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
Likelihood of Britain’s new warship flexing its might on maiden deployment is growing
Britain’s new HMS Queen Elizabeth warship will join France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to form a highly potent armada in the Mediterranean in the coming months, defence chiefs say.
The Royal Navy’s £3 billion ($4.25bn) carrier with its 18 advanced F35 jets and the French Navy’s 30 Rafale fighters will present a considerable force, particularly against any Turkish forays in the Eastern Mediterranean over the summer.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is also ready to meet any potential ISIS threat at sea, senior naval commanders confirmed, as her maiden operational voyage approaches.
The likelihood of HMS Queen Elizabeth demonstrating her strength when she heads on the six-month deployment in the coming days is growing, with strikes against terrorist targets in Syria and Iraq being considered.
Furthermore, the carriers could be used against potential Houthi anti-ship missiles installations in Yemen, if it was decided they posed an imminent threat.
Defence chiefs have emphasised that the 65,000-tonne warship will lead an extremely potent force when it teams up with the French nuclear-powered carrier.
“There will be a very significant link-up with the French Navy in the Mediterranean with the Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier and Queen Elizabeth which will come together and exercise together,” said Angus Lapsley, the MOD’s Director General Strategy. “This will help among other things underline just how potent the UK-French combined expeditionary force can be.”
The united fleet of more than a dozen of the world’s most modern warships, including Britain’s Type 45 missile destroyers and Astute hunter-killer submarines, will be the strongest force seen in the Mediterranean for decades.
It will also be a symbolic moment of Anglo-French unity following a souring of relations post-Brexit that saw the two country’s warships on opposing sides during a fishing spat off the island of Jersey earlier this month.
This will help among other things underline just how potent the UK-French combined expeditionary force can be
The fleet will present an imposing sight and a dilemma particularly for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has tried to build up a reputation of Turkey’s military might with numerous foreign interventions.
The commander of Britain’s military operations, Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key, also suggested that the fleet would be able to contribute to the campaign against terrorists. “I am entirely sure we can meet the threat of ISIS from the strike group,” he said.
Defence chiefs have also made it clear that the F35 jets will be used to strike the extremists to prevent them gaining a foothold in Iraq.
Once the carrier strike group composed of six warships accompanying HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves the Arabian Sea in the summer, it will sail east to make four lengthy stops in Asia, in Singapore, India, South Korea and Japan.
The potential for a further flashpoint will come when it enters the South China Sea. The British government has yet to confirm whether HMS Queen Elizabeth will make a highly symbolic but provocative passage through the Taiwan Strait, just off the coast of mainland China.
May 20, 2021, 10:00 PM MDT
Three years after former President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from a landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, Tehran’s government is closer to having the material needed for a nuclear weapon than if the deal had remained in place. Iranians have enriched more uranium to higher levels using more sophisticated technologies than they would otherwise have had access to under a strict monitoring regime. Those developments have led President Joe Biden’s administration to join diplomats from Europe, China and Russia in seeking to revive the 2015 agreement, which reined in Tehran’s atomic program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.
- How close is Iran to making a bomb?
Iran has accumulated enough enriched uranium (meaning it has an increased concentration of the isotope uranium-235) to construct several bombs should its leaders choose to purify the heavy metal to the 90% level typically used in weapons. For the first time, the nation is producing small quantities of highly enriched uranium, purified to levels of 60%, demonstrating that its engineers could quickly move to weapons-grade. International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors report the country has stockpiled more than 3,000 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, which typically has 3%-5% concentration of U-235. That’s 10 times the volume allowed under the 2015 agreement.
Iran’s 5% Enriched Uranium Stockpile
Iran’s low-enriched inventory up 10 fold since Trump broke deal
Source: IAEA data compiled by Bloomberg
- Why is enrichment so important?
Obtaining the material necessary to induce atomic fission is the most difficult step in the process of making nuclear power or bombs. Countries need to develop an industrial infrastructure to produce uranium-235 isotopes, which comprise less than 1% of matter in uranium ore but are key to sustaining a fission chain reaction. Thousands of centrifuges spinning at supersonic speeds are used to separate the material. The IAEA keeps track of gram-level changes in uranium inventories worldwide to ensure the material isn’t being diverted for weapons. Whether or not Iran retains the right to enrich uranium has been at the heart of its nuclear conflict with the U.S. for two decades.
