A 3.6-magnitude earthquake shook Bliss Corner, Massachusetts, on Sunday morning, officials said — startling residents across the Northeast who expressed shock about the rare tremors.
The quake struck the area about five miles southwest of the community in Buzzards Bay just after 9 a.m. — marking the strongest one in the area since a magnitude 3.5 temblor in March 1976, the US Geological Survey said.
With a depth of 9.3 miles, the impact was felt across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and into Connecticut and Long Island, New York.
“This is the strongest earthquake that we’ve recorded in that area — Southern New England,” USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso told The Providence Journal.
But the quake was still considered “light” on the magnitude scale, meaning that it was felt but didn’t cause significant damage.
The quake, however, was unusual for the region — which has only experienced 26 larger than a magnitude 2.5 since 1973, Caruso said.
Around 14,000 people went onto the USGS site to report the shaking — with some logging tremors as far as Easthampton, Massachusetts, and Hartford, Connecticut, both about 100 miles away.
“It’s common for them to be felt very far away because the rock here is old and continuous and transmits the energy a long way,” Caruso said.
Journalist Katie Couric was among those on Long Island to be roused by the Sunday-morning rumblings.
“Did anyone on the east coast experience an earthquake of sorts?” Couric wrote on Twitter.
“We are on Long Island and the attic and walls rattled.”
Closer to the epicenter, residents estimated they felt the impact for 10 to 15 seconds.
“In that moment, it feels like it’s going on forever,” said Ali Kenner Brodsky, who lives in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.
Top Biden administration officials warned Sunday that Iran’s nuclear program is “starting to be a problem” and that the U.S. and its allies have limited time to strike a deal with Tehran before it stockpiles enough material for a nuclear bomb.
Speaking Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Secretary of State Antony Blinkensaid the administration is hopeful that all sides can come back into compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a pact that limited Iran’s nuclear weapons program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. President Biden confirmed Saturday that talks with Iran, which have been on hold since Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi came to power in June, will soon resume.
Officials acknowledge they have little time to spare. Mr. Blinken’s stark warning underscores the high stakes facing the West as the theocratic regime in Tehrandisregards warnings from Washington and races toward status as a nuclear power.
An Iran equipped with nuclear bombs would be a national security and foreign policy nightmare for the U.S. and its long-standing regional ally Israel. Such a development also would reshape the balance of power in the Middle East and immediately make Iran the region’s most influential player.
Against that grim backdrop, Mr. Blinken said the U.S. and its allies are considering options, presumably including military action, if diplomacy is unsuccessful and Iran’s nuclear program reaches a more dangerous phase.
“We still believe diplomacy is the best path forward for putting the nuclear program back in the box that had been in under the agreement, the so-called JCPOA. But we were also looking at, as necessary, other options if Iran is not prepared to engage quickly in good faith, to pick up where we left off in June,” Mr. Blinken said.
“Every option is on the table, but here’s what’s important: Iran, unfortunately, is moving forward aggressively with its program. The time it would take for it to produce enough fissile material for one nuclear weapon is getting shorter and shorter,” he said. “The other thing that’s getting shorter is the runway we have, where, if we do get back into compliance with the agreement, and Iran gets back into compliance, we actually recapture all of the benefits of the agreement. Iran is learning enough, doing enough, so that that’s starting to be a problem.”
President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the JCPOA in 2018. He said the deal didn’t do enough to stop Iran’s uranium enrichment efforts.
Mr. Trump and fellow Republicans also have maintained that any agreement with Iranmust address other behavior, such as Tehran’s continued support of terrorism. The regime is financially backing groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
Iran also supports militias that regularly target American troops stationed in Iraq and Syria. Republicans say the Biden administration has not done enough to hold Iran to account for those attacks.
During a speech in Washington last week, former Vice President Mike Pence argued that Mr. Biden has emboldened Iran and its leaders.
“Our greatest hope must always be for a peaceful, cooperative and harmonious coexistence with Iran and all the sovereign nations of the region and the world. The United States will always be ready to embrace peace with all who seek it. But peace follows strength,” Mr. Pence said at the event Thursday. The event was organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a leading dissident group that has long called for regime change in Iran.
