The History of Earthquakes In New YorkBy Meteorologist Michael Gouldrick New York State PUBLISHED 6:30 AM ET Sep. 09, 2020 PUBLISHED 6:30 AM EDT Sep. 09, 2020New York State has a long history of earthquakes. Since the early to mid 1700s there have been over 550 recorded earthquakes that have been centered within the state’s boundary. New York has also been shaken by strong earthquakes that occurred in southeast Canada and the Mid-Atlantic states.
Earthquakes in the northeast U.S. and southeast Canada are not as intense as those found in other parts of the world but can be felt over a much larger area. The reason for this is the makeup of the ground. In our part of the world, the ground is like a jigsaw puzzle that has been put together. If one piece shakes, the whole puzzle shakes.In the Western U.S., the ground is more like a puzzle that hasn’t been fully put together yet. One piece can shake violently, but only the the pieces next to it are affected while the rest of the puzzle doesn’t move.In Rochester, New York, the most recent earthquake was reported on March 29th, 2020. It was a 2.6 magnitude shake centered under Lake Ontario. While most did not feel it, there were 54 reports of the ground shaking.So next time you are wondering why the dishes rattled, or you thought you felt the ground move, it certainly could have been an earthquake in New York.Here is a website from the USGS (United Sates Geologic Society) of current earthquakes greater than 2.5 during the past day around the world. As you can see, the Earth is a geologically active planet!Another great website of earthquakes that have occurred locally can be found here.To learn more about the science behind earthquakes, check out this website from the USGS.
Pictures in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed a missile exiting one of five tubes on a launch vehicle in a ball of flame, and a missile in horizontal flight.
Such a weapon would represent a marked advance in North Korea’s weapons technology, analysts said, better able to avoid defence systems to deliver a warhead across the South or Japan — both of them US allies.
The test launches took place on Saturday and Sunday, the official Korean Central News Agency said.
Its report called the missile a “strategic weapon of great significance”, adding the tests were successful and it gave the country “another effective deterrence means” against “hostile forces”.
North Korea is under international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, which it says it needs to defend against a US invasion.
But Pyongyang is not banned from developing cruise missiles, which it has tested previously.
As described, the missile “poses a considerable threat”, Park Won-gon, professor of North Korean Studies at Ewha Womans University, told AFP.
“If the North has sufficiently miniaturised a nuclear warhead, it can be loaded onto a cruise missile as well,” Park said.
“It’s very likely that there will be more tests for the development of various weapons systems.”
The launch was a response to joint South Korea-US military drills last month, he said.
But Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is due in Seoul on Tuesday and Park added: “By choosing cruise missiles, North Korea is trying not to provoke the US and China too much.”
Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute for International Studies tweeted that the reported missiles would be capable of delivering a warhead against targets “throughout South Korea and Japan”.
“An intermediate-range land-attack cruise missile is a pretty serious capability for North Korea,” he added.
“This is another system that is designed to fly under missile defense radars or around them.”
The South Korean military — normally the first source of information on the North’s missile tests — had made no announcement of any launches over the weekend.
They said they were analysing developments.
In a statement, the US Indo-Pacific Command said the reports highlighted North Korea’s “continuing focus on developing its military programme and the threats that poses to its neighbours and the international community”.
It reiterated that the US commitment to defend South Korea — where it stations around 28,500 troops to protect it against its neighbour — and Japan “remains ironclad”.
The reported launches are the first since March by the North, which has not carried out a nuclear test or an intercontinental ballistic missile launch since 2017.
They came days after a scaled-back parade in Pyongyang to mark the 73rd anniversary of the country’s founding.
Nuclear talks with the United States have been stalled since the collapse of a 2019 summit in Hanoi between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and then-president Donald Trump over sanctions relief — and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.
Current US President Joe Biden’s North Korea envoy, Sung Kim, has repeatedly expressed his willingness to meet his Pyongyang counterparts “anywhere, at any time”.
But the impoverished North has never shown any indication it would be willing to surrender its nuclear arsenal, and has rebuffed South Korean efforts to revive dialogue.
Last month, the UN atomic agency (IAEA) said Pyongyang appeared to have started its plutonium-producing reprocessing reactor at Yongbyon, calling it a “deeply troubling” development.
Kim’s sister and key adviser Kim Yo Jong also demanded the withdrawal of US troops from the peninsula.
Last week, South Korea tested a homegrown submarine-launched ballistic missile — a technology the North has long sought to develop.
The North showed off four such devices at a military parade overseen by Kim in January, with KCNA calling them “the world’s most powerful weapon”.
