US Puts Pressure On North Korea

US & South Korea launch large-scale war games amid tensions with North Korea

US & South Korea launch large-scale war games amid tensions with North Korea
The US and South Korea have kicked off Foal Eagle, an annual joint military exercise that has been denounced by North Korea as a rehearsal for invasion. The exercise comes amid tensions in the region following North Korea’s recent missile test.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry and the US military based in the South confirmed the commencement of the joint drills on Wednesday.
The exercise is a field training exercise involving ground, air, and naval forces from both US and South Korea that will run through the end of next month. The two allies are likely to deploy their major strategic assets in the drills to deliver a warning against what they see as North Korean provocations. In March, both countries also plan to separately conduct Key Resolve practice, a computer-simulated command post exercise, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, citing the South Korean Defense Ministry.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-Koo had a phone conversation early on Wednesday, in which Mattis expressed Washington’s commitment to the defense of its ally.
“Secretary Mattis said that the United States remains steadfast in its commitment to the defense of [South Korea]. He further emphasized that any attack on the United States or its allies will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons will be met with a response that is effective and overwhelming,” Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said in a readout, as cited by Yonhap.
Mattis also welcomed the land-swap deal that South Korea signed with the Lotte Group on Tuesday of this week, which will see the South host America’s THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) defense missile system.
This land transfer will support the alliance’s decision to station Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, a defensive weapons system, in ROK [South Korea] as soon as feasible. This is a critical measure to defend the ROK people and alliance forces against North Korean missile threats,” Davis said.
The deal will see the Lotte Group trade its golf course for military-owned land near Seoul, South Korea’s capital. The golf course will become the future home of the advanced THAAD system, which is designed to intercept short, medium, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles during their terminal flight phase. Equipped with long-range radar, it is believed to be capable of intercepting North Korea’s intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
Both Seoul and Washington claim the system is a defensive measure to counter Pyongyang, while Moscow has urged those involved to consider the escalated tensions it will inevitably cause.
Beijing has also questioned the controversial deployment, with the Chinese Foreign Ministry once again reminded Seoul last month of its strategic “concerns,” stressing its “clear opposition” to THAAD’s deployment on South Korean soil.
Some South Koreans have criticized the deployment as well. A demonstration was staged to protest the land-swap on Tuesday, and people living closest to the golf course have even filed a lawsuit against the South Korean Defense Ministry.
South Korea aims bring the system online by the end of the year, with a military official saying last week that the deployment could be completed by August.
In the phone call with Mattis, Han Min-Koo said that this year’s joint drills will be similar in scale to those held in 2016, which the South’s Defense Ministry called the “largest-ever” at the time. He also said the exercises, which have been held annually since 1997, contribute to peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Both defense chiefs promised to monitor possible North Korean provocations and strengthen military cooperation in order to improve mutual combat-readiness.
On Tuesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspected the headquarters of a major military unit and issued guidance on increasing combat readiness, Reuters cited North Korea’s official KCNA news agency as reporting.
Last month, Kim Jong-un announced that his country’s military is capable of test-launching an inter-continental ballistic missile, warning that it could reach the US mainland at any time, from any location.
However, US President Donald Trump has brushed off the threat, saying North Korea will never succeed in acquiring an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of that distance.
The joint drills come amid increased tensions with North Korea following its test firing of a new Pukguksong-2 ballistic missile in February, which the state hailed as a major military achievement, but drew angry reactions from its regional neighbors and the US.
Last year’s Foal Eagle exercise involved about 17,000 American troops and more than 300,000 South Korean service members. Although the two countries have held larger joint drills, these were the biggest war games conducted under the current format adopted in 2008 named Key Resolve/Foal Eagle. Last year drills prompted North Korea to order artillery drills simulating an attack on the residence of South Korea’s president, with Kim promising to turn Seoul “into rubble and ashes” if it challenges Pyongyang.
North Korea rescinded its signature to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003 and announced its intention to build a nuclear arsenal, which it deems necessary for defending itself from the US and its regional allies, South Korea and Japan. The UN Security Council has passed several resolutions condemning Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons and missiles and has imposed economic sanctions on North Korea to hinder its programs’ advancement.

