The worst earthquake in Massachusetts history 260 years ago It happened before, and it could happen again. By Hilary Sargent @lilsarg Boston.com Staff | 11.19.15 | 5:53 AM On November 18, 1755, Massachusetts experienced its largest recorded earthquake. The earthquake occurred in the waters off Cape Ann, and was felt within seconds in Boston, and as far away as Nova Scotia, the Chesapeake Bay, and upstate New York, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Seismologists have since estimated the quake to have been between 6.0 and 6.3 on the Richter scale, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society. While there were no fatalities, the damage was extensive. According to the USGS, approximately 100 chimneys and roofs collapsed, and over a thousand were damaged. The worst damage occurred north of Boston, but the city was not unscathed. A 1755 report in The Philadelphia Gazette described the quake’s impact on Boston: “There was at first a rumbling noise like low thunder, which was immediately followed with such a violent shaking of the earth and buildings, as threw every into the greatest amazement, expecting every moment to be buried in the ruins of their houses. In a word, the instances of damage done to our houses and chimnies are so many, that it would be endless to recount them.” The quake sent the grasshopper weathervane atop Faneuil Hall tumbling to the ground, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society. An account of the earthquake, published in The Pennsylvania Gazette on December 4, 1755. The earthquake struck at 4:30 in the morning, and the shaking lasted “near four minutes,” according to an entry John Adams, then 20, wrote in his diary that day. The brief diary entry described the damage he witnessed. “I was then at my Fathers in Braintree, and awoke out of my sleep in the midst of it,” he wrote. “The house seemed to rock and reel and crack as if it would fall in ruins about us. 7 Chimnies were shatter’d by it within one mile of my Fathers house.” The shaking was so intense that the crew of one ship off the Boston coast became convinced the vessel had run aground, and did not learn about the earthquake until they reached land, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society. In 1832, a writer for the Hampshire (Northampton) Gazette wrote about one woman’s memories from the quake upon her death. “It was between 4 and 5 in the morning, and the moon shone brightly. She and the rest of the family were suddenly awaked from sleep by a noise like that of the trampling of many horses; the house trembled and the pewter rattled on the shelves. They all sprang out of bed, and the affrightted children clung to their parents. “I cannot help you dear children,” said the good mother, “we must look to God for help.” The Cape Ann earthquake came just 17 days after an earthquake estimated to have been 8.5-9.0 on the Richter scale struck in Lisbon, Portugal, killing at least 60,000 and causing untold damage. There was no shortage of people sure they knew the impretus for the Cape Ann earthquake. According to many ministers in and around Boston, “God’s wrath had brought this earthquake upon Boston,” according to the Massachusetts Historical Society. In “Verses Occasioned by the Earthquakes in the Month of November, 1755,” Jeremiah Newland, a Taunton resident who was active in religious activities in the Colony, wrote that the earthquake was a reminder of the importance of obedience to God. “It is becaufe we broke thy Laws, that thou didst shake the Earth. … O what a Day the Scriptures say, the EARTHQUAKE doth foretell; O turn to God; lest by his Rod, he cast thee down to Hell.” Boston Pastor Jonathan Mayhew warned in a sermon that the 1755 earthquakes in Massachusetts and Portugal were “judgments of heaven, at least as intimations of God’s righteous displeasure, and warnings from him.” There were some, though, who attempted to put forth a scientific explanation for the earthquake. Well, sort of. In a lecture delivered just a week after the earthquake, Harvard mathematics professor John Winthrop said the quake was the result of a reaction between “vapors” and “the heat within the bowels of the earth.” But even Winthrop made sure to state that his scientific theory “does not in the least detract from the majesty … of God.” It has been 260 years since the Cape Ann earthquake. Some experts, including Boston College seismologist John Ebel, think New England could be due for another significant quake. In a recent Boston Globe report, Ebel said the New England region “can expect a 4 to 5 magnitude quake every decade, a 5 to 6 every century, and a magnitude 6 or above every thousand years.” If the Cape Ann earthquake occurred today, “the City of Boston could sustain billions of dollars of earthquake damage, with many thousands injured or killed,” according to a 1997 study by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Non-governmental open-source analysts recently revealed China is building 200-300 new missile silos near the cities of Yumen in Gansu Province, Hami in the Autonomous Region of Xinjiang and Hanggin Banner in the Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia. And there may be more. I wonder if the people who live nearby know what is being built. I wonder how they feel about it.
The responsible Chinese officials, who knew the silos would be spotted, are not talking, yet. But sooner or later Chinese diplomats will explain why China is building them. Chances are they’ll blame the United States, the same way their communist forefathers did when they justified China’s decision to develop nuclear weapons in the first place.
This is a major achievement of the Chinese people in their struggle to increase their national defense capability and oppose the United States imperialist policy of nuclear blackmail and nuclear threats.
To defend oneself is the inalienable right of every sovereign state. And to safeguard world peace is the common task of all peace-loving countries. China cannot remain idle and do nothing in the face of the ever-increasing nuclear threat posed by the United States. China is forced to conduct nuclear tests and develop nuclear weapons.
From a statement by Peking on a Nuclear Test from an October 17, 1964 article appearing in the New York Times
China was much weaker then. It was a desperately impoverished and unstable nation governed by inexperienced peasant revolutionaries trying to recover from a century of foreign invasion and civil war. The United States was much more powerful then. It refused to recognize China’s communist government, embargoed its economy, and threatened to attack China with nuclear weapons during the Korean War and the Taiwan Strait Crisis.
China is much stronger today. It has a developing economy where out of 1.4 billion people, over 600 million still live on less than $150.00 per month. But China’s seat in the United Nations is secure, the rival government in Taipei is no longer a threat and the Chinese Communist Party, for all its faults, has created a modestly prosperous economy and a comparatively stable society that looks to the future with considerable promise.
US political and economic elites clearly feel threatened by China’s modest success and seem frustrated their Chinese counterparts pulled it off while remaining true to their communist roots. Since the Obama administration “pivoted” to Asia, US political, economic and opinion leaders are more critical of China’s government and more willing to restrict its economic and diplomatic opportunities. US officials now openly disregard the promises presidents Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter made to China on Taiwan in 1972 and 1979. And the US government decided to intervene in China’s territorial disputes with its neighbors. Chinese leaders are worried about what they see as increasingly hostile US intentions.
