Real Risk, Few Precautions (Revelation 6:12)

    By WILLIAM K. STEVENSPublished: October 24, 1989
AN EARTHQUAKE as powerful as the one that struck northern California last week could occur almost anywhere along the East Coast, experts say. And if it did, it would probably cause far more destruction than the West Coast quake.
The chances of such an occurrence are much less in the East than on the West Coast. Geologic stresses in the East build up only a hundredth to a thousandth as fast as in California, and this means that big Eastern quakes are far less frequent. Scientists do not really know what the interval between them might be, nor are the deeper-lying geologic faults that cause them as accessible to study. So seismologists are at a loss to predict when or where they will strike.
But they do know that a temblor with a magnitude estimated at 7 on the Richter scale – about the same magnitude as last week’s California quake – devastated Charleston, S.C., in 1886. And after more than a decade of study, they also know that geologic structures similar to those that caused the Charleston quake exist all along the Eastern Seaboard.
For this reason, ”we can’t preclude that a Charleston-sized earthquake might occur anywhere along the East Coast,” said David Russ, the assistant chief geologist of the United States Geological Survey in Reston, Va. ”It could occur in Washington. It could occur in New York.”
If that happens, many experts agree, the impact will probably be much greater than in California.Easterners, unlike Californians, have paid very little attention to making buildings and other structures earthquake-proof or earthquake-resistant. ”We don’t have that mentality here on the East Coast,” said Robert Silman, a New York structural engineer whose firm has worked on 3,800 buildings in the metropolitan area.
Moreover, buildings, highways, bridges, water and sewer systems and communications networks in the East are all older than in the West and consequently more vulnerable to damage. Even under normal conditions, for instance, water mains routinely rupture in New York City.
The result, said Dr. John Ebel, a geophysicist who is the assistant director of Boston College’s Weston Observatory, is that damage in the East would probably be more widespread, more people could be hurt and killed, depending on circumstances like time of day, and ”it would probably take a lot longer to get these cities back to useful operating levels.”
On top of this, scientists say, an earthquake in the East can shake an area 100 times larger than a quake of the same magnitude in California. This is because the earth’s crust is older, colder and more brittle in the East and tends to transmit seismic energy more efficiently. ”If you had a magnitude 7 earthquake and you put it halfway between New York City and Boston,” Dr. Ebel said, ”you would have the potential of doing damage in both places,” not to mention cities like Hartford and Providence.
Few studies have been done of Eastern cities’ vulnerability to earthquakes. But one, published last June in The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, calculated the effects on New York City of a magnitude 6 earthquake. That is one-tenth the magnitude of last week’s California quake, but about the same as the Whittier, Calif., quake two years ago.
The study found that such an earthquake centered 17 miles southeast of City Hall, off Rockaway Beach, would cause $11 billion in damage to buildings and start 130 fires. By comparison, preliminary estimates place the damage in last week’s California disaster at $4 billion to $10 billion. If the quake’s epicenter were 11 miles southeast of City Hall, the study found, there would be about $18 billion in damage; if 5 miles, about $25 billion.
No estimates on injuries or loss of life were made. But a magnitude 6 earthquake ”would probably be a disaster unparalleled in New York history,” wrote the authors of the study, Charles Scawthorn and Stephen K. Harris of EQE Engineering in San Francisco.
The study was financed by the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The research and education center, supported by the National Science Foundation and New York State, was established in 1986 to help reduce damage and loss of life from earthquakes.
The study’s postulated epicenter of 17 miles southeast of City Hall was the location of the strongest quake to strike New York since it has been settled, a magnitude 5 temblor on Aug. 10, 1884. That 1884 quake rattled bottles and crockery in Manhattan and frightened New Yorkers, but caused little damage. Seismologists say a quake of that order is likely to occur within 50 miles of New York City every 300 years. Quakes of magnitude 5 are not rare in the East. The major earthquake zone in the eastern half of the country is the central Mississippi Valley, where a huge underground rift causes frequent geologic dislocations and small temblors. The most powerful quake ever known to strike the United States occurred at New Madrid, Mo., in 1812. It was later estimated at magnitude 8.7 and was one of three quakes to strike that area in 1811-12, all of them stronger than magnitude 8. They were felt as far away as Washington, where they rattled chandeliers, Boston and Quebec.
Because the New Madrid rift is so active, it has been well studied, and scientists have been able to come up with predictions for the central Mississippi valley, which includes St. Louis and Memphis. According to Dr. Russ, there is a 40 to 63 percent chance that a quake of magnitude 6 will strike that area between now and the year 2000, and an 86 to 97 percent chance that it will do so by 2035. The Federal geologists say there is a 1 percent chance or less of a quake greater than magnitude 7 by 2000, and a 4 percent chance or less by 2035.
Elsewhere in the East, scientists are limited in their knowledge of probabilities partly because faults that could cause big earthquakes are buried deeper in the earth’s crust. In contrast to California, where the boundary between two major tectonic plates creates the San Andreas and related faults, the eastern United States lies in the middle of a major tectonic plate. Its faults are far less obvious, their activity far more subtle, and their slippage far slower. 
