US Raises Threat of Quake but Lowers Risk for TowersNew York TimesBy SAM ROBERTSJULY 17, 2014Here is another reason to buy a mega-million-dollar apartment in a Manhattan high-rise: Earthquake forecast maps for New York City that a federal agency issued on Thursday indicate “a slightly lower hazard for tall buildings than previously thought.”The agency, the United States Geodetic Survey, tempered its latest quake prediction with a big caveat.“The eastern U.S. has the potential for larger and more damaging earthquakes than considered in previous maps and assessments,” the agency said, citing the magnitude 5.8 quake that struck Virginia in 2011.Federal seismologists based their projections of a lower hazard for tall buildings — “but still a hazard nonetheless,” they cautioned — on a lower likelihood of slow shaking from an earthquake occurring near the city, the type of shaking that typically causes more damage to taller structures.“The tall buildings in Manhattan are not where you should be focusing,” said John Armbruster, a seismologist with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. “They resonate with long period waves. They are designed and engineered to ride out an earthquake. Where you should really be worried in New York City is the common brownstone and apartment building and buildings that are poorly maintained.”Mr. Armbruster was not involved in the federal forecast, but was an author of an earlier study that suggested that “a pattern of subtle but active faults makes the risk of earthquakes to the New York City area substantially greater than formerly believed.”He noted that barely a day goes by without a New York City building’s being declared unsafe, without an earthquake. “If you had 30, 40, 50 at one time, responders would be overloaded,” he said.The city does have an earthquake building code that went into effect in 1996, and that applies primarily to new construction.A well-maintained building would probably survive a magnitude 5 earthquake fairly well, he said. The last magnitude 5 earthquake in the city struck in 1884. Another is not necessarily inevitable; faults are more random and move more slowly than they do in, say, California. But he said the latest federal estimate was probably raised because of the magnitude of the Virginia quake.“Could there be a magnitude 6 in New York?” Mr. Armbruster said. “In Virginia, in a 300 year history, 4.8 was the biggest, and then you have a 5.8. So in New York, I wouldn’t say a 6 is impossible.”Mr. Armbruster said the Geodetic Survey forecast would not affect his daily lifestyle. “I live in a wood-frame building with a brick chimney and I’m not alarmed sitting up at night worried about it,” he said. “But society’s leaders need to take some responsibility.”
In 2007, when Hamas fighters pushed the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza and took over governing the coastal strip, Israel and Egypt imposed their tight blockade.
In this fourth war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, the Islamic militant group has fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israel, some hitting deeper in Israeli territory and with greater accuracy than ever before.
The unprecedented barrages reaching as far north as the seaside metropolis of Tel Aviv, coupled with drone launches and even an attempted submarine attack, have put on vivid display a homegrown arsenal that has only expanded despite the choke hold of a 14-year Israeli-Egyptian blockade.
“The magnitude of (Hamas) bombing is much bigger and the precision is much better in this conflict,” said Mkhaimar Abusada, a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza City.
“It’s shocking what they’ve been able to do under siege.”
Israel has argued that the blockade, which has caused severe hardship for more than 2 million Palestinians in Gaza is essential for preventing a Hamas arms build-up and cannot be lifted.
Here’s a look at how, under intense surveillance and tight restrictions, Hamas managed to amass its cache.
FROM CRUDE BOMBS TO LONG-RANGE ROCKETS
Since the founding of Hamas in 1987, the group’s secretive military wing _ which operates alongside a more visible political organization evolved from a small militia into what Israel describes as a “semi-organized military.”
In its early days, the group carried out deadly shootings and kidnappings of Israelis. It killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, which erupted in late 2000.
As violence spread, the group started producing rudimentary “Qassam” rockets. Powered partly by molten sugar, the projectiles reached just a few kilometers (miles), flew wildly and caused little damage, often landing inside Gaza.
After Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Hamas assembled a secret supply line from longtime patrons Iran and Syria, according to Israel’s military. Longer-range rockets, powerful explosives, metal and machinery flooded Gaza’s southern border with Egypt. Experts say the rockets were shipped to Sudan, trucked across Egypt’s vast desert and smuggled through a warren of narrow tunnels beneath the Sinai Peninsula.
In 2007, when Hamas fighters pushed the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza and took over governing the coastal strip, Israel and Egypt imposed their tight blockade.
According to the Israeli military, the smuggling continued, gaining steam after Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist leader and Hamas ally, was elected president of Egypt in 2012 before being overthrown by the Egyptian army.
Gaza militants stocked up on foreign-made rockets with enhanced ranges, like Katyushas and the Iranian-supplied Fajr-5, which were used during the 2008 and 2012 wars.
A HOMEGROWN INDUSTRY
After Morsi’s overthrow, Egypt cracked down on and shut hundreds of smuggling tunnels. In response, Gaza’s local weapons industry picked up.
“The Iranian narrative is that they kick-started all the missile production in Gaza and gave them the technical and knowledge base, but now the Palestinians are self-sufficient,” said Fabian Hinz, an independent security analyst focusing on missiles in the Middle East.
“Today, most of the rockets we’re seeing are domestically built, often with creative techniques.”
In a September documentary aired by the Al-Jazeera satellite news network, rare footage showed Hamas militants reassembling Iranian rockets with ranges of up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) and warheads packed with 175 kilograms (385 pounds) of explosives. Hamas militants opened unexploded Israeli missiles from previous strikes to extract explosive materials. They even salvaged old water pipes to repurpose as missile bodies.
To produce rockets, Hamas chemists and engineers mix propellant from fertilizer, oxidizer and other ingredients in makeshift factories. Key contraband is still believed to be smuggled into Gaza in a handful of tunnels that remain in operation.
Hamas has publicly praised Iran for its assistance, which experts say now primarily takes the form of blueprints, engineering know-how, motor tests and other technical expertise. The State Department reports that Iran provides $100 million a year to Palestinian armed groups.
THE ARSENAL ON DISPLAY
The Israeli military estimates that before the current round of fighting, Hamas had an arsenal of 7,000 rockets of varying ranges that can cover nearly all of Israel, as well as 300 anti-tank and 100 anti-aircraft missiles. It also has acquired dozens of unmanned aerial vehicles and has an army of some 30,000 militants, including 400 naval commandos.
In this latest war, Hamas has unveiled new weapons like attack drones, unmanned submarine drones dispatched into the sea and an unguided rocket called “Ayyash” with a 250-kilometer (155-mile) range. Israel claims those new systems have been thwarted or failed to make direct strikes.
The Israeli military says its current operation has dealt a tough blow to Hamas’ weapons research, storage and production facilities. But Israeli officials acknowledge they have been unable to halt the constant barrages of rocket fire.
Unlike guided missiles, the rockets are imprecise and the vast majority have been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. But by continuing to frustrate Israel’s superior firepower, Hamas may have made its main point.
“Hamas is not aiming for the military destruction of Israel. Ultimately, the rockets are meant to build leverage and rewrite the rules of the game,” Hinz said. “It’s psychological.”The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
By Atul Aneja
New Delhi, May 13: Chinas state medias threat to subject Australia to a missile strike, should it support Taiwan, has had an unexpected fallout—it has triggered demands in Canberra for nuclear weapons.
Writing in the state-run tabloid Global Times— Hu Xijin —the editor-in-chief of the bullhorn of the Communist Party of China (CPC), threatened Australia by saying that China should consider attacking the continent with missiles, fired both independently and by its H6K strategic bomber.
“Given that Australian hawks keep hyping or hinting that Australia will assist the US military and participate in war once a military conflict breaks out in the Taiwan Straits, and the Australian media outlets have been actively promoting the sentiment, I suggest China make a plan to impose retaliatory punishment against Australia once it militarily interferes in the cross-Straits situation,” writes Hu.
