COLUMBIA, S.C. — Another earthquake shook up the South Carolina Midlands Thursday morning.
The earthquake hit at around 7 a.m. about 20 miles outside of Columbia, according to the United States Geological Survey. The 2.5 magnitude had it’s epicenters near Elgin.
This is the sixth earthquake since Dec. 27 when a 3.3 magnitude quake was reported. People reported feeling shaking and hearing a loud boom during some of the other quakes. All the seismic activity has been centered near Elgin or neighboring Lugoff. The other four earthquakes have been 2.5 magnitude or lower.
An earthquake of 2.5 magnitude is considered minor, according to seismologists. For the most part quakes that register 2.5 magnitude or less go unnoticed and are only recorded by a seismograph. Any quake less than 5.5 magnitude is not likely to cause significant damage.
Earthquakes can happen in clusters, seismologist say.
Apr 23, 2022, 08:58 AM 1 / 10Amid the ongoing war against Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he will not refrain form using nuclear weapons in case the Western world interferes in it’s offensive. The use of a nuclear weapon can have a devastating impact on millions of lives and could lead to the collapse of world economy. Although the situation seems under control, let’s take a look at the list of the countries that possess the largest nuclear arsenal. All information has been sourced from World Population Review. (Image: Reuters)
2 / 10No 9 | Country: North Korea | Total Nuclear warheads as of 2022: 40-50 (Image: Reuters)
3 / 10No 8 | Country: Israel | Total Nuclear warheads as of 2022: 90 (Image: Reuters)
4 / 10No 7 | Country: India | Total Nuclear warheads as of 2022: 156 (Image: Reuters)
5 / 10No 6 | Country: Pakistan | Total Nuclear warheads as of 2022: 165 (Image: Reuters)
6 / 10No 5 | Country: UK | Total nuclear warheads as of 2022: 225 (Image: Reuters)
8 / 10No 3 | Country: China | Total nuclear warheads as of 2022: 350 (Image: Reuters)
9 / 10No 2 | Country: US | Total nuclear warheads as of 2022: 5,550 (Image: Reuters)
10 / 10No 1 | Country: Russia | Total nuclear warheads as of 2022: 6,257 (Image: Reuters)
Experts concerned about safety, security of Indian nuclear arsenal
Islamabad : Experts believe that last month’s Indian missile incident has not only renewed concerns about the safety and security of India’s strategic arsenal, but has brought into question the credibility of BrahMos missile system, which Delhi is planning to export.
“India is fast building a triad of BrahMos cruise missiles and is producing and deploying these missiles in large numbers. It is expected to be their key capability to execute their counter-force ambitions. However, the incident in a way has shown the chink in the armour – the weakness of the particular missile,” Ali Sarwar Naqvi, Executive Director at the Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) Islamabad, said.
Naqvi was wrapping up a roundtable discussion on ‘Indian Missile Fiasco: Technical Malfunction and Failure of Diplomacy,’ which had been hosted by CISS. The discussion was held in the context of a BrahMos Cruise Missile landing in Pakistan on March 9.He said the incident needed to be seen in the context of Indian counter-force strategy, no-first use pledge, pre-emption planning, and alertness levels.
“The overall clumsy management of its (Indian) high-value conventional and strategic weapon systems has been repeatedly exposed by multiple Uranium theft incidents, and the nuclear submarine Arihant episode. It all adds up to an alarming situation about safety and security of Indian systems,” Naqvi maintained, fearing that the incident could have led to Pakistani retaliation and vertical escalation, if Pakistan had not exercised prudence, restraint, and responsibility.
Naqvi, however, pointed out Indian “callousness and ineptitude” that raised serious questions about India’s command and control, security and safety procedures and physical safeguards to prevent accidental launch during simulation exercises, routine maintenance, and peacetime.
India had earlier this year signed a deal for export of BrahMos missiles to Philippines. The Philippines had, after the March 9 incident, sought a clarification on it from Delhi.
