Don’t forget about Pakistan (Daniel 8:8)

30 November, 2015

Commentary: Don’t forget about Pakistan

By Jake Pfeifer, Forum News Service Today at 10:06 a.m.

While much of the world was focused on the terrorist attacks in Paris last week, a visit to the United States by General Raheel Sharif of Pakistan had largely gone under the radar. This makes the second high-ranking official to visit Washington in the past month as Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (no-relation) had visited just three weeks prior. The importance of these meetings shouldn’t be overlooked as U.S. concerns with Pakistan’s nuclear capability, its fight against terrorism, and hostilities with India still remain flash points. What is interesting about the two visits though, is not only the nature of them, but the perceived goals from both.

Let’s start with a recap of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit. Sharif’s visit was largely predicated on the continuing volatility in the security situation in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan, and its relations with India. Much to the dismay of some Pakistanis, no civil nuclear deal was discussed between Pakistan and the U.S., even though Pakistan has always sought a deal similar to the India-U.S. civil nuclear deal. However, there was emphasis on measures to prevent Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal from falling into terrorist hands. A joint statement from Sharif and President Obama stressed that improvement in Pakistan-India bilateral relations would improve prospects for lasting peace, stability, and prosperity in the region. Sharif also reaffirmed that Pakistan’s territory will not be used by terrorists against any other country. While those statements are great and all, it constitutes nothing more than a business as usual statement.

What provided to be particularly interesting was Sharif’s promised action against all terrorist networks including the Haqqani Network and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which is a first for Pakistan. LeT is of particular concern to India, as LeT was charged with planning and executing the gruesome terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008. Seemingly this one statement could have great aspirations in India-Pakistan relations and security in the Af-Pak region. Unfortunately, the U.S. should remain skeptical of such an optimistic goal for two reasons. First, the very next day, Prime Minister Sharif remarked that Pakistan “cannot bring the Taliban to the table and kill them at the same time.” Since Pakistan has asserted its desire to resume peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, it largely means no crackdown on either Haqqani or LeT will likely occur. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the prime minister essentially concedes much of his power to General Raheel Sharif and the military. Since 1947 when Pakistan gained independence, its government has mostly been ruled by the military with some civilian governance sprinkled in here and there. When Pakistan has been ruled by a civilian government, the military almost always wielded greater power and this is still the case today.

So where does that leave us? The U.S. appears clear that its South Asia policy involves an approach involving India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan in its search for stability and peace, as well as the fact that Pakistan is an important partner in the fight against global terrorism. This means that the U.S. should pressure Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and General Raheel Sharif into upholding the statement on cracking down on all terrorist networks, including Haqqani and LeT. One option could be to create pre-requisites to acquiring aid. Since 2002, the U.S. has provided Pakistan with $7.6 billion in security-related assistance and another $10.5 billion in economic assistance, but now the U.S. has the ever so slightest leverage to pressure Pakistan into conceding in certain areas. Historically, Pakistan has only taken up arms against those militants who have turned against the state and whom its military and intelligence agencies cannot bring back into the fold. This should immediately cease to remain the case.

In addition, the U.S. should support Pakistan in its aim to mediate Taliban peace talks, but remain cautious in doing so. Clearly the decision to increase and extend the deployment of U.S. troops in Afghanistan earlier this year proves the Taliban cannot be dealt with just militarily. When the last peace talks dissolved, it wasn’t due to inabilities on Pakistan’s behalf, rather it was due to the revelation that longtime Taliban chief Mullah Omar had died two years ago. Pakistan offers a unique opportunity to bring the Taliban to the table with its past ties to the insurgents and seemingly is willing to facilitate a reconciliation process.

The Sixth Seal: The Whole World Will Know (Rev 6:12)

30 November, 2015

The New Madrid Earthquake That Will Divide The United States In Half

Published on Monday, 23 February 2015 20:39
Written by Michael Snyder

Once upon a time, North America almost divided along a very deep subsurface rift. Today, that rift system and the faults associated with it are known New-Madrid-Fault-Earthquake-Zone-300x192as the New Madrid fault zone. This fault zone is six times larger than the San Andreas fault zone in California and it covers portions of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.

Back in 1811 and 1812, four of the largest earthquakes in U.S. history struck that area of the country. The movement of the ground was so powerful that it changed the course of the Mississippi River and it rang church bells in Boston, Massachusetts. So could such an earthquake (or worse) strike today?
Well, last year the U.S. Geological Survey released a report that warned that the New Madrid fault zone has the “potential for larger and more powerful quakes than previously thought“, and the USGS also admits that the number of significant earthquakes in the middle part of the country has more than quintupled in recent years. We also know that the U.S. government and large corporations are so concerned about the potential for a major New Madrid earthquake that they have held major exercises that simulate one.

Scientists tell us that it is just a matter of time until another superquake hits the region, and personally I am one of the millions of Americans that believe that we will eventually see a New Madrid earthquake that will divide the United States in half.

That is one of the reasons why I included a New Madrid earthquake in my novel. But others are skeptical. They point out that we have not seen a truly devastating earthquake in that region for more than 200 years. So why be concerned about one now?

What everyone can agree on is that there is an area of significant geological weakness under the New Madrid fault zone. This area of weakness formed when the continents were breaking up. The rift that formed did not end up splitting the North American continent at that time, but the area of weakness remains. The following comes from Wikipedia…

The faults responsible for the New Madrid Seismic Zone are embedded in a subsurface geological feature known as the Reelfoot Rift that formed during the breakup of the supercontinent Rodinia in the Neoproterozoic Era (about 750 million years ago). The resulting rift system failed to split the continent, but has remained as an aulacogen (a scar or zone of weakness) deep underground, and its ancient faults appear to have made the Earth’s crust in the New Madrid area mechanically weaker than much of the rest of North America.

This relative weakness is important, because it would allow the relatively small east-west compressive forces associated with the continuing continental drift of the North American plate to reactivate old faults around New Madrid, making the area unusually prone to earthquakes in spite of it being far from the nearest tectonic plate boundary.

And indeed, there have been some awesome earthquakes in this region throughout history.
Back in 1811 and 1812, there were four earthquakes along the New Madrid fault zone there were so immensely powerful that they are still talked about today.

Those earthquakes opened deep fissures in the ground, caused the Mississippi River to run backwards, and were reportedly felt more than 1,000 miles away. It is said that the stench of fire and brimstone hung in the air for months afterwards.

The most powerful of this series of quakes was on December 16th, 1811. The following is one description of what happened on that day…

This powerful earthquake was felt widely over the entire eastern United States. People were awakened by the shaking in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Charleston, S.C. Perceptible ground shaking was in the range of one to three minutes depending upon the observer’s location. The ground motions were described as “most alarming and frightening” in places like Nashville, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky. Reports also describe houses and other structures being severely shaken, with many chimneys knocked down. In the epicentral area the ground surface was described as being in great convulsion, with sand and water ejected tens of feet into the air — a process called liquefaction.
But there have also been others times throughout history when we have seen a major earthquake along the New Madrid fault.

