We really are due for the sixth seal: Revelation 6:12

Opinion/Al Southwick: Could an earthquake really rock New England? We are 265 years overdue

On Nov. 8, a 3.6 magnitude earthquake struck Buzzard’s Bay off the coast of New Bedford. Reverberations were felt up to 100 miles away, across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and parts of Connecticut and New York. News outlets scrambled to interview local residents who felt the ground shake their homes. Seismologists explained that New England earthquakes, while uncommon and usually minor, are by no means unheard of.

The last bad one we had took place on Nov. 18, 1755, a date long remembered.

It’s sometimes called the Boston Earthquake and sometimes the Cape Ann Earthquake. Its epicenter is thought to have been in the Atlantic Ocean about 25 miles east of Gloucester. Estimates say that it would have registered between 6.0 and 6.3 on the modern Richter scale. It was an occasion to remember as chronicled by John E. Ebel, director of the Weston observatory of Boston College:

“At about 4:30 in the morning on 18 November, 1755, a strong earthquake rocked the New England area. Observers reported damage to chimneys, brick buildings and stone walls in coastal communities from Portland, Maine to south of Boston … Chimneys were also damaged as far away as Springfield, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut. The earthquake was felt at Halifax, Nova Scotia to the northeast, Lake Champlain to the northwest, and Winyah, South Carolina to the southwest. The crew of a ship in deep water about 70 leagues east of Boston thought it had run aground and only realized it had felt an earthquake after it arrived at Boston later that same day.

“The 1755 earthquake rocked Boston, with the shaking lasting more than a minute. According to contemporary reports, as many as 1,500 chimneys were shattered or thrown down in part, the gable ends of about 15 brick buildings were broken out, and some church steeples ended up tilted due to the shaking. Falling chimney bricks created holes in the roofs of some houses. Some streets, particularly those on manmade ground along the water, were so covered with bricks and debris that passage by horse-drawn carriage was impossible. Many homes lost china and glassware that was thrown from shelves and shattered. A distiller’s cistern filled with liquor broke apart and lost its contents.”

We don’t have many details of the earthquake’s impact here, there being no newspaper in Worcester County at that time. We do know that one man, Christian Angel, working in a “silver” mine in Sterling, was buried alive when the ground shook. He is the only known fatality in these parts. We can assume that, if the quake shook down chimneys in Springfield and New Haven, it did even more damage hereabouts. We can imagine the cries of alarm and the feeling of panic as trees swayed violently, fields and meadows trembled underfoot and pottery fell off shelves and crashed below.

The Boston Earthquake was an aftershock from the gigantic Lisbon Earthquake that had leveled Lisbon, Portugal, a few days before. That cataclysm, estimated as an 8 or 9 on the modern Richter scale, was the most devastating natural catastrophe to hit western Europe since Roman times. The first shock struck on Nov. 1, at about 9 in the morning.

According to one account: ”Suddenly the city began to shudder violently, its tall medieval spires waving like a cornfield in the breeze … In the ancient cathedral, the Basilica de Santa Maria, the nave rocked and the massive chandeliers began swinging crazily. . . . Then came a second, even more powerful shock. And with it, the ornate façade of every great building in the square … broke away and cascaded forward.”

Until that moment, Lisbon had been one of the leading cities in western Europe, right up there with London and Paris. With 250,000 people, it was a center of culture, financial activity and exploration. Within minutes it was reduced to smoky, dusty rubble punctuated by human groans and screams. An estimated 60,000 to 100,000 lost their lives.

Since then, New England has been mildly shaken by quakes from time to time. One series of tremors on March 1, 1925, was felt throughout Worcester County, from Fitchburg to Worcester, and caused a lot of speculation.

What if another quake like that in 1755 hit New England today? What would happen? That question was studied 15 years ago by the Massachusetts Civil Defense Agency. Its report is sobering:

“The occurrence of a Richter magnitude 6.25 earthquake off Cape Ann, Massachusetts … would cause damage in the range of 2 to 10 billion dollars … in the Boston metropolitan area (within Route 128) due to ground shaking, with significant additional losses due to secondary effects such as soil liquefaction failures, fires and economic interruptions. Hundreds of deaths and thousands of major and minor injuries would be expected … Thousands of people could be displaced from their homes … Additional damage may also be experienced outside the 128 area, especially closer to the earthquake epicenter.”

