While nowhere near to the extent of the West Coast, damaging earthquakes can and do affect much of the eastern half of the country.
For example, across the Tennesse River Valley lies the New Madrid Fault Line. While much smaller in size than those found farther west, the fault has managed to produce several earthquakes over magnitude 7.0 in the last couple hundred years.
In 1886, an estimated magnitude 7.0 struck Charleston, South Carolina along a previously unknown seismic zone. Nearly the entire town had to be rebuilt.
The eastern half of the U.S. has its own set of vulnerabilities from earthquakes.
These older rocks have had much more time to bond together with other rocks under the tremendous pressure of Earth’s crust. This allows seismic energy to transfer between rocks more efficiently during an earthquake, causing the shaking to be felt much further.
This is why, during the latest quake in North Carolina, impacts were felt not just across the state, but reports of shaking came as far as Atlanta, Georgia, nearly 300 miles away.
Reports of shaking from different earthquakes of similar magnitude.
When a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck Virginia in 2011, not only were numerous historical monuments in Washington, D.C. damaged, shaking was reported up and down the East Coast with tremors even reported in Canada.
There is no way to accurately predict when or where an earthquake may strike.
Some quakes will have a smaller earthquake precede the primary one. This is called a foreshock.
The problem is though, it’s difficult to say whether the foreshock is in fact a foreshock and not the primary earthquake. Only time will tell the difference.
The United State Geological Survey (USGS) is experimenting with early warning detection systems in the West Coast.
While this system cannot predict earthquakes before they occur, they can provide warning up to tens of seconds in advance that shaking is imminent. This could provide just enough time to find a secure location before the tremors begin.
Much like hurricanes, tornadoes, or snowstorms, earthquakes are a natural occuring phenomenon that we can prepare for.
The USGS provides an abundance of resources on how to best stay safe when the earth starts to quake.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for McClatchy-Tribune. Readers may send him email at email@example.com. Photo
President Joe Biden had a three-hour talk last week with Russian Premier Vladimir Putin in Geneva, said he laid down some red lines Russia had darned well not cross and that it was his hope this guy he once called a killer does not want another Cold War. In fact, this killer has already started a war, refuses to call it off by denying he is doing it, and Biden has meanwhile agreed on a project putting Russia’s interests over those of the United States.
Destructive, deadly war, it should be understood, has come to include coffee-sipping, happy hackers right up there with brave, self-sacrificing soldiers, tanks, bombs, artillery bombardment, ships at sea, jets with missiles and all that stuff. These hackers are people who can mess with computers to the extent of depriving society of just about anything. They can take data critical for an operation to survive and fix it so the operation does not survive and there is cataclysm outside the operation.
Consider for a minute something usually referred to as SolarWinds, executed by Russia over about nine months in 2020, a cyberattack that included access to email accounts of dozens of businesses and such federal entities as the Nuclear Security Administration, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Energy and the Department of the Treasury. Described as the “largest and most sophisticated (cyber)attack the world has ever seen,” its full effects may not be known for years of insecurity, but that will not lessen them.
President Donald Trump was pretty much missing in action, but, as his successor, Biden instituted Russian economic sanctions while also, by way of conciliation, announced “now is the time to de-escalate.” Putin instead kept hugging ransomware in which hackers take such computerized information as contracts, all kinds of records, legal statements, procedural guidelines, product details and personnel data and render it indecipherable.
An organization is thereby reduced to helplessness until it sends money getting the crooks to retranslate computerized gibberish into the understandable. Not just businesses, but schools, health facilities and all kinds of vital institutions can be affected. The hits happen at a rate of seven an hour, the annual costs are in the billions, and millions of Americans are affected.
In recent summits of Western nations, two shots were fired over the bow of China. At the Group of Seven (G-7) forum held in Cornwall, England, in early June, the leading Western economic powers announced a new international infrastructure initiative, intended to draw lower-income nations away from China’s burgeoning Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
This action was quickly followed up by the NATO summit held in Brussels a few days later, which in its official communiqué issued a dark warning about China’s military modernization. For the first time, NATO singled out China for its “assertive behavior,” which it said presented “systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to Alliance security.”