For example, according to scientists there is evidence of other superquakes in the distant past…
Geological evidence indicates that two such super-earthquakes happened twice in the past 1,200 years: the first some time between 800 and 1000 A.D., and the second between 1300 and 1600 A.D.
And now earthquake activity in the central portion of the nation is increasing again.

As I noted above, the USGS says that the frequency of earthquakes in the central and eastern portions of the United States has more than quintupled in recent years. And the USGS has now gone so far as to point out the relationship between human activity and the increase in earthquakes. The following comes from an article done by the U.S. Geological Survey…

The number of earthquakes has increased dramatically over the past few years within the central and eastern United States. Nearly 450 earthquakes magnitude 3.0 and larger occurred in the four years from 2010-2013, over 100 per year on average, compared with an average rate of 20 earthquakes per year observed from 1970-2000.

This increase in earthquakes prompts two important questions: Are they natural, or man-made? And what should be done in the future as we address the causes and consequences of these events to reduce associated risks? USGS scientists have been analyzing the changes in the rate of earthquakes as well as the likely causes, and they have some answers.

USGS scientists have found that at some locations the increase in seismicity coincides with the injection of wastewater in deep disposal wells. Much of this wastewater is a byproduct of oil and gas production and is routinely disposed of by injection into wells specifically designed for this purpose.
So what would happen if a major earthquake did strike the New Madrid fault zone?
This is something that scientists have studied. If a magnitude 7.7 earthquake hit the region today, thousands would die, hundreds of thousands of buildings would be damaged, and the economic losses would be measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars. The following comes from Wikipedia…
In October 2009, a team composed of University of Illinois and Virginia Tech researchers headed by Amr S. Elnashai, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), considered a scenario where all three segments of the New Madrid fault ruptured simultaneously with a total earthquake magnitude of 7.7. The report found that there would be significant damage in the eight states studied – Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee – with the probability of additional damage in states farther from the NMSZ. Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri would be most severely impacted, and the cities of Memphis, Tennessee and St. Louis, Missouri would be severely damaged. The report estimated 86,000 casualties, including 3,500 fatalities; 715,000 damaged buildings; and 7.2 million people displaced, with 2 million of those seeking shelter, primarily due to the lack of utility services. Direct economic losses, according to the report, would be at least $300 billion.

But remember, that study only considered a magnitude 7.7 earthquake.

If we had an earthquake of magnitude 8 or magnitude 9, we could be talking about an earthquake many, many times more powerful.

It is also important to note that there are 15 nuclear reactors along the New Madrid fault zone. In the event of a major New Madrid earthquake, we could be looking at Fukushima times 15.
Of course most Americans are completely oblivious to all of this. In fact, most Americans don’t even know what the New Madrid fault zone is or where it is located.

But there are people in the government that are very aware of this threat. In fact, the federal government considered it important enough to hold a major five day simulation known as “National Level Exercise 11″ just a few years ago…

In May, the federal government simulated an earthquake so massive, it killed 100,000 Midwesterners instantly, and forced more than 7 million people out of their homes. At the time, National Level Exercise 11 went largely unnoticed; the scenario seemed too far-fetched — states like Illinois and Missouri are in the middle of a tectonic plate, not at the edge of one. A major quake happens there once every several generations.

National Level Exercise 11, or NLE 11, was, in essence, a replay of a disaster that happened 200 years earlier. On Dec. 16, 1811, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake hit the New Madrid fault line, which lies on the border region of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. It’s by far the largest earthquake ever to strike the United States east of the Rockies. Up to 129,000 square kilometers [50,000 square miles] were hit with “raised or sunken lands, fissures, sinks, sand blows, and large landslides,” according to the U.S. Geological Service. “Huge waves on the Mississippi River overwhelmed many boats and washed others high onto the shore. High banks caved and collapsed into the river; sand bars and points of islands gave way; whole islands disappeared.” People as far away as New York City were awakened by the shaking.

More quakes, of a similar size, followed. But the loss of life was minimal: Not too many people lived in the area at the time. Today, there are more than 15 million people living in the quake zone. If a similar quake hit, “7.2 million people could be displaced, with 2 million seeking temporary shelter” in the first three days, FEMA Associate Adminsitrator William Carwile told a Congressional panel in 2010. “Direct economic losses for the eight states could total nearly $300 billion, while indirect losses at least twice that amount.”

And major corporations are also concerned about what could happen.

For example, in a previous article I noted that Wal-Mart had “participated in an exercise” that simulated a major earthquake in the New Madrid fault zone…

Buried in a Wall Street Journal article from about a week ago was a startling piece of information. According to a Wal-Mart executive, Wal-Mart “participated in an exercise to prepare for an earthquake on the New Madrid fault line” earlier this summer.

Nobody knows when it is going to happen.

But this is a real threat.

And if we do see a magnitude 9.0 earthquake or greater, we could be talking about a continent changing event

The Truth About The Fire (Revelation 15)

World War 3: What would REALLY happen in a nuclear war, by experts

Rob WaughRob Waugh for
Wednesday 25 Nov 2015 5:04 pm

The words ‘World War 3’ trended on social media worldwide as tension rose over Turkey shooting down a Russian jet over its airspace.

Just to keep everything calm and civilised, Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer said that nuclear war was now ‘likely’.

There are still a huge number of nuclear weapons in active service – the Arms Control Association estimates that Russia has 7,700 weapons in service, of which 4,500 are stockpiled, and 1548 are deployed on missiles and at air bases.

But what would actually happen?

1) We wouldn’t hear a ‘four-minute warning’

The four minute warning system, a national system of sirens which would have gone off during a nuclear attack was retired in 1992 – one of the reasons being that more people now have double glazing.

2) Instead, you will probably get a text message

An Apple Inc. iPhone 6S smartphone is held for an arranged photograph in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. The latest models, following last year’s hugely popular design overhaul that added bigger screens, may not match the success of previous releases, according to analysts.
The government has tested technology which would deliver a text message warning of disasters such as nuclear attacks.

The system, drawn up by the National Security Council, was tested in Glasgow and Yorkshire in 2013.

3) By the time you get the message, there may be little you can do

As yet, there is no technology which can stop an intercontinental ballistic missile – so the most many of us could hope for would be time to get indoors.

Even during the time of the ‘four minute’ warning, the warning would probably have offered just three minutes.

4) If you’re near the bomb, there won’t be much left of you

Witnesses of the Hiroshima attack said that people near the centre of the blast ‘vanished’.
William Burchett said, ‘Of thousands of others, nearer the centre of the explosion, there was no trace. They vanished. The theory in Hiroshima is that the atomic heat was so great that they burned instantly to ashes – except that there were no ashes.’

The bomb dropped on Hiroshima was a fraction of the size of the hydrogen warheads now used by Russia and the U.S.

5) Hydrogen bombs could devastate entire cities

Nearly six million people dead, homes flattened and millions more poisoned by a huge plume of radioactive poison which would spread for 130 miles.

