If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.Based on historical precedent, Armbruster says the New York City metro area is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 once a century.According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.There’s another fault line on Dyckman St. and one in Dobbs Ferry in nearby Westchester County.“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.He adds: “We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought.”“Considering population density and the condition of the region’s infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact,” says the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation on its website.Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale. (ANI)
FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria May 23, 2021. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
VIENNA (Reuters) -Iran has accelerated its enrichment of uranium to near weapons-grade, the U.N. atomic watchdog said in a report on Tuesday seen by Reuters, a move raising tensions with the West as both sides seek to resume talks on reviving Tehran’s nuclear deal.
Iran increased the purity to which it is refining uranium to 60% fissile purity from 20% in April in response to an explosion and power cut at its Natanz site that damaged output at the main underground enrichment plant there.
Iran has blamed the attack on Israel. Weapons-grade is around 90% purity.
In May, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran was using one cascade, or cluster, of advanced centrifuges to enrich to up to 60% at its above-ground pilot enrichment plant at Natanz. The IAEA informed member states on Tuesday that Iran was now using a second cascade for that purpose, too.
The move is the latest of many by Iran breaching the restrictions imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal, which capped the purity to which Tehran can refine uranium at 3.67%. The United States and its European allies have warned such moves threaten talks on reviving the deal, which are currently suspended.
Following Reuters’ report, Iran reiterated that its nuclear programme is peaceful and said it had informed the IAEA about its enrichment activities. It added that its moves away from the 2015 deal would be reversed if the United States returned to the accord and lifted sanctions, Iranian state media reported.
“If the other parties return to their obligations under the nuclear accord and Washington fully and verifiably lifts its unilateral and illegal sanctions … all of Iran’s mitigation and countermeasures will be reversible,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh was quoted as saying by state media.
The IAEA said on Monday that Iran had made progress in its work on enriched uranium metal despite objections by Western powers that there is no credible civilian use for such work.
Uranium metal can be used to make the core of a nuclear bomb, but Iran says its aims are peaceful and it is developing reactor fuel.
Reporting by Francois Murphy; Additional reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Peter Cooney
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In my first article I discussed the risk of perpetual violence in Iraq and Syria fueled by both numerous non-state actors there and the increasingly authoritarian system in which they operate. This was followed by a more detailed look into the illicit economic activities of militias across Iraq and Syria.Leading on from this, this commentary will shift from an economic to a more political focus, exploring the symbioses of power in Iraq and the role of the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU).https://a8501e9b2515763c1abf22777fbd83f3.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
The PMU and their role in defeating ISIS
In 2014, after the fall of Mosul, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a fatwa calling for Iraqi citizens to join the security forces to fight ISIS. This ushered the PMU into existence as over 60,000 fighters volunteered, creating militias with differing command structures, and variations of coercive, financial, political and socio-religious power. It also bolstered the ranks of the existing Shi’ite militias, including those backed by Iran.null
However, today, this wave of unified cooperation motivated by the expedient need to defeat ISIS has long since deteriorated. As a consequence, the core narrative by which the PMU portrays itself as a cross-confessional force, fighting on behalf of the entire Iraqi nation against the evil of ISIS, is waning. Instead, many of the groups have now become self-empowering and self-enriching political forces.
One such force is the Badr Organisation.Founded in 1982, the fervently Shia group staunchly opposed Saddam Hussein. It is derived from the former military wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, whose fighters lived and trained in Iran.null
They returned after Saddam was overthrown, to carve out their share of the war economy through gaining political power and expanding informal and illicit economic activity. Their leader, Hadi al-Ameri, is a political heavy weight, despite being a controversial figure through his role in the large-scale murder of Sunni civilians during Iraq’s 2005–2006 sectarian conflict. null
For many years, he held the Interior Ministry, enabling Badr to control the Hashd Commission, elements of the Iraqi federal police and sections of the Iraqiarmy. In the most recent elections in 2018, the Badr Organisation, Kata’ibHezbollah and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq formed the Fatah Alliance. They came second in the 2018 general election, with cabinet positions such as the transportministry. They have thrived in a system immersed in a culture of ‘elite bargaining’ and competition over power, benefits and financial gain.