Preparing For Disaster At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Indian Point nuclear plant called “disaster waiting to happen”

A boat moves along the Hudson River in front of the Indian Point nuclear power plant March 18, 2011, in Buchanan, N.Y.
Getty Images
Last Updated Feb 23, 2016 10:38 AM EST
The recent radioactive leak at New York’s Indian Point nuclear power plant is prompting renewed calls for the site to be shut down, amid growing concerns about the potential damage a nuclear accident could do in one of the most densely populated parts of the country.
“It’s a disaster waiting to happen and it should be shut down,” Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper, a watchdog organization dedicated to protecting the Hudson River, told CBS News.
The Indian Point Energy Center, located on the bank of the Hudson River in the town of Buchanan, supplies electricity for millions of homes, businesses and public facilities in New York City and Westchester County, just north of the city.
Environmental groups call the latest problem just the tip of the iceberg, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is joining with organizations like Riverkeeper, the National Resources Defense Council and others in seeking the permanent closure of the plant.
CBS News/Google Maps
Earlier this month, Entergy Corporation, which owns Indian Point, reported increased levels of tritium-contaminated water at three monitoring wells, with one well’s radioactivity increasing by as much as 65,000 percent.
Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen that occurs naturally in small doses and is a byproduct of nuclear reactors. It could enter a person’s body by drinking tritiated water, or it can also be inhaled as a gas or absorbed through the skin. Tritium can reach all parts of the body like normal water and is eventually expelled through urine. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) says tritium emits “very weak radiation and leaves the body relatively quick.”
Little research has been done on the health effects of exposure to increased levels of tritium. But the NRC states: “Exposure to very small amounts of ionizing radiation is thought to minimally increase the risk of developing cancer, and the risk increases as exposure increases.”
However, Jerry Nappi, a representative for Entergy Corporation, said that the most recent issue at Indian Point would not have any impact on human health or life in the river. “Concentrations would be undetectable in the river,” Nappi told CBS News. “We know from more than 10 years of hydrological studies on the site that it [radioactive contaminants] can’t reach drinking water sources in nearby communities.”
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) standard limit for tritium in drinking water, established in 1976, is 20,000 picocuries per liter. (A picocurie is a unit of radiation that could be measured in a laboratory.) By comparison, after the recent leak, samples showed the tritium-laced water at Indian Point had a radioactivity level of more than 8 million picocuries per liter. That level was the highest regulators have seen at Indian Point, Cuomo said, compared to a normal reading of about 12,300 picocuries per liter.
According to a 2014 notice in the Federal Register, EPA is expected to update the standards for tritium in drinking water. EPA did not make anyone available for comment.
In a statement issued February 11, Cuomo, who has spent years fighting for the closure of Indian Point, said that the recent leak there had been getting worse. “Today, Entergy reported that the level of radioactive tritium-contaminated water that leaked into groundwater at the Indian Point Nuclear facility last week has increased by 80 percent since the initial report [February 5],” the statement read. Cuomo also directed the state’s Departments of Environmental Conservation and Health to investigate the cause of the radioactive leak.
Nappi said that tritium levels normally fluctuate as the contaminant moves through the facility. “It’s not getting worse,” he said. Nappi added that the leak was related to a temporary filtration process that occurred for two weeks in January, and said it has since stopped.
Neil Sheehan, a representative for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told CBS News that the NRC is continuing to review the recent tritium leakage at Indian Point. “We recently sent a radiation protection specialist to the plant to assess the situation and learn more about what happened. He was assisted by our three Resident Inspectors assigned to the plant on a full-time basis,” he said in an email.
NRC is also currently reviewing Indian Point’s renewal license, which would authorize it to continue operating for another 20 years. But environmental groups say the region needs to utilize other options to meet its energy needs.
“The good news is, advances in alternate power sources, grid management and energy conservation have brought us to the day when the aging, unsafe Indian Point can close,” Gallay said. He enumerated a number of other available sources of energy for the region, including 600 megawatts thanks to transmission system upgrades and another 500 megawatts available through energy savings achieved through efficiency and renewable energy.
“There will be enough power to keep the lights on in our homes and hospitals, our businesses and schools — in every place that makes our communities healthy and vibrant,” Gallay said.

