The quake was relatively shallow, at a depth of just over 3 miles, and nearly two dozen people noted feeling it in the USGS’s reporting system. The shaking was categorized as “moderate,” with the expectation of only very light damage.
Earthquakes are not necessarily unusual in the state; Wednesday’s temblor was the fourth in the last 12 months, per government data.
According to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, New Jersey is actually considered overdue for a moderate earthquake, much like the magnitude 5.5 quake that hit in 1884.Copyright NBC New York
An explosion in a market in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Thursday killed one person and injured 10.
The explosion in the Al-Zawiya area caused the collapse of parts of a house and damaged dozens of buildings and shops, said the Palestinian interior ministry as reported by the AP. The cause of the blast is unknown.
The Israel Defense Forces called the explosion an “internal” matter. The blast occurred on the third day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
The World Bank had estimated that reconstruction in Gaza, following the 11-day conflict in mid-May that Hamas instigated by launching rockets into Israel, would cost $485 million.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday that while Israel wants to see a peaceful and prosperous Gaza Strip, the Hamas terror organization that rules it seeks the opposite.
Growing geopolitical rivalries will continue to drive the development of hypersonic and other lethal weapons systems.
Russia has reportedly conducted a successful test launch of a hypersonic cruise missile. Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this week that the new hypersonic missile, Tsirkon (Zircon) was “part of a new generation of missile systems without equal in the world.” The Russian defense ministry in a statement said that the missile was fired from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate in the White Sea and hit a ground target located on the coast of the Barents Sea, more than 350 kilometers away, with the missile travelling at seven times the speed of sound.
The ministry said that “the tactical and technical characteristics of the Tsirkon missile were confirmed during the tests.” Russia plans to equip its submarines and surface ships with these missiles in the coming years. Even as there are questions about hypersonic missile technology, experts acknowledge that “the combination of speed, maneuverability, and altitude of hypersonic missiles makes them difficult to track and intercept.”
According to one report, given the speed at which they travel, “the air pressure in front of the weapon forms a plasma cloud as it moves, absorbing radio waves and making it practically invisible to active radar systems.” In addition, the reaction time of even the advanced Aegis-class system is too slow to be able to intercept such missiles. Experts estimate that “it would take fewer than a half-dozen of those missiles to sink even the most advanced American aircraft carrier, such as the USS Gerald R. Ford.”
In 2018, Putin announced that Russia was developing a series of hypersonic weapons including the Avangard that “could hit almost any point in the world and evade a U.S.-built missile shield.” In 2019, he threatened to use hypersonic missiles to target the U.S. directly if Washington deployed intermediate-range missiles in Europe, after the Trump administration withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Although the U.S. has not yet deployed such missiles in Europe, Russia continues to worry about possible deployments in the future. The U.S. claims that it withdrew from the INF treaty because of Russian cheating.
Putin has boasted of developing many weapon systems, including the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles and Burevestnik cruise missile, that could evade U.S. missile defense systems. The Zircon missile itself has been tested many times and in October 2020, commenting on one of those tests, Putin claimed that it is a “great event not just in the life of our armed forces but for all of Russia.”
Some of Russia’s hypersonic missiles are already claimed to be deployed with its armed forces. According to Russian media reports, the government has “deployed two interceptor jets capable of carrying the hyped Kinzhal hypersonic missile for war games in Syria.” Russia’s defense ministry is quoted in the same report as saying that “a pair of MiG-31K aircraft with the ability to use the latest hypersonic missiles from the Kinzhal complex flew from Russian airfields to the Russian airbase Khmeimim in Syria for exercises.”
Russia is not alone in these efforts. China has been making consistent efforts at developing hypersonic weapons. In 2019, at the military parade on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, China showcased the DF-17 missile for the first time. Even though the U.S. has known about the DF-17 prototype for close to a decade, Mike Griffin, the U.S. undersecretary for research and engineering at the Department of Defense, in 2018 revealed that China had done “20 times as many hypersonic weapons tests as has the United States over the last decade.” Like Russia, China’s pursuit of hypersonic missiles appears to have been spurred by U.S. missile defense developments, which could potentially neutralize the traditional ballistic missiles that Russia and China possess.
