Fault lines left over from the creation of the Appalachian Mountains can still lead to earthquakes locally, and many faults remain undetected. According to the USGS, few, if any, earthquakes in New England can be linked to named faults.
While earthquakes in New England are generally much weaker compared to those on defined fault lines, their reach is still impressive. Sunday’s 3.6 was felt in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Hampshire.
USGS Community Internet Intensity Map
While M 3.6 earthquakes rarely cause damage, some minor cracks were reported on social media from the shaking.
According to the USGS, moderately damaging earthquakes strike somewhere in the region every few decades, and smaller earthquakes are felt roughly twice a year.
As we hold the occupation responsible for the repercussions of the colonial settlers groups’ violations, we call upon the masses of our Palestinian people in Jerusalem, West Bank, and 1948 occupied lands to confront the Zionist storming, protect Al-Aqsa, and prevent the Zionist extremists from desecrating it.
Russian state media warned in an unsubstantiated report that Ukraine had been prepping a “plutonium-based dirty bomb nuclear weapon” at the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear plant now in Russian hands, according to Reuters.
War analysts immediately called the claim a “pretext,” counter-warning that Russia could indeed be setting up a “false flag” to pave the way to use its own nuclear arsenal. Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate. Ukrainians indicated a so-called ceasefire in the besieged city of Mariupol was again violated by Russian attacks, and at least three more civilians were killed by the invaders in one incident near Kyiv alone.
Russian news agencies TASS, RIA and Interfax dispatched the report Sunday morning, claiming the “representative of a competent body” in Russia said Ukraine had been working on a “dirty bomb” inside the Chernobyl nuclear plant Russian troops are currently occupying. No real proof was supplied to back the claims, which are disputed by Ukraine officials who say they have never sought to produce nuclear weapons, and come as outside and independent media outlets have increasingly left the country or faced crackdowns. “I think its rhetoric and brinkmanship,” British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab told SKY news on Sunday in response. “He’s got a track record as long as anyone’s arm of misinformation and propaganda…. This is a distraction from what the real issues are at hand—which is that it’s an illegal invasion and it is not going according to plan.”
Russian troops have so far occupied Chernobyl north of the capital Kyiv and Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine, which came under fire Friday, sparking fears that Putin’s unprovoked invasion could lead to nuclear catastrophe in Europe.
Reports from Ukraine sources say that staff inside the plant—shut down but manned since 2000—had not been allowed a shift change since Russia started its occupation on Feb. 24, causing concern that exhausted personnel might accidentally compromise the site’s already vulnerable condition. Chernobyl was the site of a 1986 nuclear meltdown, the worst nuclear accident in history.
Putin also lashed out that heavy sanctions which have crippled his country’s economy were a “akin to a declaration of war,” by the West on Saturday, adding, “thank God it has not come to that.”
Zelensky has scorned NATO for refusing to impose a no-fly zone on his country, another move that Putin has threatened would lead to a larger war.
As the body count rises, diplomats continue to build a case for war crimes charges against Putin, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken telling CNN he was concerned. “We’ve seen very credible reports of deliberate attacks on civilians, which would constitute a war crime,” Blinken told State of the Union. “We’ve seen very credible reports about the use of certain weapons.”
Efforts to create a humanitarian corridor to allow civilians to escape from heavily-bombarded Mariupol were largely unsuccessful on Saturday and again Sunday, with Ukraine claiming Russian troops continue to shell the area. Water and electricity have been shut off in the city of 430,000, where the dead are piling up in the streets with no one able to collect or bury them, according to CNN.
As the bombardment continues into the 11th day, more than 1.5 million displaced people have crossed into neighboring countries, in what United Nations refugee chief Filippo Grandi called “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.” An 11-year-old boy with a backpack crossed into Slovakia on his own. “He won over everyone with his smile, fearlessness, and determination worthy of a real hero,” the Slovak Interior ministry posted on its Facebook page.
The World Health Organization has also put out a call for help on Sunday to help evacuate Ukraine’s sick after citing “several attacks on health care [centers] in Ukraine, causing multiple deaths and injuries.” A WHO representative told the BBC on Sunday that at least six attacks on health care facilities have been reported, leading to the deaths of patients and health-care workers.
In Ukraine’s coastal city of Odessa, one million residents are bracing for what they believe is an imminent attack, perhaps by warships visible off the coast, according to a Washington Postreport. People there are using sand from the popular beaches to fill sandbags and shore up glass structures and create road blocks. Zelensky on Sunday reiterated the warning in a Facebook post, telling residents to be prepared for an attack.
