as regions near plate boundaries, large and damaging earthquakes do occur there. Furthermore, when these rare eastern U.S. earthquakes occur, the areas affected by them are much larger than for western U.S. earthquakes of the same magnitude.
Seismicity in the vicinity of New York City. Data are from the U.S. Geological Survey (Top, USGS) and the National Earthquake Information Center (Bottom, NEIC). In the top figure, closed red circles indicate 1924-2006 epicenters and open black circles indicate locations of the larger earthquakes that occurred in 1737, 1783 and 1884. Green lines indicate the trace of the Ramapo fault.
As can be seen in the maps of earthquake activity in this region(shown in the figure),
The NYC area is part of the geologically complex structure of the Northern
Appalachian Mountains. This complex structure was formed during the past half billion years when the Earth’s crust underlying the Northern Appalachians was the site of two major geological episodes, each of which has left its imprint on the NYC area bedrock.
A magnitude 4.0 eastern U.S. earthquake typically can be felt as far as 100 km (60 mi) from its
epicenter, but it infrequently causes damage near its source. A magnitude 5.5 eastern U.S. earthquake, although uncommon, can be felt as far as 500 km (300 mi) from its epicenter, and can cause damage as far away as 40 km (25 mi) from its epicenter. Earthquakes stronger than about magnitude 5.0 generate ground motions that are strong enough to be damaging in the epicentral area.
system in California, scientists can often make observations that allow them to identify the specific fault on which an earthquake took place. In contrast, east of the Rocky Mountains this is rarely the case.
The NYC area is far from the boundaries of the North American plate, which are in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, in the Caribbean Sea, and along the west coast of North America. The seismicity of the northeastern U.S. is generally considered to be due to ancient zones of weakness that are being reactivated in the present-day stress field. In this model, pre-existing faults that were formed during ancient geological episodes persist in the intraplate crust, and the earthquakes occur when the present-day stress is released along these zones of weakness.
Earthquakes and geologically mapped faults in the Northeastern U.S.
The northeastern U.S. has many known faults, but virtually all of the known faults have not been active for perhaps 90 million years or more. Also, the locations of the known faults are not well determined at earthquake depths. Accordingly, few (if any) earthquakes in the region can be unambiguously linked to known faults.
and Piedmont areas to the east. This fault is perhaps the best known fault zone in the Mid-Atlantic region, and some small earthquakes have been known to occur in its vicinity. Recently, public knowledge about the fault has increased – especially after the 1970s, when the fault’s proximity to the Indian Point nuclear plant in New York was noticed.
There is insufficient evidence to unequivocally demonstrate any strong correlation of earthquakes in the New York City area with specific faults or other geologic structures in this region. The damaging earthquake affecting New York City in 1884 was probably not associated with the Ramapo fault because the strongest shaking from that earthquake occurred on Long Island (quite far from the trace of the Ramapo fault). The relationship between faults and earthquakes in the New York City area is currently understood to be more complex than any simple association of a specific earthquake with a specific mapped fault.
Consolidated Edison Company. The plant began operating in 1963, and it has been the subject of a controversy over concerns that an earthquake from the Ramapo fault will affect the power plant. Whether or not the Ramapo fault actually does pose a threat to this nuclear power plant remains an open question.
“As we mourn our fighters who were assassinated in a coward israeli assassination, we affirm that the Israeli assassination policy will never provide security or legitimacy to the occupation,” the Movement said, vowing to continue the struggle until liberation.
“Such crimes will only strengthen our people’s will and determination in defense of our land and holy sites,” Hamas added.
Earlier Saturday, the zionist occupation forces (ZOF) killed three Palestinians after opening fire at their vehicle at Araba junction, south of Jenin in the West Bank.
Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad, mourned the martyrs in a statement issued today, saying that they were members of the group.