Reacting to Russia’s latest test, NATO in a statement said that it “create[s] a greater risk of escalation and miscalculation.” It added that “Russia’s new hypersonic missiles are highly destabilizing and pose significant risks to security and stability across the Euro-Atlantic area.” The statement also said that the NATO allies remain “committed to respond in measured way to Russia’s growing array of conventional and nuclear-capable missiles,” but clarified that it will not undertake efforts to “mirror what Russia does, but we will maintain credible deterrence and defense, to protect our nations.”
Growing geopolitical rivalries will continue to drive the development of hypersonic and other lethal weapon systems. With the U.S., Russia, and China all pursuing these technologies, it has already given way to a spiraling arms race. Countries like India and Australia have had to respond as well, albeit at different levels. Authors
Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan
Dr. Rajeswari (Raji) Pillai Rajagopalan is the Director of the Centre for Security, Strategy & Technology (CSST) at the Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.
WASHINGTON : China is building up its offensive air capabilities far faster than US military planners expected in their national defence strategy three years ago, an Air Force General said on Wednesday.
In a US Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Planning and Programs Lt. Gen. David Nahom told Congress said, “The threat is accelerating much more than we thought back in 2018,”
Speaking on the issue of Navy and Air Force weapons systems divestments, Nahom said that China was pushing ahead as fast as it could to expand its military power including air combat capabilities.
“China’s actions show a sense of urgency, they see a future that is different from the one that we would want to see and they are taking action to realise that future,” Nahom said.
The US Air Force has said it plans to divest more than 200 aircraft with its fiscal 2022 budget request. According to the US Air Force, they wish to use the cuts to free up USD 1.3 billion to reinvest in their sixth-generation fighter, hypersonic weapons and other emerging technologies.
Earlier this month, the United States had expressed concern about China’s accelerated build-up of its nuclear arsenal after a Washington Post report revealed that Beijing has been constructing more than 100 new missile silos in a desert area located in the western part of the country.
“These reports and other developments suggest that the PRC’s (China) nuclear arsenal will grow more quickly and to a higher level than perhaps previously anticipated,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said when asked about reports that Beijing is building more than 100 nuclear missile silos.
“This build-up is concerning and it raises questions about the PRC’s intents.”
The spokesperson stressed that China’s nuclear buildup reinforces the need for arms control measures and urged Beijing to work together on arms control in order to avoid arms races.
Ties between the US and China continue to deteriorate under the Biden administration and both global powers have clashed over several economic and human rights issues.
Here’s What You Need to Know: Experts believe the country’s nuclear stockpile is steadily growing.
Sandwiched between Iran, China, India and Afghanistan, Pakistan lives in a complicated neighborhood with a variety of security issues. One of the nine known states known to have nuclear weapons, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and doctrine are continually evolving to match perceived threats. A nuclear power for decades, Pakistan is now attempting to construct a nuclear triad of its own, making its nuclear arsenal resilient and capable of devastating retaliatory strikes.
Pakistan’s nuclear program goes back to the 1950s, during the early days of its rivalry with India. President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto famously said in 1965, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”
The program became a higher priority after the country’s 1971 defeat at the hands of India, which caused East Pakistan to break away and become Bangladesh. Experts believe the humiliating loss of territory, much more than reports that India was pursuing nuclear weapons, accelerated the Pakistani nuclear program. India tested its first bomb, codenamed “Smiling Buddha,” in May 1974, putting the subcontinent on the road to nuclearization.
Pakistan began the process of accumulating the necessary fuel for nuclear weapons, enriched uranium and plutonium. The country was particularly helped by one A. Q. Khan, a metallurgist working in the West who returned to his home country in 1975 with centrifuge designs and business contacts necessary to begin the enrichment process. Pakistan’s program was assisted by European countries and a clandestine equipment-acquisition program designed to do an end run on nonproliferation efforts. Outside countries eventually dropped out as the true purpose of the program became clear, but the clandestine effort continued.
