The Sixth Seal Will be in New York (Revelation 6:12)

By Simon Worrall


Half a million earthquakes occur worldwide each year, according to an estimate by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Most are too small to rattle your teacup. But some, like the 2011 quake off the coast of Japan or last year’s disaster in Italy, can level high-rise buildings, knock out power, water and communications, and leave a lifelong legacy of trauma for those unlucky enough to be caught in them.

In the U.S., the focus is on California’s San Andreas fault, which geologists suggest has a nearly one-in-five chance of causing a major earthquake in the next three decades. But it’s not just the faults we know about that should concern us, says Kathryn Miles, author of Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake. As she explained when National Geographic caught up with her at her home in Portland, Maine, there’s a much larger number of faults we don’t know about—and fracking is only adding to the risks.

When it comes to earthquakes, there is really only one question everyone wants to know: When will the big one hit California?

That’s the question seismologists wish they could answer, too! One of the most shocking and surprising things for me is just how little is actually known about this natural phenomenon. The geophysicists, seismologists, and emergency managers that I spoke with are the first to say, “We just don’t know!”

What we can say is that it is relatively certain that a major earthquake will happen in California in our lifetime. We don’t know where or when. An earthquake happening east of San Diego out in the desert is going to have hugely different effects than that same earthquake happening in, say, Los Angeles. They’re both possible, both likely, but we just don’t know.

One of the things that’s important to understand about San Andreas is that it’s a fault zone. As laypeople we tend to think about it as this single crack that runs through California and if it cracks enough it’s going to dump the state into the ocean. But that’s not what’s happening here. San Andreas is a huge fault zone, which goes through very different types of geological features. As a result, very different types of earthquakes can happen in different places.

As Charles Richter, inventor of the Richter Scale, famously said, “Only fools, liars and charlatans predict earthquakes.” Why are earthquakes so hard to predict? After all, we have sent rockets into space and plumbed the depths of the ocean.

You’re right: We know far more about distant galaxies than we do about the inner workings of our planet. The problem is that seismologists can’t study an earthquake because they don’t know when or where it’s going to happen. It could happen six miles underground or six miles under the ocean, in which case they can’t even witness it. They can go back and do forensic, post-mortem work. But we still don’t know where most faults lie. We only know where a fault is after an earthquake has occurred. If you look at the last 100 years of major earthquakes in the U.S., they’ve all happened on faults we didn’t even know existed.

Earthquakes 101

Earthquakes are unpredictable and can strike with enough force to bring buildings down. Find out what causes earthquakes, why they’re so deadly, and what’s being done to help buildings sustain their hits.

Fracking is a relatively new industry. Many people believe that it can cause what are known as induced earthquakes. What’s the scientific consensus?

The scientific consensus is that a practice known as wastewater injection undeniably causes earthquakes when the geological features are conducive. In the fracking process, water and lubricants are injected into the earth to split open the rock, so oil and natural gas can be retrieved. As this happens, wastewater is also retrieved and brought back to the surface.

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Different states deal with this in different ways. Some states, like Pennsylvania, favor letting the wastewater settle in aboveground pools, which can cause run-off contamination of drinking supplies. Other states, like Oklahoma, have chosen to re-inject the water into the ground. And what we’re seeing in Oklahoma is that this injection is enough to shift the pressure inside the earth’s core, so that daily earthquakes are happening in communities like Stillwater. As our technology improves, and both our ability and need to extract more resources from the earth increases, our risk of causing earthquakes will also rise exponentially.

After Fukushima, the idea of storing nuclear waste underground cannot be guaranteed to be safe. Yet President Trump has recently green-lighted new funds for the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada. Is that wise?

The issue with Fukushima was not about underground nuclear storage but it is relevant. The Tohoku earthquake, off the coast of Japan, was a massive, 9.0 earthquake—so big that it shifted the axis of the earth and moved the entire island of Japan some eight centimeters! It also created a series of tsunamis, which swamped the Fukushima nuclear power plant to a degree the designers did not believe was possible.

Here in the U.S., we have nuclear plants that are also potentially vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis, above all on the East Coast, like Pilgrim Nuclear, south of Boston, or Indian Point, north of New York City. Both of these have been deemed by the USGS to have an unacceptable level of seismic risk. [Both are scheduled to close in the next few years.]

