In the aftermath of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, President John F. Kennedy was more candid. Speaking at American University, he said: “A single nuclear weapon contains almost 10 times the explosive force delivered by all the allied air forces in the Second World War.” Kennedy also noted, “The deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn.” Finally, he added, “All we have built, all we have worked for, would be destroyed in the first 24 hours.”
Kennedy was no dove. He affirmed willingness to use nuclear weapons. But his speech offered some essential honesty about nuclear war — and the need to seriously negotiate with the Kremlin in the interests of averting planetary incineration — an approach sorely lacking from the United States government today.
At the time of Kennedy’s presidency, nuclear war would have been indescribably catastrophic. Now — with large arsenals of hydrogen bombs and what scientists know about “nuclear winter” — experts have concluded that a nuclear war would virtually end agriculture and amount to omnicide (the destruction of human life on earth).
What I discovered — to my horror, I have to say — is that the Joint Chiefs of Staff contemplated causing with our own first strike 600 million deaths, including 100 million in our own allies. Now, that was an underestimate even then because they weren’t including fire, which they found was too incalculable in its effects. And of course, fire is the greatest casualty-producing effect of thermonuclear weapons. So the real effect would’ve been over a billion — not 600 million — about a third of the Earth’s population then at that time.
What turned out to be the case 20 years later in 1983 and confirmed in the last 10 years very thoroughly by climate scientists and environmental scientists is that that high ceiling of a billion or so was wrong. Firing weapons over the cities, even if you call them military targets, would cause firestorms in those cities like the one in Tokyo in March of 1945, which would loft into the stratosphere many millions of tons of soot and black smoke from the burning cities. It wouldn’t be rained out in the stratosphere. It would go around the globe very quickly and reduce sunlight by as much as 70 percent, causing temperatures like that of the Little Ice Age, killing harvests worldwide and starving to death nearly everyone on Earth. It probably wouldn’t cause extinction. We’re so adaptable. Maybe 1 percent of our current population of 7.4 billion could survive, but 98 or 99 percent would not.
Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine four months ago, the risks of global nuclear annihilation were at a peak. In January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists set its Doomsday Clock at a mere 100 seconds from apocalyptic Midnight, compared to six minutes a decade ago. As Russia’s horrific war on Ukraine has persisted and the U.S. government has bypassed diplomacy in favor of massive arms shipments, the hazards of a nuclear war between the world’s two nuclear superpowers have increased.
But the Biden administration has not only remained mum about current nuclear war dangers; it’s actively exacerbating them. Those at the helm of U.S. foreign policy now are ignoring the profound lessons that President Kennedy drew from the October 1962 confrontation with Russia over its nuclear missiles in Cuba. “Above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war,” Kennedy said. “To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy — or of a collective death-wish for the world.”
As scholar Alfred McCoy just wrote, “With the specter of mass starvation looming for some 270 million people and, as the [United Nations] recently warned, political instability growing in those volatile regions, the West will, sooner or later, have to reach some understanding with Russia.” Only diplomacy can halt the carnage in Ukraine and save the lives of millions now at risk of starvation. And the dangers of nuclear war can be reduced by rejecting the fantasy of a military solution to the Ukraine conflict.
In recent months, the Russian government has made thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the U.S. has been shipping huge quantities of weapons to Ukraine, while Washington has participated in escalating the dangerous rhetoric. President Biden doubled down on conveying that he seeks regime change in Moscow, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has declared that the U.S. wants the Russian military “weakened” — an approach that is opposite from Kennedy’s warning against “confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war.”
We’d be gravely mistaken to wait for Washington’s officialdom to level with us about nuclear war dangers, much less take steps to mitigate them. The power corridors along Pennsylvania Avenue won’t initiate the needed changes. The initiatives and the necessary political pressure must come from grassroots organizing.
A new “Defuse Nuclear War” coalition of about 90 national and regional organizations (which I’m helping to coordinate) launched in mid-June with a livestream video featuring an array of activists and other eloquent speakers, drawn together by the imperative of preventing nuclear war. (They included antiwar activists, organizers, scholars and writers Daniel Ellsberg, Mandy Carter, David Swanson, Medea Benjamin, Leslie Cagan, Pastor Michael McBride, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Hanieh Jodat Barnes, Judith Ehrlich, Khury Petersen-Smith, India Walton, Emma Claire Foley, retired Army Col. Ann Wright and former California Gov. Jerry Brown.)
