specific North American companies capable of executing on a well-defined mandate to secure a complete, domestic, commercial rare-earth supply chain. Rare-earths independence for the United States can be achieved, and at a lower cost and on a more accelerated timeline than previously thought. There are new, proprietary technologies to extract and refine rare earths — with the near-term potential to achieve commercial-scale capacity — specifically, from current U.S. and U.S.-allied rare-earth sources. Aside from the immediately available domestic sources, there are multiple near-term rare-earth producers in Australia and South America. In the longer term, we have multiple robust rare-earth projects to be eventually developed into mines, when required, in the United States, Canada and other U.S.-allied countries.
We have secure domestic upstream rare-earth sources now, we have the necessary technologies required to effectively scale rare-earth downstream commercial capacity, and we have the rare-earth projects needed to secure diverse supply for the future. However, U.S. government support is required in order to effectuate and execute.
It is more important than ever that America be more strategic and less tactical as it deals with the clear-and-present danger that is China, and in particular, as it pertains to rare earths. We are at a critical juncture in recent U.S. history. The United States will remain vulnerable for as long as any aspect of the rare-earth supply chain is reliant on China. Unless and until the United States confronts its rare-earth supply-chain deficiency post haste, all the subsequent ‘good’ U.S. domestic rare-earth initiatives in the world will not matter. It will be too late.
The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by Homeland Security Today, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints in support of securing our homeland. To submit a piece for consideration, email HSTodayMag@gtscoalition.com. Our
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. John Hyten is urging the United States to expand how it looks at strategic threats to the United States especially cyber, biological, as well as the traditional concern with nuclear weapons. To do so, he underscores the need to fully modernize the U.S. nuclear enterprise including the command-and-control system. Otherwise, as U.S. Strategic Command warns, the entire nuclear force will rust to obsolescence and, says Hyten, “without the backstop of the nuclear Triad, it basically is all impossible” to deter an adversary with nuclear capability.
Critics of the U.S. modernization effort—begun in earnest under the Obama administration and robustly continued under the Trump administration—are trying to unilaterally eliminate whole sections of U.S. nuclear forces, including all four hundred Minuteman missiles, up to half of our submarines, and the cruise missile for America’s strategic bombers. If accepted, then these cuts would eliminate fully five hundred of the seven hundred strategic nuclear delivery vehicles the United States is allowed under the New START arms agreement, which was just extended for another five years.
Even more worrisome however is that while 92 percent of all U.S. nuclear forces are still limited by the START Treaty, only 45 percent of Russia’s systems are, while China, now doubling its nuclear forces over the next five years, is under zero treaty restraints. Given such a hugely imbalanced strategic environment, the current modernization effort simply keeps the United States in the nuclear business and is the minimum necessary to keep deterrence credible.
The proponents of these big cuts, such as Global Zero and Ploughshares, with multi-million-dollar budgets, think somehow Russia, with 92 percent of its nuclear forces fully modernized, will generously give up large numbers of its nuclear forces in return for the United States not even having any forces on the table with which to trade.
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For example, Global Zero argues that if the United States actually commits to building a new land-based missile, it will not be available to leverage further Russian reductions under a new arms treaty. However, Global Zero argues phasing out U.S. ICBMs, will “make it easier” for the Russians to follow suit. With both the United States and Russia coming down, then perhaps China will buildup to the same level.
In the 1980s the nuclear freeze advocates argued the United States could not get rid of the massive Soviet SS-20 missile deployments in Europe even if the United States deployed counter missiles such as the Pershing and Ground Launched Cruise Missiles.
Reagan disagreed with the disarmament folks and the nuclear freeze advocates, built, and deployed the U.S. Pershings and GLCMs and in a stunning development, leveraged the Soviets into agreeing to “Zero-Zero,” the 1987 INF treaty that got rid of all such Soviet and U.S. medium-range missiles. So, too, did Reagan’s call for strategic missile defense and modernization of all our strategic systems lead to the series of START treaties that reduced Soviet and then Russian strategic nuclear warheads by at least 80 percent.
We currently rely on the very nuclear deterrent the Reagan administration put into place. The 2010 New START Treaty under which the United States and Russia operate to at least 2026, is fully consistent with the entire nuclear modernization plans that Congress has approved for the past twelve years. In short, there is no choice between maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent and arms control—the two can go together if arms deals are verifiable and nuclear modernization is fully funded and secured. Such a strategy in dealing with our enemies is called “peace through strength.” It works, as opposed to the new idea from the children of the Nuclear Freeze which could be best expressed as “peace through disarmament.”
