ON THE MAP; Exploring the Fault Where the Next Big One May Be WaitingBy MARGO NASHPublished: March 25, 2001Alexander Gates, a geology professor at Rutgers-Newark, is co-author of ”The Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes,” which will be published by Facts on File in July. He has been leading a four-year effort to remap an area known as the Sloatsburg Quadrangle, a 5-by-7-mile tract near Mahwah that crosses into New York State. The Ramapo Fault, which runs through it, was responsible for a big earthquake in 1884, and Dr. Gates warns that a recurrence is overdue. He recently talked about his findings.Q. What have you found?A. We’re basically looking at a lot more rock, and we’re looking at the fracturing and jointing in the bedrock and putting it on the maps. Any break in the rock is a fracture. If it has movement, then it’s a fault. There are a lot of faults that are offshoots of the Ramapo. Basically when there are faults, it means you had an earthquake that made it. So there was a lot of earthquake activity to produce these features. We are basically not in a period of earthquake activity along the Ramapo Fault now, but we can see that about six or seven times in history, about 250 million years ago, it had major earthquake activity. And because it’s such a fundamental zone of weakness, anytime anything happens, the Ramapo Fault goes.Q. Where is the Ramapo Fault? A. The fault line is in western New Jersey and goes through a good chunk of the state, all the way down to Flemington. It goes right along where they put in the new 287. It continues northeast across the Hudson River right under the Indian Point power plant up into Westchester County. There are a lot of earthquakes rumbling around it every year, but not a big one for a while.Q. Did you find anything that surprised you?A. I found a lot of faults, splays that offshoot from the Ramapo that go 5 to 10 miles away from the fault. I have looked at the Ramapo Fault in other places too. I have seen splays 5 to 10 miles up into the Hudson Highlands. And you can see them right along the roadsides on 287. There’s been a lot of damage to those rocks, and obviously it was produced by fault activities. All of these faults have earthquake potential.Q. Describe the 1884 earthquake.A. It was in the northern part of the state near the Sloatsburg area. They didn’t have precise ways of describing the location then. There was lots of damage. Chimneys toppled over. But in 1884, it was a farming community, and there were not many people to be injured. Nobody appears to have written an account of the numbers who were injured.Q. What lessons we can learn from previous earthquakes?A. In 1960, the city of Agadir in Morocco had a 6.2 earthquake that killed 12,000 people, a third of the population, and injured a third more. I think it was because the city was unprepared.There had been an earthquake in the area 200 years before. But people discounted the possibility of a recurrence. Here in New Jersey, we should not make the same mistake. We should not forget that we had a 5.4 earthquake 117 years ago. The recurrence interval for an earthquake of that magnitude is every 50 years, and we are overdue. The Agadir was a 6.2, and a 5.4 to a 6.2 isn’t that big a jump.Q. What are the dangers of a quake that size?A. When you’re in a flat area in a wooden house it’s obviously not as dangerous, although it could cut off a gas line that could explode. There’s a real problem with infrastructure that is crumbling, like the bridges with crumbling cement.There’s a real danger we could wind up with our water supplies and electricity cut off if a sizable earthquake goes off. The best thing is to have regular upkeep and keep up new building codes. The new buildings will be O.K. But there is a sense of complacency.MARGO NASH
March 20, 2021
Supporters of Hamas come together to celebrate their anniversary in Gaza on 17 December 2018 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
April 3, 2021 at 12:41 pm
Head of Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Kamil Abu Rukun has warned that Israel “will stop everything” if Hamas wins the upcoming parliamentary elections, the Times of Israel reported.
In an interview with Israeli public broadcaster Kan, he said: “That, at least, will be my recommendation, based on things that happened in the past and on what I see in the field.”
Abu Rukun told Kan, according to the Times of Israel, that he conveyed his stance to the Palestinians via indirect channels.
He stressed: “It is a very big mistake to go to these elections due to the high risk that Hamas will win, and therefore anything that serves this [a Hamas victory]. My recommendation is to not go along with it.”
The Israeli official reiterated that Israel should prevent carrying out the Palestinian elections in East Jerusalem.
On Wednesday, Kan reported Shin Bet security agency Head Nadav Argaman urging Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to scrap the Palestinian parliament’s upcoming elections if Hamas takes part.
Replying to Argaman, Abbas responded: “I do not work for you. I will decide if there will be an election and with whom. You built Hamas, not me.”
