Real Risk, Few Precautions (Revelation 6:12)

 

Eastern Quakes: Real Risk, Few Precautions

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.”

Iran Continues to Influence Iraq

Iran tries to control the appointment of Iraq’s key cabinet posts

Iraqi lawmakers attend the first session of the Parliament after elections, in Baghdad, Iraq, September 3, 2018. File Photo EPA-EFE/STR

Dec. 11 (UPI) — Twice in the past week, the Iraqi parliament blocked the appointment of key ministerial posts by Iraq’s new Prime Minister Dr. Adel Abdul Mahdi. The main sticking point with certain party is blocs in the parliament has been Mahdi’s insistence on the appointment of Faleh al-Fayadh as Interior Minister. Major blocs like Saairun, supported by Muqtada al-Sadr, have walked out of the parliament, leaving it un-quorate each time Mahdi has tabled Faleh al-Fayadh’s nomination. The issue has left the government in stalemate since the elections in May, with many politicians accusing Mahdi of backtracking on his pledge to appoint a cabinet of independent technocrats.

Opposition to al-Fayadh is not surprising. He was the brutal security adviser to former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and masterminded the military assaults on the PMOI/MEK refugees in Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty, killing 168 defenseless men and women and wounding a further 1,700. His record of atrocities has earned him the accolade of an indictment by the Spanish Courts for crimes against humanity, limiting his ability to travel in Europe. Predictably, the venally corrupt and sectarian Maliki has openly rejected the Iraqi parliament’s refusal to nominate al-Fayadh as Interior Minister and has thrown his support behind the pro-Iranian blocs in the dispute. Like his former boss Maliki, Fayadh is a puppet of the Iranian regime. On the orders of the mullahs in Tehran he led the ruthless Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces during the campaign to oust Daesh (ISIS) from Iraq, overseeing the almost complete destruction of the ancient cities of Fallujah, Ramadi and Mosul in the process and the genocidal ethnic cleansing of the Sunni population.

32 More Injured Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

32 Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers in northern Gaza: medics

A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to hurl stones at Israeli troops on a beach near the border between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip, Dec. 10, 2018. At least 32 Palestinian protesters were injured on Monday during clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the northern Gaza Strip and Israel, medics said. (Xinhua/Stringer)

GAZA, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) — At least 32 Palestinian protesters were injured on Monday during clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the northern Gaza Strip and Israel, medics said.

According to a press statement by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, 11 of them were injured by live gunshots, 12 by rubber-coated metal bullets and nine by tear gas canisters.

Every Monday, Palestinian protesters gather on the beach of the northern Gaza Strip close to the border fence with Israel, calling on Israel to end its 12-year blockade on the coastal enclave.

Protests also occur every Friday as part of the Great March of Return rally which began on March 30.

The Islamic Hamas movement and other minor factions in Gaza, which are leading the anti-Israel Palestinian rally, insist that the protests won’t stop until Israel lifts its blockade.

Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman of the Health Ministry in Gaza, said in a press statement that the Israeli army has shot dead 239 Palestinians and wounded 25,000 others since March 30.

A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to hurl stones at Israeli troops on a beach near the border between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip, Dec. 10, 2018. At least 32 Palestinian protesters were injured on Monday during clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the northern Gaza Strip and Israel, medics said. (Xinhua/Stringer)

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops on a beach near the border between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip, Dec. 10, 2018. At least 32 Palestinian protesters were injured on Monday during clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the northern Gaza Strip and Israel, medics said. (Xinhua/Stringer)

Palestinian medics carry a wounded man during clashes with Israeli troops on a beach near the border between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip, Dec. 10, 2018. At least 32 Palestinian protesters were injured on Monday during clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the northern Gaza Strip and Israel, medics said. (Xinhua/Stringer)

Palestinian protesters gather on the beach and on boats near the border between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip, Dec. 10, 2018. At least 32 Palestinian protesters were injured on Monday during clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the northern Gaza Strip and Israel, medics said. (Xinhua/Stringer)

Palestinian medics help a wounded man during clashes with Israeli troops on a beach near the border between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip, Dec. 10, 2018. At least 32 Palestinian protesters were injured on Monday during clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the northern Gaza Strip and Israel, medics said. (Xinhua/Stringer)

Iran in Defiance of Babylon the Great


GENEVA (Reuters) – A senior Iranian military commander has confirmed that Tehran recently carried out a ballistic missile test, to the anger of the United States, the Fars news agency said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: A display featuring missiles and a portrait of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen at Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran September 27, 2017. Picture taken September 27, 2017. Nazanin Tabatabaee Yazdi/TIMA via REUTERS

The Revolutionary Guards official’s comment came after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s assertion earlier this month that Iran had test-fired a missile capable of carrying multiple warheads and reaching the Middle East and Europe.

