What caused the earthquake felt near Baltimore last week? Researchers said the earthquake last week is very important to helping them understand the Earth. The 2011 earthquake in Virginia, which caused significant damage in Baltimore and felt as far away as New York, was a magnitude 5.8, about 30,000 times bigger than the 2.6 magnitude in Baltimore County on Friday.
H I SuttonAugust 31, 2021 4:28 PM
The Russian Navy continues to develop how it intends to deploy its latest strategic weapon – a bus-sized torpedo tipped with a nuclear warhead.
The Poseidon weapon, described in U.S. Navy documents as an Intercontinental Nuclear-Powered Nuclear-Armed Autonomous Torpedo, will require new bases and facilities and new images, which gives hints as to where and how the Russian Navy could use the new weapons.
Satellite images from Maxar taken earlier this month and provided to USNI News confirm that a special purpose ship, Akademik Aleksandrov, is using the facility. And the vessel appears to have a Poseidon round, or related surrogate load, aboard.
The facility is on the Northern shore of the Northern Dvina River on the edge White Sea. Work on the new quay started in 2018 and was substantially completed in 2020. Akademik Aleksandrov has been observed there in July and August. There is also a large building that was recently built adjacent to the new quay and may also be related to Poseidon operations. This specific quay appears directly connected to Poseidon testing activities, according to the imagery.
Severodvinsk is where many of Russia’s most advanced submarines are built and is already closely associated with Poseidon. The ships and specialist submarines involved in early tests have been based there. The submarine Sarov(B-90) was launched in 2007 and appears purpose-built for testing oversized torpedoes such as Poseidon. It is based just along the river.
Poseidon represents a new category of strategic weapons and changes the shape of the nuclear threat. Although the specifications of the system are obscured by secrecy, guesstimates and misinformation, the new weapon is expected to run extremely deep and fast, based on suppositions from the design.
The system will be carried by a fleet of new host submarines designed to field the submarines. The first of these, K-329 Belgorod, is currently based just across the river from the new pier. The submarine is undergoing sea trials and is currently rigged for sonar calibration. A second Poseidon-carrying submarine, Khabarovsk, is under construction nearby. Ultimately four Poseidon submarines are expected to be built, with operational patrols starting in the coming years.
Observation of facilities such as the new quay will build a picture of the Russian Navy’s new capabilities. It also shows the massive cost of the program, requiring new support infrastructure and an array of test ships and submarines.
Wednesday, 1 September, 2021 – 05:30
Baghdad – Asharq Al-Awsat
Iraqi political sources have revealed more details of the “reform document” that political powers have vowed to implement in exchange for influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to participate in next month’s elections.
Sadr announced last week that he would be taking part in the elections, reversing a decision to sit them out.
Asharq Al-Awsat received a copy of the document that Sadr agreed to. His associates clarified that the copy Sadr had signed is named the “national document” and it is an updated version of a document that was reported by the media.
The most significant condition in the 16-point document is the stipulation to amend the constitution after the elections are held.
The updated copy underscores the “political parties and their parliamentary blocs’ commitment” to implement its points within the set deadlines.
The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Sadr had listed ten articles, which were not included in the document, with the aim of amending the constitution.
The first article of the document includes the commitment of all blocs in the upcoming parliament to amend the constitution according to its set mechanism and through a parliamentary committee that would be formed to that end. The amendment must take place within six months of the parliament holding its first meeting.
Two sources from Sadr’s Sairoon coalition and another from the Fatah alliance said the cleric had demanded constitutional amendments related to the mechanism to fight the possession of arms outside state authority. He also tackled consolidating the independence of military institutions and addressed amendments related to armed factions that are backed financially and politically by foreign sides.
The sources also revealed amendments related to public freedoms, especially those related to peaceful protests and rallies.
A source in the Fatah alliance, however, said discussions over a constitutional amendment will spark widespread debate that would include all Iraqi parties.
It will be no easy task, he added.
Days after Sadr announced his participation in the elections, a number of government and partisan officials sent out signals over the need to amend the constitution.