Last week, Secretary of Fatah’s Central Committee Jibril Rajoub recognised that Abbas faced Israeli and international pressure to cancel the election.
The last Palestinian parliamentary election was held in 2006 when Hamas achieved an overwhelming majority, while Fatah, the PA, Israel, Western countries, the US and most Arab countries did not recognise Hamas’s transparent victory.
TEHRAN, April 3 (Xinhua) — The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said Iran has produced 50 kg of 20-percent enriched uranium, Press TV reported Saturday.
The 20-percent uranium enrichment process has been launched as part of Iran’s Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions, which was approved by the Iranian parliament in December 2020.
According to the parliament’s bill, the AEOI should produce 120 kg of 20-percent enriched uranium within a year after the implementation of the action plan which began on Jan. 4, said Ali-Akbar Salehi.
Iranian authorities have said a boost in uranium enrichment, along with other measures to reduce some commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is a reaction to the U.S. withdrawal from the deal and the failure of European signatories to protect Iran’s interests amid U.S. energy and banking sanctions.
“If there is an agreement and America returns to the JCPOA and Iran verifies that, Tehran can instantly stop 20-pct enrichment and other expansions,” Salehi noted. Enditem
With one wrong move, provocative military maneuvers off China’s coast could escalate into a catastrophic conflict.
By Michael T. Klare
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.
The leaders of China and the United States certainly don’t seek a war with each another. Both the Biden administration and the regime of Chinese President Xi Jinping view economic renewal and growth as their principal objectives. Both are aware that any conflict arising between them, even if restricted to Asia and conducted with non-nuclear weapons—no sure bet—would produce catastrophic regional damage and potentially bring the global economy to its knees. So, neither group has any intention of deliberately starting a war. Each, however, is fully determined to prove its willingness to go to war if provoked and so is willing to play a game of military chicken in the waters (and aispace) off China’s coast. In the process, each is making the outbreak of war, however unintended, increasingly likely.
History tells us that conflicts don’t always begin due to planning and intent. Some, of course, start that way, as was the case, for instance, with Hitler’s June 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union and Japan’s December 1941 attacks on the Dutch East Indies and Pearl Harbor. More commonly, though, countries have historically found themselves embroiled in wars they had hoped to avoid.
This was the case in June 1914, when the major European powers—Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire—all stumbled into World War I. Following an extremist act of terror (the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie, by Serbian nationalists in Sarajevo), they mobilized their forces and issued ultimatums in the expectation that their rivals would back off. None did. Instead, a continent-wide conflict erupted, with catastrophic consequences.
Sadly, we face the possibility of a very similar situation in the coming years. The three major military powers of the current era—China, the United States, and Russia—are all behaving eerily like their counterparts of that earlier era. All three are deploying forces on the borders of their adversaries, or the key allies of those adversaries, and engaging in muscle-flexing and “show-of-force” operations intended to intimidate their opponent(s), while demonstrating a will to engage in combat if their interests are put at risk. As in the pre-1914 period, such aggressive maneuvers involve a high degree of risk when it comes to causing an accidental or unintended clash that could result in full-scale combat or even, at worst, global warfare.
Provocative military maneuvers now occur nearly every day along Russia’s border with the NATO powers in Europe and in the waters off China’s eastern coastline. Much can be said about the dangers of escalation from such maneuvers in Europe, but let’s instead fix our attention on the situation around China, where the risk of an accidental or unintended clash has been steadily growing. Bear in mind that, in contrast to Europe, where the borders between Russia and the NATO countries are reasonably well marked and all parties are careful to avoid trespassing, the boundaries between Chinese and US/allied territories in Asia are often highly contested.
China claims that its eastern boundary lies far out in the Pacific—far enough to encompass the independent island of Taiwan (which it considers a renegade province), the Spratly and Paracel Islands of the South China Sea (all claimed by China, but some also claimed by Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines), and the Diaoyu Islands (claimed by both China and Japan, which calls them the Senkaku Islands). The United States has treaty obligations to Japan and the Philippines, as well as a legislative obligation to aid in Taiwan’s defense (thanks to the Taiwan Relations Act passed by Congress in 1979), and consecutive administrations have asserted that China’s extended boundary claims are illegitimate. There exists, then, a vast area of contested territory, encompassing the East and South China Seas—places where US and Chinese warships and planes increasingly intermingle in challenging ways, while poised for combat.