An app by Alex Wellerstein at the Stevens Institute of Technology, Nuke Map, shows what could happen if the largest Soviet hydrogen bomb ever detonated was dropped on London.
Destruction would spread from Horsham in the South to Luton in the north – and casualties would spiral after the initial blast killed and injured nearly 10 million people.

6) Large-scale nuclear war could devastate the entire world

In 1979, the U.S. Congress’s Office of Technology published a report called The Effects of War, which envisaged the impact of an all-out nuclear attack.

The consequences would be disastrous – with hundreds of millions of people dead, and more facing cancer and radiation sickness.

The OTA envisaged up to 80% of the population of the U.S. being killed immediately, with further casualties from radiation.

7) The first impacts wouldn’t be the worst part

A British government broadcast, recorded to be broadcast in the event of nuclear war, said, ‘This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons… Remember there is nothing to be gained by trying to get away. By leaving your homes you could be exposing yourself to greater danger.If you leave, you may find yourself without food, without water, without accommodation and without protection. Radioactive fall-out, which follows a nuclear explosion, is many times more dangerous if you are directly exposed to it in the open….’
Longstanding advice from various government agencies includes:

Seeking shelter (ideally below ground and surrounded by thick concrete)
Rationing supplies of food, water, fuel, medicine and clothing

Wearing hats and goggles and exposing as little skin to the air as possible
Following the news and evacuating if ordered

8) The environment would be devastated for decades afterwards

‘Doomsday’ predictions of all life on Earth being exterminated are probably over-stating the impact of nuclear weapons – but it would have a huge impact on life on our planet.

A serious nuclear conflict would also leave the world far worse off than depicted in games such as Fallout 4, says science magazine

Carbon thrown into the air would cause a huge drop in worldwide temperature, and could hit global rainfall and the growing seasons for crops.

Quake Along The Ramapo Before The Sixth (Rev 6:12)Quake Along The Ramapo Before The Sixth (Rev 6:12)

Cornwall earthquake felt in parts of Quebec and N.Y. state

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Saturday, November 28, 2015, 8:37 PM – People in eastern Ontario were rattled by an earthquake in the early morning hours Saturday, with reports of shaking in and around Cornwall, Ont. The quake was felt in Montreal and northern New York.

Earthquakes Canada rates the tremor at magnitude 3.6, though the United States Geological Survey (USGS) later rated it 3.3, which is relatively low on the scale. It struck in upstate New York, 15 km south of Cornwall.

However, its relatively shallow depth of 5 km made it noticeable to residents of the region, and reports of shaking have come in from eastern Ontario, upstate New York and Montreal.
No damage has been reported, but the Cornwall Seaway News said residents heard a loud crack before the rumbling started, lasting about 20 minutes.
Are earthquakes uncommon in eastern Canada?

That part of the country is prone to the occasional earthquake.

Towns in the Ottawa Valley were rattled by an earthquake on October 20. Natural resources Canada gave it a rating of Magnitude 3.8, striking a little after 7:30 p.m.

Most are not powerful enough to cause any major damage, but there are exceptions. In 1944, for example, a magnitude 5.8 quake caused about $20 million (in 2002 dollars) to Cornwall and Massena, New York.

According to the Cornwall Seaway News, a 2006 study by the Insurance Bureau of Canada says there is a 15 per cent chance a major earthquake will strike the Ottawa and St. Lawrence river valleys in the next half-century. Cornwall’s CAO told the News the city is in the process of updating its emergency plan.
“They are a risk,” Norm Levac says. “It’s something we’ve spent some time on.”

SOURCES: Earthquakes Canada | USGS | Cornwall Seaway New

Preparing For The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Preparing for the Great New York Earthquake
by Mike MullerShare

New York Quakes

New York Quakes Fault lines and known temblors in the New York City region between 1677-2004. The nuclear power plant at Indian Point is indicated by a Pe.

Most New Yorkers probably view the idea of a major earthquake hitting New York City as a plot device for a second-rate disaster movie. In a city where people worry about so much — stock market crashes, flooding, a terrorist attack — earthquakes, at least, do not have to be on the agenda.
A recent report by leading seismologists associated with Columbia University, though, may change that. The report concludes a serious quake is likely to hit the area.

The implication of this finding has yet to be examined. Although earthquakes are uncommon in the area relative to other parts of the world like California and Japan, the size and density of New York City puts it at a higher risk of damage. The type of earthquake most likely to occur here would mean that even a fairly small event could have a big impact.
The issue with earthquakes in this region is that they tend to be shallow and close to the surface,” explains Leonardo Seeber, a coauthor of the report. “That means objects at the surface are closer to the source. And that means even small earthquakes can be damaging.”
The past two decades have seen an increase in discussions about how to deal with earthquakes here. The most recent debate has revolved around the Indian Point nuclear power plant, in Buchanan, N.Y., a 30-mile drive north of the Bronx, and whether its nuclear reactors could withstand an earthquake. Closer to home, the city adopted new codes for its buildings even before the Lamont report, and the Port Authority and other agencies have retrofitted some buildings. Is this enough or does more need to be done? On the other hand, is the risk of an earthquake remote enough that public resources would be better spent addressing more immediate — and more likely — concerns?

Assessing the Risk

The report by scientists from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University at summarizes decades of information on earthquakes in the area gleaned from a network of seismic instruments, studies of earthquakes from previous centuries through archival material like newspaper accounts and examination of fault lines.
The city can expect a magnitude 5 quake, which is strong enough to cause damage, once every 100 years, according to the report. (Magnitude is a measure of the energy released at the source of an earthquake.) The scientists also calculate that a magnitude 6, which is 10 times larger, has a 7 percent chance of happening once every 50 years and a magnitude 7 quake, 100 times larger, a 1.5 percent chance. Nobody knows the last time New York experienced quakes as large as a 6 or 7, although if once occurred it must have taken place before 1677, since geologists have reviewed data as far back as that year.
The last magnitude 5 earthquake in New York City hit in 1884, and it occurred off the coast of Rockaway Beach. Similar earthquakes occurred in 1737 and 1783.
By the time of the 1884 quake, New York was already a world class city, according to Kenneth Jackson, editor of The Encyclopedia of New York City.”In Manhattan,” Jackson said, “New York would have been characterized by very dense development. There was very little grass.”
A number of 8 to 10 story buildings graced the city, and “in world terms, that’s enormous,” according to Jackson. The city already boasted the world’s most extensive transportation network, with trolleys, elevated trains and the Brooklyn Bridge, and the best water system in the country. Thomas Edison had opened the Pearl Street power plant two years earlier.
All of this infrastructure withstood the quake fairly well. A number of chimneys crumbled and windows broke, but not much other damage occurred. Indeed, the New York Times reported that people on the Brooklyn Bridge could not tell the rumble was caused by anything more than the cable car that ran along the span.