“We will continue our missile tests and this recent action was an important test,” Guards aerospace division head Amirali Hajizadeh was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.

“The reaction of the Americans shows that this test was very important for them and that’s why they were shouting,” he added, without specifying what type of missile had been tested.

The U.N. Security Council met last week to discuss the test, which the United States, Britain and France said flouted U.N. restrictions on Tehran’s military program.

U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program in May and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. He said the deal was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.

Iran has ruled out negotiations with Washington over its military capabilities, particularly the missile program run by the Guards. It says the program is purely defensive and denies missiles are capable of being tipped with nuclear warheads.

Hajizadeh said Iran holds up to 50 missile tests a year.

“The issue of missiles has never been subject to negotiations and nothing has been approved or ratified about its prohibition for the Islamic Republic of Iran in (U.N.) resolution 2231,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday, according to the Tasnim news agency.

“Our defense doctrine is basically founded upon deterrence.”

Under U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which enshrined the nuclear deal in 2015, Iran is “called upon” to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years.

Some states argue the language does not make it obligatory.

Last month, Hajizadeh said U.S. bases in Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, and U.S. aircraft carriers in the Gulf were within range of Iranian missiles.

Qatar dispute overshadows Gulf Arab summit as emir stays away

The head of the Guards, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said on Tuesday the United States was becoming weaker.

“American power is declining,” Jafari said, according to Fars. “The enemies don’t dare bring up the issue of overthrowing the Islamic Republic and they will take this wish to the grave.”

In October, the Revolutionary Guards fired missiles at Islamic State militants in Syria after the Islamist group said it was responsible for an attack at a military parade in Iran that killed 25 people, nearly half of them Guards members.

Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Andrew Cawthorne

Even Kushner Recognizes the Battle Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)


 

President Donald Trump’s advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner stated during his interview with Sean Hannity on Monday night that the living conditions in the West Bank and Gaza are not acceptable.

“We are focused on the broader region, which is figuring out how to hopefully bring a deal together between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That conflict has gone on for way too long. The president has been very focused on trying to bring all of the different parties together,” Kushner began.

“We are hopeful in the next couple of months we will put out our plan which, again, not every side is [going to] love, but there is enough in it and enough reasons why people should take it and move forward. This plan will keep the Israeli people safe, give them a good future, but also give a real opportunity and hope for the Palestinian people so that they can live much better lives,” he continued. “I’ve been saying a lot that there … you should not be hijacking your children’s future because of your grandparents’ conflict.”

Last week, a U.S.-sponsored resolution to condemn the Gaza-based terror organization Hamas failed to receive the necessary votes.

“This is a conflict that has been going on for way too long. And the way the people are living in Gaza and West Bank right now is not acceptable,” Kushner added. “There is a lot that we could be doing to improve the quality of life, but it comes with resolving some of these core issues. And it is not just the Israelis that want it, it’s not just the Palestinian people who want it, it is all of the people I speak to throughout the entire Middle East who would like to see the issue resolved so they can start focusing on a brighter future.”

The Nuclear Meltdown at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

NYS agencies urge more scrutiny of Algonquin pipeline at Indian Point

Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, Rockland/Westchester Journal News

A group of residents opposed to the Algonquin gas pipeline project meet at Somers Intermediate School Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. Peter Carr/The Journal News

State asks Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for more steps ‘to minimize risk and protect public safety’ near the Buchanan plant

Several New York state agencies are urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to institute additional safety measures on the Algonquin Pipeline portions near the Indian Point nuclear reactor.

In a letter to the commission, officials from the state health, public safety, environmental conservation and homeland security agencies called for “additional scrutiny and monitoring” to minimize risks near the Buchanan plant.

“While the probability of pipeline incidents is low, the proximity to the Indian Point nuclear plant makes the potential consequences of such an event very significant,” the state agencies said in a joint statement. “Additional scrutiny and monitoring to better understand and reduce risks associated with the Algonquin pipelines is warranted.”

Pipeline owner Enbridge is in the midst of expanding the half-century old natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania, through Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties, and north into New England.

Buy

Activists gathered in front of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s house in New Castle on Sunday to raise concerns about the Algonquin Pipeline project and other environmental issues. (Photo: Kurt Beebe for The Journal News)

Work done so far includes a new section through Stony Point, under the Hudson River, into Verplanck and near the Indian Point Energy Center.

