If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.Based on historical precedent, Armbruster says the New York City metro area is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 once a century.According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.There’s another fault line on Dyckman St. and one in Dobbs Ferry in nearby Westchester County.“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.He adds: “We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought.”“Considering population density and the condition of the region’s infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact,” says the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation on its website.Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale. (ANI)
Marshall Billingslea, the Trump administration’s arms control envoy, argued in 2020 that the United States knew how to win arms races and “spend the adversary into oblivion.” It was a strange comment coming from a diplomat — especially one charged with reducing nuclear dangers — but it was revealing. Billingslea’s observation was meant to grab China’s attention and lay out the consequences for Beijing if it did not, as Washington hoped, participate in nuclear arms control talks with the United States and Russia.
While adopting a less strident tone, the Biden administration also sees Chinese participation in arms control as essential. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently stated that the Biden administration will “pursue arms control to reduce the dangers from China’s modern and growing nuclear arsenal.” Scholars and analysts have supported the administration’s arguments, claiming that Beijing should join future negotiations, as both its nuclear and conventional capabilities are on an upward trajectory.
Missing from these debates is analysis of Chinese perspectives. For any effort to engage China to be successful, it is vital to understand how Chinese strategists and experts regard nuclear arms control. In a recent article published in the Journal of Contemporary China, we map the evolution of Chinese assessments during the last decade. Unfortunately, the views of the Chinese strategic community provide little ground for optimism.
Chinese strategists generally view arms control through a strongly realpolitik prism. Many do not view U.S. calls for arms control as an effort to improve strategic stability and limit the risk of nuclear war. Rather, they see a trap designed by the United States to lock in its nuclear superiority, undermine China’s nuclear deterrent, and try to win the moral high ground. In recent years, this skepticism has only hardened. Chinese analysts see the arms control agenda as an arena in the intensifying political and military struggle between the United States and China. Including China in arms control will therefore be severely challenging. U.S. efforts will most likely fail unless they address nonnuclear strategic capabilities such as missile defense.
The Arms Control “Struggle”
China’s suspicious attitude towards nuclear arms control is not new. Even during the first period of Barack Obama’s presidency — when the prospects for the international arms control seemed much more promising — Chinese experts were highly skeptical. While China’s leaders paid lip service to Obama’s disarmament visions, Chinese observers dismissed it as “hollow talk.” In the 2013 edition of the authoritative text Science of Military Strategy (Zhanlüe xue), the authors described arms control as a “struggle” where great powers were trying to protect their advantages. While recognizing that arms control between the United States and Russia could serve China’s interests by reducing the risk of nuclear war and limiting military spending, strategists worried that a reinvigorated arms control agenda could increase pressure for China to join. Chinese analysts were also concerned about calls for greater transparency — which they feared would undermine Chinese deterrence — and claimed U.S. political domination could produce an “unbalanced” agenda designed to serve U.S. interests. Chinese analysts further saw the nuclear modernization efforts of United States as evidence that its nuclear thinking had not changed, and that the vision of a nuclear weapons-free world was “a myth.”
Skepticism of arms control hardened under President Donald Trump. Many Chinese analysts believe U.S. calls for China to join trilateral talks with the United States and Russia was little more than an attempt to blame the collapse of New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) on China. Officials in Beijing further claimed U.S. allegations of Russian cheating was a pretext to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and that the real motive was to have a free hand to deploy new capabilities in both Europe and the Asia-Pacific. As Ling Shengli from China Foreign Affairs University argued in PLA Daily, the withdrawal was “entirely logical,” given that the United States only adheres to treaties that serve its interests, and abandons those that do not.
In addition, Chinese strategists were highly skeptical about the direction of U.S. nuclear policy, and regarded the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review a confirmation that the United States was pursuing a “hegemonic” nuclear policy. They further claimed the review signaled that the United States lowered the threshold for employing nuclear weapons, and saw the reintroduction of low-yield nuclear weapons on U.S. ballistic missile submarines part of an effort to address growing Chinese conventional military might. The 2019 U.S. Missile Defense Review further confirmed these suspicions, with observers in China seeing yet another sign of the U.S. desire for “absolute security.” The strategic community in China has long regarded U.S. missile defense as the biggest threat to their retaliatory capability, fearing that such defenses could intercept any surviving Chinese missiles after a U.S. first strike.