Risks at Indian Point

As dense as the city was then though, New York has grown up and out in the 124 years since. Also, today’s metropolis poses some hazards few, if any people imagined in 1884.
In one of their major findings, the Lamont scientists identified a new fault line less than a mile from Indian Point. That is in addition to the already identified Ramapo fault a couple of miles from the plant. This is seen as significant because earthquakes occur at faults and are the most powerful near them.
This does not represent the first time people have raised concerns about earthquakes near Indian Point. A couple of years after the licenses were approved for Indian Point 2 in 1973 and Indian Point 3 in 1975, the state appealed to the Atomic Safety and Licensing Appeal Panel over seismic issues. The appeal was dismissed in 1976, but Michael Farrar, one of three members on the panel, dissented from his colleagues.
He thought the commission had not required the plant to be able to withstand the vibration that could occur during an earthquake. “I believe that an effort should be made to ascertain the maximum effective acceleration in some other, rational, manner,” Farrar wrote in his dissenting opinion. (Acceleration measures how quickly ground shaking speeds up.)
Con Edison, the plants’ operator at the time, agreed to set up seismic monitoring instruments in the area and develop geologic surveys. The Lamont study was able to locate the new fault line as a result of those instruments.
Ironically, though, while scientists can use the data to issue reports — the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission cannot use it to determine whether the plant should have its license renewed. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission only considers the threat of earthquakes or terrorism during initial licensing hearings and does not revisit the issue during relicensing.
Lynn Sykes, lead author of the Lamont report who was also involved in the Indian Point licensing hearings, disputes that policy. The new information, he said, should be considered — “especially when considering a 20 year license renewal.”
The state agrees. Last year, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo began reaching out to other attorneys general to help convince the commission to include these risks during the hearings.
Cuomo and the state Department of Environmental Conservation delivered a 312-page petition to the commission that included reasons why earthquakes posed a risk to the power plants. The petition raised three major concerns regarding Indian Point:

  • The seismic analysis for Indian Point plants 2 and 3 did not consider decommissioned Indian Point 1. The state is worried that something could fall from that plant and damage the others.
  • The plant operators have not updated the facilities to address 20 years of new seismic data in the area.
  • The state contends that Entergy, the plant’s operator, has not been forthcoming. “It is not possible to verify either what improvements have been made to [Indian Point] or even to determine what improvements applicant alleges have been implemented,” the petition stated.

A spokesperson for Entergy told the New York Times that the plants are safe from earthquakes and are designed to withstand a magnitude 6 quake.
Lamont’s Sykes thinks the spokesperson must have been mistaken. “He seems to have confused the magnitude scale with intensity scale,” Sykes suggests. He points out that the plants are designed to withstand an event on the intensity scale of VII, which equals a magnitude of 5 or slightly higher in the region. (Intensity measures the effects on people and structures.) A magnitude 6 quake, in Sykes opinion, would indeed cause damage to the plant.
The two reactors at Indian Point generate about 10 percent of the state’s electricity. Since that power is sent out into a grid, it isn’t known how much the plant provides for New York City. Any abrupt closing of the plant — either because of damage or a withdrawal of the operating license — would require an “unprecedented level of cooperation among government leaders and agencies,” to replace its capacity, according to a 2006 report by the National Academies’ National Research Council, a private, nonprofit institution chartered by Congress.

Indian Point Nuclear Plant

Indian Point Nuclear Plant
Entergy’s Indian Point Energy Center, a three-unit nuclear power plant north of New York City, lies within two miles of the Ramapo Seismic Zone.

Beyond the loss of electricity, activists worry about possible threats to human health and safety from any earthquake at Indian Point. Some local officials have raised concerns that radioactive elements at the plant, such as tritium and strontium, could leak through fractures in bedrock and into the Hudson River. An earthquake could create larger fractures and, so they worry, greater leaks.
In 2007, an earthquake hit the area surrounding Japan’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, the world’s largest. The International Atomic Energy Agency determined “there was no significant damage to the parts of the plant important to safety,” from the quake. According to the agency, “The four reactors in operation at the time in the seven-unit complex shut down safely and there was a very small radioactive release well below public health and environmental safety limits.” The plant, however, remains closed.

Shaking the Streets

A quake near Indian Point would clearly have repercussions for New York City. But what if an earthquake hit one of the five boroughs?
In 2003, public and private officials, under the banner of the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation, released a study of what would happen if a quake hit the metropolitan area today. Much of the report focused on building damage in Manhattan. It used the location of the 1884 quake, off the coast of Rockaway Beach, as its modern muse.
If a quake so serious that it is expected to occur once every 2,500 years took place off Rockaway, the consortium estimated it would cause $11.5 billion in damage to buildings in Manhattan. About half of that would result from damage to residential buildings. Even a moderate magnitude 5 earthquake would create an estimated 88,000 tons of debris (10,000 truckloads), which is 136 times the garbage cleared in Manhattan on an average day, they found.
The report does not estimate possible death and injury for New York City alone. But it said that, in the tri-state area as a whole, a magnitude 5 quake could result in a couple of dozen deaths, and a magnitude 7 would kill more than 6,500 people.
Ultimately, the consortium decided retrofitting all of the city’s buildings to prepare them for an earthquake would be “impractical and economically unrealistic,” and stressed the importance of identifying the most vulnerable areas of the city.
Unreinforced brick buildings, which are the most common type of building in Manhattan, are the most vulnerable to earthquakes because they do not absorb motion as well as more flexible wood and steel buildings. Structures built on soft soil are more also prone to risk since it amplifies ground shaking and has the potential to liquefy during a quake.
This makes the Upper East Side the most vulnerable area of Manhattan, according to the consortium report. Because of the soil type, the ground there during a magnitude 7 quake would shake at twice the acceleration of that in the Financial District. Chinatown faces considerable greater risk for the same reasons.
The city’s Office of Emergency Management agency does offer safety tips for earthquakes. It advises people to identify safe places in their homes, where they can stay until the shaking stops, The agency recommends hiding under heavy furniture and away from windows and other objects that could fall.
A special unit called New York Task Force 1 is trained to find victims trapped in rubble. The Office of Emergency Management holds annual training events for the unit.
The Buildings Department created its first seismic code in 1995. More recently, the city and state have adopted the International Building Code (which ironically is a national standard) and all its earthquake standards. The “international” code requires that buildings be prepared for the 2,500-year worst-case scenario.

