East Coast Still Unprepared For The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

East Coast Earthquake Preparedness
Posted: 08/25/2011 8:43 am EDT
WASHINGTON — There were cracks in the Washington Monument and broken capstones at the National Cathedral. In the District of Columbia suburbs, some people stayed in shelters because of structural concerns at their apartment buildings.
A day after the East Coast’s strongest earthquake in 67 years, inspectors assessed the damage and found that most problems were minor. But the shaking raised questions about whether this part of the country, with its older architecture and inexperience with seismic activity, is prepared for a truly powerful quake.
The 5.8 magnitude quake felt from Georgia north to Canada prompted swift inspections of many structures Wednesday, including bridges and nuclear plants. An accurate damage estimate could take weeks, if not longer. And many people will not be covered by insurance.
In a small Virginia city near the epicenter, the entire downtown business district was closed. School was canceled for two weeks to give engineers time to check out cracks in several buildings.
At the 555-foot Washington Monument, inspectors found several cracks in the pyramidion – the section at the top of the obelisk where it begins narrowing to a point.
A 4-foot crack was discovered Tuesday during a visual inspection by helicopter. It cannot be seen from the ground. Late Wednesday, the National Park Service announced that structural engineers had found several additional cracks inside the top of the monument.
Carol Johnson, a park service spokeswoman, could not say how many cracks were found but said three or four of them were “significant.” Two structural engineering firms that specialize in assessing earthquake damage were being brought in to conduct a more thorough inspection on Thursday.
The monument, by far the tallest structure in the nation’s capital, was to remain closed indefinitely, and Johnson said the additional cracks mean repairs are likely to take longer. It has never been damaged by a natural disaster, including earthquakes in Virginia in 1897 and New York in 1944.
Tourists arrived at the monument Wednesday morning only to find out they couldn’t get near it. A temporary fence was erected in a wide circle about 120 feet from the flags that surround its base. Walkways were blocked by metal barriers manned by security guards.
“Is it really closed?” a man asked the clerk at the site’s bookstore.
“It’s really closed,” said the clerk, Erin Nolan. Advance tickets were available for purchase, but she cautioned against buying them because it’s not clear when the monument will open.
“This is pretty much all I’m going to be doing today,” Nolan said.
Tuesday’s quake was centered about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, 90 miles south of Washington and 3.7 miles underground. In the nearby town of Mineral, Va., Michael Leman knew his Main Street Plumbing & Electrical Supply business would need – at best – serious and expensive repairs.
At worst, it could be condemned. The facade had become detached from the rest of the building, and daylight was visible through a 4- to 6-inch gap that opened between the front wall and ceiling.
“We’re definitely going to open back up,” Leman said. “I’ve got people’s jobs to look out for.”
Leman said he is insured, but some property owners might not be so lucky.
The Insurance Information Institute said earthquakes are not covered under standard U.S. homeowners or business insurance policies, although supplemental coverage is usually available.
The institute says coverage for other damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage from burst gas or water pipes, is provided by standard homeowners and business insurance policies in most states. Cars and other vehicles with comprehensive insurance would also be protected.
The U.S. Geological Survey classified the quake as Alert Level Orange, the second-most serious category on its four-level scale. Earthquakes in that range lead to estimated losses between $100 million and $1 billion.
