The Main Cause of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Indian Point Energy Center

Nuclear power plant in Buchanan, New York

Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC) is a three-unit nuclear power plant station located in Buchanan, New York, just south of Peekskill. It sits on the east bank of the Hudson River, about 36 miles (58 km) north of Midtown Manhattan. The plant generates over 2,000 megawatts (MWe) of electrical power. For reference, the record peak energy consumption of New York City and Westchester County (the ConEdison Service Territory) was set during a seven-day heat wave on July 19, 2013, at 13,322 megawatts.[3] Electrical energy consumption varies greatly with time of day and season.[4]

Quick Facts: Country, Location …

The plant is owned and operated by Entergy Nuclear Northeast, a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation, and includes two operating Westinghouse pressurized water reactors—designated “Indian Point 2” and “Indian Point 3″—which Entergy bought from Consolidated Edison and the New York Power Authority respectively. The facility also contains the permanently shut-down Indian Point Unit 1 reactor. As of 2015, the number of permanent jobs at the Buchanan plant is approximately 1,000.

The original 40-year operating licenses for units 2 and 3 expired in September 2013 and December 2015, respectively. Entergy had applied for license extensions and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was moving toward granting a twenty-year extension for each reactor. However, after pressure from local environmental groups and New York governor Andrew Cuomo, it was announced that the plant is scheduled to be shut down by 2021.[5] Local groups had cited increasingly frequent issues with the aging units, ongoing environmental releases, and the proximity of the plant to New York City.[6]


History and design

The reactors are built on land that originally housed the Indian Point Amusement Park, but was acquired by Consolidated Edison (ConEdison) on October 14, 1954.[7] Indian Point 1, built by ConEdison, was a 275-megawatt Babcock & Wilcox supplied [8] pressurized water reactor that was issued an operating license on March 26, 1962 and began operations on September 16, 1962.[9] The first core used a thorium-based fuel with stainless steel cladding, but this fuel did not live up to expectations for core life.[10] The plant was operated with uranium dioxide fuel for the remainder of its life. The reactor was shut down on October 31, 1974, because the emergency core cooling system did not meet regulatory requirements. All spent fuel was removed from the reactor vessel by January 1976, but the reactor still stands.[11] The licensee, Entergy, plans to decommission Unit 1 when Unit 2 is decommissioned.[12]

The two additional reactors, Indian Point 2 and 3, are four-loop Westinghouse pressurized water reactors both of similar design. Units 2 and 3 were completed in 1974 and 1976, respectively. Unit 2 has a generating capacity of 1,032 MW, and Unit 3 has a generating capacity of 1,051 MW. Both reactors use uranium dioxide fuel of no more than 4.8% U-235 enrichment. The reactors at Indian Point are protected by containment domes made of steel-reinforced concrete that is 40 inches thick, with a carbon steel liner.[13]

Nuclear capacity in New York state

Units 2 and 3 are two of six operating nuclear energy sources in New York State. New York is one of the five largest states in terms of nuclear capacity and generation, accounting for approximately 5% of the national totals. Indian Point provides 39% of the state’s nuclear capacity. Nuclear power produces 34.2% of the state’s electricity, higher than the U.S. average of 20.6%. In 2017, Indian Point generated approximately 10% of the state’s electricity needs, and 25% of the electricity used in New York City and Westchester County.[14] Its contract with Consolidated Edison is for just 560 megawatts. The New York Power Authority, which built Unit 3, stopped buying electricity from Indian Point in 2012. NYPA supplies the subways, airports, and public schools and housing in NYC and Westchester County. Entergy sells the rest of Indian Point’s output into the NYISO administered electric wholesale markets and elsewhere in New England.[15][16][17][18] In 2013, New York had the fourth highest average electricity prices in the United States. Half of New York’s power demand is in the New York City region; about two-fifths of generation originates there.[19][20]


The currently operating Units 2 and 3 are each refueled on a two-year cycle. At the end of each fuel cycle, one unit is brought offline for refueling and maintenance activities. On March 2, 2015, Indian Point 3 was taken offline for 23 days to perform its refueling operations. Entergy invested $50 million in the refueling and other related projects for Unit 3, of which $30 million went to employee salaries. The unit was brought back online on March 25, 2015.[21]


Economic impact

A June 2015 report by a lobby group called Nuclear Energy Institute found that the operation of Indian Point generates $1.3 billion of annual economic output in local counties, $1.6 billion statewide, and $2.5 billion across the United States. In 2014, Entergy paid $30 million in state and local property taxes. The total tax revenue (direct and secondary) was nearly $340 million to local, state, and federal governments.[15] According to the Village of Buchanan budget for 2016–2017, a payment in lieu of taxes in the amount of $2.62 million was received in 2015-2016, and was projected to be $2.62 million in 2016–2017 – the majority of which can be assumed to come from the Indian Point Energy Center.[22]

Over the last decade, the station has maintained a capacity factor of greater than 93 percent. This is consistently higher than the nuclear industry average and than other forms of generation. The reliability helps offset the severe price volatility of other energy sources (e.g., natural gas) and the indeterminacy of renewable electricity sources (e.g., solar, wind).[15]

Indian Point directly employs about 1,000 full-time workers. This employment creates another 2,800 jobs in the five-county region, and 1,600 in other industries in New York, for a total of 5,400 in-state jobs. Additionally, another 5,300 indirect jobs are created out of state, creating a sum total of 10,700 jobs throughout the United States.[15]

Environmental concerns

Environmentalists have expressed concern about increased carbon emissions with the impending shutdown of Indian Point (generating electricity with nuclear energy creates no carbon emissions). A study undertaken by Environmental Progress found that closure of the plant would cause power emissions to jump 29% in New York, equivalent to the emissions from 1.4 million additional cars on New York roads.[23]

Some environmental groups have expressed concerns about the operation of Indian Point, including radiation pollution and endangerment of wildlife, but whether Indian Point has ever posed a significant danger to wildlife or the public remains controversial. Though anti-nuclear group Riverkeeper notes “Radioactive leakage from the plant containing several radioactive isotopes, such as strontium-90, cesium-137, cobalt-60, nickel-63 and tritium, a rarely-occurring isotope of hydrogen, has flowed into groundwater that eventually enters the Hudson River in the past[24], there is no evidence radiation from the plant has ever posed a significant hazard to local residents or wildlife. In the last year[when?], nine tritium leaks have occurred, however, even at their highest levels the leaks have never exceeded one-tenth of one percent of US Nuclear Regulatory Commission limits.

In February 2016, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo called for a full investigation by state environment[25] and health officials and is partnering with organizations like Sierra Club, Riverkeepers, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, Scenic Hudson and Physicians for Social Responsibility in seeking the permanent closure of the plant.[citation needed] However, Cuomo’s motivation for closing the plant was called into question after it was revealed two top former aides, under federal prosecution for influence-peddling, had lobbied on behalf of natural gas company Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) to kill Indian Point. In his indictment, US attorney Preet Bharara wrote “the importance of the plant [CPV’s proposed Valley Energy Center, a plant powered by natural gas] to the State depended at least in part, on whether [Indian Point] was going to be shut down.”[26]

In April 2016 climate scientist James Hansen took issue with calls to shut the plant down, including those from presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. “The last few weeks have seen an orchestrated campaign to mislead the people of New York about the essential safety and importance of Indian Point nuclear plant to address climate change,” wrote Hansen, adding “Sanders has offered no evidence that NRC [U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission] has failed to do its job, and he has no expertise in over-riding NRC’s judgement. For the sake of future generations who could be harmed by irreversible climate change, I urge New Yorkers to reject this fear mongering and uphold science against ideology.”[27]

