22nd earthquake shakes up town outside of Columbia, SC, geologist report BY DAVID TRAVIS BLAND UPDATED APRIL 07, 2022 11:43 AM Play VideoDuration 0:32 Earthquake startles dogs in South Carolina A 3.3-magnitude earthquake hit South Carolina’s Lowcountry on Monday, September 27, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), giving two dogs in North Charleston quite a scare. BY NICOLE ABERNATHY VIA STORYFUL Elgin, South Carolina had its 22nd earthquake in five months Thursday morning. The 2.0 magnitude earthquake hit at about 5 a.m. near the town about 20 miles northeast of Columbia, according to the United States Geological Survey. A magnitude of 2.0 is considered a weak earthquake. The effects of the quake might not be felt at that low of a magnitude. In all, 22 earthquakes have hit the Elgin and Lugoff area since a 3.3 magnitude quake was recorded on Dec. 27, 2021. Another low-level quake hit Elgin last week. TOP VIDEOS WATCH MORE × Is South Carolina a dynasty? Not yet, says Dawn Staley South Carolina has had 39 earthquakes since September. An explanation for the recent seismic activity has eluded scientists. Digging and blasting at mines, water seeping through the ground from lakes, or other changes in weight or pressure underground could all contribute to seismic activity, The State previously reported, but no one has settled on the single cause for the Midlands’ shaking.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called on the global community to ramp up pressure against Tehran’s nuclear program and ambitions.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has warned that Iran was drawing “dangerously close” to producing nuclear weapons.
In an interview to UK’s Telegraph on Saturday, Bennett said, “Iran is enriching uranium at an unprecedented rate and moving dangerously close to getting their hands on nuclear weapons.”
The prime minister called on the global community to ramp up pressure against Tehran’s nuclear program and ambitions.
His comments come at a when there are several reports suggesting that Iran may have already attained the material needed to manufacture a nuclear weapon.
On Thursday, Iran switched off surveillance cameras used by the international nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, to monitor activity at the country’s key nuclear facilities.
IAEA chief Rafael Grossi warned that the move could deal a “fatal blow” to negotiations that seek to revive the nuclear deal.
The absence of footage from nuclear sites deprives the negotiators of the nuclear deal —known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) —to “technically impossible to have an agreement,” IAEA chief Raphael Grossi told CNN Thursday.
“Or you could have (a deal) on the basis of no information, which I suppose is not going to happen,” said Grossi.
“This is why we are saying it’s a very serious thing. It has consequences. Of course it does.”
The IAEA has said that it did not have access to the data collected by such cameras for more than a year. The agency hopes it will gain access to that data, which remains with Iran, at a later date.
(With inputs from agencies)
China has made “impressive progress” in developing new nuclear weapons, but will only use them for self-defense, and never use them first, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe told delegates at the Shangri-La Dialogue on Sunday.
In response to a question about reports last year on construction of more than 100 new nuclear missile silos in China’s east, he said China “has always pursued an appropriate path to developing nuclear capabilities for protection of our country.”
He added nuclear weapons displayed in a 2019 military parade in Beijing — which included upgraded launchers for China’s DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missiles – were operational and deployed.
“China has developed its capabilities for over five decades. It’s fair to say there has been impressive progress,” he said. “China’s … policy is consistent. We use it for self defense. We will not be the first to use nuclear (weapons).”
He said the ultimate goal of China’s nuclear arsenal was to prevent nuclear war.
“We developed nuclear capabilities to protect the hard work of the Chinese people and protect our people from the scourge of the nuclear warfare,” he said.
The U.S. State Department last year called China’s nuclear buildup concerning and said it appeared Beijing was deviating from decades of nuclear strategy based around minimal deterrence. It called on China to engage with it “on practical measures to reduce the risks of destabilizing arms races.”
Halting an atomic weapon is theoretically possible, say experts, but in reality is an enormous challenge
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has raised the fear of nuclear weapons to a level not seen since the Cold War.
Russia’s nuclear arsenal is believed to be the world’s largest, leaving President Vladimir Putin with some 5,977 nuclear warheads at his disposal, according to the Federation of American Scientists, compared with the US’s 5,428.
And Putin has signalled he is prepared “to resort to the most extreme level of brinkmanship” in an attempt to win victory in Ukraine, said The Guardian. He ordered his military to put Russia’s nuclear deterrence forces on high alert in February, soon after the war began.
It has left many wondering what could be done if a foreign military did launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), and if such a weapon can be stopped once it has been fired.
It’s a question that engineers have been grappling with for decades, and yet “despite monumental advances in physics, computing and A.I.” in the last 40 years, “the engineering problem of missile interception has yet to be solved”, said Salon.
“There’s no law of physics against the prospect of intercepting them, but the laws of physics make it extremely challenging – and create all of these constraints on how difficult it is to intercept it,” James Wells, a professor of physics at the University of Michigan, told the magazine.
But it is physically possible to create a system that could intercept a missile – it’s just extremely difficult.
“There’s no theorem that says ‘one cannot accomplish missile defense’,” he added.