There is little to suggest that the shift in U.S. leadership has dampened suspicions about U.S. intentions. Chinese analysts are skeptical of the Biden administration’s signals that it will reduce the importance of nuclear weapons in its security strategy, and point to its embrace of great-power rivalry and its support for nuclear modernization efforts. The administration’s efforts to secure robust funding for modernization of all three legs of the nuclear triad, along with a focus on bolstering deterrence of China, will do little to dampen these concerns. Moreover, while they welcomed the Biden administration’s decision to extend New START, Chinese observers argue that it is likely to use calls for arms control to promote its “moral supremacy,” but simultaneously continue to pursue superiority. Observers in China continue to regard arms control as an arena of political competition, where each party attempts to push its narrative and to portray its policies favorably — at the expense of its rivals.
What China Wants
China’s deep mistrust makes it difficult to be optimistic that U.S. arms control efforts will succeed, at least in the near term. So far, the dialogue has not even started, with China reportedly unwillingto hold bilateral talks on this topic with the United States. However, while overly cynical, Chinese skepticism is not completely unwarranted. So far, there have been few specific proposals from U.S. officials about efforts that could suit China’s interests. If the Biden administration really wants to include China, it needs to demonstrate to skeptical Chinese strategists how arms control can improve China’s national security.
An agreement that limits only nuclear weapons is likely to be almost impossible to achieve. Chinese officials and analysts frequently point to the major gap between the arsenals of the United States and Russia, on the one hand, and China on the other. China’s nuclear stockpile is currently estimated to be in the “low 200s,” compared to approximately 3,800 warheads in America’s arsenal and nearly 4,500warheads in Russia’s stockpile. Even if China’s stockpile doubles in the next decade, as the U.S. Department of Defense claims it might, a major discrepancy will remain. Unless the threshold is set very high, China is unlikely to accept a deal that would cap its arsenal in exchange for U.S. reductions.
To entice China, the United States may instead need to go beyond nuclear weapons and include the non-nuclear strategic capabilities Chinese strategists care most deeply about in talks. As other analysts have argued with regard to Russia, compromise on missile defense may be a prerequisite for serious progress. In addition to missile defense, Chinese observers are concerned about U.S. conventional precision-strike capabilities — including the prospect of U.S. ground-launched missiles being deployed in East Asia — as well as U.S. military superiority in space. While challenging, it may be necessary to address nuclear and advanced non-nuclear capabilities simultaneously.
The United States may need to consider forums beyond bilateral or trilateral talks. Given China’s deep skepticism of U.S. motives, pressure from the United States to join such talks may backfire, as it is politically difficult for Chinese leaders to cave in. However, it is harder for China to disregard broader initiatives, such as discussions of arms control among the five permanent members of the Security Council Chinese strategists have long expressed concerns about being internationally isolated in arms control and disarmament processes, as it may harm China’s international image. Moreover, continued efforts to engage Chinese experts and analysts are important, as they could help blunt at least some of the most extreme cynicism of U.S. intentions.
In an era of intensifying great-power rivalry, reinvigorating the arms control agenda is crucial. Arms control could not only dampen the emerging arms race between the United States, Russia, and China, but also serve as a tool to build trust and ease broader political tensions. Unfortunately, thus far, Chinese observers see arms control as an arena for mutual accusations and blame-shifting, and a tool the United States uses to cement its nuclear hegemony.Become a Member
Henrik Stålhane Hiim is an associate professor at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies.
Magnus Langset Trøan is a researcher affiliated with the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.
By CNN Staff
It should have been a spring day most Iranians could look forward to. The trees that lined Tehran’s boulevards glistened in the sun as a gentle breeze wafted through the city. But on May 8, 2018, the capital’s residents braced themselves for a terrible reversal of fortunes.
President Donald Trump was about to announce America’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal. It signaled the start of an onslaught of sanctions that would all but crush Iran’s economy. It also dashed the dreams of reform-minded Iranians.
“What Trump is about to do is extend the life of the regime by another 30 years,” an elderly Iranian-American told CNN in the hours before the speech. The Islamic Republic, established in the wake of the overthrow of the autocratic, staunchly pro-Western Shah, was just a few months shy of its 40th birthday. The nuclear deal, on the other hand, seemed to serve as the opening salvo of reform in the country.
In June 2017, Iranians had shown up in droves to reelect President Hassan Rouhani in what was seen as a referendum on his landmark deal. The urgency to preserve the most significant opening up of the insular country to the West was palpable.
