USGS Evidence Shows Power of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

New Evidence Shows Power of East Coast Earthquakes
Virginia Earthquake Triggered Landslides at Great Distances
Released: 11/6/2012 8:30:00 AM USGS.govEarthquake shaking in the eastern United States can travel much farther and cause damage over larger areas than previously thought.U.S. Geological Survey scientists found that last year’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia triggered landslides at distances four times farther—and over an area 20 times larger—than previous research has shown.“We used landslides as an example and direct physical evidence to see how far-reaching shaking from east coast earthquakes could be,” said Randall Jibson, USGS scientist and lead author of this study. “Not every earthquake will trigger landslides, but we can use landslide distributions to estimate characteristics of earthquake energy and how far regional ground shaking could occur.”“Scientists are confirming with empirical data what more than 50 million people in the eastern U.S. experienced firsthand: this was one powerful earthquake,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “Calibrating the distance over which landslides occur may also help us reach back into the geologic record to look for evidence of past history of major earthquakes from the Virginia seismic zone.”This study will help inform earthquake hazard and risk assessments as well as emergency preparedness, whether for landslides or other earthquake effects.This study also supports existing research showing that although earthquakes  are less frequent in the East, their damaging effects can extend over a much larger area as compared to the western United States.The research is being presented today at the Geological Society of America conference, and will be published in the December 2012 issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.The USGS found that the farthest landslide from the 2011 Virginia earthquake was 245 km (150 miles) from the epicenter. This is by far the greatest landslide distance recorded from any other earthquake of similar magnitude. Previous studies of worldwide earthquakes indicated that landslides occurred no farther than 60 km (36 miles) from the epicenter of a magnitude 5.8 earthquake.“What makes this new study so unique is that it provides direct observational evidence from the largest earthquake to occur in more than 100 years in the eastern U.S,” said Jibson. “Now that we know more about the power of East Coast earthquakes, equations that predict ground shaking might need to be revised.”It is estimated that approximately one-third of the U.S. population could have felt last year’s earthquake in Virginia, more than any earthquake in U.S. history. About 148,000 people reported their ground-shaking experiences caused by the earthquake on the USGS “Did You Feel It?” website. Shaking reports came from southeastern Canada to Florida and as far west as Texas.In addition to the great landslide distances recorded, the landslides from the 2011 Virginia earthquake occurred in an area 20 times larger than expected from studies of worldwide earthquakes. Scientists plotted the landslide locations that were farthest out and then calculated the area enclosed by those landslides. The observed landslides from last year’s Virginia earthquake enclose an area of about 33,400 km2, while previous studies indicated an expected area of about 1,500 km2from an earthquake of similar magnitude.“The landslide distances from last year’s Virginia earthquake are remarkable compared to historical landslides across the world and represent the largest distance limit ever recorded,” said Edwin Harp, USGS scientist and co-author of this study. “There are limitations to our research, but the bottom line is that we now have a better understanding of the power of East Coast earthquakes and potential damage scenarios.”The difference between seismic shaking in the East versus the West is due in part to the geologic structure and rock properties that allow seismic waves to travel farther without weakening.Learn more about the 2011 central Virginia earthquake.

IDF’s new arsenal outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

An Israeli soldier looks on as Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercept rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as it seen from a naval boat patrolling the Mediterranean Sea off the southern Israeli coast as Israel-Gaza fighting rages on May 19, 2021. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

IDF’s new arsenal: More munitions, precise missiles, greater firepower

The IDF plans to allocate some NIS 5 billion of the budget to ‘third circle threats,’ usually a reference to Iran.

The IDF is planning to significantly increase the number of precision munitions in its arsenal in the coming years now that a state budget has been finalized.

The IDF will look to purchase a substantially larger amount of munitions from the United States than before, due to the increase in threats facing the country as well as an increase in targets picked out by the military.Israel purchased tens of thousands of precision-guided munitions from the US in recent years, and used hundreds of Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) during Operation Guardian of the Walls in May, leading to precision strikes on targets in the densely populated Gaza Strip.

Though all JDAMs have been replenished by Washington, The Jerusalem Post learned that with the passing of the budget, the military plans to acquire far more by 2024.