Yucca Mountain is meant to address our need to store the huge amounts of nuclear waste that have been accumulating for more than 40 years. Problem number one is getting it out of these plants. We are going to have to somehow truck or train these spent fuel rods from, say, Boston, to a place like Yucca Mountain, in Nevada. On the way it will have to go through multiple earthquake zones, including New Madrid, which is widely considered to be one of the country’s most dangerous earthquake zones.

Yucca Mountain itself has had seismic activity. Ultimately, there’s no great place to put nuclear waste—and there’s no guarantee that where we do put it is going to be safe.

The psychological and emotional effects of an earthquake are especially harrowing. Why is that?

This is a fascinating and newly emerging subfield within psychology, which looks at the effects of natural disasters on both our individual and collective psyches. Whenever you experience significant trauma, you’re going to see a huge increase in PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicide, and even violent behaviors.

What seems to make earthquakes particularly pernicious is the surprise factor. A tornado will usually give people a few minutes, if not longer, to prepare; same thing with hurricanes. But that doesn’t happen with an earthquake. There is nothing but profound surprise. And the idea that the bedrock we walk and sleep upon can somehow become liquid and mobile seems to be really difficult for us to get our heads around.

Psychologists think that there are two things happening. One is a PTSD-type loop where our brain replays the trauma again and again, manifesting itself in dreams or panic attacks during the day. But there also appears to be a physiological effect as well as a psychological one. If your readers have ever been at sea for some time and then get off the ship and try to walk on dry land, they know they will look like drunkards. [Laughs] The reason for this is that the inner ear has habituated itself to the motion of the ship. We think the inner ear does something similar in the case of earthquakes, in an attempt to make sense of this strange, jarring movement.

After the Abruzzo quake in Italy, seven seismologists were actually tried and sentenced to six years in jail for failing to predict the disaster. Wouldn’t a similar threat help improve the prediction skills of American seismologists?

[Laughs] The scientific community was uniform in denouncing that action by the Italian government because, right now, earthquakes are impossible to predict. But the question of culpability is an important one. To what degree do we want to hold anyone responsible? Do we want to hold the local meteorologist responsible if he gets the weather forecast wrong? [Laughs]

What scientists say—and I don’t think this is a dodge on their parts—is, “Predicting earthquakes is the Holy Grail; it’s not going to happen in our lifetime. It may never happen.” What we can do is work on early warning systems, where we can at least give people 30 or 90 seconds to make a few quick decisive moves that could well save your life. We have failed to do that. But Mexico has had one in place for years!

There is some evidence that animals can predict earthquakes. Is there any truth to these theories?

All we know right now is anecdotal information because this is so hard to test for. We don’t know where the next earthquake is going to be so we can’t necessarily set up cameras and observe the animals there. So we have to rely on these anecdotal reports, say, of reptiles coming out of the ground prior to a quake. The one thing that was recorded here in the U.S. recently was that in the seconds before an earthquake in Oklahoma huge flocks of birds took flight. Was that coincidence? Related? We can’t draw that correlation yet.

One of the fascinating new approaches to prediction is the MyQuake app. Tell us how it works—and why it could be an especially good solution for Third World countries.

The USGS desperately wants to have it funded. The reluctance appears to be from Congress. A consortium of universities, in conjunction with the USGS, has been working on some fascinating tools. One is a dense network of seismographs that feed into a mainframe computer, which can take all the information and within nanoseconds understand that an earthquake is starting.

MyQuake is an app where you can get up to date information on what’s happening around the world. What’s fascinating is that our phones can also serve as seismographs. The same technology that knows which way your phone is facing, and whether it should show us an image in portrait or landscape, registers other kinds of movement. Scientists at UC Berkeley are looking to see if they can crowd source that information so that in places where we don’t have a lot of seismographs or measuring instruments, like New York City or Chicago or developing countries like Nepal, we can use smart phones both to record quakes and to send out early warning notices to people.

You traveled all over the U.S. for your research. Did you return home feeling safer?

I do not feel safer in the sense that I had no idea just how much risk regions of this country face on a daily basis when it comes to seismic hazards. We tend to think of this as a West Coast problem but it’s not! It’s a New York, Memphis, Seattle, or Phoenix problem. Nearly every major urban center in this country is at risk of a measurable earthquake.

What I do feel safer about is knowing what I can do as an individual. I hope that is a major take-home message for people who read the book. There are so many things we should be doing as individuals, family members, or communities to minimize this risk: simple things from having a go-bag and an emergency plan amongst the family to larger things like building codes.

