While nowhere near to the extent of the West Coast, damaging earthquakes can and do affect much of the eastern half of the country.
For example, across the Tennesse River Valley lies the New Madrid Fault Line. While much smaller in size than those found farther west, the fault has managed to produce several earthquakes over magnitude 7.0 in the last couple hundred years.
In 1886, an estimated magnitude 7.0 struck Charleston, South Carolina along a previously unknown seismic zone. Nearly the entire town had to be rebuilt.
The eastern half of the U.S. has its own set of vulnerabilities from earthquakes.
These older rocks have had much more time to bond together with other rocks under the tremendous pressure of Earth’s crust. This allows seismic energy to transfer between rocks more efficiently during an earthquake, causing the shaking to be felt much further.
This is why, during the latest quake in North Carolina, impacts were felt not just across the state, but reports of shaking came as far as Atlanta, Georgia, nearly 300 miles away.
Reports of shaking from different earthquakes of similar magnitude.
When a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck Virginia in 2011, not only were numerous historical monuments in Washington, D.C. damaged, shaking was reported up and down the East Coast with tremors even reported in Canada.
There is no way to accurately predict when or where an earthquake may strike.
Some quakes will have a smaller earthquake precede the primary one. This is called a foreshock.
The problem is though, it’s difficult to say whether the foreshock is in fact a foreshock and not the primary earthquake. Only time will tell the difference.
The United State Geological Survey (USGS) is experimenting with early warning detection systems in the West Coast.
While this system cannot predict earthquakes before they occur, they can provide warning up to tens of seconds in advance that shaking is imminent. This could provide just enough time to find a secure location before the tremors begin.
Much like hurricanes, tornadoes, or snowstorms, earthquakes are a natural occuring phenomenon that we can prepare for.
The USGS provides an abundance of resources on how to best stay safe when the earth starts to quake.
Sadr’s Sairoon Alliance won 73 seats in parliament in early parliamentary elections
Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said Sunday he will not allow foreign interference in the formation of Iraq’s new government.
In a statement, al-Sadr said the new Iraqi government will seek to bolster relations with neighboring countries “that did not meddle in Iraq’s internal affairs.”
He said the Iraqi government will “open high-level dialogue with countries that interfere in Iraqi affairs to prevent such interference.”
“Iraq will not meddle in the affairs of the neighboring countries and Iraqi territories will not be used as a base for harming them, especially those countries that respect Iraq’s sovereignty,” al-Sadr said.
Al-Sadr’s Sairoon Alliance won this month’s early parliamentary elections, taking 73 seats in the 329-member parliament, followed by the Sunni Taqaddum (progress) bloc of Parliament Speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi with 38 seats, and the State of Law bloc led by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with 34 seats.
Since the end of the Cold War, major powers across the globe made huge efforts to reduce their nuclear arsenals in efforts to ensure the world is safer from weapons of mass destruction that could wipe out entire cities.
But now, those countries including the UK have entered a new arms race, with growing stockpiles of more advanced weapons and smarter technology allowing missiles to evade defence systems, all of which experts fear could lead to a nuclear war.
“We’re in a new, multipolar nuclear arms and strategic technologies race, including the rush to weaponise space,” Lyndon Burford, a visiting research associate in the Centre for Science and Security Studies at King’s College London, told i.
He said there were multiple new risk factors, with technologies such as artificial intelligence and increasing political instability in major nuclear-armed countries.
“That could lead to nuclear war, with devastating global humanitarian, economic and ecological effects,” Dr Burford warned.
The nuclear arms race has accelerated in recent years, with the US, Russia, North Korea and China testing nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles which can potentially evade early warning systems and are harder to track.
Last month, the US and UK announced they will help Australia build a new fleet of nuclear submarines, as part of a trilateral alliance known as Aukus to counteract the influence of China.
It prompted warnings from the UN’s nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Aukus may spark off another race for nuclear submarines by other states, and that a team has been established to explore the deal’s safety and legal implications.
Matt Korda, a senior research associate for the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), told i that campaigns to modernise weapons were driven by a “global competitive environment that is being embraced by all of these nuclear arms states”.The nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine Knyaz Vladimir, or Prince Vladimir (Photo: Lev Fedoseyev/Getty)
“It’s classic arms race behaviour, states are improving their own capabilities and then their competitors are responding to those improvements by developing systems to offset those advantages, and then the other states have to exceed those capabilities,” he said.