But the chance the United States is going to launch a massive pre-emptive attack to wipe out China’s nuclear force is next to zero. China doesn’t need more nuclear weapons. In fact, It doesn’t need nuclear weapons at all and would gain more from unilaterally disarming than building up. The Cold War ended decades ago. Chinese leaders complain, with justification, about the antiquated “cold war mentality” driving US China policy. But their new missile silos are a product of the same psychology. The United Kingdom, France , Russia and the United States are all violating their treaty obligations by making major new investments in their nuclear arsenals. It seems China does not want to be left behind.
That’s not the justification we are likely to get from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ministry officials are probably going to accuse the United States of adopting polices that make China’s existing nuclear force appear vulnerable to pre-emption. These concerns are understandable and not new. But it is hard to see how the decision to address them by dramatically expanding the size of China’s nuclear force and making it easier for Chinese leaders to counterattack quickly in a crisis will make China, or the world, any safer. The United States is unlikely to respond constructively, and the two sides will become caught in the familiar but seemingly irresistible trap of trying to use military means to solve a problem that has no imaginable military solution. It may not get as bad as the old nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union, but it will be just as stupid.
This is the first in a series of short posts that will try to walk through the twisted logic driving this new nuclear competition between the United States and China with an eye toward finding a diplomatic path out of it before things get dangerously out of control. There are alternative approaches that will benefit both countries and the world. Unfortunately, based on the hyperbolic reactions we’re hearing from the US Strategic Command and the US Congress, a new nuclear diplomacy doesn’t have much time to waste.
The featured photo in this blog is of a city park in Yumen, Gansu, near where China is constructing new nuclear missile silos.
By Hans M. Kristensen, Matt Korda, September 7, 2021
Pakistan continues to expand its nuclear arsenal with more warheads, more delivery systems, and a growing fissile materials production industry. Analysis of a large number of commercial satellite images of Pakistani army garrisons and air force bases shows what appear to be launchers and facilities that might be related to the nuclear forces.
We estimate that Pakistan now has a nuclear weapons stockpile of approximately 165 warheads (See Table 1). The US Defense Intelligence Agency projected in 1999 that Pakistan would have 60 to 80 warheads by 2020 (US Defense Intelligence Agency 1999, 38), but several new weapon systems have been fielded and developed since then, which leads us to the higher estimate.
With several new delivery systems in development, four plutonium production reactors, and an expanding uranium enrichment infrastructure, however, Pakistan’s stockpile has the potential to increase further over the next 10 years. The size of this projected increase will depend on several factors, including how many nuclear-capable launchers Pakistan plans to deploy, how its nuclear strategy evolves, and how much the Indian nuclear arsenal grows. Speculation that Pakistan may become the world’s third-largest nuclear weapon state––with a stockpile of some 350 warheads a decade from now––are, we believe, exaggerated, not least because that would require a buildup two to three times faster than the growth rate over the past two decades. We estimate that the country’s stockpile could more realistically grow to around 200 warheads by 2025, if the current trend continues. But unless India significantly expands its arsenal or further builds up its conventional forces, it seems reasonable to expect that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal will not continue to grow indefinitely but might begin to level off as its current weapons programs are completed.
Analyzing Pakistan’s nuclear forces is fraught with uncertainty, given that the Pakistani government has never publicly disclosed the size of its arsenal and media sources frequently embellish news stories about nuclear weapons. Therefore, the estimates made in the Nuclear Notebook are based on analysis of Pakistan’s nuclear posture, observations via commercial satellite imagery, previous statements by Western officials, and private conversations with officials.
Pakistan is pursuing what it calls a “full spectrum deterrence posture ,” which includes long-range missiles and aircraft for strategic missions, as well as several short-range, lower-yield nuclear-capable weapon systems in order to counter military threats below the strategic level. According to former Pakistani officials, this posture––and its particular emphasis on non-strategic nuclear weapons––is specifically intended as a reaction to India’s perceived “Cold Start” doctrine (Kidwai 2020). This alleged doctrine revolves around India maintaining the capability to launch large-scale conventional strikes or incursions against Pakistani territory below the threshold at which Pakistan would retaliate with nuclear weapons.[i]
In 2015, a former member of Pakistan’s National Command Authority, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Khalid Kidwai, said the NASR short-range weapon specifically “was born out of a compulsion of this thing that I mentioned about some people on the other side toying with the idea of finding space for conventional war, despite Pakistan nuclear weapons.” Pakistan’s understanding of India’s “Cold Start” strategy was, he said, that Delhi envisioned launching quick strikes into Pakistan within two to four days with eight to nine brigades simultaneously (Kidwai 2015). Such an attack force might involve roughly 32,000–36,000 troops. “I strongly believe that by introducing the variety of tactical nuclear weapons in Pakistan’s inventory, and in the strategic stability debate, we have blocked the avenues for serious military operations by the other side,” Kidwai explained (Kidwai 2015).
After Kidwai’s statement, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry publicly acknowledged the existence of Pakistan’s “low-yield, tactical nuclear weapons,” apparently the first time a top government official had done so (India Today 2015). At the time, the tactical missiles had not yet been deployed but their purpose was further explained by Pakistani defense minister Khawaja M. Asif in an interview with Geo News in September 2016: “We are always pressurised [sic] time and again that our tactical (nuclear) weapons, in which we have a superiority, that we have more tactical weapons than we need. It is internationally recognized that we have a superiority and if there is a threat to our security or if anyone steps on our soil and if someone’s designs are a threat to our security, we will not hesitate to use those weapons for our defense” (Scroll 2016). In developing its nonstrategic nuclear strategy, one study has asserted that Pakistan to some extent has emulated NATO’s flexible response strategy without necessarily understanding how it would work (Tasleem and Dalton 2019).
Pakistan’s nuclear posture—and particularly its pursuit of tactical nuclear weapons—has created considerable concern in other countries, including the United States, which fears that it increases the risk of escalation and lowers the threshold for nuclear use in a military conflict with India. Over the past decade and a half, the US assessment of nuclear weapons security in Pakistan appears to have changed considerably from confidence to concern, particularly as a result of the introduction of tactical nuclear weapons. In 2007, a US State Department official told Congress that, “we’re, I think, fairly confident that they have the proper structures and safeguards in place to maintain the integrity of their nuclear forces and not to allow any compromise” (Boucher 2007). After the emergence of tactical nuclear weapons, the Obama administration changed the tune: “Battlefield nuclear weapons, by their very nature, pose [a] security threat because you’re taking battlefield nuclear weapons to the field where, as you know, as a necessity, they cannot be made as secure,” as US Undersecretary of State Rose Gottemoeller told Congress in 2016 (Economic Times 2016).
