Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake: Revelation 6

Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake

Roger BilhamQuakeland: New York and the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Given recent seismic activity — political as well as geological — it’s perhaps unsurprising that two books on earthquakes have arrived this season. One is as elegant as the score of a Beethoven symphony; the other resembles a diary of conversations overheard during a rock concert. Both are interesting, and both relate recent history to a shaky future.

Journalist Kathryn Miles’s Quakeland is a litany of bad things that happen when you provoke Earth to release its invisible but ubiquitous store of seismic-strain energy, either by removing fluids (oil, water, gas) or by adding them in copious quantities (when extracting shale gas in hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, or when injecting contaminated water or building reservoirs). To complete the picture, she describes at length the bad things that happen during unprovoked natural earthquakes. As its subtitle hints, the book takes the form of a road trip to visit seismic disasters both past and potential, and seismologists and earthquake engineers who have first-hand knowledge of them. Their colourful personalities, opinions and prejudices tell a story of scientific discovery and engineering remedy.

Miles poses some important societal questions. Aside from human intervention potentially triggering a really damaging earthquake, what is it actually like to live in neighbourhoods jolted daily by magnitude 1–3 earthquakes, or the occasional magnitude 5? Are these bumps in the night acceptable? And how can industries that perturb the highly stressed rocks beneath our feet deny obvious cause and effect? In 2015, the Oklahoma Geological Survey conceded that a quadrupling of the rate of magnitude-3 or more earthquakes in recent years, coinciding with a rise in fracking, was unlikely to represent a natural process. Miles does not take sides, but it’s difficult for the reader not to.

She visits New York City, marvelling at subway tunnels and unreinforced masonry almost certainly scheduled for destruction by the next moderate earthquake in the vicinity. She considers the perils of nuclear-waste storage in Nevada and Texas, and ponders the risks to Idaho miners of rock bursts — spontaneous fracture of the working face when the restraints of many million years of confinement are mined away. She contemplates the ups and downs of the Yellowstone Caldera — North America’s very own mid-continent supervolcano — and its magnificently uncertain future. Miles also touches on geothermal power plants in southern California’s Salton Sea and elsewhere; the vast US network of crumbling bridges, dams and oil-storage farms; and the magnitude 7–9 earthquakes that could hit California and the Cascadia coastline of Oregon and Washington state this century. Amid all this doom, a new elementary school on the coast near Westport, Washington, vulnerable to inbound tsunamis, is offered as a note of optimism. With foresight and much persuasion from its head teacher, it was engineered to become an elevated safe haven.

Miles briefly discusses earthquake prediction and the perils of getting it wrong (embarrassment in New Madrid, Missouri, where a quake was predicted but never materialized; prison in L’Aquila, Italy, where scientists failed to foresee a devastating seismic event) and the successes of early-warning systems, with which electronic alerts can be issued ahead of damaging seismic waves. Yes, it’s a lot to digest, but most of the book obeys the laws of physics, and it is a engaging read. One just can’t help wishing that Miles’s road trips had taken her somewhere that wasn’t a disaster waiting to happen.

Catastrophic damage in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1964, caused by the second-largest earthquake in the global instrumental record.

In The Great Quake, journalist Henry Fountain provides us with a forthright and timely reminder of the startling historical consequences of North America’s largest known earthquake, which more than half a century ago devastated southern Alaska. With its epicentre in Prince William Sound, the 1964 quake reached magnitude 9.2, the second largest in the global instrumental record. It released more energy than either the 2004 Sumatra–Andaman earthquake or the 2011 Tohoku earthquake off Japan; and it generated almost as many pages of scientific commentary and description as aftershocks. Yet it has been forgotten by many.

The quake was scientifically important because it occurred at a time when plate tectonics was in transition from hypothesis to theory. Fountain expertly traces the theory’s historical development, and how the Alaska earthquake was pivotal in nailing down one of the most important predictions. The earthquake caused a fjordland region larger than England to subside, and a similarly huge region of islands offshore to rise by many metres; but its scientific implications were not obvious at the time. Eminent seismologists thought that a vertical fault had slipped, drowning forests and coastlines to its north and raising beaches and islands to its south. But this kind of fault should have reached the surface, and extended deep into Earth’s mantle. There was no geological evidence of a monster surface fault separating these two regions, nor any evidence for excessively deep aftershocks. The landslides and liquefied soils that collapsed houses, and the tsunami that severely damaged ports and infrastructure, offered no clues to the cause.

