Michel de Nostredame Earth-shaking fire from the center of the earth.Will cause the towers around the New City to shake,Two great rocks for a long time will make war, And then Arethusa will color a new river red.(And then areth USA will color a new river red.) Earth-shaking fire from the center of the earth.Will cause the towers around the New City to shake,Two great rocks for a long time will make war
There is recent scientific evidence from drill core sampling in Manhattan, that the southern peninsula is overlapped by several tectonic plates. Drill core sampling has been taken from regions south of Canal Street including the Trade Towers’ site. Of particular concern is that similar core samples have been found across the East River in Brooklyn. There are also multiple fault lines along Manhattan correlating with north-northwest and northwest trending neo-tectonic activity. And as recently as January and October of 2001, New York City has sustained earthquakes along these plates. For there are “two great rocks” or tectonic plates that shear across Manhattan in a northwestern pattern. And these plates “for a longtime will make war”, for they have been shearing against one other for millions of years. And on January 3 of 2010, when they makewar with each other one last time, the sixth seal shall be opened, and all will know that the end is near.
And then Arethusa will color a new river red.
Arethusa is a Greek mythological figure, a beautiful huntress and afollower of the goddess Artemis. And like Artemis, Arethusa would have nothing to do with me; rather she loved to run and hunt in the forest. But one day after an exhausting hunt, she came to a clear crystal stream and went in it to take a swim. She felt something from beneath her, and frightened she scampered out of the water. A voice came from the water, “Why are you leaving fair maiden?” She ran into the forest to escape, for the voice was from Alpheus, the god of the river. For he had fallen in love with her and became a human to give chase after her. Arethusa in exhaustion called out to Artemis for help, and the goddess hid her by changing her into a spring.But not into an ordinary spring, but an underground channel that traveled under the ocean from Greece to Sicily. But Alpheus being the god of the river, converted back into water and plunged downthe same channel after Arethusa. And thus Arethusa was captured by Artemis, and their waters would mingle together forever. And of great concern is that core samples found in train tunnels beneath the Hudson River are identical to those taken from southern Manhattan. Furthermore, several fault lines from the 2001 earthquakes were discovered in the Queen’s Tunnel Complex, NYC Water Tunnel #3. And a few years ago, a map of Manhattan drawn up in 1874 was discovered, showing a maze of underground waterways and lakes. For Manhattan was once a marshland and labyrinth of underground streams. Thus when the sixth seal is broken, the subways of the New City shall be flooded be Arethusa:the waters from the underground streams and the waters from the sea. And Arethusa shall be broken into two. And then Arethusa will color a new river red.
And then areth USA will color a new river red.
For Arethusa broken into two is areth USA. For areth (αρετη) is the Greek word for values. But the values of the USA are not based on morality, but on materialism and on wealth. Thus when the sixth seal is opened, Wall Street and our economy shall crash and “arethUSA”, the values of our economy shall fall “into the red.” “Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’” (Revelation 6:15-17)
The Sixth Seal: NY City DestroyedIf today a magnitude 6 earthquake were to occur centered on New York City, what would its effects be? Will the loss be 10 or 100 billion dollars? Will there be 10 or 10,000 fatalities? Will there be 1,000 or 100,000 homeless needing shelter? Can government function, provide assistance, and maintain order?At this time, no satisfactory answers to these questions are available. A few years ago, rudimentary scenario studies were made for Boston and New York with limited scope and uncertain results. For most eastern cities, including Washington D.C., we know even less about the economic, societal and political impacts from significant earthquakes, whatever their rate of occurrence. Why do we know so little about such vital public issues? Because the public has been lulled into believing that seriously damaging quakes are so unlikely in the east that in essence we do not need to consider them. We shall examine the validity of this widely held opinion. Is the public’s earthquake awareness (or lack thereof) controlled by perceived low Seismicity, SeismicHazard, or SeismicRisk? How do these three seismic features differ from, and relate to each other? In many portions of California, earthquake awareness is refreshed in a major way about once every decade (and in some places even more often) by virtually every person experiencing a damaging event. The occurrence of earthquakes of given magnitudes in time and space, not withstanding their effects, are the manifestations of seismicity. Ground shaking, faulting, landslides or soil liquefaction are the manifestations of seismic hazard. Damage to structures, and loss of life, limb, material assets, business and services are the manifestations of seismic risk. By sheer experience, California’s public understands fairly well these three interconnected manifestations of the earthquake phenomenon. This awareness is reflected in public policy, enforcement of seismic regulations, and preparedness in both the public and private sector. In the eastern U.S., the public and its decision makers generally do not understand them because of inexperience. Judging seismic risk by rates of seismicity alone (which are low in the east but high in the west) has undoubtedly contributed to the public’s tendency to belittle the seismic loss potential for eastern urban regions. Let us compare two hypothetical locations, one in California and one in New York City. Assume the location in California does experience, on average, one M = 6 every 10 years, compared to New York once every 1,000 years. This implies a ratio of rates of seismicity of 100:1. Does that mean the ratio of expected losses (when annualized per