The Trump administration echoed this assessment in 2018: “We are particularly concerned by the development of tactical nuclear weapons that are designed for use in battlefield. We believe that these systems are more susceptible to terrorist theft and increase the likelihood of nuclear exchange in the region” (Economic Times 2017a). The Trump administration’s South Asia strategy in 2017 urged Pakistan to stop sheltering terrorist organizations, and noted the need to “prevent nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists” (The White House 2017).
The Biden administration appears to share the concern but with a broader aperture. In the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment, US Director of National Intelligence Daniel R. Coats said, “Pakistan continues to develop new types of nuclear weapons, including short-range tactical weapons, sea-based cruise missiles, air-launched cruise missiles, and longer-range ballistic missiles,” noting that “the new types of nuclear weapons will introduce new risks for escalation dynamics and security in the region” (Coats 2019, 10).
Pakistani officials, for their part, reject such concerns. In 2021, Prime Minister Imran Khan stated that he was “not sure whether we’re growing [the nuclear arsenal] or not because as far as I know…the only one purpose [of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons]––it’s not an offensive thing.” He added that “Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is simply as a deterrent, to protect ourselves” (Laskar 2021). Pakistani officials have also challenged the notion that the security of their nuclear weapons is deficient. Samar Mubarik Mund, the former director of the country’s National Defense Complex, explained in 2013 that a Pakistani nuclear warhead is “assembled only at the eleventh hour if [it] needs to be launched. It is stored in three to four different parts at three to four different locations. If a nuclear weapon doesn’t need to be launched, then it is never available in assembled form” (World Bulletin 2013). Additionally, in 2017 the National Command Authority reviewed the “Nuclear Security Regime” of the nuclear arsenal and expressed “full confidence” in both Pakistan’s command and control systems and existing security measures meant to “ensure comprehensive stewardship and security of strategic assets and materials.” It lauded the nuclear arsenal’s “high standards of training and operational readiness” (ISPR 2017d). These statements on security and safety were, in part, a response to international concern that Pakistan’s evolving arsenal––particularly its growing inventory of short-range nuclear weapon systems––could lead to problems with warhead management and command and control during a crisis. Satellite images show that security perimeters around many bases and military facilities have been upgraded over the past decade in response to terrorist attacks.
Nuclear policy and operational decision-making in Pakistan are undertaken by the National Command Authority, which is chaired by the prime minister and includes both high-ranking military and civilian officials. The primary nuclear-related body within the National Command Authority is the Strategic Plans Division (SPD), which has been described by the former Director of the SPD’s Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs as “a unique organization that is incomparable to any other nuclear-armed state. From operational planning, weapon development, storage, budgets, arms control, diplomacy, and policies related to civilian applications for energy, agriculture, and medicine, etc., all are directed and controlled by SPD.” Additionally, SPD “is responsible for nuclear policy, strategy and doctrines. It formulates force development strategy for the tri-services strategic forces, operational planning at the joint services level, and controls movements and deployments of all nuclear forces. SPD implements NCA’s employment decisions for nuclear use through its NC3 systems” (Khan 2019).
The National Command Authority was convened after India and Pakistan engaged in open hostilities in February 2019, when Indian fighters dropped bombs near the Pakistani town of Balakot in response to a suicide bombing conducted by a Pakistan-based militant group. In retaliation, Pakistani aircraft shot down and captured an Indian pilot before returning him a week later and convened the National Command Authority. Following the meeting, a senior Pakistani official gave what appeared to be a thinly veiled nuclear threat: “I hope you know what the [National Command Authority] means and what it constitutes. I said that we will surprise you. Wait for that surprise. … You have chosen a path of war without knowing the consequence for the peace and security of the region” (Abbasi 2019).
The nuclear weapons production complex
Pakistan has a well-established and diverse fissile material production complex that is expanding. It includes the Kahuta uranium enrichment plant east of Islamabad, which appears to be growing with the near completion of what could be another enrichment plant, as well as the enrichment plant at Gadwal to the north of Islamabad (Albright, Burkhard, and Pabian 2018). Four heavy-water plutonium production reactors appear to have been completed at what is normally referred to as the Khushab Complex some 33 kilometers (20 miles) south of Khushab in Punjab province. Three of the reactors at the complex have been added in the past 10 years. The addition of a publicly confirmed thermal power plant at Khushab provides new information for estimating the power of the four reactors (Albright et al. 2018a). The New Labs Reprocessing Plant at Nilore, east of Islamabad, which reprocesses spent fuel and extracts plutonium, has been expanded. Meanwhile, a second reprocessing plant located at Chashma in the northwestern part of Punjab province may have been completed and become operational by 2015 (Albright and Kelleher-Vergantini 2015). A significant expansion to the Chashma complex was under construction between 2018 and 2020, although it remains unclear whether the reprocessing plant continued to operate throughout that period (Hyatt and Burkhard 2020).
Nuclear-capable missiles and their mobile launchers are developed and produced at the National Defence Complex (sometimes called the National Development Complex) located in the Kala Chitta Dahr mountain range west of Islamabad. The complex is divided into two sections. The western section south of Attock appears to be involved in development, production, and test-launching of missiles and rocket engines. The eastern section north of Fateh Jang is involved in production and assembly of road-mobile transporter erector launchers (TELs), which are designed to transport and fire missiles. Satellite images show the presence of launchers for Shaheen I and Shaheen II ballistic missiles and Babur cruise missiles. The Fateh Jang section has been expanded significantly with several new launcher assembly buildings over the past 10 years, and the complex continues to expand. Other launcher and missile-related production and maintenance facilities may be located near Tarnawa and Taxila.RELATED: Nuclear Notebook: How many nuclear weapons does North Korea have in 2021?
Little is publicly known about warhead production, but experts have suspected for many years that the Pakistan Ordnance Factories near Wah, northwest of Islamabad, serve a role. One of the Wah factories is located near a unique facility with six earth-covered bunkers (igloos) inside a multi-layered safety perimeter with armed guards. The security perimeter was expanded significantly between 2005 and 2010, possibly in response to terrorist attacks against other military facilities.
A frequent oversimplification for estimating the number of Pakistani nuclear weapons is to derive the estimate directly from the amount of weapon-grade fissile material produced. As of the beginning of 2020, the International Panel on Fissile Materials estimated that Pakistan had an inventory of approximately 3,900 kilograms (kg) of weapon-grade (90 percent enriched) highly enriched uranium (HEU), and about 410 kg of weapon-grade plutonium (International Panel on Fissile Materials 2021). This material is theoretically enough to produce between 285 and 342 warheads, assuming that each first-generation implosion-type warhead’s solid core uses either 15 to 18 kg of weapon-grade HEU or 5 to 6 kg of plutonium.