Transportation Disruptions

With the state’s adoption of stricter codes in 2003, the Port Authority went back and assessed its facilities that were built before the adoption of the code, including bridges, bus terminals and the approaches to its tunnels. The authority decided it did not have to replace any of this and that retrofitting it could be done at a reasonable cost.
The authority first focused on the approaches to bridges and tunnels because they are rigid and cannot sway with the earth’s movement. It is upgrading the approaches to the George Washington Bridge and Lincoln Tunnel so they will be prepared for a worst-case scenario. The approaches to the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 42nd Street are being prepared to withstand two thirds of a worst-case scenario.
The terminal itself was retrofitted in 2007. Fifteen 80-foot tall supports were added to the outside of the structure.
A number of the city’s bridges could be easily retrofitted as well “in an economical and practical manner,” according to a study of three bridges by the consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff. Those bridges include the 102nd Street Bridge in Queens, and the 145th Street and Macombs Dam bridges, which span the Harlem River. To upgrade the 155th Street Viaduct, the city will strengthen its foundation and strengthen its steel columns and floor beams.
The city plans upgrades for the viaduct and the Madison Avenue bridge in 2010. The 2008 10-year capital strategy for the city includes $596 million for the seismic retrofitting of the four East River bridges, which is planned to begin in 2013. But that commitment has fluctuated over the years. In 2004, it was $833 million.
For its part, New York City Transit generally is not considering retrofitting its above ground or underground structures, according to a report presented at the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2004. New facilities, like the Second Avenue Subway and the Fulton Transit Center will be built to new, tougher standards.
Underground infrastructure, such as subway tunnels, electricity systems and sewers are generally safer from earthquakes than above ground facilities. But secondary effects from quakes, like falling debris and liquefied soil, could damage these structures.
Age and location — as with buildings — also add to vulnerability. “This stuff was laid years ago,” said Rae Zimmerman, professor of planning and public administration at New York University. “A lot of our transit infrastructure and water pipes are not flexible and a lot of the city is on sandy soil.” Most of Lower Manhattan, for example, is made up of such soil.
She also stresses the need for redundancy, where if one pipe or track went down, there would be another way to go. “The subway is beautiful in that respect,” she said. “During 9/11, they were able to avoid broken tracks.”

Setting Priorities

The city has not made preparing its infrastructure for an earthquake a top priority — and some experts think that makes sense.
“On the policy side, earthquakes are a low priority,” said Guy Nordenson, a civil engineer who was a major proponent of the city’s original seismic code, “and I think that’s a good thing.” He believes there are more important risks, such as dealing with the effects of climate change.
“There are many hazards, and any of these hazards can be as devastating, if not more so, than earthquakes,” agreed Mohamed Ettouney, who was also involved in writing the 1995 seismic code.
In fact, a recent field called multi-hazard engineering has emerged. It looks at the most efficient and economical way to prepare for hazards rather than preparing for all at once or addressing one hazard after the other. For example, while addressing one danger (say terrorism) identified as a priority, it makes sense to consider other threats that the government could prepare for at the same time (like earthquakes).
Scientists from Lamont-Doherty are also not urging anybody to rush to action in panic. Their report is meant to be a first step in a process that lays out potential hazards from earthquakes so that governments and businesses can make informed decisions about how to reduce risk.
“We now have a 300-year catalog of earthquakes that has been well calibrated” to estimate their size and location, said Sykes. “We also now have a 34-year study of data culled from Lamont’s network of seismic instruments.”
“Earthquake risk is not the highest priority in New York City, nor is dog-poop free sidewalks,” Seeber recently commented. But, he added, both deserve appropriately rational responses.

Russia Reassures The Shia Horn (Daniel 7)

Putin, Khamenei defiant over Assad future

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree this year allowing a tabled contract for the missile defense system to proceed, as global negotiations over Iran’s nuclear energy program appeared to be advancing.

Washington’s “cooperation with countries which have no standing in the public opinion of regional and world [nations] due to their support for terrorists shows that the Americans have no honorable diplomacy”, Ayatollah Khamenei said.

Those who claim for democracy can not ignore the vote of the Syrian people, he said, emphasizing the continuation of Russia’s air strikes against the terrorists in the country.

Khamenei said the United States had a “long-term plan” to dominate Syria and the Middle East that would “disadvantage all countries, especially Iran and Russia“.

“This threat should be neutralised wisely and with closer interaction”, he was quoted as saying in a statement. And they said the US and European Union would probably need to offer up significant concessions to Mr. Putin, such as the lifting of economic sanctions imposed on Russian Federation past year after its annexation of Crimea, to get Moscow to dump Mr. Assad.

However, a number of important problems remain unsolved, such as reducing Iran’s existing stocks of low-enriched uranium (LEU); dismantling the active core and changing the design of the heavy-water reactor under construction at Arak; and converting the underground uranium enrichment plant at Fordow into a nuclear, physical and technological research center for the production of isotopes for medical purposes.

Russian Federation is willing to take any low-enriched uranium over 300 kilograms (660 pounds) in exchange for natural-uranium ore, the Kremlin said today on its website.

Putin and Khamenei utilized the meeting on Monday to hammer home that they cherish the mutual trust between their two countries and intend to preserve it no matter what it takes. The West wants him to step down, while Russian Federation and Iran have provided him diplomatic and, increasingly, military cover.

Putin’s three-day visit to Tehran was scheduled around a summit on gas exports.
Imam Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, met Monday afternoon with Vladimir Putin, the President of Russian Federation.

He believes the worst problem of Syria’s government army is until just recently it saw its main task not in protecting the nation’s borders, but in support for internal security and in staying loyal to Bashar Assad.

Against the backdrop of poorer relations with the United States and Europe, in November 2015 Russian Federation signed a new deal with Iran to supply the S-300.

This is Putin’s first visit to Iran since 2007 and it also reflects how the nuclear deal reached in July with the Obama administration has untied Russia’s hands to develop its relations with Tehran more publicly. Akhmetov does not rule out that Iran in the near future may try to increase its oil quota on the world market of fossil fuels, which will push oil prices down, thereby harming the interests of Russian Federation and other oil-producing countries.

