Prepare for Nuclear War: Revelation 16

By Stephen Wertheim

Mr. Wertheim is a scholar and writer on U.S. foreign policy.

  • Dec. 2, 2022

In March, as President Biden was facing pressure to intensify U.S. involvement in Ukraine, he responded by invoking the specter of World War III four times in one day.

“Direct conflict between NATO and Russia is World War III,” he said, “something we must strive to prevent.” He underscored the point hours later: “The idea that we’re going to send in offensive equipment and have planes and tanks and trains going in with American pilots and American crews — just understand, and don’t kid yourself, no matter what you all say, that’s called World War III, OK?”

More than any other presidential statement since Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Biden’s warning signaled the start of a new era in American foreign policy. Throughout my adult life and that of most Americans today, the United States bestrode the world, essentially unchallenged and unchecked. A few years ago, it was still possible to expect a benign geopolitical future. Although “great power competition” became the watchword of Pentagonese, the phrase could as easily imply sporting rivalry as explosive conflict. Washington, Moscow and Beijing would stiffly compete but could surely coexist.

How quaint. The United States now faces the real and regular prospect of fighting adversaries strong enough to do Americans immense harm. The post-Sept. 11 forever wars have been costly, but a true great power war — the kind that used to afflict Europe — would be something else, pitting the United States against Russia or even China, whose economic strength rivals America’s and whose military could soon as well.

This grim reality has arrived with startling rapidity. Since February, the war in Ukraine has created an acute risk of U.S.-Russia conflict. It has also vaulted a Chinese invasion of Taiwan to the forefront of American fears and increased Washington’s willingness to respond with military force. “That’s called World War III,” indeed.

Yet how many Americans can truly envision what a third world war would mean? Just as great power conflict looms again, those who witnessed the last one are disappearing. Around 1 percent of U.S. veterans of World War II remain alive to tell their stories. It is estimated that by the end of this decade, fewer than 10,000 will be left. The vast majority of Americans today are unused to enduring hardship for foreign policy choices, let alone the loss of life and wealth that direct conflict with China or Russia would bring.

Preparing the country shouldn’t begin with tanks, planes and ships. It will require a national effort of historical recovery and imagination — first and foremost to enable the American people to consider whether they wish to enter a major war if the moment of decision arrives.

Navigating great power conflict is hardly a novel challenge for the United States. By 1945, Americans had lived through two world wars. The country emerged triumphant yet sobered by its wounds. Even as the wars propelled the United States to world leadership, American leaders and citizens feared that a third world war might be as probable as it today appears unthinkable. Perhaps that is one reason a catastrophe was avoided.

For four decades, America’s postwar presidents appreciated that the next hot war would likely be worse than the last. In the nuclear age, “we will be a battlefront,” Truman said. “We can look forward to destruction here, just as the other countries in the Second World War.” This insight didn’t keep him or his successors from meddling in third world countries, from Guatemala to Indonesia, where the Cold War was brutal. But U.S. leaders, regardless of party, recognized that if the United States and the Soviet Union squared off directly, nuclear weapons would lay waste to the American mainland.

Nuclear terror became part of American life, thanks to a purposeful effort by the government to prepare the country for the worst. The Federal Civil Defense Administration advised citizens to build bomb shelters in their backyards and keep clean homes so there would be less clutter to ignite in a nuclear blast. The film “Duck and Cover,” released in 1951, encouraged schoolchildren to act like animated turtles and hide under a makeshift shell — “a table or desk or anything else close by” — if nukes hit. By the 1960s, yellow-and-black signs for fallout shelters dotted American cities.

The specter of full-scale war kept the Cold War superpowers in check. In 1950, Truman sent U.S. troops to defend South Korea against invasion by the Communist North, but his resolve had limits. After Gen. Douglas MacArthur implored Truman to blast China and North Korea with 34 nuclear bombs, the president fired the general. Evoking the “disaster of World War II,” he told the nation: “We will not take any action which might place upon us the responsibility of initiating a general war — a third world war.”