However, calculating stockpile size based solely on fissile material inventory is an incomplete methodology that tends to produce inflated numbers. Instead, warhead estimates must take several factors into account: the amount of weapon-grade fissile material produced, warhead design choice and proficiency, warhead production rates, numbers of operational nuclear-capable launchers, how many of those launchers are dual-capable, nuclear strategy, and statements by government officials.
Estimates must assume that not all of Pakistan’s fissile material has ended up in warheads. Like other nuclear weapon states, Pakistan probably maintains a reserve. Moreover, Pakistan simply lacks enough nuclear-capable launchers to accommodate 285 to 342 warheads; furthermore, all of Pakistan’s launchers are thought to be dual-capable, which means that some of them, especially the shorter-range systems, presumably are assigned non-nuclear missions as well—perhaps even primarily. Finally, official statements often refer to “warheads” and “weapons” interchangeably, without making it clear whether it is the number of launchers or the warheads assigned to them that are being discussed.
The amount of fissile material in warheads—and the size of the warhead—can be reduced, and their yield increased, by using tritium to “boost” the fission process. But Pakistan’s tritium production capability is poorly understood. A German company allegedly provided Pakistan with a small amount of tritium and some tritium-processing technology in the late 1980s (Kalinowski and Colschen 1995; Gordon 1989), and China allegedly shipped some tritium directly to Pakistan (Kalinowski and Colschen 1995, 147, 181). The Khushab complex for years has been rumored to produce tritium, and the PINSTECH complex near Nilore may do so as well (FAS 2000a).[ii] However, one rumored tritium extraction plant at Khushab turned out to be a coal-fired power plant (Burkhard, Lach, and Pabian 2017). Pakistan claimed that all its nuclear tests in 1998 were tritium-boosted HEU designs, but the yields detected by seismic signals were not sufficient to substantiate such a capability. Nonetheless, Thomas Reed and Danny Stillman conclude in The Nuclear Express that the tests included two designs, the first of which was an HEU device that used boosting. The second test involved a plutonium device (Reed and Stillman 2009, 257–258).
One study in early 2021 estimated that Pakistan could have produced 690 grams of tritium by the end of 2020, sufficient to boost over 100 weapons. The study assessed that warheads produced for delivery by the Babur and Ra-ad cruise missiles and the NASR and Abdali missiles almost certainly would require a small, lightweight tritium-boosted fission weapon (Jones 2021). If Pakistan has produced tritium and uses it in second-generation single-stage boosted warhead designs, then the estimated 3,900 kg HEU and 410 kg weapon-grade plutonium would potentially allow it to build between 407 and 428 warheads, assuming that each weapon used either 12 kg of HEU or 4 to 5 kg of plutonium.
Despite these uncertainties, Pakistan is clearly engaged in a significant build-up of its nuclear forces and has been for some time. In 2008, Peter Lavoy, then a US intelligence officer for South Asia, told NATO that Pakistan was producing nuclear weapons at a faster rate than any other country in the world (US NATO Mission 2008). Six years later, in 2014, Lavoy described the purpose of the “expansion of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program to include efforts to significantly increase fissile material production to design and fabricate multiple nuclear warheads with varying sizes and yields, [and] to develop, test and ultimately deploy a wide variety of delivery systems with a wide range to include battlefield range ballistic delivery systems for tactical nuclear weapons” (Emphasis added) (Gul 2014).[iii]
Kidwai acknowledged in March 2015 that Pakistan “possesses a variety of nuclear weapons, in different categories. At the strategic level, at the operational level, and the tactical level” (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 2015, 6). In December 2017 he provided more details, saying Pakistan’s nuclear strategy required the “full spectrum of nuclear weapons in all three categories—strategic, operational, and tactical, with full range coverage of the large Indian land mass and its outlying territories.” He further explained that the stockpile should have “appropriate weapons yield coverage and the numbers to deter the adversary’s pronounced policy of massive retaliation.” The weapons would give the Pakistani leadership the “liberty of choosing from a full spectrum of targets, notwithstanding the [Indian] Ballistic Missile Defence, to include counter-value, counter-force, and battlefield” targets. He added this implied that “counter-massive retaliation punishment will be as severe if not more” (Dawn 2017).
How far Pakistan plans to go in terms of developing a full-spectrum deterrent posture is unclear. It has provided no public statements about its intent. In 2015, however, Kadwai said that “the program is not open ended. It started with a concept of credible minimum deterrence, and certain numbers [of weapons] were identified, and those numbers, of course, were achieved not too far away in time. Then we translated it, like I said, to the concept of full spectrum deterrence” in response to India’s Cold Start doctrine. As a result, he went on, “the numbers were modified. Now those numbers, as of today, and if I can look ahead for at least 10 to 15 more years, I think they are going to be more or less okay.” He further noted, “we’re almost 90, 95 percent there in terms of the goals that we had set out to achieve” 15 years ago (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 2015, 6, 12).
We estimate that Pakistan currently is producing sufficient fissile material to build 14 to 27 new warheads per year, although we estimate that the actual warhead increase in the stockpile probably averages around 5-10 warheads per year.[iv]
The aircraft most likely to have a nuclear delivery role are Pakistan’s Mirage III and Mirage V fighter squadrons. The Pakistani Air Force’s (PAF) Mirage fighter-bombers are focused at two bases. Masroor Air Base outside Karachi houses the 32nd Wing with three Mirage squadrons: 7th Squadron (“Bandits”), 8th Squadron (“Haiders”), and 22nd Squadron (“Ghazis”). A possible nuclear weapons storage site is located five km (three miles) northwest of the base (Kristensen 2009), and since 2004, unique underground facilities have been constructed at Masroor that could potentially be designed to support a nuclear strike mission. This includes a possible alert hangar with underground weapons-handling capability.[v] The other Mirage base is Rafiqui Air base near Shorkot, which is home to the 34th Wing with two Mirage squadrons: the 15th Squadron (“Cobras”) and the 27th Squadron (“Zarras”).
The Mirage V is believed to have been given a strike role with Pakistan’ small arsenal of nuclear gravity bombs, while the Mirage III has been used for test launches of Pakistan’s Ra’ad (Hatf-8) air-launched cruise missile (ALCM), as well as the follow-on Ra’ad-II ALCM. The Pakistani Air Force has added an aerial refueling capability to the Mirage, a capability that would greatly enhance the nuclear strike mission (AFP 2018).
