We really are due for the sixth seal: Revelation 6:12

Opinion/Al Southwick: Could an earthquake really rock New England? We are 265 years overdue

On Nov. 8, a 3.6 magnitude earthquake struck Buzzard’s Bay off the coast of New Bedford. Reverberations were felt up to 100 miles away, across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and parts of Connecticut and New York. News outlets scrambled to interview local residents who felt the ground shake their homes. Seismologists explained that New England earthquakes, while uncommon and usually minor, are by no means unheard of.

The last bad one we had took place on Nov. 18, 1755, a date long remembered.

It’s sometimes called the Boston Earthquake and sometimes the Cape Ann Earthquake. Its epicenter is thought to have been in the Atlantic Ocean about 25 miles east of Gloucester. Estimates say that it would have registered between 6.0 and 6.3 on the modern Richter scale. It was an occasion to remember as chronicled by John E. Ebel, director of the Weston observatory of Boston College:

“At about 4:30 in the morning on 18 November, 1755, a strong earthquake rocked the New England area. Observers reported damage to chimneys, brick buildings and stone walls in coastal communities from Portland, Maine to south of Boston … Chimneys were also damaged as far away as Springfield, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut. The earthquake was felt at Halifax, Nova Scotia to the northeast, Lake Champlain to the northwest, and Winyah, South Carolina to the southwest. The crew of a ship in deep water about 70 leagues east of Boston thought it had run aground and only realized it had felt an earthquake after it arrived at Boston later that same day.

“The 1755 earthquake rocked Boston, with the shaking lasting more than a minute. According to contemporary reports, as many as 1,500 chimneys were shattered or thrown down in part, the gable ends of about 15 brick buildings were broken out, and some church steeples ended up tilted due to the shaking. Falling chimney bricks created holes in the roofs of some houses. Some streets, particularly those on manmade ground along the water, were so covered with bricks and debris that passage by horse-drawn carriage was impossible. Many homes lost china and glassware that was thrown from shelves and shattered. A distiller’s cistern filled with liquor broke apart and lost its contents.”

We don’t have many details of the earthquake’s impact here, there being no newspaper in Worcester County at that time. We do know that one man, Christian Angel, working in a “silver” mine in Sterling, was buried alive when the ground shook. He is the only known fatality in these parts. We can assume that, if the quake shook down chimneys in Springfield and New Haven, it did even more damage hereabouts. We can imagine the cries of alarm and the feeling of panic as trees swayed violently, fields and meadows trembled underfoot and pottery fell off shelves and crashed below.

The Boston Earthquake was an aftershock from the gigantic Lisbon Earthquake that had leveled Lisbon, Portugal, a few days before. That cataclysm, estimated as an 8 or 9 on the modern Richter scale, was the most devastating natural catastrophe to hit western Europe since Roman times. The first shock struck on Nov. 1, at about 9 in the morning.

According to one account: ”Suddenly the city began to shudder violently, its tall medieval spires waving like a cornfield in the breeze … In the ancient cathedral, the Basilica de Santa Maria, the nave rocked and the massive chandeliers began swinging crazily. . . . Then came a second, even more powerful shock. And with it, the ornate façade of every great building in the square … broke away and cascaded forward.”

Until that moment, Lisbon had been one of the leading cities in western Europe, right up there with London and Paris. With 250,000 people, it was a center of culture, financial activity and exploration. Within minutes it was reduced to smoky, dusty rubble punctuated by human groans and screams. An estimated 60,000 to 100,000 lost their lives.

Since then, New England has been mildly shaken by quakes from time to time. One series of tremors on March 1, 1925, was felt throughout Worcester County, from Fitchburg to Worcester, and caused a lot of speculation.

