Real Risk, Few Precautions (Revelation 6:12)

        

By WILLIAM K. STEVENS

Published: October 24, 1989
AN EARTHQUAKE as powerful as the one that struck northern California last week could occur almost anywhere along the East Coast, experts say. And if it did, it would probably cause far more destruction than the West Coast quake.
The chances of such an occurrence are much less in the East than on the West Coast. Geologic stresses in the East build up only a hundredth to a thousandth as fast as in California, and this means that big Eastern quakes are far less frequent. Scientists do not really know what the interval between them might be, nor are the deeper-lying geologic faults that cause them as accessible to study. So seismologists are at a loss to predict when or where they will strike.
But they do know that a temblor with a magnitude estimated at 7 on the Richter scale – about the same magnitude as last week’s California quake – devastated Charleston, S.C., in 1886. And after more than a decade of study, they also know that geologic structures similar to those that caused the Charleston quake exist all along the Eastern Seaboard.
For this reason, ”we can’t preclude that a Charleston-sized earthquake might occur anywhere along the East Coast,” said David Russ, the assistant chief geologist of the United States Geological Survey in Reston, Va. ”It could occur in Washington. It could occur in New York.”
If that happens, many experts agree, the impact will probably be much greater than in California.Easterners, unlike Californians, have paid very little attention to making buildings and other structures earthquake-proof or earthquake-resistant. ”We don’t have that mentality here on the East Coast,” said Robert Silman, a New York structural engineer whose firm has worked on 3,800 buildings in the metropolitan area.
Moreover, buildings, highways, bridges, water and sewer systems and communications networks in the East are all older than in the West and consequently more vulnerable to damage. Even under normal conditions, for instance, water mains routinely rupture in New York City.
The result, said Dr. John Ebel, a geophysicist who is the assistant director of Boston College’s Weston Observatory, is that damage in the East would probably be more widespread, more people could be hurt and killed, depending on circumstances like time of day, and ”it would probably take a lot longer to get these cities back to useful operating levels.”
On top of this, scientists say, an earthquake in the East can shake an area 100 times larger than a quake of the same magnitude in California. This is because the earth’s crust is older, colder and more brittle in the East and tends to transmit seismic energy more efficiently. ”If you had a magnitude 7 earthquake and you put it halfway between New York City and Boston,” Dr. Ebel said, ”you would have the potential of doing damage in both places,” not to mention cities like Hartford and Providence.
Few studies have been done of Eastern cities’ vulnerability to earthquakes. But one, published last June in The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, calculated the effects on New York City of a magnitude 6 earthquake. That is one-tenth the magnitude of last week’s California quake, but about the same as the Whittier, Calif., quake two years ago.
The study found that such an earthquake centered 17 miles southeast of City Hall, off Rockaway Beach, would cause $11 billion in damage to buildings and start 130 fires. By comparison, preliminary estimates place the damage in last week’s California disaster at $4 billion to $10 billion. If the quake’s epicenter were 11 miles southeast of City Hall, the study found, there would be about $18 billion in damage; if 5 miles, about $25 billion.
No estimates on injuries or loss of life were made. But a magnitude 6 earthquake ”would probably be a disaster unparalleled in New York history,” wrote the authors of the study, Charles Scawthorn and Stephen K. Harris of EQE Engineering in San Francisco.
The study was financed by the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The research and education center, supported by the National Science Foundation and New York State, was established in 1986 to help reduce damage and loss of life from earthquakes.
The study’s postulated epicenter of 17 miles southeast of City Hall was the location of the strongest quake to strike New York since it has been settled, a magnitude 5 temblor on Aug. 10, 1884. That 1884 quake rattled bottles and crockery in Manhattan and frightened New Yorkers, but caused little damage. Seismologists say a quake of that order is likely to occur within 50 miles of New York City every 300 years. Quakes of magnitude 5 are not rare in the East. The major earthquake zone in the eastern half of the country is the central Mississippi Valley, where a huge underground rift causes frequent geologic dislocations and small temblors. The most powerful quake ever known to strike the United States occurred at New Madrid, Mo., in 1812. It was later estimated at magnitude 8.7 and was one of three quakes to strike that area in 1811-12, all of them stronger than magnitude 8. They were felt as far away as Washington, where they rattled chandeliers, Boston and Quebec.
Because the New Madrid rift is so active, it has been well studied, and scientists have been able to come up with predictions for the central Mississippi valley, which includes St. Louis and Memphis. According to Dr. Russ, there is a 40 to 63 percent chance that a quake of magnitude 6 will strike that area between now and the year 2000, and an 86 to 97 percent chance that it will do so by 2035. The Federal geologists say there is a 1 percent chance or less of a quake greater than magnitude 7 by 2000, and a 4 percent chance or less by 2035.
Elsewhere in the East, scientists are limited in their knowledge of probabilities partly because faults that could cause big earthquakes are buried deeper in the earth’s crust. In contrast to California, where the boundary between two major tectonic plates creates the San Andreas and related faults, the eastern United States lies in the middle of a major tectonic plate. Its faults are far less obvious, their activity far more subtle, and their slippage far slower. 