He also hit the White House for its response to a massive rocket bombardment against Israel this year by Hamas, a terrorist group that receives financing from Tehran.
“And with our current administration’s embrace with the JCPOA, their hesitation to condemn rockets being fired at our cherished ally Israel, the heartbreaking and disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, our adversaries may be sensing weakness in the current American administration,” the former vice president said. “They may be emboldened to test our resolve. And, in fact, they’ve already begun to do so with reports of an Iranian drone attack on a U.S. base in Syria.
“Weakness arouses evil,” Mr. Pence said.
The administration has taken action to push back on those attacks.
The White House last week imposed economic sanctions on two entities and four individuals connected to drone attacks by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including attacks against U.S. forces.
It’s unclear whether the administration is prepared to make that issue part of new talks with Iran or whether the White House will continue its policy of keeping nuclear negotiations separate from other matters.
Meanwhile, Mr. Blinken stressed that the other signatories of the JCPOA — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — are united in the effort to revive the agreement and reimpose limits of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Multilateral talks are expected to resume soon in Vienna, though an exact date has not been set.
The earlier round of talks ended in June when Mr. Raisi, a noted hard-liner, took office.
In a joint statement over the weekend, the U.S., Britain, France and Germany told Mr. Raisi that his country still has a window of opportunity.
“We call upon President Raisi to seize this opportunity and return to a good faith effort to conclude our negotiations as a matter of urgency,” the leaders of those four countries said in their communique. “That is the only sure way to avoid a dangerous escalation, which is not in any country’s interest.”
Iranian officials have confirmed that talks are set to resume, but they blasted the most recent round of U.S. sanctions and suggested that those sanctions will make talks with the Biden administration more difficult.
“Such U.S. measures are in continuation of the Trump administration’s failed ‘maximum pressure’ policy and the country’s unlawful and cruel sanctions,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Friday. “These pressures and sanctions will fail to undermine the Islamic Republic of Iran’s determination to defend [its] security and peace of the noble Iranian people. Tehran will continue the path of sustainable economic development with strength.”
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – His party having secured the highest number of seats in the latest Iraqi parliamentary election, mercurial Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Sunday called for the formation of what he called a “national majority” government.
He also asserted that he is not “ruling out” becoming opposition in the legislature.
“It is not that I have a disagreement with the political blocs except for the issue of internal and external reform, and the issue of the difference between patriotism and subordination,” Sadr said in a statement.
“I believe that the first thing that should be done in the future for the homeland is a national majority government,” He added. Sadr’s political alliance won the largest number of parliamentary seats in the national election, held on Oct. 10, 2021.
“We do not mind being on either side. Both of them would serve the country.”
The statement came days after Sadr said on Friday that he would shutter various local headquarters of the militia he commands across the embattled nation with the exception of four in which he holds considerable influence.
Hypersonic missiles can fly in the upper atmosphere at more than five times the speed of sound. These weapons are capable of traveling much more swiftly than current nuclear-capable ballistic and cruise missiles at low altitudes.
They can also shift direction mid-flight and do not particularly follow a predictable path the way conventional missiles do. This makes hypersonic munition, especially missiles that can travel at over five times the speed of sound, much harder to track and intercept.
Reports have revealed that in August, Beijing tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic glide vehicle that went around the globe before it sped towards a target. The vehicle zoomed through low-orbit space and missed its target by about two dozen miles.
“The test showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US officials realized,” the report said, citing people briefed on the intelligence. The Financial Times, quoting sources, reported that it was theoretically possible for the weapon to fly over the South Pole. Undoubtedly, this would pose a major challenge for the US military.
The initial report in the FT elicited concern in Washington. It appeared that this development caught US Intelligence by surprise. The country has so far conducted “hundreds” of tests in the past five years. Compared to this, the US has completed a meager of nine such trials.
Moreover, Washington has also faced systemic obstacles. Gen. John Hyten, the outgoing vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, America’s No. 2 uniformed military officer, highlighted that Beijing has been willing to move fast and learn from its failures, while the Department of Defense has been held back by “brutal” bureaucracy.