Dr. Rizwana Abbasi, Associate Professor at NUML, agreed that the incident could affect BrahMos export plans and noted that India initially claimed that the incident resulted because of a malfunction, but after realizing the implications of the stance for the sale of the weapon system to foreign countries, it started suggesting that missile got fired due to human error.
While emphasizing the need for India and Pakistan to jointly probe the incident, Dr. Rizwana said, it was required because the missile had violated Pakistan’s airspace, spirit of existing bilateral agreements, and international aviation protocols. She further said that a joint probe would help in establishing the facts around the incident, rebuilding bilateral trust, and mitigating future risks.
Syed Muhammad Ali, Director Center for Aerospace and Security Studies, presented three probabilities that could have led to the incident—technical malfunction; a field-commander going rogue; and intentional firing. He further deliberated on the technical, operational, nuclear command and control, doctrinal, safety, security, and diplomatic aspects of the incident.
Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, Professor at SPIR, Quaid-e-Azam University, pointed to the nervousness in Delhi. “This nervousness is dangerous even in conventional military environment and we are living in a nuclearized environment,” he said while discussing the possible reasons for that nervousness. He said Pakistan’s response was confident and responsible.
Clashes and unrest broke out Friday afternoon at the Temple Mount following afternoon Ramadan prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Calm was eventually restored at the holy site.
The rioting came hours after Palestinians skirmished with Israeli police at the flashpoint site in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Several hundred people scuffled with cops, hurling rocks and rioting. Video showed a police drone dropping tear gas to disperse a crowd.
Police said the crowd attempted to attack a locked police post on the Mount with stones. “The march was dispersed using riot dispersal means and it is currently calm in the area,” police said in a statement.
Earlier, tens of thousands of worshipers took part in the main prayers for the third Friday of the Muslim holy month. There were no official turnout figures, but Palestinian and Hebrew media reports estimated 90,000-150,000 worshipers attended.
After the prayers, large crowds waved Palestinian and Hamas flags and chanted slogans in favor of the Gaza-ruling terror group, which had called for a “mobilization” ahead of the prayers.
“We are the men of Muhammed Deif,” they chanted, referring to the notorious head of Hamas’s military wing, wanted by Israel for over 25 years for orchestrating suicide bombings, killings and kidnappings.
Some also shouted about a seventh-century battle in which Muslim forces massacred and expelled Jews from the Arabian Peninsula town of Khaybar. Another chant included calls to violently “redeem Al-Aqsa.”
Among those at the prayers were Palestinians from the West Bank, who were allowed to visit subject to restrictions put in place for Ramadan.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, a total of 57 Palestinians were hurt amid the clashes, including during the violence earlier Friday.
One Palestinian who was seriously hurt amid the riots during the morning hours was taken by police officers to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center.
Palestinians said the man was hit by a sponge bullet fired by officers, but police said he fell over after hurling stones during the clashes. “There is no evidence of injury from live ammunition,” the hospital said in a statement.
Police also said that in the morning a female officer was hit in the face by a rock thrown at her and was taken for medical treatment.
Meanwhile, officers arrested a man in his 60s, from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, over an inciting speech he delivered before worshipers at the Temple Mount on Thursday night. According to police, the man, who is affiliated with the Islamist Hizb ut-Tahrir party, called to “liberate the mosque with weapons and force.”
Public Security Minister Omer Barlev visited a police station in the Old City during the morning rioting for a situational assessment with Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai and the commander of the Jerusalem district, Doron Turgeman.
Shabtai later ordered reserve Border Police officers to be put on alert for immediate call-up over concerns the violence could spread to Arab cities like Umm al-Fahm and Nazareth, according to Hebrew media reports.
