For the last 43 years John Armbruster has been a seismologist with Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. A veteran of what he describes as “a couple of dozen” quakes, he is interested in the seismic activity throughout the Pacific region in recent weeks.
However, does the amount of plate movements around the world in recent weeks as well as years to translate to New York City being more vulnerable, “These earthquakes are not communicating with each other, they are too far apart,” said Armbruster in an interview with PIX 11 News on Wednesday.
US claims China has fielded JL-3 sub-launched ballistic missiles in maritime area, bringing mainland US within closer range
By GABRIEL HONRADANOVEMBER 22, 2022Print
China is one step closer to turning the South China Sea into a sanctuary for its nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), a move that would put the continental United States within range of its JL-3 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from the semi-enclosed and hotly contested body of water.
On November 18, US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Samuel Paparo acknowledged to military reporters in Washington that China has fielded its JL-3 SLBM on its six Type 094 SSBNs, giving it the capability to hit the US from waters closer to America’s shore.
Paparo emphasized that these SSBNs were built to threaten the US and that the US Navy is keeping close track of them.
A year ago, the Pentagon said that the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLA-N) would gain the capability to target the US from China’s coastal waters, with Paparo declining to comment when asked if China’s Type 094 SSBNs have conducted deterrence patrols close to Hawaii.
The JL-3 has an estimated range of more than 10,000 kilometers, which allows China to target the US “from a protected bastion in the South China Sea,” US Strategic Command commander Admiral Charles Richard told the US Senate Armed Services Committee this March according to a US Congressional Research Service (CRS) report.
If true, the JL-3 is a significant improvement over the previous missile, the JL-2, which has a range of 7,200 kilometers. According to CRS, that gives China’s Type 094 SSBNs the ability to attack Alaska from the Bohai Sea. CRS notes that to strike the US West Coast, JL-2-equipped Type 094 SSBNs would have to be in waters east of Hawaii due to range limitations.
In response to the reports, China’s state mouthpiece Global Times last week slammed the US as having ulterior motives by hyping the “China Threat” to seek a greater presence in the Asia-Pacific in the form of more anti-submarine forces and its own Columbia-class SSBNs. It also claimed that spiking threat perceptions of China was a way for the US military to get more funding.
It emphasized that China maintains a defensive national defense policy and a military strategy of “active defense.” The Global Times report also noted that while China has no plans to expand significantly its nuclear arsenal, it will continue to modernize it amid the changing strategic security environment.
China’s nuclear doctrine relies on a robust SSBN fleet. In a 2016 Carnegie Endowment for Regional Peace report, Liping Xia notes that a no-first-use policy, minimum nuclear deterrence, counter-nuclear coercion and limited nuclear deterrence are critical features of China’s nuclear doctrine.
Xia notes that China’s SSBNs are essential to its second-strike nuclear capability and with fleet upgrades allow China to be more confident of its no-first-use policy.
Echoing this view, Fiona Cunningham notes in a 2020 article for The Strategist that China’s nuclear force structure is optimized to ride out an adversary’s first strike and retaliate against strategic targets rather than credibly threaten the first use of nuclear weapons.
Cunningham mentions that although Chinese leaders have debated changing China’s longstanding no-first-use nuclear policy from time to time, there is no sign that China plans to change it anytime soon.
The JL-3’s deployment will mark a significant upgrade to the survivability of China’s undersea deterrent. A 2018 Carnegie Endowment for Regional Peace report notes that the JL-2 SLBM’s limited range means it cannot reach the US if launched from Chinese coastal waters. The report says that China’s SSBNs would need to sail into the Western Pacific to hit the US mainland with the missile.
These vulnerabilities go against the basic philosophy of an SSBN, which according to the CSIS report is to hide in the ocean’s vastness so that it would be impossible to detect or predict its location.
As such, the JL-3’s introduction may allow China to implement a South China Sea “bastion strategy,” obviating the need for its SSBNs to sail into the Pacific to launch their SLBMs. In this strategy, China would use the South China Sea as a sanctuary for its SSBNs, with the area protected by land-based aircraft and missiles, naval forces and fortified islands.
Logistically speaking, it would be much easier for China to sustain short-range SSBN than open-water patrols with command and control facilities stationed in nearby waters.
As the South China Sea is straddled by major sea lanes of communication (SLOCs), the underwater noise environment makes it more difficult to detect China’s SSBNs, allowing them to hide amid the area’s unique underwater noise, thermal and acoustic features.
i24NEWSNovember 23, 2022 at 02:31 AMlatest revision November 23, 2022 at 05:37 AM
‘None of the policies of your criminal government will protect you from the strikes’
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) extremist group issued a statement on Wednesday praising two terrorist attacks that killed at least 1 and wounded nearly 20 in Jerusalem, shortly after Hamas also welcomed the explosions.
“The operation in the occupied city of Jerusalem is a natural response to the occupation, its terrorism, and its criminal practices against the defenseless Palestinian people and their holy sites,” PIJ said in a statement.
