New York Subways at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

           How vulnerable are NYC’s underwater subway tunnels to flooding?Ashley Fetters
New York City is full of peculiar phenomena—rickety fire escapes; 100-year-old subway tunnelsair conditioners propped perilously into window frames—that can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest city denizen. But should they? Every month, writer Ashley Fetters will be exploring—and debunking—these New York-specific fears, letting you know what you should actually worry about, and what anxieties you can simply let slip away.
The 25-minute subway commute from Crown Heights to the Financial District on the 2/3 line is, in my experience, a surprisingly peaceful start to the workday—save for one 3,100-foot stretch between the Clark Street and Wall Street stations, where for three minutes I sit wondering what the probability is that I will soon die a torturous, claustrophobic drowning death right here in this subway car.
The Clark Street Tunnel, opened in 1916, is one of approximately a dozen tunnels that escort MTA passengers from one borough to the next underwater—and just about all of them, with the exception of the 1989 addition of the 63rd Street F train tunnel, were constructed between 1900 and 1936.
Each day, thousands of New Yorkers venture across the East River and back again through these tubes buried deep in the riverbed, some of which are nearing or even past their 100th birthdays. Are they wrong to ponder their own mortality while picturing one of these watery catacombs suddenly springing a leak?
Mostly yes, they are, says Michael Horodniceanu, the former president of MTA Capital Construction and current principal of Urban Advisory Group. First, it’s important to remember that the subway tunnel is built under the riverbed, not just in the river—so what immediately surrounds the tunnel isn’t water but some 25 feet of soil. “There’s a lot of dirt on top of it,” Horodniceanu says. “It’s well into the bed of the bottom of the channel.”
And second, as Angus Kress Gillespie, author of Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, points out, New York’s underwater subway tunnels are designed to withstand some leaking. And withstand it they do: Pumps placed below the floor of the tunnel, he says, are always running, always diverting water seepage into the sewers. (Horodniceanu says the amount of water these pumps divert into the sewer system each day numbers in the thousands of gallons.)
Additionally, MTA crews routinely repair the grouting and caulking, and often inject a substance into the walls that creates a waterproof membrane outside the tunnel—which keeps water out of the tunnel and relieves any water pressure acting on its walls. New tunnels, Horodniceanu points out, are even built with an outside waterproofing membrane that works like an umbrella: Water goes around it, it falls to the sides, and then it gets channeled into a pumping station and pumped out.
Of course, the classic New York nightmare scenario isn’t just a cute little trickle finding its way in. The anxiety daydream usually involves something sinister, or seismic. The good news, however, is that while an earthquake or explosion would indeed be bad for many reasons, it likely wouldn’t result in the frantic flooding horror scene that plays out in some commuters’ imaginations.
The Montague Tube, which sustained severe damage during Hurricane Sandy.
MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann
Horodniceanu assures me that tunnels built more recently are “built to withstand a seismic event.” The older tunnels, however—like, um, the Clark Street Tunnel—“were not seismically retrofitted, let me put it that way,” Horodniceanu says. “But the way they were built is in such a way that I do not believe an earthquake would affect them.” They aren’t deep enough in the ground, anyway, he says, to be too intensely affected by a seismic event. (The MTA did not respond to a request for comment.)
One of the only real threats to tunnel infrastructure, Horodniceanu adds, is extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused flooding in the tunnels, which “created problems with the infrastructure.” He continues, “The tunnels have to be rebuilt as a result of saltwater corroding the infrastructure.”
Still, he points out, hurricanes don’t exactly happen with no warning. So while Hurricane Sandy did cause major trauma to the tunnels, train traffic could be stopped with ample time to keep passengers out of harm’s way. In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed all the MTA’s mass transit services to shut down at 7 p.m. the night before Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit New York City.
And Gillespie, for his part, doubts even an explosion would result in sudden, dangerous flooding. A subway tunnel is not a closed system, he points out; it’s like a pipe that’s open at both ends. “The force of a blast would go forwards and backwards out the exit,” he says.
So the subway-train version of that terrifying Holland Tunnel flood scene in Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight is … unrealistic, right?
“Yeah,” Gillespie laughs. “Yeah. It is.”
Got a weird New York anxiety that you want explored? E-mail, and we may include it in a future column.

The pros and cons of the South Korean Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

American missiles on display at the war museum in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: AFP / Philippe Lopez

The pros and cons of a nuclear South Korea

Polls show South Koreans strongly support having a nuclear deterrent but the risk of irking the US and China still weighs against the move

by Andrew Salmon July 25, 2022

SEOUL – Few nations look as vulnerable to nuclear strikes – or threats – as South Korea.

The country lies directly south of fierce rival North Korea, which has been nuclear-capable since 2006. Since 2021, Pyongyang has been expanding its existing long-range strategic deterrent – which most believe is aimed at the US – by developing shorter-range tactical capabilities.

Off-peninsula developments are equally sobering. Russia has successfully ring-fenced its February invasion of Ukraine by threatening nuclear use against any nation that dares to cross its red lines. As a result, while Kiev receives moral, financial and arms support from Western partners, it stands alone on the battlefield.