FILE – A damaged gas mask lies on the pavement at a Russian position which was overran by Ukrainian forces, outside Kyiv, Ukraine, March 31, 2022. Russia’s assault on Ukraine and its veiled threats of using nuclear arms have policymakers questioning how the West should respond to a Russian battlefield explosion of a nuclear bomb. The default U.S. policy answer, say some architects of the post-Cold War nuclear order, is with discipline and restraint. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)
The default U.S. policy answer, say some architects of the post-Cold War nuclear order, is with discipline and restraint. That could entail stepping up sanctions and isolation for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Rose Gottemoeller, deputy secretary-general of NATO from 2016 to 2019.
But no one can count on calm minds to prevail in such a moment, and real life seldom goes to plan. World leaders would be angry, affronted, fearful. Miscommunication and confusion could be rife. Hackers could add to the chaos. Demands would be great for tough retaliation — the kind that can be done with nuclear-loaded missiles capable of moving faster than the speed of sound.
When military and civilian officials and experts have war-gamed Russian-U.S. nuclear tensions in the past, the tabletop exercises sometimes end with nuclear missiles arcing across continents and oceans, striking the capitals of Europe and North America, killing millions within hours, said Olga Oliker, program director for Europe and Central Asia at the International Crisis Group.
“And, you know, soon enough, you’ve just had a global thermonuclear war,” Oliker said.
It’s a scenario officials hope to avoid, even if Russia targets Ukraine with a nuclear bomb.
“And a single Russian nuclear use demonstration strike, or — as horrific as it would be — a nuclear use in Ukraine, I do not think would rise to that level” of demanding a U.S. nuclear response, said Gottemoeller, now a lecturer at Stanford University.
For former Sen. Sam Nunn, a Georgia Democrat who over nearly a quarter-century in Congress helped shape global nuclear policy, the option of Western nuclear use has to remain on the table.
“That’s what the doctrine of mutual assured destruction has been about for a long, long time,” said Nunn, now strategic adviser to the Nuclear Threat Initiative security organization, which he co-founded.
“If President Putin were to use nuclear weapons, or any other country uses nuclear weapons first, not in response to a nuclear attack, not in response to an existential threat to their own country … that leader should assume that they are putting the world in the high risk of a nuclear war, and nuclear exchange,” Nunn said.
Any country that interfered with Russia’s invasion would face consequences “such as you have never seen, in your entire history,” Putin declared.
How to respond to any use by Russia of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons was among the issues discussed by Biden and other Western leaders when they met in Europe in late March. Three NATO members — the United States, Britain and France — have nuclear weapons.
One overarching concern is that by casting some nuclear weapons as tactical weapons to be used in battle, Russia could break the nearly eight-decade global taboo against using a nuclear weapon against another country. Even comparatively small tactical nuclear weapons approach the strength of the atomic bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in World War II.
Gottemoeller and Nunn praise Biden’s restraint in the face of Putin’s implicit nuclear warnings at the outset of the war. Biden made no known move to raise the U.S. nuclear alert status. The U.S. also postponed a routine Minuteman III test launch last month to avoid escalating tensions.
But in the short term and long, the world appears more at risk of a nuclear conflict as a result of Putin’s bungled invasion and nuclear threats, according to arms control experts and negotiators.
The weaknesses that Russia’s invasion exposed in its conventional military forces may leave Putin feeling even more compelled in the future to threaten nuclear use as his best weapon against the far-stronger United States and NATO.
While Gottemoeller argued that Ukraine’s surrendering of its Soviet nuclear arsenal in 1994 opened the door for three decades of international integration and growth, she said some governments may take a different lesson from nuclear Russia’s invasion of non-nuclear Ukraine — that they need nuclear bombs as a matter of survival.
Jeffrey Lewis, an arms control expert and professor at the Middlebury Institute, said the nuclear danger is going up.
“And we can tell which pathways would cause that risk to go up further. And certainly direct conflict with Russia from forces based in NATO countries is one pathway to a nuclear war,” Lewis said.
Gottemoeller took heart in Putin grumbling publicly late last month about “cancel culture.” That suggested he was vulnerable to world condemnation over his Ukraine invasion, and worse to come if he broke the post-World War II taboo on nuclear attack, she said.
