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.
Among its other fallouts, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has energized the Atlantic Alliance (Europe on one side of the Ocean and the US on the other) like never before in the post–Cold War era. Some pundits say that the alliance under the United States’ leadership may have reached its peak.
But at the same time, the two foremost powers of Europe – France and Germany – seem very particular about the importance of “strategic autonomy” and lessening Europe’s dependence on the US for its security by building the prowess of their militaries.
And here, the significant trend is the growing recognition of the need to develop and strengthen “European Nuclear Weapons.”
Macron said France wants to be an “independent, respected, agile power at the heart of European strategic autonomy” with strong links to the Atlantic alliance.
President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron talk before the first session of the G7 Summit on Friday, June 11, 2021, at the Carbis Bay Hotel and Estate in St. Ives, Cornwall, England. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz). Original public domain image from Flickr
He added that France wanted to focus on boosting the European Union’s defense capacity building, lessening the dependence of the bloc of 27 nations’ security dependence on the US and NATO.
Of course, Macron has consistently argued the above theme of Europe building its strength. After interviewing him, the Economist magazine wrote, “Europe has become dependent on others for too much—from its ability to innovate to military heft and even food.
In a world led by unreliable folk like Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and Vladimir Putin, that set his nerves jangling. Europe, in Mr. Macron’s jargon, needs strategic autonomy. That pitch for greater sovereignty encompasses everything from more defense spending to Europe coming up with its tech giants and much else besides.”
Importantly, in his “national strategic review,” the French President has insisted that a “credible, modern” nuclear deterrence is the key. After BREXIT, France became the only EU country with nuclear weapons. “Our nuclear forces contribute through their existence to the security of France and Europe,” he said.
But, and it is exceptionally significant, Macron also made it clear that “a potential nuclear ballistic attack from Russia in the region would not bring any nuclear response from Paris.” He said that France’s doctrine “is based on what we call the fundamental interests of the nation. They would not at all be at stake” in such a situation.
This is an issue that few in Germany wanted to discuss until recently, given its history and aversion to all things nuclear. All the more so after the 2021 general elections that ended a 16-year-long streak of conservative governments under Angela Merkel.
The country today has a government of a broad coalition of three parties from the left and the right – the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Free Democratic Party (FDP), and the Greens. Both the SPD and the Left Greens, particularly the latter, are big-time votaries of nuclear disarmament and the closure of even civilian nuclear plants.
The last time it was in the government (1988), the Greens party had argued strongly to replace NATO with a European peace order. Even during election campaigns last year, the Greens had proposed a Germany free of nuclear weapons.
But the Russian invasion of Ukraine has changed all that. The German government, led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), has not only pledged to spend at least two percent of a country’s gross domestic product for defense purposes but also supported the sharing of NATO’s nuclear weaponry on German soil.
Reportedly, the German government is now drafting a first-ever national security strategy, which is expected to be made public early next year, and will talk of retaining a credible nuclear deterrence through Germany’s NATO membership.
The public debate at present in Germany also shows that as the international security environment deteriorates, military options and new nuclear armaments are becoming more attractive among political leaders.
Even otherwise, in a June 2022 poll, most interviewees supported hosting US nuclear weapons in Germany. This starkly contrasted with previous years when many Germans in polls favored removing these weapons from the country.German Chancellor Olaf Scholz
Of course, under the previous German government of Angela Merkel of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), there were calls for a “Euro-deterrent” (independent of US nuclear weapons through NATO).
The leading defense expert of the Christian Democrats in the Bundestag, Roderich Kiesewetter, made this case. And Roderich Kiesewetter, a lawmaker and foreign policy spokesman with then Germany’s ruling party, had elaborated this line of thinking.
This “Euro deterrent” by its advocates did not necessarily mean that Germany would make nuclear weapons in violation of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty (NPT). It meant supporting and financing those European countries that already had nuclear weapons – France and the United Kingdom.
“My idea is to build on the existing weapons in Great Britain and France,” Kiesewetter argued while acknowledging that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union could preclude its participation.
Kiesewetter’s thesis had four ingredients: “a French pledge to commit its weapons to a common European defense, German financing to demonstrate the program’s collective nature, a joint command, and a plan to place French warheads in other European countries.”
This thesis of a “Euro-deterrent,” provided by the French strategic forces, is being reasserted today by Friedrich Merz, the leader of the CDU. His party colleague and head of the conservative European People’s Party in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, has even proposed that Germany fund the French “force de frappe.”
However, the problem with the German idea of a “Euro-deterrent” has met a significant setback, and that is the irony, with the latest French national strategic review and President Macron’s announcement that the French deterrent is there to protect and defend French territory, and does not extend to its European partners.
And this, in turn, may lead to the revival of the public demand that the country should have its nuclear weapons. Germany had a discussion in the late 1960s about whether it should have a nuclear force, something that then Defense Minister Franz Josef Strauss had strongly advocated.