PROBING LIMITS (AND DEFYING THEM)
The leaders of the United States and China are determined that their countries will defend what they define as their strategic interests in such contested areas. For Beijing, this means asserting its sovereignty over Taiwan, the Diaoyu Islands, and the islands of the South China Sea, as well as demonstrating an ability to take and defend such territories in the face of possible Japanese, Taiwanese, or US counterattacks. For Washington, it means denying the legitimacy of China’s claims and ensuring that its leadership can’t realize them through military means. Both sides recognize that such contradictory impulses are only likely to be resolved through armed conflict. Short of war, however, each seems intent on seeing how far it can provoke the other, diplomatically and militarily, without triggering a chain reaction ending in disaster.
On the diplomatic front, representatives of the two sides have been engaging in increasingly harsh verbal attacks. These first began to escalate in the final years of the Trump administration when the president abandoned his supposed affection for Xi Jinping and began blocking access to US technology by major Chinese telecommunications firms like Huawei to go with the punishing tariffs he had already imposed on most of that country’s exports to the United States. His major final offensive against China would be led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who denounced that country’s leadership in scathing terms, while challenging its strategic interests in contested areas.
In a July 2020 statement on the South China Sea, for instance, Pompeo slammed China for its aggressive behavior there, pointing to Beijing’s repeated “bullying” of other claimants to islands in that sea. Pompeo, however, went beyond mere insult. He ratcheted up the threat of conflict significantly, asserting that “America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources, consistent with their rights and obligations under international law”—language clearly meant to justify the future use of force by American ships and planes assisting friendly states being “bullied” by China.
Pompeo also sought to provoke China on the issue of Taiwan. In one of his last acts in office, on January 9, he officially lifted restrictions in place for more than 40 years on US diplomatic engagement with the government of Taiwan. Back in 1979, when the Carter administration broke relations with Taipei and established ties with the mainland regime, it prohibited government officials from meeting with their counterparts in Taiwan, a practice maintained by every administration since then. This was understood to be part of Washington’s commitment to a “One China” policy in which Taiwan was viewed as an inseparable part of China (though the nature of its future governance was to remain up for negotiation). Reauthorizing high-level contacts between Washington and Taipei more than four decades later, Pompeo effectively shattered that commitment. In this way, he put Beijing on notice that Washington was prepared to countenance an official Taiwanese move toward independence—an act that would undoubtedly provoke a Chinese invasion effort (which, in turn, increased the likelihood that Washington and Beijing would find themselves on a war footing).
The Trump administration also took concrete actions on the military front, especially by increasing naval maneuvers in the South China Sea and in waters around Taiwan. The Chinese replied with their own strong words and expanded military activities. In response, for instance, to a trip to Taipei last September by Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Keith Krach, the highest-ranking State Department official to visit the island in 40 years, China launched several days of aggressive air and sea maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait. According to Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang, those maneuvers were “a reasonable, necessary action aimed at the current situation in the Taiwan Strait protecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Speaking of that island’s increasing diplomatic contact with the United States, he added, “Those who play with fire will get burned.”
Today, with Trump and Pompeo out of office, the question arises: How will the Biden team approach such issues? To date, the answer is: much like the Trump administration.
In the first high-level encounter between US and Chinese officials in the Biden years, a meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, on March 18 and 19, newly installed Secretary of State Antony Blinken used his opening remarks to lambaste the Chinese, expressing “deep concerns” over China’s behavior in its mistreatment of the Uighur minority in Xinjiang Province, in Hong Kong, and in its increasingly aggressive approach to Taiwan. Such actions, he said, “threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability.” Blinken has uttered similar complaints in other settings, as have senior Biden appointees to the CIA and Department of Defense. Tellingly, in its first months in office, the Biden administration has given the green light to the same tempo of provocative military maneuvers in contested Asian waters as did the Trump administration in its last months.
“GUNBOAT DIPLOMACY” TODAY
In the years leading up to World War I, it was common for major powers to deploy their naval forces in waters near their adversaries or near rebellious client states in that age of colonialism to suggest the likelihood of punishing military action if certain demands weren’t met. The United State used just such “gunboat diplomacy,” as it was then called, to control the Caribbean region, forcing Colombia, for example, to surrender the territory Washington sought to build a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Today, gunboat diplomacy is once again alive and well in the Pacific, with both China and the United States engaging in such behavior.