Kata’ib differs from Badr, its ally, because it is significantly less institutionalised, preferring to stay out of reach of the state, and, therefore, freer from accountability. The group is linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ external arm, the Quds Force. Like Badr, it promotes the idea of the velayat-e faqih, recognising the Supreme Leader of Iran as the guardian of the Ummah.
Instead of working in the corridors of power, it positions itself as a military “resistance” force with hardened battlefield experience and astute regional strategies. It has the overarching mission of fulfilling Iran’s regional strategy against the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia. The prioritisation of this objective, which requires the raising of funds, alienates them from the local population and the wider Sunni Arabcommunity. null
This can be seen in their conversion of 1,600 farms into a military zone in the southern side of Qa’im, depriving the local farmers of work. In addition to this, they hold sectarian sentiments, which, combined with their ill-discipline and greed, has seen Sunni locals exploited and discriminated against.
Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq
Asa’ib is also known for its fighting prowess, and, like Kata’ib, its reputation has been defiled by atrocities againstSunnis. However, despite abuses against locals and predatory economic activity, they have strong ties with the Jabour Sunni tribe in Salahuddin, owing to their more political aspirations. The tribe has its own mobilised forces under the PMU and has worked extensively with Asa’ib.
Its leader, Qais al-Khazali, is one of the most influential men in Iraq. His political party, the Sadiqoun Movement, competes against the Sadrists in elections. Asa’ib split from the Sadrist Mahdi Army after Sadr became critical of Iranian influence over Iraq.
The authentically Iraqi Saraya al- Salam, under Muqtada al-Sadr, previously the Mahdi Army, differs greatly from the aforementioned Shia Islamists groups.The traditional rival to the Badr Organisation, Sadrists are becoming increasingly more critical of Iran.
Remembering the Mahdi Army’s role in the sectarian cleansing during 2005-2006, they should be approached with caution, however, today, Sadr’s forces show more discipline and less sectariandiscrimination.
Instead, Saraya al-Salam has strong political representation, encouraged by its charitable welfare system and its ability to mobilise constituents. The strong sense of legacy left by previous Sadr family members also helps to sustain legitimate support. Its political wing, the Sairoon Alliance, won 54 seats in the 2018 election.
Failing to form a government, however, the party was unable to orchestrate their planned reforms against corruption and the sectarian system and instead joined with the Fatah Alliance.
Abbas Combat Division
Like the Sadrists, the Abbas Combat Division has socio-religious legitimacy, but little financial, political and coercive power. Along with the Ali Akbar Brigades, they were formed to protect the shrines, Najaf and Karbala, and are loyal to Sistani.
Due to their cross-sectarian appeal and popular charitable works, proportions of Sunni Arabs have joined these Shia-led PMU groups.
Groups affiliated with Sistani and Sadr are working towards strengthening the state and counterbalancing the Iran-backed groups. Further assimilation of them into the Iraqi Security Forces would highly benefit the security situation and could set the trend amongst other groups of becoming moreinstitutionalised.
The state’s interactions with sub-state actors and differing authorities like Sistani and Sadr arguably gives it more credibility in reforming and shaping a peaceful Iraq, making use of its nuanced symbioses of power.
Nevertheless, groups such as the Badr Organisation, that have been competing and negotiating over conflict resolutions and post-war positions for years, have imposed their dominance in this system of transactional politics. A system whereby coercive and economic power offer greater rewards than socio-religious legitimacy
Contending that the Taliban could not have sustained its campaign or secured victory in Afghanistan without the active support of Islamabad, a former Commander of the British Army on Monday raised concerns over jihadist elements getting control of nuclear material in Pakistan to weaponise themselves.
Jerusalem, Aug 16 (PTI) Contending that the Taliban could not have sustained its campaign or secured victory in Afghanistan without the active support of Islamabad, a former Commander of the British Army on Monday raised concerns over jihadist elements getting control of nuclear material in Pakistan to weaponise themselves.