So even if we don’t worry much about volcanoes, we know that hurricanes and tornadoes are always possible. As for earthquakes, they may not happen in this century or even in this millennium, but it is sobering to think that if the tectonic plates under Boston and Gloucester shift again, we could see a repeat of 1755.

Accidents Leading to the First Nuclear War: Revelation 8

Geopolitical Instability Which May Cause Unexpected and Worldwide Nuclear Weapons Accidents – International Viewpoint – online socialist magazine

The report referred to Kim Jong-un’s remarks: “war deterrent” and “nuclear response posture in unexpected situation at any time”. Kim Jong-un also said “we have no content for dialogue with the enemies and felt no necessity to do so”. The report showed that North Korea is promoting operations of tactical nuclear weapons targeting South Korea, Japan, and the US based on a long-term plan.

After launching long-range strategic cruise missiles on October 12, North Korea further escalated tensions by flying about 10 military aircrafts to their heavily fortified border and fired a short-range ballistic missile into the sea on October 13 and 14. And on November 2, North Korea launched about 25 missiles and sustained fire about 100 times from various locations into the Sea of the Yellow Sea and others for more than 10 hours. It was the first time that about 25 missiles were launched in one day. After that, the escalated tensions are tightened day by day and not alleviated. On November 4, South Korea’s military scrambled fighter jets after detecting about 180 North Korean military aircrafts [2].

North Korea’s unprecedentedly frequent missile launches and installation of the tactical nuclear operation units means steady progress from “nuclear development” to “possession of an operational nuclear weapon”. It also means North Korea’s refusal to engage in dialogue with the US. Korean crisis which seemed to have been eased in recent years still exists in the region as a potential crisis. And the crisis is still related to the three major powers (the US, China and Russia). The Russian Invasion of Ukraine provoked a fierce confrontation between the US and Russia.

On the other hand, the dynamics of militarization of the Asia-Pacific region are accelerating and the conflict between China and the US is sharpening [3]. The US is losing the initiative in East Asia against China. Under the current situation, Kim Jong-un may carry out successive nuclear tests to have diverse tactical nuclear weapons. North Korea’s diplomatic card against the US is changing from “denuclearization” to “nuclear disarmament”. Changes in North Korea’s foreign policies will bring a major impact on geopolitical chaos in East Asia.

Progressive ballistic missile development at extremely fast speed and miniaturization of nuclear weapons

Kim Jong-un has launched far more ballistic missiles and other missiles than any previous North Korean leaders. Kim Jong-il launched 16 missiles from 1994 to 2011. On the other hand, Kim Jong-un has launched more than 130 ballistic missiles from 2012 to present. Also, the number of nuclear tests that Kim Jong-un has already conducted (4 times) is twice as many as that of Kim Jong-il. Following is the number of nuclear tests conducted by nuclear power countries and their development periods to achieve the miniaturization of nuclear weapons and has developed nuclear warheads:

North Korea’s first nuclear tests were conducted in October 2006. Sixteen years have passed since then and six nuclear tests have already been performed. On 3 September 2017, North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test (H-bomb test) and stated it had tested a thermonuclear weapon (hydrogen bomb) [4]. Estimated power output (TNT) was more than 13 times higher than the fifth nuclear tests. Considering other related mature technologies of the country, there is a high possibility that North Korea had achieved the miniaturization of nuclear weapons and has developed nuclear warheads. Meanwhile, North Korea has significantly improved a wide variety of missile technologies according to the information provided by its own media:

• Launches of multiple missiles at any time and from any point: from 2014

• Improved accuracy for hitting a specific target by launching ballistic missiles from different locations: from May 2019

• Continuous launches of multiple short-range ballistic missiles within 1 minute: from November 2019

The impact of the situation in Ukraine

Tensions and political instability in the East Asia/Asia-Pacific area are also related to the continued escalation in Ukraine [5].

