Real Risk, Few Precautions (Revelation 6:12)



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

Babylon the Great Sends Nukes Towards China: Daniel 7

Kh-47M2 Kinzhal - Wikipedia
A MiG-31K armed with Kh-47M2 Kinzhal (Wikipedia)

Armed With Hypersonic Missiles, US Navy To Deploy Its Nuclear Submarines To Pacific To Thwart ‘Chinese Invasion Of Taiwan’

 Sakshi Tiwari

 March 21, 2022

Russia’s use of the ‘Kinzhal’ hypersonic missile in Ukraine, the first-ever used in combat, has shaken the United States. The US Navy, which has lagged behind Russia in developing hypersonic weapons, is looking to deploy its first on a warship in early 2023, the Associated Press reported.

The US is competing with Russia and China to develop these weapons, which travel eight times faster than the speed of sound, making it difficult to shoot down due to their maneuverability. Before hitting the target, the weapon being developed by the US would launch like a ballistic missile and deploy a hypersonic glide vehicle.

Bath Iron Works, a division of General Dynamics, has reportedly begun engineering and design work on the alterations required to deploy the armament system aboard three Zumwalt-class destroyers in Maine. According to the US Navy, the work on the missiles would begin in October 2023 at an unnamed shipyard.

Due to a design flaw that works to the Navy’s benefit, the three stealthy Zumwalt-class destroyers that will be armed with the new weapons will have plenty of room to accommodate them.

The ships were designed around a gun system that was expected to hit targets 90 miles (145 kilometers) away using GPS-guided, rocket-boosted rounds. The Navy canceled the system because the bullets were too expensive, leaving each ship with a worthless loading system and a pair of 155-mm cannons disguised in angular turrets.

According to Bryan Clark, a defense expert at the Hudson Institute, the modification of all three ships would cost more than $1 billion but will provide the Navy with a new capability for the tech-laden, electric-drive ships that already cost the Navy $23.5 billion.

The Navy plans to deploy the weapons on destroyers by 2025 and Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines by 2028, according to the Navy.

Russia has claimed that it has ballistic missiles that can deploy hypersonic glide vehicles as well as hypersonic cruise missiles. It possesses the most advanced and lethal hypersonic weapons, including an advanced and lethal Avangard, Tsirkon, and Kinzhal. China, too, uses the DF-17 to transport its hypersonic glide vehicle.

Both of the US’ adversaries have hypersonic weapons, the US lags behind in this significant military technology.

Why is the US afraid of hypersonic weapons?

Any weapon that travels faster than Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, is classified as a hypersonic weapon. That’s roughly 3,800 miles per hour (6,100 kph). Intercontinental ballistic missiles are significantly more powerful than hypersonic missiles, but they follow a predetermined path that allows them to be intercepted.

Existing missile defense systems in the United States, such as the Navy’s Aegis, would struggle to intercept such objects due to their agility, which makes their movement unpredictable and gives little time to react.

Artist’s rendition of a hypersonic missile (via Twitter)

When compared to traditional ballistic missile trajectories, which follow a set trajectory, they are designed to be able to make rapid and unexpected changes along their flight routes. Due to their mobility, as well as their high speed and general flight profile, they are extremely difficult to identify and track, especially with sensors designed for conventional ballistic missiles, as EurAsian Times had previously reported.

MDA and the US Space Force have not indicated how far they can monitor hypersonic weapons or how close the US is to intercepting one. During the cruise phase, hypersonic missiles can fly low and move to avoid radar detection and strike high-value targets.

The United States is struggling to catch up because it avoided investing in new technology, with only a fraction of the 10,000 people working on the program in the 1980s, according to US Rep. Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat who chairs a program-monitoring subcommittee. If we want to achieve parity, we’ll have to invest more money, time, and skill than we are right now, he said.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine serves as a backdrop for the Pentagon’s budget request later this month, which lays out its aspirations for hypersonic and other military systems.

After hesitating in the past due to technological challenges, the US has shifted its focus to hypersonic weapons. In the meantime, the adversaries maintained their research and development.

Late in December, Russia launched a salvo of Zircon (Tsirkon) hypersonic cruise missiles, signaling the end of weapon testing. But, according to Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, Russia may be inflating the capacity of such superweapons to compensate for weaknesses in other areas. Russia doesn’t have many of the weapons at the moment, and it’s uncertain how effective they are, he said.