Detonating a nuclear bomb in a country Putin sought dominion over, one next to his own, wouldn’t be rational, Nunn said. But he said neither was Putin’s announcement of heightened nuclear alert,.
As a young congressional aide during the Cuban missile crisis, Nunn witnessed U.S. officers and pilots in Europe standing by for orders to launch nuclear weapons on the Soviet Union. The danger today isn’t yet as great as in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when Soviet deployment of nuclear missiles on Cuba raised the threat of nuclear war with the U.S., he said.
But the risk of intentional nuclear escalation now is high enough to make a cease-fire in Ukraine crucial, Nunn said. The modern threat of cyberattacks adds to the risk of a mistaken launch. And it’s not clear how vulnerable U.S. and, especially, Russian systems are to such hacking attempts, he said.
Putin “has been very reckless in his saber rattling with nuclear weapons,” Nunn said. “And that I think has made everything more dangerous, including a blunder.”
Taipei: Two events occurring in parallel are causing countries to re-evaluate their security in the context of nuclear weapons: (1) Iran’s nuclear weapons efforts, and (2) the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This article will examine the consequences of these events for some countries of the Middle East, Asia, and Europe.
IRAN’S NUCLEAR WEAPONS
By 2025, the Islamic Republic of Iran, run by apocalyptic Shia mullahs, will have a nuclear weapon.If the nuclear talks going on between Iran the P5+1 countries (US, Russia, China, UK, France and Germany) fail, then Iran will continue to refine uranium to weapons grade level.Currently, they have the technology to deliver a nuclear weapon on five types ofballistic missiles (Shahab 3 [based on the NorthKorean No Dong medium range ballistic missile], Emad-1, Emad-2, Sejjil,and Khorramshar[based on the North Korean Musudan]) and land attack cruise missiles (Soumarbased on the Russian air-launched AS-15). See Figure 1 below.
Iran mayconduct an underground test of a nuclear weapon in one of their remote provinces much like other nuclear powers have done. The USconducted100 atmospheric and 921 undergroundtests in Nevada.If the negotiations result inan agreement on a newJoint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)and Iran does not continue its clandestine weapons nuclear weapons development program, Iran delays development and production until after 2025. The 2015 JCPOA agreement also allowed Iran to resume nuclear weapons development efforts after 2025.In summary, Iran will have the capability to build a bomb after 2025 and deliver it as far away as Eastern Europe and most of India, based on its medium range ballistic missiles (MRBM) (see Defense Intelligence Agency map below).
Given the consequences of a new JCPOA agreement and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, non-nuclear weapons states—specifically in the Middle East—have three basic choices.They either (1) secure a nuclear power’s promise to protect them in event Iran attacks them—or threatens to attack them with nuclear weapons,(2) they develop their own weapons, or (3)do nothing and hope for the best. Ukraine’s experience suggests hoping for the best would not be a good choice.Nuclear weapons-armed China and Russia probably would not be on a list of potential allies against Iran; China and Russia have extensive military and economic ties to Iran.
The United Kingdom and France are not in the nuclear umbrella business.India also has extensive economic ties with Iran and would most likely decline interference; they have their own challenges with China and Pakistan. Pakistan might be an option, but they also are beholden to China who has friendly relations with Iran. We are running out of options.
The only two options are the US and Israel.Israel would be taking a great risk by offering to provide a nuclear umbrella to Gulf countries since the Gulf countries could draw Israel into a nuclear war with Iran in which every statesuffers great losses. Israel could offer to help these countries build their nuclear weapons capability, but punitive UN Security Council actions would deter them from pursuing this course of action.Additionally, helping Muslim countries build nuclear weapons assumes that these countries will stay friendly to Israel—which is problematic. TheIsrael option should be categorized as “unlikely.”