The air-launched, dual-capable Ra’ad ALCM is believed to have been test-launched at least six times, most recently in February 2016. The Pakistani government states that the Ra’ad “can deliver nuclear and conventional warheads with great accuracy” (ISPR 2011c) to a range of 350 km, and “complement[s] Pakistan’s deterrence capability” by achieving “strategic standoff capability on land and at sea” (ISPR 2016a). During a military parade in 2017, Pakistan displayed what was said to be Ra’ad-II ALCM, apparently an enhanced version of the original Ra’ad with a new engine air-intake and tail wing configuration (Khan 2017). The Pakistani government tested the Ra’ad-II in February 2020 and stated that the missile can reportedly reach targets at a distance of 600 km (ISPR 2020a). All test launches involving either Ra’ad system have been conducted from Mirage III aircraft, indicating its likely delivery system upon deployment.
There is no available evidence to suggest that either Ra’ad system had been deployed as of July 2021; however, one potential deployment site could eventually be Masroor Air Base outside Karachi, which is home to several Mirage squadrons and includes unique underground facilities that might be associated with nuclear weapons storage and handling.
The PAF’s Mirage aircraft are aging, and Pakistan intends to acquire 186 JF-17 aircraft––which are co-produced with China––to replace them (Warnes 2020; Quwa 2021; Gady 2020). According to the Pakistani Senate Defense Committee on National Defence, the pursuit of the JF-17 program was partially triggered by US military export sanctions in response to Pakistan’s nuclear program, including the withholding of F-16 aircraft. “With spares for its top-of-the-line F16s in question, and additional F-16s removed as an option, Pakistan sought help from its Chinese ally” for the JC-17/FC-1 jet (Senate Committee on National Defense 2016). Initial reports from 2016 suggested that Pakistan intended to incorporate the dual-capable Ra’ad ALCM onto the JF-17 in order to allow the newer aircraft to eventually take over the nuclear strike role from the Mirage III/Vs; however, more recent reporting has not confirmed this (Ansari 2013; Fisher 2016).
The nuclear capability of the PAF’s F-16 aircraft is uncertain. Pakistan’s F-16A/Bs were supplied by the United States between 1983 and 1987. After 40 aircraft had been delivered, the US State Department told Congress in 1989: “None of the F–16s Pakistan already owns or is about to purchase is configured for nuclear delivery,” and Pakistan “will be obligated by contract not to modify” additional F-16s “without the approval of the United States” (Schaffer 1989). Yet there were multiple credible reports at the time that Pakistan was already modifying US-supplied F-16s for nuclear weapons, including West German intelligence officials reportedly telling Der Spiegel that Pakistan had already developed sophisticated computer and electronic technology to outfit the US F–16s with nuclear weapons” (Associated Press 1989). Delivery of additional F-16s, including the more modern F-16C/D version, was delayed by concern over Pakistan’s emerging nuclear weapons program. The United States withheld delivery in the 1990s. But the policy was changed by the George W. Bush administration, which supplied Pakistan with the more modern F-16s.
The F-16A/Bs are based with the 38th Wing at Mushaf (formerly Sargodha) Air Base, 160 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of Lahore. Organized into the 9th and 11th Squadrons (“Griffins” and “Arrows” respectively), these aircraft have a range of 1,600 km (extendable when equipped with drop tanks) and most likely are equipped to each carry a single nuclear bomb on the centerline pylon. Security perimeters at the base have been upgraded since 2014. If the F-16s have a nuclear strike mission, the nuclear gravity bombs would likely not be stored at the base itself but could potentially be kept at the Sargodha Weapons Storage Complex 10 km to the south. In a crisis, the bombs could quickly be transferred to the base, or the F-16s could disperse to bases near underground storage facilities and receive the weapons there. Pakistan appears to be reinforcing the munitions bunkers and installing extra security perimeters at the Sargodha complex.
The newer F-16C/Ds are based with the 39th Wing at Shahbaz Air Base outside Jacobabad. The wing upgraded to F-16C/Ds from Mirages in 2011 and so far has one squadron: the 5th Squadron (known as the “Falcons”). The base has been under significant expansion, with numerous weapons bunkers added since 2004. If the base has a nuclear mission, we suspect that the weapons are stored elsewhere in special storage facilities. There are also F-16s visible at Minhas (Kamra) Air Base northwest of Islamabad, although that might be related to aircraft industry at the base.RELATED: Watch now—The UK’s new nuclear posture: What it means for the global nuclear order
In light of uncertainties regarding Pakistan’s nuclear-capable aircraft, the PAF’s F-16s and JF-17s are not identified in this Nuclear Notebook as having a dedicated nuclear weapon delivery system and are omitted from Table 1.
Land-based ballistic missiles
Pakistan appears to have six currently operational nuclear-capable land-based ballistic missiles: the short-range Abdali (Hatf-2), Ghaznavi (Hatf-3), Shaheen-I (Hatf-4), and NASR (Hatf-9), and the medium-range Ghauri (Hatf-5) and Shaheen-II (Hatf-6). Three other nuclear-capable ballistic missiles are under development: the medium-range Shaheen-IA, Shaheen-III, and the MIRVed Ababeel. All of Pakistan’s nuclear-capable missiles––with the exception of the Abdali, Ghauri, Shaheen-II, and Ababeel––were showcased at the Pakistan Day Parade in March 2021 (ISPR 2021a).
The Pakistani road-mobile ballistic missile force has undergone significant development and expansion over the past decade-and-a-half. This includes possibly eight or nine missile garrisons, including four or five along the Indian border for short-range systems (Babur, Ghaznavi, Shaheen-I, NASR) and three or four other garrisons further inland for medium-range systems (Shaheen-II and Ghauri).[vi]
The short-range, solid-fuel, single-stage Abdali (Hatf-2) has been in development for a long time. The Pentagon reported in 1997 that the Abdali appeared to have been discontinued, but flight-testing resumed in 2002, and it was last reported test launched in 2013. The 200-km (124-mile) missile has been displayed at parades several times on a four-axle road-mobile transporter erector launcher (TEL). The gap in flight-testing indicates the Abdali program may have encountered technical difficulties. After the 2013 test, Inter Services Public Relations stated that Abdali “carries nuclear as well as conventional warheads” and “provides an operational-level capability to Pakistan’s Strategic Forces.” It said the test launch “consolidates Pakistan’s deterrence capability both at the operational and strategic levels” (ISPR 2013a).
