Real Risk, Few Precautions (Revelation 6:12)

    By WILLIAM K. STEVENSPublished: October 24, 1989
AN EARTHQUAKE as powerful as the one that struck northern California last week could occur almost anywhere along the East Coast, experts say. And if it did, it would probably cause far more destruction than the West Coast quake.
The chances of such an occurrence are much less in the East than on the West Coast. Geologic stresses in the East build up only a hundredth to a thousandth as fast as in California, and this means that big Eastern quakes are far less frequent. Scientists do not really know what the interval between them might be, nor are the deeper-lying geologic faults that cause them as accessible to study. So seismologists are at a loss to predict when or where they will strike.
But they do know that a temblor with a magnitude estimated at 7 on the Richter scale – about the same magnitude as last week’s California quake – devastated Charleston, S.C., in 1886. And after more than a decade of study, they also know that geologic structures similar to those that caused the Charleston quake exist all along the Eastern Seaboard.
For this reason, ”we can’t preclude that a Charleston-sized earthquake might occur anywhere along the East Coast,” said David Russ, the assistant chief geologist of the United States Geological Survey in Reston, Va. ”It could occur in Washington. It could occur in New York.”
If that happens, many experts agree, the impact will probably be much greater than in California.Easterners, unlike Californians, have paid very little attention to making buildings and other structures earthquake-proof or earthquake-resistant. ”We don’t have that mentality here on the East Coast,” said Robert Silman, a New York structural engineer whose firm has worked on 3,800 buildings in the metropolitan area.
Moreover, buildings, highways, bridges, water and sewer systems and communications networks in the East are all older than in the West and consequently more vulnerable to damage. Even under normal conditions, for instance, water mains routinely rupture in New York City.
The result, said Dr. John Ebel, a geophysicist who is the assistant director of Boston College’s Weston Observatory, is that damage in the East would probably be more widespread, more people could be hurt and killed, depending on circumstances like time of day, and ”it would probably take a lot longer to get these cities back to useful operating levels.”
On top of this, scientists say, an earthquake in the East can shake an area 100 times larger than a quake of the same magnitude in California. This is because the earth’s crust is older, colder and more brittle in the East and tends to transmit seismic energy more efficiently. ”If you had a magnitude 7 earthquake and you put it halfway between New York City and Boston,” Dr. Ebel said, ”you would have the potential of doing damage in both places,” not to mention cities like Hartford and Providence.
Few studies have been done of Eastern cities’ vulnerability to earthquakes. But one, published last June in The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, calculated the effects on New York City of a magnitude 6 earthquake. That is one-tenth the magnitude of last week’s California quake, but about the same as the Whittier, Calif., quake two years ago.
The study found that such an earthquake centered 17 miles southeast of City Hall, off Rockaway Beach, would cause $11 billion in damage to buildings and start 130 fires. By comparison, preliminary estimates place the damage in last week’s California disaster at $4 billion to $10 billion. If the quake’s epicenter were 11 miles southeast of City Hall, the study found, there would be about $18 billion in damage; if 5 miles, about $25 billion.
No estimates on injuries or loss of life were made. But a magnitude 6 earthquake ”would probably be a disaster unparalleled in New York history,” wrote the authors of the study, Charles Scawthorn and Stephen K. Harris of EQE Engineering in San Francisco.
The study was financed by the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The research and education center, supported by the National Science Foundation and New York State, was established in 1986 to help reduce damage and loss of life from earthquakes.
The study’s postulated epicenter of 17 miles southeast of City Hall was the location of the strongest quake to strike New York since it has been settled, a magnitude 5 temblor on Aug. 10, 1884. That 1884 quake rattled bottles and crockery in Manhattan and frightened New Yorkers, but caused little damage. Seismologists say a quake of that order is likely to occur within 50 miles of New York City every 300 years. Quakes of magnitude 5 are not rare in the East. The major earthquake zone in the eastern half of the country is the central Mississippi Valley, where a huge underground rift causes frequent geologic dislocations and small temblors. The most powerful quake ever known to strike the United States occurred at New Madrid, Mo., in 1812. It was later estimated at magnitude 8.7 and was one of three quakes to strike that area in 1811-12, all of them stronger than magnitude 8. They were felt as far away as Washington, where they rattled chandeliers, Boston and Quebec.
Because the New Madrid rift is so active, it has been well studied, and scientists have been able to come up with predictions for the central Mississippi valley, which includes St. Louis and Memphis. According to Dr. Russ, there is a 40 to 63 percent chance that a quake of magnitude 6 will strike that area between now and the year 2000, and an 86 to 97 percent chance that it will do so by 2035. The Federal geologists say there is a 1 percent chance or less of a quake greater than magnitude 7 by 2000, and a 4 percent chance or less by 2035.
Elsewhere in the East, scientists are limited in their knowledge of probabilities partly because faults that could cause big earthquakes are buried deeper in the earth’s crust. In contrast to California, where the boundary between two major tectonic plates creates the San Andreas and related faults, the eastern United States lies in the middle of a major tectonic plate. Its faults are far less obvious, their activity far more subtle, and their slippage far slower. 