The bellicose insider of the CPC then details a plan of attack. “The plan [to attack Australia] should include long-range strikes on the military facilities and relevant key facilities on Australian soil if it really sends its troops to China’s offshore areas and combats against the PLA,” Hu writes. “If they [Australian hawks] are bold enough to coordinate with the US to militarily interfere in the Taiwan question and send troops to the Taiwan Straits to wage war with the PLA, they must know what disasters they would cause to their country.”
Undeterred by the Chinese threat former Yale and Harvard academic, Anders Corr, in his riposte written in Epoch Times, says that given Hu’s threat “the United States and allies should immediately support Australia in obtaining an independent submarine-based nuclear deterrent, so that Australia can join countries such as the United States, France, Britain, and India as powerful global defenders of freedom and democracy. The independent strength of individual members of an alliance improves the overall strength of the alliance”.
Corr is not the first one to call for an independent Australian nuclear deterrent, given the likely face-off with China in the Indo-Pacific region. “Far from being in a strategic backwater, Australia is very much now a state in the front line,” said Malcolm Davis, a military planner as quoted earlier by Bangkok Post.
Hugh White — a professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University is another heavyweight advocating Australian nukes.
In his book, “How to Defend Australia”, he argues that developing nuclear weapons has become inevitable.
“The strategic costs of forgoing nuclear weapons in the new Asia could be much greater than they have been until now,” he says citing “big strategic shifts in Asia”.
Corr, points to the urgency of acquiring Australian nukes.
“Australia has a limited window of opportunity in which to go nuclear, after which China’s rising power and regional hegemony will make an independent nuclear Australia impossible. At that point, which could be as soon as 5 or 10 years, the window will close and China could more effectively use nuclear brinkmanship, control of Asian seas, check book diplomacy, and its economic trading power, to break Australia from its allies, and bring it under Beijing’s dominance,” he observes.
NATO should welcome Australia into its alliance as a full member, before China has a chance to create a territorial dispute down under, and thereby make Australian accession more difficult. If Washington came under the influence of Beijing, the bilateral U.S.-Australia alliance would be useless to Australia’s defence, he says.
Corr makes two additional points. First, NATO must change its strategic outlook by no longer narrowly focusing on the Atlantic. Instead, it should broaden its vision to include Asia. Second non-democracies such as Saudi Arabia and Vietnam should be included in the Indo-Pacific phalanx.
“NATO should no longer be a purely Atlantic affair, given globalization and the rise of China. What matters today in choosing our closest allies is not geography, but shared values in support of democracy, as well as the inclusion of a broader diversity of allies, including countries like Saudi Arabia and Vietnam, that will strengthen the alliance in resisting Beijing’s growing preponderance of power.”
BY TOM O’CONNOR ON 5/24/21 AT 5:36 PM EDT
Russia is developing an array of autonomous weapons platforms utilizing artificial intelligence as part of an ambitious push supported by high-tech cooperation with neighboring China.
The extent to which Russia has prioritized AI in modernizing its military was featured in a report entitled “Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy in Russia,” which was published Monday by the CNA nonprofit research and analysis group located in Arlington, Virginia.
The report’s authors worked closely with the Pentagon‘s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center to produce what the organization called “the first major piece of US research that articulates contemporary Russia’s main initiatives, achievements, and accomplishments in AI and autonomy efforts and places those initiatives within the broader technological landscape in Russia.”
“Russian military strategists have placed a premium on establishing what they refer to as ‘information dominance on the battlefield,'” the report stated, “and AI-enhanced technologies promise to take advantage of the data available on the modern battlefield to protect Russia’s own forces and deny that advantage to the adversary.”
While there are significant challenges and some reservations toward ceding critical decision-making capabilities to artificial intelligence and away from human minds, trends clearly signal that Russian efforts to introduce these advanced capabilities are well underway. And critical input is coming from China, which the report identified as “the key partner for Russia in the sphere of high technology in general and artificial intelligence in particular.”
This cooperation, part of a broader strategic partnership fostered by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, has only strengthened despite efforts by the United States to target its top near-peer competitors with various sanctions.