The military expects to increase its requests further by 2030. Though Washington has replenished Israel’s JDAM stockpile, the Americans are not willing to fulfill every Israeli request.

Iron dome anti-missile system fires interception missiles as rockets fired from the Gaza Strip to Israel, in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, May 19, 2021 (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Iron dome anti-missile system fires interception missiles as rockets fired from the Gaza Strip to Israel, in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, May 19, 2021 (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

The IDF has been busy gathering intel on thousands of targets in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iran over the past two years, in expectation of sudden eruptions of violence. The use of such extremely precise munitions allows Israel to hit strategic targets in a crowded civilian environment with relatively small civilian casualty figures.

During the 11 days of war in May, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said at least 243 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children and teenagers, with 1,910 people wounded. Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said 80 operatives were killed during the fighting – 57 from Hamas and 22 from Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The Israeli military said more than 100 operatives belonging to the terrorist groups were killed, and that some of the civilian casualties were caused by Hamas rockets falling short or the collapse of civilian homes after an airstrike on Hamas’s tunnel network.During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, in comparison, over 1,400 Palestinians were killed in Gaza.

In addition to the large increase in precision weaponry the IDF plans to purchase, NIS 5 billion of the budget will go exclusively to what the IDF calls “third-circle threats,” usually a reference to Iran. The funds will be allocated to training and intelligence-gathering capabilities, increasing the military’s target bank even further.

Israel considers Iran’s nuclear program to be the No. 1 challenge. Though Iran has consistently denied seeking to build a nuclear bomb, tensions have risen as the West seeks to resume talks on reviving the deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear program.

The past year has seen an increase in the number of war-between-war operations carried out by Israel, as well as the number of targets struck, with most airstrikes targeting Iranian entrenchment and weapon smuggling in Syria and even at sea.

It is estimated that alleged Israeli attacks against Iranian ships have stopped $1.2b.-$2b. from going to terrorist groups in the Middle East.

But the IDF has admitted that Iran’s conventional missile threat is a major concern for Israel, which despite its multi-layered air defenses, may not be able to contend with intensive missile barrages fired by Iran and its proxy groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon or Shi’ite militias in Iraq.

The budget will also allow the IDF to complete other important defensive projects, such as building a wall along the border with Lebanon and implementing a permanent defensive coverage in the airspace of northern Israel with additional fixed Iron Dome batteries that would be able to shoot down incoming drones and missiles.

Babylon the Great is About to Make Nuclear War Much More Likely: Revelation 16

F35A test dropping a B61-12 dial-able thermonuclear bomb. Click image to play video (Scandia National Labs photo)

The US is About to Make Nuclear War Much More Likely

POSTED ON BY DAVE LINDORFFFacebookTwitterEmail

The US is about to move towards a far more likely first use of nuclear weapons, with word that the Air Force has “completed flight testing” of the cost-and-performance-plagued F35A Lightning fighter, all units of which are being “upgraded” to carry thermonuclear weapons.

What this means, as explained in a new article in Popular Mechanics, is that the world’s most costly weapons program (at $1.7 trillion), a fifth-generation fighter, supposedly “invisible”  to radar (that actually cannot fight and is not invisible to advanced radars), now has a new mission to justify its existence and continued production:  dropping dial-able “tactical” nuclear weapons that can be as small as 0.3 kilotons or up to 50 kilotons in explosive power.

Now 0,3 kilotons is” just” the equivalent of 300 tons of dynamite, which supposedly makes them “useable,” meaning not holocaust-causing,  while dialed up to its maximum 50-kiloton power each bomb would be significantly more than twice as powerful as the nuclear bomb that leveled Nagasaki.

The Popular Mechanics article, also published in Yahoo News, quotes Pentagon sources as saying the new F35A capability gives the US flexibility to deliver nukes to targets in a country threatening the US, and to recall them up to the last second before dropping the weapon since the plane would be piloted, but this supposed advantage of a manned delivery system being recallable is a fantasy.