China is now using its increasingly powerful navy and coast guard on a regular basis to intimidate other claimants to islands it insists are its own in the East and South China Seas—Japan in the case of the Senkakus; and Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines in the case of the Spratlys and Paracels. In most instances, this means directing its naval and coast guard vessels to drive off the fishing boats of such countries from waters surrounding Chinese-claimed islands. In the case of Taiwan, China has used its ships and planes in a menacing fashion to suggest that any move toward declaring independence from the mainland will be met with a harsh military response.
For Washington in the Biden era, assertive military maneuvers in the East and South China Seas are a way of saying: No matter how far such waters may be from the United States, Washington and the Pentagon are still not prepared to cede control of them to China. This has been especially evident in the South China Sea, where the US Navy and Air Force regularly conduct provocative exercises and show-of-force operations intended to demonstrate America’s continuing ability to dominate the region—as in February, when dual carrier task forces were dispatched to the region. For several days, the USS Nimitz and the USS Theodore Roosevelt, along with their accompanying flotillas of cruisers and destroyers, conducted mock combat operations in the vicinity of islands claimed by China. “Through operations like this, we ensure that we are tactically proficient to meet the challenge of maintaining peace and we are able to continue to show our partners and allies in the region that we are committed to promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific,” was the way Radm. Doug Verissimo, commander of the Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, explained those distinctly belligerent actions.
The Navy has also stepped up its patrols of destroyers in the Taiwan Strait as a way of suggesting that any future Chinese move to invade Taiwan would be met with a powerful military response. Already, since President Biden’s inauguration, the Navy has conducted three such patrols: by the USS John S. McCain on February 4, the USS Curtis Wilbur on February 24, and the USS John Finn on March 10. On each occasion, the Navy insisted that such missions were meant to demonstrate how the US military would “continue to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows.”
Typically, when the US Navy conducts provocative maneuvers of this sort, the Chinese military—the People’s Liberation Army, or PLA—responds by sending out its own ships and planes to challenge the American vessels. This occurs regularly in the South China Sea, whenever the Navy conducts what it calls “freedom of navigation operations,” or FONOPs, in waters near Chinese-claimed (and sometimes Chinese-built) islands, some of which have been converted into small military installations by the PLA. In response, the Chinese often dispatch a ship or ships of their own to escort—to put the matter as politely as possible—the American vessel out of the area. These encounters have sometimes proven exceedingly dangerous, especially when the ships got close enough to pose a risk of collision.
In September 2018, for example, a Chinese destroyer came within 135 feet of the guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur on just such a FONOP mission near Gavin Reef in the Spratly Islands, obliging the Decatur to alter course abruptly. Had it not done so, a collision might have occurred, lives could have been lost, and an incident provoked with unforeseeable consequences. “You are on [a] dangerous course,” the Chinese ship reportedly radioed to the American vessel shortly before the encounter. “If you don’t change course, [you] will suffer consequences.”
What would have transpired had the captain of the Decatur not altered course? On that occasion, the world was lucky: The captain acted swiftly and avoided danger. But what about the next time, with tensions in the South China Sea and around Taiwan at a far higher pitch than in 2018? Such luck might not hold and a collision, or the use of weaponry to avoid it, could trigger immediate military action on either side, followed by a potentially unpredictable escalating cycle of countermoves leading who knows where.
Under such circumstances, a war nobody wanted between the United Sates and China could suddenly erupt essentially by happenstance—a war this planet simply can’t afford. Sadly, the combination of inflammatory rhetoric at a diplomatic level and a propensity for backing up such words with aggressive military actions in highly contested areas still seems to be at the top of the Sino-American agenda.
Chinese and American leaders are now playing a game of chicken that couldn’t be more dangerous for both countries and the planet. Isn’t it time for the new Biden administration and its Chinese opposite to grasp more clearly and deeply that their hostile behaviors and decisions could have unforeseeable and catastrophic consequences? Strident language and provocative military maneuvers—even if only intended as political messaging—could precipitate a calamitous outcome, much in the way equivalent behavior in 1914 triggered the colossal tragedy of World War I.
The past week has seen a significant escalation of fighting between the Ukrainian army and Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass region. While the Western media is decrying an alleged “Russian aggression,” the military clashes have, in fact, taken place against the backdrop of a series of major provocations by the Ukrainian government which is calculating to receive NATO support in a potential war with Russia.