What if another quake like that in 1755 hit New England today? What would happen? That question was studied 15 years ago by the Massachusetts Civil Defense Agency. Its report is sobering:

“The occurrence of a Richter magnitude 6.25 earthquake off Cape Ann, Massachusetts … would cause damage in the range of 2 to 10 billion dollars … in the Boston metropolitan area (within Route 128) due to ground shaking, with significant additional losses due to secondary effects such as soil liquefaction failures, fires and economic interruptions. Hundreds of deaths and thousands of major and minor injuries would be expected … Thousands of people could be displaced from their homes … Additional damage may also be experienced outside the 128 area, especially closer to the earthquake epicenter.”

So even if we don’t worry much about volcanoes, we know that hurricanes and tornadoes are always possible. As for earthquakes, they may not happen in this century or even in this millennium, but it is sobering to think that if the tectonic plates under Boston and Gloucester shift again, we could see a repeat of 1755.

Iran is a hair breadth from a nuclear bomb: Daniel 8

Without a Nuclear Deal, How Close Is Iran to a Bomb?

Three years after then President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from a landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, Tehran’s government is closer to having the material needed for a nuclear weapon than if the deal had remained in place. Iranians have enriched more uranium to higher levels using more sophisticated technologies than they would otherwise have had access to under a strict monitoring regime. Those developments have led President Joe Biden’s administration to join diplomats from Europe, China and Russia in seeking to revive the 2015 agreement, which reined in Tehran’s atomic program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. But the future of talks is uncertain now that Iran has elected a hard-liner to its presidency.

Israeli troops nab 4 Gaza infiltrators from outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Illustrative: A IDF military vehicle drives near the border with Gaza east of Bureij on December 6, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

Israeli troops nab 4 Gaza infiltrators, 3 of them armed with knives

IDF says suspects caught and questioned in two incidents overnight at southern border fence

By Emanuel Fabian2 Aug 2021, 9:51 am

Four Palestinians, three of them armed with knives, were detained by Israel Defense Force soldiers after infiltrating into southern Israel overnight from the Gaza Strip, the military said Monday morning.

In a first incident, a suspect armed with a knife and carrying bolt cutters crossed into Israel from the Gaza Strip through the southern section of the border fence, according to the IDF.

The suspect was detained and taken for questioning.

Later, in the early hours of Monday morning, three suspects — two of them carrying knives — were detained by soldiers in the same area after also entering Israel from Gaza, according to the IDF.

The army said the second group was questioned at the scene, but did not say if they were taken into custody or had been returned to the Strip.

It was not clarified if the army believed the two incidents were linked.

While Israel has a high-tech series of fences and walls guarding its frontier with Gaza, both above and below ground, a number of gaps remain in the steel fencing surrounding the Strip.

In times of low visibility, these gaps have been used by Palestinians in Gaza to illegally enter Israeli territory, often with hopes of fleeing the beleaguered enclave.Advertisement

Last month, four Palestinians, some armed with knives, were detained by IDF soldiers in the same area.

In June, a man who crossed the border, armed with an improvised bomb, a grenade and two knives, was arrested by soldiers.

While attacks on Israeli civilians by those infiltrating from Gaza are rare, in May, a Palestinian man, who crossed into Israel armed with several knives, attacked and lightly wounded a security guard some five kilometers from the border fence.

Though Palestinians regularly attempt to cross into Israel from Gaza, it is highly uncommon for them to make it so far into Israeli territory without being seen and detained by Israeli troops.

The attack in May came days after the 11-day conflict between Israel and Gaza terror groups ended.

The growing Chinese nuclear Horn: Daniel 8

China’s Nuclear Forces Swell: A Tri-Polar World?

The combination of a modern long-range bomber (the H-20), and an expanded seaborne ballistic missile force, as well as this massive inflation of the land-based ICBM component, makes China’s nuclear forces look far more like their “hegemonic” counterparts in Russia and the United States than the minimal or limited deterrent presented by French or British nuclear forces.

OPINION: For the last three decades, the Chinese military has been undertaking a systematic modernization of the People’s Liberation Army. While the conventional force modernizations have garnered most of the attention, recent revelations of a major Chinese missile silo construction effort in the west indicate that the nuclear component of the PLA has been modernizing as well.