As Daniel Ellsberg has exposed in detail in his 2017 book The Doomsday Machine, based on his decades of investigation with a top security clearance on behalf of the Secretary of Defense office investigating command-and-control procedures and practices of the nation’s nuclear forces, there is no way to guarantee that a pilot ordered on a nuclear strike mission will receive — or believe — any message or signal ordering a cancellation of the attack order.

As Ellsberg explains, communication systems routinely break down on an almost daily basis between Washington and its far-flung military bases, because of equipment malfunctions, storms, solar flares, etc.. Furthermore, in a period of international crisis, a pilot may distrust even an order to call off an attack which, after all, won’t be a phone call from the president, a Pentagon general, or even a known base commander, but rather a short coded signal. As Ellsberg notes in his terrifying book, the other flaw is that a pilot, once sent on such a mission, could decide in the heat of the moment, to just carry on with orders and drop his weapon regardless of receiving a cancellation order. Remember, in times of crisis, countries may be employing jamming systems to knock out enemy military communications, or could even be blinding communication satellites.

Meanwhile the scenario presented in the article — a lone pilot being dispatched to deliver one dial-able B61-12 thermonuclear weapon onto some command-and-control center or missile launching site, perhaps — is not really what the Pentagon strategists have in mind for its  F-35A planes.

Actually, hundreds of these Air Force versions of the F-35 have been getting so-called “block four’ alterations, with bulging farings replacing their formerly sleek bodies, in order to allow the carrying  of two elongated Hydrogen bombs inside their fuselages, where they won’t present a larger radar image as bombs carried externally under wings would do. These re-configured planes, which also have software upgrades to allow them to prime, unlock and release their two nukes, are being delivered to forward bases near Russia and China within the relatively short range of the bomb-laden planes.

The idea (hopefully wishful thinking), is that such planes, armed with their twin nukes, could streak across a Russian and/or Chinese border at supersonic speed, flying low to the ground, to strike government buildings, military bases, and missile silos in a surprise strike, leaving the target country unable to retaliate. 

For US military policy makers, all the way back to the post-war late 1940s, through the 1950s  and on, taking out America’s nuclear-armed rivals in a preventive atomic blitz has long been a strategic goal, always deferred thankfully because of lingering fears among saner heads that such a criminal and genocidal attack would fail to prevent a counterattack.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent self-described “socialist” senator from Vermont now needs to finally end his own dogged and cynical support for the basing of 18 F-35A planes at the Burlington International Airport where pilots of the Vermont Air National Guard are now training for exactly the kinds of bombing scenario described above.

Sanders has insisted that while he “opposes” the “wasteful” F35 program, it is a “done deal” and so he wants Vermont’s Air National Guard unit to get a piece of the “benefits” of having it and the “jobs” it supposedly brings with it in his state. He has continued to dissemble, claiming that the vermont F35As will not carry nuclear weapons or be used in nuclear war. In fact, his office was caught altering a document from the Pentagon to hide the fact that the planes would in fact be upgraded with the “block four” alterations so they can carry nukes just like all F-35As in the Air Force fleet.   

Vermont’s planes would not, and could not, fly from Burlington over the North Pole to deliver their bombs to Russian or Chinese targets, except with multiple in-flight refueling sessions, and all the while flying at subsonic speeds to conserve fuel, obviating any chance of a “surprise” attack. But they could, if the pilots are trained (as they will be) in using the upgraded planes to carry their nuclear cargo and to release them on targets, be activated during a period of international crisis. The plan would then be for US-based pilots to ferry their F-35A planes to forward bases, where the nuclear bombs would be stockpiled. The planes and their pilots would then be ready to join a potential attack, or to create a sense of looming threat that would, supposedly, lead the enemy — say Russia or China — to back down, or alternatively to launch their own attack first.

With word the Air Force is ready to start full-scale upgrading of its F35A fleet to nuclear-capable bombers, Sen. Sanders needs to do a red-faced volte-face, demand the immediate removal of F35A jets from Vermont. He must also stop hypocritically  supporting the further production and Block-Four upgrading of this plane.