Deployment against China

The warships with hypersonic missiles onboard would be stationed in the Pacific Ocean as a deterrent to China if it became emboldened by Russia’s attack on Ukraine and decided to strike Taiwan, according to Clark.

The US has also reportedly been testing its Long Range Hypersonic Weapon system, which is a land-based surface to surface hypersonic weapon to be deployed in Guam for Taiwan’s defense. However, it does not officially possess a hypersonic weapon in its inventory as of now.

The US quest to develop and deploy hypersonic weapons has never been free of hurdles. The Air Force’s efforts to acquire its first hypersonic missile recently met a fresh stumbling block after a series of test failures earlier. In a new fiscal 2022 omnibus spending measure, congressional appropriators trimmed funding for the service’s main hypersonic weapons program, as previously reported by EurAsian Times.

The $161 million US Air Force plan for the procurement of AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon was removed from the compromise budget bill, which was proposed and passed on March 9.

AGM-183 ARRW - Wikipedia
AGM-183 ARRW – Wikipedia

On the contrary, China has made great advancements in hypersonic technology testing and development. It was earlier reported that the Chinese glide vehicle discharged a sub-munition into the South China Sea after firing a hypersonic missile that circled the globe and astonished the US.

On the other hand, unfortunately, the third test flight of the US AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon, like the previous two, was a failure. The missile failed to dislodge from the wing of a B-52H bomber in a recent test. The failure of the American tests provided China with an opportunity to criticize the US hypersonic program while flaunting its own.

However, the Russian firing of a hypersonic weapon, China’s relentless efforts at advancing its hypersonic program and the tensions in the Indo-Pacific region where the US is a major stakeholder is expected to bolster the US efforts at fielding a hypersonic weapon in accordance with the deadline it has set for itself.

Ukraine war will drive more horns towards nuclear weapons: Daniel

Ukraine war may drive more Indo-Pacific nations towards nuclear weapons

22 Mar 2022|Brendan NicholsonRussia–Ukraine war

The nations of the Indo-Pacific are watching Russia’s invasion of Ukraine closely and it’s likely to drive some to seek access to nuclear weapons, says Singapore’s former foreign minister Bilahari Kausikan.

In an interview with The Strategist, the forthright Kausikan notes that much has been said about the return of great-power politics and this is a rude reminder that they did not go away. They’re manifesting themselves now in very dangerous ways.

He says Russian President Vladimir Putin was clearly surprised by the swift, cohesive and strong Western response, and two or three days into the conflict he rattled his nuclear sabre, ‘I think just to remind everybody what’s what. I don’t think they’ll be used this time, but could they be used in a conflict if the Russians were losing? Certainly.’

There are lessons here for the nations of the Indo-Pacific, says Kausikan. ‘The world is a dangerous place, and you should be prepared. I think anybody who did not believe that would have to rethink their positions fundamentally.’

Kausikan has no doubt that if Putin were cornered by conventional NATO forces, he’d consider using tactical nuclear weapons. ‘That’s in the Russian military doctrine.’

He says that despite the Ukrainians’ heroic resistance, they will eventually be overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the Russian forces. ‘So, I think in this particular case, the use of tactical nuclear weapons will not arise.’

But, will Putin’s implied nuclear threats encourage other nations to seek nuclear weapons?

That’s likely, says Kausikan. Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said soon after the war broke out that Japan should consider allowing the US to station tactical nuclear weapons on its territory, as it does with some NATO countries. South Korea has been openly debating the desirability of having an independent nuclear deterrent.

That would be immensely painful politically and divisive for both countries, Kausikan says. ‘But I think the logic of events, the logic of their circumstances, will move them in that direction.’

North Korea isn’t going to give up its nuclear weapons and will continue to improve them. China is engaged in a nuclear modernisation program.

Kaukisan says a process has begun towards a ‘multilateral balance of mutual destruction’. That will be a fraught process, ‘but once we get there, it will be stabilising’, he says. ‘It will also freeze, together with India and Pakistan—which are nuclear powers, don’t forget—the natural multipolarity of our Indo-Pacific region, and that would put an end to any dream of hierarchy, if such a dream is part of the China dream.’