“Previous earthquakes provide clear guidance about present-day vulnerability.” The hero of The Great Quake is the geologist George Plafker, who painstakingly mapped the height reached by barnacles lifted out of the intertidal zone along shorelines raised by the earthquake, and documented the depths of drowned forests. He deduced that the region of subsidence was the surface manifestation of previously compressed rocks springing apart, driving parts of Alaska up and southwards over the Pacific Plate. His finding confirmed a prediction of plate tectonics, that the leading edge of the Pacific Plate plunged beneath the southern edge of Alaska along a gently dipping thrust fault. That observation, once fully appreciated, was applauded by the geophysics community.

Fountain tells this story through the testimony of survivors, engineers and scientists, interweaving it with the fascinating history of Alaska, from early discovery by Europeans to purchase from Russia by the United States in 1867, and its recent development. Were the quake to occur now, it is not difficult to envisage that with increased infrastructure and larger populations, the death toll and price tag would be two orders of magnitude larger than the 139 fatalities and US$300-million economic cost recorded in 1964.

What is clear from these two books is that seismicity on the North American continent is guaranteed to deliver surprises, along with unprecedented economic and human losses. Previous earthquakes provide clear guidance about the present-day vulnerability of US infrastructure and populations. Engineers and seismologists know how to mitigate the effects of future earthquakes (and, in mid-continent, would advise against the reckless injection of waste fluids known to trigger earthquakes). It is merely a matter of persuading city planners and politicians that if they are tempted to ignore the certainty of the continent’s seismic past, they should err on the side of caution when considering its seismic future.

The Russian horn’s newest nuclear weapons: Daniel 7

Belgorod submarine

Russia’s New Massive Sub Carries Poseidon Secret Weapon

Russia’s Navy has taken delivery of the world’s longest submarine.

The submarine, known as the Belgorod, is over 608 feet long. It was turned over to the Russian Navy earlier this month, CNN reported.

While its creator claims it is a research vessel, others say that it is a platform for espionage or even nuclear weapons.

The Belgorod’s design, according to experts, is a modified version of Russia’s Oscar II class guided-missile submarines, made longer in order to eventually accommodate equipment for intelligence gathering and the world’s first stealth torpedoes armed with nuclear weapons.

The Belgorod’s success in adding these abilities to the Russian Navy could potentially set the stage for Russian and U.S. submarines tracking and hunting each other, as they did during the Cold War.

The submarine is expected to carry the Poseidon nuclear-capable torpedoes. These are being designed to be launched from hundreds of miles and to travel along the ocean floor in order to sneak past coastal defenses.

“This nuclear ‘mega torpedo’ is unique in the history of the world. Poseidon is a completely new category of weapon. It will reshape naval planning in both Russia and the West, leading to new requirements and new counter-weapons,” according to American submarine expert H.I. Sutton.

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Both Russian and U.S. officials have stated that the torpedoes are able to carry warheads of multiple megatons, which could cause radioactive waves and make much of the target coastline uninhabitable for decades. Christopher A. Ford, then assistant secretary of state for international security and non-proliferation, said in November 2020 that the torpedoes are designed to “inundate U.S. coastal cities with radioactive tsunamis.” A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report earlier this year said that the Poseidons are meant as retaliatory weapons. The report added that the Belgorod can carry up to eight Poseidons.

According to Sutton, the Poseidon, expected to be 2 meters in diameter and more than 20 meters long, is “the largest torpedo ever developed,” saying that the Poseidon’s size is “30 times the size of a regular ‘heavyweight’ torpedo.”

The CRS said it does not expect the Poseidons to be deployed until 2027.

Sutton stated that the Belgorod would also probably operate as an intelligence gathering platform, saying that the submarine “will be crewed by the Russian Navy but operated under GUGI, the secretive Main Directorate of Deep-Sea Research organization.” It will also carry midget submarines and submersibles in order to “conduct covert special missions.”

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Israeli Navy sinks Palestinian vessel outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israeli Navy sinks Palestinian vessel ‘smuggling arms’ to Hamas in Gaza

July 24, 2022

The Israeli ship opened fire after the vessel refused to halt; the vessel’s crew swam to Gaza, according to the Israeli military.


The Israeli Navy on Saturday night sank a Palestinian vessel sailing towards Gaza from Egypt, the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson Unit said in a statement.

The vessel had entered a restricted sea area off the southern Gaza Strip, in violation of security restrictions, according to the IDF.