Iran’s History of War and Weapons
- Did the 2015 deal slow Iran’s progress?
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Yes. The deal was written to ensure that even if it was someday broken, Iran would need at least a year to restore weaponization capacity. Iran forfeited some 97% of its enriched uranium and mothballed three-quarters of the industrial capacity needed to refine the heavy metal. Before the accord, Iran had enough to potentially build more than a dozen bombs. Iran always maintained it was pursuing nuclear energy, not nuclear weapons, but world powers doubted that claim.
- Why did Iran break its part of the agreement?
President Hassan Rouhani waited a year after the Trump administration reimposed sanctions before giving the orders to break the nuclear covenants set out by the accord. Over the last 18 months, Iran has shown it could steadily lift its atomic capacity despite the best efforts of saboteurs and assassins to derail the program.
- Can the deal be revived?
Biden promised during his presidential campaign that if Iran returned to compliance with its obligations under the 2015 deal, the U.S. would also return to the deal and lift sanctions. Diplomats bunkered down in Vienna have conducted intensive talks over two months to revive the accord. As of mid-May, they’d made substantial progress and were close to reinstituting the safeguards needed to ensure Iran can’t construct a weapon. Envoys are under pressure to seal a return to the accord before Iran’s presidential election in June, when the outcome is expected to favor political hardliners.
- What happens if the agreement is revived?
To return to compliance with the deal’s limits, Iran would have to dramatically reduce uranium stockpiles and sideline much of its enrichment technology. International inspectors would again have full access to places where nuclear material is produced, an important consideration as monitors continue parsing information about the country’s alleged historical weapons-related activities. Iran would win reprieve from sanctions that hamstrung its exports of oil and other economic activities. While some of the nuclear limitations in the deal begin to expire in 2025, diplomats expect follow-on talks to take place that would focus on regional security and Iran’s production of ballistic missiles.
- What happens if there’s no deal?
After entering the original deal in 2015, then-President Barack Obama said the alternative might have been a military conflict with major disruptions to the global economy. Over the last three years, the dispute between Washington and Tehran has roiled the wider Middle East, fueling conflicts where Iran and American allies are on opposing sides, with Iran blamed for attacks on shipping in key waterways.
Gaza is not going away and will remain a critical issue to resolve, but the Iranian nuclear issue is the one potential existential challenge to Israel’s existence.
A VIEW of the water nuclear reactor at Arak in December 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS)
The Israel-Gaza conflict from May 10-21 (assuming the ceasefire holds) wiped out almost every other news item from the public’s attention. But while large portions of the Jewish state were sleeping in bomb shelters, US, Iranian and world power negotiators were jumping forward in negotiations to return to the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal.
Before Israelis realize it, they may suddenly wake up to the JCPOA back in place and the region’s geopolitics completely reordered.
Though on Friday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif decried the Biden administration’s continuation of Trump era sanctions as US “economic terrorism,” earlier in the week Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the deal was basically done and was just waiting for final sign-offs.
The EU was similarly optimistic, and Russia and China have been broadcasting optimism of a deal around the corner multiple times in recent weeks.
If this is true, it is time for Israelis to wake up.
The 2021 Gaza conflict may turn out to be the major war and peace event of 2021 for Jerusalem, but on the other hand, it resolved and changed little of the region’s dynamics.
Another name for it could be the fourth Gaza War – making it clear that this was just another round, with more rounds waiting in the future.
In contrast, a return to the JCPOA alters the course of the region permanently for the first time since the Trump administration left the deal in May 2018, and could shape the next decade of Israeli security issues, regional diplomacy with moderate Sunni Arabs and relations between Jerusalem and Washington.
It seems that the main uncertainty is the timing of the deal.
Multiple Israeli intelligence sources told The Jerusalem Post back in January that Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was dying for a deal and that all of the public playing hard to get was negotiating tactics.
Some officials suggested that possibly Khamenei merely wanted to wait to finalize the deal until after the June 18 presidential elections or until he could ensure a hardliner he supported would win that election, regardless of the deal.
As things stand, Iran analysts have told the Post that there is no major real reformist or pragmatist camp challenge to Kahemeni’s hardliner candidates for president.
If that is true, he may be able to let the deal go forward even before June 18. Or maybe after at least the Iranian Guardian Council disqualifies any possible problematic challengers.