So what is behind China’s current nuclear modernization efforts? In fact, it is more than just a quantitative and qualitative buildup; it has grave implications for how China is changing its fundamental attitude toward the role of nuclear weapons and under what circumstances it might “go nuclear.” More critically, it is likely that even the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has not fully thought this out, which could be disastrous for all involved.
For China, “going nuclear” was major political, as well as technological and military, achievement. Beijing detonated its first atomic (fission-type) bomb in 1964, followed by the test of a thermonuclear (fusion-type) device three years later. Given the relatively backwards state of China’s defense science and technology base at the time, these feats, along with the launching of China’s first satellite in 1970, were a source of considerable national pride.
Despite the success of its “two bombs and one satellite,” Beijing faced the problem of what to do with its new-found nuclear capacity. It could never hope to match the nuclear might of the United States or the USSR. Nevertheless, there had to be a strong strategic rationale for possessing—and possibly using—nuclear weapons.
The answer was “minimum deterrence.” According to the doctrine of minimum deterrence, China need only possess a nuclear force capable of surviving and retaliating to an enemy’s first strike. This meant a limited but durable second-strike nuclear force that would deter nuclear blackmail and also be compatible with the defensive-oriented doctrine of People’s War.
Consequently, for decades China’s nuclear force was small, typically on low alert, and based on a “no first use” (NFU) strategy. From the 1980s to the early 2000s, various Western estimates put China’s atomic arsenal at no more than 160 nuclear warheads, which placed it last among the declared “nuclear club,” which included the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, and France. Moreover, this was not really a strategic nuclear force: China still lacked long-range bombers or ballistic-missile-carrying submarines (save for one clunky Xia-class SSBN, which was so unusable it reportedly made only one deterrence patrol before being permanently docked). The bulk of China’s strategic deterrence consisted of just 20 or so DF-5A intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)—large, liquid-fueled behemoths that would take hours (if not days) to prep for launch, thus reducing chances for surprise attack or retaliation.
Starting in the 1990s, the CCP refined its nuclear policy, putting greater stress on sufficiency and effectiveness in order to ensure that China would still be able to inflict a damaging retaliatory second strike. Nuclear forces were still limited in size, but increased emphasis was on the survivability and reliability of these forces.
This new “dynamic minimum deterrence” initially meant an increase in the number of nuclear weapons, to perhaps 400 warheads. This strategy also entailed a significant expansion in the types of new delivery systems. In the first place, the number of ICBMs grew to around 55 to 65 missiles, most of them advanced, road-mobile and solid-fueled systems capable of hiding from enemy attacks as well as firing on short notice. The best of these are the DF-31A and DF-41, both of which are capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
To this arsenal must be included dozens, if not hundreds, of nuclear-armed short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, which could target Japan, Taiwan, and Guam.
In addition, China finally acquired a reliable sea-based nuclear deterrent, with the acquisition of the Type-094 SSBN. Each Type-094 is armed with a dozen 4,600-mile-range JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). At least six Type-094 SSBNs have been launched, and Western observers expect the PLA Navy (PLAN) to eventually acquire 12 SSBNs in all.
Finally, the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) operates several aging but upgraded H-6 bombers, capable of dropping nuclear bombs or firing air-launched nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. The PLAAF is currently developing a new long-range strategic bomber, which would almost certainly be stealthy and nuclear-capable.
China has demonstrated the ability to develop and build better more nuclear weapons, along with an expanded array of delivery systems (SLBMs, road-mobile ICBMs, MIRVing, etc.). The question, therefore, is what does the CCP plan to do with this growing and increasingly sophisticated nuclear arsenal? In many respects, it goes far beyond “minimum deterrence” (and even “dynamic minimum deterrence”) and is instead beginning to look a lot like a first-strike capability.