Antichrist’s Followers Pelt Abadi

The New Arab
Iraqi students on Tuesday pelted Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi with stones during his visit to the southern city of Kut, with three people being wounded by gunfire as security forces attempted to disperse demonstrators.
Tens of University of Wasit students protested the premier’s visit with anti-corruption slogans that accused government officials of being thieves, a police source told The New Arab.
Some protesters pelted Abadi’s convoy with stones causing damage to a number of vehicles.
The premier’s security detail responded by firing warning shots into the air, causing a number of injuries.
A police officer and a doctor confirmed that people were hit by gunfire but did not say who was responsible.
“We received around 70 (injured). Most of them left and three wounded by gunfire and 19 suffering from poisoning as a result of tear gas remain,” said Ahmed al-Quraishi, a doctor at a local hospital.
Mohammed Anayid, a student, said “security forces fired to disperse the protesters, which resulted in the wounding of a number of demonstrators”.
Second Lieutenant Ali al-Sarrai, a member of the security forces tasked with protecting the university, said protesters threw “stones and water bottles and shoes” at Abadi.
His guards then fired in the air and targeted demonstrators with tear gas, said Sarrai who also confirmed that three people were shot.
The students were protesting against “the lack of services and the spread of corruption in the government”, said Ali al-Aboudi, who took part in the demonstration.
Video posted on social media showed demonstrators chanting a slogan often used by supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who has repeatedly called for protests against corruption in the Iraqi government.
Sadr issued a statement apologising to Abadi and stating that the premier was not personally involved in corruption.
The injuries at the protest in Kut came after seven people – five demonstrators and two security personnel – were killed in clashes between Iraqi forces and protesters in central Baghdad on February 11.

China Has Been Arming The Pakistani Nuclear Horn

After two nuclear tests last year and a new ballistic missile launch on Feb. 12, North Korea has invited fresh denunciation and economic sanctions from the international community.
Even China has been concerned as Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons threatens Beijing’s ability to rein in its capricious ally.
In past years, the assistance North Korea received from Pakistan in developing its nuclear weapons has been well-publicized. In the 2005 article “New Players on the Scene: A.Q. Khan and the Nuclear Black Market,” U.S. Air Force Col. Charles D. Lutes revealed the role Islamabad played in spreading nuclear technology to North Korea and Iran.
Now, insider sources in China have indicated it was Beijing that indirectly supplied North Korea by aiding Pakistan’s development of nuclear technology and gifting it critical raw materials.
According to Huang Huiping, a former researcher at the China Institute of Atomic Energy, “In the 1980s, one of the CIAE’s tasks was to transfer our nuclear technologies to other countries, including Pakistan. They sent people to China to study nuclear engineering, and China (including our Institute) also sent specialists to Pakistan to assist in their nuclear technology.”
In 2009, the Washington Post cited Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist, as saying that in 1982, China “had gifted us 50 kg [kilograms] of weapon-grade enriched uranium, enough for two weapons.”
China joined the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1992. Pakistan conducted its first successful nuclear weapons test in 1998, becoming the seventh country to explode a nuclear bomb. But it still lacked the rocket technology needed to deliver its nuclear weapons. And in 2000, China pledged that it would not assist any country in developing ballistic missiles.
But Chinese aid to Pakistan continued, and Huang Huiping entertained private doubts.
Because China and India don’t get along, China assists Pakistan [in its nuclear weapons program] to oppose India,” she told NTD Television in a phone interview. “Having witnessed such irresponsible acts, I began to seriously question whether these advanced technologies would bring benefit or catastrophe to humanity.”
From Islamabad to the Kim dynasty
Pakistani nuclear arms and technology, aided by China, has ended up in North Korean hands via the black market and through Chinese corporations associated with the Communist Party.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice announced charges against a northeastern Chinese company called Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development for supplying North Korea with alloys necessary for uranium enrichment. The company’s head, a female government official and Party member, was arrested and placed under investigation in the fallout of this incident.
Another example: in September 2001, the United States imposed sanctions on the state-owned China Metallurgical Equipment Corporation (MECC) for selling missile parts to Pakistan. This caused a political scandal that Beijing moved to correct.
According to economics expert Yang Jianli, a pro-democracy dissident who founded Initiatives for China, the Chinese regime sentenced five people involved in the sale of key metallurgical technologies to Pakistan. In 2002, Yang himself had been detained by the Ministry of State Security while investigating a surge in unemployment in Northeast China.
Yang’s cellmate happened to be one of the five MECC officials convicted in the face of U.S. pressure.
“He told me he felt wronged,” Yang Jianli told NTD Television. “He was following orders by the Chinese government to sell those technologies. They said the State Council and the Central government had official approved the documents.”
But when the MECC official became a scapegoat, he was coerced to plead guilty to the charges under threat that he would be investigated for corruption instead. “In the end, the five of them were convicted on multiple charges and given eight-to-ten-year sentences,” Yang said.