Any large earthquake would be ”vastly more serious” in the older cities of the East than in California,  said Dr. Tsu T. Soong, a professor of civil engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo who is a researcher in earthquake-mitigation technology at the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research. First, he said, many buildings are simply older, and therefore weaker and more  vulnerable to collapse. Second, there is no seismic construction code in most of the East as there is in California, where such codes have been in place for decades.
The vulnerability is evident in many ways. ”I’m sitting here looking out my window,” said Mr. Silman, the structural engineer in New York, ”and I see a bunch of water tanks all over the place” on rooftops. ”They are not anchored down at all, and it’s very possible they would fall in an earthquake.”
 Many brownstones, he said, constructed as they are of unreinforced masonry walls with wood joists between, ”would just go like a house of cards.” Unreinforced masonry, in fact, is the single most vulnerable structure, engineers say. Such buildings are abundant, even predominant, in many older cities. The Scawthorn-Harris study reviewed inventories of all buildings in Manhattan as of 1972 and found that 28,884, or more than half, were built of unreinforced masonry. Of those, 23,064 were three to five stories high.
Buildings of reinforced masonry, reinforced concrete and steel would hold up much better, engineers say, and wooden structures are considered intrinsically tough in ordinary circumstances. The best performers, they say, would probably be skyscrapers built in the last 20 years. As Mr. Silman explained, they have been built to withstand high winds, and the same structural features that enable them to do so also help them resist an earthquake’s force. But even these new towers have not been provided with the seismic protections required in California and so are more vulnerable than similar structures on the West Coast.
Buildings in New York are not generally constructed with such seismic protections as base-isolated structures, in which the building is allowed to shift with the ground movement; or with flexible frames that absorb and distribute energy through columns and beams so that floors can flex from side to side, or with reinforced frames that help resist distortion.
”If you’re trying to make a building ductile – able to absorb energy – we’re not geared to think that way,” said Mr. Silman.
New York buildings also contain a lot of decorative stonework, which can be dislodged and turned into lethal missiles by an earthquake. In California, building codes strictly regulate such architectural details.
Manhattan does, however, have at least one mitigating factor: ”We are blessed with this bedrock island,” said Mr. Silman. ”That should work to our benefit; we don’t have shifting soils. But there are plenty of places that are problem areas, particularly the shoreline areas,” where landfills make the ground soft and unstable.
As scientists have learned more about geologic faults in the Northeast, the nation’s uniform building code – the basic, minimum code followed throughout the country – has been revised accordingly. Until recently, the code required newly constructed buildings in New York City to withstand at least 19 percent of the side-to-side seismic force that a comparable building in the seismically active areas of California must handle. Now the threshold has been raised to 25 percent.
New York City, for the first time, is moving to adopt seismic standards as part of its own building code. Local and state building codes can and do go beyond the national code. Charles M. Smith Jr., the city Building Commissioner, last spring formed a committee of scientists, engineers, architects and government officials to recommend the changes.
”They all agree that New York City should anticipate an earthquake,” Mr. Smith said. As to how big an earthquake, ”I don’t think anybody would bet on a magnitude greater than 6.5,” he said. ”I don’t know,” he added, ”that our committee will go so far as to acknowledge” the damage levels in the Scawthorn-Harris study, characterizing it as ”not without controversy.”
For the most part, neither New York nor any other Eastern city has done a detailed survey of just how individual buildings and other structures would be affected, and how or whether to modify them.
”The thing I think is needed in the East is a program to investigate all the bridges” to see how they would stand up to various magnitudes of earthquake,” said Bill Geyer, the executive vice president of the New York engineering firm of Steinman, Boynton, Gronquist and Birdsall, which is rehabilitating the cable on the Williamsburg Bridge. ”No one has gone through and done any analysis of the existing bridges.”
In general, he said, the large suspension bridges, by their nature, ”are not susceptible to the magnitude of earthquake you’d expect in the East.” But the approaches and side spans of some of them might be, he said, and only a bridge-by-bridge analysis would tell. Nor, experts say, are some elevated highways in New York designed with the flexibility and ability to accommodate motion that would enable them to withstand a big temblor.
Tunnels Vulnerable
The underground tunnels that carry travelers under the rivers into Manhattan, those that contain the subways and those that carry water, sewers and natural gas would all be vulnerable to rupture, engineers say. The Lincoln, Holland, PATH and Amtrak tunnels, for instance, go from bedrock in Manhattan to soft soil under the Hudson River to bedrock again in New Jersey, said Mark Carter, a partner in Raamot Associates, geotechnical engineers specializing in soils and foundations.
Likewise, he said, subway tunnels between Manhattan and Queens go from hard rock to soft soil to hard rock on Roosevelt Island, to soft soil again and back to rock. The boundaries between soft soil and rock are points of weakness, he said.
”These structures are old,” he said, ”and as far as I know they have not been designed for earthquake loadings.”
Even if it is possible to survey all major buildings and facilities to determine what corrections can be made, cities like New York would then face a major decision: Is it worth spending the money to modify buildings and other structures to cope with a quake that might or might not come in 100, or 200 300 years or more?
”That is a classical problem” in risk-benefit analysis, said Dr. George Lee, the acting director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Center in Buffalo. As more is learned about Eastern earthquakes, he said, it should become ”possible to talk about decision-making.” But for now, he said, ”I think it’s premature for us to consider that question.”