One clear sign that Khamenei wants a deal is that he rebuffed Iran’s self-set deadlines for kicking out IAEA inspectors – absent an end to sanctions – in January and February and is poised to postpone Friday’s deadline.
When a side blows through its redlines repeatedly and its main threat to hold over the other side, it exposes how badly they want the deal, regardless of public statements.
If and when a deal is made, Jerusalem will need to work hard to get the Biden administration to make the JCPOA “longer and stronger” as it vowed it would in follow-on negotiations.
The IDF and the Mossad will need to be on constant alert for Iranian cheating and covert nuclear moves.
Also, the Jewish state will need to be ready to take action if and when the Islamic Republic crosses any lines which could take it too close to breaking out to a nuclear weapon.
Gaza is not going away and will remain a critical issue to resolve or manage.
But the Iranian nuclear issue is the one potential existential challenge to Israel’s existence and the new deal will ripple across the region and the globe.
The New Arab Staff20 May, 2021
Hundreds of Iraqi demonstrators arrived at the Jordanian border late on Wednesday, hoping to protest Israel’s violence against Palestinians at the Hashemite Kingdom’s border with the occupied West Bank, The New Arab’s Arabic-language service reported.
Abbas Attiyeh, an organiser of the demonstration, told Iraqi media that three coaches carrying some 150 protesters set off to the Iraqi border with Jordan from the southern province of Dhi Qar.
Most of those involved are reportedly activists linked to Iraq’s anti-government protest movement, which mobilised in October 2019 to demand an end to endemic corruption and government incompetence.
A local Iraqi army official confirmed that protesters had assembled in a village near the Jordanian border to “send a message to the Israeli occupation”.
The official said there would be “no attempts” to cross the Jordan’s own border with Israel. The New Arab has been unable to confirm whether the protesters managed to enter Jordan by the time of publication.
Dargham Majed, a prominent activist from the holy Shia city of Karbala, called on the Iraqi protesters to take the lead of their counterparts in Jordan and Lebanon, who have defiantly marched towards Israeli borders in a show of solidarity with Palestinians.
Jordanian riot police blocked protesters from the kingdom before they could reach the demarcation line on Friday, firing teargas as around 500 tried to reach the Allenby bridge which leads into the occupied West Bank.
In Lebanon, five protesters were reportedly injured by Israeli forces who fired tear gas and smoke bombs as they tried to climb a border fence. On Friday, a Lebanese demonstrator was killed by Israeli fire during their crossing attempt.
In Iraq, solidarity with Palestinians was on display in full force in the capital on Saturday, as thousands of supporters of populist Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr rallied to denounce Israel’s attacks on Palestinians.
In a statement last week, top cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who met with Pope Francis early this year during the first-ever papal visit to Iraq, called for “all free people to support and aid Palestinians to reclaim their stolen rights”.
Israeli warplanes strike 40 targets in southern Gaza, including the homes of several Hamas commanders, and destroy seven miles of the terror group’s “Metro” tunnel system.
(May 19, 2021 / JNS)
Multiple rocket salvos were launched into Israel late on Tuesday night and into Wednesday, as Israel’s “Operation Guardian of the Walls” against terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip entered its 10th day. The launches triggered sirens in multiple western Negev towns, as well as in Ashdod and Ashkelon and as far north as Rehovot. No casualties were reported.
Since the current round of fighting between Israel and Gaza erupted on May 10, approximately 3,750 rockets had been fired from Gaza at Israeli territory by Wednesday morning. Of these, approximately 550 failed, falling inside Gaza, according to the Israel Defense Forces. Israel’s Iron Dome air-defense system has intercepted approximately 90 percent of the rockets aimed at populated areas.
Thirteen Israelis have been killed and some 1,800 wounded by the ongoing rocket fire. According to Hamas sources, the death toll in Gaza has exceeded 200 with some 1,300 wounded. According to Israel, more than 130 of the casualties are members of terror groups.
The latest attacks come after Israel on Tuesday night hit 40 targets in Gaza with 120 precision-guided munitions. The strikes, which according to the Israeli military focused on Khan Younis and Rafah in southern Gaza, took out some seven miles of Hamas’s “Metro” tunnel system in 25 minutes, said the IDF.