He says the only way to deal with a dangerous world is through balance, and many in the region will support Australia improving its defences, including by obtaining nuclear-powered submarines. ‘Australia by itself cannot be a balance, but Australia, Japan, the US and other like-minded countries is a balance, and if I am right about what the long-term trajectory of our region is, a multilateral balance of nuclear power will arise sooner or later.’

Then, he says the region won’t be in bad shape. ‘It will not be dominated by any single power, and that gives all of us more manoeuvre space.’

Kausikan observes that some analysts had gleefully declared that the Ukraine conflict would distract the United States and the West, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan distracted them for 20 years. That would give China a 10-year free ride to grow.

‘They seem to have overlooked a small, minor detail,’ says Kausikan. ‘This is not the US getting bogged down in war. It is China’s partner, Russia, getting bogged down in war, so I don’t see how this will be a distraction for the West. The West has made clear, I think quite wisely, they are not going to get directly involved with troops on the ground. China has been put into a terrible dilemma.’

He says the fact that Putin waited until after the Beijing Olympics to start the war indicates that the Chinese probably had some knowledge of his plan to invade Ukraine. ‘However, it is quite clear to me that the Chinese were as taken aback as anybody by the scale of the attack, by the ferocity of the attack, and I think by the response from the West.’

Now, Xi Jinping has three mutually irreconcilable goals.

China, says Kausikan, is neurotic about maintaining principles like sovereignty, non-interference and territorial integrity as norms of international relations—and its ‘no limits’ partner has just thrown those principles out of the window.

China wants to avoid becoming collateral damage in the sanctions levied against Russia. China’s leaders have got a lot of problems internally, which they’re dealing with. The world economy is still soft. ‘This is a party congress year, so they don’t need this extra nonsense. So, they’re trying to stay out of being embroiled in the sanctions,’ he says.

‘But thirdly, and I think most crucially to them, they want to keep the partnership with Russia. Whatever reservations they may have about Mr Putin’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine and all the destruction that’s going on there with the disruptions to the world economy, the hard fact is the Chinese have no other partner of equal strategic weight to Russia that shares their discomfort with the current world order and is prepared to work with China to modify it.’

China being stuck with Russia creates a dilemma, Kausikan says. ‘So I don’t think they’re very happy in Beijing. They’ve been twisting and turning in their position, trying to avoid using the “invasion” word, alluding to the fact they’re willing to play some kind of role in brokering a ceasefire, if not a settlement. Nobody seems to be paying them too much attention, not their “no limits” partner, anyway.’

He says, borrowing a quote from Lenin, that the Chinese view the Russians as ‘useful idiots’ with a strong military and commodities China wants to buy. The Chinese are cold-blooded about such matters, he says. ‘They can see the long-term trajectory of Russia is not optimistic one, but it’s useful for the moment and they have no other partner.’

North Korea is touted as a partner of China, but, Kausikan says, ‘If you hear the North Koreans talk about the Chinese, you will conclude that they distrust them more than they distrust Americans.’

When China sees that Russia has gone too far, it can’t be happy, but it can’t abandon Russia, he says.

Russia’s economy is in dire straits, and it will need economic support, yet China doesn’t want to be caught up in secondary sanctions.

But for China to turn its back entirely on Russia would expose the hollowness of their ‘no limits’ partnership, and sooner or later questions will be asked about the wisdom of its leaders in getting into this relationship.

Kausikan doesn’t think the Chinese are too worried about outsiders criticising them for not criticising the Russians. ‘But if their own people start asking questions in a party congress year, that’s rather serious. They’re in a fix.’

Given the fierce Ukrainian resistance, and the slow Russian progress, will Xi rethink the wisdom of invading Taiwan?

‘I should certainly hope so,’ says Kausikan. ‘I don’t think any Chinese leader can give up the aspiration to take over Taiwan, but if I was Mr Xi and I’m watching the less than stellar performance of the vaunted Russian military, I will be wondering to myself, “What on earth are my generals telling me?” and how much of that can he believe?’ Xi might seek independent verification of what his generals tell him.

Xi should note the strong Western and international response. ‘He must know that the hard fact is Ukraine is less important to the US and its East Asian allies than Taiwan.’

Kausikan says that if the Taiwanese do something provocative, like unilaterally declare independence, that’s one scenario. ‘But if they don’t do that and there’s a unilateral Chinese attack on Taiwan, that’s an entirely different situation, and I find it very difficult to think of America staying out as it is. America staying out would basically destroy the alliance system in East Asia.