In Culpeper, Va., about 35 miles from the epicenter, walls had buckled at the old sanctuary at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which was constructed in 1821 and drew worshippers including Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. Heavy stone ornaments atop a pillar at the gate were shaken to the ground. A chimney from the old Culpeper Baptist Church built in 1894 also tumbled down.
At the Washington National Cathedral, spokesman Richard Weinberg said the building’s overall structure remains sound and damage was limited to “decorative elements.”
Massive stones atop three of the four spires on the building’s central tower broke off, crashing onto the roof. At least one of the spires is teetering badly, and cracks have appeared in some flying buttresses.
Repairs were expected to cost millions of dollars – an expense not covered by insurance.
“Every single portion of the exterior is carved by hand, so everything broken off is a piece of art,” Weinberg said. “It’s not just the labor, but the artistry of replicating what was once there.”
The building will remain closed as a precaution. Services to dedicate the memorial honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were moved.
Other major cities along the East Coast that felt the shaking tried to gauge the risk from another quake.
A few hours after briefly evacuating New York City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city’s newer buildings could withstand a more serious earthquake. But, he added, questions remain about the older buildings that are common in a metropolis founded hundreds of years ago.
“We think that the design standards of today are sufficient against any eventuality,” he said. But “there are questions always about some very old buildings. … Fortunately those tend to be low buildings, so there’s not great danger.”
An earthquake similar to the one in Virginia could do billions of dollars of damage if it were centered in New York, said Barbara Nadel, an architect who specializes in securing buildings against natural disasters and terrorism.
The city’s 49-page seismic code requires builders to prepare for significant shifting of the earth. High-rises must be built with certain kinds of bracing, and they must be able to safely sway at least somewhat to accommodate for wind and even shaking from the ground, Nadel said.
Buildings constructed in Boston in recent decades had to follow stringent codes comparable to anything in California, said Vernon Woodworth, an architect and faculty member at the Boston Architectural College. New construction on older structures also must meet tough standards to withstand severe tremors, he said.
It’s a different story with the city’s older buildings. The 18th- and 19th-century structures in Boston’s Back Bay, for instance, were often built on fill, which can liquefy in a strong quake, Woodworth said. Still, there just aren’t many strong quakes in New England.
The last time the Boston area saw a quake as powerful as the one that hit Virginia on Tuesday was in 1755, off Cape Ann, to the north. A repeat of that quake would likely cause deaths, Woodworth said. Still, the quakes are so infrequent that it’s difficult to weigh the risks versus the costs of enacting tougher building standards regionally, he said.
People in several of the affected states won’t have much time to reflect before confronting another potential emergency. Hurricane Irene is approaching the East Coast and could skirt the Mid-Atlantic region by the weekend and make landfall in New England after that.
In North Carolina, officials were inspecting an aging bridge that is a vital evacuation route for people escaping the coastal barrier islands as the storm approaches.
Speaking at an earthquake briefing Wednesday, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray inadvertently mixed up his disasters.
“Everyone knows, obviously, that we had a hurricane,” he said before realizing his mistake.
“Hurricane,” he repeated sheepishly as reporters and staffers burst into laughter. “I’m getting ahead of myself!”
Associated Press writers Sam Hananel in Washington; Alex Dominguez in Baltimore; Bob Lewis in Mineral, Va.; Samantha Gross in New York City; and Jay Lindsay in Boston contributed to this report.

