Fault lines left over from the creation of the Appalachian Mountains can still lead to earthquakes locally, and many faults remain undetected. According to the USGS, few, if any, earthquakes in New England can be linked to named faults.
While earthquakes in New England are generally much weaker compared to those on defined fault lines, their reach is still impressive. Sunday’s 3.6 was felt in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Hampshire.
USGS Community Internet Intensity Map
While M 3.6 earthquakes rarely cause damage, some minor cracks were reported on social media from the shaking.
According to the USGS, moderately damaging earthquakes strike somewhere in the region every few decades, and smaller earthquakes are felt roughly twice a year.
Putin ‘did not back down’ on call with Biden: Martha Raddatz
On “This Week,” Martha Raddatz and Amba…The Associated Press
MOSCOW — Russia sent a pair of nuclear-capable long-range bombers to patrol the skies over Belarus on Saturday, a mission intended to underline close defense ties between the two allies amid tensions with the West.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the two Tu-22M3 strategic strike bombers practiced “performing joint tasks with the Belarusian air force and air defense.” Su-30 fighter jets that Russia has supplied to Belarus escorted the bombers.
Saturday’s four-hour patrol marked Russia’s third such mission in Belarus since last month and took place amid Western concerns over a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine’s border.
Moscow has denied harboring plans to invade Ukraine and pressed the United States for security guarantees that would exclude NATO expanding into Ukraine or deploying weapons there. The U.S. and its allies are almost certain to reject Moscow’s demands.
Some Ukrainian officials have voiced concern that Russia may use Belarus as a base for attacking their country from the north. Amid his own tensions with the European Union, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said last month that his country would be ready to host Russian nuclear weapons.
The European Union has accused the authoritarian Lukashenko of encouraging migrants and refugees to use his country as a backdoor to illegally enter neighboring EU member nations Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. The EU imposed sanctions on Lukashenko’s government for its crackdown on internal dissent after Lukashenko’s disputed 2020 reelection.
The Belarusian leader wouldn’t elaborate on what kind of Russian weapons Belarus would be willing to accommodate, but noted that the ex-Soviet nation has carefully preserved the necessary military infrastructure dating back to the time of the USSR.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has described Lukashenko’s offer as a “serious warning prompted by reckless Western policy.”
Belarus’ top diplomat, Vladimir Makei, seconded Lukashenko’s statement in an interview released Saturday. He said Belarus could agree to host nuclear weapons as part of its response to possible NATO activities in Poland.
Echoing Russian concerns about growing ties between Ukraine and NATO, Makei said the Western military alliance was Ukraine into a “bridgehead against Russia.”
Swarnim Vijay Varsh was celebrated throughout 2021 to mark 50 years of India’s victory against Pakistan in the 1971 war. The three services commemorated their successes: the Indian Air Force’s achievement of complete air superiority, its extensive disruption of Pak energy and transportation, and the foiling of its planned ‘Tikka offensive’; the Indian Navy’s blockade of Karachi seaport that crippled trade, and the Indian Army’s march that compelled a surrender at Dhaka. At the same time, it is important to acknowledge that such an extensive use of force in a future war between the two may no longer be possible. Nuclear weapons in both countries have changed the bilateral equation.
1971 left a scar on the Pakistani military’s psyche. Soon after the end of operations, the then Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who had long been inclined towards the acquisition of nuclear weapons, moved resolutely to acquire them. Nuclear weapons came to be perceived as a security imperative: a ‘strategic equaliser’ to address the conventional asymmetry with India, and a shield to avert the risk of conventional war, even as Islamabad indulged in acts of terrorism. These twin objectives have sustained as Pakistan continues to wage a proxy war against India with a network of terrorist organisations that it trains, equips, and supports. In Pakistan’s perception, however, the deniability of such actions frees the country from responsibility. Meanwhile, projecting a low nuclear threshold protects Pakistan against the possibility of a conventional conflict.
Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons has changed India’s calculus of the use of force. Despite its conventional superiority, New Delhi must customise the application of military instruments in a way that can effectively punish, but without causing a nuclear-armed Pakistan to feel the need to use its nuclear weapons. This is where the difference lies between the war that was waged in 1971 and one which will not be possible today, at least not without raising the risk of nuclear use. So, even as India’s military capabilities have grown, their ‘safe’ employment has necessitated new thinking.