Navy sailors ordered the vessel to stop and fired on it after receiving no response, in line with standard operational procedure. Those who had been aboard swam to the Gaza Strip, according to the IDF.

“The supplies on board the vessel were intended for the Hamas terrorist organization,” the military said in a statement.

Kan News reported that the supplies in question were arms destined for Hamas in Gaza, and that the vessel sank.

On July 15, the Israeli Air Force conducted two strikes on Hamas weapon production facilities in the Gaza Strip, following two separate rocket attacks in which four rockets were launched at Israeli territory.

One of the targets hit in Gaza was a Hamas military site consisting of an underground complex containing raw materials used for the manufacturing of rockets, the IDF Spokesperson Unit said in a statement at the time.

China Horn’s nuclear-powered torpedoes capable of striking Australia

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo / Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo / Getty Images

China’s military plans could see nuclear-powered torpedoes capable of striking Australia within a week

23 Jul, 2022 03:44 PM

Australia’s greatest defence — distance — is under threat.

China wants to build a nuclear-powered torpedo “swarm” capable of striking targets anywhere in the Pacific within a week.

The idea’s just a proposal at this stage. But it builds upon Russia’s ‘Poseidon’ nuclear-powered torpedo designed to trigger a tsunami off any coastal city with a nuclear warhead.

The state-controlled South China Morning Post reports Beijing is thinking smaller. But in greater numbers.

China is doing the same.

Australia has defended its intention to buy or build nuclear-powered submarines against accusations of nuclear proliferating by separating its use as a power source from that of a warhead.

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Like Australia, China finds the prospect of an almost unlimited reach appealing.

The institute wants to use tiny “disposable” nuclear reactors to power long-range submarine drones. This would drastically reduce the weapon’s size by eliminating the need for bulky fuel storage and making it harder to detect through a quiet, all-electric propulsion system.

Unlike Australia, China appears to be angling toward a large fleet of torpedo-sized, low-cost nuclear-powered “killer robots” that can be carried by any military vessel. Australia’s defence force aspires to a $170 billion force of 12 large, fully crewed submarines.

China’s researchers say they can deliver wolf-packs of the AI-controlled weapon within 10 years.

After 15 years of dithering over a replacement for the ageing Collins-class diesel-electric submarines, Australia’s earliest possible date for constructing nuclear replacements is in the 2040s.

Nuclear propulsion

Atomic power has been harnessed as a propulsion system since the 1960s. It drives enormous aircraft carriers. It allows submarines to stay underwater for as long as their air and food supplies hold out. It’s still powering the Voyager II space probe as it passes beyond the solar system’s edge after 45 years in space.

What’s changed is a fundamental redesign of the technology to make it more stable. And the ability for it to be miniaturised.

Guo says China will build the weapon with “mature and simple technology that is easy to use and maintain, inexpensive and suitable for mass production.”

“We need to think out of the box,” he added.

This involves removing most of the shielding around the reactor. As a result, only sensitive electronic components will be protected from radiation. The torpedo will operate on batteries for half an hour after launch. Only then will the reactor fire up to its 315C operating temperature.

The report also explains the reactor will not use expensive rare-earth minerals in its construction. Instead, it will be built with cheaper materials like graphite — which caught fire during the Chernobyl disaster and contributed to the radioactive fallout.

The result is a power pack needing just 4kg of low-grade uranium fuel. China says this will produce 1.4 megawatts of heat, of which only 6 per cent will be converted into electricity.

The allure of such a small power pack is that it can potentially drive a torpedo or underwater drone at speeds of 30 knots (56km/h). However, the Post gave conflicting reports about how long (200 or 400 hours).

It stated the torpedo would have a 10,000km range — “about the distance from Shanghai to San Francisco”. And Sydney.

Poseidon junior

Russia this month put a nuclear-powered submarine weapon into service.

Dubbed “Poseidon”, the giant torpedo was unveiled by President Vladimir Putin in 2019 as one of six “super weapons” destined to return Russia’s military to greatness.

The first crewed submarine capable of carrying the enormous device — the K-329 Belgorod — entered service earlier this month.

Unlike the Chinese proposal, Poseidon is huge. But it is reportedly capable of loitering at sea for long periods or travelling great distances before striking its target. A two-megaton nuclear warhead (some 100 times more potent than that dropped on Hiroshima) will then trigger a tsunami large enough to level a coastal city.

This puts the likes of Pearl Harbour in Hawaii and Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia at risk of a surprise nuclear attack.

There’s no reason the standard-sized Chinese torpedo can’t also carry a small nuclear warhead.

But the Post reports China intends to use lurking swarms of the smart torpedo to “strike submarines as they leave a port in home waters that is difficult to reach by manned platforms.”

Its designers also reject any accusation of it being a “dirty bomb” or a nuclear weapon in disguise. Instead, the small reactor will be “ejected” to the seabed shortly before the torpedo strikes its target – with the final propulsion stage powered by the on-board battery.

This would leave the radioactive material outside any blast radius.

“Even if the hull is broken, the interior is filled with water, and the whole body falls into the wet sand on the seabed, the reactor will not have a critical accident. The safety is ensured,” argues Guo.

And the nuclear-powered submarine won’t only be a weapon, Guo says. Its high speed and endurance will enable it to inspect distant waters and track potential targets — such as nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and crewed submarines.

“When the manufacturing cost is low enough, even if the nuclear-powered device can only be used once, the overall cost will be low,” Guo says.

Iranian Horn claims Mossad agents were caught trying to blow up ‘Nuclear site’

Picture shows general view of Isfahan (UCF) nuclear power plant (UCF) 295 km from Tehran, March 2005 (photo credit: HENGHAMEH FAHIMI / AFP)

Iran claims Mossad agents were caught trying to blow up ‘sensitive site’

Iranian officials claimed Mossad agents entered the country through the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

The Iranian Noor News agency claimed on Sunday that Mossad agents who the Iranian Intelligence Ministry had claimed on Saturday had been caught in the country were trying to blow up a “sensitive site” in Isfahan in central Iran.

The Iranian Intelligence Ministry announced on Saturday that it had caught a network of Mossad agents who were in contact with other agents in a “neighboring country” and had entered Iran from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The ministry claimed that the network was planning to carry out “unprecedented acts of sabotage and terrorist operations by using the most up-to-date operational and communication equipment and the most powerful explosives.”

The ministry added that additional information would be announced later on.

On Sunday, Noor News reported that the network entered Iran a few months ago through Kurdistan and aimed to blow up a “sensitive center” in Isfahan.

The report added that the network had been training for months in Africa in order to carry out the operation. According to Noor News, the Intelligence Ministry was tracking the network before they even entered Iran.

The network was arrested after they placed explosives at the site they were targeting and just hours before they intended to implement the final stage of their operation, according to the report.

The report added that further details would be published at a later point.

Claims against Kurdistan

Iran has claimed multiple times that Israel’s Mossad is operating in Iraqi Kurdistan.

In March, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) fired 12 missiles toward a home in Erbil in the Kurdistan Region, saying it was a response to the “recent crimes of the fake Zionist regime.” The IRGC additionally claimed that the targeted structure was called “the Strategic Center of Conspiracy and Evil of the Zionists.” Reports by Iranian and pro-Iranian media indicated that the missile strike was carried out in response to an alleged Israeli drone attack on an IRGC drone base in Mahidasht, Iran.

The Isfahan Nuclear Technology Center

While the report did not state which site was being targeted, the Isfahan Nuclear Technology Center, located in the area, is one of the country’s largest nuclear facilities, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).

Last month, some of the surveillance cameras used by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were removed from the Isfahan site. Additionally, the IAEA reported last month that 90% of Iran’s uranium enriched to 60% fissile purity had been moved to Isfahan. In January, the IAEA reported that Iran had informed it that it would move the production of centrifuge parts to Isfahan.

Last year, Iran announced that it had begun producing enriched uranium metal, a material that could be used to create the core of a nuclear weapon, at the Isfahan site.

Iranian horn is already a nuclear state: Daniel 8

Iran already a nuclear state with enough uranium to build ‘one, if not two’ bombs: ex US diplomat

By Tom Brown In Tirana and Adam Solomons For Mailonline 04:23 EDT 24 Jul 2022 , updated 04:34 EDT 24 Jul 2022

is already a state with enough uranium to build ‘one, if not two’ bombs, an ex-US diplomat and nuclear weapons expert has warned.

Former Washington official Robert Joseph told MailOnline: ‘The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has documented that Iran has 60% of enriched uranium, enough for at least one if not two bombs.

‘We have been saying for years “they’re approaching this breakout point and we’ve really got to negotiate with them.” They’re there.’