Any large earthquake would be ”vastly more serious” in the older cities of the East than in California,  said Dr. Tsu T. Soong, a professor of civil engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo who is a researcher in earthquake-mitigation technology at the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research. First, he said, many buildings are simply older, and therefore weaker and more  vulnerable to collapse. Second, there is no seismic construction code in most of the East as there is in California, where such codes have been in place for decades.
The vulnerability is evident in many ways. ”I’m sitting here looking out my window,” said Mr. Silman, the structural engineer in New York, ”and I see a bunch of water tanks all over the place” on rooftops. ”They are not anchored down at all, and it’s very possible they would fall in an earthquake.”
 Many brownstones, he said, constructed as they are of unreinforced masonry walls with wood joists between, ”would just go like a house of cards.” Unreinforced masonry, in fact, is the single most vulnerable structure, engineers say. Such buildings are abundant, even predominant, in many older cities. The Scawthorn-Harris study reviewed inventories of all buildings in Manhattan as of 1972 and found that 28,884, or more than half, were built of unreinforced masonry. Of those, 23,064 were three to five stories high.
Buildings of reinforced masonry, reinforced concrete and steel would hold up much better, engineers say, and wooden structures are considered intrinsically tough in ordinary circumstances. The best performers, they say, would probably be skyscrapers built in the last 20 years. As Mr. Silman explained, they have been built to withstand high winds, and the same structural features that enable them to do so also help them resist an earthquake’s force. But even these new towers have not been provided with the seismic protections required in California and so are more vulnerable than similar structures on the West Coast.
Buildings in New York are not generally constructed with such seismic protections as base-isolated structures, in which the building is allowed to shift with the ground movement; or with flexible frames that absorb and distribute energy through columns and beams so that floors can flex from side to side, or with reinforced frames that help resist distortion.
”If you’re trying to make a building ductile – able to absorb energy – we’re not geared to think that way,” said Mr. Silman.
New York buildings also contain a lot of decorative stonework, which can be dislodged and turned into lethal missiles by an earthquake. In California, building codes strictly regulate such architectural details.
Manhattan does, however, have at least one mitigating factor: ”We are blessed with this bedrock island,” said Mr. Silman. ”That should work to our benefit; we don’t have shifting soils. But there are plenty of places that are problem areas, particularly the shoreline areas,” where landfills make the ground soft and unstable.
As scientists have learned more about geologic faults in the Northeast, the nation’s uniform building code – the basic, minimum code followed throughout the country – has been revised accordingly. Until recently, the code required newly constructed buildings in New York City to withstand at least 19 percent of the side-to-side seismic force that a comparable building in the seismically active areas of California must handle. Now the threshold has been raised to 25 percent.
New York City, for the first time, is moving to adopt seismic standards as part of its own building code. Local and state building codes can and do go beyond the national code. Charles M. Smith Jr., the city Building Commissioner, last spring formed a committee of scientists, engineers, architects and government officials to recommend the changes.
”They all agree that New York City should anticipate an earthquake,” Mr. Smith said. As to how big an earthquake, ”I don’t think anybody would bet on a magnitude greater than 6.5,” he said. ”I don’t know,” he added, ”that our committee will go so far as to acknowledge” the damage levels in the Scawthorn-Harris study, characterizing it as ”not without controversy.”
For the most part, neither New York nor any other Eastern city has done a detailed survey of just how individual buildings and other structures would be affected, and how or whether to modify them.
”The thing I think is needed in the East is a program to investigate all the bridges” to see how they would stand up to various magnitudes of earthquake,” said Bill Geyer, the executive vice president of the New York engineering firm of Steinman, Boynton, Gronquist and Birdsall, which is rehabilitating the cable on the Williamsburg Bridge. ”No one has gone through and done any analysis of the existing bridges.”
In general, he said, the large suspension bridges, by their nature, ”are not susceptible to the magnitude of earthquake you’d expect in the East.” But the approaches and side spans of some of them might be, he said, and only a bridge-by-bridge analysis would tell. Nor, experts say, are some elevated highways in New York designed with the flexibility and ability to accommodate motion that would enable them to withstand a big temblor.
Tunnels Vulnerable
The underground tunnels that carry travelers under the rivers into Manhattan, those that contain the subways and those that carry water, sewers and natural gas would all be vulnerable to rupture, engineers say. The Lincoln, Holland, PATH and Amtrak tunnels, for instance, go from bedrock in Manhattan to soft soil under the Hudson River to bedrock again in New Jersey, said Mark Carter, a partner in Raamot Associates, geotechnical engineers specializing in soils and foundations.
Likewise, he said, subway tunnels between Manhattan and Queens go from hard rock to soft soil to hard rock on Roosevelt Island, to soft soil again and back to rock. The boundaries between soft soil and rock are points of weakness, he said.
”These structures are old,” he said, ”and as far as I know they have not been designed for earthquake loadings.”
Even if it is possible to survey all major buildings and facilities to determine what corrections can be made, cities like New York would then face a major decision: Is it worth spending the money to modify buildings and other structures to cope with a quake that might or might not come in 100, or 200 300 years or more?
”That is a classical problem” in risk-benefit analysis, said Dr. George Lee, the acting director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Center in Buffalo. As more is learned about Eastern earthquakes, he said, it should become ”possible to talk about decision-making.” But for now, he said, ”I think it’s premature for us to consider that question.”