year) is also 100:1? Most likely not. That ratio may be closer to 10:1, which seems to imply that taking our clues from seismicity alone may lead to an underestimation of the potential seismic risks in the east. Why should this be so? To check the assertion, let us make a back-of-the-envelope estimate. The expected seismic risk for a given area is defined as the area-integrated product of: seismic hazard (expected shaking level), assets ($ and people), and the assets’ vulnerabilities (that is, their expected fractional loss given a certain hazard – say, shaking level). Thus, if we have a 100 times lower seismicity rate in New York compared to California, which at any given point from a given quake may yield a 2 times higher shaking level in New York compared to California because ground motions in the east are known to differ from those in the west; and if we have a 2 times higher asset density (a modest assumption for Manhattan!), and a 2 times higher vulnerability (again a modest assumption when considering the large stock of unreinforced masonry buildings and aged infrastructure in New York), then our California/New York ratio for annualized loss potential may be on the order of (100/(2x2x2)):1. That implies about a 12:1 risk ratio between the California and New York location, compared to a 100:1 ratio in seismicity rates. From this example it appears that seismic awareness in the east may be more controlled by the rate of seismicity than by the less well understood risk potential. This misunderstanding is one of the reasons why earthquake awareness and preparedness in the densely populated east is so disproportionally low relative to its seismic loss potential. Rare but potentially catastrophic losses in the east compete in attention with more frequent moderate losses in the west. New York City is the paramount example of a low-probability, high-impact seismic risk, the sort of risk that is hard to insure against, or mobilize public action to reduce the risks. There are basically two ways to respond. One is to do little and wait until one or more disastrous events occur. Then react to these – albeit disastrous – “windows of opportunity.” That is, pay after the unmitigated facts, rather than attempt to control their outcome. This is a high-stakes approach, considering the evolved state of the economy. The other approach is to invest in mitigation ahead of time, and use scientific knowledge and inference, education, technology transfer, and combine it with a mixture of regulatory and/or economic incentives to implement earthquake preparedness. The National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP) has attempted the latter while much of the public tends to cling to the former of the two options. Realistic and reliable quantitative loss estimation techniques are essential to evaluate the relative merits of the two approaches. The current efforts in the eastern U.S., including New York City, to start the enforcement of seismic building codes for new constructions are important first steps in the right direction. Similarly, the emerging efforts to include seismic rehabilitation strategies in the generally needed overhaul of the cities’ aged infrastructures such as bridges, water, sewer, power and transportation is commendable and needs to be pursued with diligence and persistence. But at the current pace of new construction replacing older buildings and lifelines, it will take many decades or a century before a major fraction of the stock of built assets will become seismically more resilient than the current inventory is. For some time, this leaves society exposed to very high seismic risks. The only consolation is that seismicity on average is low, and, hence with some luck, the earthquakes will not outpace any ongoing efforts to make eastern cities more earthquake resilient gradually. Nevertheless, M = 5 to M = 6 earthquakes at distances of tens of km must be considered a credible risk at almost any time for cities like Boston, New York or Philadelphia. M = 7 events, while possible, are much less likely; and in many respects, even if building codes will have affected the resilience of a future improved building stock, M = 7 events would cause virtually unmanageable situations. Given these bleak prospects, it will be necessary to focus on crucial elements such as maintaining access to cities by strengthening critical bridges, improving the structural and nonstructural performance of hospitals, and having a nationally supported plan how to assist a devastated region in case of a truly severe earthquake. No realistic and coordinated planning of this sort exists at this time for most eastern cities. The current efforts by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) via the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) to provide a standard methodology (RMS, 1994) and planning tools for making systematic, computerized loss estimates for annualized probabilistic calculations as well as for individual scenario events, is commendable. But these new tools provide only a shell with little regional data content. What is needed are the detailed data bases on inventory of buildings and lifelines with their locally specific seismic fragility properties.Similar data are needed for hospitals, shelters, firehouses, police stations and other emergency service providers. Moreover, the soil and rock conditions which control the shaking and soil liquefaction properties for any given event, need to be systematically compiled into Geographical Information System (GIS) data bases so they can be combined with the inventory of built assets for quantitative loss and impact estimates. Even under the best of conceivable funding conditions, it will take years before such data bases can be established so they will be sufficiently reliable and detailed to perform realistic and credible loss scenarios. Without such planning tools, society will remain in the dark as to what it may encounter from a future major eastern earthquake. Given these uncertainties, and despite them, both the public and private sector must develop at least some basic concepts for contingency plans. For instance, the New York City financial service industry, from banks to the stock and bond markets and beyond, ought to consider operational contingency