This changed reality first became evident in Kargil in 1999. The shadow of nuclear weapons tempered India’s response in choosing self-imposed constraints on the application of force. Operation Parakam further exposed the limits of coercive diplomacy with a nuclear-armed adversary and the perils of a large-scale offensive under new circumstances. The 2001-02 episode forced India to look for novel conventional responses that could be meaningfully executed between two nuclear-armed countries without running the risk of nuclear escalation. India demonstrated innovative use of military instruments in 2016 and 2019.
The successful surgical strikes in 2016 illustrated the efficacy of using a sharper tool against a nuclear-armed adversary, rather than the blunt edge of full mobilisation. Rapid entry into and exit from enemy territory signalled India’s ability to hurt terrorists and their supporters by hitting out at will, thereby denting the Pakistani Army’s image and credibility.
Another arrow in India’s quiver was used on 26 February 2019, when IAF aircraft flew across the international boundary into Pakistan to target a terrorist camp in Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in response to the attack on paramilitary forces on 14 February 2019. This was the first use of air power between the two since 1971. In doing so, India rewrote the template on the use of force, opening new possibilities of retaliation. Air action trashed the assumption that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons had tied India’s hands on responding to Pakistani provocations. It also exposed Pakistani nuclear strategy’s lack of credibility, which rests on projecting the inevitability of the use of ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons in response to Indian military action.
From India’s experience of conflicts with Pakistan pre- and post-nuclearisation, it is clear that conventional war in the presence of nuclear weapons will be a challenging proposition involving the re-thinking of politico-military objectives and operations. The pursuit of traditional war aims such as territorial occupation and blitzkrieg for fast-paced attrition would be ineffectual to address an adversary’s use of terrorism. It would also unnecessarily heighten Pakistan’s sense of existential crisis, increasing the temptation to use nuclear weapons—thus raising the dangers to itself. The focus, therefore, must remain on choosing a military instrument that can deliver the right dose of punishment while minimising chances of escalation.
With this realisation, it is also important to re-prioritise future military acquisitions to include capabilities that can offer high calibration potential. As seen in Uri and Balakot, the use of Special Forces and air power offered the advantages of secrecy and surprise, flexibility of employment and quick disengagement, calibration of force to minimise collateral damage, and a relatively lower risk of escalation. In fact, they even offered Pakistan the option to deny that such action had taken place at all, thus freeing itself of the burden of response.
To successfully defeat and deter Pakistan’s strategy of continued use of terrorism to bleed India, the Indian military has to alter its style of application of conventional force. The more options military planners can find to fit these new circumstances, the greater the chance of success in forcing a change in Pakistan’s behaviour. These actions will be required repeatedly since raising costs cannot be a one-action exercise. The objective will have to be the denying cross-border terrorism as a low-cost strategy for Rawalpindi. So, even in 2021’s nuclearised environment, the use of force is possible—it will only have to be applied differently than how it was done in 1971.
*Dr Manpreet Sethi is Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS), New Delhi.
The United States estimates the amount of time Iran needs to churn out enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb is now “very short,” a Biden administration official said Friday.
The official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, did not specify the exact length of time Iran needs to produce enough material for a nuclear weapon. Estimates have put the breakout time at several months.
The official also called the new assessment of the Islamic Republic’s breakout time “alarming.”
The remarks came as Western powers reported some progress in talks to save the landmark Iran nuclear deal, but European diplomats warned that they were “rapidly reaching the end of the road.”
In a blow to European mediators, Iran requested a new pause in the talks in Vienna, which aim to bring the United States back into the 2015 agreement and roll back nuclear activities. The Islamic Republic publicly stepped up its nuclear projects after the US withdrawal from the deal.
The talks had just resumed in late November after a five-month break following the election of a new hardline government in Iran.
Underlying Western concerns are fears that Iran will soon have made enough progress that the 2015 accord — under which it was promised economic relief in return for drastic curbs on its nuclear work — will be obsolete.Advertisement
Enrique Mora, the EU official chairing the talks, called for a “sense of urgency” and for talks to resume before the end of the year.