‘If they intervene, as I think they will, I cannot see Japan staying out. I cannot see South Korea staying out, and possibly even Australia and India getting involved in some way. So, I think Mr Xi knows that Taiwan is more important than Ukraine. Economically and strategically, he has seen the international reaction, and if I was him, I’d be pondering this rather deeply.’

Russia has been surprised by the fight in the outnumbered Ukrainians. Would Taiwan put up the same level of resistance to an invasion by China?

‘Absolutely,’ says Kausikan. ‘Time is not on China’s side as far as Taiwan is concerned. The Taiwanese identity is separate from the kind of identity Mr Xi Jinping wants to impose on them and it’s growing stronger.’


Brendan Nicholson is executive editor of The Strategist. Image: AFP/Getty Images.

Animated Chart: Nuclear Horns (1945-2022) Daniel

Animated Chart: Nuclear Warheads by Country (1945-2022)

on March 21, 2022

By James Eagle Featured Creator

Visualizing The Nuclear Warheads of Countries Since 1945

Despite significant progress in reducing nuclear weapon arsenals since the Cold War, the world’s combined inventory of warheads remains at an uncomfortably high level.

Towards the late 1980s, the world reached its peak of stockpiled warheads, numbering over 64,000. In modern times, nine countries—the U.S., Russia, France, China, the UK, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea—are estimated to possess roughly 12,700 nuclear warheads.

The animated chart above by creator James Eagle shows the military stockpile of nuclear warheads that each country has possessed since 1945.

The signing of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) brought about a rapid disarmament of nuclear warheads. Though not immediately successful in stopping nuclear proliferation, it eventually led to countries retiring most of their nuclear arsenals.

As of 2022, about 12,700 nuclear warheads are still estimated to be in use, of which more than 9,400 are in military stockpiles for use by missiles, aircraft, ships and submarines.

Here’s a look at the nine nations that currently have nuclear warheads in their arsenal:

CountryMilitary StockpileRetired WeaponsTotal Inventory
🇷🇺 Russia4,4771,5005,977
🇺🇸 United States3,7081,7205,428
🇫🇷 France2900290
🇨🇳 China3500350
🇬🇧 United Kingdom18045225
🇮🇱 Israel90090
🇵🇰 Pakistan1650165
🇮🇳 India1600160
🇰🇵 North Korea20020

The U.S. and Russia are by far the two countries with the most nuclear warheads in military stockpiles, with each having close to 4,000 in possession.

Timeline: Key Events in the Nuclear Arms Race

At the dawn of the nuclear age, the U.S. hoped to maintain a monopoly on nuclear weapons, but the secret technology and methodology for building the atomic bomb soon spread. Only 10 countries have since possessed or deployed any nuclear weapons.

Here are a few key dates in the timeline of the nuclear arms race from 1945 to 2022:

August 6 & 9, 1945:

The U.S. drops two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, decimating the cities and forcing the country’s surrender, ending the Second World War.

August 29, 1949:

The Soviet Union tests its first nuclear bomb, code-named First Lightning in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan. It becomes the second country to develop and successfully test a nuclear device.

October 3, 1952:

The UK conducts its first nuclear test at Montebello Islands off the coast of Western Australia, and later additional tests at Maralinga and Emu Fields in South Australia.

February 13, 1960:

France explodes its first atomic bomb in the Sahara Desert, with a yield of 60–70 kilotons. It moves further nuclear tests to the South Pacific, which continue up until 1996.

October 16–29, 1962:

A tense stand-off known as the Cuban Missile Crisis begins when the U.S. discovers Soviet missiles in Cuba. The U.S. intiaties a naval blockade of the island, with the crisis bringing the two superpowers to the brink of nuclear war.

October 16, 1964:

China becomes the fifth country to test an atomic bomb in 1964, code-named Project 596. The country would conduct an additional 45 atomic bomb tests at the Lop Nor testing site in Sinkiang Province through 1996.

July 1, 1968:

The NPT opens for signatures. Under the treaty, non-nuclear-weapon states agree to never acquire nuclear weapons, and nuclear powers must make a legal undertaking to disarm.

May 18, 1974:

India conducts an underground nuclear test at Pokhran in the Rajasthan desert, code-named the Smiling Buddha. Since conducting its first nuclear test, India has refused to sign the NPT or any subsequent treaties.