The U.S. government’s willingness to boost the odds of nuclear war is essentially a political problem. It pits the interests of the people of the world — in desperate need of devoting adequate resources to human needs and protection of the environment — against the rapacious greed of military contractors intertwined with the unhinged priorities of top elected officials.
Media sources reported on Saturday that several explosions occured at the US Victoria base near Baghdad International Airport which is considered one of the centers of deployment of American occupying forces in Iraq.
According to Iraqi sources, alarm systems sounded in Victoria base following these explosions.
No further details about the explosion have been released.
How vulnerable are NYC’s underwater subway tunnels to flooding?Ashley Fetters New York City is full of peculiar phenomena—rickety fire escapes; 100-year-old subway tunnels; air conditioners propped perilously into window frames—that can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest city denizen. But should they? Every month, writer Ashley Fetters will be exploring—and debunking—these New York-specific fears, letting you know what you should actually worry about, and what anxieties you can simply let slip away. The 25-minute subway commute from Crown Heights to the Financial District on the 2/3 line is, in my experience, a surprisingly peaceful start to the workday—save for one 3,100-foot stretch between the Clark Street and Wall Street stations, where for three minutes I sit wondering what the probability is that I will soon die a torturous, claustrophobic drowning death right here in this subway car. The Clark Street Tunnel, opened in 1916, is one of approximately a dozen tunnels that escort MTA passengers from one borough to the next underwater—and just about all of them, with the exception of the 1989 addition of the 63rd Street F train tunnel, were constructed between 1900 and 1936. Each day, thousands of New Yorkers venture across the East River and back again through these tubes buried deep in the riverbed, some of which are nearing or even past their 100th birthdays. Are they wrong to ponder their own mortality while picturing one of these watery catacombs suddenly springing a leak? Mostly yes, they are, says Michael Horodniceanu, the former president of MTA Capital Construction and current principal of Urban Advisory Group. First, it’s important to remember that the subway tunnel is built under the riverbed, not just in the river—so what immediately surrounds the tunnel isn’t water but some 25 feet of soil. “There’s a lot of dirt on top of it,” Horodniceanu says. “It’s well into the bed of the bottom of the channel.” And second, as Angus Kress Gillespie, author of Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, points out, New York’s underwater subway tunnels are designed to withstand some leaking. And withstand it they do: Pumps placed below the floor of the tunnel, he says, are always running, always diverting water seepage into the sewers. (Horodniceanu says the amount of water these pumps divert into the sewer system each day numbers in the thousands of gallons.) Additionally, MTA crews routinely repair the grouting and caulking, and often inject a substance into the walls that creates a waterproof membrane outside the tunnel—which keeps water out of the tunnel and relieves any water pressure acting on its walls. New tunnels, Horodniceanu points out, are even built with an outside waterproofing membrane that works like an umbrella: Water goes around it, it falls to the sides, and then it gets channeled into a pumping station and pumped out. Of course, the classic New York nightmare scenario isn’t just a cute little trickle finding its way in. The anxiety daydream usually involves something sinister, or seismic. The good news, however, is that while an earthquake or explosion would indeed be bad for many reasons, it likely wouldn’t result in the frantic flooding horror scene that plays out in some commuters’ imaginations. The Montague Tube, which sustained severe damage during Hurricane Sandy. MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann Horodniceanu assures me that tunnels built more recently are “built to withstand a seismic event.” The older tunnels, however—like, um, the Clark Street Tunnel—“were not seismically retrofitted, let me put it that way,” Horodniceanu says. “But the way they were built is in such a way that I do not believe an earthquake would affect them.” They aren’t deep enough in the ground, anyway, he says, to be too intensely affected by a seismic event. (The MTA did not respond to a request for comment.) One of the only real threats to tunnel infrastructure, Horodniceanu adds, is extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused flooding in the tunnels, which “created problems with the infrastructure.” He continues, “The tunnels have to be rebuilt as a result of saltwater corroding the infrastructure.” Still, he points out, hurricanes don’t exactly happen with no warning. So while Hurricane Sandy did cause major trauma to the tunnels, train traffic could be stopped with ample time to keep passengers out of harm’s way. In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed all the MTA’s mass transit services to shut down at 7 p.m. the night before Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit New York City. And Gillespie, for his part, doubts even an explosion would result in sudden, dangerous flooding. A subway tunnel is not a closed system, he points out; it’s like a pipe that’s open at both ends. “The force of a blast would go forwards and backwards out the exit,” he says. So the subway-train version of that terrifying Holland Tunnel flood scene in Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight is … unrealistic, right? “Yeah,” Gillespie laughs. “Yeah. It is.” Got a weird New York anxiety that you want explored? E-mail email@example.com, and we may include it in a future column.