The array of both nuclear and conventional missiles in the Chinese inventory has steadily expanded. In addition to two dozen or so DF-31 ICBMs, the Chinese have been adding the DF-41, a mobile system that is expected to field China’s first MIRVs (multiple independent reentry vehicles). This will substantially increase the number of warheads Beijing has aimed at American targets, while also making it harder for the US to target them.

Add to this the recent discovery of around 100 silos in China’s Gansu province, and another hundred silos in Xinjiang. China’s construction of some 250 missile silos would be consistent with the overall expansion of the PLARF, which includes increasing the number of MRBMs, IRBMs, and ICBMs. At the same time, it would mark at least an order of magnitude expansion of China’s intercontinental warheads, from perhaps two dozen to more than 250 (which would not include the mobile DF-41s). Should China decide to place MIRVs atop these various new missiles, the Chinese could begin to approach Russian and American warhead numbers (each is allowed to deploy 1,500 warheads).

Shifting Chinese Nuclear Doctrine? 
This enormous expansion of the Chinese ICBM force, coupled with the construction of additional ballistic missile submarines and reports of a new Chinese intercontinental bomber, suggests that China is shifting from its presumed minimal nuclear deterrent posture. That is, China’s nuclear forces are presumed to be primarily aimed at adversary population centers, as the primary means of deterring aggression—the definition of “minimal deterrent.”

This posture is presumed, in part because Beijing has chosen not to build a larger nuclear force since it exploded its first fission and fusion devices in the 1960s. Like France and the UK, China has fielded only sufficient numbers of nuclear weapons to grievously damage an attacker (sufficient to “tear an arm off the bear” is how some have described the French nuclear deterrent) by attacking their cities, but not to engage in nuclear warfighting, including the conduct of counterforce strikes.

With the development of the DF-41 and a more capable seaborne deterrent, some theorized that Beijing might be shifting from a minimal deterrent to a “limited deterrent.” A limited deterrent force would provide sufficient forces to potentially engage in some counterforce strikes, or some limited, small-scale attacks in the face of conventional attacks (much as NATO planning included nuclear response options to a Soviet attack on West Germany). It would entail some increase in China’s nuclear forces, but would leave Beijing substantially behind the US and Russia.

The scale of China’s nuclear expansion, however, calls into question whether Beijing is interested in fielding a limited deterrent. The combination of a modern long-range bomber (the H-20), and an expanded seaborne ballistic missile force, as well as this massive inflation of the land-based ICBM component, makes China’s nuclear forces look far more like their “hegemonic” counterparts in Russia and the United States than the minimal or limited deterrent presented by French or British nuclear forces.

Indeed, it is notable that Beijing is placing so many of its new nuclear eggs in the land-based ICBM basket. Given the ongoing construction of the 094 Jin-class ballistic missile submarine and the apparent success of the JL-2 submarine launched ballistic missile, China already fields a secure second-strike force through a seaborne deterrent. Moreover, the DF-41 (and the DF-31A variant) is itself mobile, and therefore able to deploy from garrison across a continent-sized country with valleys, gorges, forested areas, and other places of concealment.

The pattern of silo construction raises further questions about Chinese strategic thinking. The missile silos bear some resemblance to the “dense pack” deployment advocated by some for the US MX missile in the 1980s. As Soviet ICBM accuracy increased, the potential vulnerability of American silos became a growing concern. By building multiple silos in close proximity to each other, it was calculated that any incoming Soviet strike was likely to suffer from “fratricide,” as the first exploding warhead would create a massive cloud of supercharged particles, dust, and debris which would then destroy any closely following additional warheads.

If the Chinese are placing ICBMs in these silos, they may be hoping to discourage any prospect of a successful disarming strike aimed at them due to the fratricidal effects of nearby detonations. But this, in turn, suggests that PLA planners are less confident of the ability of mobile ICBMs to survive. Are there fundamental shortcomings in Chinese defenses and deception techniques that they are concerned about?