Indian Point removes water from the nearby Hudson River. Despite the use of fish screens, the cooling system kills over a billion fish eggs and larvae annually.[28] According to one NRC report from 2010, as few as 38% of alewives survive the screens.[29] On September 14, 2015, a state hearing began in regards to the deaths of fish in the river, and possibly implementing a shutdown period from May to August. An Indian Point spokesman stated that such a period would be unnecessary, as Indian Point “is fully protective of life in the Hudson River and $75 million has been spent over the last 30 years on scientific studies demonstrating that the plant has no harmful impact to adult fish.” The hearings lasted three weeks.[30] Concerns were also raised over the planned building of new cooling towers, which would cut down forest land that is suspected to be used as breeding ground by muskrat and mink. At the time of the report, no minks or muskrats were spotted there.[29]


Indian Point Energy Center has been given an incredible amount of scrutiny from the media and politicians and is regulated more heavily than various other power plants in the state of New York (i.e., by the NRC in addition to FERC, the NYSPSC, the NYISO, the NYSDEC, and the EPA). On a forced outage basis – incidents related to electrical equipment failure that force a plant stoppage – it provides a much more reliable operating history than most other power plants in New York.[31][32] Beginning at the end of 2015, Governor Cuomo began to ramp up political action against the Indian Point facility, opening an investigation with the state public utility commission, the department of health, and the department of environmental conservation.[33][34][35][30][36][37] To put the public service commission investigation in perspective: most electric outage investigations conducted by the commission are in response to outages with a known number of affected retail electric customers.[38] By November 17, 2017, the NYISO accepted Indian Point’s retirement notice.[39]

In 1997, Indian Point Unit 3 was removed from the NRC’s list of plants that receive increased attention from the regulator. An engineer for the NRC noted that the plant had been experiencing increasingly fewer problems during inspections.[40] On March 10, 2009 the Indian Point Power Plant was awarded the fifth consecutive top safety rating for annual operations by the Federal regulators. According to the Hudson Valley Journal News, the plant had shown substantial improvement in its safety culture in the previous two years.[41] A 2003 report commissioned by then-Governor George Pataki concluded that the “current radiological response system and capabilities are not adequate to…protect the people from an unacceptable dose of radiation in the event of a release from Indian Point”.[42] More recently, in December 2012 Entergy commissioned a 400-page report on the estimates of evacuation times. This report, performed by emergency planning company KLD Engineering, concluded that the existing traffic management plans provided by Orange, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester Counties are adequate and require no changes.[43] According to one list that ranks U.S. nuclear power plants by their likelihood of having a major natural disaster related incident, Indian Point is the most likely to be hit by a natural disaster, mainly an earthquake.[44][45][46][47] Despite this, the owners of the plant still say that safety is a selling point for the nuclear power plant.[48]Incidents

 In 1973, five months after Indian Point 2 opened, the plant was shut down when engineers discovered buckling in the steel liner of the concrete dome in which the nuclear reactor is housed.[49]

 On October 17, 1980,[50] 100,000 gallons of Hudson River water leaked into the Indian Point 2 containment building from the fan cooling unit, undetected by a safety device designed to detect hot water. The flooding, covering the first nine feet of the reactor vessel, was discovered when technicians entered the building. Two pumps that should have removed the water were found to be inoperative. NRC proposed a $2,100,000 fine for the incident.

 In February 2000, Unit 2 experienced a Steam Generator Tube Rupture (SGTR), which allowed primary water to leak into the secondary system through one of the steam generators.[51] All four steam generators were subsequently replaced.[citation needed]

 In 2005, Entergy workers while digging discovered a small leak in a spent fuel pool. Water containing tritium and strontium-90 was leaking through a crack in the pool building and then finding its way into the nearby Hudson River. Workers were able to keep the spent fuel rods safely covered despite the leak.[52] On March 22, 2006 The New York Times also reported finding radioactive nickel-63 and strontium in groundwater on site.[53]

 In 2007, a transformer at Unit 3 caught fire, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission raised its level of inspections, because the plant had experienced many unplanned shutdowns. According to The New York Times, Indian Point “has a history of transformer problems”.[54]

 On April 23, 2007, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission fined the owner of the Indian Point nuclear plant $130,000 for failing to meet a deadline for a new emergency siren plan. The 150 sirens at the plant are meant to alert residents within 10 miles to a plant emergency.[55]

 On January 7, 2010, NRC inspectors reported that an estimated 600,000 gallons of mildly radioactive steam was intentionally vented to the atmosphere after an automatic shutdown of Unit 2. After the vent, one of the vent valves unintentionally remained slightly open for two days. The levels of tritium in the steam were within the allowable safety limits defined in NRC standards.[56]

 On November 7, 2010, an explosion occurred in a main transformer for Indian Point 2, spilling oil into the Hudson River.[57] Entergy later agreed to pay a $1.2 million penalty for the transformer explosion.[54]

 July 2013, a former supervisor, who worked at the Indian Point nuclear power plant for twenty-nine years, was arrested for falsifying the amount of particulate in the diesel fuel for the plant’s backup generators.[58]

On May 9, 2015, a transformer failed at Indian Point 3, causing the automated shutdown of reactor 3. A fire that resulted from the failure was extinguished, and the reactor was placed in a safe and stable condition.[59] The failed transformer contained about 24,000 gallons of dielectric fluid, which is used as an insulator and coolant when the transformer is energized. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that about 3,000 gallons of dielectric fluid entered the river following the failure.[60]

 In June 2015, a mylar balloon floated into a switchyard, causing an electrical problem resulting in the shutdown of Reactor 3.[61]

 In July 2015, Reactor 3 was shut down after a water pump failure.[citation needed]

 On December 5, 2015, Indian Point 2 was shut down after several control rods lost power.[62]

 On February 6, 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo informed the public that radioactive tritium-contaminated water leaked into the groundwater at the Indian Point Nuclear facility.[25]

Spent fuel

Indian Point stores used fuel rods in two spent fuel pools at the facility.[52] The spent fuel pools at Indian Point are not stored under a containment dome like the reactor, but rather they are contained within an indoor 40-foot-deep pool and submerged under 27 feet of water. Water is a natural and effective barrier to radiation. The spent fuel pools at Indian Point are set in bedrock and are constructed of concrete walls that are four to six feet wide, with a quarter-inch thick stainless steel inner liner. The pools each have multiple redundant backup cooling systems.[52][63]

Indian Point began dry cask storage of spent fuel rods in 2008, which is a safe and environmentally sound option according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.[64] Some rods have already been moved to casks from the spent fuel pools. The pools will be kept nearly full of spent fuel, leaving enough space to allow emptying the reactor completely.[65] Dry cask storage systems are designed to resist floods, tornadoes, projectiles, temperature extremes, and other unusual scenarios. The NRC requires the spent fuel to be cooled and stored in the spent fuel pool for at least five years before being transferred to dry casks.[66]

Earthquake risk

In 2008, researchers from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory located a previously unknown active seismic zone running from Stamford, Connecticut, to the Hudson Valley town of Peekskill, New York—the intersection of the Stamford-Peekskill line with the well-known Ramapo Fault—which passes less than a mile north of the Indian Point nuclear power plant.[67] The Ramapo Fault is the longest fault in the Northeast, but scientists dispute how active this roughly 200-million-year-old fault really is. Many earthquakes in the state’s surprisingly varied seismic history are believed to have occurred on or near it. Visible at ground level, the fault line likely extends as deep as nine miles below the surface.[68]