The unity of the Shi’a Horn: Daniel 8

Iran’s Guards Renew Pledge To Support Iraqi Shiite Militias

The commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Falih Al-Fayyadh, has said on Sunday that his organization “owes its existence” to former Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone attack in Baghdad in January 2020.

Fayyadh, who is sanctioned by the United States for human rights abuses in killing Iraqi protesters, met with Hosasein Salami, the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, IRGC in Tehran during his trip to attend the inauguration of Islamic Republic’s new president Ebrahim Raisi (Raeesi), which took place on Thursday, the official IRNA new website reported.

The leader of the Iraqi Shiite militia created by Iran’s financial and military support said that “the enemy thought with the martyrdom of Haj Ghasem” the resistance would fall apart but now the US has decided to leave Iraq.

Last month, the United States announced its decision to reduce forces in Iraq and shift the role of remaining units to training Iraqi forces rather than involvement in combat operations.

Former US president Donald Trump decided to kill Soleimani who was Iran’s Middle East military, intelligence and foreign policy chief, when attacks by PMF and other Shiite militias in Iraq increased against US targets, including its embassy in Baghdad in December 2019.

Hossein Salami, commander of IRGC meeting with Falih-Al Fayyadh in Tehran. August 8, 2021

Salami, praising the PMF, or Hashd Al-Shaabi in Arabic, said that “When we speak about the decline of America on the world stage, an important part of it has taken place in Iraq.” He added that “resistance” in Iraq has weakened the United States by imposing a heavy cost on them and “they are caught between two evils, whether to stay or leave Iraq.”

The Islamic Republic and its allies and proxies in the region use the term “resistance” to mean all forces aligned with Tehran and organized to fight Israel and the United States. That includes the PMF and others in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Palestinian Hamas, Houthis in Yemen and the Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad.