The plan has sparked protests throughout the pipe’s path.

On Friday, the state agencies asked the federal commission for additional safety measures near the Indian Point property, including:

• Ensure that Enbridge will not be allowed to send additional natural gas at higher pressure through the pipeline to meet high demand for gas in the Northeast.

A map of the Algonquin pipeline expansion project (Photo: Courtesy Spectra Energy)• Require regular testing to ensure that valves on 26-inch, 30-inch and 42-inch pipelines near Indian Point can be closed remotely within three minutes of an event.

• The commission should work with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to examine Entergy Corp.’s decommission plan for Indian Point “to determine potential impacts to the original Algonquin pipelines.”

Why Iran WILL Go Nuclear (Daniel 8:4)

Why Iran May Go Nuclear

Abhishek Chapanerkar12.10.18

World News /10 Dec 2018

The Iranian nuclear saga and its repercussions are once again taking center stage. Is there anything left that President Trump might do to the Iranian people after his complete withdrawal from the Iran deal, renewed sanctions, and hawkish foreign policy towards Iran?

Of course, it goes without saying that if the financial gains that were promised to Iran in the aftermath of the nuclear deal are no longer there why would Iran wait to see any tangible results to come to its doorstep?

Rather, it is obvious Iran may go nuclear. At least the logic says so.

The U.S. and Iranian nuclear cooperation during the Shah’s reign didn’t materialize as the advent of 1979’s Islamic Revolution was rapidly approaching. However, historical archives show that the Shah clearly envisioned a nuclear Iran, as did his successors although the initial pace was slow.

Now, as there is no U.S. involvement to preserve the Iran deal, why would Iran have to abide by the terms? American absence imperils the regime which only a nuclear Iran can possibly change. Iran’s nuclear quest is more urgent than it was earlier.

Iran is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Iran’s nuclear aspirations for its energy security are more viable unlike other non-NPT members such as Israel, Pakistan and North Korea whose nuclear arsenals were developed for military use against adversaries in the region.

It was clear from the beginning that no nuclear deal would totally satisfy any parties involved in the deal. For President Obama achieving a comprehensive accord became impossible given the exigencies of the international episodes. During his tenure, Israel and Saudi Arabia were already wary of his foreign policy; the threat of the Islamic State was already on the rise, and the Israel-Palestine crisis had escalated. Nevertheless, the Obama administration saved the expedient deal in the hope that his diplomatic overtures would lead to re-engagement with Iran.

As the deal was never comprehensive, it was predictable that one of the members would withdraw from the deal. If it was not President Trump, Tehran itself could have walked out of the agreement.

Prolonged regional conflicts and debilitating effects of the past and ongoing chaos in the region have already cost Iran. Whether it was Iraq’s invasion or the post-September 11th events, during the rise of the Islamic State Iran was also vulnerable to terrorism.

As a consequence, no matter what the White House hawks argue against, Iran has an increasing role in the region, that should be quelled by an offensive military. No nation would like to see its national security compromised.

Iran’s isolation in the region will continue if a pragmatic nuclear option is not explored.

First, for both conservatives and reformists forming an anti-U.S. nexus with Russia and China is next to impossible. The pressure of economic sanctions that the Rouhani government is hoping to release with the help of France-Britain-Germany is likely to result in unfruitful outcomes. Although nothing has changed so far in regards to Moscow’s and Beijing’s opportunistic foreign policy in the region, economic relations with Iran remain important.

Second, compared to the Israeli national security goals, Iranian needs relate to its economy and security rather than its existence. In other words, Iran’s confrontation with Israel is military in nature. By keeping an ambiguous nuclear strategy, Israel still gained intangible benefits out of its nuclear deterrence although it has no strategic-depth to strike nuclear warheads on its immediate neighbors. By contrast, Tehran’s tumultuous relationship with Riyadh is both ideological and is motivated by gaining regional hegemony in the region.

Third, at the expense of America’s purchase of oil in return for money and weapons, Saudi Arabia poses a direct threat to Iran’s national security. Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MbS) heinous act in the Khashoggi murder case is an open secret demonstrating tacit support under the guise of American leadership. His recent inauguration of a nuclear research reactor and rhetorical remarks on the Iranian nuclear threat should be taken seriously.

From the Iranian perspective, therefore, a nuclear Saudi Arabia is of much more concern than Israel.

Finally, since the exposure of Tehran’s clandestine atomic pursuit in 2002, Israel-Sunni-Arab states have formed a superior alliance forming an anti-Iran nexus against the nuclear program. For regional stability, a nuclear Iran means a counter to Saudi arrogance. Also, Saudi Arabia’s malignant role in Yemen and Syria, its ideology and alignment with Israel are clearly indicative of the fact that to install an everlasting peace in the region is not unfeasible.