North Korea has released pictures of underwater launches, most recently in 2019.
But analysts believe that was from a fixed platform or submersible barge, rather than a submarine.
It has been fifty years since Australia made a formal decision not to acquire nuclear weapons. However, since then the regional geo-political environment has starkly changed, and is likely to become more turbulent over the next few decades, as balances are changing.
US reliance as an alley, and the inferred nuclear protection Australia has been given is uncertain in the future. The competitive strategic positions of China and the US will change drastically over the next decade. US interests under different presidencies are also fluid. Australia is now in the frontline of a strategically changing region, where Australia’s self-perception as a middle power has vanished with some regional military forces much more potent than Australia.
Australia’s bilateral relationship with its largest trading partner China has greatly deteriorated over recent times, with few signs of improving. Australia is alone in its trade dispute with China, ironically with the US benefitting from Chinese embargoes on Australian goods. Minister to minister communications has long been suspended, as China is decoupling Australia.
There are a number of potential trouble spots in the region. These include Chinese intentions over Taiwan, North Korea’s acquisition of long-range nuclear weapon delivery systems, and a potentially unstable nuclear Pakistan with Taliban designs of creating a Pashtun Taliban Caliphate in Pakistan.
The nuclear equilibrium in the region is shifting. China’s rise in military force is prompting countries like India to upgrade its nuclear arsenal to much more powerful thermonuclear weapons.
Probably of greatest importance is Indonesian nuclear weapon development intentions. Former Indonesian army four-star general and minister for maritime affairs and investment has been reported as saying Indonesia is underestimated because it doesn’t have nuclear weapons. Indonesia’s development of facilities capable of manufacturing weapons grade materials are well underway. A nuclear Indonesia with a growing Wahhabi-Salafism in Indonesia may one day leave Australia with a government to the north, vastly different to what exists now.
Australia needs to discuss strategy options in the new realities it faces in the region. There needs to be re-assessments of a post-Afghanistan US alley, very close neighbours to Australia which are adopting a placating response to China, a super-power that is bullying Australia, and the likelihood of a potential nuclear armed neighbour.
Australia’s past stance on nuclear weapons
Since the early 1970s, Australian Governments have been strongly supportive of nuclear non-proliferation under the definitions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), signed by the McMahon Government in 1970 and ratified by the incoming Labor Whitlam Government in 1973. Australia’s anti-nuclear position was even strengthened under Liberal-Coalition Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, as the “green/anti-nuclear” movement was quickly growing in Australia at the time. With the exception of Prime Minister John Howard, who saw a changing Asia-Pacific nuclear balance, subsequent prime ministers Hawke, Keating, Rudd, and Gillard also strongly followed the non-proliferation line.
Paradoxically, every prime minister supported to various degrees, the development of uranium mining and export as an economic driver. The Fraser and later Rudd Governments argued that uranium exports should be used as a means to strengthen non-proliferation by demanding safeguards from customers.
Prior to the 1970s, Australia took a different view towards nuclear non-proliferation. In 1944, Australia supplied uranium ore to the Manhattan Project. Australian physicist Mark Oliphant played a major role in pushing the atomic bomb program in both Britain and the US before the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941.
However, after World War II, the US Government reneged on its agreement to share nuclear technology with its allies. Then Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies, granted Australia’s assistance to Britain in its quest for autonomous nuclear weapons, giving technical assistance and allowing nuclear tests in the Mont Bello Islands, Emu Field and Maralinga, on Australian soil between 1952 and 1963. Australia also participated in the development of the Blue Streak and bloodhound missiles, which were potential nuclear weapon delivery systems with Britain during this era.
The significance of Australian participation, which didn’t go unnoticed by Australian bureaucrats and politicians at the time, was that under section IX.3 of the proposed NPT, Australia would be able to claim nuclear status as it had participated in the production and detonation of nuclear weapons prior to 1st January 1967. Historical reports indicate that the Australian Government’s main motivation at the time, (including US pressure), was to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the local hemisphere, rather than seeking the abolishment of nuclear weapons.
Attempts during the 1950s and 1960s were made by a number of defence personnel, high placed public servants, academics, and right-wing elements of the Liberal-Country Party to acquire nuclear weapons. Initially purchasing them from either Britain or the United States was advocated. Later developing an independent nuclear deterrent was favoured.
Most of the active proponents for nuclear weapons were defence related personnel. They developed a number of plans to acquire nuclear weapons from the British, or have the United States deploy them on Australian soil. Sir Philip Baxter, who was head of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC) at the time, operated a clandestine research program to isolate the isotope U-235 from uranium, the quality needed in the production of nuclear weapons.