Let’s be clear:  a nuclear-armed, radar-evading fighter-bomber fleet is not by any stretch be conceived of as a “retaliatory” weapon. If Russia or China, the only countries that could even conceivably consider launching a first strike on the US, were to do so, having a plane that could hit command-and-control centers, missile silos and military bases in the attacking country would be useless. First of all those planes would have been already blown to smithereens on the ground in the initial enemy attack. Second, if they somehow survived to take off, the national political and military leaders of any country launching such an attack would long since have moved to protective hidden locations having ordered their attack, troops would have been moved off their inevitably targeted bases with their equipment, and missile silos would be empty holes, their missiles having already been launched. Moreover, enemy countries would be on high alert lookout for any incoming F35s or other bombers and would have their anti-aircraft missile arrays ready to fire, and their fighter defenses already in the air on full alert to knock down the heavily burdened and inevitably poorly armed incoming US planes.

It’s all a big lie in other words, for the Pentagon to claim these planes are making the world safer by including a pilot.

As first-strike weapons the bomb-capable F35A simply increases the chance that a war will be started by the US, if Pentagon strategists keep think they’re being given an opportunity to strike without fear of a significant retaliation.   

That leaves the other more likely risk too:  That this nuclear-capable fighter could be used to deliver a “small nuke”  against some smaller non-nuclear nation — one of the many where US military forces find themselves engaged in undeclared wars like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Niger, the Philippines, etc. The consequences of such a use of a nuclear weapon against a non-nuclear nation, by opening the door to widespread use of nuclear weapons in virtually any armed conflict, could be as profound as was the first such use against non-nuclear Japan by a cocky US in the waning days of World War II.

Those two bombings of two non-military targets, obliterating two major Japanese cities, led directly to a multi-generational multi-trillion-dollar arms race between the US and Soviet Union, and ultimately China too, and to a spread of nuclear weapons to seven more nations.

This latest escalation of nuclear weaponry, creating a fleet of over a thousand nuclear-carrying stealth fighter-bombers, will inevitably lead to similar planes being developed in Russia, China and elsewhere (China has already created a very similar stealth fighter to the F-35, and Russia, which has a very advanced aircraft design capability, is sure to follow suit).  The unrelenteing efforts at incalculable cost by the US to come up with a viable first-strike capability is also driving the Russians and Chinese to respond with alternative deterrent weapons, notably hypersonic cruise missiles that can autonomously change direction and targets while flying at thousands of miles per hour, are not first-strike weapons, given the time it would take them to reach their targets.

For all the huffing and puffing of media scaremongers, the hypersonic missiles being tested by Russia and China are a defensive weapons designed to make a nation like the US that is openly looking for an offensive first-strike possibility,  think twice before launching such a holocaust.

Deterrence is decidedly not what the F35A nuclear bomber upgrades are about. The best that can be hoped is that this bomber upgrade is just in a series of schemes by the Pentagon, F35-maker Lockheed-Martin, and all the company’s Congressional backers accepting the company’s bribes, to keep the trillion-dollar gravy train for this epic boondoggle of a plane flowing.

Iraq election: the Antichrist claims victory

Iraq election: Nationalist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr claims victory

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Image source, ReutersImage caption, Supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr’s Saeroun movement celebrated in Baghdad on Monday night

Shia Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has claimed victory for his nationalist Saeroun movement in Iraq’s election. 

Mr Sadr, who wants to end US and Iranian influence over Iraq’s internal affairs, promised to form a government free from foreign interference.

Partial results showed Saeroun winning 73 of the 329 seats in parliament and Sunni Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi’s Taqaddum coalition second with 38.

The pro-Iranian Fatah alliance suffered a surprise setback, getting only 14.

It is likely to take many weeks of negotiations to build a new governing coalition, which Mr Sadr cannot lead because he did not stand as a candidate.

But the record low official turnout of 41% suggests many Iraqis do not believe that there will be any real change to the power-sharing system, based on sectarian and ethnic identity, that has allowed a narrow elite to keep a firm grip on power since the US-led invasion in 2003.

  • Iraqis vote in polls triggered by mass protests
  • The firebrand cleric who could calm Iraq

Sunday’s election was the first since mass protests over government corruption, high unemployment and dire public services erupted in 2019.