The short-range, solid-fuel, single-stage Ghaznavi (Hatf-3) was test launched in 2019, 2020, and 2021––its first reported test launches since 2014. In an important milestone for testing the readiness of Pakistan’s nuclear forces, the 2019 Ghaznavi launch was conducted at night. After each test, the Pakistani military stated that the Ghaznavi is “capable of delivering multiple types of warheads up to a range of 290 kilometers” (ISPR 2019a; ISPR 2020b; ISPR 2021b). Its short range means that the Ghaznavi cannot strike Delhi from Pakistani territory, and Army units equipped with the missile are probably based relatively near the Indian border (Kristensen 2016).
The Shaheen-I (Hatf-4) is a single-stage, solid-fuel, dual-capable, short-range ballistic missile with a maximum range of 650 km that has been in service since 2003. The Shaheen-I is carried on a four-axle, road-mobile TEL similar to the one used for the Ghaznavi. Since 2012, many Shaheen-I test launches have involved an extended-range version widely referred to as Shaheen-IA. The Pakistani government, which has declared the range of the Shaheen-IA to be 900 km (560 miles), has used both designations. Pakistan most recently test launched the Shaheen-I in November 2019 and the Shaheen-IA in March 2021 (ISPR 2019b; ISPR 2021c). Potential Shaheen-1 deployment locations include Gujranwala, Okara, and Pano Aqil.[vii]
One of the most controversial new nuclear-capable missiles in the Pakistani arsenal is the NASR (Hatf-9), a short-range, solid-fuel missile originally with a range of only 60 km (37 miles) that has recently been extended to 70 km (43 miles) (ISPR 2017a). With a range too short to attack strategic targets inside India, NASR appears intended solely for battlefield use against invading Indian troops.[viii] According to the Pakistani government, the NASR “carries nuclear warheads of appropriate yield with high accuracy, shoot and scoot attributes” and was developed as a “quick response system” to “add deterrence value” to Pakistan’s strategic weapons development program “at shorter ranges” in order “to deter evolving threats,” including evidently India’s so-called Cold Start doctrine (ISPR 2011b, 2017a). More recent tests of the NASR system––including two tests in the same week in January 2019––tested the system’s salvo-launch capability, as well as the missiles’ in-flight maneuverability (ISPR 2019c; ISPR 2019d).
The NASR’s four-axle, road-mobile TEL appears to use a snap-on system that can carry two or more launch-tube boxes, and the system has been tested in the past using a road-mobile quadruple box launcher. The US intelligence community has listed the NASR as a deployed system since 2013 (National Air and Space Intelligence Center 2013), and with a total of 15 tests reported so far, the weapon system appears to be well-developed. Potential deployment locations include Gujranwala, Okara, and Pano Aqil.[ix]
The medium-range, two-stage, solid-fuel Shaheen-II (Hatf-6) appears to be operational after many years of development. Pakistan’s National Defense Complex has assembled Shaheen-II launchers since at least 2004 or 2005 (Kristensen 2007), and a 2020 US intelligence community report states that there are “fewer than 50” Shaheen-II launchers deployed (National Air and Space Intelligence Center 2020). After the most recent Shaheen-II test launch in May 2019, the Pakistani government reported the range as only 1,500 km (932 miles), but the US National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) continues to set the Shaheen-II’s range at 2,000 km (ISPR 2019e; National Air and Space Intelligence Center 2020). The Shaheen-II is carried on a six-axle, road-mobile TEL and can carry a single conventional or nuclear warhead.
Pakistan’s newer Shaheen-III medium-range, two-stage, solid-field Shaheen-III was displayed publicly for the first time at the 2015 Pakistan Day Parade. Following its first two test launches in 2015 and its latest launch in January 2021, the Pakistani government said the missile was capable of delivering either a single nuclear or conventional warhead to a range of 2,750 km (ISPR 2021d). The Shaheen-III is carried on an eight-axle TEL reportedly supplied by China (Panda 2016). The system will likely still require several more test launches before it becomes operational.
The range of the Shaheen-III is sufficient to target all of mainland India from launch positions in most of Pakistan south of Islamabad. But the missile was apparently developed to do more than that. According to Gen. Kidwai, the range of 2,750 km was determined by a need to be able to target the Nicobar and Andaman Islands in the eastern part of the Indian Ocean that are “developed as strategic bases” where “India might think of putting its weapons” (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 2015, 10). But for a 2,750-km range Shaheen-III to reach the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, it would need to be launched from positions in the very Eastern parts of Pakistan, close to the Indian border. If deployed in the Western parts of Balochistan province, however, the range of the Shaheen-III would for the first time bring Israel within range of Pakistani nuclear missiles.
Pakistan’s oldest nuclear-capable medium-range ballistic missile, the road-mobile, single-stage, liquid-fuel Ghauri (Hatf-5), was most recently test-launched in October 2018. (ISPR 2018c). The Pakistani government states that the Ghauri can carry a single conventional or nuclear warhead to a range of 1,300 km (807 miles), although NASIC lists the range as 1,250 km (776 miles) (National Air and Space Intelligence Center 2020). NASIC also suggests that “fewer than 50” Ghauri launchers have been deployed (National Air and Space Intelligence Center 2020). The extra time needed to fuel the missile before launch makes the Ghauri more vulnerable to attack than Pakistan’s newer solid-fuel missiles, so it is possible that the longer-range versions of the Shaheen may eventually replace the Ghauri.[x] Potential deployment areas for the Ghauri include the Sargodha Central Ammunition Depot area.[xi]
On January 24, 2017, Pakistan test launched a new medium-range ballistic missile––Ababeel––that the government says is “capable of carrying multiple warheads, using multiple independent reentry vehicle (MIRV) technology” (ISPR 2017b).[xii] The three-stage, solid-fuel, nuclear-capable missile, which is currently under development at the National Defense Complex, appears to be derived from the Shaheen-III airframe and solid-fuel motor and has a range of 2,200 km (1,367 miles). (ISPR 2017b; National Air and Space Intelligence Center 2020). After the test-launch, the Pakistani government declared that the test was intended to validate the missile’s “various design and technical parameters,” and that Ababeel is “aimed at ensuring survivability of Pakistan’s ballistic missiles in the growing regional Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) environment,” “further reinforce[ing] deterrence” (ISPR 2017b). Development of multiple-warhead capability appears to be intended as a countermeasure against India’s planned ballistic missile defense system (Tasleem 2017).