Exactly when Pakistan had completed its first nuclear device is murky. Former president Benazir Bhutto, Zulfikar Bhutto’s daughter, claimed that her father told her the first device was ready by 1977. A member of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission said design of the bomb was completed in 1978 and the bomb was “cold tested”—stopping short of an actual explosion—in 1983.
Benazir Bhutto later claimed that Pakistan’s bombs were stored disassembled until 1998, when India tested six bombs in a span of three days. Nearly three weeks later, Pakistan conducted a similar rapid-fire testing schedule, setting off five bombs in a single day and a sixth bomb three days later. The first device, estimated at twenty-five to thirty kilotons, may have been a boosted uranium device. The second was estimated at twelve kilotons, and the next three as sub-kiloton devices.
The sixth and final device appears to have also been a twelve-kiloton bomb that was detonated at a different testing range; a U.S. Air Force “Constant Phoenix” nuclear-detection aircraft reportedly detected plutonium afterward. Since Pakistan had been working on a uranium bomb and North Korea—which shared or purchased research with Pakistan through the A. Q. Khan network—had been working on a uranium bomb, some outside observers concluded the sixth test was actually a North Korean test, detonated elsewhere to conceal North Korea’s involvement although. There is no consensus on this conclusion.
Pakistani nuclear weapons are under control of the military’s Strategic Plans Division, and are primarily stored in Punjab Province, far from the northwest frontier and the Taliban. Ten thousand Pakistani troops and intelligence personnel from the SPD guard the weapons. Pakistan claims that the weapons are only armed by the appropriate code at the last moment, preventing a “rogue nuke” scenario.
Pakistani nuclear doctrine appears to be to deter what it considers an economically, politically and militarily stronger India. The nuclear standoff is exacerbated by the traditional animosity between the two countries, the several wars the two countries have fought, and events such as the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, which were directed by Pakistan. Unlike neighboring India and China, Pakistan does not have a “no first use” doctrine, and reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, particularly low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, to offset India’s advantage in conventional forces.
Pakistan currently has a nuclear “triad” of nuclear delivery systems based on land, in the air and at sea. Islamabad is believed to have modified American-built F-16A fighters and possibly French-made Mirage fighters to deliver nuclear bombs by 1995. Since the fighters would have to penetrate India’s air defense network to deliver their payloads against cities and other targets, Pakistani aircraft would likely be deliver tactical nuclear weapons against battlefield targets.
Land-based delivery systems are in the form of missiles, with many designs based on or influenced by Chinese and North Korean designs. The Hatf series of mobile missiles includes the solid-fueled Hatf-III (180 miles), solid-fueled Hatf-IV (466 miles) and liquid-fueled Hatf V, (766 miles). The CSIS Missile Threat Initiative believes that as of 2014, Hatf VI (1242 miles) is likely in service. Pakistan is also developing a Shaheen III intermediate-range missile capable of striking targets out to 1708 miles, in order to strike the Nicobar and Andaman Islands.
The sea component of Pakistan’s nuclear force consists of the Babur class of cruise missiles. The latest version, Babur-2, looks like most modern cruise missiles, with a bullet-like shape, a cluster of four tiny tail wings and two stubby main wings, all powered by a turbofan or turbojet engine. The cruise missile has a range of 434 miles. Instead of GPS guidance, which could be disabled regionally by the U.S. government, Babur-2 uses older Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) and Digital Scene Matching and Area Co-relation (DSMAC) navigation technology. Babur-2 is deployed on both land and at sea on ships, where they would be more difficult to neutralize. A submarine-launched version, Babur-3, was tested in January 2017 and would be the most survivable of all Pakistani nuclear delivery systems.
Pakistan is clearly developing a robust nuclear capability that can not only deter but fight a nuclear war. It is also dealing with internal security issues that could threaten the integrity of its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan and India are clearly in the midst of a nuclear arms race that could, in relative terms, lead to absurdly high nuclear stockpiles reminiscent of the Cold War. It is clear that an arms-control agreement for the subcontinent is desperately needed.
Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009, he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.
THERE are fears WW3 could be closer than previously thought after China boasts that the US would have “no chance” of stopping an invasion of Taiwan.