Dr Korda said the main driving force behind the recent nuclear missile tests was countries reacting to changing threat perceptions around them. “They’re trying to build new systems to offset their vulnerabilities,” he added.
Dr Korda argued that the arms race has shown how the military theory of mutually assured destruction (MAD), in which a nuclear attack by one superpower would be met with an overwhelming nuclear counter-attack, thus acting as a deterrent to nuclear warfare, has been thrown out the window.
If nuclear states are building their way to invulnerability, for example with hypersonic missiles that are specifically designed to change course during flight and evade defence shields, this goes against the MAD theory that aims to keep mutual vulnerability between nations.
People in Seoul, South Korea, watch a news programme reporting North Korea’s missile launch earlier this week (Photo: Lee Jin-man/AP)
“It’s pretty concerning,” Dr Korda said. “It seems a lot of states are expanding the role of nuclear weapons in their doctrine to include an emphasis on nuclear war fighting.”
He said it was “baffling” that the US Air Force lieutenant general Thomas Bussiere, deputy commander of the US Strategic Command, which oversees the nuclear arsenal, said China will soon surpass Russia as the top nuclear threat to the US.
“Not least because of the several thousand warhead disparity between Russia and China – Russia has roughly equivalent numbers to the US, around 5,000 or 6,000, meanwhile China’s number is in the mid-300s.”
The UK’s Integrated Review into the future of the country’s foreign, defence and security policy, published in March, states that Russia will “remain the most acute direct threat to the UK”.
Mr Korda said the review also contained a “subtle threat” against Iran, which does not have nuclear weapons but has been enriching uranium. After stating that the “UK will not use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons 1968,” the review adds: “This assurance does not apply to any state in material breach of those non-proliferation obligations”.
Even as the pandemic devastated lives and economies around the world, the world’s nine nuclear states continued to increase spending on such weapons to a total of $72.6bn in 2020, an increase of $1.4bn from the previous year.
“This is a massive drain on public resources globally and a massive threat,” Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) told i.
“The very dangerous thing is that nuclear strategies have moved beyond the idea that we’d never use them, that they only exist as a deterrent. Now so-called ‘usable nukes’ are being developed and use postures outlined.”
She said the rise of China is perceived by western powers as a threat to its economic supremacy. “China is a global power economically in terms of its economic strength and capacity to aid the development of other countries, it’s not a global military power.CND activists hold a die-in protest at HMNB Clyde, home the Navy’s fleet of nuclear submarines (Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty)
“The US identifies China as a threat to its pre-eminence. What we are seeing now is the intensification of US militarisation in the Pacific.
“I assume that with the kind of build up against them, having not wanted to go into massive military spending, China will be doing more because of this intensification of activity by other great powers in what can essentially be seen as their backyard.”
Earlier this year, world-renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough told the UN Security Council that climate change is “the biggest threat to security that modern humans have ever faced”, and few major powers would disagree with him.
Consequently, experts have called into question the reasons why nuclear-armed states are spending billions on weapons they are saying will never be used.
“The enmity created by nations threatening each other with indiscriminate, mid-20thcentury weapons of mass destruction prevents development of global solidarity and trust we so desperately need to address critical 21st century challenges like the climate crisis and pandemics,” said Dr Burford
China tested two hypersonic “space nukes” earlier this year that demonstrated technology the US is struggling to understand.
Frank Chung@franks_chung6 min readOctober 23, 2021 – 7:16AMNews host Catherine McGregor says China “continues to behave in an ominous fashion” as reports emerge of a hypersonic missile test. Ms McGregor said there have been warnings of the “grave dangers” of attacks between the United States and China over Taiwan and they “will inevitably involve Australia”. “My view has always been that appeasement will guarantee military action against Taiwan by China,” she said. “While on the other hand, closer cooperation with regional partners such as India, Japan and South Korea may preserve the existing order or some semblance of peace.” Ms McGregor said the recently announced AUKUS treaty has “generated animated discussion in Australia and predictable ham-fisted abuse from Beijing” as it brings the US, United Kingdom, and Australian armies closer. “But military cooperation is only as useful as the will and capabilities of the partners,” she said.
The Financial Times first reported over the weekend that China had tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic glide vehicle in August which had circled the globe in low-orbit space before landing, missing its target by about 40km.