Any large earthquake would be ”vastly more serious” in the older cities of the East than in California,  said Dr. Tsu T. Soong, a professor of civil engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo who is a researcher in earthquake-mitigation technology at the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research. First, he said, many buildings are simply older, and therefore weaker and more  vulnerable to collapse. Second, there is no seismic construction code in most of the East as there is in California, where such codes have been in place for decades.
The vulnerability is evident in many ways. ”I’m sitting here looking out my window,” said Mr. Silman, the structural engineer in New York, ”and I see a bunch of water tanks all over the place” on rooftops. ”They are not anchored down at all, and it’s very possible they would fall in an earthquake.”
 Many brownstones, he said, constructed as they are of unreinforced masonry walls with wood joists between, ”would just go like a house of cards.” Unreinforced masonry, in fact, is the single most vulnerable structure, engineers say. Such buildings are abundant, even predominant, in many older cities. The Scawthorn-Harris study reviewed inventories of all buildings in Manhattan as of 1972 and found that 28,884, or more than half, were built of unreinforced masonry. Of those, 23,064 were three to five stories high.
Buildings of reinforced masonry, reinforced concrete and steel would hold up much better, engineers say, and wooden structures are considered intrinsically tough in ordinary circumstances. The best performers, they say, would probably be skyscrapers built in the last 20 years. As Mr. Silman explained, they have been built to withstand high winds, and the same structural features that enable them to do so also help them resist an earthquake’s force. But even these new towers have not been provided with the seismic protections required in California and so are more vulnerable than similar structures on the West Coast.
Buildings in New York are not generally constructed with such seismic protections as base-isolated structures, in which the building is allowed to shift with the ground movement; or with flexible frames that absorb and distribute energy through columns and beams so that floors can flex from side to side, or with reinforced frames that help resist distortion.
”If you’re trying to make a building ductile – able to absorb energy – we’re not geared to think that way,” said Mr. Silman.
New York buildings also contain a lot of decorative stonework, which can be dislodged and turned into lethal missiles by an earthquake. In California, building codes strictly regulate such architectural details.
Manhattan does, however, have at least one mitigating factor: ”We are blessed with this bedrock island,” said Mr. Silman. ”That should work to our benefit; we don’t have shifting soils. But there are plenty of places that are problem areas, particularly the shoreline areas,” where landfills make the ground soft and unstable.
As scientists have learned more about geologic faults in the Northeast, the nation’s uniform building code – the basic, minimum code followed throughout the country – has been revised accordingly. Until recently, the code required newly constructed buildings in New York City to withstand at least 19 percent of the side-to-side seismic force that a comparable building in the seismically active areas of California must handle. Now the threshold has been raised to 25 percent.
New York City, for the first time, is moving to adopt seismic standards as part of its own building code. Local and state building codes can and do go beyond the national code. Charles M. Smith Jr., the city Building Commissioner, last spring formed a committee of scientists, engineers, architects and government officials to recommend the changes.
”They all agree that New York City should anticipate an earthquake,” Mr. Smith said. As to how big an earthquake, ”I don’t think anybody would bet on a magnitude greater than 6.5,” he said. ”I don’t know,” he added, ”that our committee will go so far as to acknowledge” the damage levels in the Scawthorn-Harris study, characterizing it as ”not without controversy.”
For the most part, neither New York nor any other Eastern city has done a detailed survey of just how individual buildings and other structures would be affected, and how or whether to modify them.
”The thing I think is needed in the East is a program to investigate all the bridges” to see how they would stand up to various magnitudes of earthquake,” said Bill Geyer, the executive vice president of the New York engineering firm of Steinman, Boynton, Gronquist and Birdsall, which is rehabilitating the cable on the Williamsburg Bridge. ”No one has gone through and done any analysis of the existing bridges.”
In general, he said, the large suspension bridges, by their nature, ”are not susceptible to the magnitude of earthquake you’d expect in the East.” But the approaches and side spans of some of them might be, he said, and only a bridge-by-bridge analysis would tell. Nor, experts say, are some elevated highways in New York designed with the flexibility and ability to accommodate motion that would enable them to withstand a big temblor.
Tunnels Vulnerable
The underground tunnels that carry travelers under the rivers into Manhattan, those that contain the subways and those that carry water, sewers and natural gas would all be vulnerable to rupture, engineers say. The Lincoln, Holland, PATH and Amtrak tunnels, for instance, go from bedrock in Manhattan to soft soil under the Hudson River to bedrock again in New Jersey, said Mark Carter, a partner in Raamot Associates, geotechnical engineers specializing in soils and foundations.
Likewise, he said, subway tunnels between Manhattan and Queens go from hard rock to soft soil to hard rock on Roosevelt Island, to soft soil again and back to rock. The boundaries between soft soil and rock are points of weakness, he said.
”These structures are old,” he said, ”and as far as I know they have not been designed for earthquake loadings.”
Even if it is possible to survey all major buildings and facilities to determine what corrections can be made, cities like New York would then face a major decision: Is it worth spending the money to modify buildings and other structures to cope with a quake that might or might not come in 100, or 200 300 years or more?
”That is a classical problem” in risk-benefit analysis, said Dr. George Lee, the acting director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Center in Buffalo. As more is learned about Eastern earthquakes, he said, it should become ”possible to talk about decision-making.” But for now, he said, ”I think it’s premature for us to consider that question.”