South Korea, unlike Ukraine, has a national insurance policy: The US is treaty-bound to defend it. However, there is the question of US resolution: The credibility of that insurance is untested in the face of real-world nuclear aggression. 

Some fret that – if push came to shove – Washington would be unwilling to risk losing one or more of its cities to a North Korean reprisal, leaving South Korea exposed to potential perdition. 

Against this fraught backdrop, a simmering issue is now heating up again: The possibility of South Korea joining the nuclear club by developing a home-grown deterrent.

One of the highest-profile proponents of that possibility put a stark question to Asia Times on the sidelines of a recent conference. “How can we sleep at night?” asked political heavyweight and Hyundai Heavy Chairman Chung Mong-joon.

Currently, institutes are churning out research showing that the public overwhelmingly supports the national acquisition of nuclear arms. It is increasingly a hot topic at conferences and in media.

But with the Yoon Suk-yeol administration cleaving tightly to a US that is still strongly attached to non-proliferation, there is no tangible momentum. And any South Korean leader who decided to go critical would need to first answer the multiple questions that hang over the issue.

Politically: What sanctions might South Korea face and how would the development affect Seoul’s security relationship with its key ally the US? Moreover, how might China and Japan react?

Technically: Is South Korea capable of creating both nuclear arms and their delivery systems? And if it built a nuclear weapon, where would it test it?Intercontinental ballistic missiles at a military parade celebrating the 70th founding anniversary of the Korean People’s Army in Pyongyang. North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is a key – but not the only – issue prodding South Korea to follow suit. Photo: KCNA via Reuters

The case for going nuclear

That the Korean public is in favor of a domestic nuclear deterrent is clear.

A Chicago Council on Foreign Relations poll in February found that 71% of Koreans favored developing a domestic nuclear deterrent. A May poll conducted by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies found that 70.2% were in favor – with 63.6% favoring an independent nuclear deterrent even if led to sanctions.

The matter was in the open at this month’s Asian Leadership Conference 2022 in Seoul, with a dedicated discussion panel. 

“People are talking about this now,” said panelist Robert Kelly, an American professor of political science at Pusan National University. “It is more blunt and open than ever before.”

A key reason to proceed would be to directly deter North Korea, which has defied all efforts by all parties to halt its nuclear arms programs. 

“Despite decades of efforts to denuclearize North Korea, we are faced with what looks like an imminent seventh nuclear test…and that may not be the end of it,” said Lee Jung-hoon, a professor of international relations at Seoul’s Yonsei University who moderated the ALC discussion.

“So that begs the question: ‘If North Korea does go ahead, what are we to do? More condemnation, more UNSC resolutions, more sanctions?” Lee continued. “That has not worked for two decades.”

America is strongly attached to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, or NPT, raising worries that Washington would crack down if Seoul decided to go nuclear. But other friendly power players would not be likely to sanction Seoul beyond lip service. 

“I see no appetite in the EU to sanction South Korea for going nuclear, and the same with Japan and Taiwan,” Ramon Pacheo Pardo, a professor of international relations at Kings College London told Asia Times. “I don’t see the EU doing anything other than official condemnation.”

Moreover, Article 10 of the treaty would allow South Korea to exit the NPT in good faith.

“Acquiring nuclear weapons is not a violation of international law – only for those countries who are members of the NPT,” said Daryl Press, an associate professor at Dartmouth College. “South Korea could do it in a legal fashion by exercising its Article 10 legal rights to withdraw…there is no need to be a pariah.”

For a South Korean diplomat, explaining the necessity of the step would be “an easy day on the job,” Press suggested.

In fact, signaling an NPT withdrawal could be a legitimate step on Seoul’s response ladder, Lee proposed. “If [North Korea] conducts a seventh nuclear test, the least we can do is withdraw from the NPT,” he said. “That would put a lot of pressure on the international community to do more.”

Experts are divided regarding how much or little pressure Beijing has exerted over the years on Pyongyang to denuclearize – and how much leverage it realistically possesses. But any proposed Seoul withdrawal from the NPT – and the additional possibility that Tokyo would follow Seoul’s lead and tip over the nuclear threshold – would certainly trigger alarm bells in Beijing.

“China will strongly oppose this step,” Press said. “But the South Korean position is eminently reasonable: South Korea should hold open other options and say, ‘If there is some way the international community, perhaps led by China, [could] get North Korea to denuclearize, we would happily rejoin the NPT.’”

He added, “I would not phrase this as a threat to the Chinese, but a reach out of the hand.” 

Others say that not even Beijing – a key source of fuel, food and medicine for North Korea – can reign in Pyongyang. 

“North Korea has already demonstrated that they don’t give a damn about the US, the UN and China,” Chun In-bum, a retired South Korean general told Asia Times. “The North Koreans will eat each other before they give up nuclear weapons.”

A key argument for Seoul’s nuking up is the possibility of the US backing down if faced with a truly locked-and-loaded North Korea. 