Israel strikes targets outside the Temple Walls after missile attack near Dimona nuclear site: Revelation 11

Israel strikes targets in Syria after missile attack near Dimona nuclear site

Updated 22 April 2021 AP April 22, 2021 02:14
JERUSALEM: A missile launched from Syria was fired into southern Israel early Thursday, setting off air raid sirens near the country’s top-secret nuclear reactor, the Israeli military said. In response, it said it attacked the missile launcher and air-defense systems in neighboring Syria.
The incident, marking the most serious violence between Israel and Syria in years, pointed to likely Iranian involvement. Iran, which maintains troops and proxies in Syria, has accused Israel of a series of attacks on its nuclear facilities, including sabotage at its Natanz nuclear facility on April 11, and vowed revenge. It also threatened to complicate US-led attempts to revive the international nuclear deal with Iran.
The Israeli army said it had deployed a missile-defense system but could not confirm if the incoming missile was intercepted, though it said there had been no damage. The air raid sirens were sounded in Abu Krinat, a village just a few kilometers (miles) from Dimona, the Negev desert town where Israel’s nuclear reactor is located. Explosions heard across Israel might have been the air-defense systems.
The Israeli military initially described the weapon fired as a surface-to-air missile, which is usually used for air defense against warplanes or other missiles. That could suggest the Syrian missile had targeted Israeli warplanes but missed and flown off errantly. However, Dimona is some 300 kilometers (185 miles) south of Damascus, a long range for an errantly fired surface-to-air missile.
Syria’s state-run SANA news agency said four soldiers had been wounded in an Israeli strike near Damascus, which also caused some damage. The agency did not elaborate other than to claim its air defense intercepted “most of the enemy missiles,” which it said were fired from the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the missile strike or comment from Iran. But on Saturday, Iran’s hard-line Kayhan newspaper published an opinion piece by Iranian analyst Sadollah Zarei suggesting Israel’s Dimona facility be targeted after the attack on Natanz. Zarei cited the idea of “an eye for an eye” in his remarks.
Action should be taken “against the nuclear facility in Dimona,” he wrote. “This is because no other action is at the same level as the Natanz incident.”
The Dimona reactor is widely believed to be the centerpiece of an undeclared nuclear weapons program. Israel neither confirms nor denies having a nuclear arsenal.
While Kayhan is a small circulation newspaper, its editor-in-chief, Hossein Shariatmadari, was appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and has been described as an adviser to him in the past.
Zarei has demanded retaliatory strikes on Israel in the past. In November, he suggested Iran strike the Israeli port city of Haifa over Israel’s suspected involvement in the killing of a scientist who founded Iran’s military nuclear program decades earlier. However, Iran did not retaliate then.
Israel and Iran are arch-enemies. Israel accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons and has opposed US-led efforts to revive the international nuclear deal with Iran. With Israel’s encouragement, then-President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018.
Iran recently began enriching a small amount of uranium up to 60% purity, the highest level ever for its program that edges even closer to weapons-grade levels. However, Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes. It also has called for more international scrutiny of the Dimona facility.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said Israel will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapons capability, and defense officials have acknowledged preparing possible attack missions on Iranian targets. Israel has twice bombed other Mideast nations to target their nuclear programs.
All the incidents come as Iran negotiates in Vienna with world powers over the US potentially re-entering its tattered nuclear deal with world powers. Negotiators there have described the talks as constructive so far, though they acknowledge the Natanz sabotage could strain the talks.
Israel’s government says the deal will not prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability. It also says it does not address Iran’s long-range missile program and its support for hostile proxies in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza.

How Vladimir Putin is squaring up to the world with his Nukes: Daniel 7

How Vladimir Putin is squaring up to the world with ‘my weapon’s bigger than yours’ boast

Nick Parker
22:35, 2 May 2021Updated: 22:35, 2 May 2021

VLADIMIR Putin has ramped up Russia’s bid to build an “unstoppable” arsenal of superfast missiles – goading Britain into a terrifying new nuclear arms race.

The ruthless strongman has personally overseen the development of an array of hypersonic weapons which fly at up to 20 times the speed of sound.

And rising tensions stoked by his sabre-rattling bullying in Ukraine have forced Boris Johnson to U-turn on long-standing disarmament pledges for the first time in more than 30 years.

Britain’s limit on stocks of our ageing Trident nuclear warheads are to be ramped up from 180 to 260.

But experts say the planned £10billion rearmament – ordered as 10,000 UK troops are set to be axed to the lowest manpower levels in 300 years – will do nothing to deter Putin.

And his weaponry appears to be light years ahead of his rivals’ amid soaring tension and uncertainty in the face of the Covid crisis and vicious trade wars.

Here is a terrifying snapshot of the latest additions to Russia’s awesome armoury.


The Avangard missile system can strike any target in the world in less than 30 minutes
The Avangard missile system can strike any target in the world in less than 30 minutes
Missile system with a hypersonic glide vehicle which strikes “like a meteorite” and is said to be unstoppable.

It moves at 20 times the speed of sound and can strike any target in the world in less than 30 minutes.


Burevestnik can deliver nuclear warheads anywhere around the globe
Burevestnik can deliver nuclear warheads anywhere around the globe
THIS low-flying stealth cruise missile is said to be incapable of interception and can deliver nuclear warheads anywhere around the globe.

Putin says it has “unlimited range”.

Its name means “Storm-bringer.”

Robot tank

The Uran-9 unmanned tank is designed for destroying enemy vehicles and features rocket flame throwers
The Uran-9 unmanned tank is designed for destroying enemy vehicles and features rocket flame throwers
WAR-TESTED in Syria, the Uran-9 unmanned tank is remote-controlled with a 30mm cannon and anti-tank guided missiles.

It is designed for destroying enemy vehicles and also features rocket flame throwers.


The Zircon missile is Putin’s weapon of choice to wipe out American cities in a nuclear war
The Zircon missile is Putin’s weapon of choice to wipe out American cities in a nuclear war
MISSILE with a top speed of more than 6,100mph is Putin’s weapon of choice to wipe out American cities in a nuclear war.