Salami also highlighted the role of military forces in politics saying that “fundamental words are always uttered on the battlefield,” adding that PMF is excellent in that respect. “When we and the Muslim nation saw America’s wrath and anger toward you, we were overjoyed because we realized how effective you were,” Iran’s top military commander said.

Salami assured Fayyadh that the Islamic Republic is behind PMF. “We are your protector and backer in continuing this big battle,” Salami said and expressed hope that US forces will leave Iraq.

As the US and its European allies, France, Germany and the United Kingdom negotiate with Tehran for restoring the JCPOA, or the 2015 nuclear agreement, Iran’s role in the region is one of the most intricate issues. Washington wants guarantees from Tehran that it will negotiate over its interventionist policies in the region, while Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei appears to be completely opposed to any discussion except restoring the JCPOA.

For the Islamic Republic, the crucial issue is lifting US sanctions that have devastated its economy. The restoration of JCPOA would mean Washington has to lift a significant part of those sanctions. But once sanctions are lifted, there is no guarantee that Iran will not use the economic lifeline to further expand its political and military influence in the region.

The threats of the Chinese nuclear horn: Daniel 7

China using threat of nukes to cow Taiwan’s allies: report

Video apparently approved by Beijing threatens to attack Japan with nuclear weapon if it were to assist Taiwan

China is likely to use the threat of the use of nuclear weapons as leverage in its efforts to forcibly reunite Taiwan with the mainland, an opinion piece in the RealClear Defense online publication suggests.

This would mark a shift in China’s stated threshold for the use of its atomic arsenal, from a defensive policy of ‘no first use’ to one in which nuclear weapons could be utilized as a component in a wider hybrid warfare strategy, Adam Cabot writes.

The analysis piece follows the reposting of a nationalistic video by a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) committee, Taiwan News reported. 

In the video, the narrator suggested that China would make use of its nuclear weapons against Japan if the US ally were to come to Taiwan’s assistance as China sought to “liberate” it. 

Due to the level of control held over the Chinese media by the CCP, and the reposting of the video, it is likely the message was a clear threat toward Japan not to intervene in any future tensions between Beijing and its “rogue province,” Cabot wrote.

Hybrid warfare is a complex form of foreign policy intended to coerce an opponent state into submitting while remaining below the threshold of conventional war. It can involve propaganda, cyber-attacks, embargoes, and withholding of key resources like energy.

Cabot points out that Russia invaded and annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 using hybrid warfare techniquesbecause the country was insufficiently deterred by the response it believed it would receive.

If a similar outcome is to be avoided in Taiwan, the US and its allies must beef up their deterrence factor toward China so that the cost of any aggressive action would be greater than the reward, Cabot warned.

Spectres Of Nuclear ‘MAD’ness Before The First Nuclear War: Revelation 8

Spectres Of Nuclear ‘MAD’ness: Between Deterrence And Survival – OpEd

August 8, 2021

With the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in place, is there an optimistic scenario of a nuclear-weapon free world? This might certainly be a difficult but persistently challenging question the world has been grappling with ever since the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were devastated by atomic bombs, way back in 1945. 

Spectres of nuclear holocaust have been haunting political communities across the world even after the end of Cold War. While the world’s most powerful nuclear-weapon states (NWS) have been locked in a military logjam—often characterised as ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ (MAD)—a few states in Asia (including threshold states like Iran) still get absorbed in the logic of ‘limited nuclear deterrence.’ India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel are harbouring a notion that nuclear weapon is a currency of power that can recalibrate regional balance and strategic equations given their long-term conflicts with adversaries, far and near. This is at a time when the big players in the nuclear club are under pressure to scale down their nuclear arsenal. Inevitably, debates on ‘vertical and horizontal proliferation’ have assumed a new dimension today with TPNW is in force as a legal international instrument.