“The operation says to the leaders of the Occupation and the leaders of the settlers that none of the policies of your criminal government will protect you from the strikes of our people’s resistance,” it added.
Earlier on Wednesday the Hamas terror group issued a similar statement on the attacks, threatening more violence.
“The Zionist occupation is paying the price today for its crimes and aggression against our people and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and we have warned about this repeatedly,” the spokesman for Hamas, Abd Latif al-Kanou, said.
“Our people will not remain silent in the face of this, and the outrage Al-Aqsa will explode and spread in all regions,” he added.
Both terrorist organizations are based in the Gaza Strip, while PIJ also operates in the West Bank. Israeli military forces have been conducting counterterrorism operations in recent months arresting a number of top members of the extremist organizations in response to a series of Palestinian attacks against Israelis carried out earlier this year.
Stories appearing in our World pages originate from aggregated news feeds obtained from various subscription news sources.
In a speech broadcast on Iranian Channel 1 on Nov. 19, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed that the West and the “arrogant” U.S. find it “intolerable and unbearable” because Iran is progressing and prospering.
He claimed that all pressure on Iran comes due to its progress and refusal to submit to the West’s “bullying,” and he chastised all American presidents since Jimmy Carter for opposing Iran.
“All the American presidents, in the decades that have passed since the revolution, have fought the Islamic Republic on that front. It does not matter where they are now,” said Khamenei.
He continued, “Some of them have dropped dead, and some have been cast in the garbage bin of history, even if still alive: starting with the Democrats Carter, Clinton, and Obama, and ending with the Republicans Reagan and Bush. This includes the previous dope [Donald Trump] and this poor demented incumbent guy who wants to save Iran and the Iranians.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was confirming Iranian reports of Tehran’s step, taken in retaliation for the agency’s criticism of Iran in a board of governors resolution last week.
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While Iran is already enriching uranium up to 60% purity elsewhere, its decision to do so at Fordow is likely to be viewed by Western nations as particularly provocative because the site is buried under a mountain, making it harder to attack.
That purity is below the roughly 90% needed for weapons-grade material but well above the 20% Iran produced before its 2015 agreement with major powers to cap enrichment at 3.67%.
The latest move is in retaliation to last week’s resolution by the IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors ordering Iran to cooperate with the agency’s years-long investigation into the origin of uranium particles found at three undeclared sites.
“Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi today said Iran had started producing high enriched uranium – UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) enriched up to 60% – using the existing two cascades of IR-6 centrifuges in the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant, in addition to such production that has taken place at Natanz since April 2021,” the agency said in a statement.
It was summarising a confidential report to IAEA member states seen by Reuters on various moves taken and planned by Iran at enrichment plants at Fordow and Natanz.
Iran only has six cascades, or clusters, of IR-6 centrifuges in operation at three plants at Fordow and Natanz. Diplomats said the IR-6 is the most advanced model it is using on such a scale.
It plans to add 14 more IR-6 cascades at Fordow, six of which will replace first-generation IR-1 machines, the IAEA said. They will enrich to up to 5% or up to 20%, it added.
In the longer term, however, Iran plans an expansion of its underground, commercial-scale Fuel Enrichment Plant at Natanz, where it is also installing and bringing online more cascades of advanced centrifuges.
“Iran continues to advance its enrichment activities at the Fuel Enrichment Plant in Natanz and now plans to install a second production building, capable of housing over 100 centrifuge cascades,” it said.
The 2015 nuclear pact between Iran and six world powers lets Iran use only first-generation IR-1 centrifuges but, as the deal unravelled after then-President Donald Trump ditched it in 2018, Tehran has installed cascades of more efficient advanced centrifuges, such as the IR-2m, IR-4 and IR-6. It has also resumed enrichment at Fordow, which was barred under the deal.
U.S. officials declined to confirm that Iran was enriching to 60% at Fordow, repeating their preference to use diplomacy to curb Iran’s nuclear program but saying all options – code for possible military action – were available to U.S. President Joe Biden.
The IAEA resolution is the second this year targeting Iran over the investigation, which has become an obstacle to talks on reviving the 2015 deal because Iran demands an end to the probe.
Indirect U.S.-Iranian talks to revive the accord have been stalemated since September.
Iran’s crackdown on anti-government protests after the death of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, in custody and its sales of drones to Russia have turned Washington’s focus away from reviving a nuclear deal.
The missile that landed in Eastern Polish farmland on November 15, killing two people and injuring three, caused a sharp international crisis, which was treated by Warsaw with due care and the utmost responsibility. Had the stray projectile been a Russian sea-launched Kalibr or an air-launched Kh-555, it would have constituted the first hostile strike on North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) territory. Thus, every possible source of data was incorporated into the swift investigation, which established that it was in fact a misguided S-300 surface-to-air missile launched by Ukrainian forces for intercepting the massive Russian missile attack on civilian infrastructure (Meduza, November 17). The Russian Defense Ministry added to the spike in tensions by characterizing the incident as a “deliberate provocation.” But the crisis was nevertheless defused, with NATO allies agreeing to hold Moscow ultimately responsible for the tragic accident caused by Russia’s brutal air assault (Kommersant, November 16). The Kremlin could have issued a sigh of relief, but the instantly coordinated and impeccably precise NATO response has sent a strong warning against any attempts to escalate the war.