Israel Hits the Iranian Nuclear Horn Again

Iran's southern Bushehr nuclear power plant has been temporarily shut down over a

Suspected Iranian nuclear production plant hit by drones, Tehran claims ‘sabotage attack’

Iran’s southern Bushehr nuclear power plant has been temporarily shut down over a “technical fault” and will be reconnected to the grid and the issue will be resolved “in a few days”, the country’s atomic energy body said. (AFP/File Photo)Short Url

  • There was no immediate comment or attribution of blame from either Israel or Iran

LONDON: A drone attack on a building in Iran, thought to be a nuclear facility, has caused considerable damage, it was claimed Thursday, despite Tehran stating on Wednesday it had foiled the “sabotage” attempt on the building.

At least one small rotor-powered drone hit a factory owned by the Iran Centrifuge Technology Co. in Karaj, according to a US intelligence tip off published by the New York Times.

The factory, just outside Tehran, is believed to produce aluminium blades for use in Iran’s two uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow, UK paper The Times reported.

Israeli media also said the building had been hit in an attack, with some reports saying it had involved “several” drones.

There was no immediate comment or attribution of blame from either Israel or Iran.

The incident “left no casualties or damages and was unable to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program,” Iranian state television said, before adding that authorities were now working to identify the perpetrators.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN body that monitors Tehran’s nuclear program, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The factory was allegedly on a list of targets presented to the administration of former US President Donald Trump last year by Israel, which regards the Iranian nuclear program as a cover for developing nuclear warheads, a claim denied by Tehran.

The incident follows several sother uspected attacks targeting Iran’s nuclear program that have heightened regional tensions in recent months, amid diplomatic efforts to resurrect Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with world powers.

Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal in 2018 has seen Iran, over time, abandon all limitations on uranium enrichment. The country is now enriching uranium to 60 percent, its highest ever levels, although still short of those required to develop weapons. 

Iran has said that its nuclear ambitions are peaceful and that it will return to its commitments once the US lifts sanctions imposed after Trump withdrew from the JCPOA.

Earlier this week, Iran’s sole nuclear power plant at Bushehr underwent an unexplained temporary emergency shutdown. Authorities had warned earlier this year of the plant’s possible closure because of US sanctions that supposedly prevented Iran procuring equipment for repairs.

In April, Iran’s underground Natanz nuclear facility experienced a mysterious blackout that damaged some of its centrifuges. Last July, unexplained fires struck the advanced centrifuge assembly plant at Natanz, which authorities later also described as sabotage. Iran now is rebuilding that facility deep inside a nearby mountain.

History unlikely to forgive one of the antichrists: Revelation 13

History unlikely to forgive Donald Rumsfeld’s Iraq warmongering

Analysis: reluctance to take heed of warnings that did not fit in with his worldview continues to burden the US government two decades on

Julian Borger in WashingtonWed 30 Jun 2021 21.57 EDT

Donald Rumsfeld’s name will forever be associated with the biggest military fiasco in US history, the 2003 invasion of Iraq in pursuit of non-existent weapons of mass destruction, alongside the widespread use of torture that has dogged America’s reputation ever since.

It is not just the poor decisions he made as defence secretary for which Rumsfeld will be remembered, but also his efforts to cover up inconvenient facts that did not align with his version of reality.

Documents surfaced after the invasion that showed that Rumsfeld was quite aware of the gaping holes in the intelligence about Iraqi WMD, but he consistently presented the claims to the public as if they were cast-iron certainties.

He also played down the growing insurgency against the US-led occupation after Saddam Hussein’s fall, dismissing the collapse of law and order in Baghdad with the insouciant phrase “stuff happens”, which would go on to haunt him for the rest of his life.

His reluctance to heed warnings that did not fit in with his worldview alienated the generals and the military rank and file. His insistence there was no serious threat in Iraq contributed to the fact that the US military was driving around in lightly armoured Humvees a year after the invasion.

In November 2006, the Army Times took the unusual step of calling for his resignation.

“Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large,” an editorial said. “His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.”

When George W Bush appointed Rumsfeld secretary of defence in 2001, it was widely thought he and his fellow veteran from the Gerald Ford administration, Dick Cheney, would be a moderating influence on a callow and ideological president.

After the 9/11 attacks, however, Rumsfeld and Cheney, together with Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, emerged as radical warmongers driven by fear of worst-case scenarios with little or no basis in reality – in particular the idea that Saddam was allied with al-Qaida, had chemical and biological weapons, and was on the brink of building nuclear warheads.

Rumsfeld became famous for his philosophical musings about the distinction between “known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns”. What he did not mention was almost all the intelligence of Iraqi WMD fitted into the second and third category.

In September 2002, the intelligence director for the joint chiefs of staff reported that: “We’ve struggled to estimate the unknowns … We range from 0% to about 75% knowledge on various aspects of their program.”

“This is big,” Rumsfeld said in an appended comment on the report, but it made no impact on the certainty of his continued claims. In January 2003 he declared the Saddam “has large, unaccounted for stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, including VX, sarin, mustard gas, anthrax, botulism and possibly smallpox”.

“And he has an active program to acquire and develop nuclear weapons,” Rumsfeld said.

Frustrated by the failure of the US intelligence community to come up with reporting that confirmed his beliefs, Rumsfeld launched a parallel intelligence collection mechanism in the Pentagon that was heavily influenced by Iraqi exiles led by Ahmed Chalabi.

Those same exiles also helped convince Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Cheney that US forces would be hailed as liberators after the fall of Saddam, laying the groundwork for the establishment of Iraqi democracy. In retrospect Rumsfeld was blithely optimistic about the conflict. In November 2002, he admitted he did not know if it would take five days, five weeks or five months, while adding “it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.”