We know that a major earthquake is going to happen. It’s probably going to knock out our communications lines. Phones aren’t going to work, Wi-Fi is going to go down, first responders are not going to be able to get to people for quite some time. So it is beholden on all of us to make sure we can survive until help can get to us.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Antichrist harshly condemns embassies for flying the rainbow flag

Photo: Shutterstock

Iraqi leaders harshly condemn embassies for flying the rainbow flag

The prominent cleric and militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr is calling on Iraqi embassies abroad to fly “the flags of Muhammad and Jesus” in retaliation.

By Alex Bollinger Thursday, May 21, 2020

Political and religious leaders in Iraq have condemned several embassies and international organizations for flying the rainbow flag.

In honor of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) this past Sunday, the European Union, the World Bank, and the embassies of the U.K. and Canada flew the rainbow flag at their offices in Iraq.

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The Iraqi Foreign Ministry condemned the foreign organizations, saying that being LGBTQ is against Iraq’s “norms and values.”

“We remind all the missions operating in Iraq to adhere by the laws of the country and follow diplomatic norms,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Iraqi Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee denounced the flag as offensive, according to the Arabic international newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat.

Member of Parliament Hassan Salem of the Sadiqoun Bloc called for the closure of the embassies, saying that flying the flag was an “immoral action” and disrespectful towards Muslims.

Sairoon Bloc Member of Parliament Salam al-Shammari also condemned the flag as a violation of Iraq’s religious and ethical foundations.

Even prominent cleric and militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr entered the discussion, saying that homosexuality is “mental illness” and calling on Iraqi embassies abroad to fly “the flags of Muhammad and Jesus” in retaliation.

Homosexuality is technically legal in Iraq but LGBTQ people face widespread discrimination and no protections from the government.

According to a 2018 report from the organization IraQueer, 96% of LGBTQ people interviewed said that they have faced verbal or physical violence.

In 2009, a Human Rights Watch report on kidnappings, torture, and executions of gay and bi men in Iraq got international attention. The report included narratives from LGBTQ Iraqis on violence from vigilantes and militias in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Indian Point closure is justified but too late (Rev 6:12)


Letter to the Editor: Indian Point closure is justified

Your article of May 6 which describes Pramilla Malick’s criticism of Clearwater and of Riverkeeper in regard to the recent closing of one of Indian Point’s reactors is both inaccurate and unfair.

The decision to close Indian Point was made about three years ago, as part of a Settlement Agreement between Indian Point’s owner, Entergy, the NYS Office of the Attorney General and Riverkeeper.   NY State’s aggressive Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), passed last year, provides for a robust transition to renewable energy, which includes power from 1700 megawatts of wind turbines in the Atlantic off Long Island and 1250 megawatts of transmission improvement to the grid as a source of power to replace the absence of Indian Point.  CLCPA also includes 3,000 megawatts of storage to ensure grid reliability.  That plan is presently being executed, and Clearwater stands by our assertion that Indian Point should be closed as we move to a renewable power economy.   To claim that “they” (meaning both organizations) have disregard for climate change and its effects is absurd.   Combating the global climate crisis is a major part of our mission.

Malick’s assertion that the shutdown of one of the Indian Point reactors should have been delayed because of the present pandemic is also unjustified as well as ironic.  Rather than increased greenhouse gas emissions, the pandemic is resulting in substantially decreased emissions because of decreased activity.   While this benefit will be reduced as we slowly resume normal activity, the benefit from an environmental point of view is substantial.

Peter Capek
(Member of the Board of Directors of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc.)

The views expressed in this letter belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of Mid Hudson News.

The Prophecy Says Think About Nuclear War in a Time of Plague (Revelation 8 )

Who Thinks About Nuclear War in a Time of Plague?


It’s less than two minutes to midnight, according to the Doomsday Clock, designed by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1947 to express “the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies in other domains.”

The Doomsday Clock has been as far as 17 minutes from midnight — in 1991, as the Cold War seemed to end and “peace dividends” were widely anticipated.

Since then, however, hardliners — especially in the US — have refused to take peace for an answer. This January, at the beginning of the presidential election year, the atomic scientists moved the Doomsday Clock closer to midnight than ever — 100 seconds.

The political impact of this urgent alert appears to have been minimal. American nuclear policy continues to push the world closer to midnight with little public discussion or resistance.

The Trump administration has executed a major escalation of offensive nuclear capability by deploying “small” nuclear weapons on US submarines. In nuclear parlance, a small nuclear weapon is about the size of the bombs used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In strategic military thinking, smaller nuclear weapons are considered more usable just because they are smaller.

Since the turn of the year, the US has deployed small nuclear warheads on submarines such as the USS Tennessee out of Kings Bay Submarine Base in Georgia, ready for use anywhere within range of a Trident missile (7,500 miles, accurate within a few feet). A Trident missile can carry as many as a dozen independently targeted warheads.

In June 2019, Democrats on a House subcommittee added language to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 prohibiting the deployment of a low-yield warhead on a Trident D5 missile. Reflecting the militarized mindset of Congress, that language did not survive final passage of the bill.

US nuclear policy has always reserved the right to use nuclear weapons in a first strike, the Trump administration being no exception. Efforts to adopt a No First Use policy have always failed in Congress. On January 30, 2019, Democrats in the House and Senate introduced legislation intended to prevent the US from being the first to use nuclear weapons in the future. The bill, S.272, introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) with seven co-sponsors, reads in its substantive entirety:

“It is the policy of the United States to not use nuclear weapons first.”

This bill was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations committee, and the Senate has taken no further action on it. Its companion bill in the House, H.R.921, was also referred to committee, with no further action by the House. According to polls, most Americans already believe that the US should not be the first to use nuclear weapons. This majority perspective has no way to become law in contemporary American politics.

A graph showing the changes in the time of the Doomsday Clock since its inception in 1947. Photo credit: Fastfission / Wikimedia Commons (CC0)

A second House bill, requiring an act of Congress before a president is allowed to carry out a first strike nuclear attack, was filed January 17, 2019 by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and 62 co-sponsors. The bill’s core provision sought to reinforce the Constitution’s assignment of the right to declare war to Congress:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the President may not use the Armed Forces of the United States to conduct a first-use nuclear strike unless such strike is conducted pursuant to a declaration of war by Congress that expressly authorizes such strike.

This bill was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Despite being controlled by Democrats since January 2019, the House has taken no further action on enforcing the constitutional restraints on the president’s ability to make war.

Former Vice President Joe Biden expressed support for a No First Use policy in January 2017. He has not made the nuclear threat one of his major campaign issues.

The Obama administration, in its 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, reserved the right to use nuclear weapons first, while promising to develop conditions appropriate to a No First Use policy.

The Obama administration never got there.

With no dissent from Biden, the administration initiated a trillion-dollar upgrade of US nuclear war fighting capacity, and Trump has reinforced it, creating the conditions for an accelerated global arms race.

As a presidential candidate, Biden has not laid out any detailed, substantive foreign policy. Nor has he tried to shed his decades of center-right orthodoxy. Biden’s lengthy foreign policy interview with the New York Times in February is replete with assertions that represent the tired and presumably “safe” positions of the past. Biden offers no vision of a peace-seeking, activist presidency.

For example, rather than simply seeking to reestablish the Iran nuclear deal of 2015 that was working until the US pulled out, Biden takes the position that it’s the Iranians that need to prove their good faith. In Afghanistan, he promises to pull out all the US troops except the ones still stationed there. He is content to maintain hostility with Russia, without elaboration, and he outlines the basis for a new cold war with China:

The United States should be pushing back on China’s deepening authoritarianism, leading the free world in support of the brave people of Hong Kong as they demand the civil liberties and autonomy promised to them by Beijing. The same is true for the unconscionable detention of over a million Uighurs in western China. This is no time for business as usual.

In February, just before his primary fortunes turned around, Biden was on CBS News claiming, “The Russians don’t want me to be the nominee, they like Bernie.” This came two days after the Washington Post reported that US intelligence officials had briefed the Sanders campaign that the Russians were suspected of helping Sanders in nonspecific ways. So Biden turned the ambiguity into an opportunistic twofer, not only launching an evidence-free red-baiting smear against Sanders, but packaging it in a gratuitous provocation of the Russians.

Demonizing other countries is rarely diplomatically useful, even if somehow justifiable. In a nuclear world, antagonizing the next two largest nuclear powers may be business as usual, but where has that gotten us?

On March 5, President Donald Trump tweeted support for the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and promised to propose “a bold new trilateral arms control initiative with Russia and China to help avoid an expensive arms race.” In reality, the US set out on that expensive arms race during the Obama administration.

We live in a world with an estimated 13,355 nuclear weapons (some estimates are as high as 15,000 in total). That’s roughly enough explosive power to destroy the planet 133 times over (or more).

Most of those weapons — some 12,170 in all — belong to Russia (6,370) and the US (5,800). The remaining 1,185 nuclear weapons belong to France (300), China (290), the UK (215), Pakistan (150), India (130), Israel (80), and North Korea (20). The number of weapons does not account for the actual firepower available, a measure by which the US and Russia are even more dominant.

Besides Iran, two other Middle Eastern countries are suspected of developing nuclear weapons: the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. The UAE, in 2009, hired a South Korean firm to build its Barakah nuclear plant (in Arabic, barakah means “divine blessing”). Scheduled to come online in 2020, Barakah will be the first nuclear power plant on the Arabian peninsula. It is already raising safety concerns as well as the possibility of nuclear weapons development. Saudi Arabia trails the UAE in development, but secret agreements with the US Department of Energy make the Saudi nuclear status unclear. Responsible engagement by Congress remains unlikely even though the National Interest raised the specter of Saudi nuclear weapons almost a year ago.

The erratic and uncertain path of American foreign policy in recent years has undermined the confidence of some US allies in their reliance on protection by the US nuclear umbrella. This is true in Germany and Japan, and especially in South Korea, where US failures with North Korea have undermined South Korea’s sense of security and raised the calculation that South Korean security may eventually be dependent on South Korea’s own nuclear weapons.

As the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists explained its decision to advance the Doomsday Clock:

Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers — nuclear war and climate change — that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond. The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.

When the Trump administration pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement, its other signatories — Russia, China, UK, France, Germany, and the European Union, along with Iran — sustained the pact as the best available means of persuading Iran not to build a bomb. The administration continues to try to undermine the Iran agreement. Under Trump, the US has abandoned a host of international treaties and trade agreements, in particular the Paris accord on climate change, the UN Human Rights Council, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, without replacing any of them with measures to improve global security.

Trump has toyed with the threat of using nuclear weapons against a number of countries since 2017. As far as we know, this has been more of a verbal distraction than an actual impulse. In July 2019 Trump said, “I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people. If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth. … It would be over in — literally, in 10 days.” He also said: “this is not using nuclear.”

Trump did not explain that comment, and we have no idea if he knew what he was talking about. His desire to get the US out of Afghanistan manifested itself in February 2020 with an agreement with the Taliban (but with neither of Afghanistan’s two presidents). The agreement, which would have provided the US with the appearance of a graceful exit, has since fallen apart.

Nobody knows how likely it is that Trump would use nuclear weapons, or under what circumstances. Perhaps as a desperate attempt to win an election in trouble?

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The New Nuclear Arms Race (Daniel 7)

Get Ready For a New Arms Race: Why Nuclear Strategic Stability Won’t Work With China

China’s expansion of nuclear weapons has not received the attention it deserves due to its threat to U.S. interests and for strategic stability. China’s actions undermine the ability of the United States to deter attacks against the United States, to extend deterrence to its allies, and to protect its interests. Strategic stability results when both or all sides in a deterrence relationship have little incentive to race for superiority. During the dénouement of the Cold War, strategic stability obtained for the United States and Russia. However, strategic stability will not obtain with respect to China for three reasons.

First, while the common estimate of China’s nuclear weapons is approximately three hundred, due to China’s lack of transparency, it is possible that China has significantly more than this estimate. This month, there have been calls within China for expanding its nuclear arsenal to one thousand strategic warheads, to say nothing of nuclear weapons on intermediate-range or other forces. While the United States has taken a “strategic holiday,” the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has used the opportunity to expand their arsenals, as well as cyber and conventional capabilities. When one reflects upon the considerable effort to create strategic systems, as well as cyber and conventional capabilities, inescapable conclusions are, first, that the causes of their expansion is rooted in their own grand strategic objectives of achieving hegemony and, second, the decision to expand their forces was sown long ago. China has used our strategic passivity to expand.What Reagan’s Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger said in the Soviet context remains true today: “When we build, they build, when we stop, they build.”

The growth of Chinese arsenals cannot be divorced from other evidence of China’s expansion. They are expanding their bases, for example, in Djibouti and Gwadar, and alliance networks including through the Belt and Road Initiative and “debt diplomacy,” the creation of new international institutions to supplant extant ones, and aggressive intelligence operations.  These measures indicate that China is a non-status quo great power but is a revisionist—and one that seeks change immediately. This bodes ill for strategic stability.

Most concerning is that China’s build-up might allow it to race to parity or superiority with the United States, which would result in an intense arms race. China’s actions make it a threat to strategic stability. To maintain strategic stability requires modernizing U.S. strategic systems, including missile defenses, and conventional capabilities.  Not to do so invites a direct and existential strategic challenge to the security of our allies and ourselves.

Second, the form of China’s build-up is notable. Always secretive, the Chinese have occluded their nuclear expansion as they do not want to provoke a premature reaction from the United States or its allies. More damning is that the Chinese are secretly “preparing the battlefield” to ensure that they have the ability to damage the United States through other, nonnuclear, means. These nonnuclear avenues of attack include cyber, control of space, supply chain dominance, economic influence, technological mastery of 5G and increasingly artificial intelligence, soft power, and the continued legal and illegal access to America’s knowledge, intellectual property, finance, and technology to facilitate Beijing’s growth. This would ensure the United States could be damaged sufficiently—in effect, a near equivalent of a major nuclear attack—to cause U.S. political leaders to yield in a crisis or limited war without the employment of nuclear weapons. China might launch one or more cyber attacks on the electrical grid and on the ability of the United States to recover and rebuild its electrical grid after a significant cyber attack. This is likely to be a direct attack in the cyber realm but the damage might also be inadvertent due to the unintended consequences of an attack against another target. Moreover, the risks of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) to the U.S. electrical grid is also a possibility. The vulnerability of America electricity to EMP—whether from deliberate EMP attack, cyber attack, or solar activity—and the ability to recover the electrical grid in the wake of an event is an issue that must be solved now.

Third, China rejects arms control in practice and in principle. Thus far, Beijing will not unilaterally reduce or limit its arsenal or enter into arms control talks. That is a worrisome sign and suggests that U.S. assumptions about the causes of stability in a great power relationship are only its own, and not shared by China. A major objective of arms control is that it can promote stability in the relations between states. The state willingly abandons or limits a class of weapons to demonstrate to other actors that its ambitions are limited and it supports strategic stability. By entering an arms control regime, China could show that it accepts the value of arms control and seeks confidence-building measures, which aids stability while demonstrating that China is a status quo power. Fundamentally, it would allow China to signal its peaceful intentions, and, in turn, have an important stabilizing effect on states concerned with China’s increasing power. The fact that China rejects arms control is troubling and suggests, first, it is a revisionist power, and second, that it wants to be unfettered as it expands its arsenal.

These developments mean that strategic stability is unlikely to obtain. China is likely to race for superiority, and that is destabilizing, and the United States must ensure this never occurs and must prepare itself for the return of an arms race. Given the PRC’s unprecedented expansion, the United States must respond by modernizing its capabilities to deter them from threatening the homeland, U.S. military, and its alliance commitments. These are critical steps to deter them from the temptation to race to parity or superiority, which could result in the collapse of U.S. credibility and alliances. Lastly, the United States must ensure that its vulnerability to non-nuclear forms of major economic and societal damage to the U.S. homeland is addressed.

Bradley A. Thayer is a professor of political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio and is the co-author of How China Sees the World: Han-Centrism and the Balance of Power in International Politics.

Image: Reuters

Trump Hopes to Control Russia and China (Daniel 7)

US plans new armed talks aimed at limiting Russian, Chinese and US nuclear warheads

Trump seeks Russia’s help in bringing China into three-way deal

The Wall Street Journal

President Trump’s new arms-control negotiator is planning to meet with his Russian counterpart soon to discuss a new U.S. proposal for a far-reaching accord to limit all Russian, Chinese and U.S. nuclear warheads, U.S. officials disclosed Thursday.

The talks will mark the first time the Trump administration has opened negotiations on an agreement to replace the New START accord, which covers Russian and U.S. long-range nuclear arms and is due to expire in February.

The disclosure of the new talks came as the Trump administration moved to withdraw from an old agreement: the separate Open Skies treaty, a nearly three-decade-old accord intended to reduce the risk of war between Russia and the West.

Marshall Billingslea, who took up his post last month as Mr. Trump’s senior envoy on arms control, will launch the new talks with Sergei Ryabkov, the deputy Russian foreign minister. They have been working to finalize the agenda for the meeting, which is likely to take place in Vienna.

“We have agreed that as soon as possible, taking into account the Covid virus, we will get together to begin negotiations,” a senior Trump administration official said.

The new U.S. proposal is far more ambitious than the 2010 New START accord, not least because it seeks to convince China to join the negotiations. U.S. officials said the wide-ranging deal is necessary because of the projected growth in the Chinese and Russian nuclear arsenals.