Peter Huessy, President of GeoStrategic Analysis, Potomac, Maryland.
In his statements, Imam Khamenei cited examples of US miscalculations on issues concerning Iran, including: the fall of the Pahlavi regime, the defeat of the 2009 sedition, and their failure to achieve the results they wanted by imposing sanctions. He considers Iran’s way, movement and progress to be far beyond the enemies’ comprehension.
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): In his statements, Imam Khamenei cited examples of US miscalculations on issues concerning Iran, including: the fall of the Pahlavi regime, the defeat of the 2009 sedition, and their failure to achieve the results they wanted by imposing sanctions. He considers Iran’s way, movement and progress to be far beyond the enemies’ comprehension. He said their miscalculations and repeated failures are due to their lack of understanding on issues concerning Iran and their lack of knowledge about the Iranian nation and the Revolution.
In examining the situation of the country, of the army and of the people, the Americans made a grave miscalculation. This is an important point. They made a miscalculation. Their false hope about the army originated from their miscalculation and this surprised them a great deal. They were surprised because they made that miscalculation.
In the documents that have been published after many years, they have acknowledged that until a little before Bahman of 1357, they could not foresee the overthrow of the Shah and the Pahlavi dynasty. They did not have any clue at all! More importantly, until a few days before the 22nd of Bahman, the Pentagon announced that the fall of the Shah’s regime is impossible. This means that they made many mistakes and miscalculations. They used to say that the army had complete control and that any ouster would be impossible.
Of course, the Iranian army was even more important than the Shah to the Americans. They believed that even if the Shah died, he was only one person and he could be replaced with another person. However, the army was really important to them and they counted on it to a great deal. However, the same army – which was so important to the Americans, on which they worked so hard and where they had 40,000 American advisors in those days – turned into an important factor in the defeat of the taghuti regime and the destruction of American hopes in Iran. God says in the Holy Quran, “But the wrath of Allah came to them from quarters from which they little expected” [59: 2]. They received a blow from an area which they did not expect at all.
Of course, they continue to make such miscalculations. In other words, the Americans have continued until today to make miscalculations regarding the issues of Iran and their political calculator is really not working. They do not understand our issues and they do not know our nation. They do not know the Iranian nation yet and that is why they constantly make a mistake. For instance, the Americans made a mistake on the issue of the 1388 sedition. The Democratic president of those days [Barak Obama] officially supported and defended the sedition because he thought that it would put an end to the Islamic Republic once and for all, but that was a miscalculation.
The same is true on the issue of sanctions. With their unprecedented and comprehensive sanctions – as they sincerely said, similar sanctions did not exist throughout history – they thought that they would bring Iran to its knees. Well, it was a miscalculation and they had a false hope.
One of those first-rate fools, whom I referred to once, said two, three years ago [John Bolton] that they would be celebrating Christmas of the year 2019 in Tehran. They were hoping that the Islamic Republic would have been ousted from power by Christmas 2019 and they would be celebrating it in Tehran. However, that person was thrown into the garbage bin of history and his boss was literally kicked out of the White House. They were both thrown into the garbage bin of history, but the Islamic Republic thankfully stands on its feet in a glorious manner. [Feb 7, 2021]
This nation is awake. This nation is committed to its faith. Praise God, this nation, its way, its movement, and its progress are still far beyond the enemies’ comprehension. We see how wrong they [the enemies] are in their analyses, opinions and understanding of the realities of this country. So they keep failing, because they do not understand our nation, Revolution and country. God, the Almighty, has willed that His flag remain flying and His religion be glorified. Why? Because the believers are committed to this religion. [May 29, 1995]
Well, one should not oversimplify things. Yes, the enemy is making miscalculations, but we should know that the problems with the enemy’s calculation system will not necessarily bring us success. We should work and endeavor hard. […] Such miscalculations exist in the area of economic matters and other areas as well. We should pay attention to this matter and benefit from it. However, we should be careful about our own mistakes too. We should be vigilant about our own errors too. I wish to refer to one of the mistakes that some people among us might make: that we become intimidated by the enemy’s power. This is a grave mistake. This is one of the mistakes that we might make. Another is to pin our hopes on him. Because of our circumstances, we might want to pin our hopes on foreigners regarding part of our affairs – economic, political and international matters. That is while such foreign countries wish to transgress, loot our resources and interfere in our affairs. This will be a great mistake. Of course, I do not want to suggest that we should exaggerate our domestic power. We should see the reality, but we should also try to improve upon it. In any case, I strongly recommend that we not become intimidated by the enemy no matter what capabilities we have. If we become intimidated, we become dysfunctional. [Feb 7, 2021]
How the Arab revolutions inspired Palestinian mobilisation in Gaza.