The level of tensions between Russia and Ukraine is greater now than at any time since a US-German-backed coup by far-right forces toppled the Yanukovich government in February 2014. The coup, part of a decades-long strategy by imperialism to encircle Russia, triggered the annexation of Crimea by the Kremlin and a civil war in the east of the country, which has claimed the lives of over 13,500 people.
Earlier in March, Kiev approved a strategy aimed at “recovering Crimea.” The peninsula in the Black Sea is of major geopolitical importance and and home to the naval base of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. Any move by Kiev to seize it would be tantamount to a declaration of war.
On March 25, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky approved a new military strategy which emphasizes the need to prepare for the mobilization of the entire population in a war against Russia that would be conducted on Ukrainian soil. The strategy acknowledged that no such war could be won without NATO support and mentions Ukraine’s planned accession to the military alliance no less than 19 times.
In a recent interview, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, Colonel General Ruslan Khomchak, discussed a possible offensive to retake the separatist-controlled Donbass in East Ukraine. Acknowledging that such an offensive would require huge civilian casualties, Khomchak stressed that Zelensky “has every power to give the command or take a decision.”
At the same time, a hysterical anti-Russian atmosphere is being whipped up in Ukraine. Over the past months, Zelensky has cracked down on key outlets and TV channels of the pro-Russian faction of the Ukrainian oligarchy. The leader of the opposition, the billionaire Viktor Medvedchuk, who has close ties to the Kremlin, has been sanctioned. On Friday, the head of the Independent Miners’ Union, Mikhail Volyntsev, spoke in the Ukrainian Rada (parliament), accusing Russia of a supposed attack on Ukraine’s electrical grid.
Foreword to the German edition of David North’s Quarter Century of War
Johannes Stern, 5 October 2020
After three decades of US-led wars, the outbreak of a third world war, which would be fought with nuclear weapons, is an imminent and concrete danger.
This week, reports have emerged of significant Russian troop movements in Crimea and East Ukraine, involving infantry fighting vehicles and anti-tank missiles. Reports have also indicated that Belarusian troops are being mobilized on the border of Ukraine.
On Wednesday, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has warned that “Ukraine may take provocative actions which could lead to war.” He accused the US of using Ukraine as a means to create conditions for war, stating, “The West is preparing for nothing less than war with us.” That same day, Russian president Vladimir Putin met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron to discuss the situation in Ukraine.
On Friday, US President Joe Biden spoke with Zelensky for the first time since he took office. Biden pledged “unwavering support” for Ukraine against Russia. Throughout the week, there were at least three high-level calls between the American and Ukrainian government, involving Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. The Wall Street Journal described the crisis as a “test” for the Biden administration.
Map of the Black Sea region
Since coming into office, the Biden administration has made clear that it would pursue an extremely aggressive course toward Russia. In one of his first foreign policy acts as president, Biden bombed an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia position on the Syria-Iraq border, a move that was targeted against not just Iran, but also Russia. At a NATO summit last week, the NATO powers launched a “NATO 2030” effort to prepare for nuclear war against Russia and China. Just before the summit, Biden called Putin a “killer without a soul” in an interview—an extraordinary attack on the head of state of another country—triggering a diplomatic crisis. Underlying the growing danger of war and the increasingly reckless moves of the imperialist powers and their allies is the profound crisis of the world capitalist system which has been significantly accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.
In Ukraine, the social and political crisis is particularly sharp. Over a year into the pandemic, the coronavirus is ripping through the impoverished population completely unhinged. On April 1, 421 people died, and new daily infections hit the second highest number in the pand e mic. Over 33,200 people have officially died from the virus, but the real number is likely much higher. With hospitals overwhelmed and some people reportedly taking medication meant for animals, an adviser to the Ukrainian health ministry recommended people who contracted COVID-19 to be prepared “to die at home.”
The same imperialist powers that have pumped billions of dollars into Ukraine’s far right and military to prepare for war against Russia have refused to provide any meaningful help with COVID-19 vaccine distribution. The Zelensky government has rejected the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, arguing that accepting it would mean a “geopolitical blow.” As a result, only 220,000 people out of a population of 44 million had received the first jab of a vaccine and only two individuals were fully vaccinated as of March 30. Millions of migrant workers have lost their jobs, while many more were laid off or experienced significant income losses. In the war zone in East Ukraine, millions of people lack access to drinking water, with some villages having no access to water at all, according to UNICEF. Like capitalist governments across the world, the Ukrainian government, far from doing anything to alleviate the social suffering, used the crisis to carry out further social attacks on the working class.