The poll had been due next year but was brought forward by six months in response to the unrest, during which more than 550 demonstrators were killed by security forces and gunmen suspected of links to powerful Iran-backed Shia militias in the paramilitary Popular Mobilisation force.

The old electoral system was also replaced with one meant to make it easier for independent candidates to challenge established parties.

This video can not be played

To play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.Media caption, (December 2019) Iraq ends year in political turmoil

Initial results released on Monday night showed that Saeroun won 19 more seats than it did in the last election in 2018, the state-owned Iraq News Agency (INA) reported.

Mr Sadr hailed the results as a victory for reform and for Iraq.

“It is the day of the victory of reform over corruption. The day of the people’s victory over occupation, normalisation, militias, poverty, injustice and enslavement,” he said in a televised speech.

“It is a day when sectarianism, ethnicity and partisanship were defeated. It is the day of Iraq and we are the servants of the Iraqi people.”

The cleric warned foreign powers that all embassies would be welcomed “as long as they do not interfere in Iraq’s internal affairs and the formation of the government”, and that any intervention would be “met with a diplomatic or even a popular response”.

Image source, ReutersImage caption, Moqtada al-Sadr cannot serve as prime minister because he did not stand in the election

Mr Sadr, 47, is one of the best-known and most powerful figures in Iraq. 

A son of the late Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr, he shot to prominence after the 2003 invasion as a vocal opponent of the foreign occupation and the head of a militia that repeatedly clashed with US forces.

In recent years, he has recast himself as an anti-corruption campaigner and also distanced himself from Iran, vowing that he would “not leave Iraq in its grip”.

He has also criticised the Iran-backed militias, which have developed significant political and economic power since helping the Iraqi government defeat the Sunni jihadist group Islamic State in 2017. 

Fatah leader Hadi al-Ameri, a militia commander with close ties to the hard-line leadership in Tehran, rejected the election results, which showed the alliance ending up with 34 fewer seats than in the outgoing parliament.

“We will not accept these fabricated results, whatever the price, and we will defend the votes of our candidates and voters with full force,” he was quoted as saying by Al-Sumaria TV on Tuesday.

Iran Horn begins annual war games: Daniel 8

Iran begins annual war games ahead of renewed nuclear talks with West

Nov. 7, 2021

Iran’s military began its annual war games in a coastal area of the Gulf of Oman, state TV reported Sunday, less than a month before upcoming nuclear talks with the West.

The report said navy and air force units as well as ground forces were participating in a more than 1 million square-kilometer (386,100 square-mile) area east of the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

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Nearly 20 percent of all oil shipping passes through the strait to the Gulf of Oman and Indian Ocean.

The drill comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal of America from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

State TV said brigades including commandos and airborne infantry deployed for the annual exercise. Fighter jets, helicopters, military transport aircraft, submarines and drones were also expected to take part in the drill. It wasn’t immediately clear how long the exercise would last.

Dubbed “Zolfaghar-1400,” the war games are aimed at “improving readiness in confronting foreign threats and any possible invasion,” state TV said.

U.S. officials said last week that Iran had seized a Vietnamese-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman last month and was still holding the vessel in its port.

Iran offered conflicting accounts of what happened, claiming that elite Revolutionary Guard commandos had thwarted a U.S. seizure of a tanker carrying Iranian oil in the Gulf of Oman and freed the vessel. It aired dramatic footage on state television but did not further explain the incident.

The nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, promises Iran economic incentives in exchange for limits on its nuclear program, and is meant to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb.

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After the U.S. withdrew from the deal in 2018 and restored sanctions on Iran, the Islamic Republic gradually — and publicly — abandoned the deal’s limits on its nuclear development.

Iran says its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium has reached over 210 kilograms (463 pounds), the latest defiant move ahead of upcoming nuclear talks with the West.

Under the historic nuclear deal, Iran was prohibited from enriching uranium above 3.67 percent. Enriched uranium above 90% can be used for nuclear weapons, though Tehran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.