This warning has apparently registered in some form with Moscow, and Dmitry Peskov, the long-serving spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, assured that no one in Russia was talking about nuclear weapons (RIA Novosti, November 17). While patently untrue, this statement fits into the pattern of a reduction in Russia’s bombastic nuclear rhetoric, which has become increasingly pronounced in the past few weeks (Russiancouncil.ru, November 7). William J. Burns, director of the Central Intelligence Agency and one of the most experienced US negotiators, impressed upon Sergei Naryshkin, director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, at their recent face-to-face meeting in Ankara, Turkey, the risks inherent to irresponsibly bragging about nuclear strikes (Kommersant, November 14). Naryshkin, who was publicly humiliated by Putin at the televised meeting of the Russian Security Council on the eve of Russia’s invasion, may not be the most reliable interlocutor, but US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stayed on message in his communications with Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Security Council, and Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s foreign policy aid (Current Time, November 7).
The retreat from Kherson, decried bitterly by the noisy community of Russian “patriotic” bloggers, could have prompted Moscow to stage some nuclear demonstrations, but none have occurred (Svobodnaya pressa, November 14). The situation around Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant has remained relatively calm (Nezavisimaya gazeta, November 7). The International Atomic Energy Agency called for Russia to withdraw troops from this plant and, most importantly, published a report that confirmed the absence of any preparations in Ukraine for a “dirty bomb” detonation, a fake threat that the Kremlin had tried to amplify (The Insider, November 3; RIA Novosti, November 18). Many Russian mainstream media platforms eagerly circulated Western news items on a possible test of the Poseidon nuclear-propelled underwater drone in the Barents Sea, but the nuclear submarine K-329 Belgorod (Oscar II class), modernized to carry this drone, apparently returned to the base a fortnight ago without accomplishing the high-profile task (Topwar.ru, November 10).
This uncharacteristic self-restraint is caused not only by multiple warnings from the US about the heavy consequences of nuclear brinksmanship but also by the increasingly pronounced negative attitude in China toward the Kremlin’s options for escalating the war against Ukraine across the nuclear threshold. Moscow had expected that Beijing would accentuate reservations in the Global South against the Western stance in support of Ukraine at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, but Russia’s key strategic partner opted for a more flexible position (Novayagazeta.eu, November 18). The final declaration noted that some states differed from the majority opinion condemning Russian aggression but stated unequivocally that the threat of resorting to nuclear weapons was unacceptable (Kommersant, November 16).
The central event at the Bali summit was the three-hour-long meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, and while the two official readouts on the content of discussion differed in some important details, the common rejection of nuclear escalation was clear (Svoboda, November 15). Xi aspires to assert China’s status as a power equal to the United States and seeks to protect its reputation as a responsible stakeholder in the world order against the risk of being associated too closely with troublesome Russia (Nezavisimaya gazeta, November 15).
Characteristically, the Russian Foreign Ministry refused to criticize the recent series of missile tests by North Korea, suggesting instead that Washington and its allies “are testing Pyongyang’s patience” (RIA Novosti, November 18). This anti-American solidarity is underpinned by North Korea’s export of ammunition, which is urgently needed by Russian artillery, but it amounts to an implicit support from Moscow to a probable nuclear test by the rogue regime of Kim Jong-un, which is certain to aggravate the protracted security crisis in East Asia (Kommersant, November 18; Izvestiya, October 25).
Another element of intrigue in Russian nuclear diplomacy is centered on Iran, which has become a major supplier of, among others, Shahed-136 drones, which have been used by Russian forces as a force multiplier for missile strikes on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure (Tsargrad.tv, November 7). It is unclear what Russia is providing in return for this clandestine export, but Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are concerned about Iranian bragging about hypersonic missiles, which increased after Patrushev’s most recent visit to Tehran (Nezavisimaya gazeta, November 13). Moscow remains formally opposed to the weaponization of Iran’s nuclear program, but the breakdown of multiparty talks on reshaping the United Nations–approved deal cancelled by the US in 2018 suits Russian interests just fine (Kommersant, November 11).
Russia is positioning itself as the champion of taking down the Western-dominated world order, and the nuclear non-proliferation regime constitutes an important pillar of this always evolving order. A single strike with a non-strategic nuclear warhead may not make that much difference on the thinly populated battlefields in Donbas (though the impact should not be underestimated), but it is certain to severely shake global governance. The re-energized and determined West is deploying every possible means of deterrence for preventing a breach of the nuclear taboo. But it is essential to also mobilize this support in the Global South, which may remain ambivalent about the parameters of the war but is certainly opposed to a nuclear escalation. China may not want to see Russia defeated, but Beijing’s every word about the unacceptability of nuclear threats adds to the wall that blocks Putin’s blackmail.