Former US president Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018 and imposed sweeping sanctions including a unilateral US ban on Iran’s oil sales, vowing to bring the US adversary to its knees.
US President Joe Biden supports a return to the agreement negotiated by predecessor Barack Obama, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but has been frustrated by the pace of resurrection efforts.
“It’s not going well in the sense that we do not yet have a pathway back into the JCPOA,” Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, said of the talks.
“We are paying the wages of the disastrous decision to leave the deal back in 2018,” he said.Advertisement
But Sullivan, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, said recent days “have brought some progress at the bargaining table.”
Another US official said the latest round was “better than it might have been” and “worse than it should have been.”
The official called for a “very significant acceleration” and said the US was ready to return before New Year’s.
“If it takes this much time to agree on a common agenda, imagine how much time it will take to resolve the issues on that agenda,” they said.
Russia, which along with China is also in the talks, said negotiators agreed to start from where they left off in June before Iran requested a break for its elections.
The latest round was “successful in a sense that it prepared sound basis for more intensive negotiations,” envoy Mikhail Ulyanov wrote on Twitter.
Tehran’s chief negotiator Ali Bagheri said there were “hard and intense negotiations” to agree on the “bases” for further talks which will take place “in the near future.”
Human rights violations and terrorism are two subjects that should be considered besides the Iranian regime’s other important and critical cases, as its nuclear case.
Over the past years especially after the fall of Iraq’s government in 2003 which give the Iranian regime a new opportunity for interference in the Middle East and a unique opportunity to expand its influence in the country’s regions, the regime presented a new level of brutality, human rights violations, and terrorism. Something that has been kept hidden from public opinion, but a glimpse of it was the appearance of ISIS which was the result of the regime’s dirty war in Iraq and Syria.
The regime’s terrorism is much worse than its nuclear case and its effects and traces can be seen and followed in all countries around the world.
Something that despite the appeasement of the world powers, they are forced to speak about it, condemn it, and put sanctions on the regime because of its destructive behavior, else the regime will not stop in the Middle East and will attack them constantly in their lands.
The U.S. Department of State in its annual report ‘Country Reports on Terrorism 2020’ about the regime’s behavior wrote:
“The United States continued to address threats posed by state-sponsored terrorism, sanctioning Iran-supported groups such as Iraq-based Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and Bahrain-based Saraya al-Mukhtar.
“Iran continued to support acts of terrorism regionally and globally during 2020. Regionally, Iran supported proxies and partner groups in Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen, including Hizballah and Hamas. Senior AQ leaders continued to reside in Iran and facilitate terrorist operations from there. Globally, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force remained the primary Iranian actors involved in supporting terrorist recruitment, financing, and plots across Europe, Africa, and Asia, and both Americas.
“The Houthis continue to receive material support and guidance from Iranian entities, including to enable attacks against Saudi Arabia.
“Iran continued to use the IRGC-QF to advance Iran’s interests abroad. Iran also continued to acknowledge the active involvement of the IRGC-QF in the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, the latter in support of the Assad regime. Through the IRGC-QF, Iran continued its support to several U.S.-designated terrorist groups, providing funding, training, weapons, and equipment.
“Iran’s annual financial backing to Hizballah — which in recent years has been estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars — accounts for most of the group’s annual budget.”
The report included Iran’s regime under the section of ‘Terrorist Safe Haven’ and wrote:
“Iran-backed Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), Kata’ib Hizballah (KH), and Harakat al-Nujaba — all U.S.-designated terrorist organizations — and other Iran-backed Iraqi militias continued to maintain an active presence in Iraq targeting U.S., Defeat-ISIS Coalition, and Iraqi forces and logistics convoys.
“Iran-backed Houthi militants continued to control large portions of northern Yemen, where the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps continued to maintain a presence.”
Coherent with its terror activities the Iranian regime has expanded and strengthened its drone facilities too. Now over the past years, it has threatened the security and stability of many countries in the Middle East and has become a global threat to international free shipping.
Therefore, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced on December 16, 2021, bipartisan legislation to prevent Iran and any terrorist or militia groups aligned with Iran from being able to acquire lethal drones.