September 30, 1986:

Through the information provided by Israeli whistleblower and nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu, The Sunday Times publishes a story that leads experts to conclude that Israel may have up to 200 nuclear weapons.

October 9, 2006:

After previously signing onto the NPT, North Korea breaks from the treaty and begins testing nuclear weapons in 2006. It has since gathered 20 nuclear warheads, though the actual number and their efficacy are unknown.

Though the threat of nuclear weapons never left, the latest growing tensions in Ukraine have brought the topic back into focus. Even as work towards disarmament continues, many of the top nuclear states hesitate to fully reduce their arsenals to zero.

Did India Purposely Fire a Nuke at Pakistan? Revelation 8

Did India Purposely Fire a BrahMos Missile at Pakistan?

India owes it to the world to prove that its hands are clean. The fate of 2 billion people hangs by a thread.

by Hassan Aslam Shad

As global attention remains fixed on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, South Asia just averted a catastrophic war between two nuclear-armed neighbors.

On March 10, 2022, Pakistan’s military spokesperson Maj. General Babar Iftikhar announced that on March 9, the Pakistan Air Force tracked a “high speed object” that traveled from India 80 miles into Pakistani territory before landing in Mian Channu, Pakistan. Thankfully, there were no casualties on the Pakistani side. And, to its credit, despite tracking the object since its launch from India and until it detonated in Pakistani territory, Pakistan did not exercise its right to retaliate in self-defense. The seven minutes flight time of the missile—from its launch in India to its detonation in Pakistan—could have led to cataclysmic consequences for a world already burdened by several armed conflicts.

This Indian “high speed object” wasn’t a stray drone or a fallen satellite—it was reportedly India’s much-touted BrahMos nuclear-capable missile. Two days after Pakistan military’s announcement, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) admitted that, “in the course of a routine maintenance, a technical malfunction led to the accidental firing of a missile” and claimed to have “ordered a high level enquiry.” To date, India has not confirmed whether the missile was the nuclear-capable Brahmos or explained how a “technical malfunction” could have caused an accidental launch. Pakistan has asked for a joint probe into the incident.

On the face of it, India’s explanation seems aimed at placating international concerns about the safety of its missile arsenal. This explanation shouldn’t suffice if the world is serious at probing what caused an “accidental” missile to launch by a nuclear power—something that could have brought two nuclear-armed neighbors to the brink of a dangerous war. As noted by Christopher Clary, “last week’s episode may be the first inadvertent launch of a cruise or ballistic missile by one nuclear power unto the territory of another nuclear power.”

What is more alarming—and makes the waters murkier—is India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement on March 15 before India’s parliament. Surprisingly, he omitted the Indian MEA’s earlier reference to the missile’s “technical malfunction” in the course of “routine maintenance” and instead said that Indian military’s standard operating procedures “though unmatched and of high calibre, would be revised – if needed – following the ensuing Court of Inquiry (CoI) into the incident.” As reported by Rahul Bedi, some defense analysts have interpreted this to indicate that the government is suggesting that this was due to “human error.”

And there are good reasons why India would like to pin the missile launch on “human error.” In January, India inked a $ 375 million deal with the Philippines for the supply of the BrahMos missile—India’s prized weapon jointly manufactured with Russia. India’s obfuscation from first calling the missile launch a “technical malfunction” and later implying it could have been a “human error” is purportedly to avoid the BrahMos being categorized as a faulty weapons system—something that can deter potential sovereign buyers of the weapon system.

The Indian missile launch calls into question India’s reckless behavior as a nuclear weapons state and damages its much-touted credentials as a counter-weight to China through the U.S.-led Quad.

First, even assuming this was an accidental launch, India failed to immediately notify Pakistan through the army-to-army hotline. It is alarming that it took India full two days to offer a vacuous explanation and that too, after Pakistan’s military shared granular evidence about the missile’s trajectory, its flight time, and other details. As noted by Clary, this was a violation of India and Pakistan’s 1991 agreement on preventing air space violations “which obligates both sides that if any inadvertent [airspace] violation does take place, the incident will be promptly investigated and the Headquarters (HQ) of the other Air Force informed of the results without delay, through diplomatic channels.” It is indeed possible that, to avoid embarrassment, India did not report the incident to Pakistan hoping that the missile launch or the debris would go unnoticed.