planning, first in terms of strengthening their operational facilities, but also for temporary backup operations until operations in the designated facilities can return to some measure of normalcy. The Federal Reserve in its oversight function for this industry needs to take a hard look at this situation. A society, whose economy depends increasingly so crucially on rapid exchange of vast quantities of information must become concerned with strengthening its communication facilities together with the facilities into which the information is channeled. In principle, the availability of satellite communication (especially if self-powered) with direct up and down links, provides here an opportunity that is potentially a great advantage over distributed buried networks. Distributed networks for transportation, power, gas, water, sewer and cabled communication will be expensive to harden (or restore after an event). In all future instances of major capital spending on buildings and urban infrastructures, the incorporation of seismically resilient design principles at all stages of realization will be the most effective way to reduce society’s exposure to high seismic risks. To achieve this, all levels of government need to utilize legislative and regulatory options; insurance industries need to build economic incentives for seismic safety features into their insurance policy offerings; and the private sector, through trade and professional organizations’ planning efforts, needs to develop a healthy self-protective stand. Also, the insurance industry needs to invest more aggressively into broadly based research activities with the objective to quantify the seismic hazards, the exposed assets and their seismic fragilities much more accurately than currently possible. Only together these combined measures may first help to quantify and then reduce our currently untenably large seismic risk exposures in the virtually unprepared eastern cities. Given the low-probability/high-impact situation in this part of the country, seismic safety planning needs to be woven into both the regular capital spending and daily operational procedures. Without it we must be prepared to see little progress. Unless we succeed to build seismic safety considerations into everyday decision making as a normal procedure of doing business, society will lose the race against the unstoppable forces of nature. While we never can entirely win this race, we can succeed in converting unmitigated catastrophes into manageable disasters, or better, tolerable natural events.
Leaked emails from a whistleblower at Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) reveal that Russian officials have discussed the potential use of nuclear weapons by Vladimir Putin in his war with Ukraine.
Igor Sushko, the executive director of the Wind of Change Research Group, a Washington-based non-profit organization, has been translating the correspondence from Russian to English. He shared all the emails in full with Newsweek.
A previous letter from the source was analyzed by Christo Grozev, an expert on the FSB, on March 6. He said he had shown it “to two actual (current or former) FSB contacts” who had “no doubt it was written by a colleague.”
White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan said that Washington and Moscow have held talks aimed at toning down rhetoric around Russia’s potential use of nuclear weapons and talk of nuclear strikes has been less noticeable in recent weeks.
In a March 17 email, written just weeks after the war began, the source said that although the conflict with neighboring Ukraine was “somewhere beyond logic and common sense,” they hoped that “outright foolishness will not be committed”—referring to the use of nuclear weapons.
The Wind of Change expressed doubts that Putin would do so, as Russia “would also be on the receiving end.”
“A massive nuclear strike: even if we assume that it is technically possible, that all the links of the chain follow all the orders, which I don’t believe is the case anymore, it still doesn’t make sense. Such a strike would hit everyone,” they wrote.
In an email a few days later, the FSB source said that the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine would mean “Russia’s defeat” in the eyes of both adversaries and neutral countries.
“Such a powerful argument for a local conflict would demonstrate military weakness, which not even military success could override,” the Wind of Change wrote, adding that Putin could threaten their use to “possibly intimidate the West.”
A nuclear strike by Putin in his war with Ukraine would “accomplish nothing,” and could “provoke such consequences that there is no point in considering them,” the Wind of Change said in an April 12 email.
The whistleblower also suggested that a chain of command within the Kremlin would block Putin should he ever attempt to order a nuclear strike.
“That is, if it’s ‘technically possible,’ for which there is no certainty. More precisely, to begin with, this would require the consent of all those involved (to execute a nuclear strike), which appears to be complicated. Then it will require that the technical capabilities match the ‘wants,’ and everything is tricky here,” they explained.
Russia would also have to launch in a way “that you don’t get an equally entertaining missile hitting the point of origin. (A responding nuclear strike from the West),” and consider intervention from other nations over Russian territory, the Wind of Change said.
“And the missiles will still need to reach the targets, because ‘non-uniform intercepts’ of such missiles over our territory could be an unpleasant ‘side effect”‘ that would override everything.”
In the same email, the FSB agent criticized the Kremlin’s lack of strategy in the war, pointing a finger at Putin for Russia’s military setbacks in Ukraine at the time.
“The culmination of the Russian problem has now been created personally by Putin—already by the fact that he puts his political demands above any expediency: military, social, economic,” they wrote.
“We don’t have a strategy…As recently as two weeks ago, there was hope that the current crisis would force the country’s top leadership to take a responsible step back, assess the situation, and look for real solutions to the current situation.”