The EurAsian Times had previously reported how China and Russia are leaps ahead of the US in terms of the development and testing of these advanced weapons. More opinions in this regard have sprung up.China’s DF-17 missile has a hypersonic glide vehicle that can deliver both nuclear and conventional payloads. (via Twitter)
In an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power With David Westin” held earlier this week, Raytheon Technologies Corp.’s CEO Gregory Hayes said that the US government is years behind China in the pursuit of hypersonic weapons.
He highlighted that despite the Pentagon having a number of hypersonic weapons programs in development, and the US understanding the technology, China has “actually fielded hypersonic weapons”. He added, “[w]e are at least several years behind.”
This comment comes despite Raytheon’s Missiles and Defense unit having successfully test-fired a hypersonic cruise missile in September this year. This was done as part of a development contract for the US Air Force (USAF) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
“We will have weapons to challenge the adversaries but most importantly I think our focus is how do we develop counter-hypersonics,” Hayes commented. “That’s where the challenge will be.”
A somewhat similar sentiment reflecting panic was echoed by the top-ranking US military officer, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley. He warned the nation about the frightening new hypersonic missile, even going so far as to say, “I don’t know if it’s quite a Sputnik moment, but I think it’s very close to that.”
An Alternate Viewpoint
It is quite obvious that these weapons pose a direct threat to the US and its allies. Beyond this, there is also the additional impact that China’s hypersonic weapons could have on the balance of military might in the Pacific.Chinese PLA researchers are working on AI-driven flight control systems for hypersonic missiles.
This is crucial as the region is currently experiencing high tensions between various powers. This is particularly true of Taiwan, where China, the US, and Japan appear to be quite directly involved.
However, in spite of this threat existing, a differing viewpoint that found voice in The Week believes there is quite a lot of exaggeration. This article cited Union of Concerned Scientists’ member Cameron Tracy’s explanation.
Tracy reportedly sees a hypersonic missile as having little difference from the intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that have been around for dozens of years.
Hypersonic missiles are only a little faster, or stealthier, or immune to detection in comparison. Shooting down a mass attack of ICBMs (that are capable of traveling at up to 20 times the speed of sound) is as impossible as shooting down a hypersonic missile, Tracy explained.
Moreover, even if China could actually destroy every single US city and nuclear installation in one swift strike, they would still face a massive threat of retaliation from nuclear submarines.
In addition, the possibility of nuclear winter would be right around the corner. Plus, the fact remains that the Chinese economy would immediately collapse in the absence of the US buying its exports. This is the logic of mutually-assured destruction which forced the USSR and the US to avoid war for 40 long years.
In light of these facts, this alternate viewpoint believes that the actual reason Milley, and probably Hayes as well, are brewing panic to elicit trillions of dollars worth of spending for the development of an arsenal of hypersonic weapons and anti-hypersonic defense systems.
“We are counting on a return of Iran to the negotiating table. But the clock is ticking. Uranium enrichment is occurring in Iran and this deeply concerns us,” she said on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Rome.
Scheduled to last until Thursday, the exercise will be a “great opportunity for all government ministries to understand the implications,” Bar added, “starting with disruptions in the energy sector… and other such aspects in terms of continual functioning.”https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1454644305516285954 …
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According to The Jerusalem Post, the drill will focus on a new alert system in northern Israel, as well as the rate of fire and the ability of Hezbollah to attack specific areas, especially near the border fence.
Israeli media reported that Hamas had fired three new missiles into the sea on Saturday morning, as part of its efforts to increase its combat readiness.
Gaza has been under an Israeli land, air and sea blockade since June 2007, which has caused a decline in the standard of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.
Israel maintains a heavy naval presence off the coast of the impoverished Palestinian enclave, severely affecting the livelihood of fishermen.
The regime also launches bloody bombing campaigns on Gaza, the latest of which occurred in May, with the Palestinian resistance factions firing more than 4,000 rockets towards the occupied lands during the 11-day war.
Apparently caught off guard by unprecedented rocket barrages, Tel Aviv announced a unilateral ceasefire, which resistance groups accepted with Egyptian mediation.