This is critical given potential changes in China’s traditional NFU policy. Philip Saunders of the U.S. National Defense University has recently noted that China could shift to a “launch-on-warning” posture that would put Chinese nuclear forces on a more unstable “first-strike” setting. In addition, China’s NFU policy has always been ill-defined. Paul Bracken of Yale University recently noted that even the CCP has not really thought through its nuclear strategy, arguing that “China’s declared nuclear doctrine doesn’t cover a wide range of possibilities beyond what it was narrowly written for.” This includes, he infers, the possibility of a war over Taiwan.
This uncertainty about what Beijing actually wants to do with its nuclear forces, combined with the general atmosphere of either opacity or outright hostility on the part of Beijing and the CCP, is not a good recipe for stability. It makes it even more difficult to trust China regarding its overall strategic goals.
Richard A. Bitzinger is an independent international security analyst. He was previously a senior fellow with the Military Transformations Program at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore, and he has held jobs in the U.S. government and at various think tanks. His research focuses on security and defense issues relating to the Asia-Pacific region, including the rise of China as a military power, and military modernization and arms proliferation in the region.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
In 2020, during one of the worst global pandemics in recent history, killing more than three million people that year from the Covid-19 virus, nine nuclear-armed countries spent $72.6 billion on bolstering and modernizing their arsenals, at a rate of more than $137,000 a minute.
Despite most of the world’s countries supporting a nuclear-weapons ban, nuclear-armed countries upped their weapons spending in 2020. Most notably, the United States, under the Trump administration, spent $37.4 billion, followed by China, which spent $10.1 billion. Other countries’ spending included Russia, Britain, France, India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea, in order of amount. (Britain, China, France, Russia and the US are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.)
The report on the spending rise during the pandemic arrives as Russia and the US say they want to better control nuclear arms. This message was reconveyed at the Geneva meeting of President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin last week, after they agreed in February to start working on a replacement for the New Start treaty, which expires in 2026. Biden has nominated Bonnie Jenkins as the US under secretary of state for arms control and international security affairs.
“The global increase in spending on nuclear weapons is troubling at a time when countries should be reducing their nuclear arsenals, not expanding or upgrading them,” William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Program at the Center for International Policy, told PassBlue. The Washington center focuses on research, public education and advocacy on US foreign policy.
“The increase between 2019 and 2020 represents continuing rearmament and modernization plans on the part of the major nuclear weapons states — especially the United States, which is just at the beginning of a three decades long plan to spend $1.7 trillion on a new generation of nuclear armed submarines, bombers, and missiles, with new warheads to go with them,” Hartung added.
Additionally, although the world’s nine nuclear-armed countries have decreased the size of their arsenals, they have increased the number of weapons on high operational alert, according to another new report, from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri). As a result, the world is more within striking distance of nuclear weapons. The most vulnerable region is Asia, home to these nuclear powers: India, Pakistan, China and North Korea.
China may have been a distant second in the amount of spending in 2020 on nuclear weapons, but it is less transparent with such expenses. To estimate nuclear spending for China, Ican estimated that the country spends four percent of its total military costs on nuclear weapons, based on similar estimates from the past. Other countries, like France, published a defense bill allocating €4.7 billion (about $5.7 billion), for nuclear deterrence in 2020, a rise over 2019.
“One of the many hard truths the Covid-19 pandemic has shown is that investment in weapons and militaries will not protect us from security threats people around the world are facing in the 21st century, including diseases, climate change and racism,” Alicia Sanders-Zakre, a co-author of the report and policy and research coordinator for Ican, told PassBlue.
While leaders of these countries are partly to blame for spending such huge amounts of money during a pandemic, corporations play a big role, too. More than 20 companies producing nuclear weapons profited from the business in 2020 through existing or new contracts; $27.7 billion went to 11 companies for new or modified nuclear-weapons-related contracts.
Think-tank funding and lobbying are two reasons for weapons manufacturers’ profits in 2020, the report said. These manufacturers financed upward of $10 million collectively in one year to most major think tanks writing or researching nuclear weapons, some of which then published reports recommending that countries build new nuclear weapon systems.