In July 2013, Entergy engineers reassessed the risk of seismic damage to Unit 3 and submitted their findings in a report to the NRC. It was found that risk leading to reactor core damage is 1 in 106,000 reactor years using U.S. Geological Survey data; and 1 in 141,000 reactor years using Electric Power Research Institute data. Unit 3’s previous owner, the New York Power Authority, had conducted a more limited analysis in the 1990s than Unit 2’s previous owner, Con Edison, leading to the impression that Unit 3 had fewer seismic protections than Unit 2. Neither submission of data from the previous owners was incorrect.[69]

According to a company spokesman, Indian Point was built to withstand an earthquake of 6.1 on the Richter scale.[70] Entergy executives have also noted “that Indian Point had been designed to withstand an earthquake much stronger than any on record in the region, though not one as powerful as the quake that rocked Japan.”[71]

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s estimate of the risk each year of an earthquake intense enough to cause core damage to the reactor at Indian Point was Reactor 2: 1 in 30,303; Reactor 3: 1 in 10,000, according to an NRC study published in August 2010. reported based on the NRC data that “Indian Point nuclear reactor No. 3 has the highest risk of earthquake damage in the country, according to new NRC risk estimates provided to” According to the report, the reason is that plants in known earthquake zones like California were designed to be more quake-resistant than those in less affected areas like New York.[72][73] The NRC did not dispute the numbers but responded in a release that “The NRC results to date should not be interpreted as definitive estimates of seismic risk,” because the NRC does not rank plants by seismic risk.[74]

IPEC Units 2 and 3 both operated at 100% full power before, during, and after the Virginia earthquake on August 23, 2011. A thorough inspection of both units by plant personnel immediately following this event verified no significant damage occurred at either unit.

Emergency planning

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission defines two emergency planning zones around nuclear power plants: a plume exposure pathway zone with a radius of 10 miles (16 km), concerned primarily with exposure to, and inhalation of, airborne radioactive contamination, and an ingestion pathway zone of about 50 miles (80 km), concerned primarily with ingestion of food and liquid contaminated by radioactivity.[75]

According to an analysis of U.S. Census data for MSNBC, the 2010 U.S. population within 10 miles (16 km) of Indian Point was 272,539, an increase of 17.6 percent during the previous ten years. The 2010 U.S. population within 50 miles (80 km) was 17,220,895, an increase of 5.1 percent since 2000. Cities within 50 miles include New York (41 miles to city center); Bridgeport, Conn. (40 miles); Newark, N.J. (39 miles); and Stamford, Conn. (24 miles).[76]

In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima incident in Japan, the State Department recommended that any Americans in Japan stay beyond fifty miles from the area.[citation needed] Columnist Peter Applebome, writing in The New York Times, noted that such an area around Indian Point would include “almost all of New York City except for Staten Island; almost all of Nassau County and much of Suffolk County; all of Bergen County, N.J.; all of Fairfield, Conn.” He quotes Purdue University professor Daniel Aldrich as saying “Many scholars have already argued that any evacuation plans shouldn’t be called plans, but rather “fantasy documents””.[42]

The current 10-mile plume-exposure pathway Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) is one of two EPZs intended to facilitate a strategy for protective action during an emergency and comply with NRC regulations. “The exact size and shape of each EPZ is a result of detailed planning which includes consideration of the specific conditions at each site, unique geographical features of the area, and demographic information. This preplanned strategy for an EPZ provides a substantial basis to support activity beyond the planning zone in the extremely unlikely event it would be needed.”[77]

In an interview, Entergy executives said they doubt that the evacuation zone would be expanded to reach as far as New York City.[71]

Indian Point is protected by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including a National Guard base within a mile of the facility, as well as by private off-site security forces.[78]

During the September 11 attacks, American Airlines Flight 11 flew near the Indian Point Energy Center en route to the World Trade Center. Mohamed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers/plotters, had considered nuclear facilities for targeting in a terrorist attack.[79] Entergy says it is prepared for a terrorist attack, and asserts that a large airliner crash into the containment building would not cause reactor damage.[80] Following 9/11 the NRC required operators of nuclear facilities in the U.S. to examine the effects of terrorist events and provide planned responses.[81] In September 2006, the Indian Point Security Department successfully completed mock assault exercises required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.[citation needed] However, according to environmental group Riverkeeper, these NRC exercises are inadequate because they do not envision a sufficiently large group of attackers.[citation needed]

According to The New York Times, fuel stored in dry casks is less vulnerable to terrorist attack than fuel in the storage pools.[65]


Units 2 and 3 were both originally licensed by the NRC for 40 years of operation. The NRC limits commercial power reactor licenses to an initial 40 years, but also permits such licenses to be renewed. This original 40-year term for reactor licenses was based on economic and antitrust considerations, not on limitations of nuclear technology. Due to this selected period, however, some structures and components may have been engineered on the basis of an expected 40-year service life.[82] The original federal license for Unit Two expired on September 28, 2013,[83][84] and the license for Unit Three was due to expire in December 2015.[85] On April 30, 2007, Entergy submitted an application for a 20-year renewal of the licenses for both units. On May 2, 2007, the NRC announced that this application is available for public review.[86] Because the owner submitted license renewal applications at least five years prior to the original expiration date, the units are allowed to continue operation past this date while the NRC considers the renewal application.

On September 23, 2007, the antinuclear group Friends United for Sustainable Energy (FUSE) filed legal papers with the NRC opposing the relicensing of the Indian Point 2 reactor. The group contended that the NRC improperly held Indian Point to less stringent design requirements. The NRC responded that the newer requirements were put in place after the plant was complete.[87]

On December 1, 2007, Westchester County Executive Andrew J. Spano, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, and New York Governor Eliot Spitzer called a press conference with the participation of environmental advocacy groups Clearwater and Riverkeeper to announce their united opposition to the re-licensing of the Indian Point nuclear power plants. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of the Attorney General requested a hearing as part of the process put forth by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.[citation needed] In September 2007 The New York Times reported on the rigorous legal opposition Entergy faces in its request for a 20-year licensing extension for Indian Point Nuclear Reactor 2.[87]

A water quality certificate is a prerequisite for a twenty-year renewal by the NRC.[citation needed] On April 3, 2010, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ruled that Indian Point violates the federal Clean Water Act,[88] because “the power plant’s water-intake system kills nearly a billion aquatic organisms a year, including the shortnose sturgeon, an endangered species.”[citation needed] The state is demanding that Entergy constructs new closed-cycle cooling towers at a cost of over $1 billion, a decision that will effectively close the plant for nearly a year. Regulators denied Entergy’s request to install fish screens that they said would improve fish mortality more than new cooling towers. Anti-nuclear groups and environmentalists have in the past tried to close the plant,[citation needed] which is in a more densely populated area than any of the 66 other nuclear plant sites in the US.[citation needed] Opposition to the plant[from whom?] increased after the September 2001 terror attacks,[citation needed] when one of the hijacked jets flew close to the plant on its way to the World Trade Center.[citation needed] Public worries also increased after the 2011 Japanese Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and after a report highlighting the Indian Point plant’s proximity to the Ramapo Fault.[citation needed]

Advocates of recertifying Indian Point include former New York City mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudolph W. Giuliani. Bloomberg says that “Indian Point is critical to the city’s economic viability”.[89] The New York Independent System Operator maintains that in the absence of Indian Point, grid voltages would degrade, which would limit the ability to transfer power from upstate New York resources through the Hudson Valley to New York City.[90]

As the current governor, Andrew Cuomo continues to call for closure of Indian Point.[91] In late June 2011, a Cuomo advisor in a meeting with Entergy executives informed them for the first time directly of the Governor’s intention to close the plant, while the legislature approved a bill to streamline the process of siting replacement plants.[92]