Prospects for the Future
China’s nuclear expansion should make clear that its previous limited numbers were not the result of some physical constraint (e.g., insufficient fissile material), but instead was a policy choice. Given Xi Jinping’s broader rejection of Deng Xiaoping’s advice to “hide one’s abilities, bide one’s time,” it may well be that this growth is part of Xi’s “China dream” of a stronger Chinese military, one able to operate openly on the world stage.

If this is the case, it is important to recognize that the PRC’s view of nuclear crisis stability is not the same as that of the United States or Russia. During the Cold War, it became something of a shibboleth that nuclear-armed states do not fight each other directly. The potential for escalation in the event of such a confrontation was considered too high, especially after the Cuban Missile Crisis. This “lesson,” however, ignored the Sino-Soviet border clashes of 1969, battles precipitated by deliberate Chinese provocations. Both sides had nuclear weapons.

More worrying are the recent Chinese incursions across the Line of Actual Control on the Sino-Indian border. Chinese military units have crossed into Indian controlled areas repeatedly since 2013; in some cases, they have stayed for several days and even been resupplied. In 2020 confrontations, several Indian and Chinese soldiers died when the two sides confronted each other in the Galway valley. Unlike their American and Russian counterparts, Chinese military and political leaders appear far less concerned about the potential for inadvertent escalation, at least with their Indian counterparts.

This raises questions about how the Chinese leadership would act, if they had a substantially more robust and diverse nuclear force at their disposal. Recent speeches by Xi Jinping, the rise of “wolf warrior” diplomats, and behavior by PLA forces in the South and East China Seas, all indicate a declining tolerance for outside “pressure,” and a growing willingness to push back in defense of Chinese “core interests,” including territorial sovereignty. Would a larger nuclear capability further embolden Chinese leaders?

At the same time, Beijing evinces little interest in participating in nuclear arms control efforts. This was very reasonable when China’s nuclear forces were substantially smaller than American and Russian forces; it is much less clear that it is in either Washington or Moscow’s interests to not include Beijing in future negotiations, given China’s growing nuclear numbers.

It may well be time to reconsider the broader landscape of nuclear deterrence, as Washington, Beijing, and Moscow all become roughly comparable. A tri-polar nuclear balance is a very different proposition from a bipolar one, especially where two of the players are relatively closely aligned against the third. The discovery of the silo fields in western China indicates that it is well past time to start reexamining the foundations of American nuclear deterrence thinking.

The Heritage Foundation’s Dean Cheng is one of the top experts on the People’s Republic of China — and its military.

Even Russia and China are losing patience with the Iranian nuclear horn

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow in April. Although Russia signed an economic agreement with Iran targeting over $25 billion in trade, the actual figure is below $2 billion.  File Photo by Maxim Shipenkov/EPA-EFE

China, Russia may be losing patience with Iran

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow in April. Although Russia signed an economic agreement with Iran targeting over $25 billion in trade, the actual figure is below $2 billion.  File Photo by Maxim Shipenkov/EPA-EFE

Aug. 2 (UPI) — There are signs that China and Russia may be losing patience with Iran.

As the theocratic regime’s traditional backers, seen as bulwarks for the mullahs against Western sanctions, there are growing indications the two superpowers may be tiring of their Iranian friends. Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin were enthusiastic supporters of Barack Obama‘s deeply flawed nuclear deal with the Iranian regime. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was unilaterally shredded by President Donald Trump in 2018, when he imposed his “maximum pressure” campaign of super-tough sanctions on the mullahs.

Trump accused the mullahs of serial breaches of the deal, as well as oppressive human rights violations in Iran and exporting terror and proxy wars across the Middle East and around the world, all of which was true. The regime reacted by accelerating its uranium enrichment program to more than 60% purity, a short step away from weapons grade.

In a blind panic, the newly elected American President Joe Biden pledged to resurrect the nuclear deal, but was met with an impenetrable wall of obfuscation and hostility by the elderly supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who demanded the immediate lifting of all sanctions as a prerequisite to kick-starting the JCPOA.