Du Wenlong, a military expert at China’s Military Culture Society, said US efforts to stall a potential military invasion of the island would end in failure.
Asked if a potential military strike on Taiwan could be thwarted by the US, Wenlong said his country’s forces would arrive on the island “in a very short amount of time”, effectively giving American troops “no chance to intervene in a Taiwan Strait conflict”.
The warning comes as tensions rise in the seas around China where the US and Japan are reported to have been holding joint military exercises.
The US also recently signed a $2.2bn (£1.8bn) weapons deal with Taipei to beef up its defences, angering Beijing, and has vowed to continue its freedom of navigation tours in the South China Sea.
In response, China is holding a mammoth six-day war games drill some 135 nautical miles north of Taiwan.
China considers the island as one of its own and has previously vowed to invade if it the self-governing statelet declared independence.
Wenlong told China’s state-controlled broadcaster CCTV that “before US forces arrive, we will have completed all our combat tasks” in the event of an invasion.
“The current drills a short distance away [from Taiwan] could be considered a routine exercise, but I think they’re specially targeted [at Taiwan],” Wenlong continued.
He said the exercises were a “serious warning” to Taiwan to stop military engagements with the US.
President Xi Jinping has pledged a “complete reunification” with Taiwan when he delivered a speech to mark 100 years of the Chinese Communist party.
The war of words continued on Monday when China threatened to nuke Japan if it intervened in any such conflict.
The communist republic said that it would declare “full-scale war” against Japan – mere days before the Olympics are set to kick off in Tokyo – if the Taiwan disagreement escalates.
Any invasion would represent a serious escalation of hostilities and could drag in the US through its pact to defend Taiwan.
Washington’s regional allies such as South Korea, Japan and Australia could also be sucked into a conflict as would Nato forces such as the UK because the US is a member of the alliance.
But a video channel, allegedly approved by the Chinese Communist Party with close ties to the People’s Liberation Army, took the anger to the next level.
In the new video now deleted, a narrator said: “We will use nuclear bombs first. We will use nuclear bombs continuously.
“We will do this until Japan declares unconditional surrender for the second time.”
“When we liberate Taiwan, if Japan dares to intervene by force – even if it only deploys one soldier, one plane or one ship – we will not only return fire but also wage full-scale war against Japan itself.”
Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso said his troops would “defend Taiwan, under our alliance with the US”.
WAR OF WORDS
The latest military drills comes as the US continues to conduct freedom of navigation operations in the region.
Last week, China claims it “drove away” a US warship that “illegally” entered disputed waters as its military accused Joe Biden of “provocative actions”.
The USS Benfold entered contested waters in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands on Monday – which Beijing claims as its territory.
The southern theatre of command of the People’s Liberation Army says the destroyer entered the area without China’s approval, violating its sovereignty and undermining the stability of the South China Sea.
“We urge the United States to immediately stop such provocative actions,” it said in a statement.
It comes five years after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled that China had no historic claim over the South China Sea – which Beijing said it would ignore.
The islands are claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam, which require either permission or advance notification before a military vessel passes through.
OPERATION INVADE TAIWAN
An article in China’s state-controlled publication has offered a glimpse of a terrifying three-stage plan to invade Taiwan.
The first stage would see DF-16 short-range ballistic missile attacks pulverising airports, early warning radar, anti-air missile bases, and command centres across the island.
The article states: “The attacks against Taiwan’s airports would continue until [Chinese] surface troops had accomplished an assault landing.”
Following this China’s H-6 bombers and J-16 fighter jets would attack naval ports, although the facilities would not be “completely destroyed” so the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) could use them for a landing.
In the second stage, the article states YJ-91 and CJ-10 cruise missiles would be unleashed from land, warships and submarines.
Military bases, ammunition depots, communications infrastructure and key road junctions would be crippled.
Drones would then be dispatched to assess the damage.
Last week, powerful Shia figurehead Muqtada al-Sadr announced his withdrawal from the upcoming October elections in Iraq.
“I inform you that I will not be participating in the elections. For the nation is more important than all of that,” al-Sadr said last Thursday.