Samuel Bendett, who served as an adviser for the report and is a member of the CNA Center for Autonomy and AI, said much of Moscow and Beijing’s collaboration took place outside of the defense sector.
At the same time, their growing military ties have opened the door for more comprehensive work together.
“Most of the effects of this relationship are seen in the civilian sphere—in the high-tech sector and academic cooperation in R&D space,” Bendett told Newsweek. “At the same time, there is evidence of growing bilateral contacts in the military in general, such as the participation in strategic-level exercises such as Vostok, where command and control cooperation took part.”
As an example of the heightened level of trust between two countries who have a history of feuds in past decades dominated by complex Cold War politics, he highlighted Russia’s work in helping China build an early warning system for missiles.
The prospect of incorporating AI here “bears watching, as both countries seek to bolster their C4ISR [an acronym referring to command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities], and as both nations announce a growing number of bilateral military exercises and drills,” Bendett said.
But as the joint projects enshrined in Putin and Xi’s historic pact accelerate, senior research scientist Jeffrey Edmonds notes it’s becoming more difficult to discern exactly what the two powers are actually doing.
From the Russian perspective, the rapprochement between the two countries has been one of the most consistent trends in Russian foreign policy for several decades,” Edmonds told Newsweek. “What we are seeing is that defense cooperation is deepening, but also seemingly becoming more secretive.”
RUSSIAN FOUNDATION FOR ADVANCED RESEARCH PROJECTS IN THE DEFENSE INDUSTRY/CNA
Bendett and Edmonds’ report includes a list of some two dozen platforms being developed by the Russian military incorporating some degree of AI or autonomy. These include vehicles based on land, air and sea as well as specialized mines, and even an anthropomorphic robot said capable of dual-wielding firearms, driving cars and traveling to space.
Also listed were AI-linked additions to the Russian military’s information management and decision-making complexes, defense apparatuses and logistics, and training and military manufacturing systems.
The report came just days after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that the country had begun manufacturing robots with autonomous militarized capabilities.
“The serial production of combat robots has begun,” Shoigu said during Friday’s Knew Knowledge online marathon, according to the state-run Tass Russian News Agency. “What has emerged are not simply experimental, but robots that can be really shown in science-fiction films as they are capable of fighting on their own.”
He also referenced the development of “what is called tomorrow’s weapons,” for which he said “large-scale work is underway.”
Perhaps most notable among Russia’s transforming arsenal is the array of nuclear-capable weapons Putin introduced in a fiery March 2018 speech touting technology that could outsmart and outmaneuver even the world’s most advanced defense systems. These include the Avangard hypersonic boost-glide vehicle, the torpedo-armed Poseidon underwater unmanned vehicle and the Kinzhal hypersonic air-launched missile.
The CNA report discussed the varying degrees to which these platforms have been said to also include AI and automated features, making them even more dangerous while adding new development hurdles toward fielding such capabilities. Given the relatively limited economic resources available to Russia, these challenges are not insignificant, as the report notes.
And while CNA cites a recent Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology report saying that revenue generated by AI-related activity in Russia was growing at a rate 10 times faster than the country’s GDP, this number paled in comparison to that of China, which was funding AI research at a level 350 times higher than that of Russia, and was second only to the U.S. in employment in the AI sector.
This is just one of many areas in which the two countries have found mutual interest and opportunity.
OPED: After Israel-Hamas Conflict, It Is Clear That China, Russia Will ‘Call The Shots’ In Middle East
Haider AbbasMay 25, 2021
It would be naive to expect that the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas will last long. Israel already has spurned the truce by storming Al Aqsa after the Friday prayers on May 21.
The 11-day bloody conflict ended with 232 Palestinian casualties, including 65 children and 1900 wounded, while 12 died in Israel along with hundreds injured, according to Reuters. The ceasefire was mediated by Egypt, but the bad omens are already visible and could escalate into a truly global conflict.
It may be mentioned that the primary objective of Israel is to establish the ‘Third Temple’ after demolishing the Al Aqsa mosque, where the Jews believe their messiah would come to mark their supremacy in the world.