Building Up the South Korean Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

South Korea

A Nuclear South Korea? Why It Might Be The Best Option

ByRobert Kelly

South Korean F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Twice in the last week, North Korea has threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike. We also have growing evidence that Pyongyang will soon test a nuclear weapon for the first time since 2017. North Korean rhetoric is still belligerent, and Pyongyang has clearly indicated that it intends to develop a full-spectrum nuclear program. This is prompting difficult discussions in South Korea.

South Korean nuclearization is often criticized as being too risky. Yet even nuclearization would carry less of a risk than airstrikes.

Thinking the unthinkable

The core problem is that North Korea is not going to stop. Its nuclear, missile, and weapons of mass destruction programs have been growing for decades. They will not slow down anytime soon. As the North’s weapons programs mature, the threat they pose to U.S. allies grows. Indeed, North Korean missiles can now reach much of the planet, including the United States and Europe. But countries like Japan and South Korea face the greatest danger.

Ideally, Pyongyang would bargain with Seoul and Washington, brokering some manner of negotiated deal to cap its developments. North Korea probably has enough warheads now to achieve basic deterrence with the U.S. and its allies. If it keeps building and testing, Pyongyang will signal that it has bigger goals for its nukes than mere defense. North Korea has spoken of its desire to build tactical or battlefield nuclear weapons, and leader Kim Jong Un’s recent comments hint at a more aggressive doctrine. 

The Ukraine war suggests one obvious task for North Korean WMD: Keep the United States out of any conflict in Korea. Russian President Vladimir Putin has successfully leveraged his nuclear weapons to keep NATO from intervening more directly in the Ukraine war. Kim is almost certainly watching, learning, and considering whether his own nukes might purchase the same outcome.

These developments prompt a discussion of how South Korea and the United States might fight a conflict that could slide toward the use of nuclear weapons. During the Cold War, debates like this were called “thinking the unthinkable” – considering options against a nuclear-armed state that might spark even greater conflict.

Risky airstrikes

Using American and South Korean airpower to denuclearize North Korea by force is an old and much-debated idea. It is attractive because it would not require North Korean assent. Pyongyang has a long history of gimmicking negotiations. There is always skepticism about whether it will stick to any deal it signs. Airstrikes would solve the problem, and U.S. and South Korean airpower commands the skies in Korea. North Korea’s air force is obsolete; its air defenses are better but should be suppressible.