“Do not sell your homeland [to the corrupt] at any price, it is more valuable than anything else,” Sadr added, in a televised speech aired on local Iraqi media.
“The Sadrists run the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Electricity and both sectors have corruption, so his announcement was to clean up his movement”
Al-Sadr’s withdrawal from politics came three days after a deadly fire tore through a hospital in Iraq’s southern city of Nasiriyah.
At least 62 people were killed, 30 were wounded, and 32 are still missing following the blaze at a Covid-19 unit at the hospital, according to Iraq’s Independent High Commission for Human Rights.
Iraq’s High Electoral Commission (IHEC) has rejected al-Sadr’s withdrawal from the legislative elections, reaffirming that the vote will be held as scheduled despite attempts to postpone it.
Dhia al-Hindi, a Karbala-based political activist and a member of the Imtidad Movement, told The New Arab that al-Sadr’s withdrawal came after a series of failings by the health and electricity ministries, both run by Sadrist ministers.
“Sadr’s withdrawal is irreversible. And of course, that means all Sadrist candidates will be out of October’s elections unless some unexpected developments happen to make Sadr come back,” al-Hindi said.
The Imtidad Movement was officially founded in February 2021 as part of a host of new Iraqi political partiespioneering anti-sectarian sentiments and inclusive Iraqi nationalism. All of its members were part of the 2019 October revolution that railed against corruption and rocked the country’s ruling elites.
“I hope we are going to fill the gap that Sadr has left. As well as having an independent candidate we do not have any affiliation with Iran-backed parties or US-supported parties, that helps us to reform a new political bloodline in the upcoming government,” al-Hindi said.
In the 2018 election, al-Sadr’sSairoon bloc won 54 of the parliament’s 329 seats, becoming the largest party.
“Muqtada al-Sadr withdrew from the next election just in the media, but nothing is official,” Ahmed Sameer, a 35-year-old Basra-based resident told The New Arab.
“The Sadrists run the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Electricity and both sectors have corruption, so his announcement was to clean up his movement after getting a bad reputation since they won the majority of parliament seats,” he added.
“I will never vote for anyone in the next elections, we all hope that Iraq will be ruled by a good person but unfortunately all of them have an affiliation to outside [powers], mostly supported by Iran-backed wings,” said Sameer.
“Al-Sadr’s announcement to be outside of the next government was to send a message to all political parties that the political process will collapse if the Sadrist movement withdraws from it”
He added: “The government, with or without al-Sadr, will do nothing in favour of the people, they work in their own favour, they have run Iraq for more than 18 years. What will they bring to us? They bring us poverty, crime, corruption, and zero services”.
For political analyst and activist Ghanim al-Abid, Sadr’s withdrawal leaves many unanswered questions as to his motivations.
“The Sadrist movement’s withdrawal from the early elections has raised many question marks, considering that the Sadrist movement was keen to hold the elections on time,” he told The New Arab.
In the past, the movement had warned against postponing early elections as it was convinced it would win the premiership due to a loyal following of millions, unlike other Shia parties, according to al-Abid.
“But al-Sadr’s announcement to be outside of the next government was to send a message to all political parties that the political process will collapse if the Sadrist movement withdraws from it,” al-Abid said.
“The message was sent to their opponents such as Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, who have armed disputes with them, and for other parties who are loyal to Khamenei,” he added.
“I think Sadr will come back from his decision and participate in the election, but I am sure the election date will be postponed to next April 2022”.
“The government, with or without al-Sadr, will do nothing in favour of the people, they work in their own favour”
“When the election date comes, the Sadrists will put pressure on their leader to go back on his decision, and he will agree to be active in the election, so nothing changes,” Hussein Munir, a 28-year-old Baghdad-based resident said.
“I decided to support the new candidates who were protesting to get our rights, but I am concerned that they will reunite with other parties who were part of the previous government,” Munir added.
“We have no patience to lose more years waiting for a good character to run Iraq, we will choose the good candidates that we hope will build back Iraq to its position as it was in the 1970s,” Munir said.
Azhar Al-Rubaie is a freelance journalist based in Iraq. His writing focuses on a variety of issues, including politics, health, society, wars, and human rights.