“In case you were wondering if it was fireworks or earthquakes earlier this morning …” SCEMD said on Facebook.
While it would normally be no competition between the amount of vibrations caused by fireworks on a Fourth of July holiday weekend in South Carolina and the shaking felt from an earthquake’s tremors, the question is legitimate this year because of all the recent seismic activity.
Last Sunday, an earthquake was recorded in Elgin, according to the USGS. That led a series of earthquakes, or aftershocks, including a pair of 3.5 magnitude and 3.6 magnitude quakes on Wednesday afternoon and early evening.
Those were the two largest quakes to hit South Carolina in nearly a decade. A 4.1-magnitude quake struck McCormick County in 2014.
Another earthquake in Georgia on June 18 reached a 3.9 magnitude and could be felt in much of South Carolina.
The recent earthquakes mean at least 50 have been detected in the Palmetto State since the start of 2022, according to South Carolina DNR. All but five of the quakes have been in the Midlands.
In all, 52 earthquakes have hit the Columbia area since a 3.3 magnitude quake was recorded on Dec. 27, 2021, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Earthquakes that register 2.5 magnitude or less often go unnoticed and are usually only recorded by a seismograph, according to Michigan Technological University. Any quake less than 5.5 magnitude is not likely to cause significant damage, the school said.
It is typical for South Carolina to have between six and 10 earthquakes a year, the S.C. Geological Survey previously reported. There have been 77 earthquakes in South Carolina since Jan. 18, 2021, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
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. The state Department of Health and Environmental Control said last week that mining activity is not likely to be the cause of recent earthquakes, as mines in the Elgin area are shallow.
Elgin, located about 20 miles northeast of Columbia and situated on a fault line, has been experiencing an unusual earthquake “swarm” for the past several months, leaving some residents feeling uneasy. The series of quakes might be the longest period of earthquake activity in the state’s history, officials said last week. But officials have said they don’t believe the spate of minor earthquakes is an indicator that a bigger quake could be on the way.
The strongest earthquake ever recorded in South Carolina — and on the East Coast of the U.S. — was a devastating 7.3 in Charleston in 1886.
That quake killed 60 people and was felt over 2.5 million square miles, from Cuba to New York, and Bermuda to the Mississippi River, according to the Emergency Management Division.
He noted that if such a deal is reached, the situation of the region might become “much more explosive” because “particularly Israel – Iran’s chief enemy – but also Egypt and Saudi Arabia – whom they see as principal competitors – were going to be driven into reactions.”
Saying that there is really “no alternative to the elimination of an Iranian nuclear force,” Kissinger emphasized that there is “no way you can have peace in the Middle East with nuclear weapons in Iran, because before that happens, there is a high danger of pre-emption by Israel, because Israel cannot wait for deterrents. It can afford only one blow on itself. That is the inherent problem of the crisis.”
“I was extremely doubtful about the original nuclear agreement. I thought Iran’s promises would be very difficult to verify, and that the talks really created a pattern in which the nuclear build-up might have been slowed down a little but made more inevitable,” he said.
He blamed his opponents for disapproving the nomination of his cousin, Jaafar, for the position of prime minister, knowing that Jaafar is “the son of their religious reference and their martyr, and they rejected him.”
Sadr also attacked the politicians and their blocs who betrayed him without naming them.
Sadr denied his previous statement about withdrawing from the parliament for not wanting to join the corrupt, saying some parties are under the illusion that his decision meant handing Iraq to the corrupt.
He asserted that the decision must submit to the people’s will and determination.
Earlier, pictures and banners were hung on several streets and central and southern cities in Baghdad with the phrase “be fully prepared.”
Sadr justified his participation in the October 2021 elections, saying that “our return to the elections was for two important things: to confront normalization with Israel, which was criminalized, and against obscenity [homosexuality], so let’s see what they do.”
“Will they enact a new and detailed law, especially with the escalation of Western colonial pressures against those who oppose it?” wondered Sadr.
“Will they continue to form a government from fraudulent elections?”
Meanwhile, political observers fear that the delay in forming the cabinet may justify protests by Sadr supporters and may include an operation to storm the Green Zone, especially after several top Sadrist leaders supported Sadr’s steps.
The government formation did not witness any positive progress after Sadr withdrew, and the Coordination Framework became the biggest parliamentary bloc.
The Framework forces disagreed over the positions of prime minister and first deputy speaker, coupled with another disagreement between the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union regarding nominating a President.
A parliament dissolution and early elections are possible if the Sadrist demonstrations erupt, which the Tishreen Movement is expected to join.
The People’s Republic of China, also known as China to the rest of the world, is a communist nation in East Asia. According to the Center for Strategic & International Studies in 2020, it had a population of more than 1.4 billion people and has become one of the world’s largest economies and tenth largest exporter. China was able to develop many weapons useful for warfare, and some of them are the hypersonic glide vehicle, the anti-satellite missiles and nuclear weapons.
Anti-Satellite missiles are space weapons that involve missiles capable of destroying satellites for strategic motives. Based on the Secure World Foundation, China launched a missile on January 11, 2007, at Xichang Space Launch Center. This missile collided with a Chinese weather satellite, destroying the satellite.
The aftermath of this incident left an abundance of debris, which, as reported by BBC, led to the U.S. being the first country to ban such missile tests. Explosive devices that need nuclear energy are known as nuclear weapons. China has an estimate of 350 nuclear warheads, according to the Arms Control Association.
In addition, China wants to increase the number of missiles that are capable of delivering conventional and nuclear warheads, expanding their ability to engage in nuclear warfare.
China’s military inventory is gradually increasing in size as time passes. The newly developed hypersonic glide vehicle, the anti-satellite missiles, and other explosive devices for nuclear warheads can obviously be used for a wider range of warfare strategies.
With more knowledge of their military weapons, other countries can understand and develop weapons that can counter Chinese weapons if they become more militarily aggressive.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats of possible use of nuclear weapons against any state that might interfere with Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine have reawakened the world to the dangers of nuclear war. The possibility of military conflict between Russian and NATO forces has significantly increased the risk of nuclear weapons use. Because Russian and U.S.-NATO military strategies reserve the option to use nuclear weapons first against non-nuclear threats, fighting could quickly go nuclear.
Putin’s threats violate foundational understandings designed to reduce the dangers of nuclear deterrence, including the 1973 Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War, in which the United States and Russia pledged to “refrain from the threat or use of force against the other party, against the allies of the other party and against other countries, in circumstances which may endanger international peace and security.”
As egregious, worrisome, and risky as Putin’s nuclear antics are, the reaction of the international community until recently has been far too mild. The U.S. response to Putin’s nuclear threats, as well as those of Western governments that also embrace nuclear deterrence ideologies and rely on the credible threat of nuclear use, has been particularly underwhelming.
At the outset of the Russian invasion, U.S. President Joe Biden, answering a question about whether U.S. citizens should be concerned with a nuclear war breaking out, said, “No.” Then, in a May 31 essay in The New York Times, Biden referred to Russia’s “occasional nuclear rhetoric” as “dangerous and extremely irresponsible,” implying that some nuclear threats are more responsible.
Fortunately, a much needed, more forceful rejection of nuclear weapons and threats of use emerged from the first meeting of states-parties to the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) held in Vienna June 21–23. Citing “increasingly strident nuclear rhetoric,” the TPNW states-parties issued the Vienna Declaration, which condemns all threats to use nuclear weapons as violations of international law, including the UN Charter. The declaration demands “that all nuclear-armed states never use or threaten to use nuclear weapons under any circumstances.”
The TPNW states-parties condemned “unequivocally any and all nuclear threats, whether they be explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances.” Far from preserving peace and security, “nuclear weapons are used to coerce and intimidate; to facilitate aggression and inflame tensions. This highlights the fallacy of nuclear deterrence doctrines, which are based and rely on the threat of the actual use of nuclear weapons and, hence, the risks of the destruction of countless lives, of societies, of nations, and of inflicting global catastrophic consequences,” they added.
The declaration underscores that, for the majority of states, outdated nuclear deterrence policies create unacceptable risks. The only way to eliminate the danger is to reinforce the norms against nuclear use and the threat of use and to accelerate stalled progress toward verifiably eliminating these weapons.
Nevertheless, NATO leaders insist that the alliance must double down on its dangerous nuclear deterrence posture to prevent a Russian attack on NATO member states. In reality, U.S. and NATO nuclear weapons have proven useless in preventing Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine. At the same time, Russia’s brazen nuclear threats have failed to deter NATO efforts to supply Ukraine with weapons needed to repel the Russian onslaught.
Instead, Ukraine’s partners have responded with political, economic, and diplomatic means to help Ukraine defend its territory. The conflict has demonstrated that even for a state or alliance possessing a robust nuclear arsenal, such as NATO, conventional military capabilities are the key to deterring military attacks and to ensuring battlefield success.
The more NATO rhetoric emphasizes the value of nuclear deterrence and of possessing nuclear weapons, the more legitimacy it lends to Putin’s nuclear threats and to the mistaken, dangerous belief that nuclear weapons are necessary for self-defense.
The next global gathering concerning nuclear weapons will take place in August at the 10th review conference of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). All states must seek to rise above their differences and work together to reverse today’s dangerous nuclear trends.
Non-nuclear-weapon states can build on the TPNW meeting by encouraging wider support for the norms against nuclear weapons. Rather than simply criticize Russian nuclear threats as “irresponsible,” NPT states-parties should condemn unambiguously all threats of nuclear weapons use. They must unite in demanding that the nuclear-weapon states undertake specific actions to fulfill the NPT’s Article VI disarmament provisions. This should include an explicit call for the United States and Russia to begin negotiations on new disarmament arrangements and for all NPT nuclear-armed states to freeze their nuclear stockpiles and engage in disarmament negotiations before the next NPT review conference, in 2025.
Given the growing risk of nuclear war, the first meeting of TPNW states-parties and the NPT review conference must become a turning point away from dangerous nuclear policies and arms racing that threaten global nuclear catastrophe.
We have not done it yet. But we have to be ready,”Lukashenko said, lambasting the West for conducting similar nuclear drills to subvert Russia.
Authoritative Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in a meeting with Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov in Minsk, Belarus, said that Russia should be ready to deploy nuclear weapons to counter the Western nations’ acts of global hegemony. “We have not done it yet. But we have to be ready,” Lukashenko said, lambasting the West for conducting similar nuclear drills to subvert Russia and Belarus. Speaking alongside Lavrov, Lukashenko accused the West of a bias, stressing that “we have to defend ourselves.” Russia’s foreign minister agreed that these types of nuclear drills are in violation of the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968.
“We live in a challenging time,” Lukashenko said as he hosted Russian counterpart Lavrov. “They [West] fail at diplomacy, we are for diplomatic means in the first place. But what can we do during challenegs of global hegemony?” asked Belarusian leader, according to the press release from his meeting with Russian counterpart.
“First they started with mass media. Then they silenced diplomats. None of international organizations are effective any longer. What can we do? We have to defend ourselves, to fight back,” Lukashenko said.
He further stressed that the West has declared an “economic war” against Russia. “What does transit closure mean?” asked Russia’s ally, referring to the Kaliningrad block by Lithuania. “Putin and I very seriously discussed these matters, they shift the blame onto the European Union. They claim they didn’t do it, the European Union made this decision. But decisions are made by a consensus,” asserted Lukashenko. “They seized our assets, our money, and imposed sanctions. This is nothing but an economic war,” said the Belarusian President.
Lukashenko had earlier warned Russia that the Western countries could allegedly be preparing an invasion to conquer Western Ukraine. In an interview with Ukrayinska Pravda, Lukashenko, longtime ally of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, said, ”They [Western nations] will come from Western Ukraine or somewhere else.” According to the Belarusian leader, the West hasn’t abandoned the goal of aligning the front “so that it passes from Smolensk-Pskov, Smolensk-Bryansk-Kursk and from there to Rostov.” Meanwhile, during the annual Forum of Russian and Belarusian Regions, Putin stressed that the barrage of Western sanctions against the two neighbouring nations have only strengthened the unity and cooperation.