An unnamed security official told Channel 12 news and the Haaretz daily that Hamas has increased its efforts in recent days to incite a broader flareup, chiefly through the clashes at the Temple Mount. The source told the newspaper that the Waqf, a Jordanian-appointed council that oversees Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, attempted to prevent Palestinians from attacking police on Friday morning, with little success.
Similar violence has erupted almost daily at the Temple Mount since last Friday, when intense clashes broke out at the compound.
The Temple Mount is a frequent flashpoint of Israeli-Palestinian tensions, with clashes there last year helping precipitate the 11-day military conflict between Israel and terror groups in the Gaza Strip after the enclave’s Hamas rulers fired rockets at Jerusalem. The site is the most sacred place for Jews as the location of the biblical temples, and Al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits atop the Temple Mount, is the third-holiest site for Muslims.
The United Nations voiced alarm Friday over the recent violence. “We are deeply concerned by the escalating violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel over the past month,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Jerusalem has been a tinderbox in recent weeks as Palestinians scraped with police on the flashpoint Temple Mount, the Ramadan and Passover holidays drew thousands to holy sites, Israeli security forces cracked down on terror in the West Bank, and Gaza terror groups stoked the flames.
On Thursday, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said that “we are still at the beginning of the battle” and warned Israel over the Temple Mount.
His comments came after Israel and Gaza-based terrorists clashed in the largest exchange of fire since last year’s fighting, with the military carrying out air raids in the Strip in response to rocket fire and the launch of anti-aircraft missiles.
Along with Gaza and Jerusalem, the West Bank has also been a locus of recent tensions as security forces have ramped up operations after 14 people were killed in a series of terror attacks carried out by Arab Israelis and Palestinians.
Troops have been carrying out extensive raids in the West Bank in response to the attacks, with at least 18 Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli forces. On Friday morning, a 20-year-old Palestinian who was shot by Israeli troops after allegedly hurling an explosive device at them in the town of Yamoun on Monday, died of his wounds.
Israel’s nuclear reactor at Dimona. [Getty Images]
April 22, 2022 at 12:26 pm
Iran has sent Israel “photos and maps of Israeli nuclear weapons stores” through a European mediator, an Iranian source said.
Al Jazeera quoted an unnamed source as saying: “Tehran had sent to Israel, through a European country, photos and maps of the Israeli nuclear weapons stores,” adding that “most of the pictures are terrestrial and not satellite.”
He pointed out that Tehran confirmed that it would target the stores and facilities if Israel decided to ignite a war with Iran, adding that Israel has previously changed the locations of its strategic warehouses, but the file sent by Tehran included the locations of the new stores.
On Monday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned that his country’s armed forces would “firmly” confront any move by Israel targeting the Iranian Republic.
“The Zionist entity must know if it seeks to normalise relations with the countries of the region, because our armed forces monitor every movement by it and in the event of taking any action against our people, our armed forces will target the centre of the Zionist entity, and disturb them,” he said.
The 2018 Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review report made it very clear that we reserve the right to retaliate with nuclear weapons against a chemical or biological attack. President Biden’s comments about “in-kind” retaliation against Russian chemical weapons use (immediately repudiated by the White House) suggests that he does not know that we do not have chemical and biological weapons because they are banned by two arms control conventions. The administration’s “Fact Sheet” on the 2022 Nuclear Posture Review walks this back, stating only that “…the fundamental role of U.S. nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attack on the United States, our allies, and partners. The United States would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners.”
The Biden budget documents for FY 2023 indicate that the Biden administration is funding a replacement for three legs of the nuclear Triad, including the new long-range nuclear air-launched cruise missile. This is a very good decision. However, they have not sped anything up or increased anything in response to the barrage of nuclear threats emanating from Putin’s Russia or his invasion of Ukraine. Moreover, according to STRATCOM commander Admiral Charles Richard, “…two-thirds of those [U.S. nuclear] weapons are ‘operationally unavailable’ because of treaty constraints, such as provisions of the New START treaty with Russia.” Thus, the Biden administration’s ill-advised reversal of the Trump administration’s policy by extending the seriously flawed New START Treaty without changes (its extension one week after the inauguration precluded any real analysis) reduced the benefits of the modernization program in terms of nuclear weapons available by two-thirds. The 6 month withdrawal provision in the New START Treaty prevents any rapid augmentation of our nuclear ballistic missile deterrent capability in a crisis. Moreover, Admiral Richard has stated, “Today’s nuclear force is the minimum required to achieve our national strategy.”