They added: “But instead we see the behavior of a player who has had a breakdown in the excitement and is trying to win back his lost bets at any cost. And there is no one to stop him, and his environment indulges in it (you should see how even our people grovel [in the FSB]).”
“There’s a lot of frustration that you have, if you
‘re Russian, this huge reserve of nuclear weapons, which is sort of now your claim to great power status. But they’re kind of irrelevant—you can’t really use them, all you can do is sort of threaten to use them,” he said.
Bergmann assessed that if Ukraine continues to make major gains and approaches Crimea, “that’s the scenario where you could perhaps see Russia get very serious about making nuclear threats.”
He said that Pakistan has been trying to come to solutions on all its fronts, and regretted that India has “not been able to strike a chord of friendship and cooperation with Pakistan”.
Nothing could be far from fact than Pak President’s assertion.
Margella Dialogue is a signature event organised by Islamabad Policy Research Institute hosting national and international scholars to discuss various contemporary issues.
If hypocrisy and double speak has to be learnt, Pakistan can be an exemplary case study. The state has been in a constant denial mode on realities about its crumbling economy and failing state institutions, not to mention the habit of preaching what it never practices.
Despite India’s firm and clear stand that Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) “was, is and shall forever” remain an integral part of the country, Islamabad continues not only to mischievously raise the issue in bilateral and multilateral forums, but also makes it a core issue in bilateral exchanges.
In the name of Islam in J&K, Pak has left no stone unturned including use of terror as its tool of India related foreign policy, providing safe havens to terror outfits, aiding infiltration across the border, breaking the ceasefire umpteen times and waging a proxy war against India without provocation.
Amid all these provocations, India has maintained peace. One only has to imagine the consequence had India used an iron fisted action, similar to what Israel does or Turkey is doing.
The Indian state, unlike Pakistan, was not constituted as a theological state but as modern democratic, socialist and secular state. India has many places in the country with huge Muslim population that enjoys equal constitutional rights.
Nobody has any right to interfere in internal issues of India and this equally applies to issues pertaining to J&K. Hence, reference to abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution tantamount to interference in the internal matters of the country.
Secondly, when the whole world is reducing barriers to trade and people-to-people exchanges, Pakistan is doing everything it can to vitiate business environment and scuttle trade. It has no respect either for democratic institutions and international conventions or human rights.
Saying things which are untrue would not sell in this information age. Any amount of lobbying would also fail if the ground realities are different than claimed.
Today, India is not rising in the international reckoning only as the bright spot amid global economic instability, but also advanced countries are looking up to it for a larger role in bringing peace and prosperity in the world and build a more cooperative and pacifist global order. India’s G-20 Presidency has raised hope.
India has been doing everything for peace and prosperity in South Asia while Pakistan is broiled in internal political bickering and unprecedented economic and political crisis. There is utter confusion as to who represents Pakistan, Pak Army, its intelligence Agency ISI, or the democratically elected government. Given the complexity, confusion and ill intentions, it is next to impossible to fire stall any productive mechanism of cooperation and exchange.
Indian efforts for improving relations were never reciprocated by Pakistan. Anybody could imagine how much of heartbreak and shock would have occurred to India when the Indian Statesman, the former Prime Minister of India A.B. Vajpayee led Agra talks were responded by waging a bloody war in Kargil by Pakistan.
There are numerous other examples that shows Pakistan neither had nor displayed intent to build a productive relationship with India. India accorded Most Favoured Nation Status to Pakistan way back in 1996, but Pakistan did not respond with equal zeal and intent as in its priorities mischief mongering and proxy war remained a greater priority.
For years altogether Pakistan has been creating barriers to India’s access to the Central or West Asian countries through the shortest routes for trade, investment and people to people exchange.
Pak President also shed crocodile tears on global issues, especially by making a call that the world order should be based on rules, morality and ethics contrary to Islamabad’s own track record. He emphasized the need to shun destructive security paradigms and doctrines in international relations, but better than preaching others, Pakistan needs to practice such a doctrine.
There is endorsement and advocacy coming from many advanced states to give veto powers to emerging nations, especially India which is a credible democracy and a responsible state. But Pakistan is opposing this idea despite knowing that its credibility in international community is quite low. What is the credibility of a flood ravaged country which is still buying arms while facing one of the worst economic crises and hunger if its President talks about arms control?
SEOUL, Nov 29 (Reuters) – South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol warned of an unprecedented joint response with allies if North Korea goes ahead with a nuclear test, and urged China to help dissuade the North from pursuing banned development of nuclear weapons and missiles.
In a wide-ranging interview with Reuters on Monday, Yoon called on China, North Korea’s closest ally, to fulfil its responsibilities as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. He said not doing so would lead to an influx of military assets to the region.
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“What is sure is that China has the capability to influence North Korea, and China has the responsibility to engage in the process,” Yoon said in his office. It was up to Beijing to decide whether it would exert that influence for peace and stability, he added.