The paper has now clarified that China actually launched two such tests, in July and August, with the first test said to have stunned US intelligence officials at the Pentagon because it demonstrated a brand new weapons capability.null
“One person said government scientists were struggling to understand the capability, which the US does not currently possess, adding that China’s achievement appeared ‘to defy the laws of physics’,” the Financial Times reported.
China has denied the reports, saying the launches were routine spacecraft tests.
Hypersonic missiles, like traditional ballistic missiles, can fly more than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5).
But they are more manoeuvrable than their ballistic counterparts and can trace a low trajectory in the atmosphere, making them harder to defend against.
US missile defence systems are designed to target the fixed parabolic trajectory of traditional intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which launch up and down like a cannonball.
China appears to have taken the technology one step further by first launching a rocket carrying the hypersonic glide vehicle in low orbit. The glide vehicle then separates from the rocket and manoeuvres towards its target.
The rocket system is known as fractional orbital bombardment, a technology originally developed by the Soviet Union in the 1960s but later abandoned – “fractional” because it was not designed to go into a full orbit of the Earth.
‘Global strikes from space’
The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday reported that US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall appeared to allude to China’s new hypersonic missile in a September 20 speech, saying Beijing was developing the capability to launch “global strikes from space”.
“There is a potential for weapons to be launched into space, then go through this old concept from the Cold War called the fractional orbital bombardment system … which is a system that basically goes into orbit and then de-orbits to a target,” Mr Kendall said.
Experts have cautioned that the new tech is outmatched by China’s existing nuclear arsenal. China is thought to have several hundred warheads and has been building silos for ICBMs.
The US nuclear stockpile stood at 3750 as of September 2020, down from 3805 a year earlier, the State Department revealed earlier this month in a reversal of the Trump administration policy to keep those numbers secret.
“ICBMs carrying nuclear weapons remain extraordinarily capable and threatening weapons of mass destruction that are very difficult to defend against,” Michael Shoebridge, director of defence, strategy and national security at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said earlier this week.
“US ballistic missile defences are not deployed or scaled to counter China’s existing nuclear weapon capabilities. US missile defence warning systems and counter measures are designed to complicate ballistic missile launches against the US, though, so there is a foundation to expand if a decision was taken to counter growing Chinese capabilities.”
Mr Shoebridge said other launch approaches and warhead delivery systems such as fractional orbital bombardment systems combined with hypersonic glide vehicles would “very likely be detectable, but defence systems would need to be directed to the different challenges of these alternative means of attack”.
US tests hypersonic missile
The US, China and Russia are all developing hypersonic missile technology.
On Thursday, the US Navy said it had successfully tested a hypersonic missile the previous day at a NASA facility in Wallops, Virginia describing it as a “vital step in the development of a Navy-designed common hypersonic missile”.
“This test demonstrated advanced hypersonic technologies, capabilities, and prototype systems in a realistic operating environment,” the Navy said in a statement.
In 2019, China unveiled a hypersonic medium-range missile, the DF-17, which can travel around 2000km and can carry nuclear warheads.
Russia recently launched a hypersonic missile, the Zircon, from a submarine, and since late 2019 has had the hypersonic nuclear-capable Avangard missiles in service. The Avangard can travel at up to Mach 27, changing course and altitude.
The Pentagon hopes to deploy its first hypersonic weapons by 2025 and has said their development is one of its “highest priorities”.
The Financial Times’ revelation over the weekend sparked a global debate about China’s rapid weapons development.
On Sunday, the Chinese Communist Party’s Global Times mouthpiece, without confirming the reports, editorialised that the news had delivered a fresh blow to the United States’ “strategic superiority”, and warned China’s takeover of Taiwan was inevitable.
Ambassador Robert Wood, US permanent representative to the Conference on Disarmament, expressed concern following the reports.
“We are very concerned by what China has been doing on the hypersonic front,” Mr Wood told AFP.
He said Russia also had hypersonic technology and while the United States had held back from developing a military capacity in this field, it now had no choice but to respond in kind.
“If you’re a country that’s the target of that, you’re going to want to figure out a way to defend yourself from that,” he said.
“And so we start looking at what other applications and defensive applications can you bring to hypersonic technology — and so that continues to things to accelerate the arms race.”
‘Major national security event’
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Tuesday requested a briefing from defence and intelligence officials, saying if the reports were accurate then it was a “military game-changing event that the United States simply cannot ignore”.
“I consider China’s actions a major national security event,” he wrote in a letter to Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and minority leader Mitch McConnell.