Rumsfeld began the US involvement in “enhanced interrogation techniques”, now widely recognized as including torture, with the same airy confidence. In a characteristically terse scrawl on one memo about techniques in late 2002, he asked why enforced standing should be limited to four hours while he stood at his desk for eight to 10 hours.

Another Rumsfeld legacy that continues to burden the US government two decades on is Guantánamo Bay, which he argued at the time was “the least worst place” to hold terrorist suspects and battlefield captives beyond the reach of US legal protections. Successive administrations have sought to close the prison camp which has become an embarrassment and an obstacle to getting justice for the victims of 9/11. The use of torture during detention has tainted evidence, preventing the trial of the key defendants from even starting.

In his memoir, Rumsfeld grudgingly accepted that he made “a few misstatements” in one of his assertions about Iraqi WMD sites and said he was “surprised and troubled” to learn after the fact about the lengths US interrogators had gone to. He described the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad as the darkest hour of his Pentagon career.

He presented such excesses as glitches rather than inevitable outcomes of his policies. History is unlikely to be as forgiving.

Media Outlet Hides the Fact that Hamas Killed Palestinian Children: Revelation 11

Media Outlet Hides the Fact that Hamas Killed Palestinian Children

A Guardian article (“‘I refuse to visit his grave’: the trauma of mothers caught in Israel-Gaza conflict,” June 30) focusing on the suffering of a Palestinian mother who lost her young child in the recent conflict doesn’t explicitly blame Israel for the boy’s death.

But, that would likely be the take-away for the casual reader:

Here are the opening paragraphs of the piece, written by Stefanie Glinski:

In the last month of her pregnancy, May al-Masri was preparing dinner when a rocket landed outside her home in northern Gaza, killing her one-year-old son, Yasser.

Masri had felt the explosion’s shockwave when the attack happened last month, but was largely unharmed. Running outside once the air had cleared, she found her husband severely wounded and her child’s body covered in blood.

With her husband in a West Bank hospital – and likely to be there for months to come – Masri gave birth to a healthy boy a few weeks later. However, the trauma of the attack, and the grief of her loss, have made it difficult for the 20-year-old to bond with or breastfeed her newborn baby.

May’s escalation of violence in the long-running Israel-Palestine conflict killed 256 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. Yasser was one of the 68 children killed in Gaza, according to the authorities there.

Though the word “rocket,” instead of bomb or airstrike, would indicate to the careful reader that the child’s tragic death was likely caused by a misfired projectile by a Gaza terrorist group, and not the IDF, it’s telling that the writer doesn’t inform readers anywhere in the article that this is the case.

In fact, in researching the boy in question, it seems almost certain that, although the journalist got some details wrong (his name is usually reported asYazan al-Masri, and he was 2, not 1) al-Masri, as noted on these pages, and by Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, wasindeed killed by a rocket fired by a terrorist group in Gaza.

Moreover, though a significantpercentage of the 4,360 rockets fired by terrorists in the Gaza Strip during the fighting fell inside Gaza, there’s been almost no coverage of that topic at The Guardian or other British media outlets.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the article was published on The Guardian’s “Global Development” page, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

By obfuscating Hamas’ responsibility for the death of al-Masri and other Palestinian children during the war — which is consistent with the media outlet’s broader failure to hold the extremist group responsible for their prioritization of destroying Israel over the basic social and economic needs of Palestinian residents — the primary cause of the conflict and Gaza’s under-development will continue to elude readers.

Adam Levick serves co-editor of CAMERA UK — an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), where a version of this article first appeared.

Yes, because Biden Will GIVE Iran a Nuclear Weapon

Israel's President Reuven Rivlin with US President Joe Biden at the White House. Photo Credit: Screenshot White House videoIsrael’s President Reuven Rivlin with US President Joe Biden at the White House. Photo Credit: Screenshot White House video

Biden Says Iran Will ‘Never’ Get A Nuclear Weapon On His Watch

 Al Bawaba News  0 Comments

President Joe Biden said Monday Iran would ‘never’ acquire a nuclear weapon on his watch, following repots that U.S. forces in Syria came under attack a day after the U.S. launched strikes on Iranian proxies.