Against the backdrop of NATO and other overwhelmingly dominant forces in the world, the US is enthusiastic about building an “East Asian NATO” as part of the expansion of its territory since the 19th century. And the Trans-Pacific Partnership is expanding US hegemony in the region especially after the Covid-19 crisis although the US is losing the initiative against China.

On June 29, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yun Seok-yeol joined the 2022 NATO Madrid summit for the first time. NATO invited the leaders of the countries, which the organization views as its “Asia-Pacific partner countries”. It was also an unprecedented move.

Meanwhile, North Korea aims to possess tactical nuclear weapons with various explosive powers amid the escalation of provocations and counter-provocations in Asia-Pacific region. Pyongyang has said in its own statements that that the current situation in Ukraine is an extension of the past political situations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. In the past international situation, North Korea has repeatedly “learned” that only possession of nuclear weapons effectively protects “enemy” countries from Western intervention [6].

The Russian Invasion of Ukraine of this year provoked a fierce confrontation between the US and Russia. And the conflict between China and the US is sharpening.

For North Korea, this situation is a great chance to force nuclear tests despite strong opposition from the international community including China. With its ethnic nationalism, Kim Jong-un regime’s political choices have provoked potential confrontation in the Asia-Pacific region at the expense of working population in the country. Its foreign policy reflects its repressive domestic policy.

The dictatorial regime cannot make other choices. Kim Jong-un may carry out successive nuclear tests, which is like the 1998 tests of nuclear explosive devices conducted by India and Pakistan, to possess diverse tactical nuclear weapons with the support of veto rights of Russia and/or China at the UN Security Council.

The neighboring countries adopting their confrontational policy

This year, North Korea made steady progress from “nuclear development” to “possession of an operational nuclear weapon” by frequent missile launches. And on October 13 and 14, North Korea flew about 10 military aircrafts to their border and fired a ballistic missile into the sea amid its frequent missile launches and installation of the tactical nuclear operation units.

The possibility of North Korea’s seventh nuclear tests had also generated a whirlwind of discussions about the redeployment of US tactical weapons on the Korean Peninsula have emerged in South Korea [7]. To prevent the seventh nuclear tests, the US Air Force and ROK Air Force conducted a large-scale joint air training event Vigilant Storm.

Japan is also working to strengthen its defense capabilities to possess “the ability to attack enemy bases”. This year, the Ministry of Defense of Japan asked for the largest ever budget $40.4 billion for fiscal year 2023 [8]. From the standpoint of defense budget, Japan aims to become the third in the world after the US and China. Japan has been strengthening its defense capabilities in remote island areas around Okinawa [9]. And Japan is planning to put an electronic warfare unit on one of the remote islands Yonaguni, which is just 110 km away from Taiwan [10] and is also planning to station anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles and hundreds of troops on Ishigaki island, 270 kilometers from Taiwan.

China, needless to say, continues to build up its military forces. One of the proposed amendments to the constitution following the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) represents an escalation in cross-strait relations. The new amendment states the CCP’s commitment to “resolutely oppose and contain Taiwan independence” to promote its “unification of the motherland” [11]. In this way, c

ountries around the Korean Peninsula have stepped up their military response, while their other approaches have disappeared.

Vicious spiral of militarization and nuclear escalation in the region

North Korea has no interest in dialogue with the US for denuclearization and is trying to gain status as a nuclear power country by the next Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Meanwhile, diplomatic action of the US will be changed for “nuclear disarmament” according to the current level of tension in which North Korea is about to have diverse tactical nuclear weapons. Nuclear tests would have some impact on the neighboring countries such as China which shares a border with North Korea.

In a sense, the US and Japan, which are enthusiastic about building an “East Asian NATO”, want Kim Jong-un to conduct nuclear tests. If the seventh nuclear tests are pushed ahead, relations between North Korea and China will deteriorate temporarily. As result of the Kim Jong-un’s policy, the vicious spiral of militarization and nuclear escalation are about to be fueled in the region. It may raise the ghost of the pro-nuclear consensus which had already prevailed in East Asian countries such as South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.