For example, the Atlantic Council, a Washington organization that received approximately $1.7 million in 2019, published a policy brief recommending that the US develop new nuclear abilities to deter Russia. The Council’s 2020 annual report, from fiscal year 2019, said that the organization received direct funding from nine companies producing nuclear weapons.
Many think tanks also have current or former chief executives from companies that benefited from nuclear spending on their advisory boards or boards of directors. Think tanks that received the most money from weapons makers include the Atlantic Council, Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Center for New American Security, the report said. All these organizations are based in the US. (Bonnie Jenkins, the Biden nominee, is on leave from Brookings.)
In addition, the chief executives of three companies that produce nuclear weapons sit on the advisory board of the Atlantic Council: Guillaume Faury of Airbus, a European company; Gregory Hayes of Raytheon Technologies, based in Waltham, Mass.; and Marillyn Hewson of Maryland-based Lockheed Martin (until June 2020).
The top companies profiting from nuclear-weapons contracts in 2020 were Northrop Grumman (based in Virginia, $13.6 billion), General Dynamics (Virginia, $10.8 billion) and Lockheed Martin ($2 billion).
Northrop Grumman is headed by Kathy Warden; Phebe Novakovic is the head of General Dynamics; Lockheed Martin is now led by James Taiclet. Yet only three of the more than 20 nuclear-weapon companies listed in the report are led by women.
For every $1 spent lobbying by the weapons manufacturers and others, an average $236 came back to companies in contracts. Contractors even lobbied to authorize funding for defense in Covid-19 relief bills: much of Boeing’s defense lobbying was bundled with lobbying around the Cares Act (the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) in the US.
The cycle of nuclear funding follows a slippery slope: US tax money pays for companies to build nuclear weapons; companies hire lobbyists to argue that nuclear weapons are necessary and finance think tanks; lobbyists encourage politicians to spend more tax money on nuclear weapons.
Boeing, which spent $12.4 million lobbying on defense issues in the US (including for a defense budget through the Cares Act) in 2020, received $59 million for a government contract to work on nuclear missiles.
“Through their extensive lobbying, nuclear-weapons makers have undue influence in sustaining political support for these weapons of mass destruction,” the report says. In 2020, Trump’s $740.5 billion military budget was the largest for the US since World War II.
Companies like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, however, are being challenged by their shareholders because of their seeming technical violation of international law on nuclear weapons, the report says. In 2020, the first treaty banning nuclear weapons, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, was adopted in 2017 by 122 nations and entered into force in early 2021.
No NATO member has joined it, and it was controversial from the start, as parties to the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), whose goal is disarmament by nuclear-weapon countries, refused to take part in the TPNW’s negotiations. In the last three decades, the NPT has started to show its limits, analysts say, with India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea having built nuclear weapons, and the latter threatening to unleash them regionally and toward the US.
“Countries that are not party to the treaty that are engaging in banned activities are just acting contrary to that treaty that they are not legally bound to comply with,” Sanders-Zakre told PassBlue.
Yet to call these “banned activities,” or violations of international law, may be misleading. The prohibitions in the treaty’s Article I “have nothing to do with spending on nuclear weapons, nor do any other provisions contained in the TPNW,” Angela Kane, a former UN high representative for disarmament affairs, told PassBlue in an email from Vienna. “And additionally, all TPNW articles only apply to States Parties — which the nine nuclear-weapon possessors we know definitely are not.”
The treaty prohibits nations from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons or allowing nuclear weapons to be stationed on their territory. The Ican report said there has been increased backing for the accord among voters and lawmakers in NATO’s 30 countries, as reflected in public opinion polls, parliamentary resolutions, political party declarations and statements from past leaders.
“Nuclear weapons states continue to cling to dangerous Cold War strategies of nuclear warfighting and deterrence that increase the risk of nuclear conflict rather than limiting or preventing it,” Hartung told PassBlue. He also noted that global nuclear weapons buildup covers all major systems — nuclear-armed bombers, ballistic missile submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), cruise missiles and nuclear warheads.