“At the surface, there seems to be two options for us as a legislative body. We can attempt to convince China to stand down to avoid a nuclear arms race, which is unlikely, or we can decide to make the required investments needed to neutralise the advantage that a hypersonic nuclear-capable missile would provide to China.”
Admiral Charles Richard, the head of US Strategic Command who oversees the country’s nuclear weapons, told the military newspaper Stars and Stripes earlier this week that China’s nuclear capability was advancing at breathtaking pace.
“It almost seems like we can’t go through a month without some new revelation coming about China,” he said. “I am not surprised at reports like this. I won’t be surprised when another report comes next month.”
The US has not officially confirmed the intelligence reports about China’s missile tests.
But on Wednesday, President Joe Biden responded “yes” when asked if he was worried about the threat of hypersonic weapons, and State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US was “deeply concerned” at China’s nuclear capabilities, including its development of “novel delivery systems”.
China denies nuclear arms race
On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian was asked about the Financial Times report. He described it as a “routine test of spacecraft to verify technology of spacecrafts’ reusability”.
Mr Zhao said the test was “of great significance to reducing the cost of using spacecraft and providing a convenient and cheap way for mankind’s two-way transportation in the peaceful use of space”.
“Several companies around the world have conducted similar tests,” he said.
“After separating from the spacecraft before its return, the supporting devices will burn up when it’s falling in the atmosphere and the debris will fall into the high seas. China will work with other countries in the world for the peaceful use of space for the benefit of mankind.”
The following day, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin took aim at comments from US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin accusing China of increasing tensions in the region through its advanced weapons development.
Mr Austin warned that the militarisation of hypersonic technology by China and Russia would intensify the arms race.
“China will never be engaged in nuclear arms race with any country,” Mr Wang said.
“The sole aim of China’s development of necessary military capabilities is to safeguard its legitimate security interests. China’s growth strengthens the force for world peace. No country will be threatened by China’s national defence capability as long as it does not intend to threaten or undermine China’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.”
Tweeting in English, Hebrew, Arabic and Persian, Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, commented on reports last week that Israel has approved a budget of some NIS 5 billion ($1.5 billion) to be used to prepare the military for a potential strike against Iran’s nuclear program.
“Instead of allocating 1.5 billion dollars budget for atrocities against #Iran, the Zionist regime should focus on providing tens of thousands of billion dollars funding to repair the damage that is going to be caused by Iran’s shocking response,” said Shamkhani in his English tweet. The Hebrew tweet bore the same message.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz appeared before the Knesset’s powerful Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday to justify the government’s requested budget increase for the military, warning that the additional funds are necessary in order to prepare for a potential strike on Iran’s nuclear program.
Gantz’s appearance came a day after television reports said the government planned to allocate NIS 5 billion ($1.5 billion) for such an attack on Iran, with NIS 2 billion ($620 million) coming from the 2022 defense budget and the rest coming from the current budget.
This summer, the government announced that it had agreed on a NIS 58 billion ($17.5 billion) defense budget for 2022, an increase from the previous defense budget, which was set in 2019 and has remained in force as the governments since then failed to pass a new one.null
Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks at an event launching a Knesset caucus dedicated to the Abraham Accords, in Jerusalem, October 11, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Amid efforts to resume talks between Tehran and world powers about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal, Liberman said that “no diplomatic process or agreement will stop Iran’s nuclear program.” According to the Yisrael Beytenu party chief, Iran is a bigger problem for Israel than for the rest of the international community, “because they have stated that their policy is the destruction of Israel, and they mean it.”
If it fails to do so, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid this month that “every option” will be on the table — an apparent escalation in rhetoric after Biden told Bennett in August that Washington was willing to consider “other options” if the nuclear deal cannot be revived.
On Saturday, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said the watchdog’s monitoring program in Iran was no longer “intact” after Tehran refused to allow the repair of IAEA surveillance equipment damaged in a June attack on an Iranian nuclear site that has been blamed on Israel.
The drone attack in June reportedly hit the Iran Centrifuge Technology Company, or TESA, in the city of Karaj, northwest of Tehran. According to a report by the IAEA, the blast destroyed one of its cameras at the site and heavily damaged another. It is unknown how many cameras are there.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said in an interview with NBC News that Iran cited its ongoing investigation into the attack in refusing the United Nations watchdog access to the site or the ability to replace the damaged cameras. Grossi told the network that without that access, the IAEA’s monitoring and verification program in Iran was “no longer intact.”null
“It hasn’t paralyzed what we are doing there, but [the] damage that has been done, [it has the] potential of us not being able to reconstruct the picture” of what the Iranians have been doing at the site,” he said.