Addressing a virtual conference organised by Jerusalem-based non-profit organisation Media Central, Col. Richard Kemp, a former British Commander who led troops on the front lines of some of the world’s toughest hotspots, including Afghanistan and Iraq, said “Pakistan created the Taliban, funded the Taliban and supported the Taliban”.
The brutal war in Afghanistan reached a watershed moment on Sunday when the Taliban insurgents closed in on Kabul before entering the city and taking over the presidential palace, forcing embattled President Ashraf Ghani to join fellow citizens and foreigners to flee the country.
“Taliban would not have been able to sustain for 20 years without Pakistan’s support or carry out the campaign that they did or secure victory without it”, Kemp said.
Yet, he cautioned that “the existence of a Jihadist state next door will also present great dangers to Pakistan”.
“One of the biggest threats we considered during the Afghanistan campaign, or the threat of Taliban winning, was the potential for them taking over control, or getting access to some of the nuclear facilities or nuclear weapons facilities in Pakistan”, the former British commander said.
This possibility arises from a highly complex relationship between the Pakistan government, the Taliban, the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, Al Qaeda and other Jihadists within Pakistan, he explained.
“That’s the significant threat that shouldn’t be forgotten — of terrorists getting armed with nuclear material. I am not suggesting that they will necessarily use them as nuclear missiles but the material itself could be used to weaponise Taliban or Jihadists in Afghanistan”, Kemp explained.
The former British army officer also accused Iran, China and Russia of supporting the Taliban while describing India as a possible constructive player in the region which is likely to be kept out of the developments.
“Iran has also played a significant role in funding and equipping the Taliban and has directly contributed to this victory. They supported, assisted, funded and armed Jihadists, particularly to run the campaign to kill the US and British forces in Afghanistan”, Kemp alleged.
He said China paid the Taliban to chase and kill rebel leaders and said that it would now look to “plunder” Afghanistan’s resources.
“India is probably the only regional player that can play a constructive role in Afghanistan but is likely to be kept out by both Pakistan and China”, the former British commander said.
“Russia and China will use Afghanistan as a weapon against particularly the US”, Kemp said.
Arguing that the “unconditional withdrawal” of the American troops made the current outcome in Afghanistan almost “predictable and guaranteed”, Kemp said the expedited withdrawal of the US forces by the President Joe Biden administration made the outcome even more swift.
The decision to withdraw forces dampened the spirits of the Afghanistan government, whose forces already had an allegiance issue, made worse by corruption and irregular payment of soldiers, the Colonel said.
The British commander also raised concerns that the development could lead to refugee problems that can come knocking at Europe’s door eventually and opined that he had no doubts that Afghanistan would go back to “dark, aggressive and violent rule like before” as the new lot was “nothing different than 2001”.
Taliban’s return in Afghanistan would embolden Jihadists across the globe and Afghanistan would become a safe haven for them, he contended.
Rubbishing Biden’s claims that one of the main reasons for the American troops withdrawal was to counter China and Russia, Kempt argued that it will “actually have the opposite effect”.
The Jihadists would perceive the US as weaker and it would embolden them to go against the West and the US in particular. Also the countries we (the West) were hoping would come to our side would ask questions about our reliability, he said.
“It will undermine the US’ prestige”, he concluded.
Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, an Israeli intelligence and security expert who has in the past served as the head of the research division in the Israel Defense Forces Military Intelligence Division, and was Director General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs, argued on similar lines, stressing that American allies in the Middle East, including Israel, would find it difficult to rely on Washington’s assurances and the important lesson for them would be to focus on building their own capability to counter threats.
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from Syndicated News feed, LatestLY Staff may not have modified or edited the content body)
I’m a British-born reporter covering breaking news for Forbes.
Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system has intercepted a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, Israel’s military said Monday, marking the first such attack from Gaza’s militant Hamas leaders since deadly fighting erupted in May.
The rocket was fired into Israel at midday, setting off sirens in the southern town of Sderot, according to The Jerusalem Post.
A second rocket appears to have been fired as well, though it fell within the Gaza Strip; no injuries or casualties were reported.
While there has been no immediate claim of responsibility, local media said the attack may have been a response to a deadly raid carried out by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank earlier in the day.