As Stephen F Szabo, Adjunct Professor at the BMW Center for German and European Studies, Georgetown University, and author of “Germany, Russia and the Rise of Geo-economics,” writes, “A nuclear North Korea, a nuclear-curious Iran, and the prospect of Japan and South Korea becoming nuclear powers begs the question: Why should Germany stay behind given its power and centrality to European security?”
A pertinent question, indeed!
Author and veteran journalist Prakash Nanda has been commenting on politics, foreign policy on strategic affairs for nearly three decades. A former National Fellow of the Indian Council for Historical Research and recipient of the Seoul Peace Prize Scholarship, he is also a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
In a declaration adopted on Tuesday evening, the meeting condemned “any advocacy of hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence”.
It also expressed “deep concern about the use of new information technologies… for purposes contrary to respect for human values, good neighbourliness, equality, non-discrimination, and respect for others”, noting the particular vulnerability of children and youth.
The Fez meeting ends Wednesday. The forum’s next edition is to be held in Lisbon in 2024.
Iran has announced it is now enriching uranium at a 60 percent purity level at its Fordow underground nuclear facility after the United Nations nuclear watchdog condemned Tehran’s failure to cooperate over visits by the agency.
The official state-run news agency IRNA reported on November 22 that the Fordow site, which is buried in the side of a mountain, was producing uranium with an enrichment level of 60 percent — one technical step away from weapons-grade levels — “for the first time.”
Iran already produces uranium at 60 percent at two other plants.
IRNA did not say how much of the 60 percent-enriched uranium had been produced at Fordow.
The semiofficial Fars news agency reported that Iran has also begun to replace first-generation centrifuges (IR-1) with advanced IR-6 centrifuges at Fordow, which would allow it to escalate its enrichment activities further.
The IAEA later confirmed Iran’s claim that it has started enriching uranium up to 60 percent at its Fordow plant. This is in addition to production that has taken place at Natanz, another uranium enrichment plant in Iran, since April 2021, the IAEA said. Iran continues to advance its enrichment activities there “and now plans to install a second production building,” the IAEA said.
“We certainly have not changed our view that we will not allow Iran to achieve a nuclear weapons capability,” he said.
Britain, France, and Germany also condemned Iran’s nuclear advances.
“Iran’s step is a challenge to the global nonproliferation system,” the three nations said in a joint statement. “This step, which carries significant proliferation-related risks, has no credible civilian justification.”
The statement added that the three countries “will continue to consult, alongside international partners, on how best to address Iran’s continued nuclear escalation.”
An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board of governors meeting last week in Vienna criticized Iran for failing to allow inspections of nuclear sites, while the UN agency’s chief, Rafael Grossi, recently said he was “seriously concerned” over uncertainty surrounding Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran claims is purely for civilian purposes.
The United States unilaterally pulled out of the accord in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions that have battered Iran’s economy and its currency. After Washington withdrew, Iran began to breach some of the pact’s nuclear limits, saying they could no longer be enforced.
A White House official said Tuesday the United States was watching “with deep concern” as Iran stated it was enriching uranium to 60 precent at a second atomic site.
“We certainly have not changed our view that we will not allow Iran to achieve a nuclear weapons capability,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters. “All options” were being prepared for US President Joe Biden, Kirby said.
Mohammad Eslami, chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, had announced earlier Tuesday that enrichment to 60 percent had begun Monday at the Fordow underground facility, which is around 110 miles (190km) south of Tehran. Iran in April 2021 began enriching to 60 percent at the Natanz site after an attack on the facility it blamed on Israel.
The ISNA news agency reported Iran had informed the IAEA over its decision to use relatively advanced IR-6 centrifuges to enrich to 60 precent at Fordow.
Britain, France and Germany also condemned Iran’s plans to expand its nuclear program after the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA said Iran was enriching uranium, with plans to further expand enrichment at two plants.
“Iran’s step is a challenge to the global non-proliferation system,” the three nations said in a joint statement provided by the British government. “This step, which carries significant proliferation-related risks, has no credible civilian justification.”
“We will continue to consult, alongside international partners, on how best to address Iran’s continued nuclear escalation.”
Eslami said the move had come after Iran had warned it would “seriously react to any resolution and political pressure.” Last Thursday the 35-nation governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed a resolution drafted by the US and European allies censuring Iran over an alleged lack of co-operation over uranium traces found by agency inspectors at sites not declared as nuclear-related.
Tehran has demanded that an IAEA enquiry into the uranium traces be shelved as a condition for reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). Iran has now responded to the IAEA resolution with its latest nuclear expansion beyond the caps set by the JCPOA, which set enrichment at a 3.67 percent maximum and limited centrifuges to the first-generation, less efficient IR-1. The 2015 agreement banned any enrichment at Fordow.
Prospects for reviving the JPCPOA, which former US president Donald Trump abandoned 2018 while imposing ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions on Iran, have dimmed since 18-month-long talks floundered earlier this year. The US and the three western European JCPOA signatories – France, Germany, and the United Kingdom – have slapped new sanctions on Iran on a variety of grounds including its response to a wave of protests and supply of military drones to Russia.