Meanwhile some other countries are trying to obtain neutral profits by taking advantage of this situation. Regardless of the energy output the nuclear tests, heightened and intensified regional tensions will endanger geopolitical stability which may trigger unexpected nuclear weapons not only in the Asia-Pacific region but in other parts of the world. Under these circumstances, a global anti-war movement carries a great responsibility especially in the areas/countries facing the danger of the military confrontation such as South Korea, Okinawa [12], and Taiwan.

The population in the areas/countries are victims of former colonial power Japan. It will also symbolize the normalization of diplomatic relations without the recognition of colonial rule, and the contradictions of the US-Japan and US-South Korea alliances caused by past colonial rule [13].

European Horns Pressure the Iranian Nuclear Horn

IAEA Director General Grossi holds news conference in Vienna
The logo of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is seen at the IAEA headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria May 24, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Exclusive: U.S., EU powers push IAEA board to order Iran to cooperate urgently

1:25 PM MST

VIENNA, Nov 11 (Reuters) – The United States, Britain, France and Germany want the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s board to pass a resolution calling it “essential and urgent” for Iran to explain uranium traces found at three undeclared sites, their text seen by Reuters showed.

The draft resolution was sent to other countries on the 35-nation International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors on Friday ahead of a quarterly meeting that starts on Wednesday. It also comes the day after the IAEA issued a report, also seen by Reuters, on the years-long investigation into the traces.

Iran has agreed to hold a meeting with IAEA officials in Tehran after next week’s board meeting to make progress in the stalled inquiry. The issue has been an obstacle to wider talks on reviving Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, as Tehran has demanded an end to the investigation in those talks.

“(The Board of Governors) decides it is essential and urgent … that Iran act to fulfil its legal obligations and … take the following actions without delay,” said the text, dated Friday and listing actions such as providing credible explanations for the traces.

Other actions listed included “provide all information, documentation, and answers the Agency requires” and “provide access to locations and material the Agency requires, as well as for the taking of samples as deemed appropriate by the Agency”.

The draft text, which would need to be passed by a simple majority of board members, also said the board “expresses profound concern that the safeguards issues related to three undeclared locations remain outstanding due to insufficient substantive cooperation by Iran”.

The Vienna-based IAEA wants tangible progress at its meeting with Iran and hopes it will be the start of a process leading to full answers, said a senior diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity due to political sensitivities.

The draft resolution referred to Thursday’s IAEA report, which said IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi was “seriously concerned that there has still been no progress”.

The board passed a similar resolution in June, when only China and Russia opposed it. Iran tends to bristle at such resolutions – it responded to the last one by removing IAEA surveillance cameras and other monitoring equipment installed under the now largely hollowed-out 2015 deal.

Since then, Iran has installed hundreds more advanced centrifuges, machines that enrich uranium, increasing its ability to enrich well beyond the limits set by the 2015 deal, which it began breaching in 2019 in response to a U.S. withdrawal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump.

Iranian Nuclear Horn Is Seeking Russian Help: Daniel

The groundbreaking ceremony of Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, held in Bushehr, Iran on November 10, 2019.

Exclusive: Iran is seeking Russia’s help to bolster its nuclear program, US intel officials believe

By Natasha Bertrand, CNN

Updated 9:42 AM EDT, Fri November 4, 2022

The groundbreaking ceremony of Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, held in Bushehr, Iran on November 10, 2019.Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesWashingtonCNN — 

Iran is seeking Russia’s help to bolster its nuclear program, US intelligence officials believe, as Tehran looks for a backup plan should a lasting nuclear deal with world powers fail to materialize.

The intelligence suggests that Iran has been asking Russia for help acquiring additional nuclear materials and with nuclear fuel fabrication, sources briefed on the matter said. The fuel could help Iran power its nuclear reactors and could potentially further shorten Iran’s so-called “breakout time” to create a nuclear weapon.

Experts emphasized to CNN, however, that the nuclear proliferation risk varies depending on which reactor the fuel is used for. And it is also not clear whether Russia has agreed to help – the Kremlin has long been outwardly opposed to Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.

TOPSHOT - A drone approaches for an attack in Kyiv on October 17, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP) (Photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)

Iran has sent military trainers to Crimea to train Russian forces to use drones

But the Iranian proposal has come amid an expanding partnership between Iran and Russia that in recent months has included Iran sending drones and other equipment to Russia for use in its war in Ukraine, and Moscow potentially advising Tehran on how to suppress a protest movement sweeping Iran, US officials said.