But along came Trump. And Iranians, who have arguably witnessed more dramatic political twists and turns in the last seven decades than any other people, knew that the US President’s plans would backfire.
The so-called “maximum pressure” campaign would not achieve its stated goal of toppling Iran’s clerical establishment. It would prop it up. The skepticism of the West that forms the ideological core of the regime would be underscored, highlighted and scribbled around in frenzied circles.
Iran had kept up its end of the bargain, by the State Department’s own admission, but the US pulled out anyway. The ensuing sanctions led to rampant food and medicine shortages, and sent the country into a financial tailspin. European parties to the deal proved powerless in salvaging it.
“We told you so,” the conservatives told Iranians a thousand times over.
Much has happened since then. In 2020, Trump ordered the killing of Iran’s most revered general, Qasem Soleimani, further enraging conservatives. His funeral was one of the largest in the region’s history. Trump was voted out of office that same year. His successor, Joe Biden, immediately moved to restore the deal. Reformist Iranians thought, perhaps, that they could dial back the clock to May 2018.
But the clerical establishment’s response was a resounding “no.” Nowhere was that more loudly articulated than in this week’s election, which was engineered to deliver victory for ultra-conservative judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, the most hardline president Iran has seen in decades.
Both the process and the outcome of the election were exceptional in their brazenness, even by the Islamic Republic’s standards. The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was doubling down. Iran’s political future would become even more micromanaged by the ultra-conservative clergy.
But this election could have reverberations beyond the four or eight years Raisi will be president. Raisi, a close associate of the ailing 81-year-old Khamenei, is suddenly being referred to as an Ayatollah, an honorific title to indicate high rank among Shia Muslims. Khamenei currently holds that title. So did his predecessor and founder of the Islamic Republic, Ruhollah Khomeini. Images of Raisi alongside Khamenei pervaded Tehran’s cityscape in the runup to the election. Khamenei, people reminded each other in hushed tones, was also president before he ascended to the supreme leadership.
The clerical elite, it appeared, were rolling out Raisi’s rite of passage to succeed Khamenei and take the highest office of the land.
This has grated on many Iranians. Khamenei, it seemed, had chosen cementing his legacy over the public’s calls for constitutional reform. The conservative Guardian Council, which vets presidential candidates, barred Raisi’s serious rivals from the presidential race. As a result, voter turnout at the presidential election was below 50% for the first time in the history of the Islamic Republic.
To add insult to injury for the reformist camp, Raisi personifies the darkest aspects of the regime that Iranians have chafed under. For two years, he has headed Iran’s draconian judicial branch, which boasts one of the worst capital punishment rates in the world and metes out long jail sentences for some of the most subtle forms of dissent, such as protesting against the mandatory headscarf. In 1988, he allegedly was part of a death commission that executed and forcibly disappeared thousands of political prisoners in secret. For the rest of his career, he was a leading prosecutor who was linked to multiple crackdowns on dissent.
Most Iran’s voters did not vote for Raisi. But the clerical class opted to contend with public disgruntlement rather than deal with Western fickleness. The cost of US unpredictability was tremendous. Iranians buckling under the strain of a flailing economy have repeatedly protested in large numbers. Too much was at stake, and the conservative clergy want to cut their losses.
Moderate politicians, who under outgoing President Hassan Rouhani enjoyed a popular mandate, have been greatly undermined. Sanctions set the government up for failure, making Iran’s savvy negotiators and diplomats, like Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, look weak. Meanwhile, the hardliners have successfully portrayed themselves as survivors. They prevailed over the US maximum pressure campaign that was repeatedly billed by its own architects, namely former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as the most aggressive sanctions regime Iran has ever faced.
The message from Iran’s election will resonate around the region: in these most uncertain of times, only autocrats can ensure stability. Some of the biggest cheerleaders for authoritarianism — Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad — were quick to congratulate Raisi on his win.
Proponents of Middle Eastern regimes will argue that the growing gap between the region’s leadership and its people is a lesser danger to states than the risk posed by clumsy Western interventionism.
Trump’s maximum pressure campaign isn’t historically unique in this respect. In 1953, the CIA’s orchestration of a coup d’état that deposed Iran’s democratically elected and secular Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in many ways laid the groundwork for a longer pattern.
Today, once again, democracy in the politically tumultuous Middle East proves more elusive than ever, even as discontent grows. The region has repeatedly been rocked by pro-reform or democracy protests. But these are disorganized masses who face a much more organized, politically hardened elite. So, it may be true, as our Iranian friend said, that real change will take another 30 years to transpire.
“We will not allow the Israeli government to impose its conditions on the resistance or isolate Gaza,” Palestinian terrorist groups reportedly tell Israel through Egyptian mediators.
In a fresh warning to the newly former Naftali Bennett-led government, Palestinian Islamic Jihad on Saturday said its patience with Israel was “running out” and was ready to retaliate for its attacks in the Gaza Strip, which have come in response to a renewed cross-border arson campaign.
Senior PIJ official Khader Habib told the Ramallah-based Al Ayam newspaper that terrorist groups in Gaza have delivered a message to Israel through Egyptian mediators warning that if its retaliatory strikes continue, as well as the blockade on the Strip that Jerusalem says is necessary to prevent terrorist groups from building up their military capabilities, “the [terrorist] organizations will respond in a similar fashion.”
“We will not allow the Israeli government to impose its conditions on the resistance or isolate Gaza,” Habib said, adding that “the joint headquarters of the [terrorist] organizations in Gaza have formulated a final and unified position to face Israeli conduct in the coming days.”
Habib additionally warned of potential fighting along the entire Gaza border, despite the calls for restraint by some within the enclave.
Israeli aircraft struck twice in Gaza last week, targeting military facilities and launch pads belonging to Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza, in response to incendiary balloon attacks on Israel that led to dozens of brush fires and destroyed crops. Despite the threats from Gaza-based terrorist groups, the scope of the arson attacks has decreased significantly over the past 24 hours.
Iran has ‘ghost armada’ of tankers to sell oil to China to bankroll its secret nuclear programme say expertshttps://www.andrewtheprophet.com
IRAN has a ‘ghost armada’ of tankers to sell oil to China in order fund its secret nuclear programme, it was reported.
The Islamic Republic is a major oil producing country but under sanctions imposed as punishment for developing nuclear weapons, the amount it can export is tightly controlled.
But according to United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), the country is using a variety of techniques to get around the restrictions.
UANI is an international not-for-profit group led by former US ambassador to the UN Mark Wallace.
The organisation has used satellite imagery and round-the-clock tracking to monitor the illicit trade, the Mail on Sunday reports.
UANI senior adviser Sir Ivor Roberts, a former Foreign Office counter-terrorism chief, said: “The volume of black-market oil China is buying from Iran is staggering.”
Iran has doubled the number of ships sailing under other countries flags to export oil to China to 123 – and the country is Iran’s main customer.
These include nations too small to be able to monitor to monitor tankers flying their flag.
Iranian vessels also use a technique called ‘spoofing’ that allows them to manipulate GPS that reports a vessel’s position so it appears to be elsewhere when it docks in prohibited areas.
China was reportedly buying an average of 700,000 barrels of illegal Iranian oil a day up to April and ships carrying 18 million barrels are currently thought to be in the South China Sea.
IRAN is feared to be secretly building a nuclear bomb by hiding the machinery needed to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels, a new report reveals.
However, Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal – branding it “horrible” and “one-sided”.
Iran has also pledged to breach the agreement until it receives the sanctions relief it says it is owed.
The deal was an agreement between the Islamic Republic and a group of world powers aimed at scrapping the Middle Eastern country’s nuclear weapons programme.
It saw Iran agree to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium by 98 per cent.
Enriched uranium is a critical component for making nuclear weapons and in nuclear power stations and by curbing the amount Iran produce is a way to curb the number of weapons produced.
As part of the agreement, Iran also agreed to only enrich their uranium up to 3.67 per cent over the next 15 years and they agreed to reduce their gas centrifuges for 13 years.
Gas centrifuges are used to separate different types of uranium which allows specific types to then be used to manufacture nuclear weapons or generators.
Iranian nuclear facilities were limited to a single facility with only first-generation centrifuges for 10 years and other nuclear facilities had to be converted into other use.
In addition, they were barred from building any more heavy-water faculties – a type of nuclear reactor which uses heavy water (deuterium oxide) as a coolant to maintain temperatures in the reactor.
Also under the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency was granted regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities to ensure Iran maintains the deal.
If Iran abided by the deal it was promised relief from the US, European Union, and the United Nations Security Council on all nuclear-related economic sanctions.
The agreement was reached on July 14, 2015, and the world powers signed it in Vienna.