A US option to protect Arab Muslim countries with a nuclear umbrella would come with conditions, such as denying the nuclear umbrella due to human rights violations, orconducting military operations (as in Yemen) with which the US disagrees, or not pumping enough oil to satisfy the political needs of the American administration (currently happening).For Arab Muslim nations, a US nuclear umbrella would come with unpalatable caveats (conditions). The US nuclear umbrella option also appears to be “mostly unlikely.”
At the same time, Gulf countries such as Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates are threatenedby Iranian conventional naval threats to use anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM) to close the Arabian Gulf (see DIA map below). Iran also threatens these regimes by Iran’s use of terrorist proxies that destabilize the region’s security such as attacks on their infrastructure.
What other options could these countries pursue?The obvious option is for them is to develop their own nuclear weapons program.They might be already moving in this direction as they are investing heavily in commercial nuclear power programs.Currently, the United Arab Emirates has one nuclear power plant (Barakah) onlineand three more in development. Saudi Arabiaplans to construct two large nuclear power reactors as well as several desalinization and research reactors.
Since at least 2011, Saudi Arabia officially and unofficially has stated to American and western diplomats that “[w]e cannot live in a situation where Iran has nuclear weapons and we don’t. It’s as simple as that. If Iran develops a nuclear weapon, that will be unacceptable to us and we will have to follow suit.”This promise has been repeated again in 2013 by Prince Turki Al-Faisal in a Washington DC speech where he said “it is in our interest that the Iranian leadership does not develop a nuclear weapon, for their doing so will make nuclear arms proliferation in the Middle East the norm.” From an analysis of Saudi’s nuclear strategy in 2014, the Washington Institute explains that “King Abdullah has already made clear to his U.S. counterparts that if Iran gets a nuclear bomb, the kingdom will do so as well, whatever its NPT obligations.” As recently as 2020, Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, reinforced their position by indicating that if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, Saudi nuclear armament was “definitely an option”.
An interim option to acquiring nuclear weapons is to buy nuclear weapons from a sympathetic state, such as Pakistan.Even though China has influence over Pakistan, it might not be strong enough to stop them from selling a few nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia since Pakistan has a large Sunni Muslim population (~85% of the population) and Iran is ruled by Shi’a mullahs.
Israel most likely would not sell or provide nuclear weapons to a Muslim state. Such weapons could be used against Israel in a future conflict.Sunni Islamic jihad against Israel is a continuing concern.In 1981, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) consisting of 56 countries (largest voting block of nations in the United Nations) declared “Jihad” against Israel. In 2019, the OICre-affirmed the Jihad declaration: “The Conference endorsed the outcome documents including resolutions of the previous OIC Summits.”
China is the nuclear superpower gloating about its power in Asia with its nuclear side-kick North Korea.The recent events in Ukraine have sparked debates about nuclear weapons that have not been discussed so openly by politicians in Japan, South Korea and other nations in the region.
Prior to this rapid build-up, China was estimated to have 350 warheads on operational missiles. With the additional 300 ICBM silos, the PLA could add900 more warheads—the DF-41 ICBM (silo version) is expected to have three independently targeted warheads for each missile. These silos give China the potential of having 1,200 nuclear warheads within a few years. Additionally, according to a recent DOD report on China’s military, China has a “nascent triad” meaning it can deliver nuclear weapons by land (ICBMs), by sea (SLBMs) and by air (ALBMs). Most importantly, no international agreement restricts the PRC’s number of nuclear warheads nor its number of delivery systems. Unlike the Russians and the US, China can continue to build an unlimited number.
Attempts by the US to engage the PRC’s CCP on nuclear arms control has been rebuffed.As the CCP builds initial parity and then possibly superiority to the number of nuclear weapons that the US as well as Russia (each have ~2,000 deployed strategic nuclear weapons), the effect will be a “checkmate” situation where the US will be deterred from militarily engaging the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in a conflict.Any country that is not protected by a nuclear umbrella will be vulnerable. Japan, Republic of Korea, and Australiahave US security guarantees.