China Willing To Start Nuclear War With Babylon

US Faces Nuclear War Threat Over South China Sea – Chinese Professor

By Polina Tikhonova on November

China is willing to start a nuclear war with the United States over the South China Sea, according to a Chinese professor.
Beijing’s rhetoric after an incident with a U.S. warship sailed to the South China Sea suggests that Chinese decision-makers could resort to more “concrete and forceful measures” to counter the U.S. Navy, according to Zhang Baohui, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Centre for Asian Pacific Studies at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.
“If so, a face-off between the two navies becomes inevitable. Even worse, the face-off may trigger an escalation towards military conflicts,” the professor wrote in a piece for RSIS Commentary.
But, according to Baohui, the U.S. military is “oblivious” to this scenario, since Washington decision-makers think America’s conventional military superiority discourages China from responding to such “provocations” in the South China Sea militarily. However, this “U.S. expectation is flawed, as China is a major nuclear power,” the professor wrote.
“When cornered, nuclear-armed states can threaten asymmetric escalation to deter an adversary from harming its key interests,” he added.
Baohui then refers to the military parade in Beijing that took place on Sept. 3 and revealed that China’s new generation of tactical missiles – such as the DF-26 – are capable of being armed with nuclear warheads. Moreover, according to the latest reports, China’s air-launched long-range cruise missiles can also carry tactical nuclear warheads.
U.S. could provoke nuclear war with China
And while the U.S. does not have its core interests in the South China Sea, the disputed islands present China’s strategic interests, which is why this kind of asymmetry in stakes would certainly give Beijing an advantage in “the balance of resolve” over Washington, according to the professor. And if the South China Sea situation escalates and starts spiraling into a nuclear confrontation between the U.S. and China, Washington will face a choice of either backing down first or fighting a nuclear-armed power and the world’s largest military force with a strength of approximately 2.285 million personnel.
“Neither option is attractive and both exact high costs, either in reputation or human lives, for the U.S.,” Baohui wrote.
So it would be unwise for the U.S. to further provoke China in the disputed area, since China’s willingness to defend its interests, reputation and deterrence credibility could easily escalate the conflict into a military confrontation that would ultimately harm U.S. interests, according to the professor.
China will join Russia in nuclear war with NATO
With NATO member state Turkey downing a Russian jet in its airspace, there is already a high risk of military confrontation in the world. And with China being so close and allied with Russia, Beijing decision-makers could see the incident with the Russian warplane as an opportunity to avenge the West for the South China Sea provocations.
The Turkish military said it had shot down a Russian jet on Tuesday, triggering a furious response from Moscow and escalating the already hot tensions in the Syrian conflict. With Russian President Vladimir Putin warning the West of “serious consequences,” analysts believe the Kremlin is willing to unleash a nuclear war over the incident.
Despite the fact that Turkey is backed by NATO’s 5th Article, which states that an attack on one Ally shall be considered an attack on all NATO members, the chances that Putin will start a nuclear war over the incident with the Russian jet are very “likely,” according to Pavel Felgengauer, Russia’s most respected military analyst.
Felgengauer said Turkey wants to protect a zone in northern Syria controlled by the Turkmens, Ankara’s allies, while the downing of the Russian warplane in the region must prompt the Kremlin to either accept the zone or “start a war with Turkey,” which means starting an all-out war with NATO. And the only way Russia could win a war against NATO is by going nuclear, Felgengauer said.
“It is most likely that it will be war,” said Felgenhauer, as reported by Mirror. “In other words, more fights will follow when Russian planes attack Turkish aircraft in order to protect our [Russia’s] bombers. It is possible that there will be fights between the Russian and Turkish navies at sea.”
U.S. provokes China to respond militarily
The U.S. recently asserted its freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea. On Oct. 27, the USS Lassen traveled inside the 12-mile nautical zone around Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands archipelago. This reef is one of seven reefs China has artificially built in order to claim its sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and the sea around it.
Even though Beijing did not take immediate action to counter the U.S. vessel, such further “provocations” could seriously destabilize the peace and stability of the whole region, according to Baohui.
“They could touch off an unintended escalation and push the two countries towards military conflict. The logic is quite obvious,” the professor wrote.
The U.S. Navy’s further operations in the South China Sea could thus corner Beijing and force China to respond militarily. After all, China cannot risk its national interests and power reputation, according to the Chinese professor. Shortly after the incident, Vice-Admiral Yi Xiaoguang, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) deputy chief of staff, warned that China “will use all means necessary to defend its sovereignty” if the U.S. conducts similar provocations.
China: we can seize more islands in the South China Sea
China recently said it can use military force to kick out nations illegally to seize more islands in the disputed South China Sea, but China is now showing restraint, as reported by ValueWalk last week.
“The Chinese government has the right and the ability to recover the islands and reefs illegally occupied by neighboring countries,” Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said, speaking about the disputed artificial islands but not naming any particular country.
China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei all have sovereignty claims in the South China Sea. All but Brunei have military fortifications in the disputed area, which raises concerns about a high risk of military confrontation in the region.
“But we haven’t done this [seized the islands]. We have maintained great restraint with the aim to preserve peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Liu said.
If China gains complete control over the Spratly Islands, it gets the key to controlling waters through which $5 trillion in trade passes every year, mostly to and from China.
The professor concluded that reckless actions by one or both parties may well turn mistrust into “bloody military conflicts.” But nobody, especially countries in the region, are interested in such a scenario.
“If the US claims to be the defender of world peace and regional stability, it must do everything to avoid this scenario through unintended escalations,” Baohui wrote.

The Antichrist Calls Kerry A Terrorist (Revelation 13)

Muqtada Sadr describes Kerry as terrorist

November 28, 2015 – 7:06 PM
News Code : 721986Source : Agencies

On Thursday the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr described the US Secretary of State John Kerry as a “terrorist”, pointing out that Kerry does not have the right to rate who is the “terrorist,” while stressed that Israel is “a spoiled son” for America.

Sadr said in response to a question about his position regarding the US Secretary of State John Kerry statement, who described the “knives revolution” as a “terrorist act:” “We do not need his silly and biased opinion; he doesn’t have the right to rate who is the terrorist.”

It is noteworthy that US Secretary of State John Kerry described earlier the wave of attacks with knives, which has been carried out by Palestinians, as “terrorism” that must be condemned.

Terrorism Will Start The Nuclear Holocaust

Threat of Nuclear War Intensifies Because of Rogue Nations  

10:51 a.m. EDT, April 23, 2014

During the so-called Cold War between the Evil Soviet Empire and the “Free World” (America and its allies, which included such bastions of liberty as Franco’s fascist Spain, the apartheid regime of South Africa and the military dictatorship of Greece), the possibility of a cataclysmic nuclear conflagration was very real.

Anyone who experienced the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962 can attest to that. Moreover, every school child at the time was familiar with the teacher’s order to take cover, as if hiding beneath a school desk could afford protection against a hydrogen bomb.

But now that the Soviet Union no longer exists, it is safe to assume that the nuclear threat is gone. Or is it? Unfortunately, the answer is no. The proliferation of nuclear weapons has exponentially increased the likelihood of their use in the future. Most worrisome in that regard are two countries that possess such weapons of mass destruction: Pakistan and North Korea.

Since Pakistan’s creation in 1947, its political system has been under the control of its military, and it continues to have an autocratic form of government today in spite of the 1972 constitution adopted by a democratically elected assembly.

One reason for this is the willingness of Pakistan’s judiciary to regularly override the democratic provisions of that constitution in favor of the power elite. As powerful as the military is, however, it has been unable to stem the growing presence of the Taliban in the northwestern section of the country. It is also clear that Pakistani intelligence was well aware of Osama bin Laden’s presence in its country.All of this notwithstanding, a recent item in the news best illustrates why it is so dangerous for such an unstable nation having nuclear weapons. I refer to the arrest of Muhammad Mosa Khan and his family for conspiring to murder in that they threw stones at police officers when the latter attempted to break up a demonstration against the lack of electricity in Lahore, the second largest city in Pakistan.

Surely, no country in the world should allow an attack on its law enforcers to go unpunished, and therefore arresting and fingerprinting Muhammad Mosa Khan was correct police procedure. True, except for the fact that Muhammad is a nine-month-old baby! To the Pakistani court’s credit, the judge allowed him to sit on his grandfather’s lap and drink milk during the preliminary court proceedings.

Perhaps I’m overreacting, but a country with a growing nuclear arsenal that arrests and fingerprints babies makes me nervous.

