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 tips@curbed.com, and we may include it in a future column.

Palestinian killed during Israeli raid outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in occupied West Bank

RAMALLAH, West Bank — A 58-year-old Palestinian man was shot and killed outside a bakery during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank early on Friday.

His family and the Palestinian Health Ministry said he was shot by Israeli troops. The military said he may have been struck by gunfire from Palestinian militants during clashes that broke out during the raid, but a Palestinian eyewitness said there were no militants in the immediate area.

In a separate development, Israel approved an additional 1,500 work permits for Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, less than two weeks after the territory’s militant Hamas rulers sat out the latest round of violence there.

Salah Sawafta, 58, was shot in the head as he was returning home from dawn prayers in the West Bank town of Tubas, according to his brother, Jehad.

“There were clashes with youths in the area and Salah was shot by a sniper in the head after he bought a bag of bread from a grocery store,” he said. The Palestinian Health Ministry said he died after being brought to a local hospital in critical condition.

Surveillance video from outside the bakery shows Sawafta falling to the ground as another man leans out from the doorway and looks down the street. Neither Israeli troops nor Palestinian militants can be seen in the video.

Zakreya Abu Dollah, the bakery owner, said he was surprised to see Israeli soldiers and a sniper taking up positions on the road outside his shop just before the shooting. He said there were no Palestinian gunmen or stone-throwers in the immediate area.

The Israeli military said its troops went to arrest Palestinians suspected of taking part in or planning attacks. Palestinians hurled firebombs and opened fire at the soldiers, who shot back, the military said, adding that “a hit was identified,” without elaborating. The military said it was still investigating the incident.

Israeli forces carry out near-daily raids in the West Bank, including in areas administered by the Palestinian Authority, which often ignite violent confrontations with stone-throwing Palestinians or gunmen.

Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in the 1967 war, territories the Palestinians want for a future state. Israel withdrew soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005, and the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power from the Palestinian Authority two years later.

Since then, Israel and Hamas have fought four wars and several smaller battles, and Israel and Egypt have imposed a crippling blockade on the territory. Israel says the blockade is needed to keep Hamas from re-arming, while critics view it as a form of collective punishment of Gaza’s more than 2 million Palestinian residents.

Israel has taken steps to ease the blockade over the past year as part of understandings with Hamas aimed at preserving calm, including issuing thousands of permits for Palestinian laborers from Gaza to work inside Israel. The latest increase brings the total number of permits to 15,500.

That likely factored into Hamas’ decision to stay out of the most recent fighting, which began when Israel launched a wave of airstrikes against what it said was an imminent threat from Islamic Jihad, a smaller armed group in Gaza.

An Egyptian-brokered cease-fire ended three days of heavy fighting in which Israel carried out waves of airstrikes against what it said were militant targets and Islamic Jihad fired some 1,100 rockets at Israel. The fighting killed at least 49 Palestinians, including 17 children, as well as more than a dozen militants. No Israelis were killed or seriously wounded.

Supporters of the Antichrist step up pressure tactic with weekly prayer

Supporters of Iraq’s al-Sadr step up pressure tactic with weekly prayer in Green Zone

19 August ,2022: 04:03 PM GST

Thousands of supporters of Iraq’s Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stepped up their pressure tactics Friday with a weekly prayer session in the high-security Green Zone they have occupied for three weeks.

Tensions in the impoverished, war-scarred country have escalated over the inability of political factions to agree on formation of a government, 10 months after parliamentary elections.

Al-Sadr once led an anti-US group and has millions of devoted followers. Some of them stormed Iraq’s parliament late last month and began a sit-in, first inside the building and then on its grounds where thousands remain.

More recently their opponents from a pro-Iran bloc, the Coordination Framework, began their own sit-in on an avenue leading to the Green Zone which houses government institutions and foreign embassies.

“Yes! Yes to Muqtada!” the cleric’s followers chanted as the prayers began under a blazing sun.

Al-Sadr did not attend.

Neither was he present Wednesday when caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi met party and other leaders to discuss the political deadlock, which ordinary Iraqis see as having nothing to do with their daily struggles.

Sadr wants parliament dissolved to pave the way for new elections, and his followers see him as a champion of the anti-corruption fight.

Their opponents in the Framework seek a transitional government before new polls.

The Coordination Framework comprises former paramilitaries of the Tehran-backed Hashed al-Shaabi network, and the party of former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, a longtime al-Sadr foe.