Last month, Iran acknowledged that it had removed several damaged surveillance cameras installed by the IAEA at the Karaj site. In July, Iran accused Israel of mounting the sabotage attack on the site, which makes components for machines used to enrich uranium. Without disclosing details of the assault, Iranian authorities acknowledged the strike had damaged the building.
The attack on Karaj was the latest in a series of suspected assaults targeting Iran’s nuclear program that have heightened regional hostilities in recent months, as world powers attempt to salvage the now-collapsed nuclear deal. Israel is widely believed to have carried out the sabotage, though it has not claimed responsibility.
Describing Iraq’s neighbors as “friends” and “brothers,” Sadr categorized them into those who have interfered in the past and those who have not.
For “countries that have clearly interfered in Iraq’s political, security and other matters,” Sadr said he will “open talks with them at a high level to put an end to their interference. If they respond to us, then we will welcome them, if not, we will resort to diplomatic and international means.”
He also said they will increase security along the borders and at airports and threatened to “decrease our economic transactions” and to limit diplomatic relations with anyone who infringes Iraqi sovereignty.
He said Iraq respects the sovereignty of its neighbours – Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, Syria, and Turkey – and expects the same in return.
With countries that have not meddled in Baghdad’s affairs, Sadr said he will “try to improve our relations with them and work to discover joint projects on security, economy, cultural, health, educational and industrial levels, and exchange expertise.”
“We will activate diplomatic channels with each other,” he said.
The electoral commission is reviewing complaints and finalizing the vote count and Sadr warned outside parties against interfering in the process. He said he will not allow “any country to meddle in Iraq’s elections affairs, its results and implications, the formation of coalitions and entities, the formation of the government and other related issues.”
Iranian-backed parties that lost seats have rejected the results and are staging a sit-in in Baghdad. The supporters of parties allied with militia groups have demanded the head of the UN mission in Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, be replaced, alleging she “interfered” with the election result. At their sit-in, near the capital’s Green Zone that houses government and diplomatic offices, protesters stepped on a portrait of Hennis-Plasschaert as well as American and Israeli flags laid out on the ground
FILE PHOTO: A girl wearing a protective face mask and the headband of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) looks on during a rally to show solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Maher Al-Akhras, who is held by Israel, in Gaza City October 12, 2020. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem reuters_tickers
Israel’s defence ministry said the groups had ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP), a left-wing faction with an armed wing that has carried out deadly attacks against Israelis.
The groups include Palestinian human rights organisations Addameer and Al-Haq, which document alleged rights violations by both Israel and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank.
“(The) declared organizations received large sums of money from European countries and international organizations, using a variety of forgery and deceit,” the defence ministry said, alleging that the money had supported PFLP’s activities.
The designations authorise Israeli authorities to close the groups’ offices, seize their assets and arrest their staff in the West Bank, watchdogs Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said in a joint statement.
Addameer and another of the groups, Defense for Children International – Palestine, rejected the accusations as an “attempt to eliminate Palestinian civil society.”
“Counter-terrorism legislation must not be used to constrain legitimate human rights and humanitarian work,” it said, adding that some of the reasons given appeared vague or irrelevant.
“These designations are the latest development in a long stigmatizing campaign against these and other organizations, damaging their ability to deliver on their crucial work,” it said.
Israel’s ally the United States was not given advance warning of the move and would engage Israel for more information about the basis for the designations, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters.
“We believe respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and a strong civil society are critically important to responsible and responsive governance,” he said.
But Israel’s defence ministry said: “Those organizations present themselves as acting for humanitarian purposes; however, they serve as a cover for the ‘Popular Front’ promotion and financing.”
An official with the PFLP, which is on United States and European Union terrorism blacklists, did not outright reject ties to the six groups but said they maintain relations with civil society organisations across the West Bank and Gaza.
“It is part of the rough battle Israel is launching against the Palestinian people and against civil society groups, in order to exhaust them,” PFLP official Kayed Al-Ghoul said.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said the “decision is an alarming escalation that threatens to shut down the work of Palestine’s most prominent civil society organizations.”
Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians seek the territories for a future state.
(Reporting by Rami Ayyub in Tel Aviv; Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah, Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza and Stephen Farrell in Jerusalem; Editing by William Maclean and Mark Porter)