As ulcer-producing as a nuclear-armed Pakistan is, the land of Dennis Rodman’s friend, Kim Jong Un, is an even better advertisement for Prilosec.

North Korea, arguably the worst dictatorship in the world today, is a country in which more than 200,000 men, women and children are held in state prison camps where, according to a Huffington Post report, starvation forces desperate mothers to “cut open pregnant rats to harvest their fetuses as food for their children” and where torture and execution are the penalties for any infraction of the stringent rules.

According to an escapee of the camps, suicide would be commonplace were it not a crime for which the surviving family members are severely punished. North Korea is a country whose dictator had his uncle killed and, according to some reports, ordered that the latter’s body be fed to a pack of dogs. Still not satisfied, he then ordered seven members of his uncle’s family to be executed, including all the children and grandchildren. More recently, he had an official with previous ties to his uncle killed with a flame thrower.

But a recent decree issued by the puffy-cheeked tyrant is even better proof than all of those ghastly deeds that North Korea may one day ignite a nuclear conflagration. He ordered that every North Korean male must adopt his retro hair style.

Almost everyone will agree that Adolf Hitler was an evil monster, but while many Germans sported mustaches similar to his during his reign, they did so by choice, not edict. Fortunately, the Nazi regime did not have the bomb, so that was one less worry. That is not the case with Pakistan and North Korea. What, me worry? Hell, yes!

Don LoCicero of Allentown is an author and professor emeritus at Cedar Crest College. His blog can be found at