Among the reasons engineers have found the task so difficult is that such missiles are relatively small objects (a typical ICBM is about a metre long), they move very fast, and any interception needs to occur in such a small time frame.
Dr Laura Grego, from MIT’s Laboratory for Nuclear Security and Policy, told Salon that an armed ICBM attack would take place within about “30 or 40 minutes”, meaning any defence system would have to “be ready and effective on those timescales”. And because “the stakes are so high, it really needs to work almost perfectly the first time”.
To make matters more difficult, an ICBM can only be intercepted at certain points on its journey: when it launches, when it is out in space, and when it re-enters the atmosphere. Each of these phases “has its limitations”, said LiveScience.
During the launch phase, a country wishing to knock a nuclear bomb off course would have just a few minutes to respond. And countries that have historically been seen as a nuclear threat, such as Russia and China, “have large land masses”. This allows them to “keep their missiles far inland, meaning sea-based interceptors couldn’t get to a missile during its launch phase”.
And any intercepting missile would have to hit exactly the right spot on a nuclear bomb, or it could simply knock the missile off course and towards another, perhaps friendly, country. This is commonly known as the ‘shortfall’ problem. “You really have to be explicit and target the payload at the tip of the missile,” Grego told the site.
Trying to intercept a missile while it is in its next phase – when out in space – is also extremely difficult. This is because of the so-called “discrimination problem”. In the vacuum of space, where there is very little to no air resistance, it would be all but impossible to figure out which missiles are lighter, decoy missiles, and which are heavy warheads. Intercepting all the missiles to ensure you hit the real warhead might not be possible in such a limited time frame.
Despite these challenges, the US has spent decades trying to develop a system that could attack a nuclear bomb while it is outside the Earth’s atmosphere. The system is known as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD). Testing has produced mixed results, but some experts are convinced it could work effectively in an emergency scenario. It is, says Forbes, “the only U.S. military program capable of intercepting North Korean nuclear weapons headed for American soil”.
But GMD has its limitations. Since 1999, it has been tested 18 times, said The Verge, and has failed at least eight of those tests. And, noted the technology website, “the Union of Concerned Scientists argue that these were conducted under artificial conditions where the timing of the incoming missile, for example, was known in advance”.
A study published this year by the American Physical Society has brought the reliability of the system into question. The study, which focused on ICBMs from North Korea, concluded that the GMD couldn’t be relied upon to “counter even a limited nuclear strike” and said that the systems in place were “unlikely to achieve reliability within the next 15 years”.
China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun has urged Washington to ease unilateral sanctions on North Korea and end joint military exercises with South Korea in a bid to revive talks with Pyongyang.
China’s U.N. envoy said on Thursday that Beijing does not want to see North Korea carry out a new nuclear test, which is partly why China vetoed a U.S.-led bid to impose new U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang over renewed ballistic missiles launches.
But Ambassador Zhang Jun warned against making presumptions on how Beijing might react at the United Nations if North Korea goes ahead with its first nuclear test since 2017. Washington has warned such a test could happen at “any time” and it would again push for more U.N. sanctions.
“Let’s see what will happen, but I think we should not prejudge what will happen with a nuclear test,” Zhang told Reuters, two weeks after China and Russia vetoed imposing more U.N. Security Council sanctions on North Korea.
“The denuclearization is one of the key goals of China,” Zhang said. “We do not want to see another test.”
The double veto publicly split the 15-member Security Council for the first time since it started punishing Pyongyang in 2006. The body has steadily – and unanimously – ratcheted up sanctions over the years in a bid to cut off funding for North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
However, in recent years China and Russia have been pushing for an easing of sanctions on humanitarian grounds – and in the hope that North Korea can be convinced to return to negotiations with the United States on giving up its nuclear weapons.
“Only with dialogue we see the improvement in the situation. With sanctions, we see the further deterioration,” Zhang said. “Our basic position is very clear – sanctions don’t solve the problems.”
North Korea has carried out dozens of missile launches this year, including intercontinental ballistic missiles, breaking a test moratorium it self-imposed after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met then-U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018 for the first of three meetings. The talks failed to make any progress.
Zhang has urged Washington to ease unilateral sanctions on North Korea and end joint military exercises with South Korea in a bid to revive talks with Pyongyang. The United States says it has repeatedly reached out to North Korea, but received no response to its offer of talks without preconditions.
“To the U.S. we are telling them to take concrete actions and to be engaged in dialogue. We are also telling our DPRK friends to really be engaged in serious dialogue with the United States,” Zhang said, referring to North Korea’s formal name – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Zhang said it was not “mission impossible” to restart talks between North Korea and the United States.
“The United States is the number one superpower in the world. If the United States wants to engage in dialogue with anyone in the world, it’s not a difficult thing,” he said. “It’s up to DPRK to make their decision, but definitely our willingness is there.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NUCLEAR WEAPONS have been Vladimir Putin’s key ammunition to warn NATO counties off interfering with his illegal invasion of Ukraine since the very start. But NATO’s arsenal is nearly as sizeable and, based on where they’re stationed, could actually be seen as a more significant threat to Russia.