Since 1951 the Philippines and the US have a U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treatythat states “[f]or the purpose of Article IV, an armed attack on either of the Parties is deemed to include anarmed attack on the metropolitan territory of either of the Parties, or on the island territoriesunder its jurisdiction in the Pacific or on its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.” However, US-Philippine’s relations have been warm and cold.For example, during the Obama administration, the US provided no support to the rightful Philippine claim against the PRC that the Scarborough Shoal was part of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitrationruled in the South China Sea Arbitration (The Republic of The Philippines versus The People’s Republic Of China) unanimously in favor of the Philippines concluding that there was no legal basis for China’s claim to historic rights to resources within the “nine-dash line” sea area and that China had violated the Philippines EEZ.
The CCP continues to harass the Philippines using Grey Zone methods (coercive statecraft actions short of war)such as parking between 100-200 People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia ships near Whitsun Reef (well within Philippine EEZ)in 2021 for months preventing Philippine fisherman from using their EEZ.The PRC ignored the over 100 diplomatic notes issued by the Philippine government.Many countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and Australia voiced support forthe Philippines in the Whitsun incident, but none have taken concrete action.
While it is unlikely that the US will come to the aid of the Philippines in future encroachment forays by the PRC, one red line appears to be when a Philippine government vessel is attacked. Philippine military modernization efforts are focused on upgrading their ability to pushback against future CCP encroachment attempts in the West Philippine Sea while expending resources to fighting two internal ongoing insurgencies: Islamic and communist.
The remaining Asian countries—about 40 countries—do not have mutual defense treaties with the U.S. India has its own nuclear weapons and will probably increase its numbers due to the increase in the number that the CCP and Pakistan are building.
Southeast Asia, Central Asia and Mongolia have another impediment to nuclear weapons.Many of these countries have signed Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) treaties such as the Central Asian NWFZ Treaty (signed in 2009), Mongolia NWFZ (2000), Treaty of Bankok (1997) and Treaty of Rarotonga (1986). The Central Asian NWFZ includes Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan Tajikistan and Kazakhstan and the “treaty is a legally binding commitment…not to manufacture, acquire, test, or possess nuclear weapons.”
Mongolia has similarly “prohibited on the territory of Mongolia from committing, initiating, or participating in the following acts or activities relating to nuclear weapons: 1) developing, manufacturing, or otherwise acquiring, possessing, or having control over nuclear weapons; 2) stationing or transporting nuclear weapons by any means; 3) dumping or disposing nuclear weapons-grade radioactive material or nuclear waste.”
The 1997 Treaty of Bangkok includes the following ten countries Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam. Similarly, they prohibit nuclear weapons in their territories but also add two additional restrictions “that go beyond other existing Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (NWFZ) agreements: 1) the zone of application also includes the continental shelves and the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of the contracting parties; and 2) the negative security assurance implies a commitment by the NWS not to use nuclear weapons against any contracting State or protocol Party within the zone of application.
All of the NWFZ countries discussed are in the PRC’s backyard.
The reaction of Ukraine’s neighboring countries in the current war demonstrates that countries sympathetic to Ukraine are unwilling tointervene militarily. Some are willing to provide token arms, but not naval ships, aircraft, and tanks. Arms suitable for guerilla and infantry actions are allowed—if the arms can be transported to a border country and then transloaded into Ukraine.
Taiwan was under the US nuclear umbrella from 1955–1974 (~19 years).Taiwan signed the NPT in 1968. When the PRC replaced Taiwan in the UN 1971, Taiwan no longer was obligated to follow the NPT.In the early 1980s, Taiwan secretly worked ona nuclear weapons program.When the Taiwanese nuclear program was revealed to the US, the USrequired its disestablishment.Unfortunately, Taiwan today has neitherthe US umbrella nor its own nuclear weapons capability.Unlike Ukraine, Taiwan could easily be blockaded during an invasion by the PLA so it would not have the benefit of being resupplied during a conflict.