The ex-United States Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security was speaking ahead of the ‘Free Iran’ summit in Albania, which was abruptly cancelled due to a terror threat. 

The US Department of State issued a security alert ahead of the summit this weekend, urging officials – including Joseph – not to attend.

Fellow Washington officials including former national security adviser John Bolton, senator Joe Lieberman and former NATO General James Jones were set to attend.

‘I am the last person who would suggest the use of force, either there or with North Korea,’ Joseph said in Tirana. ‘But rather to support the opposition in overthrowing this regime.’

Joseph was the chief negotiator to Libya in 2003 and is credited with convincing Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to give up his nuclear weapons programme.

He has been strongly critical of former president Barack Obama’s regime and in its actions in aiding the overthrow of Gaddafi’s government in 2011, as well as the 2015 nuclear deal, which the administration agreed to prevent Iran from developing weapons of mass destruction.

The conference was being hosted by an exiled Iranian opposition group living in exile in the Ashraf 3 camp in Tirana, with some former US officials backing the campaigners as a potential replacement for the Islamic Republic currently running Iran.

‘The US government is aware of a potential threat targeting the Free Iran World Summit to be held near Durres, Albania on July 23-24, 2022,’ said the US Embassy in Albania one day prior to the event, asking US citizens to avoid the summit and ‘be aware of your surroundings’.

The IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, said in May that Iran’s ‘breakout time’ — the time theoretically required for the regime to produce a nuclear weapons — had shrunk to two weeks.

But the Institute for Science and International Security said a month later the breakout time had hit zero.

Putin hobbles along red carpet with arm limp as he arrives in Iran

‘We hear that they are regularly testing ballistic missiles, and they are seeking to get enough uranium that they are able to produce a weapon,’ said MP Matthew Offord, who had been scheduled to attend the event.

‘The issue with the ballistic missiles is that they would be longer range,’ he added. ‘It wouldn’t be in the immediate area, say as far as Israel, it could go a lot further than that.’

The MP said he has been ‘taking preventative actions’ after the death of his friend David Amess last year, a fellow MP murdered by an Islamist extremist.

Iranian agents have previously targeted events hosted by the members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the exiled opposition that relocated to Tirana after thousands of its members were executed during the 2013-2017 War in Iraq.

John Baird, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada who was also scheduled to attend, said the terror threat was only the second time in his career when a summit was cancelled because of a credible threat to attendees, the first also involving the NCRI.

In 2018, French police arrested an Iranian agent trying to bring explosives and a detonator to a NCRI rally in Paris.

President Biden says clock is ticking on stalled Iran nuclear talks

Assadollah Assadi, 49, who worked at the Iranian embassy in Vienna, was given a 20-year jail term by the court in Antwerp in Belgium, the first time an Iranian official had faced such charges in the EU since the 1979 revolution.

But on Thursday the Belgian parliament ratified a treaty to swap the convicted terrorist with a Belgian citizen held hostage in Iran, a move strongly opposed by the Iranian opposition.

‘We need to stand with Iran in this great struggle. The people of Iran have got to know that the world recognises this regime for what it is,’ Baird added. ‘I strongly support regime change, not outside with military force, but the National Council is probably the biggest and most effective opposition to the regime, so we need to support them.’

The IAEA said in May that Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent had grown to 95 pounds, an increase of more than 300% compared to the previous three months.

NCRI originally revealed the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons programme to the world in 2005, providing evidence to international bodies that the regime has worked on production of a neutron initiator by using Polonium 210 and Beryllium — granting it the capacity to enrich uranium and eventually acquire nuclear weapons.

Ukraine could push S Korea to go nuclear: Daniel 7

South Korean Hyeonmu ballistic missiles on display at the Korean War Memorial Museum in Seoul. Photo: EPA-EFE / Jeon Heon Kyun / The Conversation

Ukraine could push Japan, S Korea to go nuclear

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended assumptions of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and provided new impetus to go nuclear

by Christoph Bluth July 24, 2022

The war in Ukraine called into question many of the fundamental pillars of the international order. The European security system that has developed since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact has received a shattering blow. A war of aggression by a major power intent to destroy a neighboring state and annex significant territories has broken with major taboos, not to mention international law.

Apart from the obvious tragedy for the people of Ukraine, another potential casualty is the nuclear nonproliferation system which has existed since 1970. Putin’s blatant breach of the Budapest Memorandum, signed in 1994 by Russia, the UK and US relating to the accession of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), has upended security guarantees in Europe.

The memorandum was an assurance of territorial integrity for Ukraine after it agreed to dismantle the large nuclear arsenal that remained on its territory after the break up of the Soviet Union. By signing the memorandum, Russia – along with the US and the UK – agreed not to threaten Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan with military force or economic coercion. This has proved to be worthless.

And there’s the danger. If we now live in a world where major powers are fully prepared to embark on a full-scale war to achieve their territorial ambitions, then the assumptions of the NPT, according to which non-nuclear states can rely on the security assurances from the major powers, may no longer be valid. Many countries may think it prudent to go nuclear to avoid Ukraine’s fate.

Anxiety in Asia

This doesn’t stop in Europe. Allies of the US in Asia are wondering the extent to which the principle of “extended deterrence” (the protection afforded by America’s nuclear umbrella) is still viable. China’s increasingly aggressive pursuit of its foreign policy aims in recent years has been a major concern for Taiwan, where many question Washington’s policy of “strategic ambiguity” about how and to what extent the US would support the country.

China’s activities in the South China Sea, where it pursues its claims on maritime territories not accepted in international law, have also raised major concerns throughout the region. Japan and China have been at loggerheads for some years over a number of disputed territories including the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

Another concern is obviously North Korea’s nuclear program and its regular testing of ballistic missiles which could carry nuclear warheads and have a range which could easily threaten Japan and South Korea. If and when Pyongyang develops the capacity to hit targets in the continental US, this could well test America’s nuclear guarantee in Asia.

A nuclear South Korea?

There is increasing support within South Korea for the development of its own nuclear deterrent. A survey taken earlier this year found that 71% approved of South Korea going nuclear. This was in line with similar polls over recent years.

While the new South Korean government led by Yoon Suk-yeoul does not endorse such a policy and remains committed to the US-ROK alliance, there have been persistent voices in South Korea supporting a shift towards nuclear self-reliance.President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol gives a speech at the construction site of a nuclear power plant. Image: Twitter

There is also considerable pressure in Japan to abandon the post-war “Peace Constitution” which banned the country from maintaining anything stronger than a self-defense force – and the country recently doubled its military budget. 

Japan has the technological capacity to develop nuclear weapons quickly – but the experience of US atomic attacks during the second world war remains a powerful restraint.

In March 2022 the late prime minister, Shinzo Abe, called for US nuclear weapons to be based on Japanese territory, presumably to deter both China and North Korea. This – predictably enough – provoked an angry reaction from Beijing, which asked Japan to “reflect on its history.”

Fragile security

For now, the US nuclear guarantee remains credible in the eyes of its Asian partners and the strategic situation on the Korean peninsula remains stable – despite the wrangling already described. It’s a very different situation from what is happening in Ukraine. The US already has forces on the Korean peninsula and is committed to South Korea’s defense.

North Korea is much more vulnerable than the US under any nuclear war scenario. If Pyongyang ever launched a nuclear strike, it would risk rapid and complete obliteration.

An obvious way to address the extended deterrence problem would be to redeploy US nuclear forces in South Korea, similar to Abe’s suggestion for Japan. 

That would considerably enhance the credibility of a US security guarantee and would complicate China’s calculations, even with respect to Taiwan – despite all the noises from Beijing about reunification.

But South Korea faces the European dilemma – which is that the more credible its own capabilities become, the less the US will feel the need to commit its resources. While South Korea’s conventional capabilities are more than a match for the North Korean army and its obsolete equipment, it has no answer to the North’s weapons of mass destruction.

So far South Korea seems to have struck a sensible balance – going nuclear could upend all of that as it may cause Washington to withdraw entirely.People at a railway station in Seoul on September 28 watch a television news broadcast showing file footage of a North Korean missile test. Photo: AFP / Jung Yeon-je

It seems that despite the flagrant violations of the security assurances by Russia and the increasing capabilities of the North Korean nuclear arsenal, the commitment to the NPT remains firm. 

But this could change if the security environment in Europe and Asia continues to deteriorate and Russia and China become increasingly perceived as serious and realistic military threats.

If the reliability of the US as a security guarantor is weakened it could result in a fatal erosion of the assumptions of the NPT. This would make the pressure for indigenous nuclear arsenals – both in Asia and the Middle East – irresistible. This is something the “Great Powers” have taken pains to prevent since 1945.

Christoph Bluth is Professor of International Relations and Security, University of Bradford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.