The risk, of course, is North Korean retaliation. Indeed, it is unclear that North Korea would recognize a limited strike on its sites as, well, limited. The air campaign would necessarily be extensive, both because of North Korea’s ample stock of WMD, and because of the need to first suppress North Korean surface-to-air missile sites. Pyongyang might easily see this as the start of a full-scale war and respond in kind. This is ultimately why the Trump administration gave up on the so-called bloody nose option in 2017. The air campaign would have to be so large that the North might not interpret it as limited. This could provoke the very war it is intended to prevent.

South Korean direct deterrence

South Korea’s other options are mediocre. Missile defense does not work well enough to absorb all the incoming missiles we anticipate from the North. And while it is important to continue talks with North Korea, there is little evidence that Pyongyang will accept a serious arms reduction treaty. American extended deterrence has worked for decades, especially as concerns China’s nuclear arsenal. But North Korea’s threat to nuke the U.S. homeland in a conflict casts doubt on the American guarantee. To participate in a Korean conflict, an American president would have to be willing to risk a nuclear attack on U.S. cities. It is hard to imagine the psychological and strategic pressures on a leader faced with such a decision.

South Korea Ballistic Missiles

Image: Creative Commons.

Given all this, I think South Korean direct nuclear deterrence against North Korea is a growing possibility. In other words, South Korea will likely develop its own nuclear weapons. The U.S. opposes this, and South Korean nuclearization would probably end the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime for good. But South Korea is in a tight spot now, especially with Kim openly talking about pre-emption. Direct nuclear deterrence, for all the anxiety it would create, would be a better solution than airstrikes, which would likely ignite a war.

Dr. Robert E. Kelly (@Robert_E_Kelly; website) is a professor of international relations in the Department of Political Science at Pusan National University. Dr. Kelly is now a 1945 Contributing Editor as well. 

Russia makes new Nuclear threats

Russia makes new threats over use of Satan-2 hypersonic nuclear missile on Britain

Putin official said it is ‘absolutely legitimate’ for Russia to question the existence of Finland

5 hours ago

Russia has made new threats to use its deadly RS-28 Sarmat – known in the west as “Satan-2” – hypersonic nuclear missile to strike Britain in just “200 seconds”.

The warning from Russia’s defence committee deputy chairman, Aleksey Zhuravlyov, comes as Finland is poised to join Nato, and Swedenis set to follow suit. 

“If Finland wants to join this bloc, then our goal is absolutely legitimate – to question the existence of this state. This is logical,” Mr Zhuravlyov said in an interview with state TV Russia 1.

“If the United States threatens our state, it’s good: here is the Sarmat for you, and there will be nuclear ashes from you if you think that Russia should not exist. And Finland says that it is at one with the USA. Well, get in line.”

Last month Russia tested its new intercontinental missile, announcing that the warhead which could target Europe and the US would be deployed by the autumn. The Sarmat is capable of carrying 10 or more nuclear warheads and decoys, and of striking targets thousands of miles away. 

Russian Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launchers roll through Red Square on 9 May 

(EPA)

Asked if Russia would now rebase nuclear weapons onto its border with Finland, he said: “What for? We don’t need to.

“We can hit with a Sarmat from Siberia, and even reach the UK. And if we strike from Kaliningrad… the hypersonic’s reaching time is 200 seconds – so go ahead, guys.

“On the Finnish border we will have not strategic weapons, but Kinzhal-class, one that will reach Finland in 20 seconds, or even 10 seconds.”

Russia has voiced its discontent at Finland’s intention to join Nato and said it would take “retaliatory steps” both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop threats to its national security rising. 

Mr Zhuravlyov claimed Finland is being provoked into joining Nato by the US and the UK. “The Finns have nothing to share with us. They receive more than 90 per cent gas, timber and much more from us.

“Who needs fighting first of all? The Finns? They are not afraid that Russia is attacking them. Of course, sooner or later the Americans will force them to do so.

“Just as they forced Ukraine to do it, they are trying to force Poland and Romania. And, as practice shows, they succeed.”

Deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko said Moscow will take adequate precautionary measures if Nato deploys nuclear forces and infrastructure closer to Russia’s border, according to the RIA news agency. He added that Moscow has no hostile intentions towards Finland and Sweden and does not see “real” reasons for those two countries to be joining Nato alliance. 