President Barham Salih on Monday said: “The current constitution cannot govern the current Iraq. Amending it is unavoidable.”
Israel Lets Building Goods into Gaza, Easing Postwar Closure
Tuesday, 31 August, 2021 – 18:30
Israel allowed dozens of truckloads of construction materials into the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, easing a tight blockade it has maintained on the Hamas-ruled territory since an 11-day war last May.
The imports came during a tense period in which Hamas activists have launched incendiary balloons into Israel, sparking a number of wildfires across the border, and staged a series of sometimes violent demonstrations along the separation fence with Israel.
An Israeli soldier who was shot by a protester on Aug. 21 died of his wounds on Monday. Two Palestinians, including a 12-year-old boy and a Hamas militant, have also been killed from Israeli gunfire.
Despite the tensions, Israeli officials this week allowed the entry of the badly needed building materials for Gaza’s private sector in a step that may help calm the situation.
Bassam Ghabin, director of the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing, said that 30 truckloads of cement, 120 trucks of gravel and 15 trucks of steel entered Gaza on Tuesday. He said the materials began entering on Monday, and that the crossing was operating almost at the same capacity as before the war.
An Israeli security official, speaking on condition of anonymity under policy guidelines, confirmed that building materials had entered Gaza. He had no specific details, but said they came under previously announced government decisions.
In recent weeks, COGAT, the Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian issues, said it was planning to allow more goods into Gaza if the security situation stabilized. Last week, it said it would “expand the entry of goods and equipment for international civilian projects in the Gaza Strip.”
Israel has maintained a tight blockade over Gaza since Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007, a year after winning a Palestinian election. Israel says the blockade is needed to keep Hamas, a militant group sworn to Israel’s destruction, from rearming, while critics say the closure amounts to collective punishment. The blockade, which restricts the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza, has devastated Gaza’s economy.
Israel and Hamas have fought four wars since 2008, and Israel has tightened the blockade since the latest fighting in May. Thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed, and construction goods are badly needed.
Later on Tuesday, Hamas activists planned another nighttime demonstration along the Israeli border to call for a lifting of the blockade.
Egyptian mediators have been trying to broker a longer-term ceasefire. But Israel has demanded the return of the remains of two dead Israeli soldiers and freedom of two Israeli civilians in Hamas captivity.
Gisha, an Israeli human rights group that has pushed for an end to the closure, called Tuesday’s move “crucial but insufficient, especially given the scope of the damage in Gaza, as well as Israel’s legal and moral obligations towards residents of the strip.”
“The situation in Gaza is not simply a humanitarian crisis that can be managed via narrow humanitarian gestures,” Gisha said. “Any meaningful attempt at resolving this dire situation requires much more expansive opening of the strip, underpinned by a broader political process.”
Fourteen Palestinians wounded as Israel continues to use excessive force on demonstrators near the perimeter fence in Gaza
News and Press Release Source
Posted 31 Aug 2021 Originally published 31 Aug 2021 Origin View original
Last week: According to Al Mezan’s field reporting, on Wednesday evening, 25 August 2021, hundreds of Palestinians resumed protests near the perimeter fence in Khan Younis to call for an end to the unlawful Israeli closure and blockade of the Gaza Strip. While most of the protesters remained around 300 meters from the fence on Palestinian territory, some reportedly approached it. The Israeli soldiers, who were behind and on top of sand dunes overlooking the crowd, fired both live and rubber-coated bullets, as well as tear gas canisters at protesters.
Fourteen Palestinians, including a child, were wounded, with five of them suffering gunshot wounds and another seven being directly hit with tear gas canisters, as in the case of photojournalist Taha Rafaat Baker, 32, who was covering the demonstration. Some who inhaled the tear gas also suffered from suffocation and fainting and were treated by medics on-site.
Earlier on Saturday, a similar demonstration at the fence left at least 41 Palestinians wounded. One of the injured, Usama Khaled Deij, 31, died of his wounds on Wednesday, according to a statement by Gaza’s Ministry of Health.