The age of nuclear weapons began in a catastrophe in the Asia-Pacific region in the last century with the bombing of two cities in Japan. The two episodes of massive killing in Japan clearly showed how dangerous, disastrous and inhumane these weapons would be. Seventy-six years since then, the distressing scenario today is that the danger of nuclear disaster is as critical as it has ever been, and the goal of realising their elimination from the world is as distant from accomplishment as it has ever been. Treaties and agreements put in place from time to time for nuclear arms control have been made ineffective or meaningless by the NWS. With hardly any effort underway for negotiations, global commitment to non-proliferation or a total ban would remain problematic.

Nukes Accumulation

Paradoxical it may seem, the Asian continent has again become a hotbed of global nuclear threats with several nuclear-weapon states now spanning fault lines running through East Asia, in the Korean Peninsula, China’s eastern and southern coastline and across the Himalayas in South Asia and West Asia–and all of them presently recalibrating their nuclear profiles. And the share of Asia in the ‘horizontal proliferation’ is quite significant. As per the data brought out by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute(SIPRI), the NWS—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Kore—together have in their arsenal an estimated 13,080 nuclear weapons at the beginning of 2021. While Russia (6255) and the U.S. (5550) possess more than 90 per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons, China has 350 weapons in its inventory, followed by France (290), UK (225), Pakistan (165), India (156), Israel (90), and North Korea (40-50). 

Apparently, the total inventory of nuclear weapons is falling. Yet, the rate of decline is slowing over the years, according to SIPRI estimates. Whatever reduction we are witnessing in total global stocks is due to the dismantling of retired warheads (of the earlier years) by the U.S. and Russia. But in terms of operational military stockpiles, the total number is on an increase. While France and Israel have fairly stable inventories, Russia, China, India, North Korea, and Pakistan are reportedly enlarging their nukes profiles. Moreover, all the NWS seem committed to modernizing their nuclear weapons, putting in place new categories and expanding the function they perform.

Nuclear Ban Regime

The efforts seeking a legally mandatory instrument to ban nuclear weapons have long been underway. However, they have found a new relevance in the past decade with the increasing awareness about the humanitarian and environmental costs of use of nuclear arms. Several conferences and meetings were held during the first half of the last decade addressing the humanitarian impact of use of nuclear weapons. These deliberations—coordinated by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) with the participation of several states and international non-governmental organisations—brought forth demands for immediate action and negotiations for prohibiting nuclear weapons. Earlier, the 2010 NPT Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapons had also put valid arguments across for necessary action in this direction. This culminated in the passing of a resolution (71/258) by the UN General Assembly in 2017 to negotiate a legally binding instrument to ban nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. And the Conference was held from 27 to 31 March and from 15 June to 7 July in New York which led to the TPNW.   

The Treaty envisages a broad set of regulations for prohibition on partaking in any nuclear weapon programmes and activities. These regulatory clauses stipulate that the signatories shall “not develop, test, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons.” It also forbids “the deployment of nuclear weapons on national territory and the provision of assistance to any State in the conduct of prohibited activities.” The Treaty also makes it mandatory for the signatories “to provide adequate assistance to individuals affected by the use or testing of nuclear weapons, as well as to take necessary and appropriate measure of environmental remediation in areas under its jurisdiction or control contaminated as a result of activities related to the testing or use of nuclear weapons.” 

TPNW was adopted (by a vote of 122 States in favour, with one vote against and one abstention) at the United Nations on 7 July 2017, and opened for signature by the Secretary-General on 20 September 2017. Following the deposit with the Secretary-General of the 50th instrument of ratification or accession of the Treaty on 24 October 2020, it entered into force on 22 January 2021 in accordance with its Article 15 (1). 

‘Consensus’ For Opposition!

TPNW, which currently has 86 signatory states, has been totally ignored by the NWS and NATO member states. ‘Consensus’ among the NWS in regard to their opposition to the Treaty could also be a grim reminder. For example, in a joint statement made at the First Committee of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly in October 2018, Russia, China, UK, U.S. and France had informed that they would not sign the TPNW. The statement says: “We will not support, sign or ratify this Treaty. The TPNW will not be binding on our countries, and we do not accept any claim that it contributes to the development of customary international law; nor does it set any new standards or norms. We call on all countries that are considering supporting the TPNW to reflect seriously on its implications for international peace and security.”