EUROPE AND THE FORMER USSR REGION
Looking at Europe and applying the nuclear umbrella framework or “make your own nuclear bomb” concept, Sweden and Finland recently announced their immediate desire to join NATO, most likely due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Currently, the following nine countries have declared or believed to possess nuclear weapons: US, Russia, China, UK, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel.The US has 33 countries under its nuclear umbrella, 30 from NATO (including Canada and the US), Japan, Australia, and the Republic of Korea. The Russian equivalent of NATO is the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). The CSTO originally had nine members but since 1994, the CSTO has six members: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.The Article 5 concept (an attack on one is an attack on the others) does apply to the nuclear umbrella concept.China agreed to a nuclear umbrella for the Ukraine in a 2013 agreement; the wording specified Chinese military action only if Ukraine were attacked by nuclear weapons.
Western European countries that are not part of NATO include Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Sweden, and Finland. The former Yugoslav republics (Bosnia, Serbia, and Kosovo), Moldova, Ukraine, the Caucasus region (Azerbaijan and Georgia), and the Central Asia republics (Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) are at risk from Russia. Georgia (2008) and Ukraine (2014 and 2022) received a clear message from Russia that they will not be allowed to be under a NATO nuclear umbrella.In effect, these countries will live under a constant threat of a Russian invasion at the whim of the Russian leader and comprise a new security category of countries: those countries denied a nuclear umbrella by a nearby nuclear superpower. China would also try to enforce a similar nuclear weapons denial strategy for Taiwan.Other non-nuclear umbrella countries could be in the same situation as Ukraine where the West doesn’t act quickly enough to add them to a nuclear umbrella, and the delay allows China or Russia to effectively prevent them from joining.
Conclusion: “The fluttering of a butterfly’s wings can cause a tidal wave on the other side of the world”—Chinese Proverb
The ramifications of the Russian-Ukraine war will be global. One dangerous result of the nuclear bomb domino effect is that Russia and China could offer countries, especially those on its periphery, a nuclear umbrella to protect them against the United States, UK, and France as well as any other nuclear power.At least this is what they will say publicly.Behind closed doors, the CCP and Russian representatives will use coercive measures to make these countries sign up or take the risk of being occupied by these superpowers, just like Ukraine.If these countries sign agreements, then they will beeffectively controlled by Russia or the CCP. The Russian or Chinese nuclear umbrella could be leveraged to ensure compliance with Russian or Chinese interests.If non-nuclear states don’t sign the agreement, they will be prevented from signing any future nuclear umbrella agreement with the West by the same threats that Ukraine experienced.Additionally, by not being a part of a nuclear umbrella, non-nuclear states also put themselves at risk of being attacked by the local superpower thug.
Some democratic countries chose to become nuclear powers despite the global nonproliferation dogma. Most countries in the world have signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) with the following four countries not signing it: India, Pakistan, Israel, and South Sudan. In 2003, North Korea withdrew from the treaty in 2003. Two democracies,India and Israel are clear winners in this current situation.Countries looking to build their own capabilities will find their ability to find the people, the technology, and the resources constrained due to the United Nations Security Council’s ability to enact sanctions on “outliers.”
The future will have:(1) the number of nuclear armed countries will increase,(2) the number of countries under nuclear umbrellas will increase, and (3) the countries that are not in categories (1) and (2) will be at risk for invasion or other kinds of coercive treatment by nearby superpowers.Of the countries that are not part of nuclear umbrella, the closer that they are to China or Russia, the more fearful they will be. And the more that the US and the West decline or are reluctant to place countries under their umbrellas, the more likely the leaders of these countries will feel forced to develop their own secret nuclear weapons program.The result? A nuclear arms race that will shake the foundations of the international security environment.
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Shiite Coordination Framework (SCF) avoided responding to the withdrawal of Muqtada al-Sadr from efforts to form an Iraqi government, giving his opponents 40 days to form it.
The SCF had previously said that it intended to launch an initiative to resolve the political impasse, but Al-Sadr preempted the framework’s initiative by announcing his withdrawal from government formation efforts. Muqtada al-Sadr stands at the head of the Sadrist Movement, which, along with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Sunni Siyada Alliance, has been trying to form a “national majority government”.