Iran has said its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes and that it formally halted its weapons program, but US officials have stated that Iran’s uranium enrichment activities have gone far beyond the parameters of the 2015 nuclear deal and that the amount of time it would take for Iran to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon has shortened to just months.

In June US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned lawmakers that Iran’s nuclear “program is galloping forward … The longer this goes on, the more the breakout time gets down … it’s now down, by public reports, to a few months at best. And if this continues, it will get down to a matter of weeks.”

The Biden administration is watching any new areas of cooperation between Iran and Russia with concern. Any covert Russian assistance to Iran that could boost Iranian efforts to produce a nuclear weapon would also mark a significant shift in Russian policy, given Russia’s membership of the P5+1 group of countries that have been part of the negotiations to stymie Iran’s nuclear program.

“As we have said, the JCPOA is not on the agenda,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson told CNN, referring to the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. “We have been working with partners to expose the growing ties between Iran and Russia – and hold them accountable. We will be firm in countering any cooperation that would be counter to our non-proliferation goals.”

The Iranian Mission to the UN and the Russian Foreign Ministry did not return requests for comment.

Ukraine alleged Iran is seeking help from Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky suggested last week that Iran was looking to Russia for help with its nuclear program in exchange for the military assistance it has given to Moscow, but the intelligence obtained by the US does not indicate the existence of an explicit quid-pro-quo, sources said.

Instead, Iran’s overtures to Russia appear at least partly motivated by a belief among senior Iranian officials that a new nuclear deal either won’t be revived or, if it is, won’t last.

Sources briefed on the intelligence told CNN that Iran’s concerns appeared most acute over the summer, as it appeared to be closing in on a new nuclear deal with the US and other world powers known as the P5+1—a group that includes Russia. Iran’s fear was that a future administration might pull out of a deal, as the Trump administration did in 2018, so it sought a side deal with Russia that would allow it to reconstitute its nuclear program quickly if necessary.

CNN has previously reported that Iran sought guarantees from the US that a future administration would not renege on the deal—a promise the US said it could not make.

A Russian BTR-82A armoured personnel carrier, Iskander-M missile launchers and MSTA-S self-propelled howitzers drive in Red Square during a parade on Victory Day in central Moscow, Russia May 9, 2022.

US officials divided over new intelligence suggesting Russian military discussed scenarios for using nuclear weapons

Asked whether the growing Iran-Russia partnership was a factor in the nuclear deal talks getting derailed, a senior administration official told CNN, “Obviously, side deals between Russia that fundamentally undermined the structure of the 2015 agreement would be a serious concern and further reduce the possibility of a return to the agreement.” The official declined to comment specifically on intelligence assessments.

James Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said he does not believe Iran necessarily needs the help—but that they do have an incentive, namely to produce the fuel more quickly, cheaply, and on a shorter timeline.

“They do have clear incentives to ask for help, particularly on the fuel side,” Acton said.

“Three to four years ago, when US-Russia relations were bad, but not catastrophic, I would be pretty skeptical that Russia would provide Iran with help,” Acton added. “But under today’s conditions, under which US-Russia relations are extremely bad and Russian-Iranian relations are getting better, I think the equation looks quite different for Russia.”

The US withdrawal from the JCPOA also likely increased Russia’s willingness to help Iran in this respect, Acton noted – and especially now that a new deal appears out of reach.

Russia played a key role throughout 2021 in the nuclear deal talks and even mediated some deals that allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency to move forward with inspections at Iranian nuclear sites, effectively keeping the negotiations on track.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, however, Russian officials appeared less invested in the deal. In June, Russia rejected a resolution proposed by the IAEA that criticized Iran for failing to cooperate with inspections of uranium traces found at some undeclared nuclear sites in the country, a critical sticking point that contributed to talks being derailed. That same month, a Russian delegation began making visits to an airfield in Iran to examine weapons-capable drones—which Russia has now purchased and used in Ukraine by the hundreds.

