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
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF JUNE 15, 2021 13:36
Clashes broke out between the IDF and Palestinians in the area surrounding the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip, according to Ynet.During the clashes, a Palestinian within the small group was shot in the leg and is in light condition.
Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021 17:57
Iran has made 6.5 kg (14 lb) of uranium enriched to up to 60%, the government said on Tuesday, detailing a move that rattled the country’s nuclear talks with world powers by taking the fissile material a step towards nuclear weapons-grade of 90%.
Government spokesman Ali Rabiei said the country had also produced 108 kg of uranium enriched to 20% purity, indicating quicker output than the rate required by the Iranian law that created the process.
Iran said in April it would begin enriching uranium to 60% purity, a move that would take the uranium much closer to the 90% suitable for a nuclear bomb, after Tehran accused arch-foe Israel of sabotaging a key nuclear site.
Tuesday’s disclosure came as Tehran and Washington hold indirect talks in Vienna aimed at finding ways to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
Iran’s hardline parliament passed a law last year to oblige the government to harden its nuclear stance, after the assassination of its top nuclear scientist and the election of Joe Biden, who had pleadged to return to the nuclear agreement president Donald Trump had abandoned in 2018.
Trump’s withdrawal prompted Iran to steadily overstep the accord’s limits on its nuclear program designed to make it harder to develop an atomic bomb – an ambition Tehran denies.
“Under parliament’s law…, the Atomic Energy Organization was supposed to produce 120 kg of 20 percent enriched uranium in a year. According to the latest report, we now have produced 108 kg of 20% uranium in the past five months,” Rabiei was quoted as saying.
“In the area of 60% uranium production, in the short time that has elapsed…, about 6.5 kg has been produced,” Rabiei added.
Reporting by Reuters
Two out of three flight tests, which aimed to integrate the Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile systems, failed because of software problems, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published in April.
A THAAD anti-missile battery. (Photo: Lockheed Martin via Getty Images)The Patriot weapons system is an air and missile defense system that can intercept short- and medium-range ballistic missiles in their terminal stage at low altitudes. The THAAD system is a mobile ground-based system that can defend against short-, medium-, and certain intermediate-range ballistic missile attacks at the end of their midcourse and terminal flight stages, thereby allowing interceptors to engage their targets at higher altitudes than the Patriot system would allow.
This integration has important implications for regional security, the United States, and its allies. The United States has been attempting to improve its THAAD batteries around the world, including one deployed to South Korea to deter threats from North Korea, by adding advanced radar and integrating the system with Patriot missiles.
The flight tests, conducted jointly in October 2019, February 2020, and October 2020 by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Army, were intended to support what the MDA called an “an urgent regional capability called Patriot Launch-on-Remote (THAAD).” The aim was to launch the Patriot’s interceptor using THAAD radar tracking data before the Patriot system uses its own radar, which catches missiles at a lower altitude than the THAAD radar, to execute the interception. This capability would increase the coverage area of the Patriot batteries.
The first two tests, labeled FTX-39 and FTP-27 Event 2, received “no test” and failed marks, respectively. The GAO diagnosed the problem as software related. A third test, the FTP-27 Event 1, which took place in October 2020, performed successfully by having Patriot interceptors use THAAD radar data.
The Patriot Launch-on-Remote capability would allow the Army to use the “right missile for the right threat at the right time against North Korean submarine-launched ballistic missiles” and is supported by operational need, according to Army Gen. Robert B. Abrams, the commander of combined Korean-U.S. forces.
Although South Korea and the United States have argued that the THAAD system’s purpose is purely defensive against the threat of North Korean missiles, China has consistently opposed THAAD deployment in South Korea, arguing that the weapon undermines China’s nuclear deterrence and regional security through enhanced early detection. In retaliation for the THAAD deployment, China imposed sanctions on South Korea, targeting major industries and entitles such as the Lotte Group conglomerate, for 14 months until the two countries renormalized relations.
The THAAD system remains controversial in South Korea, where local residents and civic activists staged a sit-in on April 28 and tried unsuccessfully to block vehicles heading into the base with the system.—SANG-MIN KIM
Why The Air Force’s Plan For Fighting China Could Make Nuclear War More Likely
I write about national security, especially its business dimensions.