North Korea’s actions were leading to increased defence spending in countries around the region, including Japan, and more deployment of U.S. warplanes and ships, Yoon noted.
It is in China’s interest to make its “best efforts” to induce North Korea to denuclearise, he said.
When asked what South Korea and its allies, the United States and Japan, would do if North Korea conducts a new nuclear test, Yoon said the response “will be something that has not been seen before”, but declined to elaborate what that would entail.
“It would be extremely unwise for North Korea to conduct a seventh nuclear test,” he told Reuters.
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Amid a record year for missile tests, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said this week his country intends to have the world’s most powerful nuclear force. South Korean and U.S. officials say Pyongyang may be preparing to resume testing nuclear weapons for the first time since 2017.
Ahead of the G20, U.S. President Joe Biden told Xi that Beijing had an obligation to attempt to talk North Korea out of a nuclear test, although he said it was unclear whether China could do so. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said before the meeting that Biden would warn Xi that North Korea’s continued weapons development would lead to an enhanced U.S. military presence in the region, something Beijing is not eager to see.
South Korea and the United States have agreed to deploy more U.S. “strategic assets” such as aircraft carriers and long-range bombers to the area, but Yoon said he did not expect changes to the 28,500 American ground forces stationed in South Korea.
“We must respond consistently, and in lockstep with each other,” Yoon said, blaming a lack of consistency in the international response for the failure of three decades of North Korea policy.
China fought beside the North in the 1950-53 Korean War and has backed it economically and diplomatically since, but analysts say Beijing may have limited power, and perhaps little desire, to curb Pyongyang. China says it enforces the UNSC sanctions, which it voted for, but has since called for them to be eased and, along with Russia, blocked U.S.-led attempts to impose new sanctions.
OPPOSES CHANGE TO TAIWAN ‘STATUS QUO’
[1/6] South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol speaks at an interview with Reuters in Seoul, South Korea, November 28, 2022. REUTERS/Daewoung Kim12345
Boosting ties and coordination with Washington is the core of Yoon’s foreign policy, a focus highlighted by the main item on his desk: a sign saying “The Buck Stops Here”, a gift from Biden.
Like his predecessor, Moon Jae-in, Yoon has treaded cautiously amid the rising U.S.-China rivalry. China is South Korea’s largest trading partner, as well as a close partner of North Korea.
On rising tensions between China and Taiwan, Yoon said any conflict there should be resolved according to international norms and rules.
Democratic Taiwan, which China claims as its own, has come under increasing military and political pressure from Beijing, which has said it would never renounce the use of force against the island.
“I am firmly opposed to any attempt to change the status quo unilaterally,” Yoon said.
When asked about a role in a Taiwan conflict for South Korea or the U.S. troops stationed there, Yoon said that the country’s forces would “consider the overall security situation” but that their most imminent concern would be North Korean military attempts to take advantage of the situation.
“What is important is responding to the imminent threat surrounding us and controlling the possible threat,” he said.
Yoon has also made increasing cooperation with Japan a core goal, despite lingering legal and political disputes dating to Japan’s 1910-1945 occupation of the Korean peninsula.
South Korea, Japan, and the United States have agreed to share real-time information for tracking North Korean ballistic missile tests.
As part of its biggest military expansion since World War Two, Japan is expected to procure fresh munitions, including longer-range missiles, spend on cyber defences and create a combined air, sea and land command headquarters that will work more closely with U.S. forces in Japan.
Japan’s military ambitions have long been a sensitive issue in neighbouring countries, many of which were invaded before or during World War II.
Yoon’s predecessor stopped many of the trilateral exercises and nearly left an intelligence sharing deal with Tokyo as relations soured.
Now Japan faces more and more threats from North Korea’s missile programme, including tests that overfly Japanese islands, Yoon said.
“I believe the Japanese government cannot be asleep at the wheel with the North Korean missile flights over their territory,” he said.
Chinese military vehicles carrying DF-41 ballistic missiles roll past the Great Hall of the People during a parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China in Beijing, October 1, 2019.Mark Schiefelbein/APCNN —
In 2020, the US estimated that China had nuclear warheads numbering in the low-200s and expected the stockpile to double within a decade. Just two years later, China has reached that mark and could have some 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035 if they continue to expand their stockpile at the current pace, according to the 2022 China Military Power report released Tuesday.
“What we’ve seen really in the past couple of years is this accelerated expansion,” said a senior defense official.
The world’s most populous country is using its burgeoning military as one of its tools to create an international system that favors its world view, posing the “most consequential and systemic challenge to US national security,” according to the report, and the larger nuclear capability is a far cry from what China used to call a “lean and efficient” nuclear deterrent. Beijing’s investment in its nuclear triad – sea, land and air-based nuclear launch options – is cause for concern in Washington.