Maliki was among those who attended the talks on Wednesday, when political leaders agreed to work on a roadmap aimed at ending the impasse which has left the country without a new prime minister or president.

Mohaned al-Moussaoui, who is close to al-Sadr, said during his Friday sermon that the “political dialogue is only in the name of your political interests and supporters, and not in the interest of the people.”

Coping With Nuclear War: Revelation 16

Coping with Rising Nuclear Fears

Russia’s rhetoric shows why it’s important to denounce nuclear risks without spreading anxiety.

Words: Névine Schepers 

Pictures: Alan Scales Date:August 19th, 2022

On the day President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, he warned the West against interfering by threatening an instant response, with “consequences […] such as you have never seen in your entire history” — a not-so-veiled nuclear threat. Days later, he publicly called for nuclear forces to be put on a “special regime of combat duty,” which was later clarified to be an increase in personnel at command centers rather than raising the level of alert.

Since then, Putin, his close associates, and Russian state media have regularly brought up nuclear weapons in public settings with different degrees of seriousness. A TV presenter, well-known for his ties to the Kremlin, depicted how a nuclear torpedo could raise a 500m wave carrying doses of radiation that would turn the United Kingdom (and also extent non-NATO, staunchly anti-nuclear Ireland) into a radioactive desert. Yet, this scenario is fraught with technical inaccuracies, notably vast exaggerations of the yield, scale, and effects of such a weapon that would be unlikely to cause a tsunami. Former President and now Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev warned of a “threat to the existence of humanity” should the West attempt to punish Russia.

Every new nuclear threat, whether blatant or veiled or in reference to Russia’s nuclear arsenal, is picked up by media around the world, particularly in Europe where geographical proximity to the war has led to a renewed interest in nuclear issues. Journalists’ and analysts’ questions reflect the general public’s concern about the likelihood of nuclear war breaking out. They ask what such a war would look like; what the effects of nuclear radiation would be; if Russia could resort to using tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine; who could stopPutin; whether nuclear weapons can be stoppedonce launched; whether the United States or NATO would retaliate; how we could survive a nuclear attack; and what can be done to prepare.

None of these questions are unreasonable or far-fetched. They reveal how a resurgence of the nuclear shadow so close to home is creating risks and apprehensions, which, for many Europeans who grew up after the Cold War ended, existed mostly in history textbooks or as related to North Korea, Iran, and, perhaps more recently, China. Finding ways to address these fears without spreading anxiety or encouraging blind faith in nuclear deterrence will become increasingly challenging as the war continues.

PROVIDING SOME ANSWERS

As a researcher working on nuclear issues, I’ve tried to answer many of these questions on numerous occasions and so have my peers in at least every European country for nearly every media outlet. I have also had similar discussions with family, friends, Facebook acquaintances who somehow remembered I worked on “something nuclear” and pretty much anyone I meet shortly after explaining my job.

While most of us believe the likelihood of nuclear weapon use remains very small, it still exists. The challenge, therefore, lies in explaining the risks of possible nuclear escalation and their consequences without either overstating or downplaying them. The former would unnecessarily inflame nuclear fears, which already led to a surge in demand for iodine tablets in Europe, while the latter would exhibit an overconfidence in deterrence no one can truly claim given the limits of what we can infer about Putin’s mindset.

At a time where, in Europe, it seems atypically easier to advocate for more deterrence rather than disarmament measures, carefully balancing deterrence imperatives without losing sight of arms control and disarmament objectives is increasingly challenging.

The late nuclear scholar, diplomat, and campaigner Michael Krepon encapsulated this challenge remarkably well in his piece “The Use and Misuse of Nuclear Fear.” He noted the difficulty in “knowing how best to convey messages regarding nuclear anxiety during crises” and, in the case of this one, how to “characterize nuclear danger without playing into Putin’s game plan.” Indeed, raising the possibility of a nuclear response, often described as an element of “nuclear signaling,” is an integral part of Russia’s strategy. Nuclear threats can serve to draw red lines. They can distract from other conventional actions by diverting attention. They can also purposefully instigate fear, with the intent to push for more cautious Western policies so as not to cause a nuclear war.

Therefore, explaining that Putin’s threats form part of Russia’s nuclear signaling strategy is key, as are clarifying concepts of deterrence and the specificities of Russian nuclear doctrine. Outlining scenarios in which Putin could resort to nuclear weapons may help understand the limited uses for them in conflict and emphasize de-escalation pathways. Denouncing the use of nuclear threats as increasing the risk of misunderstanding and escalation highlights the need for rhetorical restraint and avoiding dangerous one-upmanship. Describing the effects of nuclear weapons use is an important reminder of their devastating consequences.

Overall, these different analytical approaches have contributed to more awareness regarding nuclear weapons: their risks and their purpose in defense doctrines. As the war continues, nuclear threats will likely continue to be a part of Russia’s strategy. And when the war does ultimately end, at a human and economic cost that is already unimaginably high for the Ukrainian population, nuclear deterrence will conceivably remain a core policy for the United States, Russia, NATO, France, and the United Kingdom.

RE-AWAKENING TO NUCLEAR REALITIES

In Europe, talk of nuclear weapons and in particular reliance on them for security was at times an uncomfortable debate in the post-Cold War era. Putin’s nuclear boasting has revived the reality of nuclear weapons’ role in defense strategies — and in Russia’s case, their coercive use — and how they can mutually limit states’ freedom of maneuver. Some European states have now forsaken past ambiguities regarding reliance on extended deterrence.

In Germany, for example, political parties currently in government previously advocatedfor the removal of US nuclear weapons from German soil. Within weeks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the German government settled the question over the future of its dual-capable aircraft (those that can carry US nuclear weapons) by agreeing to purchase the F-35 fighter jet and thereby shutting any doubts about its views on relying on extended deterrence for its security. Sweden and Finland, both formerly neutral countries, will soon be joining NATO, extending the US’ nuclear umbrella to two more states.

Governments are becoming more assertive with regard to nuclear deterrence but public opinion is also changing. Recent polls in Germany have shown how quickly this change can happen, with 52% of those polled in May 2022 in favor of keeping US nuclear weapons in Germany as opposed to only 14% a year ago. Survey workdone in Central and Eastern Europe shortly after Russia’s full-scale invasion revealed a conflicting picture: fear of Russian nuclear threats, strong opposition to any use of nuclear weapons but also support for national nuclear weapons programs. An important caveat is that these polls capture sentiments at a specific moment in time and will likely evolve as the war continues. They also fail to depict nuances of what these choices imply, notably in terms of cost, reputation, and legal consequences.

LONG HAUL INFORMATION MISSION

The regularity with which nuclear threats are expressed, only to be downplayed by other Russian officials, may lead ultimately to a form of “nuclear fatigue.” This is also dangerous since dismissing nuclear rhetoric as meaningless could drive actors on both sides to resort to bolder actions to signal intent, in turn increasing the risk for misinterpretation or escalation. For those of us who try to explain nuclear risks as part of our everyday work, Krepon refers to the “Chicken Little syndrome,” whereby raising the nuclear alarm may eventually be equated with inciting unreasonable fears.

At a time where, in Europe, it seems atypically easier to advocate for more deterrence rather than disarmament measures, carefully balancing deterrence imperatives without losing sight of arms control and disarmament objectives is increasingly challenging. It will require sustained efforts from governments, civil society, and experts to engage the wider public on what deterrence does and does not provide, the risks and costs it entails, as well as the complementary arms control efforts it requires. Such balancing has always been difficult but the war has added new urgency to this engagement for Europeans who are quickly becoming reacquainted with the concept of nuclear deterrence and the anxieties it can cause.

Névine Schepers is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zürich (Switzerland). Her research focuses on nuclear arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament issues.

Pakistan and India can’t afford a nuclear war: Revelation 8

Pakistan and India can’t afford another war, says PM Shehbaz Sharif

Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif has reiterated his country’s strong resolve to maintain peace, but added that sustainable peace in South Asia was linked to the resolution of Jammu and Kashmir issue

Shehbaz Sharif

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has reiterated his country’s strong resolve to maintain peace in the region, but added that sustainable peace in South Asia was linked to the resolution of Jammu and Kashmir issue in line with the UN resolutions and the wishes of Kashmiris, and nothing short of it would work.

“We want permanent peace with India through dialogue as war is not an option for either of the countries,” The News quoted the premier as saying said while speaking to a group of students from the Harvard University.

Sharif pointed out that Islamabad and New Delhi should have competition in trade, economy and improving the conditions of their people.

Pakistan was not an aggressor, but its nuclear assets and the professionally trained army are deterrence, he said, adding: “We spend on our military to protect our frontiers and not for aggression,” The News reported.

The delegation consisted of students from diverse origins and academic backgrounds.

The Prime Minister welcomed students and held a candid discussion about contemporary challenges Pakistan was facing today.

In response to a question about the national economy and the IMF programme, the premier said that Pakistan’s economic crisis stem from structural problems along with political instability in the recent decades.

He said the first few decades since the inception of Pakistan witnessed impressive growth across all sectors of the economy when there were plans, national will and the implementation mechanism to produce outcomes.

“Overtime, we lost the edge in sectors in which we were ahead. The lack of focus, energy and policy action led to reduction in national productivity.”

–IANS

san/ksk/

Obama-Biden Admin Denies Making Major Concessions To Iran

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, July 11, 2022

Biden Admin Denies Making Major Concessions To Iran

The US National Security Council was quick to reject suggestions by Senate Republicans that the administration is ready to make major concessions to Iran.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking Republic, Sen. Jim Risch tweeted on Thursday that the “The Iranian regime seeks JCPOA guarantees from the Biden Administration that it will end the IAEA probe, protect Western companies operating in Iran, and allow Iran to accelerate nuclear weapons work if a future administration exits the deal.”

The key phrase here is “The Iranian regime seeks,” which is different from a claim that the Biden Administration has agreed to make the concessions. But the National Security Council was quick to respond to the tweet within the hour.

“Nothing here is true. We would never accept such terms. We also would not have left a deal that was working only to see Iran massively accelerate its nuclear program.”

Before Senator Risch’s tweet however, information emerged from Iran that regime hardliners were circulating a list of what they called “US concessions”, including lifting of some non-nuclear sanctions, which the Biden Administration has insisted it would not do.

The claim by hardliners in Tehran, however, was different from Sen. Risch’s points and the National Security Council tweet did not specifically address these.

One crucial point mentioned in Tehran was allegedly the lifting of sanctions imposed, for non-nuclear reasons, on a large conglomerate controlled by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Iran International asked the State Department about the Iranian claims, but the press office referred our reporter Samira Gharaei to the National Security Council tweet, which in fact had only addressed Sen. Risch’s claims.

It would be normal perhaps for the State Department not to respond to unofficial claims by politicians who do not formally represent a government.

The government-controlled media in Iran also chose not to report the claims by the hardliners.

Negotiations to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, JCPOA, have reached a crucial stage where Iran is awaiting the US response to a text it sent to the European Union on August 15. EU sources said Thursday that the US response may come “at any moment”, perhaps on Friday.

The only significant news on the nuclear talks in the Iranian press on Friday was a report on remarks by Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf (Qalibaf) at a ceremony Thursday evening.

The Speaker accused the US of bullying Iran and said, “If we don’t stand up to that country, they will not back down. Therefore, we should become more powerful.”

Referring to a law passed by parliament in December 2020 that mandated more uranium enrichment and reduction in monitoring access for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ghalibaf said “nothing happened” when Iran disconnected the IAEA cameras in its nuclear installations… [on the contrary] “America again returned to the negotiating table.”

China’s Expanding Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

FILE - In this April 23, 2019, photo, a type 094A Jin-class nuclear submarine Long March 10 of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy participates in a naval parade near Qingdao in eastern China's Shandong province.
FILE – In this April 23, 2019, photo, a type 094A Jin-class nuclear submarine Long March 10 of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy participates in a naval parade near Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong province. 

China’s Expanding Submarine Fleet Makes Experts Worry About Taiwan’s Readiness

WASHINGTON —

Even to laypeople, the odds of a China-versus-Taiwan underwater faceoff seem unbalanced.

China’s submarine force: 66 boats in 2020 with 76 expected by 2030.

Attributes: Nearly silent next-gen tech.

Taiwan’s submarine force: Four boats.

Attributes: Two of the world’s oldest operational subs, all use 20th-century tech.

The experts worry that Taiwan may lack the ability to fend off China without updating its military equipment, given that China has been investing in advanced weaponry and equipment— and overhauling its military command structure to modernize its armed forces as it eyes the war in Ukraine. China’s defense budget in 2022 is $230 billion, the second largest in the world behind the U.S. By contrast, Taiwan’s defense budget is $12.8 billion, 5% of China’s.

The Naval News, the official newspaper of the British Royal Navy, pointed out on Aug. 11 that China’s East Sea Fleet, which carries out operations around Taiwan, acquired a new submarine representing “the cutting edge of Chinese non-nuclear submarines.”

The boat, often referred to as Type 039, was placed to directly oppose the Taiwanese navy. “The East Sea Fleet submarine bases are north of the main Taiwanese Island, about 500 km south. It also faces off against Japan’s island chain,” reported Naval News, adding the boat was commissioned in 2021, and entered operation just over a year later, a very short timeline for a new class of submarine.

Seth Cropsey, founder and president of the defense think tank Yorktown Institute and former deputy undersecretary of the U.S. Navy, told VOA Mandarin that the Type 039 cannot be ignored.

“The submarine, because of its stealth, is well suited to carry out a blockade, or to protect surface ships that are being used for an amphibious assault, or to launch missiles in an invasion,” he said. “So, the submarine is an extremely important weapon platform.”

Michal Thim, a research fellow focusing on Taiwan’s defense policy at the Association for International Affairs in Prague, told VOA Mandarin in an email that it’s impossible to confirm whether China’s latest submarine has been deployed near Taiwan.

“Submarine deployments and movements are among the most closely held secrets in any navy. What is already a long-standing concern for Taiwan, for Japan, and for the U.S. is the speed with which the Chinese navy submarine fleet has expanded,” he said.

Holmes Liao, former adjunct distinguished lecturer at Taiwan’s War College, said that Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense seldom, if ever, publicizes China People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) submarine activities near Taiwan.

“Given the PLAN’s warplane incursions into Taiwan’s airspace and surface combatants menacing near the 12-nm territorial line, it’s highly likely that the PLA’s submarines have been active near or in Taiwan’s maritime territory,” he wrote in an email to VOA Mandarin.

Liao said the new PLAN submarine is allegedly very quiet and poses a significant threat even to U.S. Navy’s surface assets.

As an example, Liao said, “In 2005, a Swedish submarine Gotland conducted a series of simulated attacks against the newly commissioned Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier battle group. Throughout the exercise, Gotland launched torpedoes on multiple occasions without ever being detected by the U.S. ASW [Anti-submarine Warfare] assets. The episode shows that an advanced submarine can significantly threaten valuable surface combatants.”

The focus on the two submarine fleets comes during a time of heightened tensions between Taiwan, a self-governing island and China, which views Taiwan as its own territory.

Taiwan’s defense ministry Friday said it has detected 17 Chinese aircraft and six Chinese vessels, with eight of those planes flown over the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which in an unofficial barrier between China and Taiwan.

The Chinese military ramped up its tactics earlier this month in reaction to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Aug. 2 visit. This week, it is conducting daily drills in response to a surprise visit by another U.S. congressional delegation. Sources told Reuters that Chinese navy ships were active off both the east and west coasts of Taiwan.

Taiwan’s vintage subs

According to a report released earlier this yearby the Congressional Research Service, China has been steadily modernizing its submarine force and is expected to have 76 boats by 2030.

By contrast, Taiwan has four boats. Two of them are World War II vintage ex-U.S. Navy fleet submarines, the world’s oldest operational submarines.

Richard Stirn, a former submarine technician who worked for the U.S. Navy, said he’s not sure these two ships would still be able to launch weapons. “Taiwan today has four older boats using mid-century tech,” he told VOA Mandarin.

Thim said that the other two are combat vessels that Taiwan acquired in the late 1980s. While all of them underwent substantial upgrading, they are “hardly a deterrent” toward China.

“China, of course, now has around 60 conventional submarines and could use them in many ways to make life in Taiwan difficult. Enforcing [a] naval blockade, attacking surface combat ships, and hunting Taiwanese submarines,” he said.

Taiwan has been trying to build its own submarines, but China has repeatedly prevented other countries from participating in Taiwan’s submarine-building project. However, manufacturers from seven countries, including the U.S. and the U.K, secretly assisted Taiwan in upgrading its own advanced diesel-electric submarines.

Thim said the U.S. provides both expertise and critical technology to Taiwan. “There is definitely room for improvement, the greater involvement of Japan — that makes excellent submarines — is one area that can be improved,” he said.

Liao argued that Taiwan should focus [on] less expensive and more effective defensive weapons. He said Taiwan can deploy [a] Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) to listen for underwater sounds, particularly submarines, and can pinpoint the coordinates and depth of the intrusion. “To neutralize enemy submarines, smart naval mines and anti-submarine rockets are much more inexpensive and effective than submarines,” he added.