Some academics like Professor A. L. Burns of the Australian National University also advocated an Australian nuclear option which was aired by the Australian media at the time, especially in relation to the Chinese testing a nuclear bomb and the belief that Indonesia was also developing nuclear weapons. Pressure groups like the Democratic Labor Party and Returned Soldiers League which were both influential during the 1960s also strongly advocated an Australian nuclear weapon option.
The reluctance of the Australian Government to go ahead with the development of its own nuclear weapons all changed after Prime Minister Menzies retirement, when John Gorton unexpectedly became prime minister after the disappearance of Prime Minister Harold Holt in 1967. John Gorton, an ex-RAAF pilot strongly believed that Australia should have its own independent nuclear deterrent with the Chinese in possession of nuclear weapons in the region. Plans went underway to develop a nuclear facility at Jervis Bay on the South Coast of New South Wales that would house both a nuclear reactor, which could produce weapons grade plutonium, and bomb manufacturing facilities.
Gorton tried to develop an Australian nuclear weapon capability before the NPT was signed. However, in March 1971, he was disposed by William McMahon, who cancelled all nuclear weapon development plans. It will always remain a matter of conjecture how much influence the US had in his decision.
Moving back to more contemporary times, two recent reactions to recent events by the former Turnbull Government briefly hinted of a change in thinking about Australia’s strong non-proliferation position.
Firstly, Australia’s tradition of supporting non-proliferation in international forums was broken. Australia failed to support the recent United Nations resolution to outlaw nuclear weapons on the floor of the General Assembly in 2016, to the surprise and astonishment of many interested in this issue. Secondly, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull failed to give Melbourne based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) director Beatrice Fihn a congratulatory call after been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This seems significant in what can be considered Australia’s first Nobel Peace Prize.
This is not yet a policy shift, but perhaps recognition that nuclear weapons for Australia may need to be an option. Today, with Australian citizen perception of China, and as more news of an Indonesian nuclear weapons program intentions surface, public support will increase. Australian society has changed since the anti-nuclear days of French testing in the Pacific, and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Are nuclear weapons technically possible for Australia?
Australia’s capability to develop nuclear weapons is better than most. The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO) at Lucas Heights, replacing the AAEC in 1987 is an internationally renowned centre of nuclear research. Australia has also developed some advanced indigenous uranium refining technology, the SILEX process using lasers, which is much more economical and cheaper than the traditional centrifuge technology.
Australia has large reserves of uranium and a stockpile of semi-refined uranium at Lucas heights. Australia also has a certain degree of bomb making technology that it gained from participation with Britain in the nuclear tests during the 1950s and its own endeavours back in the 1970s. Australia has the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fighter, Boeing F/A-18a & B Hornet, and the F/A 18F Super Hornet as capable medium range delivery systems. Australia also has a range of nuclear capable cruise missiles which can be launched from aircraft, ships, and submarines. Submarines are today by far the most stealthy method of delivering nuclear weapons, as they are the most difficult to detect, and delivery time from launch to target is short.
However, this doesn’t mean developing a nuclear arsenal would be an easy project for any future government. The project would be a major one requiring special budgeting, which would mean curtailing other budget expenditure. This could be very difficult in today’s economic environment.
In the absence of some form of threat to Australia’s security, public debate would probably be one of the most heated and passionate within Australian society. This would be reflected in the finely balanced Australian Parliament. This debate would have the potential to bring down the Government.
In the absence of bi-partisanship between the major parties on the issue, a Labor Government on current policy would firmly squash any potential nuclear program. It may not even need a change of government, a change of leader within the Liberal Party maybe enough to force the cancellation of any nuclear program.
The nuclear weapon debate is an issue politicians can use to gain power, which would prevent Australia developing nuclear weapons. That’s the dynamics of a democratic system. If France or Britain had to develop nuclear weapons from scratch today, it would almost be impossible through their democratic processes.
Even if Australia decided to go ahead with a nuclear program, tacit approval would be needed from the United States. The US has for years been hedging on this. However, with the Biden view of the region, the US may support allies in the Asia-Pacific taking more responsibility for their own defence. The proposal by Australia to develop its own nuclear arsenal may bring big offers of concessions from the US. There are possibilities that the US could deploy nuclear weapons on Australian soil as a deterrent, with joint control or leasing scheme.