The only significant improvement in our nuclear deterrent until late in this decade will be the introduction of F-35s with B61-Mod 12 bombs. However, the Air Force is not saying exactly when this will happen.
The Trump administration’s program for a low-yield Trident warhead program survived the Biden administration’s budget cuts, but according to Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda of the Federation of American Scientists, we have fewer than 25 of them.
Getting back to the title of this article, one of the worst decisions in the 2022 Nuclear Posture Review is the termination of funding for the B83 bomb, our highest yield nuclear weapon and the best weapon against many types of very hard and deeply buried targets (HDBTs). Since Congress killed the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator program during the George W. Bush administration, the B83 is apparently the best weapon against HDBTs built-in hard rock areas. Significantly, this decision was also opposed by Admiral Richard and General Wolters. For decades there has been an increasing disconnect between our targeting strategy for deterrence and the nuclear capabilities we actually maintain. In 2002 Admiral (ret.) Richard Mies, the just-retired Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, wrote that the “…longstanding [U.S.] targeting doctrine of flexible response — [was] a doctrine designed to hold at risk our potential adversaries’ military forces, war-supporting industry, command and control capabilities, and military and national civilian leadership while minimizing to the maximum extent collateral damage to population and civilian infrastructure.” In 2013, the Obama administration adopted a nuclear weapons employment strategy that stated, “The new guidance requires the United States to maintain significant counterforce capabilities against potential adversaries. The new guidance does not rely on a ‘counter-value’ or ‘minimum deterrence’ strategy.”
This is only a preliminary analysis of the Biden NPR. If the administration makes an unclassified version available or stages a major press event, it should be carefully studied. Unfortunately, there are not likely to be any pleasant surprises. One thing is completely clear. Russian and Chinese nuclear capabilities, both strategic and non-strategic, are growing. We now face two peer competitors in nuclear weapons, something that was clearly not assumed during the Obama administration’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review or even the Trump 2018 review. Moreover, the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review apparently made no change in the planned number of U.S. strategic nuclear weapons to be maintained.
Our nuclear forces are not being improved on a timely basis and deterrence gaps will grow. In the midst of the most serious challenge we have faced since the Cuban missile crisis, the Biden administration obviously thinks it is a good idea to cut our nuclear modernization program and allow inflation to erode our defense capability. One thing is clear about nuclear deterrence: you may not get a second chance to correct your errors.
Dr. Mark B. Schneider is a Senior Analyst with the National Institute for Public Policy. Before his retirement from the Department of Defense Senior Executive Service, Dr. Schneider served in a number of senior positions within the Office of Secretary of Defense for Policy including Principal Director for Forces Policy, Principal Director for Strategic Defense, Space and Verification Policy, Director for Strategic Arms Control Policy and Representative of the Secretary of Defense to the Nuclear Arms Control Implementation Commissions. He also served in the senior Foreign Service as a Member of the State Department Policy Planning Staff.
Russia has carried out its first successful test of a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which Vladimir Putin said would make adversaries “think twice.” What world leaders might be thinking about even more is whether the Russian president could resort to such weapons during his invasion of Ukraine.
Chalmers said that there was similar nuclear signaling from Russia after it seized Crimea in 2014 with the aim of deterring direct NATO and U.S. involvement.
“The primary nuclear problem we could see in the coming period would be in a situation where Russia feels increasingly frustrated by its ability to achieve its objectives by the use of conventional force,” he told Newsweek.