In the latest conflagration, as for the Muslim world, there is just a spineless surrender as no state would come forward to stop Israel in its ranks, and the Muslim elite has been quite rummaged that Al Aqsa would fall and later again won by Muslims!
If that was the sole case, then why would Salahuddin Ayyubi win it in 1187? He could have also sat in his cozy environs, as the Arab rulers comfortably sit today.
What happened in Gaza was all in-store and only a small slice of recent events can help recollect this building scenario. On August 4, 2020, there was a devastating blast in Lebanon, which was triggered by a series of manmade miniature earthquakes orchestrated by Israel. Eminent blogger Richard Silverstein on that very day had written ‘Israel bombed Beirut’.
The Arab states were struck by further ‘shock and awe’ as they have been ‘done to’ for two decades. Only 10 days later the UAE, at the green signal from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), allowed the opening of the Israeli embassy as a complementary gesture to Pakistan on its independence day.
Bahrain and Sudan followed suit. Israel was to soon start with its new intelligence base on Socotra Island gifted by the UAE.
For Israel, the Arab states are peanuts, owing to the US’ sprawling influence but formalization with Pakistan, a nuclear state is what matters the most, as Pakistan was supposed to be a stumbling block particularly when it was distancing itself from the US after Washington was to finally withdraw after its defeat from Afghanistan.
OIC Did Not Play Active Role
Pakistan wanted to steer clear of KSA’s influence and wanted to forge an alternative Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with Malaysia, Turkey, Iran with the help of Russia and China, but the alternative is still elusive.
OIC’s role has been far from satisfactory as it did not proactively intervene in the latest hostilities between Israel and Palestinians.
How KSA was to react to the ‘Israeli invasion’ of Al Aqsa was quite predictable but what Israel wanted to score was that Pakistan PM Imran Khan, be given a purple carpet welcome, and be present in KSA while Al Aqsa was to be raided!
This could have been a big embarrassment for Imran Khan as he could not have anticipated such a thing from a friendly KSA.
KSA crown prince MbS, it may be known, is battling his alleged involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and is ready to go to any extent to please US President Joseph Biden.
His predecessor, Donald Trump, was believed to have shielded him against a CIA probe, which reportedly found credible evidence of MbS’s alleged involvement in the murder case.
It is a foregone conclusion that once the COVID-19 pandemic ends, all the 22 Arab states are to make a beeline to embrace Israel with the exception of Iran. Pakistan and Qatar are in their respective catch-22 positions.
In the recent conflict, Hamas fired more than 4,000 rockets into Israel, most of them Israel neutralized by its Iron Dome technology, yet for 11 days the populace inside Israel was on tenterhooks as sirens blazed all over the country and people took to bomb shelters.
The pride of Israel Shin Bet, responsible for internal security, was totally caught on nerves as riots broke out inside Israel and there was a civil war lurking inside the whole nation.
The entire 1.5 million Arabs out of 9 million Israelis were ready for the street battle. Moreover, Muslims from Jordan and Lebanon thronged the Israel borders for the safeguard of Al Aqsa. Here, Mossad, the external intelligence agency of Israel, was caught off-guard.
How come Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu who was crying to continue the war for ‘as long as necessary’ became an overnight lame duck? And, US President who had pledged the supply of $735 million worth of weapons to Israel cried for a ceasefire?
The answer lies in one of the toughest stands taken by Russian President Vladimir Putin who called Israel ambassador Alexander Ben Zvi to Moscow on a firing-line and warned of a single more civilian death as it was Russia which had already toppled the US applecart in next-door Syria to make Bassar Al Asad continue at the helm.
Syria too had fired three rockets on Israel and four were fired from Lebanon. Both Syria and Lebanon as well as Hamas have a strong Iran’s backing. Russia and Iran have been long-time partners.
What was Pakistan doing? And why was Turkey in the huddle? It was Malaysia, despite Mahatir Muhammed not being present, which announced to send its forces to defend Al Aqsa.