Late last year, the U.S. Air Force conducted a secret war game testing how it might repulse a Chinese invasion of Taiwan in 2030.
As described by Valerie Insinna in Defense News, the Air Force employed an array of manned and unmanned aircraft to blunt the attack, including the super-stealthy B-21 bomber, which is still under development.
The B-21, Insinna reported, was used to penetrate “contested zones,” presumably meaning Chinese airspace, while the less survivable B-52 launched cruise missiles from “standoff distances.”
The good news is that the hypothetical Chinese invasion in the war game was halted without resort to use of nuclear weapons.
The bad news is that things might not work out that way in a real war, and it might be China that resorts to nuclear use before America does.
This possibility highlights an issue in Air Force planning that has gone largely unnoticed.
If a fight over Taiwan occurs, the Air Force plans to wage conventional warfare against China by flying nuclear-capable aircraft into its airspace—or by launching cruise missiles from outside its airspace from other nuclear-capable aircraft.
Either way, Beijing would have no quick way of determining whether the attacking U.S. bombers were carrying nuclear or conventional munitions.
Its nascent strategic warning system would not be able to differentiate between a nuclear and non-nuclear attack until weapons actually started exploding on its territory, and China’s highly centralized nuclear command authority might not be willing to wait that long before responding.
After all, it could be the first target of the attack.
Unlike Russia, which has a vast nuclear arsenal comparable in size to that of the United States, China has always maintained a minimal nuclear deterrent.
The Pentagon estimates that China only has 200 or so nuclear warheads, and a respected private survey pegs the number at 350—only about 130 of which are available for use on ballistic missiles capable of reaching the continental United States.
Whichever estimate you believe, the number of warheads Beijing relies on to deter a nuclear attack is a small faction of the number available to U.S. forces, so the possibility that Washington might move to disarm Chinese strategic forces in a fight over Taiwan could not be discounted.
Since most of the missiles threatening the U.S. are road-mobile, it would be logical for Chinese leaders to assume that stealthy bombers might be sent to track down ICBMs and take out the handful of other Chinese strategic systems (four submarines, a few bombers) capable of targeting America.
As the Air Force’s fiscal 2022 Posture Statement observes, “The B-21 will possess the range, access, and payload to penetrate the most highly-contested threat environments and hold any target around the world at risk.”
That includes China’s nuclear weapons, its early warning radars, and strategic command network.
Faced with this possibility in a war where Chinese and U.S. forces are already fighting, Beijing might decide it needs to launch its long-range missiles before they are destroyed on the ground.
The official Chinese position is that it will never be the first nation to use nuclear weapons, but Pentagon officials have been warning for years that Beijing might move to a launch-on-warning posture, what might be called a “use them or lose them” approach to deterrence.
It wouldn’t be the first time a nation’s operational nuclear strategy was at variance with its declaratory strategy.
In such a scenario, the strategic stakes surrounding Chinese occupation of Taiwan would fade to insignificance in Washington compared with the prospect of nuclear warheads detonating on U.S. soil.
And yet Air Force planners don’t seem to have given much thought to the fact that their future heavy bomber force will consist entirely of aircraft whose conventional or nuclear payloads are indistinguishable to an adversary.
This didn’t matter much when the enemy was Serbia or Iraq, but when the other side is itself a nuclear power possessing a long-range strategic arsenal, it could matter a lot.
During the later years of the Cold War and thereafter, the Air Force undertook a series of steps aimed at promoting strategic stability with Russia, such as eliminating the nuclear attack features on its B-1 bombers.
But Beijing is not party to any of the arms control agreements that drove those steps, and every B-21 bomber rolling off the assembly line at Palmdale, California, will be wired for nuclear weapons.
Most of the missions envisioned for the bomber are conventional, but Beijing would have no way of knowing that for sure at the onset of a war.
So given the fears that often seize hold of leaders in crises, the possibility of nuclear first-use by Beijing can’t be dismissed.
Of course, China could act preemptively to reduce the vulnerability of its retaliatory forces by expanding them.