Aleksey Zhuravlyov warned that Russia could strike the UK within minutes

(Duma)

In an interview with many colourful remarks such as labelling Baltic nations Lithuania and Estonia, stink bugs, Mr Zhuravlyov also claimed that St Petersburg – Putin’s birthplace – could be Nato’s first target in a war with Russia, adding that the US “will do everything possible to make World War Three happen”. 

“They [the US] will be able to attribute all their problems to the war, as they already did in the First World War and the Second World War.

“They got out of their crisis only thanks to the war in Europe. But there is a big danger: who guarantees that nuclear missiles will not fly? I do not guarantee this.”

Russian energy supplier RAO Nordic says it will suspend deliveries of electricity to Finland from Saturday, citing problems with payments as tensions between the two nations rise. The Finnish grid operator said Russia provided only a small percentage of the country’s electricity and that it could be replaced from alternative sources.

Looks Fingrid said it did not expect electricity shortages as a result of the shut off, as only around 10 per cent of Finland’s electricity is supplied from Russia.

Palestine’s Hamas Claims Responsibility For Deadly Shooting Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Palestine's Hamas Claims Responsibility For Deadly West Bank Shooting

Palestine’s Hamas Claims Responsibility For Deadly West Bank Shooting

Jerusalem tensions: A statement from Hamas said the Al-Qassam Brigades, the militant movement’s military wing, assumed “full responsibility” for the Friday shooting.

WorldAgence France-PresseUpdated: May 03, 2022 2:37 am IST

Hamas said the Friday shooting was in response to the “brutal aggression of against Al-Aqsa mosque.(File)

Gaza City, Palestinian: 

The Islamist movement Hamas that rules the Gaza Strip said Monday they were behind a recent attack that killed an Israeli in the West Bank, linking it to tensions in Jerusalem.

A statement from Hamas said the Al-Qassam Brigades, the militant movement’s military wing, assumed “full responsibility” for the Friday shooting of an Israeli guard in the Ariel settlement that left 23-year-old Vyacheslav Golev dead.

The Hamas claim came two days after the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, one of the main militant groups present in the West Bank operating under the ruling Fatah party, assumed responsibility for the attack.

But Palestinian sources told AFP that the two armed Palestinian suspects arrested on Saturday in the nearby village of Qarawat Bani Hassan were affiliated with Hamas.

The Friday attack was in response to the “brutal aggression of (Israel) against the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque and the worshippers”, the Hamas statement said.

At least 42 people had been hurt in clashes that erupted earlier between Palestinians and Israeli police at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound, on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

The mosque compound is in east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War, along with the West Bank, and later annexed, in a move not recognised by most of the international community.

The violence in east Jerusalem has raised fears of another armed conflict similar to an 11-day war last year between Israel and Hamas, triggered in part by similar unrest at Al-Aqsa.

Palestinian Muslims have been angered by an uptick in Jewish visits to the compound, where by long-standing convention Jews may visit but are not allowed to pray.

In a Saturday speech, Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas chief in Gaza, said that further deployment of Israeli forces inside the mosque will lead not only to rocket attacks at Israel but also to the destruction of “thousands of synagogues across the world”.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Russia Threatens the European Horns: Daniel

Russian state TV shows clips simulating Ireland being wiped out by nuclear weapons

Putin associate speaks of attacks on ‘British Isles’ amid UK support for Ukraine

Mon, May 2, 2022, 18:02

Conor Gallagher

Russian state TV shows clips simulating Ireland being wiped out by nuclear weapons.

Russian state television has broadcast mocked-up clips of nuclear weapons destroying Ireland in response to the UK’s support for Ukraine amid the ongoing war there.

The clips were broadcast by the state-owned television channel Russia-1 and introduced by Dmitry Kiselyov, a close associate of Russian president Vladimir Putin and who is perceived as a propagandist for the Kremlin. Russia-1 is the most widely watched television channel in Russia.

Ireland is not mentioned directly in either of the two clips. In one segment, Mr Kiselyov speaks of an attack on the “British Isles” as footage plays of the islands of Ireland and Britain being wiped off the map by a nuclear weapon.