Four Palestinians were killed and a fifth was seriously wounded amid clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank city of Jenin.
While militants in Gaza have sent over incendiary balloons, these are the first rockets fired at Israel from Hamas since the two agreed to end an 11-day bout of conflict in May. That fighting, the result of long-standing tensions and new property disputes, was some of the deadliest in years, leaving more than 200 Gazans and 12 Israelis dead.
Steven ChasePublished 1 day ago
The Canadian and U.S. governments say they intend to proceed with “co-ordinated investments” that bolster their ability to protect North America from “a greater and more complex conventional missile threat” including gear that watches for incoming threats from “the sea floor to outer space.”
The joint announcement from Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and his American counterpart U.S. Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin was published Saturday night, on the eve of Sunday’s federal election call in Canada. There were no spending commitments.
The risk that Canada and the U.S. have in mind is missile technology advancements in Russia and China that can send non-nuclear warheads far greater distances with far more accuracy, said Dave Perry, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. These include hypersonic missiles, which travel extremely fast and can dodge and weave during flight to avoid interception, as well as next-generation cruise missiles. This evolution in conventional missiles’ power have made them an increasingly important tool to deter threats or project power without resorting to nuclear weapons.
“It’s the Chinese and Russians that are building really cutting-edge new stuff with three characteristics: very accurate, long range and maneuverable,” Mr. Perry said.
The Sajjan-Lloyd statement would appear to represent a deepening of Canada-U.S. collaboration in protecting North America from missile threats. Titled “Joint Statement on NORAD modernization,” it sets out priorities for the future of North American Aerospace Defense Command, the heart of the Canada-U.S. continental defence pact, saying the two countries must be able to “detect, identify [airborne] threats earlier and respond to them faster and more decisively.”
However the Liberal government insisted Sunday this does not represent a deviation from its policy to avoid participation in U.S. ballistic missile defence, announced in 2005. “[The] joint statement does not reflect any change in the Government of Canada’s position,” Daniel Minden, press secretary for Mr. Sajjan, said. “The statement will help guide our collaborative approach to security and NORAD renewal with our closest neighbour in the coming years.”
One of the most imminent spending decisions for Canada is rebuilding the soon-to-be obsolete North Warning System, a joint United States and Canadian radar system that includes dozens of radar sites from Yukon to Labrador. Its job is to detect airborne threats. The price tag has been estimated at more than $11-billion.
The statement said the North Warning System will be replaced with technology including “next-generation over-the-horizon radar systems,” which have the ability to detect targets at very long ranges. It’s technology that is being developed by Canada’s Department of National Defence. It also talks of building a network of American and Canadian sensors installed everywhere from the seabed to satellites in space.
Andrea Charron, director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba, said modernization of NORAD will comprise far more than North Warning System renewal and the statement helps prioritize where Canada can focus its efforts while the United States engages in a “wider rethink of homeland defence.”
“Certainly what you can read into this is the United States needs Canada to make certain commitments – and sooner than later – and so ‘Here we are prioritizing them for you’,” she said.
Prof. Charron said in her opinion the statement also underlines the need for Canada to proceed with buying new fighter jets. In 2010 Canada announced its intent to buy Lockheed Martin F-35s in 2010 but backed off amid controversy over the lack of a competitive bidding process. The government is now expected to announce later this year which fighter jet will replace Canada’s aging CF-18 aircraft.
She speculated one reason for the timing of this joint NORAD announcement with the United States, hours before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau triggered a federal election campaign, could have been political. “I am guessing but the Liberals are always accused, especially by the Conservatives, as being soft on defence, so here is something that they can point to and say ‘Look at what we are doing with the U.S. Here are the priorities,’” Prof. Charron said.
Mr. Perry said that it’s considered likely now that if Russia were to launch conventional-warhead missiles at North America they would come straight over the North Pole through the Canadian Arctic or from the North Atlantic. Thirty years ago, the range of conventional missiles was so much shorter that the Russians would have had to fly relatively close to the U.S. mainland to strike a target there. “So there’s more pressure from the United States for us to make a big contribution here, as well a much more direct Canadian defence concern, given the geography is ours.”