‘What I can say to you Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on my watch as they say,’ Biden said in the Oval Office while meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

Biden told Rivlin the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security was ‘ironclad.’

‘We’re committed to – unwavering commitment to your self defense,’ he told the Israeli leader.

‘It’s real. It’s something that I often say: If there weren’t an Israel we’d have to invent one,’ Biden added.

He also spoke to the legal justification to U.S. strikes Sunday on Iran-backed militia groups sites in Syria and Iraq.×280&!3&btvi=2&fsb=1&xpc=nIIWr9sxI0&p=https%3A//

He said the Iran-backed forces were ‘responsible’ for recent attacks on U.S. forces, then spoke to his authority under Article II under the Constitution. 

‘I have that authority under Article II,’ Biden said.

‘Even those up on the Hill who are reluctant to acknowledge that have acknowledged that’s the case,’ he said. Biden also said he looked forward to hosting Israel’s new prime minister Naftali Bennett at the White House ‘very soon.’

Biden spoke soon after multiple rockets hit a US military base in eastern Syria on Monday, less than 24 hours after President Biden launched airstrikes on Iranian-backed militia sites. 

Coly. Wayne Morrotto, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, said: ‘At 7:44 PM local time, U.S. Forces in Syria were attacked by multiple rockets. There are no injuries and damage is being assessed.’ 

A US defense official told CNN the rockets were ‘likely’ fired by Iranian-backed militia in the area, but the origin had not been determined. 

Biden’s comments about Iran’s nuclear capability come as some experts have predicted there is now a window to proceed on the Iran nuclear deal following elections in Tehran. 

The president, 78, also inserted a comment about his own political staying power. He told Rivlin, 81: ‘I have only one regret. You’re leaving as president. But not me – not soon.’

Some of the missiles in Monday’s strike landed near US troops, according to the report. The attack took place at a site known as the ‘Green Village’ near an oil field, where 900 American troops are believed to be stationed. 

Iraq on Monday condemned overnight U.S. air strikes against Iran-backed militia groups on the Syrian-Iraqi border that killed at least seven fighters and sparked calls for revenge from Iraqi armed factions.

The second strike of Biden’s administration on pro-Iran sites sparked fears of further escalation between Tehran and Washington during faltering efforts to revive Iran’s nuclear deal. 

Two targets were attacked in Syria, with a third also bombed in Iraq. The Pentagon said multiple Iran-backed militia groups including Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS) had been hit. 

The Pentagon released video footage from the cockpit of the attack Monday morning. 

U.S. Air Force F-15 and F-16 jets  dropped 500 and 2,000-pound satellite-guided missiles during the strike on the Al Qaim region near the border, and returned to base without incident afterwards. 

At least six more fighters were wounded and the targets included an arms depot near Albu Kamal, a Syrian town which lies where the border crosses the Euphrates river, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi condemned the attack as a ‘blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty and Iraqi national security’.

‘Iraq reiterates its refusal to be an arena for settling scores,’ Kadhemi added in a statement, urging all sides to avoid any further escalation.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the Biden administration was ‘taking the wrong path’ in the region and was continuing the ‘failed legacy’ of the Trump administration.

‘Instead of emotional actions and creating tensions and problems in the region, the U.S. should change its behavior and let the regional people establish security without Washington’s interference,’ he said during his weekly news conference.

The fighters were stationed there to prevent jihadists from infiltrating Iraq, the group said in a statement, denying that they had taken part in any attacks against U.S. interests or personnel. 

The Hashed, an Iraqi paramilitary alliance that includes several Iranian proxies and has become the main power broker in Baghdad, said the strikes killed four of its fighters in the Qaim region, eight miles away from the border. 

‘We reserve the legal right to respond to these attacks and hold the perpetrators accountable on Iraqi soil,’ the Hashed said.

‘The Americans believe only in the language of force, and they and their agents must have their noses put in the mud,’ tweeted Faleh al-Khazali, an Iraqi lawmaker affiliated with the militias.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the ‘precision’ strikes had been launched at the behest of President Biden on Sunday evening. 