He saw one tested for him at a launch laid on for him “as a birthday treat ”.


The Kinzhal missile flies at ten times the speed of sound
The Kinzhal missile flies at ten times the speed of sound
THE name means dagger.

The missile flies at ten times the speed of sound, has a range of 1,250 miles and Moscow boasts it has no match in the West.

Ten aircraft with Kinzhals have been on duty in southern Russia.


Poseidon is an atomic-powered underwater drone deployed as a giant nuclear-capable torpedo
Poseidon is an atomic-powered underwater drone deployed as a giant nuclear-capable torpedo
AN atomic-powered underwater drone deployed as a giant nuclear-capable torpedo.

It moves through the sea at 125mph using a top secret propulsion system and is said to be lethal against aircraft carriers.

Satan 2

Satan 2 is the biggest beast in Russia’s nuclear arsenal
Satan 2 is the biggest beast in Russia’s nuclear arsenal
BIGGEST beast in Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

188-tonne missile has an 11,000-mile range, can evade the United States’ defence shield and is capable of destroying an area the size of England and Wales.

Kalashnikov guided missile

The new Kalashnikov guided missile destroys low-flying aircraft, helicopters and drones
The new Kalashnikov guided missile destroys low-flying aircraft, helicopters and drones
THE new 9M333 guided missile destroys low-flying aircraft, helicopters and drones.

It finds targets without additional missile guidance after launch or being in their line of sight.


Russia’s unique ‘flying and swimming tank’ is undergoing tests
Russia’s unique ‘flying and swimming tank’ is undergoing tests
RUSSIA’S unique ‘flying and swimming tank’ is undergoing tests.

Video shows the lightweight vehicle blasting targets from the water, giving Russian forces a key edge on Nato rivals in Europe.

Stealth drone

Stealth drone Okhotnik can fly from Moscow to London and back on a single mission
Stealth drone Okhotnik can fly from Moscow to London and back on a single mission
THE Okhotnik – meaning Hunter – is said to be virtually undetectable and can fly from Moscow to London and back on a single mission.

It can be a spy in the sky or fire missiles working with an Su-30SM fighter jet.

Novichok cocktail

Chemical experts are developing a more deadly form of Novichok
Chemical experts are developing a more deadly form of Novichok
CHEMICAL experts are developing a more deadly form of Novichok.

Putin was said to have been furious that the nerve agent failed to kill Sergei Skripal in the 2018 Salisbury poisoning.

Stealth fighter

Russia’s newest fifth generation Su-57 stealth fighter is viewed as one of the most lethal warplanes ever built
Russia’s newest fifth generation Su-57 stealth fighter is viewed as one of the most lethal warplanes ever built
Russia’s newest fifth generation Su-57 stealth fighter is designed to carry the Kinzhal hypersonic missile.

Viewed as one of the most lethal warplanes ever built.

A total of 67 Su-57s are due to be delivered by 2028.

‘No hope in this country’: Iraq’s activists in Antichrist’s crosshairs

‘No hope in this country’: Iraq’s activists in Sadr’s crosshairs

Hassan Maher holds up an Iraqi flag at an anti-government protest in Nasiriyah. Photo: courtesy of Hassan Maher

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Danger knocks on the doors in southern Iraq where activists say they continue to be threatened by Iranian-backed militias of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) for speaking out against the powerful groups.

Hassan Maher, who once played on Iraq’s national wheelchair basketball team, likes to call his Nasiriyah home Hassan Basketball. But a few days ago, his house was raided by Saraya al-Salam (Peace Brigades), an armed group run by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. It was a “terrifying” night, he told Rudaw English.

Eight cars carrying masked armed men surrounded his home on Wednesday night, their movement caught on surveillance cameras. Maher was not home. He had already fled several months earlier after receiving threats from the militias.

Maher, 25, who lives with a disability, joined anti-government protests when they began in October 2019. Thousands of people, mainly young, took over streets and squares in cities across southern Iraq, demanding improved government services and an end to corruption.

The protest movement brought down the government of Adil Abdul-Mahdi, but lost steam during the coronavirus pandemic. Small protests continue today. They no longer attract the massive crowds that came out in 2019, but they do draw the ire of the militias.