The treaty’s preamble acknowledges the harm suffered as a result of nuclear weapons, including the disproportionate impact on women and girls. In a separate report, Ican revealed that women in Hiroshima and Nagasaki had nearly double the risk of developing and dying from cancer due to ionizing radiation exposure; girls in Chernobyl are considerably more likely than boys to develop thyroid cancer from nuclear fallout; and pregnant women exposed to nuclear radiation are more likely to deliver children with physical malformations and stillbirths, leading to increased maternal mortality.
Ivana Ramirez is from South Carolina. She will begin matriculating as an undergraduate student at Yale University in 2021. She writes PassBlue’s This Week @UN news summary and is the researcher for PassBlue’s UN-Scripted podcast series.
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on Iran and Saudi Arabia to resolve their difference via dialogue.
In posts on his Twitter account, Sadr said the two neighbors are major regional powers that have strong bonds with Iraq, ina.iq website reported.
Baghdad can play a mediatory role to help the two countries settle their problems, he added.
On Monday, Iran’s President-elect Ebrahim Raeisi held his first press conference after winning the 13th presidential polls.
Asked about the future outlook for Iran’s relations with Saudi Arabia, Raeisi said, “We have announced [our decision to establish] relations with all countries in the world and to interact with all of them.”
“Relations with neighboring countries is particularly important for us. Our priority will be to establish relations with neighbors,” he added.
Raeisi said from the viewpoint of the Islamic Republic, there is no obstacle to reopening of Iran’s and Saudi Arabia’s embassies, adding, “This policy has been announced before and I reiterate that there is no impediment to [establishment of] relations with Saudi Arabia and all the countries in the region.”
“We hope that he will use reason, Sharia and dialogue to end political and sectarian conflicts in the region which would strength Islam, Shiism and Arabism, and weaken the common enemy in general and Israel in particular, which have exploited those conflicts for a long time to spread their webs,” Al-Sadr said in a statement posted on Twitter yesterday.
Al-Sadr called on Saudi Arabia and Iran to solve their problems on the one hand and keep Iraq out of their conflict as well as not interfere in its affairs, especially as Iraq is on the verge of parliamentary elections, which are an internal affair.
He stressed on the continuation of good neighbourliness and the development of “equal” relations between his country, Saudi Arabia and Iran, stressing that the main foundations of good neighbourliness are “non-interference in the country’s internal affairs and cooperation in overcoming common difficulties”.
A cache of papers collected during Mossad’s 2018 raid on Iran reveals the true extent of the Islamic nation’s nuclear ambitions.
By June 21, 2021 6:15 pm ET
The Biden administration is working hard to re-enter the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Readers of David Albright’s “Iran’s Perilous Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons,” however, will realize that it is Washington, not Tehran, that is pursuing a truly perilous course.
Mr. Albright, since 1993 the president of the Institute for Science and International Security, neither advocates nor opposes re-entering the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). That is precisely why his careful, meticulous recitation of the full reality of Iran’s efforts, its “incessant dissembling and falsehoods” and its careful camouflage and concealment is so compelling.
Mr. Albright concedes that many years ago he was “skeptical of the seemingly exaggerated claims by Western governments” about Iran’s program. He now says that “the Iranian revolutionary regime is fundamentally a criminal operation.” For decades, “Iran has systematically violated its commitments under the  Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.” Even nominal concessions from Tehran, including the JCPOA itself, occurred “under great pressure, with an underlying, unrelenting intention of preserving and advancing its nuclear weapons capabilities.”
As Mr. Albright shows, key Amad Plan activities continue today, both clandestinely and disguised as part of Iran’s “civil” nuclear efforts. Take the Natanz enrichment facility, discovered in 2002: “In a pattern that would repeat itself many times . . . Iran simply called it a civil site and allowed the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] to inspect it.” This may seem like retreating, but Mr. Albright exposes the nuclear jujitsu: “While withdrawing from safeguards or cheating on them would incur a cost,” calling Natanz a “civil” facility and allowing inspections or monitoring “was a price [Iran] found worth paying to keep them.”