“It actually seems like they’re raving on the British Isles,” Mr Kiselyov says, after baselessly claiming UK prime minister Boris Johnson had threatened a nuclear strike on Russia.

“Why threaten neverending Russia when you’re on an island which is, you know, is so small?” he says, according to a translation from journalist Francis Scarr, who monitors Russian media for the BBC.

“The island is so small that just one Sarmat missile is sufficient to sink it once and for all. Everything has been calculated already,” he claims, as a graphic shows a blast erasing Ireland and Britain from the map.

In a second segment, Mr Kiselyov talks of using a Poseidon nuclear underwater drone, an experimental Russian weapon, to “plunge the British Isles into the depths of the sea”.

“It approaches its target at a depth of 1km at a speed of 200km/h. There’s no way of stopping this underwater drone,” he tells viewers.

“The warhead has a yield of up to 100 megatons and will cause a gigantic tidal wave up to 500m high. Such a barrage alone also carries extreme doses of radiation,” he claims.

The radiation from the blast will turn whatever is left of the British Isles into a “radioactive desert”, he concludes.

The clips form part of one of several recent broadcasts threatening nuclear attack on the UK in retaliation for its support of Ukraine, which Moscow invaded on February 24th.

Speaking on the Sarmat missile last March, Prof Malcolm Chalmers from the Royal United Services Institute, a British defence and security think tank, said a single missile armed with 10 warheads could target areas as large as Texas or France, potentially killing millions of people. However, “most inhabitants of either territory would be outside the blast and fallout radius, as would many towns and cities”, he said.

Ambassador

Fianna Fáil MEP for Ireland South Billy Kelleher said the Government should summon Russia’s ambassador to the State, Yury Filatov, to inform him about “our absolute disgust about the [Russian] broadcast”.

“It’s a threat advocating violence against Ireland and that’s completely unacceptable. It’s quite disgusting,” he said.

“I wouldn’t regard it as a threat against Ireland really, no. It’s standard bellicose language you see on state-controlled media. It’s not completely clear he’s aware Ireland is a separate country,” a diplomatic source said.

“But the audience for this isn’t Irish or British people. It’s internal propaganda for Russian people. But it does, I suppose, highlight the unfortunate fact that if the UK was subject to a nuclear attack, unlikely as that is, Ireland would almost certainly be caught up in it.”

Mr Kiselyov, who is on an EU sanctions list, has a long history of making bellicose comments and spreading conspiracy theories on air. His weekly show, News of the Week, is viewed as a vehicle of Kremlin propaganda.

In 2013, he was picked by Mr Putin to head Rossiya Segodnya, the Russian state-owned media group.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has been asked for comment.– Additional reporting: Reuters

Spectre of blundering into the first nuclear war: Revelation 8

Spectre of blundering into a nuclear war

Spectre of blundering into a nuclear war

It’s now clear that Putin is out to ‘Balkanise’ southern/eastern Ukraine into Russia-friendly republics, besides making Ukraine primarily land-based by taking away Mariupol and pulverising Odessa port, the main Western logistics base for arms supplies. Also, connecting Crimea/its Black Sea Sevastopol port by a land bridge with the ‘Cossack’ Donbas part of eastern Ukraine, traditionally claimed as Russian, will severely circumscribe Ukraine.

Stalemate: Russia flexed muscles during the Ukraine visit of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (right) last week. Reuters

Maj Gen Raj Mehta (retd)

Defence commentator

On August 6, 1945, America dropped a 16-KT (16,000-tonne TNT) atomic bomb, codenamed Little Boy, on Hiroshima, followed by a 20-KT bomb on Nagasaki, codenamed Fat Man, on August 9. Besides the six-figure deaths that occurred instantly, the mental, genetic and psychological trauma the bombs caused is still felt. Now, 77 years later, the spectre of a nuclear war has been flagged by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister. They have warned America, EU, NATO and Ukraine of nuclear consequences if their perceived red-lines in the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war are crossed.

To underscore to a shocked world Russian capability and resolve to cross the nuclear threshold, the Russians deliberately fired two “high-precision, long-range air-based weapons”, probably hypersonic Kinzhal nuclear-capable glide missiles at the Kiev Artyom missile facility in close proximity of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres during his April 28 talks with Ukraine President Zelenskyy. Largely extracted from American RTI responses, this writer has summarised nuclear accidents since 1950 to illustrate that no country is above making mistakes, which if handled impulsively, may lead to a nuclear Armageddon.