In November 2020, Maher was an eyewitness to bloody clashes between the Sadrist militia and protesters in Nasiriyah’s Habboubi Square.

“I started publishing videos documenting the Sadrists’ raid on Habboubi Square at the time, and I started receiving threats from various militias, including Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq. But most of the threats were from the Sadrist militia,” Maher said.

He did not leave Nasiriyah despite the threats and continued to protest. But in December, the police stormed his house. Maher, by chance, was not there.

“I learned later that the accusation against me was setting fire to the provincial headquarters of the Popular Mobilization Forces in Nasiriyah and that the arrest warrant issued against me is based on Iraq’s counter-terrorism law,” said Maher.

After the raid, he fled the city and has not returned.

Hassan Maher when he played on Iraq’s national wheelchair basketball team. Photo: courtesy of Hassan Maher

He attracted the militia’s attention again this month with a social media post. On Saturday night, fire tore through Baghdad’s Ibn al-Khatib hospital, killing more than 100 people. The tragedy sparked anger across Iraq, much of it directed at the health minister, Hassan al-Tamimi, who has ties to the Sadrists. Maher joined calls for his dismissal.

“I was angry, so I wrote: Will the son of a bitch tweet?” Maher said, exhaling a cloud of smoke, cigarette between his fingers.

He believes this post was the reason for the Wednesday raid on his Nasiriyah home.

The gunmen threatened his brother and mother, saying they would “blow up the house on their heads” if Maher did not stop posting about Sadrists and their leader, Muqtada al-Sadr.

“I told my mother to submit an official request to the Nasiriyah court to disavow me, so that the Sadrists won’t kill her,” Maher said, his voice cracking.

Maher is now unemployed, living with friends and unsure of what lies in his future.

“If I write something about Muqtada al-Sadr, directly or indirectly, they will kill my mother. I no longer have hope in this country,” he said.

Who is Muqtada al-Sadr?

Muqtada al-Sadr was born in Iraq’s holy city Najaf on August 12, 1973 to a conservative Shiite family. His father, the Shiite leader Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, was assassinated in February 1999, along with two of his sons. Sadr married in 1993, to the daughter of Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, a Shiite philosopher.

He rose to prominence after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, when he established the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia that was involved in violent confrontations with US forces and sectarian clashes with Sunnis. He denounced the post-Baathist government of Iyad Allawi, formed in June 2004, as “illegal,” and launched a campaign of violence against the government.

In 2008, Sadr ordered his militia to suspend activities.

He reformed a militia, branded the Peace Brigades, after the 2014 rise of the Islamic State group (ISIS), calling on his fighters to defend shrines, mosques, and churches, in coordination with the government and to avoid fighting a “dirty” war.

Sadr is also influential in the political sphere, forming and leading the Sadrist movement, which is one of the most prominent Shiite political organizations. In the 2018 elections, Sadr’s Sairoon alliance won the most seats. Though he did not run for office himself, his electoral victory made him kingmaker in government-formation talks.

Sadr was a vocal supporter of reform and anti-corruption campaigns for years. When the protests broke out in October 2019, he sent members of his Saraya al-Salam militia to protect demonstrators. But a few months later, he changed his position and his forces became involved in suppression of the protests.

Sadr is known for his contradictory positions. In February, his spokesperson called protesters “Baathists and Daesh [ISIS].” And last week, he tweeted saying Iraq needs peace and called for outlawing militias.

“Sadr does not seek to change the current system but to dominate it,” said Bilal Wahab, Wagner fellow at the Washington Institute. “That public support, moreover, grants him greater autonomy from Iran, unlike his main political rivals. In short, he is pro-reform and pro-protests as long as they are his initiatives.”

‘Total impunity’

The Saraya al-Salam militia is officially part of the PMF (known in Arabic as the Hashd al-Shaabi). They are accused of using threatening tactics against activists and dissenters elsewhere in Iraq.

In Diwaniyah province, Hussam al-Karaawi, a former member of Saraya al-Salam who defected after the October protests, said the militia raided his home. He posted a video on Facebook last Sunday purportedly showing Saraya al–Salam cars surrounding his house the night before, threatening him and terrifying his family.