Tehran’s installation of more efficient advanced centrifuges, its enrichment to 60 percent, and stockpiling of enriched uranium have together drastically reduced the time it would take Iran to assemble sufficient ‘weapons grade’ uranium,’ enriched to 90 percent, for an explosive device. Iran denies it has any intention of building a nuclear bomb.
What Would a South Korean Nuclear Weapons Program Look Like?: In the last year, a gathering debate has arisen in South Korea about whether it should build nuclear weapons to counter North Korea’s nuclear weapons. North Korea’s relentless missile testing program this year has pushed forward this debate. If the Pyongyang regime conducts another nuclear test – its seventh – that too will accelerate the Southern discussion.
North Korea’s Nuclearization is Pushing the Same in South Korea
North Korea’s relentless march toward better, faster, and more powerful nukes and missiles is pushing South Korea further and further into a corner. Hawkish options which were once deemed too radical or destabilizing – such as airstrikes on North Korean missile sites or South Korea’s own nuclearization – are under discussion now. If South Korea reaches for these more extreme options, North Korea has only itself to blame. Its exorable nuclearization and missilization are the cause; South Korea has been a model member of the NPT. It clearly does not want nuclear weapons. It has long encouraged a non-nuclear peninsula. The North Koreans have said the same while nonetheless nuking up relentlessly. The shape of the South Korean response is now coming into view.
Mutually Assured Destruction
The primary purpose of a nuclear arsenal is deterrence. Nukes best serve to prevent one’s opponents from considering a preemptive nuclear strike. Critically, strategic nuclear deterrence does not end conventional warfare. The US and USSR/Russia have fought numerous proxy conflicts in the nuclear age – Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Ukraine. But nuclear escalation is inhibited when parties can credibly threaten each other with assured destruction.
A primary justification for Southern nuclearization, then, is to check any North Korean notion that its nukes could be used coercively – as threats to compel compliance from South Korea. Russia has used its nuclear weapons in this way with reasonable success in the Ukraine War. Its oblique nuclear threats of escalation have inhibited an even more robust NATO intervention on Ukraine’s behalf. Were Russia solely a conventional power, NATO might have imposed a no-fly zone over Ukraine or sunk Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
To accomplish this basic deterrent task, South Korea would need a few dozen survivable warheads. ‘Survivable’ means that South Korea could absorb a nuclear first strike by North Korea and still retaliate with atomic arms. If both sides have such survivability, the incentives to strike first decline dramatically. The strategic situation becomes a stalemate of mutually assured destruction (MAD). The result is a cold peace. The ironic outcome of such powerful weapons is stability, as no player wants to take the huge risk of conflict.
Nuclear Weapons: What Does South Korea Need?
To achieve MAD, South Korea does not need a large arsenal. It does not tactical nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield, for example. Nor does it need the high-yield thermonuclear weapons the Americans and the Soviets developed through the Cold War. Nor does it need intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying multiple warheads. Indeed, it needs no more than fifty (probably even fewer) small warheads on platforms that could ride out a Northern first strike. A few submarines with nuclear missiles would be enough. South Korea does not need land-based missiles or bombers. Its arsenal is not intended to threaten China; it only needs to be extensive and diverse enough to deter the North.
This is a crucial point. Much of the resistance to Southern nuclearization stems from fears of a nuclear ‘cascade.’ North Korea’s spiraling, unchecked nuclear program might produce the same in South Korea and Japan. This action-reaction chain is possible, of course, but South Korea has strong incentives to be discipline, restrained, and transparent about its nuclearization.
Seoul does not need a large arsenal to deter North Korea. Its purpose is strictly defensive. It only needs a few dozen warheads on a few dozen missiles on a handful of submarines to achieve this. Its political purpose is to compensate for American alliance anxiety now that North Korea strike the US homeland. South Korean nukes serve to lessen allied tension, via ‘self-insurance,’ over the thorny question of US willingness to fight a nuclear war on Seoul’s behalf. They are, very obviously, not intended as offensive weapons nor as threats to China
This South Korean move would clearly be controversial. But it is important to note that this can be done in an open, public way, with clear explanations of Seoul’s (justifiable) reasons and with a minimal arsenal focused on one task. If North Korea and China do not like this outcome, let them finally negotiate peninsular arms control seriously after decades of gimmicks.
Expert Biography: Dr. Robert E. Kelly (@Robert_E_Kelly; RoberEdwinKelly.com) is a professor of international relations in the Department of Political Science at Pusan National University and 19FortyFive Contributing Editor.
Hamas spokesperson Abdul Latif al-Qanoua confirmed that the extremist Israeli Rabbi Yehuda Glick’s incursion into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, accompanied by dozens of colonial settlers, and live streaming that constitute a dangerous escalation and incitement to wider incursions into it, invalidating the feelings of Muslims and provoking them.
He explained that herds of colonial settlers and Israeli extremists break into the Al-Aqsa Mosque on a daily basis in failed attempts to pass the occupation’s schemes and impose a fait accompli policy in its compounds.