A ‘Broken Arrow’ is defined as an unexpected event involving nuclear weapons resulting in accidental launching, firing, detonating and theft or weapon loss. Since 1950, there have been 46 nuclear weapon accidents of which 32 were ‘Broken Arrows’. Also, to date, six nuclear weapons have been irretrievably lost. Incidents have occurred involving aircraft carrying nuclear weapons, technical defects, human error, safety violations, careless nuclear war simulation, poor bunker storage and maintenance lapses. In erstwhile USSR, accidents have involved nuclear-powered ships (reactor meltdown); sinking of two Soviet nuclear submarines and a collision between US, Soviet nuclear submarines in the White Sea. Three incidents involving megaton thermonuclear weapons have occurred in American Strategic Air Command (SAC) bases while transiting with B-52 bombers across Europe.

Two such incidents have occurred in America. In 1979, operator displays at North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) under Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, displayed a full-scale Soviet ICBM attack leading to fully armed SAC B-52 bombers scrambling as also the US President’s Airborne Command Post. Fortunately, it was found six minutes later that a training programme had been accidentally loaded in NORAD computers. A second Nucflash incident occurred at Duluth, Minnesota, when a bear climbed over an SAC base security fence, setting off “intruder alarms” in other SAC bases. Additionally, a wiring error at an SAC base illuminated a “Nuke Russia now” directive. Armed B-52 bombers were stopped from take-off just in time.

These involve non-weapon civil nuclear reactors and include Chernobyl-Zaporizhzhia-type incidents in Ukraine, Three Mile Island in the USA and Fukushima in Japan. The consequences of a reactor meltdown accidentally or deliberately can cause considerable human and capital losses.

India maintains an enviable safety record on nuclear issues but accidents can take place anywhere, anytime. As per Pakistani Air Force reports of March 10, PAF “picked up a high-speed (Mach 2.5-3) flying object near Sirsa at 18:43:43 hours on March 9, 2022, which crossed the Indo-Pak border and crashed near Pakistan’s Mian Channu after a flight time of 6 minutes 46 seconds”. India initially accepted “technical malfunction of an unarmed missile during routine maintenance and inspection’, later admitting human error. An IAF inquiry is underway. While international media speculates that the missile flying profile matches the nuclear-capable BrahMos, India hasn’t commented. That the incident was unintended has been accepted worldwide. Mature handling by both countries prevented a crisis, a part of it being the presence of several civil passenger flights in proximity of the missile’s flight path.

With current land, sea and air nuclear munitions tonnage ranging from 1 KT Atomic Demolition Munitions (ADMs) to monster 10-MT thermonuclear bombs (10 million tonnes of TNT), such a scenario, whether accidental or deliberate, is possible. It can range from tactical ‘demonstration’ of intent; a desire to punish or demoralise Ukraine for Russian loss of face or an inexplicable compulsion to bolster Putin’s macho/unpredictable image or warn NATO/EU and thereby America against extending the ‘historical injustice’ against Russia by inveigling a willing Ukraine into NATO. These including an adverse situation are the Russian red-lines which may manifest in tactical nuclear fallouts.

A hardcore ‘intelligence’ (KGB) man, perplexed analysts sweated over an inscrutable Putin announcing “special operations”. It’s now clear that he is out to ‘Balkanise’ southern/eastern Ukraine into Russia-friendly republics, besides making Ukraine primarily land-based by taking away Mariupol and pulverising Odessa port, the main Western logistics base for arms supplies. Also, connecting Crimea/its Black Sea Sevastopol port by a land bridge with the legacy ‘Cossack’ Donbas part of eastern Ukraine traditionally claimed as Russian will severely circumscribe Ukraine.