Ahmed Abu Artema
How the Arab revolutions inspired Palestinian mobilisation in Gaza.
When I reflect on my 35 years of living in besieged Gaza, I often think of the outbreak of the Arab Spring in 2011 as one of the happiest moments in my life. Although 10 years have passed since the world-shattering events of that year and many heartbreaks and disappointments have come along since then, I still recall the Arab revolutions in all their glory, vitality, and hope.
When the first protests started in Tunisia in late December 2010, I, like many Arabs who had limited knowledge of Tunisian politics, did not pay much attention. But as the protest movement grew and shook the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, I started following closely.
The news of Ben Ali’s escape on January 14, 2011, shocked us as much as it thrilled us. The idea that an Arab nation could come together, defeat fear and topple their tyrannical president, long ruling over them through intimidation and violence, was inspiring to the rest of us, Arabs, who have lived under similar oppressive circumstances.
Soon the Tunisian flame made a spark in Egypt. On January 25, thousands gathered in Tahrir Square to denounce police brutality and call for President Hosni Mubarak to step down. We Palestinians were thrilled.
Egypt has a special significance for us. It is not only a gateway to the outside world for Palestinians living in Gaza, but it also has historically been a guarantor of Palestinian rights. We believe that we are bound by fate to Egypt because of its leadership in the Arab world and that its weakness is our weakness and its strength is our strength.
We believe Israel’s increasing abuse of and aggression towards the Palestinians has to do with Egypt growing weaker in the past few decades and its ruling regime failing to represent the will of its people.
So when the protests escalated, it hit home for us. We felt these were not events in some other country, but in our own. Between January 25 and February 11, I was one of millions of Arabs who stopped following local news and turned to social media and Al Jazeera to find out the latest on what was going on in Egypt.
My heart shook with joy whenever I saw the number of protesters in Tahrir Square increase and the chants of the crowds get louder and I held my breath every time I saw the number of demonstrators decrease, as thugs attacked them.
I prayed that the people of Egypt would be victorious, that their country would be liberated and that a new government would come, bound to the will of the people and ready to back us in our own struggle for freedom and justice.
February 11, 2011 was one of the most beautiful days of my life. I was with friends when the news reached us that Mubarak had stepped down. We jumped with joy and hurried to the store to buy sweets to give away in the streets.
The celebrations in Gaza were bigger than in Eid. Thirty years of authoritarian rule and corruption had just ended in Egypt and we celebrated in solidarity with the Egyptian people. Their dictator and our oppressor – the man who kept the Rafah border closed, helping Israel lay a debilitating siege on Gaza – had fallen. The man who had brought Egypt to its knees and sold out the Palestinian cause was gone.
In the following weeks, revolutions broke out in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria. The chant “The people want the downfall of the regime!” echoed across the Arab world. In the Arab streets rebelling against dictatorship, the Palestinian flag would be a regular feature. The Arab revolutions awakened a feeling of unity in the hearts of the Arabs. The Sykes-Picot Agreement had built up walls among Arabs and divided us politically, but the revolutionary winds of the Arab Spring brought them down.
They swept through Palestine as well. Many of us, young Palestinians, felt renewed energy to continue our struggle against our own oppressor – the Israeli occupier.
Shortly after Mubarak’s downfall, I had a talk with a group of friends. We said: “We do not have a ruling system that we can overthrow in the same way the other Arab peoples have. But we have a big issue which is being refugees in our own homeland. We want to return to our homes, and so, let us say, ‘The people want a return to Palestine.’”
On February 24, 2011, I published an article entitled “15-5-2011: Date of the historical march to Palestine” in the Arabic online newspaper Elaph.
In this piece, I proposed the day we mark the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe, to be an occasion for a peaceful protest of Palestinian refugees to demand their right to return to their homes.