Perhaps it might follow America’s example by putting most of its nuclear arsenal on submarines that can’t be tracked when beneath the seas.
That’s a move the country’s leaders have resisted—their force is predominantly land-based—but with the advent of B-21 they might feel they have no alternative.
And while the venerable B-52 is not quite as threatening as the B-21, after 2030 it will be equipped with nuclear “long-range standoff” weapons that can penetrate any Chinese defenses.
You could say that collectively, the stealthy B-21 and the B-52 equipped with stealthy cruise missiles are a potent deterrent to a Chinese assault on Taiwan.
But somebody in the Pentagon ought to be contemplating how those aircraft should be used if a war nonetheless occurs to prevent the conflict from stumbling into a nuclear exchange.
As one senior military officer commented in a not-for-attribution discussion earlier this year, “You need to deter the Chinese without scaring them so much that they might go nuclear.”
Pakistan is increasing its capacity to produce plutonium for use in nuclear weapons in tune with an increase in global stockpiles of atomic weapons, missiles and aircraft delivery systems, led by the United States and Russia who appear locked in competition to modernise their nuclear warheads.
The raw material for nuclear weapons is fissile material, either highly enriched uranium (HEU) or separated plutonium. China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the USA have produced both HEU and plutonium for use in their nuclear weapons. The Indian and Israeli arsenal is mainly plutonium based. So far Pakistan has mainly relied on HEU for its stockpile of around 165 nuclear weapons as per the latest estimates. But Islamabad appears to be diversifying, by enhancing its ability to produce weapon-grade plutonium, according to the findings of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Released on Monday, the SIPRI Yearbook 2021 assesses the current state of armaments, disarmament and international security. A key finding is that despite an overall decrease in the number of nuclear warheads in 2020, more have been deployed with operational forces.While the US and Russia continued to reduce their overall nuclear weapon inventories by dismantling retired warheads in 2020, both are estimated to have had around 50 more nuclear warheads in operational deployment at the start of 2021 than a year earlier, says the report.
The report said that at the start of 2021, nine states e the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) e possessed approximately 13,080 nuclear weapons, of which 3825 were deployed with operational forces. Approximately 2000 of these are kept in a state of high operational alert.
While it marked a decrease from the 13,400 that SIPRI estimated these states possessed at the beginning of 2020, the estimated number of nuclear weapons currently deployed with operational forces increased to 3825, from 3720 last year. Around 2000 of these e nearly all of which belonged to Russia or the US ewere kept in a state of high operational alert, the report mentions.
The institute said that three emerging trends in the Asia and Oceania region remained a cause for concern – the growing ChineseeUnited States rivalry combined with an increasingly assertive Chinese foreign policy; the growing violence related to identity politics, based on ethnic or religious polarization (or both); and, the increase in transnational violent jihadist groups, some of the most organized groups of which are active in South East Asia, most notably in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
“The overall number of warheads in global military stockpiles now appears to be increasing, a worrisome sign that the declining trend that has characterized global nuclear arsenals since the end of the cold war has stalled,” the report quotes Hans M. Kristensen, Associate Senior Fellow with SIPRI’s Nuclear Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme and Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), as saying.
According to the International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM), an independent group of arms-control and non-proliferation experts from both nuclear weapon and non-nuclear weapon states, Pakistan – a nuclear weapon state outside of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty – continues production of fissile materials for weapons.
The Princeton-based panel said that, as of the beginning of 2020, Pakistan had an accumulated stockpile estimated as about 410 kg of plutonium which has been produced at four production reactors in Khushab in the Sargodha Division of the Punjab province.
It further mentions that, as of the beginning of 2020, Pakistan is estimated to have a stockpile of 3.9e0.4 tons of HEU and continues to produce HEU for its nuclear weapon programme.
“Uncertainty about Pakistan’s uranium resources, and the operating history and enrichment capacity of its centrifuge plant at Kahuta and a possible second plant at Gadwal (which may be dedicated to HEU production) limits the reliability of the estimate,” the panel says in its country report on Pakistan.
Last year, in a detailed research done on the basis of recent and historic public domain satellite imagery, Washington’s Institute for Science and International Security identified a significant and previously undocumented extension to the Chashma reprocessing plant and considerable development of co-located infrastructure over the last decade.