The Sixth Seal Long Overdue (Revelation 6)

ON THE MAP; Exploring the Fault Where the Next Big One May Be Waiting

The Big One Awaits The Big One Awaits
Published: March 25, 2001
Alexander Gates, a geology professor at Rutgers-Newark, is co-author of ”The Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes,” which will be published by Facts on File in July. He has been leading a four-year effort to remap an area known as the Sloatsburg Quadrangle, a 5-by-7-mile tract near Mahwah that crosses into New York State. The Ramapo Fault, which runs through it, was responsible for a big earthquake in 1884, and Dr. Gates warns that a recurrence is overdue. He recently talked about his findings.
Q. What have you found?
A. We’re basically looking at a lot more rock, and we’re looking at the fracturing and jointing in the bedrock and putting it on the maps. Any break in the rock is a fracture. If it has movement, then it’s a fault. There are a lot of faults that are offshoots of the Ramapo. Basically when there are faults, it means you had an earthquake that made it. So there was a lot of earthquake activity to produce these features. We are basically not in a period of earthquake activity along the Ramapo Fault now, but we can see that about six or seven times in history, about 250 million years ago, it had major earthquake activity. And because it’s such a fundamental zone of weakness, anytime anything happens, the Ramapo Fault goes.
Q. Where is the Ramapo Fault?
 A. The fault line is in western New Jersey and goes through a good chunk of the state, all the way down to Flemington. It goes right along where they put in the new 287. It continues northeast across the Hudson River right under the Indian Point power plant up into Westchester County. There are a lot of earthquakes rumbling around it every year, but not a big one for a while.
Q. Did you find anything that surprised you?
A. I found a lot of faults, splays that offshoot from the Ramapo that go 5 to 10 miles away from the fault. I have looked at the Ramapo Fault in other places too. I have seen splays 5 to 10 miles up into the Hudson Highlands. And you can see them right along the roadsides on 287. There’s been a lot of damage to those rocks, and obviously it was produced by fault activities. All of these faults have earthquake potential.
Q. Describe the 1884 earthquake.
A. It was in the northern part of the state near the Sloatsburg area. They didn’t have precise ways of describing the location then. There was lots of damage. Chimneys toppled over. But in 1884, it was a farming community, and there were not many people to be injured. Nobody appears to have written an account of the numbers who were injured.
Q. What lessons we can learn from previous earthquakes?
A. In 1960, the city of Agadir in Morocco had a 6.2 earthquake that killed 12,000 people, a third of the population, and injured a third more. I think it was because the city was unprepared.There had been an earthquake in the area 200 years before. But people discounted the possibility of a recurrence. Here in New Jersey, we should not make the same mistake. We should not forget that we had a 5.4 earthquake 117 years ago. The recurrence interval for an earthquake of that magnitude is every 50 years, and we are overdue. The Agadir was a 6.2, and a 5.4 to a 6.2 isn’t that big a jump.
Q. What are the dangers of a quake that size?
A. When you’re in a flat area in a wooden house it’s obviously not as dangerous, although it could cut off a gas line that could explode. There’s a real problem with infrastructure that is crumbling, like the bridges with crumbling cement. There’s a real danger we could wind up with our water supplies and electricity cut off if a sizable earthquake goes off. The best thing is to have regular upkeep and keep up new building codes. The new buildings will be O.K. But there is a sense of complacency.
Photo: Alexander Gates, a Rutgers geologist, is mapping a part of the Ramapo Fault, site of previous earthquakes. (John W. Wheeler for The New York Times)