The Us Russia Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

Could U.S.-Russia Tensions Go Nuclear?
Believe it or not, hair-trigger launch alerts are still with us—and perhaps even more dangerous than during the Cold War.
By Bruce Blair
November 27, 2015
The Russian warplane recently shot down inside Turkey’s border with Syria fits a pattern of brinkmanship and inadvertence that is raising tensions and distrust between Russia and U.S.-led NATO. Low-level military encounters between Moscow and Washington are fanning escalatory sparks not witnessed since the Cold War. And there exists a small but steadily growing risk that this escalation could morph by design or inadvertence into a nuclear threat.
The backdrop for these concerns is that both the United States and Russia maintain their nuclear command posts and many hundreds of strategic nuclear warheads on hair-trigger alert. This is a long-standing practice, or habit, driven by the inertia of the Cold War. The two sides adopted the accident-prone tactic known as launch-on-warning in order to ensure that their strategic forces could be fired before incoming warheads arrived. President Barack Obama’s recent nuclear employment guidance reiterated the need to preserve this option. Our nuclear command system and forces practice it several times a week. So do the Russians.
And believe it or not, Russia has shortened the launch time from what it was during the Cold War. Today, top military command posts in the Moscow area can bypass the entire human chain of command and directly fire by remote control rockets in silos and on trucks as far away as Siberia in only 20 seconds.
Why should this concern us? History shows that crisis interactions, once triggered, take on a life of their own. Military encounters multiply; they become more decentralized, spontaneous and intense. Safeguards are loosened and unfamiliar operational environments cause accidents and unauthorized actions. Miscalculations, misinterpretations and loss of control create a fog of crisis out of which a fog of war may emerge. In short, the slope between the low-level military encounters, the outbreak of crisis and escalation to a nuclear dimension is a steep and slippery one.
Somewhere along this slope, a psychological construct known as “deterrence” is supposed to kick in to prevent the use of nuclear weapons. But deterrence can become an extreme sport during a confrontation, a game of taking and manipulating existential risk, morphing into games of chicken, bluff, coercion and blackmail. The basic idea is to instill fear in an adversary’s mind that events could spin out of control and result in a nuclear war.
That’s especially true since the public doesn’t realize just how little time exists for our leaders to make a decision to use nuclear weapons, even today—and if anything the atmosphere has become even more hair trigger with the threat of cyberwarfare. A launch order is the length of a tweet. Missile crews in turn transmit a short stream of computer signals that immediately ignite the rocket engines of many hundreds of land-based missiles. For the United States, this takes 1 minute. As a former nuclear-missile launch officer, I personally practiced it hundreds of times. We were called Minutemen. U.S. submarine crews take a little longer; they can fire their missiles in 12 minutes.
The last time the U.S. brandished nukes wholesale for the purpose of deterrence was in 1973 when Henry Kissinger and his team raised the global nuclear alert level during the Arab-Israeli war. The aim was to warn Soviet leaders they had better not intervene with troops on the side of Egypt’s encircled military. They had better back down or else face an escalating risk of nuclear war, driven not so much by premeditation as by inadvertence.
Russia’s sounding of nuclear warnings over the Ukraine imbroglio is reminiscent of this Cold-War brinkmanship. The crisis is far from matching Cold War tensions, but there are risk-takers in the game, and we are witnessing the early stages of a spiral of action-reaction cycles along with dangerous unintended consequences.
Close encounters between Russian and Western military aircraft have spiked. NATO fighter planes have made many hundreds of intercepts of Russian warplanes over the past year. Russian warplanes have stepped up provocative overflights of foreign airspace, and also are engaged in muscular interdiction. For instance, a U.S. spy plane probing Russian borders was forced to flee into Swedish airspace to escape harassment by Russian fighters.
At some point these interactions could begin to spin out of control and into what strategist Tom Schelling calls “the threat that leaves something to chance.”
The cycles of action-reaction evident in the Ukraine crisis are leaving more and more to chance. Although the parties seem confident that they are in full control, in fact they are not, and each seems partially oblivious to the threatening nature of their own behavior seen through the eyes of the other party.
In order to reassure U.S. NATO allies in Eastern Europe, we have been flying U.S. strategic bombers to the area, (sans nuclear warheads, but the Russians do not know this for certain), sometimes in provocative formations. Russia initiated or countered with actions and threats involving their own strategic bomber flights along U.S. coastal waters. In the European theater, Russia countered with threats to deploy nuclear-capable missiles (e.g., Iskanders) to new locations.
We also began deploying Aegis destroyers to the Black Sea to reassure allies like Romania. As it turns out, these ships carry dozens of cruise missiles armed with conventional warheads, whose 1,000-mile range allows them to reach all the way to Moscow. By my calculations, these stealthy and accurate weapons could strike without warning and destroy all but the hardest military targets. They could destroy the Kremlin in a flash without warning, along with key Russian installations in its nuclear command, control, communications and early warning network. Moreover, the Russians cannot be 100 percent certain that the missiles are not nuclear-tipped.
That they may pose a decapitation threat probably underlies Russia’s escalatory response: harassment of the destroyers with fighter aircraft and its recent deployment of a fleet of attack submarines to the Black Sea. And in a further escalating response, NATO’s top naval commander has proposed deploying U.S. anti-submarine aircraft to new bases in the region to counter the Russian subs, which now threaten our destroyers, which now threaten Moscow.
Do U.S. leaders understand that the Russians may fear a decapitation threat is emerging, and that this threat may be the underlying driver raising the stakes for Russia to the level of an existential threat warranting preparations for the use of nuclear weapons? I doubt they do.
At some point one side or the other may blink and back off, or maybe not. Tensions could continue to rise until the crisis escalates by intention or inadvertence to the threshold of nuclear use. In the case of Russia, this threshold is low. Russia’s strategy in Europe was devised by President Vladimir Putin himself in the year 2000 in response to NATO’s bombing of the Balkans. The strategy is called “de-escalatory escalation,’ which unleashes tens to hundreds of nuclear weapons in a first strike meant to shock an adversary into paralysis. And so it might, or it might just escalate into a nuclear exchange.
Given the 11- to 30-minute flight times of attacking missiles (11 for submarines lurking off the other side’s coasts, and 30 for rockets flying over the poles to the other side of the planet), nuclear decision-making under launch on warning—the process from warning to decision to action—is extremely rushed, emotionally charged, and pro forma, driven by checklists. I describe it as the rote enactment of a prepared script. In some scenarios, after only a 3-minute assessment of early warning data, the U.S. president receives a 30-second briefing on his nuclear response options and their consequences. He then has a few minutes—12 at most, more likely 3 to 6—to choose one.
Then a short launch order would be transmitted to launch crews.
Our past and continuing reliance on launch-on-warning means that the standard paradigm of stable mutual deterrence based on second-strike retaliation after absorbing a massive attack was and is an intellectual construct without operational meaning. A former four-star commander, retired Gen. George Lee Butler of U.S. strategic forces explains:
“Our policy was premised on being able to accept the first wave of attacks … Yet at the operational level it was never accepted … They [nuclear planners] built a construct that powerfully biased the president’s decision process toward launch before the arrival of the first enemy warhead … a move in practice to a system structured to drive the president invariably toward a decision to launch under attack … ”
U.S. presidents went along with this, albeit reluctantly. They all acquiesced to the imperative of making a quick decision to fire on warning. Ronald Reagan (in his memoirs) complained about having only “six minutes to decide how to respond to a blip on a radar scope and decide whether to release Armageddon!” Although admitting it was an accident-prone policy, top security advisers such as Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft argued in a top secret meeting that it was important for the Soviets to think that the U.S. would follow these rules. “It is not to our disadvantage if we appear irrational to the Soviets in this regard,” as Scowcroft put it.
Common sense tells us this is risky. Early warning teams in the U.S. receive sensor data at least once a day that requires them to urgently assess whether a nuclear attack is underway or the alarm is false. Once or twice a week they need to take a second close look, and once in a blue moon the attack looks real enough to bring them to the brink of launch on warning. The early warning team on duty is supposed to take only 3 minutes from the arrival of the initial sensor data to provide a preliminary assessment and notify the top military and civilian leaders if an attack is apparently underway.
The U.S. and Russia have come this close to disaster on several occasions involving false alarms. On one occasion, National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski was seconds away from waking President Jimmy Carter in the middle of the night to inform him that the Soviets had launched an all-out nuclear attack and that Carter would have to choose a retaliatory option without delay. As he began to pick up the phone, he received word that it was a false alarm.
If U.S.-Russian relations again deteriorate to a Cold War-level of nuclear brinksmanship, the risk of mistaken launch may be even higher than it was during the Cold War. During a crisis, the severity of which may not even be appreciated by one or both belligerents—to wit, in 1983-84 paranoid Soviet leaders, fearing a U.S. nuclear first strike, were on the brink of launching a preemptive nuclear attack against the United States, and U.S. leaders had not a clue—the pre-disposition of leaders to believe missile attack warning would of course be heightened. And due to the total collapse of Russia’s satellite early warning network, today Russia’s decision time for launch-on-warning has decreased to 2 to 4 minutes. This situation is a mistaken launch waiting to happen.
It is aggravated by a murky new threat—cyberwarfare. Given our poor comprehension of this cyberthreat, it seems imprudent in the extreme to keep U.S. and Russian command systems poised to launch on warning, and nuclear missiles poised to fly as soon as they receive a short stream of computer signals, whose origin may not be authorized.
Given all this risk-taking, which extends with even greater force to other nuclear weapons countries, and given that deterrence itself is nothing more or less than the manipulation of nuclear risk, we cannot reasonably expect nuclear weapons never to be used. We can reasonably expect to witness the use of nuclear weapons in our lifetime, somewhere in the world, probably in the context of an escalating crisis between some subset of the world’s nine nuclear weapons countries—an India-Pakistan nuclear crisis being the leading but by no means exclusive candidate; a U.S.-Russia nuclear confrontation cannot be ruled out.
The obvious solution is to eliminate nuclear weapons entirely, but of course that will not happen overnight. Meanwhile, the following seven measures would help move the dial further away from nuclear midnight. They draw upon the recent report of the Global Zero Commission on Nuclear Risk Reduction—led by former U.S. Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James E. Cartwright and Ambassador Thomas Pickering and comprised of former generals, admirals, defense ministers and national security experts from around the world, including from all of the nuclear weapons countries except North Korea:
One. The United States and Russia could agree to eliminate launch-on-warning from their strategy. They should immediately cease conducting exercises that involve launching strategic missiles on the basis of data from early warning sensors.
Two. They could agree to begin taking their strategic missile forces off of hair trigger, by adopting physical measures such as downloading warheads to storage that extend the time required to launch from the current period of minutes to a period of days. Beginning with an immediate 20 percent reduction in the size of their missile forces on high alert, the United States and Russia should verifiably stand down all their forces in phases over the next 10 years.
Three. All the nuclear weapons countries could agree to refrain from putting any nuclear forces on high alert except under tightly controlled conditions. This agreement would sharply limit the scope and timing of any re-alerting undertaken for training, exercising, or national security emergencies, and would require pre-notification of such activities.
Four. The U.S. and Russia could work with other nuclear establishments to share knowledge, best practices and technologies in the area of safety and security.
Five. The U.S. and Russia, perhaps with China, could lead an effort to ban cyberwarfare aimed at nuclear command, control, communications and early warning networks. These networks should be strictly off limits to cyberattack.
Six. Confidence-building measures agreed to through military-to-military dialogue could help reduce the risk that geopolitical tensions around the world could escalate by design or inadvertence to the nuclear threshold.
In addition, Russian and U.S. leaders and experts need to consult on possible ways to reduce risks of crisis escalation growing out of the current U.S.-Russian tension and enhance prospects of resuming constructive bilateral discussions on a range of core security issues. In the area of nuclear risk reduction, they should begin discussing possible bilateral as well as multilateral measures to reduce the risks of nuclear weapons use worldwide, including accidental detonations, unauthorized “insider” launch, cyberlaunch or degradation of nuclear command-control-communications and early warning networks, false warning of enemy missile attack, rapid conflict escalation leading to rushed nuclear decision-making, and terrorist theft or seizure of deployed or stored nuclear weapons.
Hopefully, they together could identify some important bilateral and multilateral measures—best practices in the areas of crisis communications, prevention of dangerous military activities, nuclear operations, postures, command-control, safety and security—on which we have common ground, as the basis for continued dialogue to advance the most promising measures.
Read more: