If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.Based on historical precedent, Armbruster says the New York City metro area is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 once a century.According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.There’s another fault line on Dyckman St. and one in Dobbs Ferry in nearby Westchester County.“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.He adds: “We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought.”“Considering population density and the condition of the region’s infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact,” says the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation on its website.Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale. (ANI)
There are nine nuclear-armed countries, with Russia and the United States holding the majority of nuclear weapons.
Pakistan on Friday said that it does not consider itself bound by any of the obligations enshrined in the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
This comes as the nuclear weapons ban treaty had taken effect last Friday amid the lack of signatures from the major nuclear powers, Dawn reported. According to the United Nations, this treaty seeks a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, which includes a set of prohibitions on participating in any nuclear weapon activities.
Pakistani Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri on Friday stated that this treaty neither forms a part of nor contributes to the development of customary international law in any manner.
There are nine nuclear-armed countries, with Russia and the United States holding the majority of nuclear weapons, Dawn reported. The others are Britain, India, Pakistan, China, France, Israel and North Korea.
The Pakistani spokesperson argued that the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted in July 2017, was negotiated outside the established UN disarmament negotiating forums.
None of the nuclear-armed states took part in the negotiations of the treaty which failed to take on board the legitimate interests of all stakeholders, Radio Pakistan reported.
Zahid Chaudhri further claimed that many non-nuclear armed states have also refrained from becoming parties to the treaty, adding that it is indispensable for any initiative on nuclear disarmament to take into account the vital security considerations of each and every state.
The TPNW was adopted by the Conference at the United Nations on 7 July 2017 and opened for signature by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 20 September 2017. Following the deposit with the Secretary-General of the 50th instrument of ratification or accession of the Treaty on 24 October 2020, it entered into force on 22 January 2021.
Russia and China will benefit from President Joe Biden’s decision to unconditionally extend the 2010 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) for five years. It marks a departure from the Trump administration’s effort to halt their nuclear modernization programs.
Both Russia and China cheered Biden’s announcement. The treaty expires on February 1. President Biden spoke Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both parties agreed to complete the five-year extension of the treaty by February 5 during the call.
Extending START without any sort of follow-up plan to compel the Chinese and Russians to halt the modernization of their nuclear weapons programs makes the world a more dangerous place.
President Biden’s instinct to put his head in the sand and deny that a nuclear arms race exists is reckless. Pretending that an arms race doesn’t already exist doesn’t make it any less so.
New Russian nuclear weapons systems such as the R-28 ICBM, dubbed the “Satan 2” by NATO, which can carry up to ten large nuclear warheads or sixteen smaller ones, or mount twenty-four hypersonic glide vehicles will not be barred under Biden’s policy. It also boasts the ability to evade U.S. missile defenses.
The Heritage Foundation notes that such capabilities make it difficult to detect cheating by the Russians on treaty limitations. The same goes for Russian nuclear-tipped cruise missiles such as the 3M-14 Kalibr that can be fired on U.S. cities from Russian submarines parked approximately 1,200 miles offshore.
START limits both nations to 1,500 deployed warheads apiece, but it does not prevent the Russians from modernizing their nuclear arsenal. Nor does it cover Russia’s battlefield nuclear weapons such as the short-range Iskander missile that threaten America’s NATO allies such as Poland and the Baltics. Warsaw is well within range of the Russian missiles currently based in Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave.
A Congressional Research Service report from a year ago estimated that Russia has 1,830 tactical nuclear weapons in its arsenal. It also deployed missiles such as the 9M729 missile, which the Trump administration determined in 2018 violated the now invalidated 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.
The two presidents also agreed during this week’s call to “explore strategic stability discussions on a range of arms control and emerging security issues.”
President Biden has never addressed the problem of Chinese or Russian nuclear modernization. His team said it would weigh cuts of the Trump administration’s $1 trillion American nuclear modernization program in December. On the campaign trail, Biden said he wants to reduce U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons for defense. Biden supported abandoning the no-first-use doctrine on nuclear weapons as vice president.
In contrast, Putin signed an executive order last June that presumes that Russia would use nuclear weapons as a first course of action.
The Trump administration wanted to place these short-range nuclear weapons under treaty limitations and also rope in China, which is expected to double its nuclear arsenal of 200-400 nuclear weapons. The Global Times, a news outlet closely linked with the Chinese Communist Party, suggested that China should expand its nuclear arsenal to 1,000 nuclear weapons in “a relatively short time” as a deterrent against the United States.
China has assembled 2,200 mid- and long-range missiles, which START kept Russia from fielding, without constraints. China publicly says it has a no-first-use policy; however, Defense Department analysts dispute this. China continues to work apace at building a nuclear triad of land-based missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and bombers.
China could match U.S. and Russian SLBM capabilities by 2035. China tested a JL-3 missile with an estimated range of 7,500 miles in 2019. This missile likely will carry multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles (MIRV). The JL-3 will be able to target multiple targets.
On land, China is improving the capabilities of its ICBMs with MIRVs, thus increasing the warheads capable of threatening U.S. cities. The Pentagon noted that China is investigating rail- and silo-based capabilities.
His offer would extend the current treaty, negotiated a decade ago by the Obama administration for another five years. The treaty currently expires on February 1. However, Biden has no stated plans to pressure either the Russians or the Chinese to abandon these nuclear modernization plans or to expand treaty restrictions to include battlefield nuclear weapons or nuclear torpedoes.
Biden’s newly confirmed Secretary of State Antony Blinken argued against the Trump administration’s decision to exit the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) after the Russians violated it was wrong. Blinken claimed that you shouldn’t stop following the law because the other guy does. Considering how close Blinken is to Biden, the president likely shares his perspective.
“If someone’s breaking the law, you don’t tear up the law, you enforce the law,” Blinken said in a 2018 appearance on CNN. “You enforce it, and this is going to be a gift to Vladimir Putin and Russia. It removes any legal restraint on deploying these missiles.”
Treaties aren’t enforceable laws. They require good faith on both sides.
Diplomacy without sticks such as the threat of overwhelming force is moot. Authoritarian leaders like Putin and Xi Jinping only respect reciprocal force.
History shows that the Soviets increased their nuclear stockpile even when American policymakers decided to scale back their nuclear program. History’s most successful nuclear arms control regimens came after the U.S. ramped up the game of nuclear chicken. After the Reagan administration ramped up its deployment of the Pershing 2s and nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, and pressed ahead with development of the MX Peacekeeper program, together with the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI),
Begging to be nice doesn’t compel compliance. Fear of an even worse consequence does. The Biden policy will not make nuclear war less likely. Our adversaries see the United States as a paper tiger that roars and does nothing. No one respects those whose bark is bigger than their bite.
John Rossomando is a Senior Analyst for Defense Policy and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award in 2008 for his reporting.
01/29/2021 Vatican (International Christian Concern) – In his trip to Iraq scheduled for March, Pope Francis will meet with Shia religious leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, according to a senior Catholic cleric. The trip would be the first time that a Pope has ever visited the Middle Eastern country. According to Patriarch of the Iraqi Chaldean Catholic Church Louis Sako, the meeting between the Pope and the Grand Ayatollah would be private and informal, during which the two hope to discuss extremist violence.
Iraq is the historic home to a vibrant Christian community that used to number almost 1.5 million faithful. However, due to an increase of violence in the region from the U.S. invasion of 2003 and the ISIS genocide of the past decade, the number of Christians living in Iraq has dwindled down to a few hundred thousand. Though Church leaders often encourage Christians forced to flee from ISIS violence to repatriate into Iraq, many still fear for their safety after they return to their homes.
Many hope that the meeting between the two religious leaders will help to promote interfaith harmony moving forward in Iraq. Since the defeat of ISIS in 2017, an enduring problem between Shia and Christian groups has been the expropriation of Christian land. To address this, Muqtada al-Sadr, a top Shia leader in Iraq, recently ordered a committee to explore complaints from Christians regarding illegal property expropriations. However, it remains unclear whether change will actually come due to al-Sadr’s connections to PMF militias, the main perpetrators of the expropriations.
Pope Francis’ visit has the potential to serve as a strong symbol to Iraq’s Christians that the Vatican has not forgotten them. Many will watch the visit closely in the hope that the Pope and the Grand Ayatollah will come together to promote interfaith peace in a country that has been so damaged by violent extremism.