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Among the other targets hit by Israel were the homes of several Hamas commanders, including that of military intelligence chief Osama Tabesh, which, according to the IDF, contained “terror infrastructure”; a Palestinian Islamic Jihad weapons-manufacturing site in the central Gaza Strip; Hamas command-and-control systems; a weapons depot located in the offices of Hamas’s internal-security headquarters in Khan Yunis; multi-barreled rocket launchers prepped to fire at Israel; Hamas military outposts; and more, according to the military.
“Tonight, we focused our efforts on two cities in which we have so far been less active—Khan Yunis and Rafah, the source of most of the [rocket] fire on southern Israel,” said IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman.
According to the IDF, throughout Tuesday, some 270 rocket launches from Gaza into Israel were identified. Forty-five fell inside the Gaza Strip, while the Iron Dome system intercepted about 90 percent of those that crossed the border, said the military.
The shift to Khan Younis and Rafah came after the target bank in Gaza City’s Rimal neighborhood had been exhausted following 30 hours of strikes.
The latest round of Hamas rocket fire and Israeli strikes comes amid talks of an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.
By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Rami Ayyub
GAZA (Reuters) – A senior Hamas official predicted a ceasefire within days even as Israel and Gaza militants pursued their cross-border attacks into an 11th day on Thursday with Israeli warplanes carrying out new air strikes and Palestinians firing more rockets.
U.S. President Joe Biden urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to seek a “de-escalation” on Wednesday on the path to a ceasefire. An Egyptian security source said the sides had agreed in principle to a ceasefire after help from mediators but that details were still being negotiated in secret.
“I think that the ongoing efforts regarding the ceasefire will succeed,” the Hamas political official, Moussa Abu Marzouk, told Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV. “I expect a ceasefire to be reached within a day or two, and the ceasefire will be on the basis of mutual agreement.”
Qatar-based Al Jazeera television reported U.N. Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland was meeting Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Qatar.
Israel carried out over a dozen air strikes on Gaza after midnight, including two that destroyed two houses in the enclave’s south. Medics said four people were wounded in an air strike on the town of Khan Younis in southern Gaza.
Israel’s military said late on Wednesday that it had targeted what it said were “multi-barrel rocket launching sites and aerial defence compounds” belonging to Hamas.
Early on Thursday, rocket sirens blared in the southern Israeli town of Beersheba and in areas bordering Gaza. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.
Since the fighting began on May 10, Palestinian health officials say 228 people have been killed in aerial bombardments that have worsened Gaza’s already dire humanitarian situation.
Israeli authorities put the death toll to date at 12 in Israel, where repeated rocket attacks have caused panic and sent people rushing into shelters.
BIDEN SEEKS ‘SIGNIFICANT DE-ESCALATION’
Netanyahu has repeatedly hailed what he has described as support from the United States, Israel’s main ally, for a right to self-defence in battling attacks from Gaza, home to 2 million Palestinians.
But Biden put the Israeli leader on notice in a telephone call that it was time to lower the intensity of the conflict.
“The president conveyed to the prime minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.
Washington and several Middle East capitals have sought an end to the violence through diplomacy. The 193-member United Nations General Assembly was due to meet on the conflict on Thursday with the participation of several foreign ministers but was not expected to take action.
The U.S. mission said it would not support a French push for a resolution in the 15-member U.N. Security Council, saying it believed such actions would “undermine efforts to de-escalate” violence.
Hamas began firing rockets on May 10 in retaliation for what it called Israeli rights abuses against Palestinians in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The rocket attacks followed Israeli police clashes with worshippers at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and a court case by Israeli settlers to evict Palestinians from a neighbourhood in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.
The hostilities are the most serious between Hamas and Israel in years, and, in a departure from previous Gaza conflicts, have helped fuel street violence in Israeli cities between Jews and Arabs.
The conflict has also spilled over to the Israel-Lebanon frontier and stoked violence in the occupied West Bank.
Four rockets were launched towards Israel from Lebanon on Wednesday, the third such incident since the Gaza conflict began, the military said. There was no claim of responsibility.
In the West Bank, Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian woman who the military said had fired a rifle at troops and civilians. At least 21 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops or other incidents in the West Bank since May 10, Palestinian officials said.
(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Rami Ayyub in Tel Aviv and Andrea Shalal aboard Air Force One; Additional reporting by Jeffrey Heller and Ari Rabinovitch in Jerusalem and Aidan Lewis in Cairo; Writing by Howard Goller; Editing by Peter Cooney)