Second, sources in the Pakistan military have informed me that Pakistan has not ruled out the possibility that the launch was an intentional act to gauge Pakistan’s war readiness and/or ability to track India’s BrahMos. If anything, Pakistan’s tracking the missile from its launch until its detonation has demonstrated Pakistan’s capability to track and counter such attacks. There are reports that Pakistan even considered its own retaliatory strike.

Third, the missile reportedly flew at an altitude of 40,000 feet and endangered international and domestic flights both in Indian and Pakistani airspace. One shudders to think about the consequences if the missile had struck a passenger jet mid-flight.

Fourth, the Indian military has a dismal military safety record. From a wrongly closed hatch that damaged a $2.9 billion submarine to the crash of tens of Indian fighter jets over the years due to poor maintenance, after this missile incident India owes the world a thorough explanation of whether it has the required safety protocols in place to stop such incidents from occurring in the future.

Fifth, there have been multiple incidents of uranium theft and trading in India with its citizens having been arrested while smuggling uranium. While India has left no stone unturned to malign Pakistan and make superfluous claims that its nuclear arsenal can fall in the hands of the Taliban, the BrahMos incident raises the specter that Indian missiles and nuclear weapons can one day fall in the hands of rogue trigger happy Hindutva fanatics who have openly called for war with Pakistan.

Over the years, the biggest casualty of India and Pakistan’s animosity has been mutual trust. While India has said that it would conduct a high-level inquiry into this incident, given India’s history of failing to fulfill its promises, Pakistan will most likely reject India’s findings. It is also highly unlikely that India will agree to a joint probe with Pakistan given the sensitivity of data and technology involved. It is, therefore, vital that the United Nations, through one of its bodies, convene an impartial probe into this incident led by weapons experts. If this was an intentional act by India to provoke Pakistan, the global community must unequivocally condemn India for its brazen disregard of international norms. However, if this was an “accidental launch” as claimed, then India must be asked to come clean and prove to the world that its weapons systems incorporate safety protocols and are in safe hands. India owes it to the world to prove that its hands are clean. Indeed, the fate of 2 billion people hangs by a thread.

Hassan Aslam Shad is an international lawyer and a graduate of Harvard Law School. He can be reached at

Image: Reuters.

Putin Stops the Nuclear Horns: Daniel

Putin hits back: US faces nuclear nightmare as Russia BANS exports of uranium

Putin goes nuclear: Biden faces crisis as Russia BANS uranium exports in sanction response

US PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN is currently facing a nuclear crisis as Russia announces an export ban on uranium.


16:40, Mon, Mar 21, 2022 | UPDATED: 16:41, Mon, Mar 21, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin has hit back the US for the crippling sanctions placed by Joe Biden on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. Earlier this month, the US dealt a major blow to Moscow by announcing a ban on Russian oil and gas, the country’s largest export. Now as a response to the embargo, Russia is considering halting the sale of uranium to the US.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said that banning the supply of uranium to the US as a response to the energy sanctions is currently being studied, TASS reports.

When he was asked about how he felt about imposing a ban on the export of uranium, Mr Novak said: “This issue is also on the agenda, it is being studied.”

Uranium, which is a key component of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, is another energy resource mined in Russia.

The US energy industry relies on Moscow and its key allies Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for roughly half of the uranium powering its nuclear power plants.

Putin hits back: US faces nuclear nightmare as Russia BANS exports of uranium (Image: Getty)

Uranium is a crucial component of nuclear energy

Uranium is a crucial component of nuclear energy (Image: Getty)

Mr Biden has faced intense lobbying from the nuclear industry to continue buying Russian uranium despite Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has known uranium deposits of 500,000 tonnes and accounts for 9 percent of the world’s uranium production, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Uranium is primarily used for its nuclear properties, both as a fuel for power plants and for nuclear weapons.

Earlier this month, at a White House address, Mr Biden said: ‘We’re banning all imports of Russian gas, oil and energy’

Some key places Putin can target

“Russian oil will no longer be accepted at US ports. We will not be part of subsidising Putin’s war.”

He noted that this ban targets “the main artery of Russia’s economy”.

Mr Biden said that this decision was taken in consultation with European allies, however, he noted that many of them are not in a position to join the US in banning Russian energy imports because they are more reliant on Russian oil and gas.