Ground- and sea-launched cruise missiles
Pakistan’s family of ground- and sea-launched cruise missiles is undergoing significant development with work on several types and modifications. The Babur (Hatf-7) is a subsonic, dual-capable cruise missile with a similar appearance to the US Tomahawk sea-launched cruise missile, the Chinese DH-10 ground-launched cruise missile, and the Russian air-launched AS-15. The Pakistani government describes the Babur as having “stealth capabilities” and “pinpoint accuracy” and “a low-altitude, terrain-hugging missile with high maneuverability” (ISPR 2011a, 2016b, 2018a). The Babur is much slimmer than Pakistan’s ballistic missiles, suggesting some success with warhead miniaturization based on a boosted fission design.
The original Babur-1 ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCM) has been test-launched nearly a dozen times and is likely to be operational with the armed forces. Its road-mobile launcher appears to be a unique five-axle TEL with a three-tube box launcher that is different than the quadruple box launcher used for static display. At different times, the Pakistani government has reported the range to be 600 km (372 miles) and 700 km (435 miles) (ISPR 2011a, 2012a, 2012b), but the US intelligence community sets the range much lower, at 350 km (217 miles) (National Air and Space Intelligence Center 2020).
Pakistan appears to be upgrading the original Babur-1 missiles into Babur-1A missiles by upgrading their avionics and navigation systems to enable target engagement both on land and at sea. Following the system’s most recent test in February 2021, the Pakistani military stated that the Babur-1A’s range was 450 km (ISPR 2021e).
Pakistan is also developing an enhanced version of the Babur known as the Babur-2 or Babur-1B GLCM.[xiii] The weapon has been test-launched at least two times: in December 2016 and April 2018 (ISPR 2016b, 2018a). In March 2020, Indian news media reported that the Babur-2/Babur-1B had failed two other tests, in April 2018 and March 2020; however, this was not confirmed by Pakistan (Gupta 2020). With a physical appearance and capabilities similar to those of the Babur, the Babur-2/Babur-1B apparently has an extended range of 700 km (435 miles), and “is capable of carrying various types of warheads” (ISPR 2016b, 2018a). The fact that both the Babur-1 and the “enhanced” Babur-2/Babur-1B have been noted as possessing a range of 700 km indicates that the range of the initial Babur-1 system was likely shorter. NASIC has not released information on an enhanced system. After the first test in 2016, the Pakistani government noted that the system is “an important force multiplier for Pakistan’s strategic defence” (ISPR 2016b).
Babur TELs have been fitting out at the National Development Complex for several years and have recently been seen at the Akro garrison northeast of Karachi. The garrison includes a large enclosure with six garages that have room for 12 TELs and a unique underground facility that is probably used to store the missiles.[xiv]
Pakistan is also developing a sea-launched version of the Babur known as Babur-3. The weapon is still in development and has been test-launched twice: On January 9, 2017, from “an underwater, mobile platform” in the Indian Ocean (ISPR 2017c); and on March 29, 2018 from “an underwater dynamic platform” (ISPR 2018b). The Babur-3 is said to be a sea-based variant of the Babur-2 GLCM, and to have a range of 450 km (279 miles) (ISPR 2017c).
The Pakistani government says the Babur-3 is “capable of delivering various types of payloads … [that] … will provide Pakistan with a Credible Second Strike Capability, augmenting deterrence,” and described it as “a step towards reinforcing [the] policy of credible minimum deterrence” (ISPR 2017c). The Babur-3 will most likely be deployed on the diesel-electric Agosta class submarines (Khan 2015). In April 2015, the Pakistani government approved the purchase of right air-independent propulsion-powered submarines from China, the first four of which are due in 2022-2023 (Khan 2019). It is possible that these new submarines, which will be called the Hangor-class, could eventually be assigned a nuclear role with the Babur-3 submarine-launched cruise missile.
Once it becomes operational, the Babur-3 will provide Pakistan with a triad of nuclear strike platforms from ground, air, and sea. The Pakistani government said the Babur-3 was motivated by a need to match India’s nuclear triad and the “nuclearization of [the] Indian Ocean Region” (ISPR 2018b). The Pakistani government also noted that Babur-3’s stealth technologies would be useful in the “emerging regional Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) environment” (ISPR 2017c).
The future submarine-based nuclear capability is managed by Headquarters Naval Strategic Forces Command (NSFC), which the government said in 2012 would be the “custodian of the nation’s 2nd strike capability” to “strengthen Pakistan’s policy of Credible Minimum Deterrence and ensure regional stability” (ISPR 2012c). Kidwai in 2015 publicly acknowledged the need for a sea-based second-strike capability and said it “will come into play in the next few years” (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 2015, 16).
Pakistan also appears to be developing a variant of the Babur cruise missile, known as the Harbah, that can be carried by surface vessels. Pakistan describes the system as “a surface-to-surface anti-ship missile with land attack capability” (ISPR 2018d). Although Pakistan did not state the system’s range after either of its 2018 or 2019 tests, official photos of the system in-flight bear a strong resemblance to the Babur (ISPR 2018d; Rahmat 2019). It is unknown at this time if the Harbah will be dual-capable.
VIENNA (AP) — Iran has continued to increase its stockpile of highly enriched uranium that could be used to make nuclear weapons in contravention of a 2015 accord with world powers that was meant to contain Tehran’s nuclear program, the U.N. atomic watchdog said Tuesday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency also told member states in its confidential quarterly report that its verification and monitoring activities have been “seriously undermined” since February by Iran’s refusal to let inspectors access IAEA monitoring equipment.
The Vienna-based agency told members that its confidence in properly assessing Iran’s activities — what it called the “continuity of knowledge” — was declining over time and that would continue “unless the situation is immediately rectified by Iran.”
The IAEA said certain monitoring and surveillance equipment cannot be left for more than three months without being serviced. It was provided with access this month to four surveillance cameras installed at one site, but one of the cameras had been destroyed and a second had been severely damaged, the agency said.
Its director-general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said he was willing to travel to Iran to meet the recently elected government for talks on the issue.
Iran’s total stock of uranium is estimated at 2,441.3 kilograms as of Aug. 30, down from 3241 kilograms on May 22, the agency said.
Tehran is only permitted to stockpile 202.8 kilograms of uranium under the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, which promises Iran economic incentives in exchange for limits on its nuclear program, and is meant to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb.
The U.S. unilaterally pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, but Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia have tried to preserve the accord.
Tehran’s strategy of deliberately violating the deal is seen as an attempt to pressure Europe to give Iran incentives to offset the crippling American sanctions re-imposed after the U.S. pullout.
President Joe Biden has said he is open to rejoining the pact. The last round of talks in Vienna ended in June without a clear result.