Turkey’s President Erdogan, who roared like a lion after reclaiming Hagia Sophia with the retort to recover Al Aqsa could not even put a squeamish response. He had been in a dress rehearsal to become the ‘Caliph’ after 100 years of the end of the Caliphate.
He had put a brave front to Greece, to France, and even to Russia in the latest Azerbaijan-Armenia war but this time around he was in sheer rhetoric. The skeptics even likened him to be nominated for the best actor award at the next Oscars.
The Turkey-Russia Angle
The political players, NATO, the US, and Israel want a Turkish-Russian war, but in fact, Russia has risen out to be a winner as it did not react when its ambassador was shot in Turkey.
It did not let the temperatures rise even as the Nagorno-Karabakh war was underway and acted as a supercop to forge a ceasefire.
Russia has even given its most powerful S-400 to Turkey much to the consternation of the US and NATO. Russia even ascribed to Turkey and Muslim sentiments when it banned Prophet of Islam cartoons inside Russia in the wake of this controversy erupting out of France in October last.
The doomsayers are prophesying a war between Russia and Turkey but Russia has been instead acting like a big brother.
But, Turkey perhaps developed cold feet as Arab states are all aligned with Israel. It wasn’t that late when the UAE had sent F-16s to help Greece fight Turkey while France had given its Rafaels to Greece for free. Then, too, Russia came to the rescue of Turkey with its naval exercises around Cyprus in the East Mediterranean sea.
It may, therefore, cannot be discounted that this time too, Russia came to help Turkey as the latter was engaged only in tongue-wagging against Israel. But, Iran an ally of Russia, came out openly behind Hamas and Hezbollah to meet the Israeli challenge.
Pakistan, the always rentier state, yet again proved that it is a sick-baby of KSA as it hasn’t been that late when PM Imran Khan acted a chauffeur to MbS on the latter’s visit to Pakistan slightly after Khashoggi’s murder.
This time around too he has been dangled with some carrots. The grand Islamic Military Alliance Chief Rahil Sharif is sure to have got his “deep pockets” filled by making Imran dance to KSA tunes while Palestinians were to be roasted in their furnace.
The American Game-Plan
The US power is waning. It has to wane. Russia is rising and with it China too. China is looking for Arab states as ‘market’ and is set to invest $400 billion in Iran’s ‘military and market’ which has rankled Israel, the US and India alike.
Israel is exporting its technology to India to counter China and China is smarting from the way Israel ‘kicked it out’ from its desalination water project worth $1.5 billion after Mike Pompeo intervened in 2020.
There may now be a new strategy to create tensions like China with the US and allies in the South China Sea; Turkey with Greece, India with Pakistan, Yemen and KSA, KSA with Iran and more turmoil in Afghanistan.
Despite such speculations, the US-Israel plan seems to have boomeranged. During the 11 days of the armed conflict, Biden called Netanyahu eight times and the last was with a warning to stop and bid for ceasefire in 24 hours!
But, why was Biden, the self-professed Zionist, so desperate? Perhaps, the answer lies that Russian forces were almost ready to attack Israel and which was to spiral into a major confrontation. This made Netanyahu numb in his knees.
Russia has developed a fantastic strategy and according to some conservative estimates, Russia has around 40% Muslims in its military and before it embarked on Syria, Vladimir Putin called Islamic scholars who opined that Khawarij were fighting in Syria and were to be eliminated.
Here, too Russia was expected to send its Muslims to safeguard Al Aqsa. The US had to bite the dust. Of late Russia has nailed the US in every part of the world as it did in the latest context. But interestingly, before the war could end Iran gifted its drones named ‘Gaza’ to Hamas.
Israel thought that Hamas was to soon exhaust its ammunition but the latter instead announced to fight for the next six years.
Russia, China Emerging As Major Players
Russia and China, in the wake of this new situation, want the theater of conflict to change from the South China Sea where the US and its allies are engaged with China, to the Middle East, where Russia and China want to build a task force involving Pakistan, Turkey and Malaysia, etc to save Al Aqsa from any further attack by Israel despite Kashgar on the boil inside China.