Even a weak comprehensive deal couldn’t guarantee any reconciliation among Iran and the Sunni-Arab States.

So, Tehran has now learned that Iran’s nuclear restraint means strengthening America’s stranglehold in the region. Strong nuclear deterrence alone would resolve its isolation on the international stage. As a consequence, Iran’s nuclear program will now have a clear military dimension. Uranium enrichment is one way for Iran to attain latent nuclear capability and could lead to their developing nuclear weapons in the near future.

As a result, the U.S. will watch the rise of nuclear Iran.

Palestinians Trampled Under Foot Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Scores of amputations in Gaza as Israeli troops aim at legs

Gaza’s Health Ministry has carried out 94 amputations since protests began in March, 82 of those involving lower limbs.

Raed Abu Khader, right, holds a wet cloth on the forehead of his 12-year-old son Mohammed in Gaza City; Mohammed was shot in the leg at one of the demonstrations in Gaza by the perimeter fence with Israel [Associated Press]

Israeli forces deployed along the fence that separates Israel from the Gaza Strip have fired live rounds at rock-throwing Palestinian protesters ever since demonstrations demanding the right to return began in March.

And for eight months, Israeli snipers have targeted one part of the body more than any other – the legs.

The Israeli army says it is responding to weekly assaults on its frontier by Palestinians armed with stones, grenades and firebombs. It says it opens fire only as a last resort and considers firing at the lower limbs an act of restraint.

Still, 175 Palestinians have been shot dead, according to a count by the Associated Press news agency. And the number of wounded has reached colossal proportions.

Of the 10,511 protesters treated at hospitals and field clinics in Gaza so far, at least 6,392, or roughly 60 percent, have been struck in the lower limbs, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. At least 5,884 of those casualties were hit by live ammunition; others have been hit by rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters.

Mahmoud Abu Assi, who was shot in the leg during a demonstration, has his bandage changed in a clinic run by MSF in Gaza City [Associated Press]

The upsurge in violence has left a visible mark on Gaza that will likely remain for decades to come. It is now common to see young men walking through dilapidated streets on crutches. Most have legs bandaged or fitted with a metal frame called a fixator, which uses pins or screws that are inserted into fractured bones to help stabilize them.

The wounded can often be seen gathering at a treatment clinic run by the Paris-based medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Gaza City, where Associated Press photographer Felipe Dana took portraits of some of them.

Some of those he photographed acknowledged throwing stones towards Israeli troops during the demonstrations. One said he had hurled a firebomb. But others said they were unarmed bystanders; one paramedic said he was helping rescue the wounded, while another man said he was waving a Palestinian flag and another said he was selling coffee and tea.

Patients with leg injuries they attained during demonstrations, gather outside a clinic run by MSF  in Gaza City in September 2018 [Associated Press]

International human rights groups have said the military’s open-fire rules are unlawful because they allow the use of potentially lethal force in situations where soldiers’ lives are not in immediate danger.

Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, rejected international criticism that Israel’s response has been excessive. Instead, he said that firing at people’s legs was a sign of restraint.

Hamas is responsible for orchestrating violent riots where thousands of Palestinians assault our borders with the goal of breaching our defensive lines and attacking Israeli forces and civilian communities,” he said.

“Israeli soldiers use live fire only as a last resort, after written and verbal warnings, as well as extensive use of tear gas and other non-lethal means have been exhausted. It is our duty to defend our civilians and sovereignty, and we do it with the minimal use of force possible,” he said.

Raed Abu Khader, right, carries his 12-year-old son Mohammed as they return from the hospital in Gaza City [Associated Press]

MSF said this month that the huge number of patients was overwhelming Gaza’s healthcare system, which has already been severely weakened by a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt that has fueled economic stagnation and rampant unemployment, and devastated water and electricity supplies.

The aid group said the majority of the 3,117 patients it has treated have been shot in the legs, and many will need follow-up surgery, physiotherapy and rehabilitation.

“These are complex and serious injuries that do not quickly heal,” the group said. “Their severity and the lack of appropriate treatment in Gaza’s crippled health system means that infection is a high risk, especially for patients with open fractures.”

“The consequences of these wounds … will be lifelong disability for many,” the aid group said. “And if infections are not tackled, then the results could be amputation or even death.”

Gaza’s Health Ministry says it has carried out 94 amputations since the protests began, 82 of them involving lower limbs.