“At a minimum, the extension to the plutonium separation plant and associated facilities at Chashma demonstrates an on-going commitment to invest in and operate plutonium separation technology at industrial scale,” the institute revealed in a detailed report.- IANS
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli aircraft carried out a series of airstrikes at militant sites in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday, the first such raids since a shaky cease-fire ended the war with Hamas last month.
The airstrikes targeted facilities used by Hamas militants for meetings to plan attacks, the Israeli military said, blaming the group for any act of violence emanating from Gaza. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
On Tuesday, hundreds of Israeli ultranationalists, some chanting “Death to Arabs,” paraded in east Jerusalem in a show of force that threatened to spark renewed violence. Palestinians in Gaza responded by launching incendiary balloons that caused at least 10 fires in southern Israel.
The march posed a test for Israel’s fragile new government as well as the tenuous truce that ended last month’s 11-day war between Israel and Hamas.
Palestinians consider the march, meant to celebrate Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem in 1967, to be a provocation. Hamas called on Palestinians to “resist” the parade, a version of which helped ignite last month’s 11-day Gaza war.
With music blaring, hundreds of Jewish nationalists gathered and moved in front of Damascus Gate. Most appeared to be young men, and many held blue-and-white Israeli flags as they danced and sang religious songs.
At one point, several dozen youths, jumping and waving their hands in their air, chanted: “Death to Arabs!” In another anti-Arab chant, they yelled: “May your village burn.”
In a scathing condemnation on Twitter, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said those shouting racist slogans were “a disgrace to the Israeli people,” adding: “The fact that there are radicals for whom the Israeli flag represents hatred and racism is abominable and unforgivable.”
The crowd, while boisterous, appeared to be much smaller than during last month’s parade. From the Damascus Gate, they proceeded around the Old City to the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray.
Ahead of the march, Israeli police cleared the area in front of Damascus Gate, shut down roads to traffic, ordered shops to close and sent away young Palestinian protesters. Police said that officers arrested 17 people suspected of involvement in violence, some of whom threw rocks and attacked police, and that two police officers needed medical treatment. Palestinians said five people were hurt in clashes with police.
The parade provided an early challenge for Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, a hardline Israeli nationalist who has promised a pragmatic approach as he presides over a delicate, diverse coalition government.
Though there were concerns the march would raise tensions, canceling it would have opened Bennett and other right-wing members of the coalition to intense criticism from those who would view it as a capitulation to Hamas. The coalition was sworn in Sunday and includes parties from across the political spectrum, including a small Arab party.
Mansour Abbas, whose Raam party is the first Arab faction to join an Israeli coalition, said the march was “an attempt to set the region on fire for political aims,” with the intention of undermining the new government.
Abbas said the police and public security minister should have canceled the event. “I call on all sides not to be dragged into an escalation and maintain maximum restraint,” he said.
In past years, the march passed through Damascus Gate and into the heart of the Muslim Quarter, a crowded Palestinian neighborhood with narrow streets and alleys. But police changed the route Tuesday to avoid the Muslim Quarter.
Instead, the route went around the ancient walls of the Old City and through Jaffa Gate, a main thoroughfare for tourists, and toward the Jewish Quarter and Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray.
Damascus Gate is a focal point of Palestinian life in east Jerusalem. Palestinian protesters repeatedly clashed with Israeli police over restrictions on public gatherings during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in April and May.
Those clashes spread to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a flashpoint site sacred to Jews and Muslims. Tensions at the time were further fueled by protests over the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers, also in Jerusalem.
At the height of the tensions, on May 10, Israeli ultranationalists held their annual flag parade. While it was diverted from the Damascus Gate at the last minute, it was seen by Palestinians as an unwelcome celebration of Israeli control over what they view as their capital.
In the name of defending the holy city, Hamas fired long-range rockets at Jerusalem, disrupting the march and sparking the Gaza war, which claimed more than 250 Palestinian lives and killed 13 people in Israel.
After capturing east Jerusalem in 1967, Israel annexed the in a move not recognized by most of the international community. It considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state. The competing claims over east Jerusalem, home to Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites, lie at the heart of the conflict and have sparked many rounds of violence.