With the sham election of the notorious executioner Ebrahim Raisi as president of Iran, negotiations on the revival of the nuclear deal have stalled. Raisi is on the U.S. sanctions list for serial human rights violations. He has openly boasted of his role as a member of the “death commission,” which oversaw the massacre of more than 30,000 political prisoners in the summer of 1988. Most of those executed, including many teenagers and even pregnant women, were supporters of the main opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq.

Raisi was, until his elevation to the presidency, chief of Iran’s judiciary, where he has approved and supervised hundreds of executions. Even for the hard men of Tiananmen and the Kremlin, this was a step too far.

Desperate for help to alleviate the collapsing economy in Iran, the mullahs turned to China and Russia. But help may be slow in arriving if it comes at all. The clerical regime has signed extensive economic cooperation agreements with both countries, but the hoped-for relief from crippling Western sanctions has failed to materialize. In fact, the opposite has happened.

After Trump slammed on the additional sanctions against Iran, China was one of the first countries to withdraw its finance from oil, gas, automobile and road and rail projects. Chinese companies with international contracts do not want to fall foul of U.S. sanction laws. Beijing even blocked the mullahs’ resources. It is thought that about $40 billion of Iranian assets have been frozen in at least five countries, at least half of it in China.

Never slow to miss out on a good trading opportunity, the Chinese even took advantage of the sanctions to purchase Iranian oil at well below world market values. They then negotiated the purchase of Iranian oil-related products like urea fertilizer, at rock-bottom prices, selling it on to India at a profit. Not content at simply exploiting its so-called ally, China has gone on to increase its volume of trade with the mullahs’ main enemies America, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and even Israel.

Majid Reza Hariri, head of the Iran-China Chamber, said recently: “As our total international and cross-border trade shrinks, so does our share of trade with China, as Iran and China have not had so little trade with each other in the last 15 or 16 years.” Hariri continued: “The decline in our foreign trade last year has been unprecedented in the last 10 or 12 years. In other words, in terms of the volume of our foreign trade, we are back to the mid-1990s, an important part of which was due to heavy sanctions in 2020 and declining oil sales. Naturally, in these circumstances, we cannot provide the necessary currency for imports.”

A similar situation has applied to trade between Iran and Russia. Although the two countries signed an economic agreement targeting over $25 billion in trade, the actual figure is below $2 billion, which is barely significant. Russia does more than $30 billion in annual trade with Turkey and hopes to increase it to $100 billion, which puts the paltry $2 billion trade with Iran into perspective.

The mullahs’ economic woes mean that their days of venal corruption, where they have enriched themselves at the expense of their 83 million population, are grinding to a halt. This has best been evidenced by the coronavirus pandemic, which has spiraled out of control. Resistance units of the MEK reckon the overall death toll from the pandemic exceeds 343,000, while the mullahs try to claim that the real figure is nearer 90,000. The shocking toll is a direct result of Khamenei refusing all offers of Western vaccines on ideological grounds, while supplies of China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm jabs and Russia’s Sputnik vaccine have dwindled to a trickle due to delayed payments.

The vast cost of paying for their secret nuclear and ballistic missile program has also left a black hole in state finances, as has the massive cost of funding proxy wars across the Middle East. Economists reckon that the mullahs have spent more than $16 billion propping up Bashar al-Assad‘s bloody civil war in Syria. While the cost of supporting the Houthi rebels in Yemen, the terrorist Hezbollah in Lebanon, the brutal Shi’ia militias in Iraq and Hamas in Gaza are an ongoing drain on reserves and personnel.

There are growing signs of unrest even amongst the ranks of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps – the regime’s Gestapo, which runs over 75% of the Iranian economy and has suffered from the current meltdown.

When Raisi is inaugurated as president on Tuesday, he will inherit a country brought to its knees by 42 years of corruption, repression, maladministration, terrorism and war-mongering. The huge province of Khuzestan is in flames with mass street protests moving into their third week, following acute water shortages. Nationwide protests have erupted across Iran in solidarity with the Khuzestan Arabs, who have faced a brutal crackdown with tear gas, shrapnel and live ammunition, causing many deaths and injuries.