This move is likely to be thwarted by the US and Israel with their all might. It can be anyone’s guess that Arab states would side with the US, which is Israel by extension. Pakistan will again be in its existential crisis as it will never be able to resist kickbacks from KSA!
Back home, in the melee of the Israel-Hamas conflict, China took the chance to build a 67-km road close to Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls its South Tibet.
India has been taken aback as there has been quite a lot of India-China acrimony in the recent past. Now, India with BECA signed with the US might be ready to provide its military bases to the US ‘for some specific missions’ like keeping an eye on China and particularly on Gwadar where China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is to tail-end.
India might also provide its naval bases in Andaman and Nicobar Islands to counter China in the Indo-Pacific region. Bangladesh, out of US pressure, could join QUAD, to the much discomfiture of China and has just removed the ‘Israel exception’ from its passport for traveling purposes.
This welcome gesture came from PM Sheikh Hasina just after Eid-ul-Fitr, informed WeeklyBlitz of Bangladesh on May 22, all the while when Israel was raining fire, death, and destruction on Palestine!
A small trigger at this juncture could trigger a major global conflict, if not a third world war, but Israel would never be completely done until its objective of making the Third Temple on the site of Al Aqsa is completed.
Meanwhile, it is to be seen as to how long Netanyahu is to continue as protests against him have again broken out for dragging Israel into a pointless war, something of the same kind, which happened on August 2, 2020, when thousands protested outside his residence over his involvement in corruption and two days later Lebanon was bombed!
The writer is a former Information Commissioner of Uttar Pradesh, India, and a political analyst. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the editorial policy of the EurAsian Times
Twenty-Three Years Of Nuclearization In South Asia: Evaluating Non-Proliferation Trends From Past To Present – OpEd
Sher Bano*May 24, 2021
On May 28, 1998 at 15:15 hrs, the Pakistan government announced having conducted nuclear weapons testing in the Chaghi district of the Balochistan state in Pakistan. The image shows the graphite mountains raising up as the nuclear chain reaction builds up. Photo Credit: Government of Pakistan, Wikipedia Commons
May 28, 2021, marks the 23rdanniversary of the nuclearization of South Asia. It was on this day in the year 1998 when Pakistan conducted six nuclear tests in the Chaghi district of the Southwestern Baluchistan province. This was purely in response to the Indian nuclear tests on the 11th of May. Since India and Pakistan entered the nuclear club, global concerns have aggravated due to the threat of vertical nuclear proliferation in the region. If we go back to history, in 1968, the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was introduced as a cornerstone to restrain the proliferation. However, due to the US’ fluctuating non-proliferation policy towards India and Pakistan, the NPT has lost efficacy, especially in the South Asia context. Pakistan, however over the years has proposed various regional or bilateral non-proliferation agreements but the prospects of all such arrangements have been limited due to severe Indian opposition.
The NPT was formed four decades ago to curtail the spread of nuclear weapons and to enhance civil nuclear cooperation and the main objective was comprehensive global disarmament. This treaty has been regarded by many as a success vis-à-vis nuclear non-proliferation. However, since the overt and inevitable nuclearization of South Asia in May 1998 it arguably has lost efficacy. The NPT has become eroded due to the differential behavior of the US towards Pakistan and India. There have been double standards and discrimination in non-proliferation policies and NPT implementation. On one side to curb the nuclear efforts of some states like North Korea and Iran that are NPT signatories, the US has adopted preemptive doctrine while on the other side it turned a blind eye towards the acquisition of nuclear weapons by states like Israel and India that are non-signatories of NPT. It has described India and Israel as responsible nuclear states that have advanced nuclear technology.