It is in this context that though under long development, the successful full-test launch of the Russian Sarmat ICBM on April 20 from Plesetsk Cosmodrome invited global attention. Carrying 15 nuclear warheads or a mix of warheads/Avangard hypersonic glide missiles flying unpredictably to spoof anti-missile defences, Putin’s ‘boastful’ post-launch remarks about how this super-heavy successor silo-based ICBM to the vintage cold war SS-18 “Satan” ICBM couldn’t be countered by Western anti-missile defences were flippantly dismissed as “nuclear sabre- rattling”. In reality, they demonstrated deep and well-planned Russian preparedness. Western cynicism about Russia’s nuclear threats has the ‘cold war’ mutually assured destruction (MAD) as its backdrop. Much water has however flown down the Dnieper and Moskva rivers since the cataclysmic 1991 break-up of USSR and single-minded Western pursuit of marginalising Russia by weaning away the erstwhile Warsaw Pact East European states into NATO — notwithstanding solemn Western assurances to Russia to stop an eastward expansion of NATO “by even an inch”.

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Former Naval Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba remarked at a recent Panjab University defence department seminar on Ukraine where this writer participated that there was speculation about what Putin could announce at his forthcoming Victory Day (May 9) speech — culmination of special operations or escalation.

The world hopes that Putin will announce culmination. 

Hamas warns of synagogue attacks outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israeli forces take position during clashes with Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound last week. (AP pic)

AFP

May 1, 2022 7:49 AM

Hamas warns of synagogue attacks in case of new Al-Aqsa raid

GAZA CITY: The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas warned Saturday of attacks on synagogues if Israeli forces carry out another raid on the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque in annexed east Jerusalem.

“Whoever takes the decision to repeat this scene (of a deployment inside the mosque) will be taking the decision to destroy thousands of synagogues across the world,” Yahya Sinwar, Hamas chief in the Gaza Strip, said in a speech.

Israeli police have over the past two weeks clashed repeatedly with Palestinian protesters at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, with footage showing them firing tear gas inside the mosque, sparking condemnation from across the Muslim world.

“You should be ready for a great battle if the (Israeli) occupation does not stop attacking Al-Aqsa Mosque,” said Sinwar.

He said Hamas would fire off hundreds of rockets at Israel in case of an act of “aggression” on Al-Aqsa at the end of May, when Israel marks its capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Violence in east Jerusalem has raised fears of another armed conflict similar to an 11-day war last year between Israel and Hamas, triggered in part by similar unrest at Al-Aqsa.

The latest Al-Aqsa violence brought nearly 300 the number of Palestinians wounded in clashes at the site.

The Al-Aqsa compound is the holiest place in Judaism, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, and the third-holiest in Islam.

Palestinian Muslims have been angered by an uptick in Jewish visits to the compound, whereby long-standing convention Jews may visit but are not allowed to pray.

Obama-Iran nuclear deal near death

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani speaks to the press in front of the Palais Coburg, venue of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) meeting that aims at reviving the Iran nuclear deal, in Vienna on December 27, 2021 [ALEX HALADA/AFP via Getty Images]

Iran nuclear deal near death, but West not ready to pull plug

May 2, 2022 at 3:33 pm

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani speaks to the press in front of the Palais Coburg, venue of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) meeting that aims at reviving the Iran nuclear deal, in Vienna on December 27, 2021 [ALEX HALADA/AFP via Getty Images]May 2, 2022 at 3:33 pm

Western officials have largely lost hope the Iran nuclear deal can be resurrected, sources familiar with the matter said, forcing them to weigh how to limit Iran’s atomic program even as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has divided the big powers, reports Reuters.

While they have not completely given up on the pact, under which Iran restrained its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions, there is a growing belief it may be beyond salvation.

“They are not yanking the IV out of the patient’s arm … but I sense little expectation that there is a positive way forward,” said one source, who like others quoted spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity.

Four Western diplomats echoed the sentiment that the deal – which Iran struck with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States in 2015 but which then-US President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018 – is withering away.

Cartoon of President Trump ripping Iran's Nuclear deal [Twitter]

Cartoon of President Trump ripping Iran’s Nuclear deal [Twitter]

The pact appeared on the brink of revival in early March when the European Union, which coordinates the talks, invited ministers to Vienna to seal the deal. But talks were thrown into disarray over last-minute Russian demands and whether Washington might remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from its Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list.

The IRGC controls elite armed and intelligence forces that Washington accuses of a global terrorist campaign.

Tehran’s demand to remove it from the list is opposed by many US lawmakers, who see it as a terrorist entity despite Iranian denials.

The Russian demands appear to have been finessed but the IRGC designation has not, with the impending November 8 US mid-term elections making it hard for US President Joe Biden to buck domestic opposition to remove it.