While the Ukrainian oligarchy’s reckless provocations are no doubt in part an effort to divert the enormous class tensions outward, the main driving force behind the conflict is the historic decline of US imperialism and its efforts to offset it by military means. Aiming to gain full control over the vast resources of the former Soviet Union, the US and NATO have systematically encircled Russia since 1991 and orchestrated numerous coups on its borders, including two in Ukraine, in 2004 and 2014.
A 2019 document by the RAND Corporation, one of the most important think tanks advising the US government, outlined a strategy of forcing Russia to “overextend” itself militarily in conflicts on its borders. The aim of this strategy is to weaken the Putin regime economically and politically while enabling the US to focus more directly on its main strategic rival: China. The military conflict in East Ukraine is a central part of that strategy.
The report noted, “The Ukrainian military already is bleeding Russia in the Donbass region (and vice versa). Providing more U.S. military equipment and advice could lead Russia to increase its direct involvement in the conflict and the price it pays for it.” It then warned that such a strategy could come at a significant cost to the US itself and was extremely risky, yet it is precisely this strategy that the US has been pursuing.
Over the past seven years, the US has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the Ukrainian military, and US military advisers play a major role in training the Ukrainian army. The RAND Corporation acknowledged that all its proposed strategies involved the risk of an uncontrollable military escalation, including the deployment of nuclear weapons—risks US imperialism is clearly prepared to take.
The working class is confronting the catastrophic consequences of the 1991 dissolution of the USSR by the Soviet bureaucracy, which grew out of the Stalinist betrayal of the socialist October revolution of 1917. As the ICFI wrote at the time, the dissolution of the USSR did not mark the end of socialism, much less a period of the “triumph of capitalism.” Rather, it opened up a new period of imperialist wars of plunder and social revolution. 30 years later, this assessment has been fully confirmed. The critical question now is the construction of a socialist anti-war movement in the working class, based on these historical lessons. For more on the dissolution of the Soviet Union, click here.
April 3, 20212 Min Read
Iranian college students burned US and Israeli flags, together with pictures of President Trump and President-elect Joe Biden, as the Iranian institution admitted Friday’s killing of high nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was a major setback.
The scholars, members of the paramilitary unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, demonstrated outdoors Iran’s international ministry in Tehran, The Instances of Israel reported. Fakrizadeh was a senior officer in the IRGC.
Earlier Saturday, Iran’s supreme chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed revenge for the killing.
The assassination was a enormous blow to the Iranian protection institution, Iranian Military commander Mohammed Bagheri admitted, Axios reported. Khamenei pledged that Fakhrizadeh’s work would proceed.
Fakrizadeh was the architect of Iran’s navy nuclear program and was in contrast with Robert Oppenheimer, who led the US Manhattan Undertaking throughout World Struggle II. Killing him is seen as a step towards growing the stress from the Trump administration and the Israeli authorities in opposition to Iran, a transfer that was broadly criticized by US allies in Europe.
Israeli officers briefed a number of media shops in Israel that with out Fakhrizadeh, it is going to be arduous for Iran to proceed its nuclear program, in line with Axios.
Israel positioned its embassies all over the world on a heightened safety alert after Iran blamed Israel for the assault.
One American official and two different intelligence officers confirmed that Israel was behind the slaying, which happened in a village outdoors of Tehran, the New York Instances reported. Fakhrizadeh was reportedly attacked by not less than 5 gunmen after his sedan stopped following an explosion.
It was unclear how a lot the US might have identified concerning the operation in advance, the Instances stated, however the two nations have lengthy shared intelligence relating to Iran, which Israel considers its best risk.
The killing happened days after a secret trilateral assembly between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
With Publish wires
2 April 2021
The new report cites fears that the region could break into 2 camps, with China, Pakistan on one side, while India, US on the other. The report has cited a slew of “escalators events” in South Asia involving China, India, and Pakistan under “nuclear shadow.”
Expressing concerns over “external trends filtering into the region,” a new report on nuclear challenges in South Asia sees nuclear warheads as “potential triggers for accidents or further escalation,” particularly when deployed at a tactical level.
It also warned that the contrasting focus and pattern of nuclear engagement between China and the US could break the volatile region into two camps, with Washington and New Delhi on one side, and Beijing and Islamabad on the other.
The report, “South Asia’s Nuclear Challenges: Interlocking Views from India, Pakistan, China, Russia, and the United States,” was released by Sweden-based think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Thursday.