“We see, I think, a set of capabilities taking shape and new numbers in terms of what they’re looking to pursue that raise some questions about what their intent will be in the longer term,” the senior defense official said in a briefing to reporters about the latest report.
China also conducted 135 ballistic missile tests in 2021, the report said, which is more than the rest of the world combined. (The tally excludes ballistic missiles used in the war in Ukraine, the report noted.)
The official also offered new details about the Chinese test of a hypersonic missile in July 2021 that flew around the world before hitting its target, an accomplishment that drew attention to the lagging pace of US hypersonic weapons development. The official said the Chinese system flew 40,000 kilometers and demonstrated the longest flight of any Chinese land attack weapon to date.
The Chinese military, formally known as the People’s Liberation Army, is also developing space and counterspace weapons, the report said, viewing the advanced technology as a way to deter outside intervention in a regional military conflict.
China has a standing army of nearly 1 million soldiers, the largest navy in the world by number of ships, and the third largest air force in the world, according to the report.
The 2022 National Defense Strategy, released last month, identifies China as the pacing challenge for the United States, a point often reiterated by the Pentagon’s top leaders.
“China is the one country out there that geopolitically has the power potential to be a significant challenge to the United States,” said Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley at a news conference earlier this month. “Based on their population, their technology, their economy and nano and a bunch of other things, China is the greatest geopolitical challenge to the United States.”
Tensions between Beijing and Washington frequently revolve around Taiwan, a democratic, self-governing island. China sees the island as a fundamental part of its sovereign territory, including the South China Sea, and defense officials have previously said it intends to have the capability to use military force to take Taiwan by 2027.
In the latest report – officially called the Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China – the US does not anticipate an imminent invasion of Taiwan. Instead, the report said, the US has seen Beijing ramp up diplomatic, economic, political and military pressure on Taiwan.
Since the visit, China has crossed the center line of the Taiwan Strait more frequently, the defense official said, a move they would only use infrequently in the past. In addition, there is more naval activity around Taiwan and a large number of Chinese aircraft flying into Taiwan’s self-declared air defense identification zone.
“Even though we don’t see an imminent invasion, that’s sort of an elevated level of intimidating and coercive activity around Taiwan,” the official said.
Biden also focused on the need for maintaining open lines of communication between Beijing and Washington. China cut off several contacts and meetings with the US following Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who met his Chinese counterpart in Cambodia last week, also emphasized the need for communication, according to a readout of the meeting.
The report also looked at the relationship between Russia and China. The two countries issued a joint statement on February 4, signaling a desire for ongoing partnership and cooperation. Beijing and Moscow have “complementary interests” in terms of their national security and a shared approach to international relations. But the Russian invasion of Ukraine just weeks later has complicated the relationship in ways that may not be fully clear yet.
“Of course it’s going to be an area of keen interest for us and other observers in Europe and elsewhere,” the official said. “We’ve seen the PRC kind of continue to support Russia diplomatically and to amplify a lot of their propaganda and disinformation. And so those are areas of particular concern.”
Events over the past several weeks, in the U.S. and in Israel, indicate strongly that the Biden administration has decided to drop all notion of reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the JCPOA, as the 2015 agreement is called. In effect, Biden will hold to the position Donald Trump took when he pulled the U.S. out of the pact in 2018.
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This brings us straight back to those dangerous years when recklessly risky covert operations in the Islamic Republic and the threat of open conflict were the norm. But what is a little more existential peril when Washington is all but directly confronting the world’s most heavily nuclearized nation by way of a wildly irresponsible regime located on Russia’s doorstep? I suppose we can look at it this way.
I knew all along I had made a safe bet on the fate of the Iran accord. Given the way Biden has operated over his half-century career, if he says he is going to do something it is a fairly good sign he has no intention of doing it. And there seemed to me no way an American pol so deep in the Israelis’ pocket would take any step that would displease the apartheid state’s savagely anti–Iran leadership.
This is a man who famously proclaims “You need not be a Jew to be a Zionist”—an assertion of his position he repeated during a state visit to Israel but four months ago. This is also a man who long ago learned how to manipulate Capitol Hill politics to his own advantage.
I know it is asking a lot, but readers may cast their minds far, far back to the forgotten days of “Build Back Better,” the second coming of FDR, and all that. It seemed perfectly obvious that Biden knew he could make all the extravagant promises he thought politically expedient because he also knew few to none of them would ever make it through the houses of Congress.
It was the same with the idea of bringing the U.S. back into the JCPOA. The lying dog-faced pony soldier who moved into the White House in January 2021 knew he could commit to reviving the accord with no chance his administration would ever do so. As soon as Biden assumed office and named his national security detail it was perfectly evident that Israel would be running their Iran policy.