Russia’s invasion has stalled and its troops have retreated from the Kyiv region, hit by a high loss of troops and equipment. The Kremlin has been focusing its latest offensive on eastern Ukraine with the aim of seizing the Donbas region.
Chalmers said that using nuclear weapons would be a “tremendous gamble” for Russia, but other factors might combine to push Putin towards the drastic move if he felt Russia’s red lines had been crossed, and that his own conventional options had been exhausted.
These could include the perception that NATO forces are getting more directly involved in the conflict—for instance if drones used in Ukraine were being operated by alliance forces in NATO territory.
Another nuclear risk factor could be “if Russia felt its own territory was under threat,” including Crimea.
“If the battle for Donbas ends in a stalemate, or Russia has in some sense lost that battle and President Putin’s conventional options narrow, will there be circumstances in which he wants to wave a nuclear card, or make a credible nuclear threat to force Ukraine or indeed NATO to back off?” Chalmers said.
Initial “tactical” nuclear detonations could escalate into a an exchange of thermonuclear weapons involving Russia’s arsenal of 1,450 strategic warheads and the U.S. arsenal of 1,350 strategic warheads on its missiles and bombers.
In such a scenario, more than 91 million people were projected to die in just the first few hours. Millions more would die from exposure to radiation in the following years during which health, financial, and economic systems would collapse.
“The danger of nuclear weapons arises if the war were to widen outside of Ukraine,” retired Lt. Col. Bill Astore, ex-professor of history at the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAF) told Newsweek.
“For example, if NATO enforced a no-fly zone and started shooting down Russian planes, I could see Putin responding with a tactical nuclear strike against a NATO airbase.
“That would risk a wider nuclear war, truly a horrifying scenario, which is why those who are calling for NATO escalation and direct involvement in the war are being irresponsible.”
Lavrov’s comments this week echo those made by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov who told PBS in March “no one is thinking about” using a nuclear weapon. However, Peskov was responding to a question about ex-President Dmitry Medvedev who had listed scenarios in which Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons.
“We should never believe what the Kremlin or Sergei Lavrov says at face value, but it is positive that they are ruling out the use of nuclear weapons in the assault on Ukraine,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association who said such a prospect is “theoretically there but I think it is unlikely.”
However, the longer the conflict continues means that the heightened risk of a direct NATO-Russia encounter “will persist for many weeks, if not months.”
“It is not like the  Cuban missile crisis,” Kimball told Newsweek, referring to the brinkmanship between the USSR and the U.S. “Back then the risk of nuclear use was high—but the crisis lasted 13 days.
“This crisis has lasted well over 13 days. Unlike then when there was no direct shooting we now have a hot conflict that can easily escalate.
“The risk of nuclear use is higher than it has been since the end of the Cold War and it is going to last for some time to come,” he said.
“As Putin might become more desperate, as the war drags on and as his political position becomes more tenuous, he could once again resort to nuclear threat making and we could have the potential for miscalculation.”
Alan Cafruny, professor of international affairs at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York said the use of nuclear weapons “is unlikely but not impossible,” and of concern is the escalatory pressure from U.S. politicians calling for further NATO involvement.
“Especially in the context of domestic volatility in the United States and continuing setbacks for Russian forces, mistakes and misperceptions are certainly possible,” he told Newsweek.
Abby Schrader, history professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania said that the latest ICBM test was not necessarily an indicator of Putin’s intentions in Ukraine and was “macho saber rattling more than a real threat.”
“Much more concerning to me is that Putin could well resort to the use of tactical nuclear weapons,” she told Newsweek. “Old-school, low-yield nukes, with short-range delivery systems, similar to those dropped by the U.S. on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
“He would deploy these to dramatically take out limited targets while stopping short of provoking, as the old Cold War doctrine put it, ‘mutually assured destruction.'”
Newsweek has contacted the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.