Sir Ivor said that if only a sixth of Iran’s tankers evaded detection and completed a shipment each week it would exporting 2.4 million barrels a day.
“That gives the regime in Tehran the foreign currency it needs to build up its reserves, ramp up its nuclear programme in the face of international sanctions and pursue its terror-sponsoring agenda abroad.
“This shadowy alliance is a challenge to the West and… has potentially huge implications for our security.”
The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog recently said Iran is enriching enough uranium to make nuclear bombs.
Updated 20 June 2021
June 20, 202114:32
BAGHDAD: At least one Katyusha rocket fell close to the perimeter of a military base that hosts US troops in northern Iraq on Sunday, Iraq’s military said.
The rocket fell near the sprawling Ain al-Asad air base in western Anbar province but did not explode, the military said in a statement.
There was no significant damage, the statement said. An Iraqi security official said a fence at the perimeter of the base was minimally damaged. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
An investigation by security forces found the projectile had been launched from the nearby al-Baghdadi area.
The attack is the latest targeting the American presence in Iraq. Rockets and, more recently, drones have targeted military bases hosting US troops and the US Embassy in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad.
The regular assaults have been described as disruptive by US contractors working on military bases. Recently, Lockheed Martin relocated its F-16 maintenance teams, citing security concerns.
The US and Iraq are negotiating a timeline for foreign troops to withdraw from the country. Talks began under the former administration of Donald Trump and resumed after President Joe Biden assumed office.
China Might Invade Taiwan And Iran Might Get Nukes ASAP Because Of Biden’s ‘Weakness’, Ted Cruz Warns
Texas Senator Ted Cruz warned on Thursday that China might invade Taiwan and Iran might get nukes as soon as possible because of President Joe Biden’s “weakness.”
Breitbart reported that Cruz was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt in the podcast “The Interview” where he said that there is “a real possibility” that Iran will be developing nuclear weapons while there is a “distressingly high possibility” that the Chinese Communist Party “will militarily invade Taiwan” because the said countries see Biden’s “weakness.”
“Xi sees that weakness as a signal (of) what Biden will do if they invade Taiwan. And there are two things that I am deeply concerned about, that I think there’s a real possibility will happen in the next four years, before the end of 2024,” Cruz said referring to China President Xi Jinping.
“Number one, I think there’s a real possibility the Ayatollah Khamenei will develop a nuclear weapon, that they’ve taken a measure of Joe Biden, they think he’s too weak to respond, and so they’re going to rush to get a nuke before Biden’s gone,” he added. “And number two, I think there is a distressingly high possibility that China will militarily invade Taiwan for exactly the same reason, that Xi has taken a measure of Biden, and he doesn’t believe there will be any meaningful consequences.”
During the podcast, Cruz discussed with Hugh the need to defend Taiwan and the 2023 presidential race, as well as, the Biden-Putin summit.
U.S. military experts have raised last April the possibility that China will invade Taiwan as it mounts its “power” in Asia as a means to overthrow the United State’s hold in it. In an interview with Associated Press, Asia-Pacific Region Senior U.S. military Commander Admiral Philip Davidson said they see “risks are going up.”
“We have indications that the risks are actually going up. The threat is manifest during this decade–in fact, in the next six years,” Davidson said.
While Ohio Representative Steve Chabot pointed out during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Taiwan that there is “ambiguity” in the United States regarding to defending Taiwan if such an invasion occurs considering the lack of clarity on it by the present Administration.
“And I must say, strategic ambiguity relative to Taiwan and China is, in my opinion, absurd and dangerous. We ought to be crystal clear that if China attacks Taiwan, we will be there with Taiwan,” Chabot stated.
Experts said part of the ambiguity lies in the Administration’s focus on racism and LGBTQ as most of the executive orders Biden has released since taking office delved on this and not much on the clarity of his international relations and security policies.
As a sign of support for Taiwan, Cruz recently authored the bill that allows the wearing of uniforms of Taiwanese officials and the display of their national flag while on official business in the United States. The said bill, Taiwan Symbols of Sovereignity Act has already passed the Senate last June 11.
Taiwan News reported that the passing of the bill has lifted the remaining restrictions “on diplomatic exchanges between” the United States and Taiwan. Cruz’ bill is part of S.1260 or the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 that tackles a series of amendments that includes national security and the enhancement of the United States-Taiwan partnership.