Nuclear energy industry figures and analysts responded to Cuomo’s initiative by questioning whether replacement electrical plants could be certified and built rapidly enough to replace Indian Point, given New York state’s “cumbersome regulation process”, and also noted that replacement power from out of state sources will be hard to obtain because New York has weak ties to generation capacity in other states.[citation needed] They said that possible consequences of closure will be a sharp increase in the cost of electricity for downstate users and even “rotating black-outs”.[93]

Several members of the House of Representatives representing districts near the plant have also opposed recertification, including Democrats Nita Lowey, Maurice Hinchey, and Eliot Engel and then Republican member Sue Kelly.[94]

In November 2016 the New York Court of Appeals ruled that the application to renew the NRC operating licences must be reviewed against the state’s coastal management program, which The New York State Department of State had already decided was inconsistent with coastal management requirements. Entergy has filed a lawsuit regarding the validity of Department of State’s decision.[95]


Beginning at the end of 2015, Governor Cuomo began to ramp up political action against the Indian Point facility, opening investigations with the state public utility commission, the department of health and the department of environmental conservation.[33][34][35][30][36][37] To put the public service commission investigation in perspective, most electric outage investigations conducted by the commission are in response to outages with a known number of affected retail electric customers.[38] By November 17, 2017, the NYISO accepted Indian Point’s retirement notice.[39]

In January 2017, the governor’s office announced closure by 2020-21.[96] The closure, along with pollution control, challenges New York’s ability to be supplied.[citation needed] Among the solution proposals are storage, renewables (solar and wind), a new transmission cables from Canada [97][98] and a 650MW natural gas plant located in Wawayanda, New York.[99] There was also a 1,000 MW merchant HVDC transmission line proposed in 2013 to the public service commission that would have interconnected at Athens, New York and Buchanan, New York, however this project was indefinitely stalled when its proposed southern converter station site was bought by the Town of Cortlandt in a land auction administered by Con Edison.[100][101][102] As of October 1, 2018, the 650 MW plant built in Wawayanda, New York, by CPV Valley, is operating commercially.[103] The CPV Valley plant has been associated with Governor Cuomo’s close aid, Joe Percoco, and the associated corruption trial.[104] Another plant being built, Cricket Valley Energy Center, rated at 1,100 MW, is on schedule to provide energy by 2020 in Dover, New York.[105] An Indian Point contingency plan, initiated in 2012 by the NYSPSC under the administration of Cuomo, solicited energy solutions from which a Transmission Owner Transmission Solutions (TOTS) plan was selected. The TOTS projects provide 450 MW[106] of additional transfer capability across a NYISO defined electric transmission corridor in the form of three projects: series compensation at a station in Marcy, New York, reconductoring a transmission line, adding an additional transmission line, and “unbottling” Staten Island capacity. These projects, with the exception of part of the Staten Island “unbottling” were in service by mid-2016. The cost of the TOTS projects are distributed among various utilities in their rate cases before the public service commission and the cost allocation amongst themselves was approved by FERC. NYPA and LIPA are also receiving a portion. The cost of the TOTS projects has been estimated in the range of $27 million to $228 million.[107][108][109][110][111] An energy highway initiative was also prompted by this order (generally speaking, additional lines on the Edic-Pleasant Valley and the Oakdale-Fraser transmission corridors) which is still going through the regulatory process in both the NYISO and NYSPSC.

Under the current plan, one reactor is scheduled to be shut down in April 2020 and the second by April 2021.[112] A report by the New York Building Congress, a construction industry association, has said that NYC will need additional natural gas pipelines to accommodate the city’s increasing demand for energy. Environmentalists have argued that the power provided by Indian point can be replaced by renewable energy, combined with conservation measures and improvements to the efficiency of the electrical grid.[113] 

Why India Could Not Stop the Pakistani Nuclear Horn: Daniel 8

Mission Majnu: Why India could not thwart Pakistan’s nuclear aspiration

Exercise Brasstacks brought the armies of two countries close to a war.
Tensions were high after Indian troops stormed the Golden Temple, a holy site for Sikhs.
Pakistani leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto played a major role to start Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme.
India conducted the first nuclear explosion in 1974.
A Q Khan is known as th father of Pakistan's nuclear programme.

In January 1987, India amassed nearly half a million troops in the Rajasthan province bordering Pakistan — ostensibly for a military exercise codenamed Brasstacks

It was the largest armed mobilisation in South Asia and involved hundreds of tanks and armoured vehicles backed by air support. The drills were conducted a few kilometres from Sindh, the Pakistani province that borders Rajasthan. 

Behind that military posture was the Indian army chief Lieutenant General Krishnaswami Sundarji, a known Pakistani hawk, who had for years raised concerns about Islamabad’s clandestine nuclear weapons programme. 

That’s the closest New Delhi ever got to undermining Pakistan’s nuclear ambition.Exercise Brasstacks brought the armies of two countries close to a war. (AP Archive)

The military build up happened around the time when India was reeling from a violent insurgency in its province of Punjab, which was up in arms after security forces carried out an operation at the Golden Temple, a holy site of the Sikh minority, to drive out militants. 

India accused Islamabad of supporting Sikh separatists who were demanding a territory of their own that they called Khalistan. 

“Sundarji wanted to trigger a war and in garb of that, he was planning to strike Kahuta, the nuclear facility where weapons-grade uranium was being enriched,” says Feroz Khan, a professor of nuclear proliferation at the Naval Postgraduate School and author of ‘Eating Grass: the Making of the Pakistani Bomb.’

“But a counter mobilisation by Pakistan worried then-Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, who wasn’t properly briefed by Sundarji. The two sides eventually deescalated the situation.” Tensions were high after Indian troops stormed the Golden Temple, a holy site for Sikhs. (AP Archive)

For decades, researchers have studied if New Delhi made any serious attempts to take out Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme while it was in its infancy in the mid-1970s and mid-1980s.

The debate was given a fresh impetus in January with the release of an Indian movie on Netflix, ‘Mission Majnu.’

The action-packed Bollywood flick is about an Indian spy who infiltrates Pakistan, where he masquerades as a tailor, marries a blind Muslim woman and eventually comes close to his target, Kahuta. After gathering evidence about the secret nuclear facility, he single handedly fights off dozens of Pakistani soldiers. In the end, the protagonist, who is a Sikh, redeems his rebel father’s treachery, dying in a shootout after shouting “Hail Mother India.” 

Many in Pakistan called it a ‘propaganda’ film, arguing that its plot was more comical than factual. The makers of the film  insist it is inspired by ‘true events.’ 

Behind the cinematic theatrics, there’s a real story about how India responded to Pakistan’s nuclear project. It’s serious and complicated. It’s a story of arrogance, disbelief, threats and diplomacy. And it all started with former Pakistani prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. 

‘We’ll feed on grass, even if we had to’ 

Bhutto was the foreign minister in 1965 when a journalist from the Manchester Guardian asked how Pakistan would react if India decided to build a nuke. 

“If India makes an atom bomb, then even if we have to feed on grass and leaves — or even if we have to starve — we shall also produce an atom bomb as we would be left with no other alternative,” Bhutto said. 

India had stepped up efforts to acquire technology to make a plutonium bomb after China conducted its first nuclear explosion in 1964. Pakistani leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto played a major role to start Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme. (AP Archive)

It was a pivotal period for India and Pakistan as the two neighbours fought a bloody war in 1965 and both sides wanted to beef up their defences. 

India became a nuclear power when it successfully tested its first nuclear bomb in 1974. 

Bhutto, however, had to wait years before Pakistan came close to producing a bomb, according to Khan, who served as a brigadier in Pakistan’s army and for a time worked at the Strategic Plans Division, which is responsible for guarding the nuclear arsenal. 