The SCF said in a statement, “based on the legitimate, national and moral responsibility entrusted to it, the coordinating framework is still ready for serious and constructive dialogue with all blocs and independents to get out of the political blockage.”
The framework called on all sides to “bear responsibility and not insist on the equation of breaking wills, which would complicate the scene in vain, and the only one affected by it is the Iraqi people.” The framework announced its “vision to address the political blockage, which is based on several foundations, the details of which will be presented by the framework in its dialogues with political forces.”
The statement continued, “after the announcement of the largest bloc, the candidate for the position of prime minister is agreed upon according to the required conditions and criteria, such as competence, integrity and independence, and that will be through a joint committee of the coordination framework and the Sadrist bloc.”
The coordination framework indicated that its vision stipulates that “the opposition within the House of Representatives will monitor the government and hold it accountable for its mistakes and transgressions, and the opposition will be empowered to carry out its work correctly and protect it in accordance with the law.”
WASHINGTON — As Western leaders have raced to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with steps to reduce imports of Russian fossil fuels, U.S. lawmakers and officials are confronting a thorny dilemma over another source of energy: the Russian uranium that powers many American nuclear plants.
Dismay over the war has given common purpose to energy officials who view nuclear power as key to Mr. Biden’s long-term vision for reducing carbon emissions and to members of Congress who have argued for years to scale up domestic uranium production and enrichment. To both camps, Russia’s aggression adds urgency for the United States to reduce its dependency on imported uranium and invest in domestic suppliers that could help power the next generation of nuclear plants.
“While banning imports of Russian oil, gas and coal is an important step, it cannot be the last,” Mr. Barrasso said in a statement. “Banning Russian uranium imports will further defund Russia’s war machine, help revive American uranium production and increase our national security.”
At her confirmation hearing last month, Kathryn Huff, Mr. Biden’s pick to lead the Energy Department’s Office of Nuclear Energy, said the invasion of Ukraine demonstrated the nuclear industry’s vulnerabilities and highlighted the need to increase domestic production.
“It is critically important that we wean ourselves off unstable, untrustworthy sources of our critical fuels, including uranium,” she said.
The United States has sought to manage its reliance on Russian uranium since the end of the Cold War. Under an agreement reached with Russia’s Ministry for Atomic Energy in 1992, the United States sought to limit purchases of Russian uranium to about 20 percent of its total need. An amendment to that agreement, signed in 2020, aimed to further reduce imports to 15 percent by 2028.
But as of 2020, close to half the uranium used for fuel in the United States was imported from Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The amended agreement authorized the United States to purchase as much as 24 percent of its nuclear fuel from Russia next year.
Further complicating matters, the Energy Department announced plans in 2020 to invest up to $3.2 billion in the development of a new generation of advanced reactors — including one devised by TerraPower, a company co-founded by Bill Gates — that rely on a more enriched variety of uranium that is only produced at commercial scale by Russia.
Domestic suppliers have been hesitant to invest in producing that fuel — high-assay, low-enriched uranium, or HALEU — as the advanced reactors that could use it are still years from completion.
“It’s not that anyone thinks we can’t make it,” said Matt Bowen, a research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. “But it would involve costs, and none of them have been willing, I think for very understandable reasons, to make that investment because they aren’t sure if these reactor projects are really going to happen.”
The new reactors have been designed to be cheaper, safer and more efficient than older ones. They have been proposed in the hope of replacing some of the 93 reactors that are currently in operation across the United States, many of which are more than 40 years old and nearing the end of their intended life spans.
But in light of Russia’s actions, TerraPower and other companies developing new reactors have said they will not use the more enriched fuel from Russia, even though no commercial alternative exists.
As aging nuclear plants are gradually retired, renewable sources such as wind and solar power would have to be drastically increased to fill the gap in carbon-free power production if new nuclear plants are not built.