Hamas had called on Palestinians to show “valiant resistance” to the march. It urged people to gather in the Old City and at the Al-Aqsa Mosque to “rise up in the face of the occupier and resist it by all means to stop its crimes and arrogance.”
In the afternoon, Hamas-linked Palestinians launched some incendiary balloons from Gaza, setting off at least 10 blazes in southern Israel, according to Israel’s national fire department.
Abu Malek, one of the young men launching the balloons, called the move “an initial response” to the march.
Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, of the internationally backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, called the march an “aggression against our people.” In neighboring Jordan, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning the march as “unacceptable,” saying it undermined efforts to reduce friction between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israeli media reported the military was on heightened alert in the occupied West Bank and along the Gaza frontier. Batteries of Israel’s Iron Dome rocket-defense system were seen deployed near the southern town of Netivot, near the Gaza border, as a precaution.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with the military chief of staff, the police commissioner and other senior security officials. He “underscored the need to avoid friction and protect the personal safety of … Jews and Arabs alike,” his office said.
Associated Press writer Joseph Krauss contributed.
On Monday, May 24th, the United States-led international military coalition reported a rocket attack on the Iraqi Ain al-Asad airbase at approximately 10:35 GMT. Currently, no party has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but an investigation has been launched to uncover who may have been behind the action.
In a tweet, United States Army Colonel Wayne Marotto confirmed that while there were no human casualties, the damage from the attack was still “being assessed.” Additionally, according to an interview given to the Army Times, an Iraqi security official detailed that “the rocket struck close to a village outside the base.”
These actions are immensely damaging and pose a threat to the surrounding areas and their inhabitants, and they further contribute to the unstable relationship between the Middle East and the United States. In addition to endangering United States officials whom the rocket targeted, the attacks pose a significant risk to the Iraqi community who must deal with the aftermath and destruction of such attacks. When analyzing the ongoing conflict between the countries, it would be far more productive to reach a peace agreement and reduce the use of armed forces in mediating frictions. Not only would this bring increased safety and stability to both regions, but it would also provide opportunities for cooperation and mutual diplomacy between the respective governments.
According to the Army Times, “rocket and missile attacks against U.S. installations have been frequent since a Washington-directed strike against top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani outside [the] Baghdad airport last year.” These attacks have continued to occur throughout the United States’ executive transition of power. Recently, many of the strikes have also utilized drones, such as in the attack on the Ain al-Asad base in early May. While responsibility for the attack has not yet been confirmed, the United States has continued to hold an unstable relationship with Iran, so these actions further escalate tensions between the countries.
Previously, former President Donald Trump implemented economic sanctions on Iran when he pulled the United States out of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement, negatively impacting the quality of life for many Iranians. Additionally, Trump was primarily responsible for the assassinations of two prominent leaders of the militia forces in Iraq, potentially serving as additional motivation for the recent attacks on the United States’ presence in Iraq.
While both Iran and the United States would like to reenter the nuclear plan, the states have different wishes when it comes to the terms of the agreement. After the United States pulled out of the agreement, Iran installed new nuclear-fuel production equipment, which they wish to keep in the reestablishment of the plan. However, the United States has strong reservations against this plan due to the possibility of Iranian nuclear weapons in the works, leaving the two countries at a standstill when it comes to negotiations.
Because of this halted response, the threat of violence continues to pose a threat to both regions. Furthermore, it is imperative the United States and Iran reach a sustainable and effective agreement that will satisfy both sides in order to quell the possibility of further attacks and ensure both the United States and Iran feel their needs are being adequately met. With such an agreement implemented, peace can be restored between the nations as well as the impacted regions of Iraq.
Despite suspicions, the responsible party has not yet been identified, and the investigation is still underway with updates to come. As attacks continue to occur, the conflict with the Middle East increases in its uncertainty. Taking into account the danger it poses to Iraqi territory, Shiite militia groups have insisted on a withdrawal of United States troops from the region. However, with prospective action left unconfirmed, Iraq remains vulnerable to future attacks unless the states address the conflict peacefully and swiftly.