“Where is the police chief? Where are the changes and reform Muqtada talks about? I want protection. They are threatening my house now. This is terrorism,” Karaawi said in the video.

In other videos he published on social media, Karaawi is seen talking about corruption in Diwaniyah Health Department, controlled by Sadrists.

In Najaf, activists say militiamen raided their homes in February, a day after protesters chanted slogans criticizing Sadr on the one year anniversary of the killing of tens of people by the cleric’s supporters.

Militiamen stormed the homes of four activists, terrorizing them and their families, according to Najaf activist Saif al-Mansoori.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has promised accountability for the violence, but has made little progress so far.

“Of great concern is the continued targeting and killing of activists and human rights defenders,” said Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, head of the United Nations mission in Iraq, releasing a report into violence against protesters last August. “This is not random violence by a deliberate silencing of peaceful voices, coupled with the total impunity enjoyed by perpetrators.”

An annual human rights report released by the US State Department in January accused the Iraqi government of negligence in protecting its citizens and failing to take serious action against Iran-backed militias that are “engaged in killing, kidnapping, and extortion throughout the country.”

“Baghdad did not keep a tight grip on security forces,” the report added.

3 Israelis wounded in shooting ambush outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

3 Israelis wounded in West Bank shooting ambush

JERUSALEM (AP) – Gunmen in a passing car opened fire at Israelis standing at a major intersection in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Sunday, injuring three of them, according to rescue officials and the military.

The assailants escaped in a car with Palestinian license plates, news reports said. The military said troops fired towards the car. Security forces immediately launched a search for the attackers.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack at Tapuah junction in the central West Bank. The Magen David Adom emergency service said two of the injured were in serious condition, and a third person was lightly hurt. The emergency service said the three injured people were in their 20s.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there would be a harsh response. “We will not allow terrorism to raise its head and we will strike our enemies with force,” he said.

It was the latest violent incident in the West Bank amid ongoing friction between a growing population of Jewish settlers and Palestinian residents. Meanwhile, prospects for a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians remain dim.

Earlier Sunday, soldiers shot a 60-year-old Palestinian woman who brandished a knife and advanced toward them despite warnings to stop. The incident took place at a major junction in the southern West Bank.

She later died of her wounds at an Israeli hospital, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The Haaretz newspaper quoted the woman’s brother as saying her mental health had deteriorated and she had tried to take her own life after losing her job in a beauty salon as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

In recent years, Palestinians have carried out a series of shooting and car-ramming attacks, most of them attributed to so-called “lone wolf” assailants.

The Palestinians seek the West Bank, along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem – territories Israel also captured in the 1967 Mideast war – for a future state.

The (Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Dangerous Nuclear Games: Revelation 16

Dangerous Decisions about Advanced Nuclear Reactors Could Lead to New Threats

The Department of Energy’s recently launched Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) is slipping by without any close Congressional oversight, which is unfortunate as there are some serious questions that should be answered, including ones related to national security. The program was launched with an award of $160 million to TerraPower for its Natrium design and X-energy for its Xe-100. Each is to build a full-scale nuclear reactor within the next seven years, one that could be duplicated and sold commercially. While not a huge sum, it is intended to be the down payment on over $3 billion, a sum that is supposed to be cost-shared by the companies, with more for other projects.

At a March 25 Senate Energy Committee hearing on “advanced” reactors, executives of the two companies described a future with almost unlimited opportunities worldwide for their reactors, hundreds, maybe thousands. They got an enthusiastic reception from both sides of the aisle, summed up by Chairman Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) final observation that while wind and solar power were OK, “nuclear really does the job.” No one asked how the reactors will be fueled. Will they be fueled with nearly highly enriched uranium, or with plutonium? And what will be the security consequences of selling and encouraging reactors fueled with such fuels around the world?

Despite the enthusiasm for new technology, the “advanced” label is misplaced. These are re-engineered versions of old designs, some over fifty years old. “Advanced small modular reactors” trips off the tongues of people who think they are talking about the nuclear future, whereas in fact, they are talking about reviving the past.