Damascus – London – Asharq Al-Awsat
Saturday, 30 January, 2021 –
Iranian military trucks carry surface-to-air missiles during a parade on the occasion of the country’s Army Day, on April 18, 2017, in Tehran. (AFP Photo/Atta Kenare)
Short and medium range surface-to-surface Iranian missiles were delivered Friday to the Iraqi Hezbollah near the regime-controlled town of Al-Tabani in the western countryside of Syria’s Deir Ezzor province.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 56 missiles were delivered to the Hezbollah sites in civilian trucks via unofficial crossings between Syria and Iraq.
Earlier this month, SOHR activists had monitored the Afghan Fatimiyoun Brigade unloading a weapons shipment from four large trucks used for transporting vegetables and fruits.
The trucks were loaded with Iranian-made missiles, coming from Iraq. The shipments were stored in commercial warehouses rented from civilians in the area of Kua Ibn Aswad, located between Al-Mayadeen city and Mahakan town in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor.
Iranian militias and their supporters are based in positions in Deir Ezzor’s countryside, but they make redeployments from time to time over fear of Israeli airstrikes and unidentified US-led coalition aircraft.
Meanwhile, the Iranian Cultural Center won Friday a bid to invest in Al-Nour private hospital in Deir Ezzor city, which belongs to a doctor who has sought asylum in a European country.
The Syrian regime had confiscated the hospital and the doctor’s properties. The center won the bid to operate the hospital in return for 15 million Syrian pounds a year. It has started rehabilitating for reopening.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese Hezbollah started recruiting new volunteers at its base in the rural development department building of Deir Ezzor’s Harabish neighborhood. The Party announced that it would give the new recruits monthly salaries of $150 each, exploiting the economic hardship and dire living conditions.
A large number of volunteers applied to join Hezbollah’s ranks, seeing the offer as a good deal compared to the wages of regime soldiers and other loyalists, the Observatory said.
Friday 29th Jan 2021
HAMAS has hit out at threats by Israeli army chief Aviv Kohavi to target civilians and residential areas in any future confrontation with Gaza or Lebanon.
Spokesman Hazem Qasem condemned Israel’s “bullying techniques,” warning Israel against any plans to commit war crimes against the Palestinian or Lebanese people.
“The Israeli occupation is unable to achieve any victory in future confrontations and that’s why it plans to target civilians,“ he said.
In a lengthy speech at the Institute for National Security Studies earlier this week, Lieutenant General Kohavi indicated that the Israeli military was responsible for recent air strikes in Syria which killed scores of people, including civilians, and hinted at a major operation in Iraq.
But he said: “As much as we’ve had success, the enemy can also in the end have a success.”
He warned that international law may need to adapt to allow Israel to attack “in the way in which we must and are entitled to fight,” including by targeting civilian houses.
Mr Qasem vowed that the resistance would defend the Palestinian people against any Israeli aggression.
Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating EarthquakeRoger BilhamGiven recent seismic activity — political as well as geological — it’s perhaps unsurprising that two books on earthquakes have arrived this season. One is as elegant as the score of a Beethoven symphony; the other resembles a diary of conversations overheard during a rock concert. Both are interesting, and both relate recent history to a shaky future.Journalist Kathryn Miles’s Quakeland is a litany of bad things that happen when you provoke Earth to release its invisible but ubiquitous store of seismic-strain energy, either by removing fluids (oil, water, gas) or by adding them in copious quantities (when extracting shale gas in hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, or when injecting contaminated water or building reservoirs). To complete the picture, she describes at length the bad things that happen during unprovoked natural earthquakes. As its subtitle hints, the book takes the form of a road trip to visit seismic disasters both past and potential, and seismologists and earthquake engineers who have first-hand knowledge of them. Their colourful personalities, opinions and prejudices tell a story of scientific discovery and engineering remedy.Miles poses some important societal questions. Aside from human intervention potentially triggering a really damaging earthquake, what is it actually like to live in neighbourhoods jolted daily by magnitude 1–3 earthquakes, or the occasional magnitude 5? Are these bumps in the night acceptable? And how can industries that perturb the highly stressed rocks beneath our feet deny obvious cause and effect? In 2015, the Oklahoma Geological Survey conceded that a quadrupling of the rate of magnitude-3 or more earthquakes in recent years, coinciding with a rise in fracking, was unlikely to represent a natural process. Miles does not take sides, but it’s difficult for the reader not to.She visits New York City, marvelling at subway tunnels and unreinforced masonry almost certainly scheduled for destruction by the next