In recent hearings on Capitol Hill, some senators have discussed asking the Energy Department to help create fuel that is needed for advanced reactor projects in the short term. The department maintains limited inventories of enriched uranium that can be “down-blended,” or mixed with unenriched material to produce fuel that is usable in advanced reactors.
But to create a steady stream of uranium for existing nuclear plants and future models, lawmakers have also called for renewed funding for mines and enrichment facilities that have long sat idle or reduced production.
At a hearing on critical mineral supply chains on Thursday, Senator Martin Heinrich, Democrat of New Mexico, cited the continued environmental challenges caused by a mine in the Pueblo of Laguna, a Superfund site in his state that has defied cleanup efforts for decades.
“Uranium mining and milling sites still leach radioactive waste into our groundwater,” Mr. Heinrich said. “It is still barely reclaimed.”
The question of how to support the nuclear industry while moving away from Russian suppliers will most likely be an urgent priority for Dr. Huff, who could be confirmed by the Senate this month.
Last year, the Energy Department moved ahead with plans to establish a national reserve that would stockpile uranium purchased from domestic producers in part to help jump-start the industry. Congress allocated $75 million in 2020 to help fund the reserve, but no purchases have been made.
But the effort to begin buying uranium for the reserve has been met by resistance from Democrats, including Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts. In a letter last year, Mr. Markey and five House members argued that the creation of the reserve posed “a serious threat to the health of tribal and environmental justice communities, as well as to the overall environment.”
The bloodshed comes amid heightened tensions ahead of the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, that has seen violence spiral in Israel and the occupied West Bank.
Last year during Ramadan, clashes that flared between Israeli forces and Palestinians visiting Al-Aqsa mosque in annexed east Jerusalem led to 11 days of devastating conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip’s Islamist rulers Hamas.
On Saturday, Israeli police said security forces killed three members of the Islamic Jihad militant group who had opened fire during an operation to arrest them near the northern West Bank city of Jenin.
Four Israeli soldiers were wounded during the operation, one of them seriously, the police said.
The Israeli forces had intercepted “a terrorist cell on its way to an attack, and stopped the car in which they were travelling between Jenin and Tulkarem”, the police said in a statement.
The Islamic Jihad confirmed the three deaths.
“We mourn the death of our three hero fighters,” the armed wing of Islamist movement said, adding that two of them were from Jenin and one from Tulkarem.
Hamas issued a warning to the Israelis.
“The enemy’s policy of assassination in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem will not provide it with so-called security,” Hamas said.
Saturday’s clash is the latest in a spate of bloody violence in Israel and the West Bank since March 22.
On Friday, Israeli forces shot dead a 29-year-old Palestinian during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron, the Palestinian health ministry said.
The Palestinian Wafa news agency named him as Ahmad al-Atrash, who it said was taking part in a protest against Israeli settlements and had previously served six years in an Israeli prison.
The Israeli army said that during a “riot” in Hebron, “a suspect hurled a Molotov cocktail” at soldiers, who “responded with live fire”.
Hebron, the biggest city in the West Bank, is home to about 1,000 Jewish residents living under heavy Israeli military protection, among more than 200,000 Palestinians.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said 70 people were wounded in Friday’s clashes with the Israeli army in the Nablus area of the northern West Bank.
On Thursday, Israeli security forces raided Jenin after three fatal attacks rocked the Jewish state, leading to clashes in which two Palestinians were killed, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
Elsewhere in the West Bank on the same day, a Palestinian man who stabbed and seriously wounded an Israeli civilian with a screwdriver on a bus was shot dead south of the city of Bethlehem.
The violence followed an attack on Tuesday night in Bnei Brak, an Orthodox Jewish city near Tel Aviv.
A Palestinian with an M-16 assault rifle killed two Israeli civilians, two Ukranian nationals and an Israeli-Arab policeman.
A total of 11 people have been killed in anti-Israeli attacks since March 22, including some carried out for the first time by assailants linked to or inspired by the Islamic State group.
The West Bank, which has been occupied by Israeli forces since the 1967 Six-Day war, is home to nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers, living in communities regarded as illegal under international law.