Al Mezan strongly condemns Israel’s use of excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force against Palestinian protesters who did not pose an imminent threat. This conduct constitutes a serious violation of international law, in particular of Israel’s human rights obligations within law enforcement.
The international community must urgently intervene to protect civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory who are demonstrating against the routine violation of their rights and must pressure Israel to immediately lift its unlawful closure of Gaza. The individuals suspected of committing the most serious crimes of concern must be investigated and prosecuted to ensure full accountability for the unlawful conduct of the Israeli military.
SEOUL, South Korea
North Korea appears to have restarted the operation of its main nuclear reactor used to produce weapons fuels, the U.N. atomic agency said, as the North openly threatens to enlarge its nuclear arsenal amid long-dormant nuclear diplomacy with the United States.
The annual report by the International Atomic Energy Agency refers to a 5-megawatt reactor at the North’s main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang. The reactor produces plutonium, one of the two key ingredients used to build nuclear weapons along with highly enriched uranium.
“Since early July 2021, there have been indications, including the discharge of cooling water, consistent with the operation of the reactor,” said the IAEA report dated Friday.
The report said there were indications of the operation of Yongbyon’s radiochemical laboratory from mid-February to early July this year. It said this period of operation is consistent with previous reprocessing campaigns announced by North Korea of irradiated fuel discharged from the reactor. The laboratory is a facility where plutonium is extracted by reprocessing spent fuel rods removed from reactors.
“(North Korea’s) nuclear activities continue to be a cause for serious concern. Furthermore, the new indications of the operation of the 5-megawatt reactor and the radiochemical laboratory are deeply troubling,” the IAEA said.
The IAEA has not had access to Yongbyon or other locations in North Korea since the country kicked out IAEA inspectors in 2009. The agency said it uses satellite imagery and open source information to monitor developments in North Korea’s nuclear program.
The Yongbyon complex also produces highly enriched uranium, the other key nuclear fuel. The IAEA report said “there were indications, for a period of time, that the reported centrifuge enrichment facility was not in operation” though regular vehicular movements were observed.
The complex, which North Korea calls “the heart” of its nuclear program and research, has been at the center of international concerns for decades. It’s not clear exactly how much weapons-grade plutonium or highly enriched uranium has been produced at Yongbyon and where North Korea stores it.
In early 2019, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offered to dismantle the entire complex if he won extensive sanctions relief during a summit with then-President Donald Trump. But the Americans rejected Kim’s offer because it would only be a partial surrender of his nuclear capability.
North Korea is believed to be running multiple other covet uranium enrichment facilities. According to a South Korean estimate in 2018, North Korea might already have manufactured 20-60 nuclear weapons as well.
In recent months, North Korea has warned it would expand its nuclear program if the United States doesn’t withdraw its “hostile” policy on the North, in an apparent reference to U.S.-led sanctions and regular U.S.-South Korean military drills. Earlier this month, Kim’s powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, said North Korea would bolster “absolute deterrence” to cope with intensifying U.S. threats.
Lee Jong-joo, spokesperson of South Korea’s Unification Ministry, said Monday that South Korea was closely monitoring North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities along with the United States. But she declined to comment on whether Seoul was seeing signs that the North was reactivating its nuclear facilities.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the Biden administration was aware of the report and closely coordinating with allies and partners.
“This report underscores the urgent need for dialogue and diplomacy so we can achieve the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” she said. “We continue to seek dialogue with (North Korea) so we can address this reported activity and the full range of issues related to denuclearization.”
Taliban victory increases risk terrorists will seize Pakistan and its nuclear weapons, John Bolton says
John Bolton was a military advisor to President George W Bush when the decision to invade Afghanistan was taken.
As National Security Advisor two years ago he clashed with then President Donald Trump over his decision to strike a deal with the Taliban.
Mr Bolton spoke to Jon Snow about the impact of the Taliban victory in Afghanistan and why the 20-year campaign in the region ended in defeat for the American-led coalition.