US officials have emphasized in recent days and weeks that nuclear deal negotiations are all but dead, at least for now. The Iranian regime’s brutal and violent crackdown on protesters and support for Russian military operations in Ukraine has made it increasingly difficult for senior Biden administration officials to envision striking a deal with Tehran that would provide it with a financial windfall in the form of sanctions relief.

The US Special Envoy for Iran, Rob Malley, said on Monday that while the United States remains committed to diplomacy to constrain Iran’s nuclear program, US officials are not going to “waste our time” on the nuclear deal “if nothing’s going to happen.”

Instead, the US is now focused on areas it can be “useful,” Malley said, like supporting protesters in Iran and looking for ways to stop Iranian weapons transfers to Russia. He noted that the US still has “a preference for diplomacy” in dealing with Iran. But, he added, “we will use other tools, and in last resort, a military option if necessary, to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to clarify the description of Iran’s nuclear program.

Iranian Horn increases highly enriched uranium stockpile

UN agency: Iran increases highly enriched uranium stockpile

The U.N. atomic watchdog says it believes that Iran has further increased its stockpile of highly enriched uranium

VIENNA — The U.N. atomic watchdog said Thursday it believes that Iran has further increased its stockpile of highly enriched uranium and criticized Tehran for continuing to bar the agency’s officials from accessing or monitoring Iranian nuclear sites.

In its quarterly report, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that according to its assessment, as of Oct. 22, Iran has an estimated 62.3 kilograms (137.3 pounds) of uranium enriched to up to 60% fissile purity. That amounts to an increase of 6.7 kilograms since the IAEA’s last report in September.

That enrichment to 60% purity is one short, technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%. Nonproliferation experts have warned in recent months that Iran now has enough 60%-enriched uranium to reprocess into fuel for at least one nuclear bomb.

The IAEA report, which was seen by The Associated Press, also estimated that as of Oct. 22, Iran’s stockpile of all enriched uranium was at 3673.7 kilograms — a decrease of 267.2 kilograms since the last quarterly report in September. 

The Vienna-based IAEA said it was unable to verify the exact size of Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium due to limitations that Tehran imposed on U.N. inspectors last year and the removal of the agency’s monitoring and surveillance equipment in June at sites in Iran.

It has been nearly two years since IAEA officials have had full access to monitor Iran’s nuclear sites, and five months since the surveillance equipment was removed.

The IAEA’s assessment comes as efforts to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which eased sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program, have stalled.

The United States unilaterally pulled out of the nuclear deal — formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA — in 2018, under then-President Donald Trump. It reimposed sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to start backing away from the deal’s terms.

State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in Washington Thursday that the U.S. “echo concerns that there has been no progress in clarifying and resolving Iran’s outstanding safeguards issues.”

“We urge Iran to fully cooperate with the IAEA’s safeguards investigation so that the agency can be confident that all the nuclear material in Iran is under those safeguards,” he said.

The IAEA said in its report that the lack of cooperation from Iran would have a “significant impact” on the agency’s ability to reestablish its knowledge of Iran’s activities since its cameras were removed in June.

“Any future baseline for the … JCPOA verification and monitoring activities would take a considerable time to establish and would have a degree of uncertainty,” the report stated. “The longer the current situation persists, the greater such uncertainty becomes.”

A separate report, also seen by the AP, said IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi is “seriously concerned” that Iran has still not engaged on the agency’s probe into man-made uranium particles found at three undeclared sites in the country. The issue has become a key sticking point in the talks for a renewed nuclear deal.

Grossi met with Mohammad Eslami, vice president and head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, in late September to discuss the topic. The second report on Thursday noted that IAEA officials will travel to Tehran for a technical visit by the end of November.

That meeting, the IAEA report said, “should be aimed at effectively clarifying and resolving” remaining safeguards issues.

The IAEA has for years sought answers from Iran to its questions about the particles. U.S. intelligence agencies, Western nations and the IAEA have said Iran ran an organized nuclear weapons program until 2003. Iran has long denied ever seeking nuclear weapons, insisting its nuclear program is peaceful.