The extreme violence of the world wars and the anticipation of a sequel also shaped President John F. Kennedy’s decisions during the Cuban missile crisis, when the Soviet Union moved to place nuclear weapons 90 miles from Florida. Kennedy, who had served in the Pacific and rescued a fellow sailor after their ship went down, grew frustrated with his military advisers for recommending preventative strikes on Soviet missile sites. Instead of opening fire, he imposed a naval blockade around Cuba and demanded that the Soviets withdraw their missiles. A one-week superpower standoff ensued. Approximately 10 million Americans fled their homes. Crowds descended on civil defense offices to find out how to survive a nuclear blast. The Soviets backed down after Kennedy secretly promised to remove U.S. Jupiter missiles from Turkey. The world had come so close to nuclear Armageddon that Kennedy, citing the danger of a third and total war, took the first steps toward détente before his death in 1963.

But memory is never static. After the Soviet Union collapsed and generations turned over, World War II was recast as a moral triumph and no longer a cautionary tale.

In the 1990s, an outpouring of film, history and literature celebrated the “greatest generation,” as journalist Tom Brokaw anointed those who won the war for America. Under their watch, the United States had saved the world and stopped the Holocaust — which retrospectively vaulted to the center of the war’s purpose, even though stopping the mass murder of European Jews was not why the United States had entered. A new generation, personally untouched by great power war, reshaped the past, revering their elders but simplifying the often varied and painful experiences of veterans.

In this context, the double lesson of the world wars — calling America to lead the world but cautioning it not to overreach — narrowed to a single-minded exhortation to sustain and even expand American power. Presidents began to invoke World War II to glorify the struggle and justify American global dominance. On the anniversary of Pearl Harbor in 1991, George H.W. Bush told the country that “isolationism flew escort for the very bombers that attacked our men 50 years ago.” Commemorating the 50th anniversary of D-Day in 1994, Bill Clinton recalled how the Allied troops gathered “like the stars of a majestic galaxy” and “unleashed their democratic fury,” fighting a battle that continued.

In 2004 the imposing World War II Memorial, one decade and $197 million in the making, went up between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. George W. Bush, a year into invading Iraq, gave the dedication: “The scenes of the concentration camps, the heaps of bodies and ghostly survivors, confirmed forever America’s calling to oppose the ideologies of death.” Preventing a repeat of World War II no longer involved exercising caution; it meant toppling tyrants.

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Besides, why dwell on the horrors of global conflict at a time when no such thing even seemed possible? With post-Soviet Russia reeling and China poor, there were no more great powers for the United States to fight. Scholars discussed the obsolescence of major war.

It wasn’t just major war that seemed passé. So did the need to pay any significant costs for foreign policy choices. Since the Vietnam War roiled American society, leaders moved to insulate the American public from the harms of any conflict, large or small: The creation of an all-volunteer force did away with the draft; air power bombed targets from safe heights; the advent of drones allowed killing by remote control.

The deaths of more than 7,000 service members in the post-Sept. 11 wars — and approximately four times as many by suicide — devastated families and communities but were not enough to produce a Vietnam-style backlash. Likewise, although the wars have cost a whopping $8 trillion and counting, the payments have been spread over decades and passed to the future.

Not having to worry about the effects of wars — unless you enlist to fight in them — has nearly become a birthright of being American.

That birthright has come to an end. The United States is entering an era of intense great power rivalry that could escalate to large-scale conventional or nuclear war. It’s time to think through the consequences.

The “acute threat,” as the new National Security Strategy states, comes from Moscow. President Vladimir Putin controls thousands of nuclear weapons, enough to destroy civilization many times over. Since invading Ukraine, he has threatened to use them.

Mr. Putin could plausibly act on that threat under several scenarios: if U.S. or NATO forces directly enter the conflict, if he believes his rule is threatened or if Ukrainian forces verge on retaking Crimea. No one knows precisely what might prompt the Kremlin to employ a nuclear weapon, but Mr. Biden recently said that the risk of Armageddon was the highest it has been since the Cuban missile crisis.

Mr. Biden has ruled out using force to defend Ukraine. His administration is pursuing a finely tailored objective: It seeks to strengthen Ukraine’s position on the battlefield in order to strengthen its hand in peace negotiations. That goal does not commit the United States to ensuring a complete Ukrainian victory. Yet the Ukrainian Army’s recent successes have prompted American commentators to redouble their backing for Kyiv and further marginalize talk of diplomacy (not that Mr. Putin has shown any readiness to stop the killing).