In Tehran, Iranian news agencies quoted Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi, as saying in Vienna that all Iran’s nuclear activities had been “carried out in the framework of Iran’s nuclear rights and under nonproliferation treaty.”
He claimed the agency was under pressure by some members and urged it to remain “independent, impartial and professional.”
In a separate confidential report seen by The Associated Press, the agency expressed its deep concern at the presence of nuclear material at undeclared locations in Iran. “Even after some two years, the safeguards issues (…) in relation to the four locations in Iran not declared to the agency remain unresolved,” the report stated.
Nasser Karimi in Tehran contributed to this report.
The strikes came in response to incendiary balloons launched by Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement into Israeli territory, the army said. The devices were a show of support for the prison break, which Hamas and other Palestinian militants hailed as a heroic victory.
For Israel, the escape — through a secret tunnel, likely with outside help — marks an embarrassing security breach. The massive manhunt through Israel’s north and the occupied West Bank continued on Tuesday as Jews celebrated Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year.
The prisoners appear to have gone into hiding after crawling through a narrow tunnel leading from the floor of their cell to a hole outside the prison walls.
The escape marked an awkward moment for Israel’s new coalition government as it seeks to maintain calm after the deadly 11-day war with Hamas in May and amid a surge in coronavirus infections.
“Every Palestinian prisoner wants freedom, and they have the right to seek out any path to freedom,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told reporters Tuesday, without directly referring to the escape. He reiterated the PA’s longstanding demand that Israel release all Palestinian prisoners.
Israel has erected roadblocks and is conducting patrols in the area. Israel’s Army Radio said 400 prisoners are being moved as a protective measure against any additional escape attempts.
It was the biggest Palestinian escape from an Israeli prison since 1987, when six militants from the Islamic Jihad group broke out of a heavily guarded prison in Gaza months before the outbreak of the first intifada, or Palestinian uprising against Israel.
The six who escaped early Monday come from Jenin, in the occupied West Bank, about 25 kilometers (15 miles) away. The internationally recognized Palestinian Authority wields little control in the town, where militants in recent weeks have clashed with Israeli forces.
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, which represents both former and current prisoners, identified the men as ranging in age from 26 to 49 years old.
The most well-known among them is Zakaria Zubeidi, 46, who was a prominent leader in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, an armed group affiliated with Fatah, during the second intifada from 2000-2005. He was later granted amnesty along with other Fatah-affiliated militants, but was arrested again in 2019 on what Israeli authorities said were new terror suspicions.
As a child, Zubeidi had been part of a children’s theater troupe in Jenin established by Arna Mer-Khamis, an Israeli rights activist, that was the subject of a 2004 documentary.
The other five prisoners were members of the Islamic Jihad militant group, and the prisoners’ group said four were serving life sentences.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called the breakout a “grave incident” that required maximum effort by Israel’s various security branches.
The escape poses a dilemma for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who met with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz a week ago in the first high-level meeting between the two sides in years. Abbas has said he hopes to revive the peace process after more than a decade-long hiatus under former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But Abbas’ Palestinian Authority is deeply unpopular. He canceled the first elections in 15 years in April when it appeared his Fatah party would suffer an embarrassing defeat. The PA was largely sidelined during the Gaza war in May, and it has cracked down on a wave of protests following the death of an activist in its custody in June.
PA security forces coordinate with Israel to target Hamas and other militants that both view as a threat. But any effort to help Israel re-arrest the escaped prisoners risks further undermining the PA in the eyes of Palestinians.
A+ A-ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Iraq’s Sadrist movement has launched a mobile application to guide followers through the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections in October.
The application titled “Altayar” was launched by the popular movement led by influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to aid supporters with navigating the new electoral system and provide information about their constituencies.
The application asks for access to the user’s location and provides information on the correct polling station supporters must go to, the required documents to bring, as well as the name of the Sadrist candidate registered for that specific constituency.
Sadr in July had announced he was withdrawing from the election and pulling his support for the current and upcoming governments. “In order to preserve what is left of the nation and to save the nation that has been burnt by the corrupt and is still burning, I inform you that I will not be participating in the elections,” he said in a televised speech.
However, late last month, Sadrreversed his decision and said he will contest the elections “with determination.”
Sadr leads the Sairoon coalition, the largest parliamentary bloc, and is known for swift shifts in his positions. He was among the first to speak up in January when the election was moved from June 6 to October 10, saying he would not accept any further delay. Sadr himself does not hold an elected position, but as leader of Sairoon, he wields heavy influence when it comes to government formation and agenda.
Iraqis will go to the polls on October 10, a year ahead of schedule. The election was called to meet a demand of protesters who brought down the government of former Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. However, interest in the vote is low. Several parties from across the spectrum have announced they will not participate. All sides are questioning the legitimacy of the vote in an environment where powerful militias operate outside of government control, activists and election candidates are threatened, and the electoral commission and political elites are accused of fraud.
There are a total of 3,249 candidates vying for 329 seats in the parliament. The official campaign period began on July 8, but has so far been lackluster.
The new electoral system of Iraq was signed by President Barham Salih in November into law, dividing provinces into smaller voting constituencies.
There are three to five seats up for grabs in each constituency, with a woman quota seat per constituency.
That’s according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg who addressed via video link the annual NATO conference on non-proliferation, held in Copenhagen on September 6.
The full text of Jens Stoltenberg’s address has been published on the NATO website.
“[W]e must be clear-eyed about the challenges before us. Russia continues to ignore and bend the rules. It undermines key treaties. Russia is also modernizing its dual-capable and nuclear capabilities, including intercontinental ballistic missiles. Its hypersonic glide vehicle is now operational. And it has tested a new air-launched ballistic missile, and a nuclear-powered cruise missile,” Stoltenberg said.
Among other challenges in the non-proliferation field, the NATO chief called the rapid expansion of China’s nuclear arsenal, with more warheads and more sophisticated delivery systems.
Moreover, Stoltenberg added, China is building a large number of missile silos, “which can significantly increase its nuclear capability.”
“All of this is happening without any limitation or constraint. And with a complete lack of transparency <…> So the world is rapidly becoming more unpredictable, more competitive, and more dangerous. NATO is adapting to this changing world,” said Stoltenberg.
As Ukrinform reported earlier, at the Brussels Summit in 2021, the Allies agreed to further strengthen the system of nuclear non-proliferation control. They praised the extension of the START nuclear arms reduction treaty between the U.S. and Russia, which should be viewed not as a completion but as a beginning of new efforts to strengthen international non-proliferation.
START was extended on February 3, 2021, until February 5, 2026.