“Those initial efforts didn’t go anywhere until 1974, when Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan entered the picture,” says the professor. 

Dr A Q Khan, known as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, was a metallurgist who copied designs of German centrifuges while working in Europe and brought them back to Pakistan. 

With a doctorate in copper metallurgy from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, his expertise brought him in close contact with those developing centrifuges in a plant in Almelo, the Netherlands. That facility was run by URENCO Group, a nuclear fuel supplier. 

Fluent in English, French and German, his managers would often ask him to translate German reports on centrifuge technologies. The importance of the sketches and details he saw didn’t escape his attention. India conducted the first nuclear explosion in 1974. (AP Archive)

The blueprints weren’t enough to build a functional nuclear programme capable of producing weapons-grade uranium. 

Only a handful of European companies that made critical parts and components such as vacuum pumps, valves and aluminium casing were willing to trade with Islamabad.  

Spearheaded by A Q Khan, Pakistani diplomats, intelligence operatives and even A Q Khan’s friends set up shell companies around the world to buy those components. Whatever wasn’t available was produced locally.

Centrifuges rotate at twice the speed of sound to separate the U-235 isotope from U-238. Thousands of centrifuges operate in a cascade formation at the same time. Malfunction and failures were common in the initial years and Pakistani scientists learned how to master enrichment through trial and error. 

A factual distortion in the Netflix film ‘Mission Majnu’ was centred around how Pakistan imported uranium. A key input for uranium enrichment — the process whereby weapons-grade uranium is produced — is the uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas. Pakistan didn’t import uranium because of international scrutiny. It mined the key ingredient in the Baghal Chur area of the Dera Ghazi Khan district in 1975 and 1976 and produced its own UF6 gas.

n June 1978, Pakistani scientists were able to figure out how to successfully run the gas centrifuges. From here on, it was a matter of enriching the uranium so it could be used as fuel in a weapon. 

But the cover of Pakistan’s nuclear programme and A Q Khan’s network of suppliers was blown in March 1979, when German broadcaster ZDFran a documentary exposing how A Q Khan had stolen centrifuge designs while working in the Netherlands. 

ZDF’s documentary lumped Islam, the Middle East, A Q Khan and Israel’s national security together, weaving all four elements  into an enticing conspiracy plot. 

That’s when the catchphrase ‘Islamic Bomb’ became a media trope, writes Dr Malcolm Craig in his book ‘America, Britain and Pakistan’s Nuclear Programme 1974-1980.’ 

Yet most governments — including India’s — didn’t feel the urgency in the late 1970s to act because they deemed that a low-income country which had just lost its eastern wing (today’s Bangladesh) lacked the capacity and skill to handle such sophisticated technology. 

There was perhaps one exception: Israel.   

Any real attempts to harm Pakistan’s nuclear programme were revealed when executives at European companies doing business with A Q Khan began receiving threats. Some even faced assassination attempts. 

A letter bomb exploded at the home of Heinz Mebus in Erlangen, West Germany. Mebus, who had helped Pakistan build fluoride and uranium conversion plants, escaped unharmed, but his dog died in the explosion. A similar bombing targeted a senior executive of a Swiss company, CORA Engineering, which had also worked on Pakistan’s nuclear programme, codenamed 706. 

Threatening letters were sent and phone calls made to European officials who were known to be working with A Q Khan. Little-known organisations such as the Group for Non Proliferation in South Asia propped up, claiming responsibility. 

While Tel Aviv never acknowledged its role in the bombings, historians and researchers such as Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark, authors of a book on Pakistan’s nuclear programme, have blamed Israel’s foreign intelligence outfit Mossad. 

“They didn’t want a Muslim country to have the bomb,” says Feroz Khan. 

Saudi Arabia and Libya had, under Muammar Gaddafi, financially helped Pakistan’s nuclear programme, he adds. 

Like Pakistan, Israel had also pilfered technology and know-how to make nuclear weapons. But while Pakistani nuclear scientist A Q Khan was later arrested and humiliated on national television for allegedly running an illegal proliferation network, the Israeli agent Arnon Mlichan was celebrated for his scientific feats without any state scrutiny or scorn. 

Israeli agent Arnon Milchan went to boome a famous Hollywood producer.
Israeli agent Arnon Milchan went to boome a famous Hollywood producer. (AP Archive)

Milchan, who stole European designs for centrifuges that were built at the Dimona nuclear facility in Israel, went on to become a famous Hollywood producer behind hit films such as ‘Pretty Woman’ and ‘Fight Club.’ 

Yet curiously enough, the Indian state didn’t take the neighbouring country’s enrichment attempt seriously until it was too late. At the heart of that underestimation was a superiority complex stemming from the Hindu caste system wherein Brahmins are considered better than all others.  

“The Brahminical contempt for the abilities of Pakistan’s scientists and engineers also was intensified by the difficulties India’s well-educated had in trying to master large-scale uranium enrichment,” writes George Perkovish in his seminal book ‘India’s Nuclear Bomb.’ 

There are two ways to make a nuclear weapon — either through highly enriched uranium or plutonium. India took the plutonium route to make its first bomb. New Delhi announced archiving capability to enrich weapons-grade uranium in 1986. 

The ‘myth’ of the Osirak contingency 

“It was probably in 1981 that Indian intelligence started to pick up evidence that Pakistan was making the bomb,” says Sumit Ganguly, a political professor at the Indiana University Bloomington, who has written extensively on nuclear issues in South Asia. 

In the years after they gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947, India and Pakistan struggled to boost their economies and take millions of people out of poverty. 

New Delhi still boasted a much larger industrial base with the capability to indigenously produce cars and key metals. 

“I have heard this independently from Indian analysts that the Indian scientific establishment believed that Pakistanis may have theoretical knowledge, but they don’t have the industrial capacity. That was arrogance on their part,” says Ganguly.  

When it finally dawned on New Delhi that Pakistan was close to making a bomb, some military leaders, including Sundarji, pushed the government to take action. 

One popular narrative that has made its way into history books centres around a secret Indian plan to use jets to blow up Kahuta, located some 40 kilometres from Islamabad. 

Indian Jaguar jets  were reportedly  being readied to strike Kahuta.
Indian Jaguar jets were reportedly being readied to strike Kahuta. (Getty Images)

As the story goes, at some point in 1981, India’s military prepared a squadron of its Jaguar jets to fly close to the terrain, infiltrate Pakistani territory and blow up the centrifuges. 

Experts’ opinions differ as to whether such a plan was ever conceived. 

That same year, an Israeli air raid destroyed a nuclear reactor at Osirak in Iraq. Some Indian military officials considered carrying out a similar strike against Kahuta as part of what they called the ‘Osirak contingency’. 

“We never got clear-cut confirmation about such an operation. My view is that, yes, military officers felt it was their duty to offer certain military options to the political leadership and ultimately Indira Gandhi, then-Indian prime minister, said no to the plan,” says Ganguly.  

Reports that the Indian air force was preparing to strike the Kahuta nuclear site matched a leaked US cable showing satellite images of a group of Indian Jaguar aircrafts that were missing from their designated air base.  

But Pakistanis took the information seriously and sent their own jets on regular flights over Kahuta — just in case. But years later, an Indian Air Force officer laughed at the whole missing-Jaguar incident. 

The planes were hidden in nearby woods as part of a passive air defence drill, writes Perkovich in ‘India’s Nuclear Bomb.’ 

About Pakistan’s air patrol over Kahuta, “We said fine, burn up your engines,” the Indian officer told Perkovish. 