JB: Well, I think a couple of things have gone wrong. Number one, I think we lost sight of the fact that the main reason for being in Afghanistan was forward defence of the United States and its allies to make sure the Taliban didn’t resume control and once again offer sanctuary to al-Qaeda or similar terrorist groups. In my mind, it was never a mission to nation-build in Afghanistan, to bring democracy, to centralise the government or anything like that, although I think that’s what it became and we became a part of an Afghan civil war. But that was never our strategic mission. And I think loss of that and an unwillingness of America’s leadership to explain what the real strategic reason was left people with the feeling this was a long and futile struggle that we’ve now abandoned.
JS: If this was a long and futile struggle simply because America failed to explain what it was doing, that really does seem to be the most extraordinary situation.
JB: I think there were successive American presidents, I think three in a row, Obama, Trump and Biden, who didn’t understand that we weren’t engaged in a charity exercise in Afghanistan. I don’t wish anything but the best for the Afghan people, and they’re not going to get it now, but we were there defending our strategic interests and we’ve now given that up. We’ve potentially put ourselves back to where we were before 9/11. And that’s just the consequence in Afghanistan. I think the larger global consequences of how adversaries like China and Russia read this withdrawal are going to be even worse.
JS: How long should America have stayed? How long?
JB: How long do we want to be safe from terrorist attacks? How long were we prepared to stand the watch in Europe and the Far East against communism? For 45 years we stood the watch in Europe and we prevailed. This was 20 years. You need to have patience to do that. You need to have leaders who explain the reasons for it. And we did not have that here.
JS: In those 45 years, you could see real progress year-by-year. In the 20 years, you have never seen year-by-year progress in Afghanistan. There has been trouble from the outset and a failure, surely, to understand how this thing could play.
JB: I think there were mistakes made. I have alluded to a few of them. But the key point was not the security of Afghanistan. The key point was the security of America. And we were totally victorious there for 20 years.
JS: How serious is this defeat for America?
JB: Well, I think the global implications are very serious. I think Russia and China make the mistake of seeing a continuum between Trump and Biden. I think they’re actually two very different things, each mistaken in their own way, but they don’t reflect where the American people are. I think Moscow and Beijing will draw the wrong conclusions. They will see a weak and retreating America, and I think we will all suffer the consequences. The most immediate in Afghanistan would be a return of Taliban or ISIS.
JS: Meantime, we are left with Pakistan and Pakistan has been radicalised by this war. And it’s very difficult to see how that too is going to be challenged.
JB: Pakistan was not radicalised by this war. Pakistan radicalised Afghanistan by arming Mujahideen in the struggle against the Soviet Union and by backing the Taliban, their notion of giving them strategic depth against India. But your conclusion is correct in the sense that ISI, the intelligence services in Pakistan, and others throughout the military are increasingly radicalised. And Taliban control in Afghanistan, I think, increases the risk that Pakistan itself will fall to terrorists and put that nuclear arsenal in terrorist hands. That to me was one of the key reasons not to withdraw American forces.
JS: Finally, how do you see Afghanistan unfolding?
JB: Well, I think you have to look at history as the experience, you have to look right now at the people who know the situation best, and that’s the people of Afghanistan. They’re scared to death about the prospects of Taliban rule. We should be worried about al-Qaeda and ISIS, (and) other terrorist groups taking root there and threatening us. I think we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.
Riots along the Gaza border have reignited tensions in southern Israel over the last two weeks.
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi said on Monday that the IDF will “not hesitate” to enter another round of fighting in Gaza if violence along the border continues.
In a ceremony held on Monday in honor of the arrival of the new INS “Victory” warship to the Israel Navy, Kohavi noted IDF had already begun preparing for another operation when Operation Guardian of the Walls ended in May.
“We have improved and are continuing to improve our capabilities in the Gaza Strip, as well as our operational activities,” said the Chief of Staff.