Moscow said that the Treaty “does not contribute to nuclear disarmament, undermines the NPT and provokes growing contradictions among its Parties.” China also voted against an UN General Assembly resolution since 2018 that welcomed the adoption of the Treaty as it “not accept any claim that (the treaty) contributes to the development of customary international law.”  The U.S. had led a multi-nation boycott of the Treaty’s negotiation in 2017, and made it clear that it would “not sign, ratify, or become party to it.” Washington has also been modernising the three wings of its nuclear triad.  The country has also invested a substantial amount of money “to warhead modification, update and life extension projects.”   

The two sensitive states in South Asia—India and Pakistan—have taken more or less the same position. While India was unwilling to participate in the negotiations on the TPNW, it “consistently made it clear that it will not become a party to the Treaty” and “shall not be bound by any of the obligations that may arise from it.”  New Delhi believed that the TPNW “does not constitute or contribute to the development of customary international law; nor does it set any new standards or norms.” Pakistan said that “None of the nuclear-armed states, including Pakistan, took part in the negotiations of the treaty which failed to take on board the legitimate interests of all the stakeholders.” Pakistan’s Foreign office said that “the right of each state to security should be kept in mind, and at each stage of the disarmament process the objective would be undiminished security for all states at the lowest possible level of armaments and military forces.” 

Japan—the only country to have ever been devastated by the nuclear attacks—has also refused to sign the Treaty. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga stated that Japan would not join the Treaty which he made clear in his remarks at a press conference after the peace memorial ceremony marking the 76th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima. He also referred to “the increasingly severe security environment” surrounding Japan, and said the country will not ratify the nuclear weapons ban treaty, a reportquoted. However, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui urged world leaders to shift away from “nuclear deterrence to trust-building dialogue.” Matsui demanded the Japanese government’s “immediate signing and ratification” of the U.N. Treaty to ban nuclear weapons. Last year also, during the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima day, the mayor had pointed to the Japanese government’s hypocrisy in not signing the Treaty. However, Matsui said: “The road to abolition will not be smooth, but a ray of hope shines from the young people now taking up the hibakusha’s quest.”  He also called for the Japanese government to sign and ratify it in order to carry out “productive mediation” between nuclear and non-nuclear-weapon states.  

Between Deterrence and Survival 

In his The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy(1989), Lawrence Freedman says, “The Emperor Deterrence may have no clothes, but he is still Emperor.” David Barash adds: “Despite his nakedness, this emperor continues to strut about, receiving deference he doesn’t deserve, while endangering the entire world. Nuclear deterrence is an idea that became a potentially lethal ideology, one that remains influential despite having been increasingly discredited.” In his last major speech to the House of Commons in March 1955, Winston Churchill spoke about the threat of nuclear holocaust but ended with a note of optimism: “we shall by a process of sublime irony have reached a stage in this story where safety will be the sturdy child of terror, and survival the twin brother of annihilation.” 

Just before his demise in 2018, Stephen Hawking had warned: “Humans need to leave Earth or risk being annihilated by nuclear war or climate change.” Hawking wrote that climate change and the possibility of nuclear war were “putting humans in grave danger, adding that of nuclear war is likely the biggest threat to humanity.” 

The scary vision of a possible future comes from several studies about how nuclear war could destroy the world. Scientists also continue to warn about a ‘nuclear winter’ that researchers forecast would follow a nuclear war, fought by major or minor NWS. They all agreed that the nuclear menace is rising—from North Korea to Iran, from Israel to India and Pakistan. 

Way back in 1955, the well-known Russell-Einstein Manifesto had warned of the perils of nuclear weapons. This declaration put across what Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein called “the stark and dreadful and inescapable” problem of the nuclear age: “Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?” Given the continuing proliferation tempo, both vertically and horizontally, peace loving people across the world can never abandon the dream of achieving the elimination of nuclear weapons from the face of the earth. The risk of catastrophic misuse of nuclear weapons, deliberately or―more likely―by accident or miscalculation, is as grave and immediate as it has ever been. And the existential threat nuclear weapons pose to life on this planet is as significant as those of climate change and global pandemic, and in many ways more immediate.   