Now is the time for the West to back the Iranian people, instead of trying to appease this evil regime. If China and Russia are tiring of the mullahs, surely the writing is on the wall?

Struan Stevenson is the coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change. He was a member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), president of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and chairman of the Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14). He is an international lecturer on the Middle East and president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

Our future will not be nuclear free: Revelation 16

FOCUS: Experts caution against A-bomb survivors’ hopes for nuke-free world

As the 76th anniversaries of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki approach, survivors of the catastrophe are pinning their hopes on Japan joining a U.N. treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons that took effect in January, seeing it as a key step in realizing their dream of a nuclear-free world.

But some experts say the goal is unrealistic for Japan as nuclear threats continue to exist in the region while an existing nonproliferation treaty is not working properly amid growing tensions in relations between the United States and fellow nuclear superpowers Russia and China.

The Dongfeng 41, a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile, is on display during a military parade in Beijing on Oct. 1, 2019, marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the communist People’s Republic of China. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Terumi Tanaka, 87, a co-chairperson of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, insists that Japan, the only country to have experienced nuclear attacks, should approve the treaty signed by 86 countries, criticizing the government for making “a foolish choice” not to join it.

Protected by the U.S. nuclear umbrella against security threats, in particular from North Korea and China, Japan, along with nuclear-armed states, has stayed away from the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, or TPNW, which bans the development, testing, possession and use of nuclear arsenals.

Although the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, joined by over 190 countries, serves as a broader platform, the new treaty and the NPT would be “mutually complementary,” said Tanaka, who survived the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945.

The NPT, which took effect in 1970, while aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and related technology and achieving nuclear disarmament, allows the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, all nuclear powers, to possess nuclear arsenals.

Tanaka said Japan should withdraw from its defense alliance with the United States and its nuclear umbrella in order “to be neutral.”

Akira Kawasaki, a campaigner of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for its efforts that led to the adoption of the nuclear ban treaty, says Japan should at least join as an observer.

“A move toward nuclear disarmament is gathering steam after the nuclear ban treaty came into effect,” Kawasaki told a press conference in early July.

But their calls come as discussions on nuclear disarmament remain moribund with the United States, China and Russia expanding their nuclear capabilities in a “new cold war.” The next NPT review conference, meanwhile, has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A security expert who supports nuclear disarmament and one who advocates the opposite position of maintaining nuclear deterrence both say there are no benefits for Japan in joining the new treaty. They also call for Japan to continue to rely on the U.S. nuclear umbrella and enhance its defense capabilities.

Photo shows Nobumasa Akiyama, a professor of international politics at Hitotsubashi University. (Photo courtesy of Nobumasa Akiyama)(Kyodo)

Nobumasa Akiyama, a professor of international politics at Hitotsubashi University and advocate of nuclear disarmament, pointed to the possibility of some countries leaving the NPT thinking that the new treaty would be more effective in leading to disarmament.

Moreover, as Japan is a “stakeholder in the security dynamic in East Asia,” if it joins the TPNW, it would lose its diplomatic leverage and leave its security “in the hands of China” as the Asian giant becomes increasingly assertive militarily, especially in the East and South China seas, Akiyama said.

“It does not necessarily have to be TPNW to reduce nuclear arms,” said Akiyama, although he did hold out the possibility that the postponement of the NPT review conference could buy time for further thought on how to reconcile the two treaties.

Sugio Takahashi, head of the Defense Policy Division at the National Institute for Defense Studies, said the new treaty is likely to deepen the rift between what he called an “idealistic nuclear disarmament group” and a “realistic nuclear risk reduction group.”

“By creating the TPNW, it made things more complicated as the NPT is not working properly now,” said Takahashi, who backs nuclear deterrence.

In explaining why Japan has not joined the new treaty, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told parliament in January, “It is not supported not only by nuclear-weapon states but also by many non-nuclear-weapon states.”