Kirby said the targets had been chosen because they had previously launched drone strikes against US personnel and bases in Iraq using rudimentary unmanned aerial vehicles.     

President Biden returned to the White House from Camp David on Sunday evening, and answered ‘Tomorrow’ when asked by reporters to comment on the strikes.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed the strikes were ‘a proportional response to a serious and specific threat.’

‘The Iran-backed militias utilizing these facilities have been engaged in attacks threatening US service members,’ she added. 

But Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat, said he feared the U.S. was inching towards a new war with Iran, which elected hardline president Ebrahim Raisi to power last week.

Murphy said: ‘The pace of activity directed at U.S forces and the repeated retaliatory strikes against Iranian proxy forces are starting to look like what would qualify as a pattern of hostilities under the War Powers Act.’ 

Unverified Twitter photos showed flames and smoke rising from the site of what one user claimed was a target site. 

Kirby said: ‘At President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces earlier this evening conducted defensive precision airstrikes against facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups in the Iraq-Syria border region. 

‘The targets were selected because these facilities are utilized by Iran-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq. 

‘Specifically, the U.S. strikes targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq, both of which lie close to the border between those countries. 

Kirby’s statement continued: ‘Several Iran-backed militia groups, including Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS), used these facilities.

‘As demonstrated by this evening’s strikes, President Biden has been clear that he will act to protect U.S. personnel. Given the ongoing series of attacks by Iran-backed groups targeting U.S. interests in Iraq, the President directed further military action to disrupt and deter such attacks. 

‘We are in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq for the sole purpose of assisting the Iraqi Security Forces in their efforts to defeat ISIS. The United States took necessary, appropriate, and deliberate action designed to limit the risk of escalation – but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message.

‘As a matter of international law, the United States acted pursuant to its right of self-defense. The strikes were both necessary to address the threat and appropriately limited in scope. As a matter of domestic law, the President took this action pursuant to his Article II authority to protect U.S. personnel in Iraq.’

President Biden launched his first air strikes against other Iranian-backed militias on February 25, just over a month after being sworn into office. 

Those strikes destroyed multiple buildings used by Shi’a militias along the Syrian-Iraqi border, with Kirby claiming at the time that they’d been ‘proportionate.’ 

In his own comments with Biden, Rivlin said he was ‘really delighted’ to be at the White House again, and said Israel had ‘no greater friend, ally, than the United States of America.

The Likud leader said that ‘We, according to real friendship, can from time to time discuss matters, and even agree not to agree about everything.’

The Chinese Nuclear Horn is Rapidly Expanding: Daniel 7

China Is Radically Expanding Its Nuclear Missile Silos

With more weapons likely, it’s time to go back to arms talks.

By Jeffrey Lewis

JUNE 30, 2021, 4:08 PM

I’ve had a strange week.

For the past couple of months, a rumor has been going around Washington that China might be dramatically expanding its arsenal of nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that can strike the United States. I had heard that rumor and so had many of my colleagues.

According to a report released by the U.S. Defense Department last September, China had about 100 of those missiles but was expected to double that number in the coming years.

Hearing that rumor, I decided that it would be worth taking a look. Last year, I hired a talented young scholar, Decker Eveleth, as a summer nonproliferation fellow and asked him to map out the order of battle for the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force, which controls China’s land-based nuclear-armed missiles.

I contacted Decker and suggested he take a look. China has previously built a number of different missile silos at a training area near Jilantai in Inner Mongolia. Decker decided to look for similar structures in remote areas of China. I arranged for him to access satellite images taken by Planet. And off he went.

Holy crap.

As the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, in the desert of China’s Gansu province, outside a small city called Yumen, Decker found a large number of structures that were identical to the ones housing missile silos at Jilantai. But while Jilantai has only 16 of each structure—which I lovingly call a Bouncy House of Death because it appears to be an inflatable structure—the site near Yumen has nearly 120. (Specifically, 119 by Decker’s last count. We’re counting again.) These silos are probably for China’s newest nuclear-armed missile, the DF-41.