Russia Builds Up Forces in Crimea

Two weeks after Russia fired on and seized three Ukrainian vessels in the contested Kerch Strait, satellite images obtained exclusively by Fox News on Sunday show that additional forces may be headed to the region.

In the images taken on Saturday, three Russian Ilyushin -76 cargo planes were spotted in the Dzhankoi airbase in Crimea.

The images, captured by Imagesat International, appear to show that Russia is continuing to step up and consolidate its military forces in the Crimea, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

According to social media reports in Russia, Four IL-76 planes departed on December 6 from Anapa airport in Novorossiysk and landed in Dzhankoi.

© FoxNews.com 24 Ukrainian sailors held by Russia near Crimea have reportedly been extensively questioned and will appear before a Russian court; Trey Yingst reports.

One of those airplanes returned Saturday to Anapa, while the three remain on base.

Ilushin-76 cargo planes are used by the Russian Army to deliver outsized or heavy cargo unable to be carried on the ground. The cargo planes are also used for mobilizing large numbers of troops.

The base of the elite unit of the Russia Airborne troops, the 7th Guards Mountain Air Assault Division is located in Novorossiysk, not far from Anapa.

The division’s troop participated in the last round of violence between Ukraine and Russia in August 2014, in addition to the fighting in Syria.

The IL-76 were spotted in the same airbase where the fourth S-400 surface-to-air missile battery was deployed, Fox News has previously reported.

The mobile S-400 missile has a range of up to almost 250 miles and can climb to an altitude of almost 19 miles. It’s intended to bring down a variety of aerial threats, from aircraft to cruise and ballistic missiles.

The apparent troop buildup comes as Ukraine’s defense ministry warned Friday that it will soon send naval ships through the Kerch Strait.

Ukraine has responded to the actions by Russia by introducing martial law for 30 days, a measure Kiev did not take even after Crimea’s annexation and amid large-scale fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists in 2014-2015.

As part of martial law, Ukraine has beefed up its forces on the border with Russia and called up reservists for training. Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak told reporters on Friday that his country intends to send naval ships through the Kerch Strait soon, saying that “otherwise Russia will fully occupy the Sea of Azov.”

India Widens It’s Nuclear Horn

India Test Fires Agni-V Nuclear-Capable ICBM

Franz-Stefan Gady

India has successfully test fired its most advanced nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Agni-V, the Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in a statement. The missile was fired from a canister on a road mobile launcher at Dr Abdul Kalam Island in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of the eastern Indian state of Odisha on December 10.

“The launch operations were carried out and monitored by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) in presence of Scientists from Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and other associated officials,” the MoD statement reads.  The flight performance of the Agni-V was tracked and monitored by radars, tracking instruments and observation stations. According to the MoD, the user trial of the new ICBM was successful. All test objectives were met.

The December 10 test firing constitutes the seventh test launch of the three-stage Agni-V ICBM, officially designated as an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM), and the third launch in 2018. The last test of the missile took place on June 3. A previous test occurred on January 18. In both instances, the ICBM was launched in deliverable configuration from a hermetically sealed canister mounted on a mobile transporter erector launcher.

The missile was fired in a similar configuration in December 2016 and January 2015. The former launch included testing the missile for its full range. Two other tests that took place in April 2012 and September 2013 respectively, involved the launch of the Agni-V in ‘open configuration.’ The Agni-V is expected to be inducted into service in the coming months. (Earlier media reports suggested a December 2018 induction date.) An operational deployment of the new ICBM would require at least two additional test firings by the SFC.

Development of the Agni-V began in 2008. The ICBM features indigenously designed navigation and guidance systems including a ring laser gyroscope based inertial navigation system. The missile has been primarily developed as a strategic nuclear deterrent against China. As I noted previously:

While previous nuclear-capable missiles of the series (Agni-I, Agni-II, and Agni-III) were developed to offset Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, the Agni-IV, [and] Agni-V (…) given their longer ranges, are designed to provide a credible nuclear deterrent against China.

Additionally, I explained:

The Agni-V, a three-stage solid fueled missile, has an approximate range of 5,500-5,800 kilometers [the exact range remains classified, but it is assumed that the missile has a range of 6,000-7,500 kilometers], and can carry a 1,500-kilogram (3,300-pound) nuclear warhead. India has reportedly also been working on multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV) for the Agni-V in order to ensure a credible second-strike capability.

The Agni-V’s increased accuracy could pose a problem for long-term strategic stability in South Asia.  The missile’s reduced launch time, paired with India’s burgeoning maneuverable reentry vehicle (MaRV) and MIRV technology, can reduce decision-making time in crisis situations and invite miscalculation.