U.S. Pacific Allies Want to Work Together to Blunt Chinese Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

U.S. Pacific Allies Want to Work Together to Blunt Chinese Nuclear Threat

November 10, 2022 4:36 PM

As China builds up its nuclear weapons arsenal and expands its conventional military forces, United States allies in the Pacific are asking Washington for an extended deterrence alliance in the region, three security experts said Wednesday. 

Toshi Yoshihara, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic Budgetary Assessment, said China has played up the idea that extended deterrence “tends to be very fragile” when a crisis arises. Beijing believes it could split apart allies before a conflict with the threat of using theater nuclear weapons he said.

This immediate threat from China to use nuclear weapons against U.S. allies – like Japan and the Republic of Korea – in Northeast Asia has caused Tokyo and Seoul to consider new security arrangements, Yoshihara said. Efforts to reposition nuclear weapons in the region and drafting new agreements on employment that were once “unthinkable” could now be possible.

There is no treaty arrangement like NATO in the Indo-Pacific that has a consultative process for the use of nuclear weapons, the panelists noted.

Russia has used this same threat of using theater nuclear weapons since 2014 and raised the possibility again following major setbacks in its invasion of Ukraine. Both Moscow and Beijing have included this option in publicly announced military doctrine.

China is building hundreds of new missile silos in the western part of the country, fielding road mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles, developing a fleet of new strategic bombers with improved long-range strike capabilities and putting to sea additional ballistic missile submarines, Yoshihara noted. These developments mark “a change in tone” in what analysts believed Beijing’s ambitions were as late as 2010.

Gone is the “mean and effective force” of sea- and land-based nuclear weapons to deter attack, replaced with a force fitting with President Xi Jinping’s goal of China possessing “a world-class military” that is capable of acting regionally and globally.

Speaking at the Heritage Foundation online event, Franklin Miller, a principal at the Scowcroft Group, described China’s nuclear build-up “as highly impressive.” He noted that the build-up happened as Beijing probed western resolve over its building of artificial islands in the South China Sea, territorial claims across the Indo-Pacific, harassment of neighbors like Taiwan and Vietnam and provocative maritime activities around the Japanese Senkaku Islands.

“What is the aim of this build-up” at all levels of range and across the triad, he asked rhetorically.

Miller and the others said the major consequence of what is often called the “Chinese nuclear breakout” is that “we must be thinking of deterring Russia and China simultaneously,” not consecutively. The question the U.S. must answer is “can we cover the targets Russia and China hold most dear” to deter the two nations.

When answering that question, “we need to have a sense of urgency” that includes pursuing missile defense for Guam, potentially expanding the Australia United Kingdom United States (AUKUS) technology transfer agreement to include Japan and South Korea, and rebuilding America’s own conventional weapons arsenal.

Brad Roberts, former deputy assistant defense secretary for nuclear and missile and defense policy, said it also means Washington needs to handle threats in Europe and in the Indo-Pacific.

Several times during the discussion, Russia’s and China’s previous declaration of a “no limits” partnership came up as a possibility that could set off simultaneous crises. But what the partnership actually means after the Kremlin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is unclear.

“We’re going to be asking more [of] allies; they’re going to be asking more of us” when it comes to deterrence, he said.

Roberts said the nuclear posture the United States has now reflects the end of the Cold War. “That posture is just of alignment” with the changed circumstances globally. In addition to working more closely with allies, he said Washington’s current commitment to rebuilding the U.S. nuclear triad is actually a replacement strategy rather than a modernization one.

On the nuclear sea-launched cruise missile, which the Biden administration canceled, the panelists agreed it was an option that had value. Yoshihara said that in his meetings with Japanese officials, they regularly asked why the administration canceled the program.

Other options that panelists offered to address an assurance and deterrence gap without trying to match Moscow and Beijing weapon for weapon are to ensure all bombers, including the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, are capable of carrying long-range stand-off missiles, build more B-21s than projected and extend the construction of the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines.

Roberts stressed that while militaries may have a doctrine for how to use theater nuclear weapons during a crisis, there remains a “question of political engagement” on their employment. “This is a new problem, how do we deter Xi and [Vladimir] Putin?” He added, “Interestingly, Putin has backed down recently” from using nuclear weapons in Ukraine.