He said: “This is a step that we’re taking to inflict further pain on Putin, but there will be cost as well here in the United States.

Antichrist courts MPs in ‘last opportunity’ to form government

An Iraqi man holds a picture of Moqtada Al Sadr during Friday prayers in Baghdad's Sadr City district. AFP
An Iraqi man holds a picture of Moqtada Al Sadr during Friday prayers in Baghdad’s Sadr City district. AFP

Iraq’s Al Sadr courts MPs in ‘last opportunity’ to form government

More than five months after national elections, the country has no government because of political wrangling

Sinan Mahmoud


Mar 21, 2022

Amid the political deadlock that has delayed the formation of Iraq’s new government, Shiite populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr is wooing independent politicians to join his coalition.

Despite emerging as the clear winner in the October 10 polls, with 73 seats in the 329-member Parliament, Mr Al Sadr’s efforts to form a government hit an impasse as his Iran-backed Shiite rivals continue to pose a challenge. Parties need 50 per cent plus one of the seats in parliament — 165 seats — to form the government.

He wants a national majority government formed by the winners, in a departure from the quota-based political system introduced after the 2003 US-led invasion to provide proportional government representation among Iraq’s various ethno-sectarian groups.

For that goal, he has teamed up with influential Kurds and Sunnis who attracted the most votes in their communities and has offered to limit the representation of pro-Iran parties who endured a major blow in the national elections.

Those parties, mainly Tehran-backed Shiite militias, wants a consensus government where they would gain or retain control of ministries.

“Yes, the successive consensus governments didn’t benefit Iraqis and Iraq, but it harmed it year after year,” Mr Al Sadr said in a statement.

“And that we see that we must get out of the consensus bottleneck to the sphere of the majority and from sectarianism to sphere of the nationalism.”

That goal was not able to be achieved in the past, “but today there are independent lawmakers who love their country and are aware of the reasons behind the deteriorated situation in Iraq to this worrying and scary level,” he said.

Iraq’s 2021 election results — in pictures

Supporters of the movement of Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr celebrate in Najaf, Iraq, after preliminary results of the country’s parliamentary election were announced. Reuters
Judge Jalil Adnan Khalaf (C), the chairman of Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission, speaks in the capital, Baghdad. AFP
EU observers of the election hold a press conference in Baghdad. AP
Iraqi flags are strung across a street.
Sadrists celebrate after preliminary results of Iraq’s parliamentary election were announced in Baghdad on October 11. Reuters
Supporters of Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr celebrate after preliminary results were announced. Reuters
Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr speaks after preliminary results of Iraq’s parliamentary election were announced in Najaf on October 11. Reuters

Supporters of the movement of Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr celebrate in Najaf, Iraq, after preliminary results of the country’s parliamentary election were announced. Reuters

Pro-reform October protests that overwhelmed central and southern Iraq paved the way for independent candidates to win seats in the legislative body after amending the country’s elections law.

That has encouraged activists to run individually or form political parties. The prominent activist party is Imtidad Movement, which won nine seats, while other independent and smaller parties make up the rest. They hold about 40 seats.

Mr Al Sadr, whose alliance with the Kurds and Sunnis has secured 163 seats, called on independent politicians to join them on Saturday’s session scheduled to elect the President of the Republic.

That session, according to the Federal Supreme Court, needs a two-thirds quorum, or 220 seats.

‘We need a courageous stance’

The vote for president, a largely ceremonial role traditionally reserved for Iraq’s Kurds in post-Saddam Iraq, primarily pits the two main Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, against each other.

The step is key in the process of government formation. Government positions, including the cabinet, cannot be formed without the president’s nomination of the largest bloc in parliament.

That must occur within 15 days of the new president being elected. The largest post-election bloc can then choose the prime minister, who must form the next government within 30 days.

“We need a courageous stance from you,” Mr Al Sadr told the independent lawmakers, saying it was the “last opportunity” to form the majority government and offering them a share in government.

Former prime minister Nouri Al Maliki’s State of Law bloc makes up the backbone of the Iran-backed Co-Ordination Framework, with 33 seats. Fatah Alliance, made up mainly of Shiite militias, won only 17 seats, compared with 45 in 2018, while the Kurdistan Alliance led by the PUK party won only 17 seats.

They are threatening to boycott Saturday’s session if no agreement is reached with Mr Al Sadr.