Critics warn the Trump administration strategy amounts to an overreach — and could lead to a deadlock that will undermine the existing arms-control framework, which has already begun to fray.

Concern over the prospects for arms control was expressed by European officials after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. will give six months’ notice to treaty participants that it is leaving the 1992 Open Skies accord, which allows the West and Russia to carry out reconnaissance flights over each other’s territories to build confidence that an attack isn’t being planned.

The U.S. has accused Russia of denying Western planes full access in flights over its territory. Defending his decision, Mr. Trump said he would seek to maintain good relations with Russia by pursuing other arms control agreements or perhaps rejoin the Open Skies accord if Moscow addressed U.S. concerns.

“There’s a very good chance that we’ll make a new agreement or do something to put that agreement back together,” Mr. Trump said. “We’re going to pull out and they are going to come back and want to make a deal.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Grushko of Russia said the U.S. had relied on “contrived pretexts” in taking its decision and that it was, part of a pattern of “destructive steps in the sphere of strategic stability and security,” state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

China, which has with a much smaller nuclear arsenal than the U.S. and Russia, has repeatedly said it won’t be party to a three-way nuclear accord. Beijing has no history of allowing intrusive arms-control verification on its territory.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said in January that Beijing had “no intention to participate” in three-way arms talks. He charged that Washington was demanding that China join such negotiations as “a pretext to shirk and shift its own nuclear disarmament responsibilities.” A spokesman for the Chinese embassy didn’t respond to a request for comment.

President Donald Trump speaks during a listening session with African-American leaders at Ford’s Rawsonville Components Plant that has been converted to making personal protection and medical equipment, Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Ypsilanti, Mich. (AP

Mr. Billingslea, however, has told the Russians that they need to help bring China to the negotiating table. The U.S. plans to use diplomatic — and possibly economic leverage, some officials hint — to insist that Beijing participate, U.S. officials said.

“I am not going to pretend that this is going to be easy. It is something new: The trilateralization of nuclear arms control,” the senior Trump administration official said. “The Chinese do not have the same history with arms-control verification, so this will be a learning experience for them, but it is an experience we expect them to gain.”

The new U.S. proposal, in another break from New START, would also cover all nuclear warheads, including those kept in storage or which are mounted on short-range systems.

Such a provision would enable the U.S. to constrain Russia’s arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons, which American officials assert is growing, as well as Chinese warheads, which some experts believed are kept in storage and not mounted on missiles on a day-to-day basis. Specifically, the U.S. wants Russia to eliminate its nuclear warheads for ground-based short-range missiles — something Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev pledged to do in 1991.

Verifying limits on warhead stockpiles, experts say, is much more difficult than counting large missiles, bombers and submarines that carry nuclear weapons and would require much more stringent monitoring measures.

The Trump administration says that it plans to propose more intrusive verification measures than under New START. This includes a demand for greater sharing of missile-test telemetry and measures that allow faster on-site inspections.

The British and French nuclear forces wouldn’t be part of the accord under the U.S. plan, though Russian officials have sometimes argued that they should.

Negotiating a major arms-control treaty is a yearslong process, raising the question of what constraints will be kept in place once the negotiations are under way.

The New START treaty can be extended for as many as five years by mutual consent. But Trump officials have hinted the U.S. may not do so unless the new three-way negotiations have begun and are making headway.

The collapse of the New START constraints, and the verification provisions it includes, would mark a further unraveling of the arms-control regime. Last year, the U.S. withdrew from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which it alleged Moscow was violating.

Of all the looming obstacles toward a new accord, the principal one is persuading China to join.

China has about 320 warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists. That is a fraction of the 1,750 nuclear weapons the U.S. has deployed on its long-range and shorter-range systems, among the 3,800 warheads in the U.S. stockpile, according to the group’s estimate.

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency has said, however, that the Chinese arsenal is expected to at least double over the next decade.

Frank Klotz — a retired three-star general and the former head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the development of the U.S. nuclear arsenal — said that the idea of drawing China into a new three-way accord was fraught with difficulties.

Establishing equal limits on Chinese, U.S. and Russian forces wouldn’t be an option in seeking a new agreement because Washington doesn’t want to allow China to match the current American level. Nor does the Pentagon want to cut its force to China’s level.

“Why would the Chinese agree to be locked into a three-way agreement at significantly lower numbers than the U.S.?” Mr. Klotz said. “Why would Russia or the U.S. agree to allow China to have numbers equal to Russia and the U.S.”