Part 1: Events Leading up to World War III – Possible Scenario
In the world of cruise and ballistic missiles, hypersonic weaponry, cyber-warfare, autonomous and automated weapon systems, and chemical and nuclear weapons of mass destruction, how would World War 3 Shape Up? Who would side with whom? What will cause the war in the first place? Will anyone survive? This piece explores the hypothetical futuristic timeline of World War III.
We will explore the timeline of the event that would lead up to our imaginary World War in this first part of the series.
6th July 2021: The US evacuates Bagram Airfield, the largest military installation in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion.
15th August 2021: Afghani president Ashraf Ghani flees the country as capital falls to Taliban. Kabul, the last major city in Afghanistan to hold out against the Taliban offensive, has fallen in the hands of militants.
17th August 2021: Abdul Ghani Baradar, a militant who fought side-by-side with the one-eyed cleric Mullah Omar during the Soviet-Afghan War, is declared the President of the Taliban. Bureaucrats of the last government flee Afghanistan. Soldiers switch sides, and ethnic cleansing to enforce religious laws soon take place. Taliban starts shaping domestic policy for the next two months. News is censored, and North Korea-like fortification is underway.
30th August 2021: Seeing how the Taliban won the war against the United States, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un reintroduce medium and long-range missile tests as a provocation. China is silent, but there is an accelerated movement of equipment, components, materials, and, in all probability, technology for both ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs. The US condemns the act but stays silent.
15th September 2021: Pakistan’s continued political instability and a ‘dying’ economy lead to coup d’état. The army takes over Islamabad. The US condemns the act, plans sanctions, but they’re not implemented.
20th October 2021: After two months of awkward silence and close to no media presence, the world wakes up to a piece of hazardous news. Two of the nine tactical nuclear weapons go missing in Pakistan. Satellite feed suspects a classic heist from the Taliban. The US is shocked. They’re forced to retaliate.
29th October 2021: Pakistan-Afghanistan border, now controlled by the Pakistan Taliban on one end and Afghanistan Taliban on the other, becomes a militant zone. Unable to place their drones in Pakistan to start a lost nuclear weapon search, the United States soon struck a deal with India.
9th November 2021: India allows the United States to park its drones in India’s Kashmir in exchange for the Kashmir belongs to India announcement from the President of the United States. Pakistan is baffled but says nothing.
2nd January 2022: Russian, Belarusian, and Kazakh military units move towards the Ukrainian border. Russian spies now immediately target Russian defectors who had fled Russia. Russian forces in Crimea are seemingly about to launch an artillery barrage at Ukrainian borders. However, they don’t attack. Satellites spot a few Chinese doctors accompanying the Russian and Belarusian forces; no one understands why.
24th January 2022: China’s defense minister, General Wei Fenghe, is spotted wearing a brown suit and with nearly a dozen senior members of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Miguel Díaz-Canel, Cuba’s President, is also seen in the picture. China offers Covid vaccines to the Taliban.
5th February 2022: In a Taliban-style takeover, Al-Shabaab takes over Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. The government surrenders without a fight. The White Widow, Samantha Lewthwaite, declares herself the new President.
6th February 2022: Samantha Lewthwaite, an international fugitive in hiding, back in the limelight, is not forgiven by MI5, MI6, and the CIA. The plan is to unleash hell in Mogadishu, but The White Widow is back in hiding. The USA wants Osama like (wo)manhunt in Somalia, but without committing the past blunders. A US-led blockade is put in place in Somali Current Marine Ecosystems—in the Indian Ocean, and pirates are targeted.
2nd March 2022: The West wakes up to the news that the US has started striking North Korean facilities after a provocative missile launch from the North Korean regime under Kim Jong Un, mistakenly thought to be a direct attack against US carrier groups stationed in Korean waters. On the same day, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army conducted a series of massive combat drills near Kashmir, where drones of the United States were parked.
4th March 2022: Satellites spot a few Chinese doctors accompanying the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Experts suspect a new virus might be in the pipeline. War is inevitable in more than one form.
——- To Be Continued ——-
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Views expressed above are the author’s own.