On Sunday, Russian troops continued to advance on the capital Kyiv by land and air as desperate residents tried to escape the city, reportedly killing three civilians on the outskirts. The total civilian death toll is now north of 360 people, according to the U.N.
“The enemy continues to shell all quarters in Bucha mercilessly: every day is the struggle for survival,” the city council said on Facebook Sunday, referring to the Kyiv suburb facing some ofthe heaviest fighting. “There is no electricity, heat, communication, internet. It is impossible to deliver humanitarian aid: the community is under siege. We need support to survive! Help us to save the community!”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks to the media regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, US, March 14, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday sounded the alarm over Russia raising the alert level for its nuclear forces after invading Ukraine, describing it as a “bone-chilling development.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that began on Feb. 24 has so far sent more than 2.8 million people fleeing across Ukraine’s borders and trapped hundreds of thousands in besieged cities while triggering broad Western sanctions on Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin late last month said that his nation’s nuclear forces should be put on high alert, raising fears that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could lead to nuclear war. U.S. officials have said they have seen no reason so far to change Washington’s nuclear alert levels.
Guterres has also called for the preservation of the security and safety of nuclear facilities after a fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Europe’s biggest of its kind, that broke out during a takeover of the plant by Russian forces.
He also said the UN was going to allocate a further $40 million from its Central Emergency Response fund to ramp up humanitarian assistance for Ukraine.
“This funding will help get critical supplies of food, water, medicines and other lifesaving aid into the country as well as provide cash assistance,” Guterres said.
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Chairman-in-Office Zbigniew Rau told a UN Security Council meeting that Russia’s aggression threatened the existence of OSCE, which has nearly 60 members, including Russia.
The Indian Ministry of Defence said Friday the launch of the missile was a “deeply regrettable” accident and emphasized there was no loss of life. But the ostensible mistake nonetheless raised concerns about the safety mechanisms in place preventing the two nuclear powers from a potential conflict, accidental or otherwise.
“This is a serious incident that will inevitably raise questions about India’s nuclear safety processes,” Ajai Shukla, a Delhi-based defence journalist and retired colonel, told VICE World News.
India and Pakistan regularly conduct tit-for-tat tests of nuclear-capable missiles. Last year, India tested 16 ballistic and cruise missiles, and Pakistan tested 10 missiles with nearly identical capabilities. That’s about two missile tests a month between two states that together control more than 300 nuclear weapons.
But the supersonic missile that India shot into Pakistani territory was not a test, according to India. “In the course of routine maintenance, a technical malfunction led to the accidental firing of a missile,” the Indian Ministry of Defence said in a statement on Friday. The Indian government said it would investigate how it happened.
Pakistani officials said the launch of the projectile, an unarmed Mach 3 missile, was not just a violation of its border but also a threat to civilians, as it travels three times the speed of sound at an altitude close to that of passenger flights, at 12,000 meters (40,000 feet).
Although details about the exact missile type has not been disclosed, defence experts have speculated that it was most likely the nuclear-capable supersonic BrahMos missile, which was jointly developed by Russia and India and can carry 300- to 600-pound warheads.
Pakistan on Saturday demanded a joint investigation into the incident. It also alleged that India failed to immediately inform Pakistan about the accidental launch, which took place on March 9 but was acknowledged by India only two days later.
“If such is the level of India’s system then the world must get seriously worried,” Basit said.
Human error has caused nuclear accidents in the past, including in the world’s dominant nuclear power, the United States. In 1980, a Titan 2 missile equipped with a nuclear warhead exploded in Damascus, Arkansas when a maintenance worker accidentally dropped a wrench socket into a shaft and pierced the missile, releasing explosive fuel. The blast killed one person and injured 21 others.
Over thirty years ago, North and South Korea signed a “Denuclearization” declaration forswearing plutonium reprocessing, uranium enrichment, and the development, testing, or possession of nuclear weapons. To reach an agreement, the United States removed its own nuclear missiles from South Korea and canceled its annual military exercises. Secretary of State James Baker patted himself on his back. “American diplomacy [was] directly responsible for an end to six years of intransigence by the North.” The deal assuaged Washington but did not derail Pyongyang’s ambitions. Fourteen years later, North Korea conducted its first nuclear test. It was not the last time an American president would claim that a limited nuclear deal ended a proliferators’ nuclear desire.