Bibi Netanyahu was prime minister at the time, readers will recall, and he made it explicitly clear on repeated occasions during Biden’s early months in office that his Israel would never accept a restored or even renegotiated JCPOA. From then onward, the fate of the accord has been color by number.
The U.S. went ahead with new talks with the Islamic Republic, beginning in April 2021 and continuing well into this year. These were conducted indirectly in a Geneva hotel, with European diplomats running room to room as go-betweens. The American negotiators were led by Robert Malley, a seasoned conflict-resolution man with a pretty good record.
Details of just what was in the new accord—what of the original limits on Iran’s nuclear development, what was added to them—were never made clear. Iran’s preoccupation during the Geneva talks was with a guarantee that sanctions relief it would receive in exchange for its concessions would not be withdrawn when one Washington administration gave way to another—Tehran having taken the Trump withdrawal as a stinging betrayal.
No chance. On August 24, a couple of weeks after the Borrell announcement, the bubble burst. Ned Price, the State Department spokesman, stated—deadpan, no detail—that the U.S. had sent a response to the draft Borrell was waving around. John Kirby then signaled that the U.S. would keep a safe distance from it. “Gaps remain,” Biden’s “strategic communications” man declared. “We’re not there yet.”
And then came Israeli PM Yair Lapid, who, like Netanyahu, is of the right-wing Likud party. “A bad deal,” he said of the draft. The diplomats in Geneva “must stop and say ‘Enough.’” The new outline “does not meet the standards set by Biden himself, preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear state.”
Note the language of a leader whose nation was party neither to the original agreement nor to the new negotiations: To his mind, what would constitute a good deal could not be limited to banning a nuclear weapons program; Israel would insist Iran must not have a nuclear program of any kind, even one limited to peaceful purposes—energy production, advanced medical procedures, and the like. Three months later, nearly to the day, we read this David Sanger piece published in Sunday’s New York Times:
“Now, President Biden’s hope of re-entering the United States into the deal with Iran that was struck in 2015, and that Donald J. Trump abandoned, has all but died…. At the White House, national security meetings on Iran are devoted less to negotiation strategy and more to how to undermine Iran’s nuclear plans, provide communications gear to protesters and interrupt the supply chain of weapons to Russia, according to several administration officials…. ‘There is no diplomacy right now under way with respect to the Iran deal,’ John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House, bluntly told Voice of America last month.”
Sanger, who has followed the Iran question for many years and who consistently reflects the national security state’s perspective, asserts, “A new era of direct confrontation with Iran has burst into the open.”
Sanger’s piece explains what is supposed to be an abrupt turn away from the JCPOA talks by noting the Tehran government’s tough responses to recent protests in the capital and other cities, Iran’s sales of drones to Russia, and violations of Iraqi territory—yes, believe it, the U.S. gets very upset when it hears of violations of Iraqi territory. Most worrisome, it seems, is that Iran intends to enrich uranium to “near bomb grade”—not bomb grade—at a facility called Fordow that is built inside a mountain.
The problem with Fordow, Sanger writes, is that it is “hard to bomb.” I am reminded of a remark Netanyahu made in response to Iran’s development of missile defense systems a few years ago. These will make it hard for us to attack, Bibi complained. How dare those Iranians.
To be clear about these matters, the recent unrest in Iran is three things: justified, unfortunate given the official repression it prompts, and none of the Biden administration’s business if you subscribe, as I do, to the principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of other nations. Iran’s drone sales to Russia reflect the steady elaboration of the bilateral relationship and simply do not hold up as an excuse to shut down the Geneva diplomatic process.
As to Iran’s enrichment programs, we’ve been around this any-moment-they-will-build-a-bomb bit for too many years to count. Far down in Sanger’s piece, where this stuff always appears, we read, “The United States recently issued an assessment that it had no evidence of a bomb-making project underway.” I love Sanger’s comeback after writing that obligatory sentence: But maybe the intelligence is wrong, he suggests.
Nowhere in Sanger’s report—as nowhere in all mainstream reporting, indeed—do we read that Iran condemns nuclear weapons as a matter of religious principle and national defense doctrine. Just a small matter of no particular account.
My take on Iran’s nuclear intentions, for the record, remains what is has been for many years: The Islamic Republic has no ambition to build a nuclear bomb but would find it a useful deterrent—and who wouldn’t with Israel next door?—were it to develop the capacity to build one.
The Biden administration has all along had to give the appearance of a genuine effort in Geneva, and maybe Malley’s work was so. But it is the same, again, as with Build Back Better: We tried to give Americans what they want and need, but Congress blocked us. In the Iran case, after months of diplomatic footsie, the recent developments David Sanger cited presented a convenient out: We tried to negotiate with these people, but then… and then… and then…
The timing of this turn in the administration’s public presentation of its Iran policy merits brief attention. Israel’s legislative elections earlier this month have opened the way for Netanyahu, still obsessed with attacking Iran, to return to power. As none other than Tom Friedman noted in “The Israel We Knew Is Gone,” the new government he appears likely to head will be an absolute freak show—“a rowdy alliance of ultra–Orthodox leaders and ultranationalist politicians, including some outright racist, anti–Arab Jewish extremists once deemed completely outside the norms and boundaries of Israeli politics.”