moderate earthquake in the vicinity. She considers the perils of nuclear-waste storage in Nevada and Texas, and ponders the risks to Idaho miners of rock bursts — spontaneous fracture of the working face when the restraints of many million years of confinement are mined away. She contemplates the ups and downs of the Yellowstone Caldera — North America’s very own mid-continent supervolcano — and its magnificently uncertain future. Miles also touches on geothermal power plants in southern California’s Salton Sea and elsewhere; the vast US network of crumbling bridges, dams and oil-storage farms; and the magnitude 7–9 earthquakes that could hit California and the Cascadia coastline of Oregon and Washington state this century. Amid all this doom, a new elementary school on the coast near Westport, Washington, vulnerable to inbound tsunamis, is offered as a note of optimism. With foresight and much persuasion from its head teacher, it was engineered to become an elevated safe haven.Miles briefly discusses earthquake prediction and the perils of getting it wrong (embarrassment in New Madrid, Missouri, where a quake was predicted but never materialized; prison in L’Aquila, Italy, where scientists failed to foresee a devastating seismic event) and the successes of early-warning systems, with which electronic alerts can be issued ahead of damaging seismic waves. Yes, it’s a lot to digest, but most of the book obeys the laws of physics, and it is a engaging read. One just can’t help wishing that Miles’s road trips had taken her somewhere that wasn’t a disaster waiting to happen.Catastrophic damage in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1964, caused by the second-largest earthquake in the global instrumental record.In The Great Quake, journalist Henry Fountain provides us with a forthright and timely reminder of the startling historical consequences of North America’s largest known earthquake, which more than half a century ago devastated southern Alaska. With its epicentre in Prince William Sound, the 1964 quake reached magnitude 9.2, the second largest in the global instrumental record. It released more energy than either the 2004 Sumatra–Andaman earthquake or the 2011 Tohoku earthquake off Japan; and it generated almost as many pages of scientific commentary and description as aftershocks. Yet it has been forgotten by many.The quake was scientifically important because it occurred at a time when plate tectonics was in transition from hypothesis to theory. Fountain expertly traces the theory’s historical development, and how the Alaska earthquake was pivotal in nailing down one of the most important predictions. The earthquake caused a fjordland region larger than England to subside, and a similarly huge region of islands offshore to rise by many metres; but its scientific implications were not obvious at the time. Eminent seismologists thought that a vertical fault had slipped, drowning forests and coastlines to its north and raising beaches and islands to its south. But this kind of fault should have reached the surface, and extended deep into Earth’s mantle. There was no geological evidence of a monster surface fault separating these two regions, nor any evidence for excessively deep aftershocks. The landslides and liquefied soils that collapsed houses, and the tsunami that severely damaged ports and infrastructure, offered no clues to the cause.“Previous earthquakes provide clear guidance about present-day vulnerability.” The hero of The Great Quake is the geologist George Plafker, who painstakingly mapped the height reached by barnacles lifted out of the intertidal zone along shorelines raised by the earthquake, and documented the depths of drowned forests. He deduced that the region of subsidence was the surface manifestation of previously compressed rocks springing apart, driving parts of Alaska up and southwards over the Pacific Plate. His finding confirmed a prediction of plate tectonics, that the leading edge of the Pacific Plate plunged beneath the southern edge of Alaska along a gently dipping thrust fault. That observation, once fully appreciated, was applauded by the geophysics community.Fountain tells this story through the testimony of survivors, engineers and scientists, interweaving it with the fascinating history of Alaska, from early discovery by Europeans to purchase from Russia by the United States in 1867, and its recent development. Were the quake to occur now, it is not difficult to envisage that with increased infrastructure and larger populations, the death toll and price tag would be two orders of magnitude larger than the 139 fatalities and US$300-million economic cost recorded in 1964.What is clear from these two books is that seismicity on the North American continent is guaranteed to deliver surprises, along with unprecedented economic and human losses. Previous earthquakes provide clear guidance about the present-day vulnerability of US infrastructure and populations. Engineers and seismologists know how to mitigate the effects of future earthquakes (and, in mid-continent, would advise against the reckless injection of waste fluids known to trigger earthquakes). It is merely a matter of persuading city planners and politicians that if they are tempted to ignore the certainty of the continent’s seismic past, they should err on the side of caution when considering its seismic future.
Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force on January 22
Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force on January 22
Islamabad, January 29
Pakistan on Friday said it was not bound by the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons as it failed to take into account the interests of all stakeholders.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force on January 22, culminating a decades-long campaign aimed at preventing a repetition of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.
Though hailed as a historic step by several nations, the treaty was opposed by the world’s nuclear-armed countries, including the US, China, Russia, the UK and India. Japan also didn’t support the pact.
The treaty, which was adopted in July 2017, was “negotiated outside the established UN disarmament negotiating forums”, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said in a statement.
“Accordingly, Pakistan does not consider itself bound by any of the obligations enshrined in this treaty. Pakistan stresses that this treaty neither forms a part of, nor contributes to the development of customary international law in any manner,” it said.
The statement noted that none of the nuclear armed states, including Pakistan, took part in the negotiations of the treaty which “failed to take on board the legitimate interests of all the stakeholders” and many non-nuclear armed states have also refrained from becoming parties to the agreement.
The foreign ministry underlined that the UN General Assembly at its first special session devoted to nuclear disarmament in 1978 had agreed by consensus that in the adoption of disarmament measures, the right of each state to security should be kept in mind.
It also agreed that at each stage of the disarmament process the objective would be undiminished security for all states at the lowest possible level of armaments and military forces, the ministry said.
This objective, it said, can only be achieved as a cooperative and universally agreed undertaking, through a consensus-based process involving all the relevant stakeholders, which results in equal and undiminished security for all states. PTI
By Steven Nelson
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed an extension of the US-Russia New START nuclear arms control treaty.
The move, confirmed by the Kremlin, was expected after legislation authorizing renewal unanimously passed the Russian parliament.
Putin signed the bill just days after speaking with President Biden about a range of contentious issues, including Russia’s alleged offering of bounties to the Taliban for killing US troops and alleged hacking of US government websites.
The treaty is the lone major arms control deal between the US and Russia. It limits each country to 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed nuclear missiles and bombers.
The extension will last five years and does not require action by the US Congress.
Former President Donald Trump in 2018 announced he would withdraw the US from a different arms control treaty with Russia restricting the deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Europe.
Trump repeatedly floated brokering a major nuclear arms reduction treaty between the US, Russia and China, but the deal never materialized.
The US and Russia own the vast majority of the world’s nuclear weapons. Much smaller arsenals are held by China, the UK, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.
Iranian parliament speaker says scientists produced 17kg of 20 percent enriched uranium in less than a month, moving the country’s nuclear programme closer to weapons-grade enrichment levels.
The interior of the Fordow Uranium Conversion Facility in Qom, Iran is shown [File: HO/Atomic Energy Organization of Iran/AFP]
Iran produced 17kg (37.5 pounds) of 20 percent enriched uranium in less than a month, state TV has reported, moving its nuclear programme closer to weapons-grade enrichment levels amid heightened tensions with the United States.
Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf made the announcement in a televised speech during a visit to the country’s Fordow nuclear facility on Thursday.
Uranium enriched to 20 percent is a short technical step away from weapons-grade 90 percent enrichment.
In his speech, Qalibaf thanked the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), which has not confirmed the information.
Western nations have criticised the enrichment activity and called on Tehran to adhere to a 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers.
Iran has said it would produce 120kg of 20 percent enriched uranium per year, or 10kg per month on average, so 17kg would exceed that timetable.
Roughly 250kg of 20 percent enriched uranium are needed to convert it into 25kg of the 90 percent enriched needed for a nuclear weapon.#
The development brings Iran closer to crossing the line between nuclear operations with a potential civilian use, such as enriching nuclear fuel for power-generating reactors, and nuclear-weapons work, something Tehran has long denied ever carrying out.
Former US President Donald Trump in 2018 unilaterally withdrew the US from Iran’s nuclear deal, in which Tehran had agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
After the US then ramped up sanctions, Iran gradually and publicly abandoned the deal’s limits on its nuclear development.
US President Joe Biden, who was vice president when the deal was signed during the Obama administration, has said he hopes to return the US to the deal.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that the US would only rejoin the accord once Iran meets its own commitments under the deal.