According to the institute, the report is “without attribution” based on 119 interviews conducted last year with experts, researchers, military officials, and politicians from India, Pakistan, China, Russia, and the United States.
A new SIPRI report provides an overview of views on nuclear postures and escalation affecting #SouthAsia, based on 119 research interviews with military, nuclear, political and regional experts from India, Pakistan, China, Russia and the USA.
It said: “Their [the experts’] insights demonstrate the need for a greater and more flexible engagement to enhance not merely understanding of South Asia, but rather how it interlocks with broader international nuclear dynamics.”
The discussions revealed a number of interlocking points that offer building blocks for both official and unofficial engagement on issues such as “no first use (NFU), lowered nuclear thresholds, conventional and nuclear entanglement, escalate to de-escalate, and emerging technology development.”
The report has cited a slew of “escalators events” in South Asia involving China, India, and Pakistan under “nuclear shadow” – in which these nuclear countries conduct low-intensity military operations against each other over disputed territories.
These included the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan following attacks on the Indian parliament in 2001, in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and in Balakot in 2019, as well as the China–India tensions over the Depsang incursion, the 2017 Doklam stand-off, and the 2020 Galwan River Valley skirmishes.
“While each case has elicited debate, less attention has been given to the role of nuclear weapons, or lack thereof, in these various stand-offs,“ the report said.
From one perspective, it added, even when not actively engaged, nuclear postures and technologies are seen as looming in the background and limiting events from spiraling out of control.
The report, however, went on to say: “They are seen as potential triggers for accidents or further escalation, particularly when deployed at a tactical level.”
China and US
Experts from each country tended to see the other country as playing a larger and more destabilizing role in South Asia.
Chinese experts, according to the report, focused on past US weapon sales to the region, the India-US nuclear deal, the US Indo-Pacific Strategy, and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, which have had a strong focus on China as well as India.
US experts, for their part, cited China’s conventional and nuclear outreach to Pakistan, military training, and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
“This different focus and pattern of engagement led some US experts to express concern that the region could break into two camps, with the US and India on one side, and China and Pakistan on the other,” it cautioned.
India and Pakistan
Pakistan and India are among the handful of countries with nuclear arsenals. India joined the nuclear club long before Pakistan, in 1974, prompting Islamabad to follow suit.
Discussing the nuclear engagement between the two longtime rivals, experts from both countries, according to the report, focused on how the other has engaged in lowering the nuclear threshold, and there was a mutual interest in how Chinese–US competition in emerging technologies may have cascade effects that shape South Asia’s deterrence landscape.
Watch SIPRI’s video series ‘Perceptions on nuclear challenges in South Asia’ to hear more about nuclear challenges in the region and what transparency and confidence-building measures could be taken to address these nuclear risks:
“Both Indian and Pakistani experts expressed concerns over how such technologies as hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence, and autonomy may change the deterrence landscape, particularly in terms of surveillance, command and control, and even shorter reaction times,” it maintained.
Islamabad silently developed its own nuclear capability in the 1980s, when it was an ally of the US in the first Afghan war against the crumbling Soviet Union.
It did not conduct any nuclear tests until India carried out a series of its own tests in 1999. Only three weeks later, Pakistan conducted six successful tests in the remote Chaghi district near the Afghanistan-Iran border, stoking fears of a nuclear war between the longtime rivals.
According to SIPRI, India currently possesses between 80 and 100 nuclear warheads, while Pakistan holds between 90 and 110.
China and India
Despite heightened tensions between New Delhi and Beijing in recent years, experts from both sides see “no chance” of a nuclear escalation between the two South Asian giants.
The report said the experts had the prevailing view that the countries shared the same stance on the NFU policy.
“And that nuclear escalation between the two was not only unlikely but also unthinkable.”
“While stabilizing in the context of tensions at the China–India border, the assumption that both parties are operating from the same starting point merits greater examination—in relation not just to NFU but also to a range of nuclear postures from de-mating to targeting,” the report further said.
Assumptions of “postural parity” may bring stability in the short term but could contribute to “misunderstanding and miss-signaling” in the longer term, it cautioned.
“Overall, these findings illustrate the need for greater, and more comprehensive, engagement that features flexible bilateral, trilateral and multilateral groupings of India, Pakistan, China, Russia and the USA when discussing targeted aspects of nuclear dynamics in South Asia,” the report noted.
Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk