It begins in Pennsylvania, crosses the Delaware River and continues through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic and Bergen counties before crossing the Hudson River near Indian Point nuclear facility.
In the past, it has generated occasional activity that generated a 2.6 magnitude quake in New Jersey’s Peakpack/Gladstone area and 3.0 magnitude quake in Mendham.
“There is occasional seismic activity in New Jersey,” said Robinson. “There have been a few quakes locally that have been felt and done a little bit of damage over the time since colonial settlement — some chimneys knocked down in Manhattan with a quake back in the 18th century, but nothing of a significant magnitude.”
“More recently, in the 1970s and early 1980s, earthquake risk along the Ramapo Fault received attention because of its proximity to Indian Point,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.
Historically, critics of the Indian Point Nuclear facility in Westchester County, New York, did cite its proximity to the Ramapo fault line as a significant risk.
“Subsequent investigations have shown the 1884 Earthquake epicenter was actually located in Brooklyn, New York, at least 25 miles from the Ramapo Fault,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.
The comments by the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, illustrate how quickly the rhetoric has intensified as Russia has faltered on the battlefield in recent months.
Sept. 25, 2022
WASHINGTON — President Biden’s national security adviser said on Sunday that the United States had warned Russia that there would be “catastrophic consequences” for the country if Moscow used nuclear weapons in its increasing desperation to hold on to territory in Ukraine, adding that in recent days the United States has “spelled out” how the world would react in private conversations with Russian officials.
The adviser, Jake Sullivan, repeated the comments several times in three Sunday television interviews, though he left deliberately vague whether those consequences would be military, economic or diplomatic. Officials were quick to say they still had not seen any movement in Russia’s stockpile of 2,000 or so small tactical weapons — which can be launched from a short- or medium-range missile — despite President Vladimir V. Putin’s threats in a televised address last week that “this is not a bluff.”
But Mr. Sullivan’s use of the word “catastrophic” as a deliberately ambiguous warning of a major — if almost certainly non-nuclear — response to a Russian nuclear detonation illustrated how quickly the rhetoric has intensified as Russia has faltered on the battlefield in recent months.
American intelligence officials say they still believe the chances that nuclear weapons will be used in the conflict are low. But they believe those chances are significantly higher than they were in February and March because Mr. Putin has lost confidence in the ability of his ground troops to hold territory, much less take over Ukraine.
Mr. Sullivan is a longtime student of nuclear escalation risks, and he has been walking a fine line between orchestrating repeated warnings to the Russians and avoiding statements that could prompt Moscow to raise the stakes, perhaps by beginning to move weapons toward the border in a menacing show of seriousness.
He indicated as much on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “We have communicated to the Russians what the consequences would be,” Mr. Sullivan said, “but we’ve been careful in how we talk about this publicly, because from our perspective we want to lay down the principle that there would be catastrophic consequences, but not engage in a game of rhetorical tit for tat.”
The White House declined to say who in Russian leadership the officials had communicated with, or to characterize the Russian response. But even before Mr. Putin issued his latest threats last week, the White House and the Pentagon had quietly engaged in detailed tabletop exercises, senior officials say, to think through how the United States and its allies might react to a variety of provocations.
Those varied from a detonation over the Black Sea by Mr. Putin to the actual use of a weapon against a Ukrainian target. The first of those would be more akin to a North Korean nuclear test, intended as a warning shot. The second would be the first use of a nuclear weapon against a population since the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.
For months, administration officials have said they could think of almost no circumstances in which a nuclear detonation by Russia would result in a nuclear response. But there has been discussion of several non-nuclear military responses — using conventional weapons, for example, against a base or unit from which the attack originated, or giving the Ukrainian forces the weaponry to launch that counterattack. In the minds of many officials, any use of nuclear weapons would require a forceful military response.
But many of the options under discussion also involve nonmilitary steps, casting Mr. Putin as an international pariah who broke the nuclear taboo for the first time in 77 years. It would be a chance, some officials say, to bring China and India, along with much of Asia and Africa, into the effort to impose sanctions on Russia, cutting off some of the biggest markets that remain for its oil and gas.
Mr. Putin’s nuclear threats have hung over the war from its opening days, when he publicly ordered that nuclear forces be placed on a heightened alert status. (There is no evidence it ever happened.) More recently the shelling, apparently by Russian forces, of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has raised the specter of deliberately turning a commercial facility into a potential dirty bomb. Shelling near the plant has continued in recent days, though the reactors have now been shut down, lowering the risk of a runaway nuclear accident.
On Wednesday, for the first time in more than six months, Mr. Putin revived his nuclear threats, saying he could use all arms available to him in the war — remarks interpreted by officials in both Russia and the West as a veiled threat about the use of nuclear weapons.
“If Russia feels its territorial integrity is threatened, we will use all defense methods at our disposal, and this is not a bluff,” he said. “Those who are trying to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the winds can also turn in their direction.”
Mr. Sullivan said in several interviews that he was taking Mr. Putin’s nuclear threats seriously— saying at one point that the United States was preparing for “every contingency” in the conflict and working to deter Russia from using nuclear weapons.
“We do have the capacity to speak directly at senior levels and be clear about our messages to them,” he said, adding: “Russia understands very well what the United States would do in response to nuclear weapons use in Ukraine because we have spelled it out for them.”
Mr. Sullivan’s message was echoed by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken in an interview, broadcast Sunday evening on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” that was taped at the United Nations last week. Mr. Blinken said the direct conversation with Russian leadership took place because “it’s very important that Moscow hear from us and know from us that the consequences would be horrific. And we’ve made that very clear.”
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Sullivan said there would be announcements in the coming days of new economic sanctions from the Group of 7 nations against Russia — including on Russian entities operating in other countries — in response to Moscow’s “sham” referendums in portions of Ukraine it is occupying.
The voting, which ends early this week, is widely believed to be a pretext for Russia to annex those territories.
“We’ve been clear: We’re not going to stop or slow down our support to the Ukrainians, no matter what Putin tries to do with these fake elections and fake referenda and annexation,” Mr. Sullivan said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”
Ukrainian and Western officials believe that the rushed voting would open the door for Mr. Putin to claim that Kyiv’s defensive war was an attack on Russian territory.
On Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine reiterated that annexation by Moscow would scuttle any fleeting hopes for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis.
Mr. Sullivan put it even more bluntly, citing plunging Russian troop morale and shortages of precision-guided weapons.
“What we are seeing are signs of unbelievable struggle among the Russians,” Mr. Sullivan said.
“You’ve got low morale, where the soldiers don’t want to fight. And who can blame them because they want no part of Putin’s war conquest.”
He continued: “You’ve got Russia disorganized and losing territory to a capable Ukrainian force. And you’ve got a huge amount of infighting among the Russian military leadership. And now the blame game has started to include these replacements.”
In a speech last week, he warned that, “In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us. This is not a bluff.”
Russian weapon systems include 4,477 deployed and reserve nuclear warheads, with about 1,900 of these being “non-strategic” warheads, otherwise known as tactical nuclear weapons,according to the Federation of American Scientists.
But what is a tactical nuclear weapon and how does it differ from a regular nuclear weapon?
Here’s what you need to know.
Tactical vs strategic
Tactical warheadsrefer to ones designed for use in a limited battlefield, say to destroy a column of tanks or an aircraft carrier battle group if used at sea. These warheads, with explosive yields of 10 to 100 kilotons of dynamite, are also called “low yield.”
In contrast, Russia’s most powerful “strategic” nuclear warheads have explosive yields of 500 to 800 kilotons and are designed to destroy entire cities – and then some.
The reference to “low yield” for tactical weapons is somewhat misleading as explosive yields of 10 to 100 kilotons of dynamite are still enough to cause major destruction – as the world discovered in 1945 when the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.
Those bombs were the equivalent about 15 and 21 kilotons of dynamite, respectively – within the ballpark of Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons.
The initial blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed about 70,000 and 35,000 people instantly, and tens of thousands more later died from the radiation released, according to US government archives.
Alex Wellerstein, director of science and technology studies at the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, says the real difference in nuclear weapons is not really in what their explosive yield is but what their targets are.
“The atomic bombings in Japan had been ‘strategic’ attacks aimed mainly at destroying morale and terrorizing the Japanese high command into surrender. What made 15 kilotons a ‘strategic’ yield depended on where it was aimed,” Wellerstein wrote on the Outrider security blog earlier this year.
Others, including former US Defense Secretary James Mattis, say there’s no difference at all.
“I don’t think there is any such thing as a ‘tactical nuclear weapon.’ Any nuclear weapon used any time is a strategic game-changer,” told a congressional hearing in 2018.
What would happen if Russia deployed one?
Russia (and before it, the Soviet Union) has built and maintained a large stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons.
The initial thinking was that using a nuke on a battlefield gave leaders an option to make a decisive strike that could stave off defeat without resorting to the use of their biggest nuclear weapons, which after a counterattack would bring a “civilization-ending nuclear exchange,” according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
On its website, the organization calls that thinking “flawed and dangerous.”
“Tactical nuclear weapons … introduce greater ambiguity, raising the possibility that a country might think it could get away with a limited attack,” the organization said.
Someanalysis supports that theory.
A commentary published during the summer by Sidharth Kaushal and Sam Cranny-Evans at Britain’s Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) says that the use of tactical nuclear weapons against command centers or air bases in Europe could limit civilian casualties in surrounding areas.
Hertling predicts ‘disastrous’ consequences to Putin’s latest move
For instance, the RUSI report says use of a tactical nuke in the Sulwaki Gap, the land border between NATO allies Poland and Lithuania that separates Russian Kaliningrad from its neighbor Belarus, could only cause civilian casualties in the hundreds.
The reality is likely to be far from that.
“US war games predict that a conflict involving use of tactical nuclear weapons will quickly spiral out of control,” the Union of Concerned Scientists blog said.
“A Princeton University simulation of a US-Russian conflict that begins with the use of a tactical nuclear weapon predicts rapid escalation that would leave more than 90 million people dead and injured,” it said.
In Europe today, “a single nuclear detonation would likely kill hundreds of thousands of civilians and injure many more; radioactive fallout could contaminate large areas across multiple countries,” ICAN said on its website.
“Emergency services would not be able to respond effectively and widespread panic would trigger mass movements of people and severe economic disruption. Multiple detonations would of course be much worse,”it added.
September 26, 2022 — News Tags: 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution, Amnesty International (AI), Anti-Government Protest in Iran, Dehgolan, Divandarreh, High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell, Iran, Iran’s Islamic Morality Police, Iran’s Kurdish Region, Iran’s Late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, Iranian Kurdish Minority, Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic Sharia Law, Israel, Israel News, Israel Now, Kurdish Hengaw Human Rights Organization, Mahsa Amini, Norway’s Parliament Speaker Masud Gharahkhani, Protest in Iran, Tehran
Demonstrationshttps://andrewtheprophet.com have erupted in most of the country‘s 31 provinces over the death of the Kurdish woman, which reignited anger over issues including restrictions on personal freedoms in Iran, the strict dress codes for women, and an economy reeling from sanctions. Women have visibly burned their veils or cut their hair in an affront to Islamic Republic’s strict imposition of Sharia Law on women’s dress, including enforcement on the wearing of hijabs.
One of the main unions called for teachers, trade unions, military veterans and artists to stage the first national strike today and Wednesday to “stand with pupils, students and people seeking justice in these difficult but hopeful days.”
State television showed footage of activists setting fire to garbage cans and a car, marching, and throwing rocks in the western and northern areas of Tehran. A video posted on the 1500tasvir Twitter account carried videos of protests in Tehran’s western district of Sattarkhan with a motorcycle apparently belonging to riot police burning in the background. State media admitted that 12 bank branches were destroyed in recent days and that 219 ATMs have been damaged.
Details of casualties in Iran have trickled out slowly, partly because of the restrictions on communication, but state-controlled media said 41 people have been killed so far. The sister of a 20-year-old woman identified as Hadis Najafi reported that she was shot to death by security forces last Wednesday. Videos of Najafi had been shared on Twitter, showing her without hijab and protesting in Karaj, 30 km (20 miles) northwest of Tehran. The Iranian Hengaw human rights group described Oshnavieh as “completely militarized.” It added that the northwest city is on strike, authorities were making arrests and at least five bodies were in the hospital morgue.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has denounced the week-long protests as “rioting,” and called for the “decisive dealing with those who oppose the country’s security and tranquility.”
The NetBlocks internet watchdog has reported the shutting down of multiple platforms including Instagram, WhatsApp and LinkedIn – in what activists say is an official attempt to prevent video footage of the violence reaching the world.
The Ayatollah Regime also organized state-organized rallies in several Iranian cities to counter the anti-government protests, as the military vowed to confront “the enemies” behind the unrest. Participants in Tehran yesterday chanted slogans against the United States and opposition groups they accused of insulting the Koran. “Sedition is the cause of riots and is directed by America,” they shouted.
Two international envoys have been summoned to Tehran’s Foreign Ministry over what it called interference and negative media coverage.
The United Kingdom’s ambassador called in for the “hostile character” of London-based Persian language media. Britain’s Foreign Ministry announced that it champions media freedom and condemned Iran’s “crackdown on protesters, journalists and internet freedom.”
Norway’s envoy was also summoned to explain the “interventionist stance” of its Parliament Speaker Masud Gharahkhani, who has expressed support for the protesters. Gharahkhani, who was born in Tehran, continued to speak out, writing on Twitter yesterday: “If my parents had not made the choice to flee in 1987, I would have been one of those fighting in the streets with my life on the line.”
Protests have also spread to neighboring Iraq, where dozens of local citizens and Iranian Kurds rallied outside the United Nations compound in the northern city of Erbil on Saturday, waving placards with Amini’s photograph and chanting “death to the dictator” in reference to Khamenei. Iranian state television reported that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps fired artillery at on bases of Kurdish opposition groups in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, while blaming armed exiled Iranian Kurdish dissidents of involvement in the unrest.
Facing increasing political pressure at home, isolation abroad and battlefield humiliations, the Russian leader ratcheted up his nuclear brinkmanship last week in warning that he could use all weapons systems available to him if he considered Russia’s territorial integrity under threat.
But White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan issued an ominous public caution to Putin on Sunday.
“If Russia crosses this line, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia. The United States will respond decisively,” Sullivan said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He added that in private channels, the US warning had been more stark but declined to draw red lines in order to keep such contacts open and to avoid “a rhetorical tit-for-tat.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken reinforced that message on CBS’ “60 Minutes” in another sign that Washington is increasingly adding a public element to its private pressure on the Kremlin on this issue.
“It’s very important that Moscow hear from us and know from us that the consequences would be horrific,” Blinken said.
Putin’s rhetoric was a reminder that the better the war goes for Ukraine, the more the West will need to keep its nerve, especially if the Russian leader becomes more boxed in and tries to scare his foes with Russia’s best leverage — its nuclear arsenal.
Many Western observers believe Putin is bluffing and that there are strategic reasons for Moscow to stop short of this fateful step. There are no public reports that the Kremlin is readying its stock of battlefield nuclear weapons for use or that it has changed the posture of its international strategic missiles. And Putin has played the nuclear card before in the conflict in an apparent effort to frighten Western publics and to fracture support for Kyiv in the transatlantic alliance.
But at the same time, the Russian leader has gone all in on a war that he cannot afford to lose but that is going increasingly badly for Russia, as last week’s partial national mobilization showed. He is in a corner, a reality that may explain his return to nuclear scare tactics. And while Putin’s political position doesn’t seem immediately threatened, he’s facing increasing dissent at home and appears consumed by fury against the US and the West that is vehement even for him.
Putin is led by a sense of historic mission rooted in a desire to restore respect for Russia as a great civilization. He has already shown callous indifference to human and civilian life in Ukraine. Such conditions mean clear strategic thinking and rational decisions cannot be taken for granted, especially since the ruthless Russian leader’s sense of caution deserted him with his reckless leadership of the war in Ukraine.
And worryingly, Blinken admitted that it remains to be seen whether Russia’s nuclear chain of command would work if top military officers wanted to forestall any effort by Putin to use nuclear weapons.
“That is the Achilles’ heel of autocracies anywhere — there is usually not anyone who has the capacity or the will to speak truth to power. And part of the reason, I think, Russia has gotten itself into the mess that it’s in is because there is no one in the system to effectively tell Putin he’s doing the wrong thing.”
A stark US message
It is in this dangerous atmosphere that Washington issued its warning, designed to deter Putin from a cycle of escalation that could raise the risk he might consider, or at least threaten the use, of a limited yield tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine to compensate for his military’s failure in a conventional conflict. The US message also seemed destined for those around the Russian leader, in high-level positions in the military or intelligence agencies, for instance, who may be in a position to influence his thinking or to block his capacity to carry out his threats.
What the catastrophic consequences that Sullivan mentioned would actually be has not been spelled out. But given the magnitude of any use of nuclear weapons, many military and diplomatic experts argue that a response would have to be far stiffer than another round of sanctions on the already debilitated Russian economy. The humanitarian and environmental impact of using even a limited yield nuclear device would surpass the horror and civilian carnage already unleashed on Ukraine. And its usage would also take the world across a dangerous strategic threshold and establish a precedent for the use of nuclear arms to change the equation in conventional conflicts, which could cause a rush by other rogue states to get such a capacity.
Given these stakes, some Western observers believe that NATO would have no choice but to consider the direct intervention in the Ukraine conflict that President Joe Biden has always desperately tried to avoid, perhaps by using air power against Russia’s forces. Such a move would be one of the most dangerous moments ever in the history of America’s standoffs with Moscow. It would risk setting off another dangerous cycle of escalation that could lead to a disastrous conflict between the US and Russia, the world’s top nuclear powers, which was mercifully held at bay for the entire Cold War — a 40-year period in which the world lived under the shadow of Armageddon.
That possibility, for now, seems a long way away and would need a lot of things to go wrong and for many off-ramps to be missed. One potential goal of US diplomacy in the immediate term might also be to press on nations like China and India, which still have workable relations with Russia, to convey the kind of global ostracism that Moscow might face if it used its nuclear arsenal.
Still, the spectacle of the President’s top foreign policy adviser warning Moscow of the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons amid what is effectively a proxy war in Europe between the West and the Kremlin is a sobering sign of the gravity of the situation.
Reading Putin’s mind
Putin’s warning that he wasn’t bluffing about his willingness to use nuclear weapons if, in his perception, Russia was under attack has set off public and private speculation of what is driving his thinking.
Partly as a result, CNN’s Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller reported last week that no one in the US intelligence community is putting the possibility that Putin could use a nuclear weapon at zero. Intelligence analysts have spent years assessing how the psychological forces working on Putin would play out if a leader obsessed with looking strong began to come across as weak, Miller reported. French President Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, told CNN’s Jake Tapper last week that the effects of Covid-19 isolation and deep resentment toward the West were influencing Putin’s erratic decision making in Ukraine.
But new British Prime Minister Liz Truss was dismissive of Putin’s warnings in an interview with Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. Truss, who has used a tough stance against Putin as a vehicle to build her own political credibility, almost goaded the Russian president, saying he had been “outsmarted” by the Ukrainians. And she warned the West must continue “to be resolute,” adding, “We don’t listen to the saber-rattling that we’re hearing from Putin, and we continue to back the Ukrainians to the hilt.”
But another European leader who knows Putin well, President Sauli Niinistö of Finland, warned Sunday of a dangerous moment since the Russian leader had now invested so much credibility in a war that has turned against him in recent weeks.
“He has put all in,” Niinistö told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.
“He is a fighter, so it is very difficult seeing him accepting any kind of defeat and this surely makes the situation very critical.”
The impossibility that Putin — for historic, personal and political reasons — would admit he failed in Ukraine has brought the world to a potentially perilous moment.
Nuclearization has long been a taboo inside the South Korean government. When analyzing arguments against South Korea’s development of independent nuclear weapons, it becomes clear that they have overlooked or intentionally ignored the security benefits that South Korea would acquire through nuclear arms while exaggerating the risks of intangible losses. It is now questionable whether South Korea should still be shy to raise its voice about nuclear weapons, given the military rise of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and North Korea’s development of advanced weapons of mass destruction, which the United States and the West couldn’t stop. All major arguments against South Korean nuclearization lose their persuasiveness when considering that South Korea could initiate its own nuclear program under the frames of “controlled proliferation” and “conditional nuclearization.”
The NPT and Nuclear Domino Theory
The most common concern about nuclearization is that South Korea’s withdrawal from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) would bring severe economic sanctions from the UN Security Council. North Korea withdrew from the treaty, but it wasn’t the actual reason why the UN sanctioned Pyongyang. Also, the NPT guarantees signatories the right to exitwhen their supreme interests are threatened. Thus, the South Korean government can leave the treaty based on the justification that the increase of nuclear threats from North Korea undermines Seoul’s supreme security interests. South Korea can even avoid sanctions, as Seoul would not need public nuclear tests because it already has more developed nuclear technologythan North Korea. More importantly, if South Korea suggests it will exit from the treaty, it can send a clear message to the PRC and the North that Seoul is open to all available options, increasing South Korea-U.S. influence over Kim Jong-un’s nuclear arsenal.
Despite widespread concern, the NPT won’t collapse if South Korea develops nuclear weapons, and an additional “nuclear domino” effect would not occur, as the treaty is in effect despite controversies about AUKUS and an NPT regime that tolerates de facto nuclear-armed states. There has always been concern about proliferation and instability whenever a new nuclear state appears, but proliferation has not surged, and the international order has not collapsed. It is a luxury for non-nuclear South Korea to care about the vested interests of nuclear-armed states when Seoul is still incapable of taking proportional countermeasures against Kim Jong-un’s nuclear threats.
Strictly speaking, the nuclear domino effect has already come to Asia’s Eastern bloc. The two driving factors for this phenomenon are North Korean nuclear weapons—developed with the connivance of the PRC and Russia—and the nuclear imbalance that comes from the lack of equivalent strategic weapons among U.S. allies in East Asia. Countries like South Korea and Japan that need to protect themselves in such an uneven playground should not be held accountable for a nuclear arms race.
Fears that other countries would proliferate if South Korea nuclearized are exaggerated. Most countries do not meet the conditions necessary for nuclear armament because they lack economic power, developed nuclear technology, enriched uranium or plutonium, and nuclear delivery platforms. Since Southeast Asian states are also not economically stable, they are more tempted to position themselves as advanced developing countries, rather than abandoning economic development for nuclear armament. Taiwanese nuclearization is also not realistic given that Taipei faces the PRC. It would be a red line, breaking the “One China” policy and prompting Beijing to take over Taiwan.
There is a very slight chance that Japan could go nuclear first, but the United States and South Korea should not be wary of this. Even though the ROK-Japan relationship has been influenced by historic and nationalistic animosity, the two states share common democratic values and security interests in deterring both the PRC and North Korea, which the United States supports. If Tokyo decided to support nuclear burden-sharing in the region to impose a siege against Pyongyang and Beijing, Seoul and Washington might have to welcome Japan, or even Australia, to create a collateral security system such as an “Indo-Pacific Nuclear Alliance,” as nuclearized South Korea itself would still need to cooperate with them to confront Chinese military and economic assertiveness.
Convincing the World
Considering that Europe is so distant from Pyongyang, the European Union (EU) would not care very much about South Korean proliferation and would only express diplomatic concern. Thus, South Korea could elicit the EU’s connivance as long as the West was convinced by the justification that Seoul’s nuclearization could be an effective countermeasure to prepare for Chinese and North Korean nuclear threats. Then, this leaves only the United States as Seoul’s most important partner to persuade. Before long, North Korea’s growing nuclear forces, the PRC’s military rise and acquiescence to Kim’s illegal activities, and South Korea and Japan’s concerns would limit Washington’s options, possibly leading the White House to secretly welcome the nuclearization of its key partner. By agreeing to let the IAEA and the United States monitor Seoul’s nuclear proliferation through a third party, South Korea could still respect the non-proliferation principle and the nuclear control of the White House, addressing the concern that the ROK-U.S. alliance would be weakened in nuclear and security cooperation.
Contrary to common perceptions, eliciting the PRC’s toleration of South Korean nuclear armament is quite simple. If the PRC needs to choose between a non-nuclear South Korea that does not have any option but to accept America’s demands and a nuclear-armed South Korea that can act more flexibly with nuclear leverage, Beijing is likely to prefer the latterbased on its wishful thinking that Seoul would continue hedging against the United States.
In addition, the ROK-U.S. alliance and U.S. influence in the region would not be weakened by South Korea’s development of nuclear weapons. Moreover, it wouldn’t harm the nuclear cartel enjoyed by the great powers. With nearly nine out of ten South Koreans holding a favorable view of the United States, South Korea is well aware of the importance of the ROK-U.S. alliance. Moreover, with hostile states making up more than half of East Asia, friendly relations between the United States and a nuclearized South Korea are essential, which means Washington would be able to tacitly accept Seoul’s nuclear deterrent to check anti-U.S. states in the region.
The Shiite “framework” hints at changing its candidate for prime minister
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi warned of the repercussions of forming a government without the participation of the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, indicating that it would face “huge challenges.”
Al-Kazemi said, in an interview with Al-Monitor, “Everyone now understands that any government that does not include al-Sadr will face huge challenges.” He added, “The political class in Iraq is facing a crisis of confidence with the public, and excluding al-Sadr, for example, may lead to a repeat of October 2019 or worse.” He pointed out that “Iran has friends in Iraq, and it is able to influence them and push them toward dialogue instead of using the weapons they currently possess.”
In addition, the Shiite “coordinating framework”, which includes the political forces close to Iran, showed flexibility in terms of the possibility of understanding with Al-Sadr. The Secretary-General of “Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq” Qais al-Khazali, who is described as one of the leaders of the hard-line framework, said in televised statements yesterday evening, “(The coordination framework) is open to solutions to end the political crisis, but it is not possible to turn back the clock. And returning the Sadrist bloc’s resigned deputies to parliament,” stressing that “for the return of the current’s deputies, there is no solution other than early elections.”
He also affirmed the readiness of the “framework” candidate for prime minister, Muhammad Shiaa al-Sudani, to relinquish his candidacy, if that constitutes a solution, noting that “everything that (the current) requests will find a response from (the framework) for discussion, and (the framework) is open to the Sadrist movement. And he is responsive to him to overcome the political crisis.”