“Small” is also an inaccurate label. Yes, there are lots of projects for small reactors, but they are a sideshow, for niche applications. The real action, the main ring, concerns larger units. TerraPower’s CEO, Chris Levesque, told the senators at the March 25 hearing that the company was pursuing a 300-megawatt (electric) unit because that was what today’s market would accept. But as it gained experience, TerraPower anticipated “growing Natrium output back up to gigawatt scale,” the size of current large light water reactors. The obvious conclusion is that TerraPower doesn’t think the smaller units would be economic, despite the current ballyhoo about the economic advantages of such units. Levesque thought there was a market for hundreds of the large units domestically and more abroad. As much of the talk was on competing with Russia and China, it is clear that the nuclear industry business plan centers on exporting the technology around the world.

The Natrium reactor TerraPower has promised to build with DOE funds is not, as many people think, the highly advertised “traveling wave” reactor design that TerraPower pursued when started by Bill Gates. That idea involved the active (fissioning) reactor region slowly “traveling” from the center of the reactor core over the life of the reactor, “breeding” plutonium from uranium and fissioning it in place, therefore with no need for reprocessing. That Bill Gates was assumed to be a shrewd investor boosted the company’s credibility. The traveling wave idea didn’t work, but TerraPower retained the label for a different design, apparently because it aids marketing.

The Natrium reactor is a scaled-up version of a General Electric design for a small sodium-cooled, plutonium-fueled fast breeder reactor (natrium is German for sodium, and “fast” means it relies on energetic neutrons). This is the reactor the nuclear enthusiasts have wanted to build since Congress canceled the Clinch River Fast Breeder Reactor in 1983. The Atomic Energy Commission, the DOE’s predecessor agency, pushed the liquid metal fast breeder (LMFBR) reactors in the 1970s as the energy solution in what was thought to be a uranium-poor world. But it turned out we live in a uranium-rich world so the expensive LMFBR made no economic sense.

It also made no sense to flood the world with untold tons of plutonium when a few kilograms is enough for a bomb. That’s why Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter made it U.S. policy to discourage commercializing of plutonium-fueled reactors. Enthusiasts tried but failed to revive fast reactors as part of the second Bush administration’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership program. It appears they are trying again.

TerraPower’s CEO told the senate hearing that the Natrium reactor would be fueled with uranium enriched to just short of 20 percent U-235 (a level that America is trying to prevent Iran from enriching to). It’s the borderline between low and highly enriched uranium. That choice seems to be related to DOE’s interest in developing a large enrichment market for the DOE-created Centrus Corporation, which is a story in itself.

Widespread use of reactors in this mode would dramatically increase demand for enriched uranium. Will 20 percent enriched uranium remain the preferred fuel for Natrium, or will it revert to plutonium with reprocessing to meet foreign customer interest? (The original GE design included an onsite reprocessing plant.) So configured, the reactor would make and reuse massive quantities of material that could be used to create a bomb. Recently, the Senate armed Services Committee raised this worry with regard to China’s fast reactor program. Congress should nail down the answer to this key question with regard to DoE’s programs.

The Natrium design comes with an adjunct hot salt storage “battery,” a vital selling point. The reactor’s heat would flow into the pool of hot salt, and out as needed to “even out the variable flow” from renewable sources. But these sources also can have their own energy storage facilities, and over one hundred plants in twenty-three countries already do.

There is a natural tendency to loosen the financial reins on projects that fall into the research and development category. But the two ARDP projects are prototypes for the commercial market. Congress should have answers to tough questions before giving the Energy Department’s ARDP additional funding. A good start would be to ask: Can we be sure that we will not end up with plutonium-fueled reactors coupled with reprocessing?

Victor Gilinsky serves as program advisor to The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, is a physicist, and was a commissioner of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission during the Ford, Carter, and Reagan administrations.

Henry Sokolski is the executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center in Arlington, Virginia, and author of Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future. He served as deputy for nonproliferation policy in the office of the US secretary of defense during the George H.W. Bush administration

Image: Reuters

The Guaranteed First Nuclear War: Revelation 8

US Intelligence Report On South Asia: Dynamics And Probability Of War And Escalation Between India And Pakistan – OpEd

Haris Bilal Malik*May 3, 2021
india pakistan soldier kashmir border
The South Asian region is widely regarded as one of the most volatile regions in the world. This is primarily because of the hostile nature of the relationship between the two arch-rivals India and Pakistan. The regional security dynamics have remained complex given the asymmetric military equation between India and Pakistan. Over the years, both countries have remained involved in various conflicts ranging from full-fledged wars to limited conventional conflicts and even now sub-conventional conflicts. Likewise, the overt nuclearization of South Asia in 1998 has since then emerged as the most crucial dynamic for the broader regional and international security calculus. This is further complemented by the existence of the unresolved issue of Kashmir between the two countries which has been widely regarded as a ‘nuclear flashpoint’ in the region. Based on these, the contemporary security environment of South Asia has gained considerable significance within the discourse surrounding international security. All these factors combined have further complicated the dynamics and probability of war and escalation in South Asia.