Nope *The author is Director, Inter University Centre for Social Science Research and Extension (IUCSSRE), Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala who also served as Dean and Professor of International Relations, MGU. He can be contacted at kmseethimgu@gmail.com

The Dilemma of the Australian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Australia’s nuclear dilemma – Prof. Ian Lowe

Australia’s nuclear dilemma – Prof. Ian Lowe

Aug 9, 2021

‘This book is a clarion call for sanity at a time when we can finally get the nuclear monkey off our back – highly recommended.’

Peter Garrett

Ian Lowe’s new book – Long Half-life – The Nuclear Industry in Australia – is a timely and riveting account of the political, social and scientific complexities of the nuclear industry, revealing the power of vested interests, the subjectivities of scientists and the transformative force of community passion.

In describing the book, Ian Lowe said:

The discovery of large uranium deposits in the Northern Territory suggested that Australia could become a major exporter of radioactive minerals. The Fox Report, commissioned by the Whitlam government to study the environmental impacts of the proposed Ranger uranium mine, broadened into an inquiry into the social and political issues of producing uranium.

The report concluded that exporting uranium would be quite profitable for the mining company but would have limited overall economic impact and provide modest employment. It also recommended that any decision to export uranium should recognise the inherent problems of nuclear energy, radioactive waste and weapons proliferation, so limits on expansion of production should be set and the policy “should be the subject of regular review”.

It noted that the 1976 UK Royal commission had argued that using nuclear power should be limited until it was convincingly demonstrated that the highly radioactive waste could be safely contained “for the indefinite future”. Deciding to approve export of uranium from Ranger, the Fraser government assured the public that the waste problem had been solved and that exports would be subject to the strictest safeguards. The waste problem had not been solved, and still hasn’t, while the safeguards have been systematically watered down every time they looked like impeding sales.

The economic benefits turned out to be even more modest than the Fox report projected. Instead of exports from Ranger expanding to 30,000 tonnes a year, they amounted to 120,000 tonnes over 40 years, 3,000 tonnes a year. Similarly, when the Olympic Dam mine in SA was being developed in 1982, it was claimed it would employ nearly 3000 people and pay $100 million a year in royalties to government. By 1997 it employed about 950 people, while royalties for the first twenty years of operation totalled $60 million.

The 2016 SA Royal Commission concluded that there could be a significant economic opportunity in managing the waste from nuclear power stations in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The Commission warned such a major investment would require clear public support, so the government established a citizens’ jury to consider the issues; to the surprise of the elected politicians, the citizens strongly recommended against the proposal, which was subsequently dropped. The issue raised important questions about trust in experts and trust in governments to manage complex long-term issues.

Malcolm Fraser, the Liberal Prime minister who had in 1977 approved Australia becoming a major exporter of uranium, in later life realised the problems this was creating. Large volumes of high-level waste are still being stored near nuclear power stations, with most of the countries involved still having no clear plan to manage those materials for the unimaginably long periods required. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has not led to the weapons-holding nations disarming, so predictably others have joined the nuclear club, with the real risk that tensions in the Korean peninsula, the Indian sub-continent or the Middle East could lead to the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons being used against cities.

Concern about the moral responsibility for the uses of Australian uranium raises the question of the social licence to continue exporting.  Writing an opinion piece in 2014, Fraser warned that we have “the elements of a perfect storm for nuclear calamity” and urged Australia to become a global leader in the campaign to abolish nuclear weapons. Unless they are banned, he said, ‘the risks of nuclear weapons being used will grow towards inevitable use”. That warning should at least provoke a review of uranium exports, as recommended 45 years ago by the Fox Report.

About the book:

Long Half-life: The Nuclear Industry in Australia, Ian Lowe
Published August 2021 by Monash University Publishing

About the author:

Professor Ian Lowe AO is emeritus professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University in Brisbane, as well as being an adjunct professor at Sunshine Coast University and Flinders University. His previous books include A Big Fix and Living in the Hothouse.