–Gordon Lubold and James Marson contributed to this article.

Write to Michael R. Gordon at

The World is Too Late to Save Asia from Nuclear War (Revelation 8 )

The World Must Act to Save Asia from Nuclear War

CJ Werleman21 May 2020

A Kashmiri woman peeps as Indian policemen stand guard close to the site of a gun fight in Srinagar on 19 May 2020

CJ Werleman reports on developments in Kashmir and fears that India’s desires for ethnic cleansing in the area could result in dire consequences for the whole region.

India is upping the ante in Indian-Administered Kashmir (IAK), putting the lives of eight million residents in imminent danger and placing it and Pakistan on the brink of nuclear warfare, as both countries and the rest of the world battle the COVID-19 pandemic. The international community should read this as a five-alarm fire.

After a series of cross-border military engagements between India and Pakistan in late 2019, researchers estimated that a nuclear armed conflict between the two Asian states would result in the death of up to 125 million people – equating to twice the number of those killed during the Second World War.

“India and Pakistan are of special concern because of a long history of military clashes including serious recent ones, lack of progress in resolving territorial issues, densely populated urban areas, and ongoing rapid expansion of their respective nuclear arsenals,” according to paper published in the academic journal Science Advances.

The researchers calculated a number of scenarios in which nuclear war could break out, with one of those being New Delhi retaliating to a Pakistani-orchestrated or supported terrorist attack by sending in armoured tank columns into Pakistan-Administered Kashmir, leading Islamabad to believe that it is being over-run by a numerically superior Indian military, prompting an encounter with nuclear weapons.

It is a plausible scenario, but fails to reflect the current realities on the ground, which have seen India inviting confrontation by aggressively pursuing its Hindu nationalist agenda via a series of unlawful and reckless military and political moves.

Moreover, it is India, not Pakistan, that is using the COVID-19 outbreak as an opportunity to advance its aspirations in Kashmir. It is India that is deploying and locating artillery positions in Kashmiri villages, tens of kilometres away from bunkered positions along the Line of Control (LoC). It is India that is using distraction and diversion to change laws with the purpose of turning the disputed territory’s Muslim majority into a minority in their own land. And it is India that is once again using ‘fake encounters’ and exaggerating the threat of militancy to further impose its security forces upon the Kashmiri people.

On Tuesday, Indian soldiers set fire to 15 houses in the capital of Srinagar after killing two militants in a gun fight. A 12-year-old boy was killed after the building he was in collapsed as a result of the blaze. 

To be clear, these fires didn’t occur accidentally or as a result of the gun fight. They were deliberately lit by Indian military as a form of collective punishment – or what is a central component of its occupation management strategy, one that seeks to change the demography of the territory by mirroring Israel’s settler colonial enterprise in the Palestinian territories, which have experienced a record number of home demolitions in recent years.

“15 homes torched by Indian Occupation forces in Srinagar yesterday as 900k security forces subject Kashmiris to brutal oppression,” tweeted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday. “Modi’s Hindutva Supremacist Occupation Govt is committing war crimes in IOJK including changing the demography in violation of 4th Geneva Convention.”

In Kashmir, home demolitions have become routine in the aftermath of actual encounters with militants – and encounters that the Indian military stages or fakes – with more than 105 homes destroyed by the Indian military during alleged gun fights in the years spanning 2015 to 2017, according to data assessed by India Spend.

On Monday, Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan described India’s recent military build-up and measures as indicative of a coming “false flag” operation that could threaten the region and beyond with unthinkable consequences.

“India alleges that Pakistan is sending militants and COVID-19 across the Line of Control and also that Pakistan is behind the revival of militancy in Kashmir,” Khan told Arab News. “These are all typical steps that they take before the false flag operation, so we have good sense that they are up to something. Any act of aggression will have dire consequences not just for Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan, but for the entire world,” he said.

Last month, videos emerged on social media showing Indian forces moving heavy artillery into the village of Panzgam in Kupwara district, using locals as human shields, before firing upon Pakistani military positions. The strikes and counter-strikes left three civilians dead, including a woman and child.

Adding to the woes of the Kashmiri people is New Delhi’s strategy to encourage “demographic flooding” by granting property ownership rights to Indian soldiers, Government officials and their families to close off all democratic avenues for Kashmiri Muslims to pursue self-determination and a future independent Kashmiri state, thus arguably provoking them into violent resistance.

A five-alarm fire is now ringing loudly. The international community must act to save the Kashmiri people from further suffering and the region from war.