The international community; especially the US, has remained deeply concerned regarding the ever-increasing fears of escalation that exist in the region. Similarly, the South Asian region still holds significant weightage in the threat assessments based on intelligence reports that are being carried out by key US security organizations. Very recently, the National Intelligence Council in its global trend report for the US; has warned about the possibility of war in South Asia. It noted that India and Pakistan might engage in a large-scale war; though both sides don’t want to indulge in conflict as of now. However, the probability of war would become more likely following a terrorist attack that India would consider significant. The report has further insinuated towards the Pulwama-like attack in the future as a potential flashpoint for which India would blame Pakistan. In such circumstances, India’s resolve to retaliate and consequently Pakistan’s compulsion to defend itself and ensure its sovereignty would be the decisive factor; which seems to be persistently increasing particularly in the next five years. It holds that under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, India seems to be more likely to respond by using its military force as compared to the past.

Even though the report has acknowledged the existence of nuclear deterrence equilibrium in the region that has prevented major conflicts in the past. However, at the same time, it has been feared that any miscalculation by either of the governments might fail the deterrence. This would likely bring disastrous economic and political consequences for the region. The report further elaborates that the US’ withdrawal policy vis-à-vis Afghanistan and its likely impact on the region are key factors that would create uncertainty in the region. It highlights that the US actions in Afghanistan specifically in the upcoming year would bring significant consequences for the whole region in general and India and Pakistan in particular. In a post-US withdrawal situation, the security vacuum within Afghanistan would further encourage India to wage unrest in Pakistan’s western parts. It is notably important to know that India has been using its network of operatives in Afghanistan to fuel its hybrid war against Pakistan. Hence, as the report predicts, the US exit strategy from Afghanistan has the potential to increase the hostility between India and Pakistan. The probability of this becomes more relevant since US President Joe Biden has recently talked about the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan by September this year.

To further analyze, especially, at a time when there is an ongoing debate within the discourse surrounding the regional and international security about the recent attempts of rapprochement between India and Pakistan, this assessment is notably important to be considered. Pakistan has already affirmed its desire for long-lasting peace and stability in the region at the highest strategic levels. In this regard, the recent deliberation from the top brass of the military; to extend the hand of peace in all directions and to bury the past with India, and moving towards meaningful cooperation is quite significant. Likewise, the goodwill letter of the Indian Prime Minister Modi in which he asserted the desire for cordial relations with Pakistan was perceived as a positive development by the latter. Though the emphasis on the resolution of the Kashmir issue seemed to be intentionally ignored by Mr. Modi, his Pakistani counterpart responded with a more realistic and holistic approach. In his letter to Mr. Modi Prime Minister Imran Khan desired peaceful and cooperative relations with India while emphasizing the peaceful resolution of the core issue of Kashmir; since regional peace and stability is dependent on its peaceful resolution. Against the backdrop of the recent rapprochement attempt, though which appears as a conditional desire from the Indian side, the dynamics and probability of war and escalation in South Asia cannot be ignored at least in the longer term.

Hence summarizing it all, South Asia is no doubt a region that is more vulnerable to conflicts and wars. Even though the current security environment of South Asia seems to be a bit stable as compared to the last two years, uncertainties still exist. Given the complex security and escalation dynamics, a secure future cannot be guaranteed as predicted in the recent intelligence report issued by the US. At one time in history, after the overt nuclearization of South Asia, one of the former presidents of the US had very rightly described the South Asian region as the most dangerous region in the world. Even today, this deliberation about South Asia appears to be more or less the same in the US perception of regional security.

*The writer currently works as a Research Associate at the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) in Islamabad, Pakistan. He tweets @HarisMalik00