It is impossible to imagine—or I find it impossible, anyway—that the Biden administration’s decision to abandon negotiations on the Iran nuclear accord, apparently promising only a few months ago, is not primarily a reflection of this turn in Israeli politics.
Americans and Israelis have already trained for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Ehud Barack, a former Israeli defense minister, let it be known years ago that Netanyahu planned military strikes on three occasions—2010, 2011, and 2012—but was foiled by inopportune circumstances or reluctant officers.
The JCPOA talks in Geneva, apart from their stated intent, represented an open channel between Washington and Tehran. I recall John Kerry, Obama’s secretary of state, declaring after the accord was signed in mid–July 2015 that it was a door through which other matters could be addressed.
What will come now, as the Biden administration closes this door? To watch and pray is all I can think to do.
Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a media critic, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site. His Twitter account, @thefloutist, has been permanently censored without explanation.
Protests over Mahsa Amini’s death have gone global, but another version in Iran called ‘amameh parani’, is targeting a garment sacred to Shia clerics. Dislodging an amameh or turban worn by Shia clergy in public is a sign of great irreverence and ridicule
This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood talks to Crisis Group’s Iraq expert Lahib Higel about the crisis in Iraq, with parties unable to form a government almost a year after elections and the deadliest clashes the Iraqi capital has seen in years erupting in late August.
In our first episode of Season 3 of Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood is joined by Crisis Group’s Senior Iraq Analyst Lahib Higel to make sense of the political turmoil engulfing the country. They talk about how the crisis came about and why Sadr’s attempts to form a government have failed. They discuss the opposition he faces from his main political rivals, the coalition of Shia parties known as the “Coordination Framework”, which is backed by Iran, and look at Tehran’s hand in the crisis and Washington’s influence on Iraqi politics more broadly. They talk about the prospects for rapprochement between al-Sadr and his Shia rivals, as negotiations on a new government look set to resume amid calls for early elections. They also assess risks of another bout of fighting.
Conflicting with a prior industry study, a new analysis claims 96 nuclear facilities in the US are less safe than reported, citing risks such as terrorism and sabotage. The study says there remain lessons to be learned from the Fukushima disaster.
Neglect of the risks posed by used reactor fuel, or spent nuclear fuel, contained in 96 aboveground, aquamarine pools could cost the US economy $700 billion, cause cancer in tens of thousands of people as well as compel the relocation of some 3.5 million people from an area larger than New Jersey, a study released May 20 finds.
The spent fuel, The Academies’ study recommends, is safer in dry casks rather than pools, because of the risk of leaks, drawing water away from the irradiated nuclear rods. An accident, terrorist attack or malicious employee all pose greater dangers to the pools, the study says.
Aside from calling on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to offer a better evaluation of the health risks posed, The Academies study conducted by 17 engineers, nuclear physicists and other scientists demands the commission fulfill a 10-year-old promise to put together an impartial review of the surveillance and security policies on spent nuclear fuel.
“Even with the recommendations that the Academies’ board has put together,” Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Scott Burnell responded, “we continue to conclude that spent fuel is being stored safely and securely in the US.”
“Nothing in the report causes immediate concern,” Burnell added, although the commission is planning a more formal follow-up later this year, according to The Center for Public Integrity. Congress felt compelled to fund the study on Japan’s natural-turned-nuclear disaster to help prevent a similar accident from occurring in the US. On March 11, 2011, the Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima was thrashed by an earthquake and tsunami, leaving three reactors without power or coolants, which resulted in their radioactive cores melting down.
Pure luck kept the disaster from becoming even worse, The Acadamies found. Instead of Daiichi’s highly radioactive rods being exposed to oxygen, which would have sent over 13 million people packing from as far as 177 miles south in Tokyo, a leak happened to be situated between a fuel rod pool and a reactor core, which sent just enough coolant to keep the vulnerable rods from rising above the water. In the end, 470,000 people were evacuated and the still ongoing cleanup is estimated to cost about $93 billion.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s 2014 study put the highest odds of an earthquake happening near spent fuel storage at one in 10 million years, boasting that “spent fuel pools are likely to withstand severe earthquakes without leaking,” while the odds of a terrorist attack or internal subversion were deemed incalculable and left out of any risk assessment.
The new analysis also calls for new officially designated risk assessments of safety and financial impacts at the federal level as well as what improvements aboveground dry casks may bring compared to pools. The latter is estimated to cost upwards of $4 billion by the industry.