Militaries around the world draw up plans, prepare contingencies and run simulated war games, but that doesn’t constitute a precursor for an attack against an enemy, notes Ganguly. 

“An Indian attack would have disastrous consequences with the OIC (the Organization of Islamic Countries). The OIC would have been absolutely furious,” he says.

Besides the funds that were flowing into Pakistan’s nuclear project from Saudi Arabia and other OIC members, it was the notion of Islamic solidarity that deterred New Delhi, he adds.

Then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi said no to any military adventure.
Then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi said no to any military adventure. (AP Archive)

A perpetual threat

The fear of either side trying to hit each other’s nuclear facilities was real enough for both countries to take necessary precautions. India also beefed up air defences around its Trombay nuclear facility near Mumbai. 

It was not only India and Israel that were interested in trying to find out how far Pakistan had progressed in making a bomb, however. 

After the ZDF documentary disclosed A Q Khan’s activities, Robert Galluci, a senior US State Department official, tried to visit the Kahuta research facility to see what was happening there. 

Situated close to the Pakistani capital, Kahuta is a small, scenic town where families often go to wind down. When Pakistani intelligence officials stopped Galluci, he said he was going to Kahuta for a picnic. He was nevertheless turned back.  

But the then-French ambassador to Pakistan, Pol le Gourrierec, and his first secretary weren’t so lucky. They were beaten up by security officials when they attempted to get too close to Kahuta. The incident strained diplomatic ties between Paris and Islamabad. 

Another incident related to foreign surveillance was rather bizarre. Workers near the centrifuge plant accidentally came across a rock that broke open and revealed  wires and circuits protruding from inside. 

“It was obvious it was planted by US intelligence. No one else could have done that,” says Feroz Khan. 

The Brasstack tension of the mid-1980s deescalated after diplomatic negotiations. 

In the mid 1990s, Pakistan and India signed an agreement promising not to attack each other’s nuclear facilities. Then, in 1998, both sides conducted nuclear tests, making a nuclear strike against each other a foregone conclusion. 

In the ensuing years, the two archrivals, who were involved in border and air skirmishes as recently as 2019, built up an arsenal of hundreds of nukes and delivery systems, including long-range missiles. 

But they have also taken steps to avoid any mishap, says Dr Mario Carranza, a political science professor at the Texas A&M University Kingsville. 

“They have a commitment to notify each other before they test ballistic missiles. There’s also a de facto moratorium on nuclear testing because they haven’t tested nuclear weapons in years.”

New Delhi and Islamabad exchange locations of civilian nuclear facilities every year as a confidence-building measure. 

A sign of how they can avoid any serious escalation came last year when an Indian cruise missile that had been accidentally launched landed deep inside Pakistan. The missile was not armed and no one was injured. Pakistani officials didn’t raise the issue in any international forum. 

“But they have completely ignored nuclear arms control or even the possibility of seriously engaging in nuclear arms control. They are even modernising their nuclear arsenal,” says Carranza. 

“So the Damocles sword continues to hang on millions of people in South Asia.”

Russian Horn Threatens Nuclear War: Revelation 16

“All Ukraine will burn”: Medvedev threatens nuclear strikes for attacking Crimea

    • Dmitry Medvedev

    Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Head of the Russian Security Council, has said that if Ukraine attacks Russian facilities in Crimea, Russia will allegedly “only retaliate”.

    Source: Medvedev, in a media interview, quoted by Kremlin-aligned news outlet RBC

    Quote from Medvedev: “There will be no negotiations in this case, only retaliatory strikes. The whole of Ukraine remaining under Kyiv’s rule will burn…

    Our response may be anything. The President of Russia made this quite clear. We do not set ourselves any limits and, depending on the nature of the threats, we are ready to use all types of weapons.

    In accordance with our doctrinal documents, including the Fundamentals of State Policy on Nuclear Deterrence.”

    Reference: According to clause 19 of the Fundamentals of the State Policy on Nuclear Deterrence, Russia may use nuclear weapons “in the event of aggression against Russia with the use of conventional weapons, when the very existence of the state is threatened.”

    China Horn Spies on Babylon the Great

    Pentagon: A high altitude Chinese surveillance balloon has penetrated US airspace

    China’s brazen spy balloon drifting over US nuclear bases is a big slap in the face

    Shooting down China’s surveillance balloon could be a good thing for US-China relations. Team Biden has been dithering for days over strategy

    February 3, 2023 9:23am EST

    It sure looks to me like China is taunting the Biden administration with this ridiculous spy balloon flight. Or, maybe China’s military just screwed up by sending over a giant marshmallow loitering spy balloon days before Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s long-anticipated visit to Beijing. 

    Both alternatives are scary. And either way, China’s spy balloon is a real slap in the face. 

    The balloon is trying to park high above airliner traffic, in unregulated airspace, and scoop up military data.

    Honestly, the best thing for U.S.-China relations might be to shoot down this balloon. China’s foreign ministry sounded in a bit of a panic Friday with their spokesperson hoping “both sides can handle this together calmly and carefully.” 

    I guarantee you this balloon was tracked by U.S. and Canadian officials out over the Pacific. The White House has been dithering for days. Pity poor Blinken drinking tea in China while the balloon drifts over our nuclear bases. 

    It’s not the first time China’s intruded into American airspace, the Pentagon hinted Thursday.  However, they had to acknowledge that the behavior of this balloon is a bit different. 

    The balloon “is appearing to hang out for a longer period of time, this time around,” a Defense Department official elaborated, and the balloon is “more persistent than in previous instances.”

    Do you think for a moment that China would hesitate to shoot down a U.S. balloon? 

    Just look at the flight path. The spy balloon flight was timed to ride the winter jet stream for a pass along the Air Force’s northern tier missile and nuclear bomber bases. For example, Montana is home to Malmstrom Air Force Base where 150 Minuteman III nuclear missile silos are spread over a wide area. 

    China is building large new nuclear missile fields, so maybe they wanted pictures of ours, like the drone footage you see on real estate websites. Except that as everyone knows, China has plenty of satellites capable of taking pictures. In fact, China doubled their satellites on orbit between 2019 and 2021, according to the Defense Intelligence Agency.

    So, another strong possibility is that China wants the balloon to loiter in American skies long enough to detect radio, cell phone and other electronic communications often called “signals intelligence.”  Swap “eyes in the sky” for “ears in the sky.” 

    From a tactical perspective, there’s still time to shoot this thing down. The Air Force F-22 stealth fighters mentioned by the Pentagon could easily track and target China’s balloon. 

    Picture the balloon bobbing along at 60,000 feet, as the Pentagon reported. The F-22 Raptor is the world’s most advanced fighter and carries a radar that can see dust grains on Mars.

    Engaging a slippery balloon above 60,000 feet requires a precise air-to-air missile shot lofted up to the balloon’s altitude. Or, the F-22’s 20mm, six-barrel Gatling gun could shred the balloon.  The complicating factor is that it takes a while for the gas to leak out as the balloon deflates.  The time and place of the balloon’s crash to earth would be hard to predict because of “the winds aloft” as the aviators say. 

    Do you think for a moment that China would hesitate to shoot down a U.S. balloon? As I recall, the U.S. started flying drones into China’s airspace in the 1960s to collect data on China’s budding nuclear weapons programs. The wreckage of one supersonic DF-21 drone ended up in a Chinese aviation museum. 

    If Biden opts not to shoot down this balloon, there had better be consequences meted out to China in some form. China has no reason to send balloons to gather data on American nuclear bases. We have implored China to join nuclear arms control.  Xi Jinping says no. 