After months of delays, the European Union, Iran and the U.S. announced last week that indirect talks to resuscitate the deal would resume Nov. 29 in Vienna

Iran Announces Increase in Nuclear Stockpile: Daniel 8

Iran Announces Increase in Stockpile of 60% Enriched Uranium, to 25 kg

3 Kislev 5782 – November 6, 2021

Photo Credit: US Photonics Inc. / US Nuclear Regulatory CommissionGas Centrifuges used to enrich uranium, 1984 (illustrative)

Iran has increased its stockpile of 60 percent-enriched uranium to 25 kilograms (55 pounds), Reuters reported on Friday, quoting Iranian state media.

“So far, we have produced 25 kilograms of 60 percent uranium which, except for countries with nuclear weapons, no other country is able to produce,” Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, was quoted as saying.Advertisement 



The stockpile of highly enriched uranium is a violation of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which capped the purity of uranium that Iran was allowed to produce at 3.67 percent enrichment.

Negotiations on reviving the JCPOA are due to begin November 29.

On Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said in a telephone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that the negotiations will make “rapid progress” if European and American negotiators “abandon excessive demands, avoid making any request beyond the JCPOA, and adopt a realistic and constructive approach,” the semi-official Tasnim News Agency reported. 

Lavrov reportedly stressed the importance of reviving the JCPOA and said all parties . . . should return to their commitments.

This past June, Iran announced that it had produced 6.5 kilos of 60 percent enriched uranium.

That is the level that is appropriate for most civilian nuclear energy, one far below the 20 percent that Iran had produced before the JCPOA was signed. 

Uranium must be enriched to 90 percent to produce a nuclear weapon.

The ballooning Chinese nuclear arsenal: Daniel 7

Pentagon reports ballooning Chinese nuclear arsenal: Implications for India

Pentagon’s recent report suggests that China is expanding its nuclear weapons at a lightning speed and is likely to have at least 1000 warheads by 2030. This surpasses the earlier estimates of the US Department of Defense. In 2019, Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley, Jr. Director, Defense Intelligence Agency of US had stated that over the next decade, ‘China is likely to at least double the size of its nuclear stockpile from the then estimated nuclear arsenal at 290’. Though he noted that China was in the course of implementing the most rapid expansion and diversification of its nuclear arsenal in China’s history. Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda (Nuclear experts) in their Nuclear Notebook published in July 2019 had given a much lower estimate. They assessed that China was adding 10 nuclear weapons annually and at that rate, it would have about additional 110 nuclear weapons in 2030. The current report suggests that both the earlier estimates were wrong.

The above leads to the question of the availability of weapon-grade Uranium, Helium and Plutonium. China, besides its own Uranium, has been importing from foreign countries for power production mainly from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Australia, Namibia, and Canada. In 2014, Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies re-examined China’s fissile-material production capabilities, drawing attention to ‘a number of still-secret, incomplete nuclear facilities for the first time’. According to this study, China had about 20 Tonnes of HEU and 2 tonnes of plutonium in 2015. This inventory may have increased substantially since then. China has sufficient weapon-grade fissile material for its expansion of nuclear arsenal projected for the coming period. China has also the required industrial capacity to enrich uranium and produce plutonium for military needs by constructing fast breeder reactors and reprocessing facilities.

China has been developing a new generation of missiles, with warheads consisting of multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) and penetration aids, intended to ensure the viability of its strategic deterrent against its adversaries. Of late, there has been a significant improvement in its delivery system. These include a new version of nuclear medium-range mobile ballistic missile DF-21 (CSS-5), a dual-capable intermediate-range mobile ballistic missile [the DF-26 with a range of about 4,000 kms], the DF-31AG with a range of about 7,000 km, ICBM DF41 has been made capable of using MIRVs. In August 2021, China had tested a hypersonic missile that circles the globe before descending to hit its target.

The current reports suggest that China has developed new and more effective nuclear weapons. In addition, China has a strong capability for reverse engineering. The Cox’s Report of the US had revealed that China had stolen classified information on all of the United States’ most advanced thermonuclear warheads, and several of the associated re-entry vehicles. This had helped China to fabricate and successfully test modern strategic thermonuclear weapons. These included the W-88 Trident D-5 thermonuclear warhead, and the W-56 Minuteman II, the W-62 Minuteman III, the W-70 Lance, the W-76 Trident C-4, the W-78 Minuteman III Mark 12A, and the W-87 Peacekeeper thermonuclear warheads. The W-88 is a miniaturised tapered thermonuclear weapon. It was considered as the most sophisticated thermonuclear warhead which was mated to the D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missile carried aboard the Trident nuclear submarine. Its new version W-88 Alt 370 was produced by the US in July 2021. China may have developed its version.