08:29, Fri, Jun 10, 2022 | UPDATED: 08:29, Fri, Jun 10, 2022
Nuclear war threats haven’t stirred since the end of the Cold War, but as the Russia-Ukraine conflict transpires, fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin could use these weapons of mass destruction are ever-rising. Russia currently has the largest nuclear arsenal, however, these are stationed far away in Russia and its close surrounding countries. Whereas the US has many more stationed much closer to Russia’s turf.
Putin has been wielding Russia’s nuclear weapons arsenal at countries who “interfere” with his invasion since its launch, warning of “consequences never encountered in your history”.
With the largest arsenal of all nine countries that possess them, Russia is currently reported to possess approximately 6,257 nuclear iweapons.
These weapons are stationed largely in areas across Russia and one area reported to be in Kazakhstan.
In NATO’s Nuclear Deterrence policy, it states these countries will “protect other NATO allies under their ‘nuclear umbrellas’ in line with the NATO commitment that an attack on any one ally will be viewed as an attack on the entire alliance.”
With a combined mass treading close to Russia’s heels, these countries are reported to have approximately 5,550, 225, and 290, respectively.
However, amongst the UK and France’s nuclear weapon stations, it’s believed “About half of the roughly 200 US shorter-range weapons are believed to be deployed in five NATO countries in Europe.” according to A. Pomper and Vasilii Tuganov from the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.
The US has neither confirmed nor denied exact locations, but it’s predicted that the US’s B61-3 and -4 gravity bombs are stationed in the Volkel Airbase in the Netherlands, Kleine Brogel Air Base in Belgium and Buchel Airbase in Germany, as well as the Ghendi and Aviano bases in Italy and the Incirlik Airbase in Turkey.
Around 100 US shorter-range weapons are believed to be deployed in five NATO countries in Europe (Image: EXPRESS)
The Ministry of Defence has refused to clarify whether any US nuclear warheads will be placed back in the UK, however, according to UK Government budget documents, RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk is due to be upgraded.
Some believe it might enable the US to store B61-12 nuclear bombs.
The B61-12 is an air-launched nuclear gravity bomb, said to be the latest variant of the B61 family, and much more powerful than any of the first-generation atomic bombs.
Russian envoy to Iran nuclear talks Mikhail Ulyanov speaking with Iran International from Vienna. June 10, 2022
Author: Iran International Newsroom
Russia’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told Iran International Friday there was “still time” to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
“It’s feasible, it’s doable,” Mikhail Ulyanov said. The ambassador claimed agreement between Iran and world powers was “99.9 percent” achieved when talks broke off March 10.
“We were five minutes from the finishing line,” he told Iran International Fardad Farahzad in a video interview.
After year-long negotiations to revive the 2015 deal, known as JCPOA, stopped in Vienna, it became clear that Iran and the United States had significant differences over what sanctions would be removed once an agreement was inked. Iran insistedu that its Revolutionary Guard should be removed from the US list of terrorist organizations, a demand Washington has refused.
Ulyanov condemned the resolution passed Wednesday by the IAEA board criticizing Iran, which he said was “counterproductive” and “illogical at a very delicate moment in the Vienna talks when the final outcome is in question.” On Thursday, Ulyanov had called the Western move “stupid”, but in the he told Iran International that he should not have deviated from diplomatic language.
The resolution tabled by the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany passed overwhelmingly, leaving only China and Russia as countries voting against.
Resolutions were passed by the 35-member board, Ulyanov argued only “on rare occasions and is perceived as something extraordinary as a rule.”
Ulyanov holding a meeting in Vienna with the Iranian delegation. February 13, 2022
The ambassador denied the situation with Iran – including its growing stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent and its continuing restrictions of IAEA monitoring – was extraordinary.
“It’s not urgent,” he said. “We are talking about uranium particles which belong to the beginning of this millennium [work carried out by Iran before 2003]…nobody can insist that these particles represent any proliferation risk.” Tehran had provided some information to the IAEA, he added, including over uranium metal, so that “progress is there.”
But the IAEA thought otherwise when on June 6 its director Rafael Grossi submitted his report to the Board of Directors saying, “Iran has not provided explanations that are technically credible in relation to the Agency’s findings at three undeclared locations in Iran.”
Iran and the IAEA had agreed in March that Tehran would fully answer questions about its past nuclear work by mid-June, and the UN nuclear watchdog concluded that there was little progress in that respect.
Ulyanov insisted that the passage of the resolution had led to Iran’s “retaliatory measures” in informing the IAEA it would remove further monitoring equipment. This, he said, had confirmed his assessment expressed before the resolution was raised.
Ulyanov meeting with US envoy Rob Malley in Vienna, Dec. 29, 2022
“I could not understand the logic behind this initiative of my western counterparts. I must tell you that last year they tried to do something like those three times – in which case the Russian Federation managed to convince them not to take this step.”
Such persuasion was more difficult in the current climate, Ulyanov conceded, obliquely referring to tensions over Ukraine.
Moscow remained committed, he insisted, to the 2015 nuclear deal (the JCPOA, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) as a “great achievement in the field of” non-proliferation.” He said that the current state of Iran’s nuclear program did not bring Tehran as near to nuclear weapons as some suggested.