Indian hostility towards Pakistan has been the key factor that has impacted the latter’s acuity of non-proliferation, disarmament, and arms control agreements. Pakistan has time and again shown its willingness to sign all the international non-proliferation agreements if India decides to do so. Pakistan was also willing to sign NPT with joint/bilateral agreement to full scope inceptions and safeguards. This offer was given by Gen. Muhammad Zia ul Haq to India three times, in the years from 1984 to 1987 but India rejected it. Moreover historically Pakistan has always been a supporter of (CTBT) ‘The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty) objectives but because of the growing capabilities of India such as SLBMs, CMs, and ICBMs Pakistan could not sign the treaty. While India’s reason for not signing the treaty was that CTBT doesn’t allow it to carry out any kind of explosions and it curtails the development of nuclear weapons. Similarly, Pakistan also could not sign (FMCT) ‘Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty’ because relative to the nuclear stockpile of India it would have been in a disadvantageous position. Islamabad has proposed FMCT to also include the current fissile material stockpile which is a position shared by various countries previously.
Pakistan always stood firm with its objective of non-proliferation and arms control in the region. In the past, Pakistan has been proposing various initiatives for arms control in South Asia such as it proposed the establishment of (NWFZ) ‘Nuclear Weapon Free Zone’ in 1974 and repeatedly proposed it in the years 1996-1987-1990 and 2003 but all such efforts were in vain. In 1979it offered the acceptance of IAEA safeguards bilaterally. Pakistan also offered the mutual inspection of nuclear facilities of each other in 1979. In 1981, offered India a no-war pact but India refused to sign. In 1989 Pakistan offered a ban on all kinds of nuclear tests by signing a bilateral treaty. In 1994 Pakistan also proposed the idea of ‘South Asian Zero Missile Zone’. Later on, it proposed a nuclear restraint regime and induction of SLBM and ABM systems. However, in order to fulfill its ambition of becoming a global power, India did not accept any of the proposals by Pakistan. Although the situation of non-proliferation and arms control measures seems quite bleak both India and Pakistan have signed few confidence-building measures in the past two decades. Even now, Pakistan has kept its options open and believes in a non-discriminatory international approach as far as the prospects of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament in South Asia are concerned.
Hence as India has been reluctant towards all the non-proliferation efforts by Pakistan; fears of war and escalation in South Asia exist. The vertical proliferation in South Asia could have been tackled in a better way if India would have acted responsibly towards the global efforts for non-proliferation. Looking at the current Indian military modernization and nuclear expansion it seems that it would remain less concerned about proliferation even in the coming years. The only way to curb this proliferation is by mainstreaming both India and Pakistan and universalizing the global non-proliferation regime by including both states. The purpose could only be served by adopting an unbiased and non-discriminatory approach.
*The writer is working as a Research Affiliate at the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), a non-partisan think-tank based out of Islamabad, Pakistan.
Iran Spokesman Optimistic Over Nuclear Talks, Top Negotiator More Cautious
Tuesday, 25 May 2021 19:28
Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei Tuesday reiterated earlier remarks by President Hassan Rouhani, saying he was optimistic over Tehran reaching an agreement soon at talks with world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal. However, Iran’s top negotiator has cautioned that serious issues remained.
Iran and global powers have held talks since April in Vienna, working on steps that Tehran and Washington must take on sanctions and nuclear activities to return to full compliance with the nuclear pact.
“General agreements have been reached on major disputes. On the lifting of sanctions, the remaining cases are very minor, and given the negotiation process, we are optimistic about resolving the remaining minor and practical cases,” Rabiei told an online news conference.
Iran’s top negotiator, Abbas Araghchi (Araqchi) struck a more cautious stance in comments to state TV.
“There are still serious and important issues that need to be resolved,” he said. “Today we will start the negotiations again and we hope that during the few days of talks, God willing, we will be able to reach the final solutions.”
On his way to the talks, US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley said on Twitter: “The latest round of talks was constructive and saw meaningful progress. But much work still needs to be done.”
Washington withdrew from the deal in 2018, prompting Iran to steadily overstep the accord’s limits on its nuclear program.
Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said sanctions on oil, shipping, petrochemicals, insurance and the central bank had been dealt with in the talks, though European diplomats said success was not guaranteed and very difficult issues remained.
Reporting by Reuters