    Back to China’s motives. It is entirely possible that the Chinese military authorized the balloon flight with no coordination regarding Blinken’s visit. This type of behavior is a worry because it reveals a clumsy approach to China’s internal command and control.  How do you deter such a sloppy adversary? 

    Yet I wonder what is truly more dangerous: the spy balloon, or the quiet damage China’s already done to America. Collecting a little SIGINT with a balloon pales in comparison to the long-running penetration of so many levels of American society by interests of the Chinese Communist Party. 

    Let me give you just one example. Over in North Dakota, a Chinese-controlled company wants to build a corn wet milling plant on 370 acres they purchased near Grand Forks Air Force Base. Just imagine: a huge corn plant, far away from the main customers and replicating the work of 19 other major corn refining plants already running throughout the Midwest. 

    It was very suspicious, and on Wednesday, Air Force acquisition official Andrew Hunter wisely ruled the plant a threat to national security. 

    Personally, I’d like China out of all U.S. agriculture assets.

    One thing is for certain. The brazen balloon shows Biden’s China policy is far too weak. 

    “The Biden administration strategy can be summed up in three words: invest, align, compete,” Blinken said last year. 

    When China thinks it’s OK to send a giant spy balloon drifting over our nuclear bases, I’d say our strategy isn’t working. 

    Rebecca Grant is president of IRIS Independent Research.

    Shin Bet says it foiled election day bomb plot outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

    Mohammed Amin Muslah (R), and Mohammed Faid Mahmeed (L) detained over an alleged Hamas bombing plot, in a handout image issued by the Shin Bet on Febuary 3, 2023. (Shin Bet)

    Shin Bet says it foiled election day bomb plot by 2 Arab men enlisted by Hamas

    Agency alleges pair from Mu’awiya later planned shooting attack on soldiers after disagreeing with Gaza-ruling terror group about civilian target

    By Emanuel Fabian 3 Feb 2023, 11:54 am

    The Shin Bet security agency on Friday said it foiled an attempt by the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group to carry out a bombing attack on the day of Israel’s recent elections using two Arab Israeli men.

    Several weeks ago Mohammed Amin Muslah, 24, and Mohammed Faid Mahmeed, 28, both residents of the northern village of Mu’awiya, were detained over their involvement in the plot.

    According to the Shin Bet, Muslah was recruited by the military wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, to carry out a bombing against civilians when Israelis went to the polls on November 1.

    Muslah then recruited his friend Mahmeed to carry out the attack, but at some point, the pair cut ties with Hamas over disagreements regarding the target, the agency said.

    The Shin Bet said Hamas was adamant that they target civilians, but the two men wanted to attack soldiers.

    Muslah and Mahmeed then allegedly worked to carry out a shooting attack against soldiers, including snatching soldiers’ guns to continue a deadly attack.

    A makeshift ‘Carlo’ submachine gun siezed from two Arab men who allegedly sought to carry out an attack against Israeli soldiers, in a handout image issued by the Shin Bet on Febuary 3, 2023. (Shin Bet)

    The pair conducted surveillance operations at several bus stops frequented by soldiers between the town of Binyamina-Giv’at Ada and Kafr Qara, practiced with a makeshift “Carlo” submachine gun, and sought to find a stolen car for the attack, according to the Shin Bet.

    Ultimately, the pair picked a bus stop outside the Golani training base, near Kafr Qara, as their target, “since this stop is packed with IDF soldiers mainly on Thursdays,” the security agency said.

    Indictments filed against the pair on Friday charged them with contact with a foreign agent, providing services or means to a terror organization, conspiracy to commit a terrorist act of murder under aggravated circumstances, weapons offenses, and using a firearm, among other charges.

    The agency warned that Hamas was increasingly trying to carry out attacks in the West Bank and Israel.

    “The investigation of the affair reveals once again the fact that Hamas in the Gaza Strip exploits the Arab citizens of Israel and recruits them for the purpose of promoting terror activities in Israeli territory while harming the fabric of their lives in Israeli society,” the Shin Bet said.

    The arrests came at a time of rising violence in the West Bank, with the IDF pressing on with an anti-terror offensive to deal with a series of attacks that left 31 people in Israel dead in 2022, and seven more in an attack last weekend.

    The IDF’s operation has netted more than 2,500 arrests in near-nightly raids. It also left 171 Palestinians dead in 2022, and another 35 since the beginning of the year, many of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, though some were uninvolved civilians.

    Persistent Threat of the First Nuclear War: Revelation 8

    A Brahmos launcher during a rehearsal for the India’s 2011 Republic Day Parade. In 2021, an India Brahmos missile test misfired into Pakistani territory, sparking concerns of escalation between the rival nuclear powers. Photo: PIB

    Is There a Persistent Threat of Nuclear Crises Among China, India and Pakistan?

    Southern Asia’s strategic stability is getting harder to manage because of geopolitical changes and evolving military technologies.

    A Brahmos launcher during a rehearsal for the India’s 2011 Republic Day Parade. In 2021, an India Brahmos missile test misfired into Pakistani territory, sparking concerns of escalation between the rival nuclear powers. Photo: PIB

    Southern Asia — India, Pakistan and China — is the only place on earth where three nuclear-armed states have recently engaged in violent confrontations along their contested borders. As a USIP senior study group report concluded last year, the problem of nuclear stability in Southern Asia is getting harder to manage because of geopolitical changes, such as rising India-China border tensions, as well as evolving military technologies, including growing nuclear arsenals and more capable delivery systems. Unfortunately, in the time since that senior study group completed its work, little has happened to revise its worrisome conclusion or to prevent the most likely triggering causes of a nuclearised crisis in Southern Asia. To the contrary, there are some good reasons to fear that the situation in Southern Asia has even deteriorated over the past year.

    No one wants nuclear escalation — but it can still happen

    To be clear, just because states invest in nuclear weapons and delivery systems does not mean that a crisis or war is imminent. Leaders in China, India and Pakistan have always viewed their nuclear arsenals primarily as tools of deterrence, less for practical warfighting than to convince adversaries of the extraordinary costs that a war would risk. Nor do any of the region’s leaders take their nuclear programs lightly; all feel tremendous incentives to keep their arsenals safe and secure and to build systems of command, control and communications intended to prevent accidents, unauthorised use or theft.

    Nevertheless, because even a single nuclear detonation could be massively destructive, US policymakers have an obligation not to accept these sorts of logical assurances passively or uncritically. Accidents do happen. India’s misfire of a Brahmos missile test into Pakistan last year proved that point perfectly. No matter how well designed, nuclear systems are complicated and involve the potential for human or technical error. When something does go wrong, overreaction by opposing forces is less likely when they have a greater degree of confidence in, and knowledge of, the other side. Reliable and secure communications — in the form of hotlines — can help, but only to the point that they are actually used in a timely manner. Apparently, India failed to do so during the Brahmos incident.

    Fear, hatred and other emotions can cloud human judgment, especially in the heat of a crisis when information is imperfect and communication difficult. Reflecting on his own experience of crisis management in Southern Asia, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo recently wrote that he does “not think the world properly knows just how close the India-Pakistan rivalry came to spilling over into a nuclear conflagration in February 2019.” The question — for Pompeo and current US policymakers — is what more they are doing now to prepare for the next crisis.

    Fortunately, a February 2021 cease-fire agreement between India and Pakistan holds, supplemented at times by a widely rumoured “backchannel” dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad. Then again, it is a measure of the low level of our collective expectations for India-Pakistan relations that the bare agreement not to actively shoot artillery shells across their border and to participate in sporadic, secret talks is considered progress.