Instead, he said, Japan should work to build bridges between countries with different positions by submitting resolutions calling for nuclear disarmament at the United Nations and making efforts to convey the reality of the suffering an atomic bombing causes.

But Japan’s assertiveness in calling for nuclear disarmament has been limited as it and other like-minded countries grow wary of China’s rapid expansion and modernization of its nuclear arsenal.

Rather than joining the TPNW, the U.S. administration of President Joe Biden is seeking to promote efforts to reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles with Russia as well as China, but Beijing has resisted, Robert Wood, the U.S. disarmament ambassador, told a U.N. conference in May.

Takahashi, however, warned that an “arms race spiral” could occur among the United States, Russia and China if they collaborate “triangularly or make a rough parity treaty,” since each one of the three might later become concerned about the other two forming an alliance against it and seek parity with their combined arsenals.

“We would never be able to abolish nuclear weapons if that happens,” he said. “It is necessary to relax tensions while maintaining strategic stability.”

At a time when talks between nuclear and non-nuclear states are running out of steam, Akiyama said Japan should create a forum to bring together international experts on nuclear strategy both from nuclear powers as well as countries calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

“In the dialogue they would need to discuss strategic elements, including new ways for arms control, with the reduction of nuclear weapons and their role as one of the main goals,” he said.

US Bows to the Iranian Horn

Press Secretary Jen Psaki

US consults UK, Romania, Israel over alleged Iranian strike — rules out ditching nuclear deal

The White House is now consulting with the UK, Romania and Israel in the wake of the alleged Iranian drone strike on an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman that killed two — but the administration is still ruling out ending nuclear deal negotiations with Iran. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday predicted a “collective response” from the US, UK, Romania and Israel following the deadly July 29 attack on the Israeli-managed tanker.

Blinken said the US is confident Iran was behind the fatal drone strike that killed a Romanian and British national on the Mercer Street tanker.

“We’ve conducted a thorough review and we’re confident that Iran carried out this attack,” Blinken said

“We are in very close contact and coordination with the United Kingdom, Israel, Romania, and other countries, and there will be a collective response.”

Iran has denied any involvement and vowed to respond promptly to security threats after the US, UK and Israel blamed Tehran.

The strike on the tanker, which is owned by a Japanese company but managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime, marked the first-known fatal attack after several years of assaults on commercial shipping in the region linked to tensions with Iran.

Despite blaming Tehran, the Biden administration has ruled out walking away from attempts to resurrect the Iran nuclear deal. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that rejoining the nuclear deal with Iran was in the US’ “national interest.” 

“Our view is that every single challenge and threat we face from Iran would be made more pronounced and dangerous by an unconstrained nuclear program. So, put in another way, constraining Iran’s nuclear program by returning to the JCPOA will put us in a better position to address these other problems,” she said. 

“It doesn’t mean that it will take care of the other issues that have been ongoing concerns we’ve had with Iran, they are a bad actor on the global stage. They have threatened our own military, as we all know, but we continue to believe that pursuing a diplomatic path forward, that pursuing an opportunity to make sure we have greater visibility, and into what their nuclear capabilities are is in our national interest.”

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has slammed the current administration as “crazy” for not walking away from the talks in the wake of the deadly drone strike. 

“They have now killed a Brit, killed a Romanian, attacked a ship at sea… Launched rockets through their proxy Hamas into Israel from the Gaza Strip,” Pompeo told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

“We are still sitting at the table trying to negotiate a nuclear deal with them. This is crazy.”

Blinken said he didn’t believe the recent strike necessarily signaled anything about Iran’s incoming President Ebrahim Raisi.

In recent weeks, US troops in eastern Syria came under rocket fire after the Biden administration launched airstrikes targeting what it described as “facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups” on the border between Syria and Iraq.

Rocket and drone strikes targeting US forces in Iraq increased after the death of Iran Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an American airstrike in January 2020. 

With Post wires