Given that China has a force of only about 100 ICBMs, seeing another 100 or so silos under construction was jaw-dropping.

The site itself is enormous—more than 700 square miles. There are the silos. There are also underground bunkers being built that may function as launch centers, with trenches carrying cables to 10 different silo launchers. There are roads and a small military base. The scale of construction is startling, and China broke ground on the site only a few months ago, in February.

ICBM Silo Construction in Yumen, China

As seen on June 28. Inset is a similar structure at the Jilantai missile training area.

Now, it is important to say that 120 silos does not, necessarily, mean 120 new missiles. Silos are a strange choice because they are easy to find and can be targeted by modern missiles that are very accurate. One solution to that vulnerability is to build more silos than missiles. This is what the United States planned to do with the MX missile in the 1970s—to build 23 silos for every one MX missile, shuttling the missiles among them to force the Soviets to target them all. The plan later changed to horizontal storage, but silos were definitely considered. This scheme was called, charmingly, the “shell game.”

We know China considered adopting a similar plan of its own for its first silo-based missiles in the 1980s before choosing to build a small number of decoy silos. And the layout of the Chinese site strongly resembles the layout that the United States planned for the shell game, although construction is far from finished at the site.

The U.S. president can clarify his belief in “sole purpose” through a new review process.ARGUMENT ADAM MOUNT

So while it might seem that 120 silos means 120 missiles, it could very easily be 12. We just don’t know. And even if China were to deploy only a handful of missiles, its forces could over time grow into the silos.

Yet whether the number is 12 or 120, this is an alarming development. As I have written before, we are in the midst of an arms race with Russia and China. Sure, the number of nuclear weapons is down from its Cold War peak. We no longer have tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. But U.S. numbers today are quite comparable to those during the Cuban missile crisis, when the United States had 3,500 nuclear weapons. And the Soviets, with 300-500 nuclear weapons in 1962, had far fewer than Russia does today. China, with a few hundred weapons today, is not far behind. There were enough nuclear weapons then to be afraid. And there are enough today to worry about, too.

The lesson of the Cuban missile crisis was a counterintuitive and initially unpopular idea: arms control. We didn’t like the Soviets, and we certainly didn’t trust them. But we also shared one very important interest: We did not want to die in a nuclear war and needed each other’s help to avoid that.

Possible Launch Control Facility in Yumen, China

A cut-and-cover underground facility under construction on June 29. Ten trenches are visible in satellite imagery, each leading to a single silo launch site.

So why are we insisting on relearning this lesson the hard way? Why have we allowed the bilateral arms control process to stagnate? And why have we been unable to entice China to join negotiations?

Russia and China have consistently made clear that they are not interested in significant arms control without real limitations on U.S. missile defenses. Both countries have made clear that, in large part, their nuclear modernizations are organized around the task of creating a survivable retaliatory force that can’t be wiped out by some combination of U.S. offensive systems, backed up by defenses to mop up any survivors. Neither country is willing to limit or abandon the systems it is developing without a corresponding limit on the U.S. defenses they are designed to defeat.

Of course, Russia and China have gone about this task in different ways. For Russia, the search for survivable, retaliatory forces has led it to test exotic, science fiction-like systems like nuclear-powered cruise missiles and doomsday torpedoes. For China, it means increasing the number of nuclear weapons that can reach the United States, including the missiles sitting in those silos in the Chinese desert.

I know what many people are going to say. Limiting missile defenses is impossible! Republicans will never agree to it! A treaty limiting missile defenses would be dead on arrival in the Senate! It’s true. Limiting missile defenses looks politically impossible.

Yet just because limiting defenses is politically impossible, that doesn’t make doing so any less necessary. There are all sorts of problems, from climate change to school shootings, that we know how to solve but choose not to because what is necessary is also too hard. We’ve decided it would be impossible or because Republicans would never agree to it or it would be dead on arrival in the Senate.

We can choose to do that with nuclear weapons, too. We can decide that the arms race is just too hard and just try to muddle through. We can wait to learn our lesson, as policymakers did after the Cuban missile crisis. Or never at all, as we did after Sandy Hook. It’s up to us.