“The core issue is that North can strike US with an ICBM and in doing so you introduce the classic dilemma: [French President Charles] De Gaulle asked [US President John] Kennedy if he would exchange New York for Paris,” Kelly said of the 1961 discussion between the two leaders. “Kennedy waffled. I think the answer is probably ‘no.’” I don’t believe the US would fight a nuke war solely for non-Americans.”

In this sense, South Korean nuclearization would not just aim a close-to-home deterrent at North Korea but could also lower risks for the US. And the nuclearization of US allies France and UK during the Cold War provides a European benchmark that could be applied to Asian allies South Korea and Japan, Kelly said – warning the US not to act in “hegemonic” fashion.

America’s public, he guessed, would be supportive. “My sense is that the issue of North Korea is so obvious it will move US public opinion, and the US foreign policy community will come around,” he said.

Policy cleavages between Seoul and Washington provide another rationale for independent nukes, according to Press. The rise of China and the “wedge” being driven “between South Korean and US priorities” is not yet “catastrophic” but is a “growing strain,” the American scholar said.

Rising fears are also hovering over not American strengths but rather its weaknesses.  

In war, Washington is acutely casualty-sensitive and in recent conflicts has arguably lacked the political will to win. Moreover, US society and politics are deeply – some say dangerously – polarized. These chinks in America’s armor may be leveraged by a wily foe.

“[South] Korea needs a very stable US, but right now the US is trying to find itself or to be reborn,” Chun said. “As they do this, enemies will see an opportunity.”

Cheong Seong-chang, who directs the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute think tank, argued that the nuclearization of South Korea and/or Japan would rebalance Northeast Asia’s off-center strategic geography.

“There is tilted ground that will be more and more tilted…Russia, China and North Korea all have nuclear weapons,” he told the ALC. Conversely, among Japan, South Korea and the US, only the latter possesses a nuclear deterrent.

Chun agreed. “The US faces such a variety of challenges now,” he said. “It is only natural that Korea should have the ability to help the US in whatever situation.”

So could South Korea pull it off?President Yoon Suk-yeol gives a speech at the construction site of a nuclear power plant. Yoon is upping atomic power production, but has made any move on nuclear arms. Image: Twitter

Nuclear feasibility

There is no question about the “what” of the issue. South Korea, a highly-educated G10 economy that is home to a competitive nuclear power sector that exports reactors, could independently create atomic arms. 

One method of producing the core of a nuclear weapon is by reprocessing plutonium fuel rods. Using spent fuel from the Wolseong nuclear plant, “We can create 4,000 nuclear weapon units,” Cheong said.

While Cheong did not specify kilotonnage, that would be a massive armory: World leader Russia is believed to field fewer than 6,000 nuclear warheads. The six-reactor Wolseong, in the country’s southeast, started operations in 1983.

It is not just plutonium South Korea could leverage. “Korea also has uranium enrichment technologies held by only a handful of countries in the world,” Cheong said.

In 2000, the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute tested laser enrichment technology, according to a 2016 article in the Chosun Ilbo, that was reproduced by the Non-Proliferation Policy Education Center. Using that, 1 kilogram of highly enriched U-235 could be produced in around four hours. The article also reported that the country already produces the kind of industrial alloys needed to encase fissile materials.

The question then is “when” – how long would the process take if the political will was mustered? Experts differ on the question.

The 2016 article estimated it would take six months to produce fissile materials and six-nine months to develop a detonation device – an overall timeline of approximately 18 months.

Others believe it could be done more quickly. In a widely quoted comment, Suh Kune-yull, a professor of nuclear engineering at the elite Seoul National University told the New York Times in 2017, “If we decide to stand on our own feet and put our resources together, we can build nuclear weapons in six months…the question is whether the president has the political will.”

A more recent June 2022 commentary in the military website War on the Rocks by Lami Kim, who directs the Asian Studies Program at the US Army War College, found, “Although South Korea has advanced nuclear technologies…Seoul would still need three to five years to acquire a workable nuclear arsenal.”

It was unclear if Kim was discussing device production or a full nose-to-tail system. The latter would include the development of nuclear doctrine and leadership protocols; the creation of a dedicated command-and-control net; and the marriage of atomic devices with delivery systems.

Addressing a full-program scenario, Cheong was more optimistic. “If we pursued it at very high speed, we could have fully usable and deployable weapons within two years,” he said. “At slow speed, three years would be enough.”

In terms of delivery systems, South Korea looks to be good to go. Given that North Korea borders the country, tactical nuclear devices could be fired via tube or rocket artillery. But Seoul has ex-peninsular reach, too.

The country has successfully tested submarine-launched ballistic missiles. More recently, the June launch of the Nuri space rocket proved that the country is de facto intermediate-range ballistic missile-capable, given the dual use of booster technologies.

There is one hole in this otherwise impressive armory of capabilities. To be a credible deterrent, any nuclear device must be physically tested. So where could South Korea potentially conduct one?

North Korea has tested devices in underground tunnels in a remote, mountainous area. That is near-impossible for South Korea for reasons of population densities and politics.

The South has nearly double the population of its northern rival – 52 million versus the North’s 26 million – all compressed into a smaller land area – 100,210 square kilometers versus the North’s 120,540 square kilometers.

And authoritarian Pyongyang does not have to consider popular push back against its policies, while democratic Seoul must contend with street politics and NIMBYism related to defense, energy and other issues.

In recent years, there have been high-profile protests against a naval base on Jeju Island, nuclear reactors and the placement of a US anti-missile battery.

Still, Cheong hinted – tantalizingly – that the issue has been discussed.

“Where a nuclear test would be done is a very sensitive question – there are few candidate [locations] where tests are possible,” he said. “If this was tabled, the residents would protest, so I cannot disclose.”

One possibility could be a Bikini Atoll-style seafloor test off of one of the uninhabited islands that ring South Korea’s coast. 

It has long been rumored – but never proven – that Imperial Japan test-detonated a nuclear device on an island off the coast of northeastern Korea in the waning days of World War II.South Korea’s Nuri space rocket blasts into the sky. The boosters sending this peaceful projectile into the heavens could feasibly be converted to an intermediate-range ballistic missile. Photo: South Korean Ministry of Science and ICT

The case against

Despite energetic discussion in specialist circles, the acquisition of a nuclear deterrent is currently not on the national political agenda.

One reason – counter-intuitively – is that it has customarily been liberal Seoul governments that have pursued independent defense capabilities.

The process of moving wartime operational control (“OPCON Transfer”) of the South Korean military from Washington’s grip to Seoul’s was initiated by the leftist Roh Moo-hyun government that was in office from 2003-2008.

Subsequently, the Moon Jae-in administration (2017-2022) oversaw the lifting of US-set range caps on South Korean missiles and tested submarine-launched ballistic missiles. It also tabled the acquisition of an aircraft carrier, while pressing ahead with (still incomplete) OPCON transfer.

The latter program is costing the Korean taxpayer billions – and adding a nuclear capability would add to the burden.

“An indigenous nuclear program would consume and divert enormous funding from South Korea’s defense budget,” Bruce Klinger, senior fellow for Northeast Asia at US think tank The Heritage Foundation told Asia Times. “South Korea’s defense funding would be better spent augmenting conventional force requirements as stipulated in South Korea’s Defense Reform Plan 2.0 and the bilateral plan” for OPCON transfer.

Conservative administrations, such as Yoon’s, have historically been unadventurous on defense, preferring to place maximum trust in the US. Hence, Seoul is not courting Washington’s displeasure by initiating a nuclear deterrent.

“The Yoon administration, like its predecessors, has declared it will not pursue an indigenous nuclear weapons program,” Klinger said. 

This ambiance is reflected in the caution some feel. “We would lose more than we gain,” a person familiar with the topic told Asia Times.

It is sensitive: The moderator of this month’s ALC discussion, Lee, noted that the topic was “…politically controversial and, perhaps, not politically correct.”

Doubly so given that movement on the issue could so alarm Washington that it could spark the risk that has stalked South Korean politics since the Donald Trump administration: A withdrawal of US troops.

“An attempt by Seoul to keep a major military capability separate from the combined and integrated command structure would be antithetical to the foundation of the bilateral alliance as well as long-standing US counter-proliferation policy,” Klinger warned. 

“Such a step could lead to calls for reduction or withdrawal of US forces either due to concerns of possible independent South Korean actions or isolationist perceptions that Seoul could now go it alone.”

Kim wrote for War on the Rocks that if an irked US withdrew support, South Korea would be acutely vulnerable during the time it took to craft its deterrent.

A further risk is likely sanctions damage – such as the heavy hit Korea Inc suffered from Chinese retaliation after Seoul established a US THAAD anti-missile system on South Korean soil in 2017.

And there is one other issue – one that lurks deep below the surface.

“Advocacy for developing an indigenous South Korean nuclear capability seems grounded more on national prestige rather than strategic considerations,” Klinger said.

Pollsters admit it. “Public attitudes on nuclear weapons do not strongly align with rationales for armament offered by some South Korean politicians and analysts,” the Chicago Council conceded.

The Council found that acquisition of home-grown nuclear muscle in the Korean public mind is not aimed exclusively at North Korea.

“Threats other than North Korea” are a “main driver of support” the Chicago Council found – with 55% of respondents saying China will be the biggest threat to South Korea in ten years.

Meanwhile, 26% of South Koreans considered national prestige as the key reason for their support for nuclear arms, higher than those who see the aim being to counter North Korea, who came in at just 23%.

These findings may reflect deep-seated public emotion.

A 1993 South Korean novel, “The Rose of Sharon is Blooming Again” – the reference is to the national flower – became a best-seller and was turned into a movie in 1995. It depicts North and South Korea joint-developing nuclear arms to take on national bete noire, Japan.

Be that as it may, Chun puts forward a final rationale for going nuclear.

“It’s a volatile world with multiple challenges and we need multiple capabilities and flexibilities,” he said. “There is so much we can prepare for.”

Follow this writer on Twitter @ASalmonSeoul

Israel demolishes homes outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israeli army forces blow up the family house of Palestinian Yahia Merai in the West Bank town of Qarawat Bani Hassan, Salfit, Tuesday, July 26, 2022. Israeli soldiers demolished the residences of Palestinian attackers Yahia Merai and Youssef Assi who committed the deadly attack in the Israeli settlement of Ariel in April 2022, the Israeli army said.

Israel demolishes homes of suspected Palestinian attackers

Updated: July 26, 2022 4:51 a.m. Comments

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1of5Israeli army forces blow up the family house of Palestinian Yahia Merai in the West Bank town of Qarawat Bani Hassan, Salfit, Tuesday, July 26, 2022. Israeli soldiers demolished the residences of Palestinian attackers Yahia Merai and Youssef Assi who committed the deadly attack in the Israeli settlement of Ariel in April 2022, the Israeli army said.Nasser Nasser/AP

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military demolished the homes on Tuesday of two Palestinians suspected of killing an Israeli security guard in a West Bank settlement in April.

Smoke erupted from the site as the building came tumbling down in a controlled explosion. Palestinians clambered over the rubble after the soldiers left and pulled items from the ruins.

The security guard, Vyacheslav Golev, was killed in a shooting at the entrance to a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank on April 29. The Palestinian militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Israeli military later apprehended two Palestinians suspected of carrying out the attack. On Tuesday, the army said it demolished their residences in the northern West Bank village of Qarawat Bani Hassan.

In a statement, the military said forces faced a violent protest, with firebombs and burning tires thrown at the troops.

Israel routinely demolishes the homes of slain or captured Palestinian assailants who killed Israelis, saying it serves as a deterrent against future attackers. The Palestinians and rights groups say the practice amounts to collective punishment.

Israeli troops have been carrying out near-daily raids across West Bank for months in the aftermath of a string of deadly attacks in which Palestinian attackers killed 19 Israelis.

The military has faced resistance during some of those raids, which in several instances have turned deadly. More than 60 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the start of the year, according to an official Palestinian tally.

The Palestinians seek the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war, for a future independent state.

Iran is now a Nuclear Horn: Daniel 8


Ehud Barak: Iran Can Transform Itself into a Nuclear Power—And It’s Too Late to Stop It By Surgical Attack

The effort to block Iran from turning into a nuclear power is at its lowest ebb ever, apparently headed for failure. In 2015, the U.S.-led agreement to delay Iran’s program failed to go far enough, and the 2018 U.S. withdrawal from that same agreement allowed Iran to ‘legitimize’ its persistent crawl toward ’threshold nuclear’ status – that is, having enough highly enriched uranium for one nuclear device and the technology to make it a weapon. In 2018 they were some 17 months away from that threshold. Today they are probably just 17 days away.

It’s time to face reality.

It was for good reason that, eight months ago, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that if an agreement is not achieved within weeks it might not be worth signing. That’s even more true today. Iran kept enriching uranium and has turned from a country that Russia was assigned to monitor into a country supplying Russia with armed drones. At this point, a new agreement would be useful mainly for appearances, providing both sides a ‘denial umbrella’ for domestic needs — for the U.S., avoiding tougher realities and choices, and, for the Iranians, keeping sanctions at the lightest level possible.

This summer, Iran will turn into a de-facto threshold nuclear state. Yes, it will still take them from 18 to 24 months to polish their skills treating metal uranium and packing it into a missile warhead. But these steps can be executed in a small lab or workshop and cannot be easily followed, never mind stopped. It may well be that, even if and when Iran becomes a nuclear threshold country, the mullahs will opt to pretend otherwise, remaining in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime in order to avoid even heavier sanctions. But that will not change the reality. After more than 20 years of trying, Iran is about to cross the point of no return in becoming a member of the “nuclear club.”

This has been the mullahs’ ambition all along.

They have successfully followed in the footsteps of North Korea and Pakistan, who defied the whole world and turned nuclear. They also avoided the coerced end of the Libyan and South African nuclear programs, and the fate of the Iraqi and Syrian programs, destroyed by Israeli surgical air raids in 1981 and 2007 respectively.

But in 1981 and 2007, those programs weren’t as advanced as the Iran’s program had been allowed to become.

For unexplainable reasons, after the US pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2018 neither the US nor Israel prepared an available military ‘plan B,’ a kinetic attack capable of delaying the Iranian program by at least several years.

But while this was probably achievable when Iran was 17 months away from successful “breakout,” the situation is totally different at 17 days. “Breakout” is shorthand for the decision, followed by action, to shift a nominally civilian nuclear program, one devoted to generating electrical power, to a program making weapons. It involves enriching uranium 238 isotope to over 90% purity. The enrichment is done in centrifuges and the process of raising it from 60% to ‘weapon grade’ is much faster and simpler than the earlier processes. This last stage requires smaller spaces, possibly in very deep tunnels beyond the reach of any weapon. So even if you have excellent intelligence (which is not always the case) and you know in real time what is happening, you might find that you can’t do a lot about it. It already has happened to the US, more than once, regarding North Korea.