Israel military strikes Hamas outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israel military strikes Hamas after launch of fire balloons

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Israeli warplanes struck two targets in the Gaza Strip early Saturday, the Israeli military said, in response to incendiary balloons launched from Gaza into Israel.

The Israeli military struck what it said was a Hamas military compound and a rocket launching site after four incendiary balloons were launched into Israel, setting fire to land and damaging agriculture. There were no reports of casualties in Israel or Gaza.

There was no immediate comment from Hamas.

Israeli media reported that four fires caused by incendiary balloons broke out Friday afternoon in areas close to the Gaza Strip.

The launch of the balloons comes over two months after an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas, the fourth since the militant group seized power in Gaza in 2007.

Israel has done little to ease a crippling blockade on the territory since the fighting ended and Hamas appears to be using incendiary balloons as a pressure tactic. Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennet, has compared the balloon launches to rocket fire.

Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade of Gaza that includes Israeli control over the territory’s coast and airspace and restrictions on the movement of people and goods in and out of the territory. Israel says the closure is needed to prevent Hamas from arming while critics say that the measures amount to collective punishment.Read More

While 9/11 Came Closer, the Beast from the Sea Focused on Saddam Hussein’s WMDs: Revelation 13

The Road to 9/11 Header

While 9/11 Came Closer, George W. Bush’s Team Focused on Saddam Hussein’s WMDs

By William M. Arkin On 8/7/21 at 5:00 AM EDT

In this series, Newsweek maps the road to 9/11 as it happened 20 years ago, day by day.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) published a secret report on “Iraq’s Reemerging Nuclear Weapon Program,” part of a raging debate within U.S. intelligences community agencies as to the state of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program. United Nation’s inspectors had been banned from inside the country since November 1998, leaving U.S. intelligence to largely speculate as to what was going on.

Intelligence thereafter poured in from the intense American monitoring of Iraq, from regional allies (particularly Israel and Jordan) as well as the Iraqi expatriate community, suggesting that Iraq was pursuing nuclear and biological weapons as well as long-range missile—a phantom that would build in intensity after 9/11. The high priority intelligence collection supported the basic American policy—and the U.N. requirement—to eliminate all of Iraq’s WMD. Before the events that forced Saddam to eject U.N. inspectors—a combination of increasing aggressiveness on the part of the singularly focused U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM), the discovery of U.S. spying under the guise of the inspection effort—Iraq had been about to receive a clean bill.

We now know that U.S. intelligence not only misread the situation but that much of the reason that Washington (under the Bush and Clinton administrations) believed Saddam was secretly pursuing WMD was that he was lying to his own generals and diplomats, telling them that Iraq indeed had such a capability, hoping the lie would deter major attack and keep him in power.

The main issue on the table on August 7 was the purpose of aluminum tubes that Iraq attempted to import from China, the 3,000 tubs intercepted in Jordan in July. Though the tubes were intended to manufacture multiple rocket launchers, at the time, the DIA, CIA and Department of Energy intelligence component concluded that the thickness and strength of the tubes made them more suitable to be rotors in a gas centrifuge, to be used to enrich uranium. The DIA stated in the August 7 report that “alternative uses” for the tubes were “possible,” but that such alternatives are “less likely because the specifications [of the tubes] are consistent with late 1980’s Iraqi gas centrifuge rotor designs.”

saddam hussein intelligence  9/11 bush clinton iraq
While the U.S. intelligence community failed to see the 9/11 plot, it overestimated the threat of Iraqi WMDs. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Jacques Pavlovsky/Sygma via Getty Images

Though many government analysts would change their view regarding the tubes—and Iraq would argue vociferously, and accurately, that the tubes were indeed intended to build multiple rocket launchers—the debate would continue up until the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. It is now clear in hindsight that Iraq was front and center in Washington and a focus of the Bush administration long before 9/11. The outgoing Clinton administration not only left the status of Iraq’s WMD unclear, and a priority for intelligence collection, but had instituted a policy (adopted by the new Bush team) that there could be no certification of Iraq being free of biological, chemical or nuclear weapons, nor normalization of relations, until there was regime change. The approach left little room for a negotiated settlement, paving the way to eventual war.

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