The strongest argument for Australia developing a nuclear deterrent is to gain strategic respect in the region. Australia cannot afford to project itself militarily into the South China Sea in any significant manner on its own. This would need spending 4-5 percent of GDP on defence over a decade. Australia’s transactional diplomacy within the region hasn’t developed close regional military alliances that it should have by now. China is using Australia as a decoupling experiment to see how isolated they can make the country. Australia must quickly see how alone it is now, as no country has jumped to Australia’s assistance. A nuclear deterrent will make it easier for Australia to stand alone. This will now very quickly develop into a serious option.
The rocket, which was launched from Gaza just before 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system. The launch triggered sirens in Sderot and the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council area.
“The IDF will not accept a situation in which terrorist organizations act against Israeli civilians” and holds Hamas accountable for all attacks emanating from Gaza, the IDF said in a statement.
The Israeli strike was the second in Gaza in as many weeks. On Sept. 7, Israeli warplanes attacked Hamas targets in the Strip in response to the launching of incendiary devices into Israeli territory.
Since the end of 11 days of fighting between Israel and Gaza terror groups, Egypt has been attempting to solidify a fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, which rules the coastal enclave.
However, Hamas has stepped up attacks against Israel, including the launching of rockets, incendiary balloons and renewed riots along the Gaza border, one of which claimed the life of an Israeli Border Police officer.
The ‘Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists’ report said that the country currently has approximately 165 warheads and is looking to expand with more warheads, more delivery systems, and a growing fissile materials production industry
Pakistani spectators watch the Shaheen-II long range missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead on its launcher. AFP
In news that should worry India, Pakistan continues to expand its nuclear arsenal with more warheads, more delivery systems, and a growing fissile materials production industry, according to a report in the US-based ‘Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists‘ dated 9 September.
According to the publication, if the country continues in the same manner, it will have 200 warheads by 2025. “We estimate that the country’s stockpile could more realistically grow to around 200 warheads by 2025 if the current trend continues,” read the report prepared by Hans M Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, and Matt Korda, research associate for the NIP.
It added that Pakistan as of date has a nuclear weapons stockpile of approximately 165 warheads. However, the Pakistani government has never publicly disclosed the size of its arsenal and media sources frequently embellish news stories about nuclear weapons.
Pakistan’s nuclear stance
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.
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.
The medium-range missiles include Shaheen-II and newer Shaheen-III missiles. Once fully operational, researchers point out that the Shaheen-III missiles, with a projected range of 2,750 km, would bring Israel within range of Pakistani nuclear missiles for the first time. For this, these missiles will have to be deployed in the western parts of Balochistan province.
The paper further pointed out that Pakistan is also developing a multiple independent reentry vehicle (MIRV) technology-enabled nuclear-capable ballistic missile Ababeel.
Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) Mirage III and Mirage V fighter squadrons are likely to have nuclear delivery capabilities as well. Masroor Air Base near Karachi housing three Mirage squadrons has a “possible nuclear weapons storage site” nearby that, according to the authors, has been witnessing continuous underground constructions and expansions. “This includes a possible alert hangar with underground weapons-handling capability,” said the publication.
Moreover, 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 nearing completion, as well as the enrichment plant at Gadwal to the north of Islamabad.
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.
According to the report, the National Defence Complex in the Kala Chitta Dahr mountain range is ground zero to produce nuclear-capable missiles and launchers. Researchers suspect that the Pakistan Ordnance factories near Wah could be linked to nuclear warhead production.
According to the International Panel on Fissile Materials, Pakistan had approximately 3,900 kg of weapon-grade highly enriched uranium and about 410 kg of weapon-grade plutonium in early 2020. But the authors of the nuclear notebook argue that calculating stockpile size solely based on fissile material inventory could be a wrong approach.
“So that his case does not perish, I find that a humanitarian committee to be formed to reveal the facts around the disappearance of the Islamic leader, Sayyed Musa al-Sadr. This committee represents us in this, with full authority to investigate and reveal facts inside Iraq and abroad, hoping that all countries related to this issue, as well as all the people concerned with it, to cooperate mentally, legally and humanely,” said al-Sadr in posting via his official account on Twitter.
According to Iraqi News Agency, Al-Sadr singled out mentioning Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Syria, as well as Qatar, stressing that “this is not an accusation, but rather a request for cooperation, thankfully,”
A+ A-BAGHDAD – In late August, influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, in a characteristic about-face, announced his Sadrist movement would contest Iraq’s parliamentary elections, a month and a half after he had declared he would not run and withdrew his support for the government.
The reason Sadr gave for his change of mind is a “reform paper” he received from several leaders he said he trusts. The promises made inspired in him hope for the possibility of ridding Iraq of corruption. “It came in line with the desires of the Iraqi people in achieving reform,” Sadr said.