    The terrorism tinderbox

    A return to serious India-Pakistan crisis could be just one terrorist attack away. Not even when Pakistan suffered devastating floods last summer could leaders in Islamabad and New Delhi create sufficient political space to open basic commodity trade. Hostile rhetoric is high, and there is reason to anticipate it could get far worse over the coming year as national leaders on both sides prepare for elections. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has learned he can whip up domestic political support from tough talk and cross-border retaliation. In Pakistan, neither civilian nor army leaders can afford to look weak in the face of Indian attacks, especially when they face jingoistic (if transparently opportunistic) criticism from ousted prime minister Imran Khan.

    The prospect of anti-Indian terrorism is also growing. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan shows no greater commitment to eliminating terrorist safe havens than it did in the 1990s, and Pakistan’s will (and capacity) for keeping a lid on cross-border terrorism will be tested as it faces heightened security and economic pressures at home. In addition, India’s repression of its Muslim minority community, especially in Kashmir, is simultaneously a reaction to past anti-state militancy and nearly guaranteed to inspire new acts of violence.

    No matter the specific cause or circumstances of anti-Indian militancy, Modi’s government is likely to attribute culpability to Pakistan. That, in turn, raises the potential for an emotionally charged crisis that could, under the wrong circumstances, spiral into another India-Pakistan war.

    Nor can Pakistan afford only to worry about its border with India. Relations between Islamabad and Kabul have deteriorated drastically ever since the Taliban swept back into power. Rather than controlling Afghanistan through its favoured militant proxies, Pakistan is suffering a surge in violence on its own soil, most recently the devastating bombing of a police mosque in Peshawar claimed by the anti-state Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Such violence, along with national political turmoil, environmental calamity and economic crisis, will raise concerns among some in the United States about threats to the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear enterprise. Sadly, that will probably lead Pakistan’s Strategic Plans Division — the guardians of its nuclear arsenal — and other Pakistani military leaders to fear a phantom threat of American military intervention rather than to address actual causes of the Pakistani state’s fragility.

    India-China tensions rise

    Events along the contested border between India and China hardly inspire confidence that New Delhi and Beijing have found a path back to normal relations after their bloody border skirmishes of 2020. To the contrary, the prospects of rapid military escalation have grown, principally because both sides have positioned greater numbers of more lethal forces close to the border. Before 2020, relatively small, unarmed Chinese and Indian patrols routinely risked coming into contact as they pressed territorial claims on the un-demarcated border. This was dangerous, but extremely unlikely to escalate rapidly into a serious military encounter. In early December 2022 hundreds of Chinese troops attacked an Indian camp in what could not possibly have been an unplanned operation. With tens of thousands of troops stationed not far away, conventional military escalation is far more plausible than it was just a few years ago.

    Although there is still a long way between remote mountain warfare and a nuclear crisis, at least some Indian security officials anticipate a future of more routine border violence as troops on both sides become more entrenched. China and India are also jockeying in the Indian Ocean, where China’s increasing naval presence and influence with India’s smaller neighbours feed Indian insecurities and encourage New Delhi to seek countervailing defence ties with Quad partners (Japan, Australia and the United States) as well as other naval powers, like France.

    Against this backdrop of tensions, China’s growing nuclear, missile and surveillance capabilities will look more threatening to Indian nuclear defence planners. New Delhi may even come to fear that China is developing a first strike so devastating that it would effectively eliminate India’s retaliatory response and, as a consequence, diminish the threat of its nuclear deterrent. In response, India could seek to demonstrate that it has thermonuclear weapons capable of destroying Chinese cities in one blow as well as more nuclear submarines capable of evading China’s first strike.

    A ‘cascading security dilemma’

    Not only would those Indian moves raise serious policy questions for the United States, but they would demonstrate the region’s “cascading security dilemma,” by which military capabilities intended to deter one adversary tend to inspire dangerous insecurities in another. When India arms itself to deter China, Pakistan perceives new threats from India and will likely pursue enhanced capabilities of its own. In a worst-case scenario, Southern Asia could be entering an accelerated nuclear arms race in which uneven waves of new investments in capabilities and delivery systems will alter perceptions of deterrence and stability in dangerously unpredictable ways.

    All told, US policymakers have at least as many reasons for concern about strategic stability in Southern Asia as when USIP launched its report last spring. Old triggers for escalation, like terrorist attacks against India, persist, while newer storms are brewing. As that earlier report explained, Washington cannot solve Southern Asia’s troubles alone, but neither can it afford to stand aloof or to downplay their seriousness.

    Daniel Markey is Senior Advisor, South Asia Programs at the United States Institute of Peace.

    Israeli warplanes strike outside the Temple Walls following rocket fire: Revelation 11

    Israeli warplanes strike Gaza following rocket fire

    Israeli warplanes struck Gaza early Thursday, drawing retaliatory rocket fire from Palestinian militants, as violence flared despite US calls for “urgent steps” to restore calm.

    Israeli officials said the pre-dawn strikes were in response to an earlier rocket launch and targeted military training camps used by Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas.

    A statement from the Israeli military said fighter jets had “struck a production site for raw chemical material production, preservation and storage along with a weapon manufacturing site” belonging to Hamas.

    The strikes came “in response to the rocket launch from the Gaza Strip into Israel earlier” Wednesday. 

    “[Hamas] will face the consequences of the security violations against Israel,” the army said on Twitter. 

    Defense Minister Yoav Gallant vowed that Israel stood ready to respond to any attack.

    “Every attempt to harm our citizens will be met with the full force of the IDF.”

    Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem called the Israeli strikes “a continuation of the cycle of aggression against the Palestinian people.” 

    He accused Israel of “opening the door to escalation on the ground”. 

    During talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders earlier this week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged both sides to prevent further bloodshed.

    He expressed sorrow for “innocent” Palestinians killed in months of spiraling violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, warning that the Palestinian people faced “a shrinking horizon of hope.”

    Escalating violence

    The US top diplomat’s visit came after a deadly upsurge in violence in the West Bank last week.

    A Palestinian shot dead seven people outside a synagogue in an Israeli settler neighborhood of annexed east Jerusalem on Friday, a day after the deadliest army raid in years in the West Bank killed 10 Palestinians.

    The synagogue attack on the Jewish Sabbath was the deadliest targeting Israeli civilians in more than a decade and was celebrated by many Palestinians in Gaza and across the West Bank.

    Israel said its deadly raid on Jenin refugee camp targeted Islamic Jihad militants. An 11th Palestinian was killed elsewhere in the West Bank that day.

    This year the conflict has killed 35 Palestinians — including attackers, militants and civilians — as well as six Israeli civilians, including a child, and one Ukrainian, killed on Friday.

    Last year was the deadliest year in the West Bank since the United Nations started tracking fatalities in the territory in 2005.

    Some 235 people died in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last year, with nearly 90 percent of the deaths on the Palestinian side, according to AFP figures.

    The Palestinian governor of Jericho on Wednesday accused Israel of putting the town under “siege” after a Saturday shooting at a restaurant, which had no casualties.

    Jericho’s ancient ruins have been a major tourism draw in the past.

    “This is the fifth day of the siege on Jericho,” governor Jihad Abu al-Assal told AFP.

    Israel’s army told AFP it had boosted its forces in the area and “inspections were increased at the city’s entrances and exits.”

    An AFP correspondent said cars were backed up at entrances to the city, with checks to get in and out of the city often taking hours.

    Islamic Jihad said it would send a delegation led by the militant group’s leader Ziad al-Nakhala to Cairo on Thursday at Egypt’s invitation.

    The delegation would meet with the head of Egypt’s intelligence service to discuss “how to restore calm, especially after the last escalation, including the aggressions against prisoners”, said Daoud Shihab, a senior Islamic Jihad member in Gaza.