Rogues know that brinksmanship against the United States works. Thirteen months after the United States declared victory, North Korea threatened to leave the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) over concerns about Pyongyang’s nuclear activities. The Kim regime’s nuclear escalation should have raised red flags in Washington, but failed to do so. Instead, diplomacy’s cheerleaders preferred to blame Americans for these failures. As a remedy, President Bill Clinton briefly considered military action but decided against it, and by the end of the year, all signs of progress evaporated. North Korea threatened to turn Seoul into a “sea of fire,” and Pyongyang again blocked inspections.
Clinton sought to keep North Korea inside the NPT at any price. “If North Korea could walk away from the treaty’s obligations with impunity at the very moment its nuclear program appeared poised for weapons production, it would have dealt a devastating blow from which the treaty might never recover,” U.S. negotiator Robert Gallucci explained.
It was a case of not seeing the forest for the trees. The scramble to preserve the limited deal blinded Washington to Pyongyang’s greater interest: preventing inspectors from sites that would demonstrate nuclear work. Just as with the Iran nuclear negotiations now, the goal appeared more for the president to show “the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine” than to prevent an adversary’s empowerment.
Clinton eventually reached a deal—the 1994 Agreed Framework—that, in theory, put North Korea’s nuclear program in a box. But, it did nothing of the sort. Instead, the agreement ignored Pyongyang’s past NPT violations and provided Kim’s regime a $4 billion payout.
Unfortunately, the George W. Bush administration repeated this pattern. Almost eight years after signing the Agreed Framework, North Korea admitted to pursuing a covert uranium enrichment program after U.S. intelligence confronted them. President Bush initially listed Pyongyang as a member of his “Axis of Evil,” but six years later, he paid the Kim regime $2.5 million for the political theater of blowing up the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center.
Today, the same pattern repeats with only minor variations in the Iran negotiations. When, in July 2015, the P5+1—the United States, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Russia, and China—agreed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, politicians sang its praises. We have “achieved something that decades of animosity has not — a comprehensive, long-term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” President Barack Obama declared. The Biden administration is repeating this pattern with its singular focus on returning to the expiring, limited nuclear deal.
Herein lies two interlinked problems with the limited Iran nuclear deal.
First, the JCPOA does not address past and future Iranian covert nuclear activities. The deal spelled out an inspections regime for Iran’s declared nuclear facilities. While JCPOA supporters claim the deal includes stringent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections—a debatable assertion—what is certain is that the IAEA did not know about Tehran’s undeclared nuclear activities before Israel stole Iran’s nuclear archive in 2018. That operation proved false Obama’s assertion that the accord has “the most comprehensive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program.” He added, “The bottom line is, if Iran cheats, we can catch them—and we will.”
Iran has also consistently blocked full inspections, especially of sites it defined as military. Indeed, this has always been among the red lines articulated by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. In February 2021, Iran reduced the IAEA’s ability to monitor Tehran’s nuclear program. While partisans will blame President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA, this agreement did not supplant Iran’s NPT commitments that it again violates. Countries do not reduce monitoring if they have nothing to hide. It is possible to hide a centrifuge cascade. The Institute for Science and International Security estimates that if Iran used its current stockpile of enriched uranium in a clandestine 650 IR-6 cascade, a configuration that could be placed in a small warehouse, it could make enough weapons-grade uranium for one nuclear weapon in about a month.
Second, the 2015 deal does not address Tehran’s cooperation with North Korea. The UN Panel of Experts determined that Iran and North Korea had resumed cooperation on long-range missiles in 2020. North Korea’s weaponization program has advanced since its first nuclear test in October 2006. Pyongyang can provide lessons learned or specific techniques to help Iran’s weaponization efforts. Certainly, the renewed resourcing of the Islamic Republic as a result of sanctions relief, waivers, and new foreign investment could allow Iran to fund this cooperation from a North Korean regime that is willing to sell weapons and missile technology to the highest bidder. At a minimum, Pyongyang could provide expertise and information that allow Tehran to shorten its weaponization timeline. The work could occur in North Korea or Iran if Tehran would not allow any off site work by Iranian scientists. All of this covert activity would be hard to detect and disrupt.
Nuclear negotiations with North Korea have shown us that limited nuclear deals allow the proliferator the time and space to develop nuclear weapons. President Joe Biden must reject the mistakes of his predecessors and insist on a longer and stronger deal that eliminates Iran’s pathway to a nuclear weapon.
Anthony Ruggiero and Michael Rubin are, respectively, senior fellows at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the American Enterprise Institute.