An indication of this comes from the fact that China has in recent years procured a large number of strategic nuclear submarines of its existing model, the 094 (Jin) class, instead of building a smaller number of them while the more advanced 096 class is still being developed. Each Jin-class SSBN is designed to carry up to 12 JL-2s (CSS-N-14), a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) that is a modified version of the DF-31. The range is 7200-7400 km. The 096-class submarine would have JL 3 SLBM with a range of 9000 km. People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has a new air-to-air missile [PL-15} on its fleet of J-11B fighters, which can hit targets in the range of 300-400 km. Most missiles are reported to be based on stolen western models.

China is working assiduously to have a robust nuclear triad for the effective second-strike capability to inflict ‘unacceptable damage’ to adversaries. While earlier China had maintained only about twenty silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), recent evidence from independent U.S. experts shows that the country is constructing about 200 silos. Besides silo-based ICBMs, China also is building more road-mobile ICBMs and strategic nuclear submarines, even as it introduces air-based nuclear capabilities. The US report states: “The PRC is investing in, and expanding, the number of its land, sea and air-based nuclear delivery platforms and constructing the infrastructure necessary to support this major expansion of its nuclear forces.”

While China officially states that it follows the ‘No-First-Use’ policy, its experts over the last two decades have been indicating that under three circumstances China could use nuclear weapons. First, if there is an all-out attack against the country by conventional forces; second, if China’s own territory is to be recaptured from an adversary; and third, in case of an attack on the Chinese nuclear weapons through conventional means. The view that the “NFU” is not applicable in the areas belonging to China is significant. In a hypothetical scenario, China can use tactical nuclear weapons in Arunachal Pradesh.

The dramatic expansion of the nuclear arsenal and ambiguity in the use of nuclear weapons have serious security implications for India. First, the de-escalation and disengagement would now become more difficult with China adopting a more inflexible approach. The negotiations with China would now become more complex with no prospects of China to move away from its stated claims, which are now matters of its ‘sovereignty and territorial integrity.’ Second, China would be more aggressive along the LAC with a stronger nuclear posture for deterrence coupled with the recent land border law. It would try to occupy strategic points. The new border infrastructure including the dual-use villages across Arunachal Pradesh would allow the PLA troops to be in the disputed region. Recent reports suggest that these villages are meant to house PLA troops. Domestic pressure would be an important factor for this approach. Xi has been projecting that the disputed areas in its periphery belong to China and ‘the rejuvenated China’ must include them. The domestic population is kept on a diet of irredentism and ultra-nationalism with high-voltage propaganda to justify its claims. Xi has to show that China is likely to achieve its objective at least before 2027. Third, now China would adopt a stronger posture for nuclear deterrence- ‘launch on warning’ – with expanded nuclear arsenal and delivery systems.

India’s options are now limited. The situation is pushing India to match its deployment to check any further ingress. It has to occupy all the strategic points to have a strengthened bargaining position. Alongside, all leverages have to be used to put pressure on China. The self-rule in Tibet should be supported with the appointment of a Coordinator for Tibet to remain in touch with the situation in Tibet. The minorities in Xinjiang are also in a miserable situation, which also needs higher international support. The actualisation of free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific would put further pressure on China.
And importantly, India’s sharpening of nuclear deterrence is imperative in the changing nuclear environment. The urgent need to deny the perceived advantages under NFU to our adversaries cannot be underrated. India’s defence minister Sri Rajnath Singh had rightly emphasised (Aug 2019) that while we adhere to NFU, circumstances would decide the first use of nuclear weapons in the future. This posture should be maintained, which provides the necessary flexibility in NFU while maintaining the image of a responsible nation.

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Views expressed above are the author’s own.