A member of Sadr’s Sairoon parliamentary bloc, Alaa al-Yasiri, told Rudaw on August 29 that measures outlined in the reform paper included ways to combat fraud in the elections, such as controlling campaign financing. It also included legislation of the Oil and Gas Law, which seeks to end “the dispute between the Kurdistan Region and the Federal Government.” The law has been pending since 2005 and every election, parties promise to vote on it, but it’s been stymied by debates over amendments.
How Sadr became a phenomenon
The Sadrist Movement was formed after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. As a populist party, it has a large public base, a private army, and a dominant influence over public life.
“The Sadrist social base consists mainly of the poor and marginalized who come from the social classes that are less educated and influential in society,” said political analyst Rustam Mahmoud writing for Independent Arabia.
Sadr supporters living on the margins of society are searching for “political paternity,” said Mahmoud, and have found it in the Sadr family, especially in Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, the father of Muqtada.
The elder Sadr was a popular figure who cultivated support by commiserating with the people’s grievances, which were doubled during the rule of the Ba’ath Party. His assassination at the hands of the Saddam Hussein regime inflated his sacred status among his supporters.
Muqtada al-Sadr has tried to continue his father’s legacy and the movement has grown in popularity, aided by Sadr’s rhetoric that combines of simplicity and directness with populism.
He is known for his hostility to United States presence in Iraq and he was one of the first to say that “resisting the occupier is a duty.” He formed the Mahdi Army in 2003, a militia that targeted US military convoys, but was also involved in sectarian crimes against the Sunni community in Baghdad. Sadr did not deny these accusations and disbanded the Mahdi Army in 2008, though from time-to-time he threatens to revive the force.
Sadr has a second armed force, the Peace Brigades (Saraya al-Salam in Arabic), which was formed in 2014 in response to the rise of the Islamic State group (ISIS) and is a part of the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF or Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic).
The Sadr movement is one of the Islamic parties that control the country’s institutions and wealth, yet it has rocky relationships with most of its political peers and Shiite establishment.
In 2003, Sadr was accused of the assassination of a prominent Shiite cleric in Najaf, Abdul Majeed al-Khoei. This was the beginning of the confrontation between Sadr and the Shiite religious authority in Iraq, led by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The US issued an arrest warrant for Sadr, but it was never carried out.
Sadr followers also have disputes with the Dawa Party and its leaders, especially former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which is affiliated with the Hakim family.
Sadr and reform
In 2015, civil society activists and some political parties, most notably the Iraqi Communist Party, called for massive demonstrations in Baghdad, condemning corruption and demanding major reforms. The momentum of these demonstrations increased after the Sadr movement joined them. That was the beginning of a rapprochement between the two sides and it led to a political alliance called Sairoon, which ran in the 2018 elections and won the most seats in the parliament.
Sadr supporters stormed Baghdad’s Green Zone several times in 2016, under their leader’s guidance, demanding former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi form a technocratic government. In September 2016, Sadr called on public sector employees to strike and put pressure on authorities to implement the demands of demonstrators.
In February 2017, Sadr called on the United Nations to protect demonstrators, accusing Iraqi forces of using “excessive force” against them. He continued supporting protests until 2019.
Collapse of the Sairoon alliance
In October 2019, another wave of demonstrations stormed Baghdad and southern provinces. The Communist Party declared its full support for the protests and participated in them and Sadr sent his supporters, known as the “blue hats” to protect demonstrators in the squares of Baghdad, Najaf and Nasiriya.
But within weeks, Sadr’s position changed and the blue hats began attacking protesters, killing and injuring hundreds. This was the beginning of the end of the coalition between Sadr and the Communists.
On October 30, 2019, members of the Communist Party affiliated with the Sairoon Alliance resigned from parliament. In December 2020, Sadr said that the Communists were “traitors.”
“We are the first to establish cooperation of Islamic civil society through political and electoral cooperation with civilians and communists, and how quickly they betray us and declare their hostility to us to this day,” Sadr tweeted.
Sadr himself has never run for elected office, but he has been involved in the political scene since 2005 and his party is a current partner in the sectarian quota system. The movement secured 30 – 40 seats in each parliamentary election between 2006 and 2014. And it had no fewer than ten ministers between 2010 and 2014.
It has 90 candidates across Iraq competing in the October vote and is confident of victory, Sadrist member Hassan Faleh said in an interview with Rudaw.
“The position of the next prime minister is the least that the Sadrist movement deserves, and we are certain that we will be the largest and strongest coalition in the next stage,” Faleh said.