Here is what I wrote:
“We are in a time when dreams are rapidly turning into realities, which tempts us to dream and persevere in pursuing our dreams. And because I firmly believe that the will of the people is stronger than all challenges, and that nothing is impossible when there is faith and persistence, I hope that this idea will quickly find people who will adopt it and push for its realisation.”
The response to my article was greater than my expectations. In just a few weeks, groups of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and occupied Palestine-1948 adopted this call and started mobilising to stage a demonstration on May 15.
When the time came, tens of thousands of refugees gathered at the closest point to the borders of Palestine in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This was an unprecedented event and a symbolic achievement. Hundreds of Palestinian refugees residing in Syria were able to penetrate the Golan Heights barriers and enter Palestine, waving Palestinian flags and the keys to their Palestinian homes.
The Israeli army responded violently, shooting at the crowds and killing and injuring a number of protesters. That day, Israel felt that the winds of the Arab Spring have reached the Palestinian territories it occupies and it got worried. It knew that the Arab people are overwhelmingly opposed to its occupation and colonisation of Palestine. An Arab awakening was going to be bad news for its colonial project.
Our moment of joy and feeling of freedom, however, was short-lived. The Arab revolutions had only decapitated the regimes but the body – the deep state – had remained. Undoing decades of dictatorship was going to take more than a few weeks of mass protests.
The remnants of the regimes joined hands with external counter-revolutionary forces and started to systematically undermine the peaceful, democratic drive of the Arab Spring protests. In Syria, Libya, and Yemen these forces managed to use local sectarian and tribal divisions to destroy society-wide protest alliances and plunge these countries into bloody civil wars.
In Egypt, the military, backed by external forces, led a coup against the democratically elected government. This helped stifle the revolutionary spirit across the region and thwart efforts to establish a new Arab reality.
Our disappointment grew into despair, as the counter-revolution imprisoned, tortured and killed with impunity. Meanwhile, Israel was basking in the defeat of the Arab Spring and the renewed interest from Arab regimes in normalising relations. Arab despots felt they needed Israeli backing to guarantee their own security amid the persisting legitimacy crises they were facing. That alliance seemed natural: both Israel and Arab dictatorships vehemently opposed Arab democracy.
In Palestine, we felt suffocated. It was not only moral suffocation, but physical too. Soon after General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took power in Egypt, he ordered the destruction of all the tunnels under the Gaza-Egyptian border. These were the vital channels through which the Palestinians in Gaza brought in food, construction materials, and other necessities which Israel had banned through its debilitating siege on the strip. Then, Israel launched another deadly assault on Gaza, killing more than 2,000 people, including hundreds of children, and destroying whatever it had not in its 2008 onslaught.
As a result, the humanitarian situation in Gaza started to deteriorate quickly. The economy was on the verge of collapse; services, like electricity, sewage and potable water, were almost absent. In 2015, the UN released a report saying that by 2020 the strip may become “uninhabitable”.
Anger, frustration and desperation grew in Gaza. And by 2018, it was ready to explode. It was that year that amid the suffocation and destitution, we decided to resurrect our call for a march of return. The massive mobilisation that we witnessed in response was a clear sign that despite the brutality of the Israeli siege, occupation and colonisation, the Palestinians were not going to give up fighting for their rights. It was a declaration that the Arab dream was still alive.
After it flickered in Palestine, several months later it flared up in Sudan. Protests started all over the country against the misery the Sudanese regime had reduced its people to. Soon after, Algeria rebelled. By the end of the spring in 2019, two more Arab dictators had been toppled. The revolutionary torch was then passed on to the Iraqis and the Lebanese who carried it forward with pride.
What some have called the “second wave” of the Arab Spring also resulted in a lot of death, destruction and despair. The Arab people continue to pay a hefty price for their stolen revolutions. But they are also learning. They have tasted freedom – albeit only momentously – they have seen what people power can achieve, but they have also understood their failures – that anger and enthusiasm are not enough to defeat deeply rooted oppressive regimes.
For the people who have lived the Arab Spring, it remains more than just an exciting memory or a beautiful dream. The events of 2011 awakened something in the Arab world.
Today, the Arab streets may appear quiet, but that burning feeling of injustice, that drive for freedom are still there, simmering under surface, ready to erupt and sweep Arab authoritarians and their allies off their feet once again.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.