“If peace isn’t restored in the south we will not hesitate to enter another round,” warned Kohavi. “If it’s needed, I know the navy is prepared to take a central role, as it successfully took in Operation Guardian of the Walls,” Kohavi added.
Kohavi went on to address Palestinians, stating their “reality could be completely different and their quality of life can considerably improve.”
“But that will not happen while terror attacks of any kind continue,” Kohavi noted. “Peace and security will allow for an improvement of civil conditions but disturbances and terror will lead to a sharp response or an operation,” he concluded.
IDF opened fire at Palestinian youths who approached the security fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel near Khan Yunis on Monday, according to Palestinian media.
Gaza Health Ministry reported six Palestinians were injured from live fire, tear gas and shrapnels during border clashes with the IDF on Monday.On Sunday evening, hundreds of Palestinians rioted at the north Gaza-Israel border on Sunday evening, burning tires and throwing explosives, according to the IDF.
Some 18 Palestinians were wounded, none seriously, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
Incendiary balloons were launched from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, hours after the IDF struck targets in the Gaza Strip late Monday night.
On Saturday, August 21, hundreds of Gazans armed with various weapons, including explosive devices, marched on the Israel-Gaza perimeter fence and engaged with Israeli security forces.
Border policeman St.-Sgt. Barel Shmueli was critically injured from gunshot wounds inflicted on him by a Palestinian gunman during the Saturday riots.
Shmueli died on Monday, following a week of hospitalization and several surgeries and operations in attempt to save the border policeman’s life.
Security forces used rubber bullets and tear gas during the clashes. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry reported that over 41 Palestinians were injured in the engagements.
The IDF has accused Hamas of organizing the riots and has laid responsibility on the Gazan terrorist organization. More riots are reportedly planned by Gaza’s militant groups.
At a time when the Western, Arab and Asian worlds are watching the astonishing repercussions in Afghanistan and the horrific images from Kabul International Airport, some may overlook the events of the same gravity that’s taking place in Iran, the western neighbor of Afghanistan.
What about the Iranian nuclear program, and where are we going with that, and how will this affect Iran’s neighbors in all directions — east, west, south and north?
Earlier this year, the European members of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) had expressed grave concerns about Iran’s enrichment of uranium. They said Iran had no credible civilian need to enrich uranium, for this was a “key step in developing a nuclear weapon.”
Yes, this was in the past. But the most recent thing was the confirmation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Tuesday that Iran continues to enrich uranium, which can be used in the production of a nuclear bomb.
In a report issued by the United Nation’s atomic watchdog in Vienna to member nations, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said that IAEA inspectors had confirmed last Saturday that Iran had now produced 200 grams of uranium enriched up to 20 percent.
Enrichment of uranium metal is prohibited under the nuclear deal, known as JCPOA, which is meant to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb. The 2015 deal promised Iran economic incentives in exchange for limits on its nuclear program.
Put all this together with the warnings of France, Germany and other Western parties, about the imminence of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon then there is a new hot spot. Amid this scenario, we even do not know whether this has not already happened or not.
Decisive measures are required to counter this even if there is no possibility of the Iranian regime’s using this weapon or just tampering with it and diverting the nuclear weapon into just another blackmail card on the table.
This has been the case with the Iranian regime, which has been creating cards every day for negotiations as was evident in the case of the Houthis in Yemen, the Hashd Alshaabi in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and later perhaps by the Pakistani and Afghan Shiite militias, Zainabiboun and Fatemiyoun, that is created by Iran and trained in Syria.
Things are inseparable from each other, and everyone knows what happened and is happening these days with the eastern neighbor of Iran, and we know perfectly who the new rulers are.
The image is not hidden from a sane person, but imagine how this was lost by the West, led by a Biden Washington that abandoned the region, as the pictures of his army in Kabul told those scenes that will remain immortal in modern history.
Imagine this chaos and recklessness in dealing with our region and with a nuclear Iran, which is already dangerous even without a nuclear weapon. So how dangerous it would be after possessing one?
— This article was originally published in Asharq al-Awsat.