So the reality is this: Both Israel and (for sure) the US can operate over the skies of Iran against this or that site or installation and destroy it. But once Iran is a de-facto threshold nuclear state this kind of attack simply cannot delay the Iranians from turning nuclear. Indeed, under certain circumstances it might accelerate their rush toward assembling that bomb, and provide them a measure of legitimacy on grounds of self-defense.

In other words, unlike the surgical operations that were considered 12 years ago, or could have been considered 4 years ago–operations which could have substantially delayed the Iranian program (while risking a war with Iran)–the present possibilities bring all the risk of war (especially for Israel) with only scant likelihood of delaying the Iranian nuclear program.

The US can still deter Iran from going nuclear by a diplomatic ultimatum to stop the program, backed by credible threat of a wide scale war. Nothing short of that can assure a result. I hope this is still realistic.

Otherwise, we face a new and severe change for the worse in the security balance of the Middle East. Iran is already a tough and bitter rival, operating against Israel and others, directly and by proxies in Iraq, in Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, while spreading terror, chaos and insurgency wherever they can. I would not for a moment underestimate their capacity to harass Israel and others, disrupt normal life, or their wish to see Israel defeated.

However, when it comes to nuclear capability, bear in mind that creating a preliminary nuclear arsenal can take a decade or more. It becomes a potential existential threat to Israel only in the longer term. Realistically speaking it’s not about dropping a weapon on Israel. The Iranian mullahs are fanatics and extremist but not stupid or crazy. They do not want to end up back in the Stone Age.

Quite the opposite. For Iran, nuclear capability is about the survivability of the regime. It assures that no one will dare to intervene on a wide scale in Iran, no matter how vulnerable the regime appears. Nuclear capability will also ‘balance’ their positioning vis-a-vis Israel and give the Iranians more freedom to sow conflicts and disorder all over the region.

The more realistic risk, first and foremost, is the potential collapse of the NPT regime. If Iran chooses to go nuclear–a decision that the Iranian regime alone will make–Turkey, Egypt and in a different way Saudi Arabia will all feel compelled to go nuclear as well. That might take a decade or more, and probably only two will succeed, but a possible collapse of the NPT regime will encourage every third-rate dictator on earth to try protecting his regime the same way. What’s more, the road might open for the nightmare scenario, described by Harvard’s Graham Allison in Nuclear Terrorism, which holds that the more nuclear states there are, the greater the risk of a crude nuclear device in the hands of a terrorist group.

So, what is to be done? First, look reality at the eye, and act upon it – not on wishes or delusions. Start to think and prepare for the real new phase.

If a new agreement with Iran, even a dubious one, helps preserve the NPT, that would still serve useful purposes. But Iran’s signature is less important than what the U.S. does. Washington must establish a small club of relevant states, Israel among them, and make sure that high investments in intelligence minimizes the risk of missing any crucial developments. A lot should be done with operational and diplomatic cooperation, from covert ops to public policy, to prepare much tougher sanctions as well as operational contingencies to be activated if or when Iran appears to rush towards assembling a weapon – that is, when it breaks out.

Israel should also be equipped with the means to enable it to carry out an independent attack on the nuclear program, if both governments are convinced it is absolutely necessary. The smaller partner should have this capability because actual breakout will most probably occur when the US is engrossed with a crisis elsewhere, be it Venezuela, the South China Sea islands, Taiwan, Ukraine or an interregnum.

Special attention should be given to convincing Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others in the region that they are properly protected against Iranian nuclear blackmail and need not turn nuclear themselves.

The Ayatollahs are not going to control Iran forever. Usually such revolutions tend to collapse in their third generation (see the Communist Revolution, among other cases). Iran’s extremely young society will approach this stage within the next two decades. The Iranian people are a great people and great civilization from the dawn of history. They were Israel’s best friends in the region just 45 years ago. We have to stand firm and contain the Iranian Islamic Republic. At certain point, hopefully sooner than later, they will collapse and a new chapter will be opened. Let’s work together towards it.

China Horn developing horrifying nuclear weapons: Daniel 7

China developing horrifying nuclear drone torpedo SWARM to match Vladimir Putin’s Doomsday Poseidon nuke

11:20 ET, Jul 25 2022

CHINA has unveiled plans for fearsome nuclear drone torpedoes that would be able to fire swarms of devastating torpedoes across the entire Pacific Ocean.

Beijing scientists claim the new torpedo could be mass-produced, allowing it to be fired from virtually any warship or submarine.

China has unveiled designs for its new nuclear drone torpedoes
China has unveiled designs for its new nuclear drone torpedoesCredit: Getty
It is similar to the Russian Poseidon uncrewed nuclear drone
It is similar to the Russian Poseidon uncrewed nuclear droneCredit: Twitter

Chinese news sources brag that the new torpedoes would be an improvement on Russia’s underwater Poseidon nuclear drone, which Putinfirst flaunted back in 2018.

The Poseidon was hailed by the Kremlin as the world’s first nuclear-propelled underwater drone.

It is designed to bypass US missile defences and attack coastal targets by using its cobalt warhead to generate a 300ft radioactive tsunami, according to the US ODIN military training database.

In January this year, it was reported that the Belgorod, Vlad’s 600ft “city killer” nuke submarine will be primed for war this year.

It was hailed as a “game-changer” for Putin’s forces when the sub was launched for the first time in June last year.

However, China claims that, unlike Russia’s model, their torpedo will be easier to produce, and can be placed into a standard torpedo tube, rather than needing a custom-designed tube.

The unwieldy and expensive Poseidon is too large and overpowered for mass production, the South China Morning Post notes and is restricted to use as a strategic-level weapon with Russia’s Belgorod special mission submarine.

Researchers in Beijing say they have completed the design for its small, low-cost nuclear reactor which would be able to unleash a swarm of torpedoes across the Pacific Ocean in around a week.

Each torpedo would use a throwaway nuclear reactor to keep it at its cruising speed of over 30 knots (35mph) for 200 hours before dumping it on the seafloor.

A battery would then power a conventional weapon strike, Interesting Engineering reports.

Lead scientist Guo Jian from China’s Institute of Atomic Energy claimed in a paper published this month by the peer-reviewed Journal of Unmanned Undersea Systems that there is a key difference between their design and the Russian “Poseidon”.

“Thanks to its high flexibility and low cost, this unmanned underwater vehicle equipped with the nuclear power system can be used as a conventional force like an attack nuclear submarine, rather than as a nuclear missile.”

Russia’s Poseidon was touted as being capable of flattening an entire city or larger area using its two-megaton nuclear weapon – around 100 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

But Chinese researchers claim such a weapon would spark a nuclear war that would destroy the world, making it unlikely to ever be developed.

This unmanned underwater vehicle equipped with the nuclear power system can be used as a conventional force like an attack nuclear submarineGuo JianLead scientist

Instead, Guo says China’s weapon would be able to be used “in reconnaissance, tracking, attack and strategic strike”.

The low-cost reactor would produce more than 1.4 megawatts of heat from less than 8.8lbs (4kg) of low-concentration uranium fuel.

This would be enough energy to power the torpedo across the Pacific Ocean.

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

“This, in turn, stimulates us to make the system simpler and smaller.”

According to the team, the rector could run for up to 400 hours while travelling some 10,000km, roughly the distance between Shanghai and San Francisco.


THE Poseidon nuclear drone that can trigger tsunamis

  • Putin’s massive Poseidon drone will carry a two-megaton nuclear weapon
  • It could be in regular operation this year
  • Putin said the weapon was designed so Russia could destroy enemy naval bases
  • If deployed underwater, it could cause a tsunami as big as 300ft
  • It will travel at speeds of 60-70 knots underwater in a specially built submarine
  • The weapon was unveiled by Vladimir Putin during his State of the Nation address on March 1, 2018
  • Experts have warned the damage could match Japan’s 2011 tsunami when 20,000 people died

As it travels across the ocean, the reactor would separate from the torpedo and sink to the bottom of the ocean, triggering a safety mechanism to kill the remaining chain reaction.

This, the scientists claim, would prevent any form of nuclear accident from being triggered by the torpedos.

“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,” they added. “Safety is ensured.”

Last year, US diplomat Robert Wood claimed that China is looking at exotic nuclear delivery systems such as Russia’s Poseidon drone and Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, the Associated Press reported.

However, Asia Times reported that the weapon may never get beyond a prototype.

Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said that China is known for following the lead of the US and Russia and then leaving its designs unbuilt.

While a study last year by the Nautilus Institute found that the Poseidon drone may only have marginal military value despite its devastating capabilities.

Sources told Russia’s Tass news agency in January that the final sea trials are almost complete and it will be ready by the end of this month.

“The transfer of the Belgorod nuclear submarine to the fleet is planned for the summer of 2022,” it reported today.

“It is assumed that this event can be timed to coincide with the Day of the Russian Navy, which will be celebrated on July 31.”

China's President Xi Jinping, right, has looked to strengthen his country's military
China’s President Xi Jinping, right, has looked to strengthen his country’s militaryCredit: AP

70 earthquakes have now struck before the Sixth Seal

Credit: SCDNR

70 earthquakes have now struck Lugoff area since December

2.3 magnitude earthquake recorded around 3 a.m. Monday, July 25

Author: WLTX

Published: 9:49 AM EDT July 25, 2022

Updated: 12:14 PM EDT July 25, 2022

ELGIN, S.C. — The US Geological Survey (USGS) recorded another earthquake near the Lugoff and Elgin area of Kershaw County Monday morning.

This latest quake measured 2.3 magnitude and was centered approximately 3.2 miles south-southwest of Lugoff. It was centered 1.36 miles beneath the ground.

There have been close to 70 earthquakes recorded in the area since December 2021. Monday morning’s earthquake followed one recorded Sunday afternoon. That quake was also a M2.3.

Experts suggest the quakes are part of a swarm that appears to be the longest in the state’s history. The quake has also brought with it more widely felt rumbles that included magnitudes in the mid-threes. Some of those were felt as far away as Charlotte. 

What’s causing the swarm is still being researched, but earlier this month, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources released a report that suggested the nearby Lake Wateree could be responsible. They believe the initial earthquake in late December may have allowed water from the Wateree River to seep into new cracks that opened from the original December earthquake, which has now set off additional tremors in the area.

Researchers have set up recording devices in the area to gather more data about the quakes. 

The Town of Elgin plans to host a Virtual Earthquake Town Hall on Wednesday, June 27th.

Earthquakes happen throughout the state but most occur near the coast. Approximately 70 percent of earthquakes are in the coastal plain, with most happening in the Lowcountry.  

Back in 1886, Charleston was hit by a catastrophic earthquake. It had an estimated magnitude of 7.3, and was felt as far away and Cuba and New York. At least 60 people were killed, and thousands of building were damaged.

Pakistan: The Nuclear Horn without a Stable Economy

Pakistan: The Nuclear Power without a Stable Economy

Pakistan: The Nuclear Power without a Stable Economy

Islamabad [Pakistan], July 24 (ANI): Pakistan may have nuclear capabilities however the country is fighting with its fast exhausting foreign currency reserves, a declining rupee, and widening fiscal and current account deficits, along with a rupee that has lost almost 20 per cent of its value in just 7 months since January 2022.

State Bank of Pakistan’s reserves has fallen to as low as USD 9.32 billion, hardly enough to pay for 45 days of imports. The red line for SBP foreign currency reserves is USD 7.5 Billion to avoid “default”.

Pakistan’s political instability threatens to derail efforts to regain the confidence of key lenders. The country’s currency endured its worst week in more than two decades, reflecting investors’ worries that the country risks following Sri Lanka to become the next emerging economy to default on foreign repayments.

The emerging-market currencies are feeling the heat as the hawkish Federal Reserve lures capital toward the United States. Nope The panic in Pakistan’s stock and money market also comes from escalating risks after former prime minister Imran Khan’s by-polls win added to concern over the country’s bailout deal with the IMF, which it needs to avoid a default.

As per reports and trends the dollar is going out of control in Pakistan and the traders are in panic in the market that the rupee may go down further.

In a desperate move to avert default, the federal cabinet approves an ordinance to sell state resources. The government has approved an ordinance to bypass all procedures involved in the sale of state assets and abolished the regulatory checks through the ‘Inter-Governmental Commercial Transactions Ordinance 2022’.

The move is being seen as a desperate attempt to save the country from default through the emergency sale of the state’s assets to foreign countries. However, President Arif Alvi has not signed the ordinance yet.

The federal cabinet approved the ordinance on Thursday to sell stakes in oil and gas companies and government-owned power plants to the UAE to raise USD 2 billion to USD 2.5 billion to avoid the looming default. The UAE had in May refused to give cash deposits due to Pakistan’s failure to return previous loans and instead asked to open its companies for investment.

Top Economics and Commerce experts say that the IMF agreement is a critical step toward unlocking external financing that Pakistan needs to avoid a default.

The Red Line For SBP Foreign Currency Reserves is USD 7.5 Billion to avoid ‘default’. If UAE and Saudia or even Chinese withdraw its USD 2.3 billion; Pakistan’s Economy will be collapsed.

On July 15, the foreign currency reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan were recorded at USD 9.32 billion, down USD 389 million compared with USD 9.71 billion on July 7, 2022.

State Bank of Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves fell to single digits despite a USD 2.3 billion inflow from China late last month. Central bank’s foreign exchange reserves are expected to improve after the receipt of USD 1.17 billion from the global lender.

In the week ended August 27, 2021, the foreign exchange reserves held by the central bank soared to an all-time high of USD 20.15 billion after Pakistan received a general allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) worth USD 2,751.8 million from the IMF. (ANI)On Friday morning, the rupee was trading at 232 per dollar, having closed Friday at 228.37 in interbank; after Fitch Ratings revised its outlook for Pakistan’s sovereign debt from stable to negative – though it affirmed the Long-Term Foreign-Currency (LTFC) and Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at “B-“.

Country’s Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said the panic was due to political turmoil and not over economic fundamentals. Pakistani economist Atif Mian analyses how the Pakistani rupee has lost 20 per cent of its value and that the key issue will be “rationing”, in the short run.

“The dollar is going out of control and the traders are in panic in the market, I fear the rupee will go down further,” said Secretary-General of the Exchange Companies of Pakistan Zafar Paracha expressing concerns.

Pakistan’s central bank has hiked its key interest rate to 15% to curb inflation, which hit 21.3% in June.

Ismail, told a news conference in Islamabad, referring to the shortfall in foreign reserves, “we think that we will get USD 1.2 billion in deferred oil payment from a friendly country; we think that a foreign country will invest between USD 1.5 to USD 2 billion in stocks on a G2G (government-to-government) basis, and another friendly country will perhaps give us gas on deferred payment and another friendly country will make some deposits.”Finance Minister said the country will also get around USD 6 billion from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank in FY 2022-2023.

He said that the country needs USD 41 billion in foreign exchange over the next 12 months. “We have to repay USD 21 billion loans, need USD 12 billion current-account deficit financing and another USD 8-09 billion to maintain foreign exchange reservesavoid a default.” (ANI)