They wrote: “As the United States government intensifies efforts to stop Tehran’s flourishing lethal unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program, the Stop Iranian Drones Act of 2021 seeks to amend the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) to include any action that seeks to advance Iran’s UAV program, as defined by the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, as sanctionable under U.S. law. Today’s Senate introduction follows its recent approval by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“We must do more to halt Iran’s regional terrorism,” said Ranking Member Risch. “As we saw with recent Iranian-sponsored drone attacks on American troops and the Iraqi Prime Minister, as well as the constant attacks on Saudi Arabia, Iran’s armed drone capability presents a growing threat to the Middle East. This legislation rightly imposes costs on the Iranian drone program and its supporters.”
“Iran’s increasing reliance on unmanned aerial vehicles to attack U.S. personnel and assets across the Middle East, as well as shipping vessels, commercial facilities, and regional partners is a serious and growing menace to regional stability. Furthermore, Iran’s reckless export of this kind of technology to proxies and terrorist actors across the region represents a significant threat to human lives,” said Chairman Menendez.”
RUSSIA says its 16,000mph hypersonic ‘Satan-2’ missile which can fit 12 nuclear warheads and could destroy the UK will go into service within a year.
The Kremlin will also significantly increase the number of test launches of its nuke-tipped rockets in 2022, amid fears its tensions with neighbour Ukraine could spark World War 3.
And the head of Moscow’s strategic missile forces Col-Gen Sergey Karakayev vowed to replace the Mach-27 capable Avangard hypersonic gliding unit by the time the West finds an “antidote” to it.
This comes as images purport to show heavy weaponry suspected to be en route to a military field camp near the village of Klintsy in Bryansk region, some 28 miles from the Ukrainian border.
Vladimir Putin has amassed more than 100,000 troops near the border in a terrifying escalation of hostilities in recent months.
Meanwhile, Russia today marks its annual Day of Strategic Rocket Forces.
Speaking of the Satan-2 weapon, also known as Sarmat, Col-Gen Karakayev said: “Starting from 2022, it is planned to begin gradual removal of the heavy-class silo-based Voyevoda missile system and replace it with Sarmat.”
The 15,880mph weapon can deliver between 10 and 15 warheads that weigh up to 10-tonnes to any point in the world flying over both the North and South Poles, say the Kremlin.
It has the capability to use trajectories and unpredictable routes which “substantially impede their destruction even by advanced missile defence systems”.
Karakayev also vowed to keep developing hypersonic weapons – which move too fast for current missile defence systems – to stay ahead of the West.
He said: “We must understand this and do it and go further with hypersonic weapons.
“By the time they find an antidote, we must have found another solution to this.
“And today we are working on it. There are developments, there is work in progress.
“I think that this task is within our reach.”
Moscow also made clear that in the coming year it would launch more than ten intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) – rockets which can fly across the globe.
This compares with a total of 25 such launches in the past five years, indicating a significant increase.
Western leaders have warned Russia against the “strategic mistake” of invading Ukraine, threatening unprecedented sanctions against Moscow.
New military movements highlighted by Zaspisky Okhotnika Telegram channel were interpreted as boosting forces with heavy weapons at military field camps near the village off Klintsy.
Tanks are seen being moved by train. Russia has strongly insisted that it is entitled to move military forces on its own territory, and denied it intends to invade Ukraine.
The West has expressed deep concern over the number of Russian forces in Voronezh region.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has insisted that her country has “no aggressive intentions”.
“We have repeatedly said that on our sovereign territory we have every right to move military units at our own discretion,” she said.
But she claimed that NATO “is doing everything to destabilise the situation on the continent and undermine the foundations of European security.”
The Hamas terror group praises the deadly shooting attack near the illegal outpost of Homesh in the northern West Bank, although the Islamist faction did not immediately take responsibility.
“Hamas blesses this heroic operation in Nablus against the occupation forces and the murderous settlers,” says Hamas spokesperson Hazim Qasim.
The terror attack left one Israeli dead. Two other Israelis were lightly wounded by shards of glass during the shooting. The Israeli army is deploying across the area in an attempt to nab the perpetrators.
“This operation proves yet again that our heroic people will continue their struggle until they expel the occupier,” Qasim adds.