If the possibility of war with Russia was not enough, U.S. relations with China are in free fall, setting up the world’s two leading powers to square off for decades to come.

Despite Mr. Biden’s caution toward Russia, he is contributing to the rising chances of conflict with China. In a series of interviews, he asserted that the United States has a commitment to defend Taiwan (in fact, it is obligated only to help arm the island) and vowed to send U.S. troops in the event of a Chinese invasion. These repeated gaffes are likely intended to deter Beijing in light of its many recent military maneuvers around the island. But especially in tandem with high-level congressional visits to Taipei, they risk implying that the United States wishes to keep Taiwan permanently separated from the mainland — a position it is hard to imagine Beijing will ever accept.

Equally important, Mr. Biden seems to be saying that defending Taiwan would be worth the price of war with China. But what would such a war entail?

A series of recent war games held by think tanks help us to imagine what it would look like: First, a war will likely last a long time and take many lives. Early on, China would have incentives to mount a massive attack with its now highly developed long-range strike capability to disable U.S. forces stationed in the Pacific. Air Force Gen. Mark D. Kelly said that China’s forces are “designed to inflict more casualties in the first 30 hours of combat than we’ve endured over the last 30 years in the Middle East.”

In most rounds of a war game recently conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the United States swiftly lost two aircraft carriers, each carrying at least 5,000 people, on top of hundreds of aircraft, according to reports. One participant noted that although each simulation varied, “what almost never changes is it’s a bloody mess and both sides take some terrible losses.” At some stage, those Selective Service registrations required of young American men might need to be expanded and converted into a draft.

Second, each side would be tempted to escalate. This summer, the Center for a New American Security held a war game that ended with China detonating a nuclear weapon near Hawaii. “Before they knew it,” both Washington and Beijing “had crossed key red lines, but neither was willing to back down,” the conveners concluded. Especially in a prolonged war, China could mount cyberattacks to disrupt critical American infrastructure. It might shut off the power in a major city, obstruct emergency services or bring down communications systems. A new current of fear and suspicion would course through American society, joining up with the nativism that has reverberated through national politics since Sept. 11.

The economic consequences would be equally severe. A Chinese invasion of Taiwan, which produces most of the world’s advanced semiconductors, would profoundly damage the U.S. and global economy regardless of Washington’s response. (To this end, the United States has been trying to move more semiconductor manufacturing home.) But a U.S.-China war would risk catastrophic losses. Researchers at RAND estimate that a yearlong conflict would slash America’s gross domestic product by 5 to 10 percent. By contrast, the U.S. economy contracted 2.6 percent in 2009, the worst year of the Great Recession. The gas price surge early in the Ukraine war provides only the slightest preview of what a U.S.-China war would generate. For the roughly three-fifths of Americans who currently live paycheck to paycheck, the war would come home in millions of lost jobs, wrecked retirements, high prices and shortages.

In short, a war with Russia or China would likely injure the United States on a scale without precedent in the living memory of most citizens. That, in turn, introduces profound uncertainty about how the American political system would perform. Getting in would be the easy part. More elusive is whether the public and its representatives would maintain the will to fight over far-flung territories in the face of sustained physical attack and economic calamity. When millions are thrown out of work, will they find Taiwan’s cause worth their sacrifice? Could national leaders compellingly explain why the United States was paying the grievous price of World War III?

These questions will be asked during a conflict, so they ought to be asked in advance. Even those who think the United States should fight for Ukraine or Taiwan have an interest in educating the public about the stakes of great power conflict in the nuclear and cyber age.

The last nuclear-related sign I saw, a few weeks ago, proudly declared a small liberal suburb of Washington, D.C., to be a “nuclear-free zone.” “Duck and Cover” deserves a 21st-century remake — something a bit more memorable than the Department of Homeland Security’s “Nuclear Explosion” fact sheet, which nonetheless contains sound advice. (For example, after the shock wave passes, you have 10 minutes or more to find shelter before the radioactive fallout arrives.) For every moral condemnation of adversaries’ actions, Americans should hear candid assessments of the costs of trying to stop them. A war game broadcast on “Meet the Press” in May offered one model. Even better to follow it with a peace game, showing how to avoid devastation in the first place. Without raising public awareness, political leaders risk bringing about the worst-case outcome — of waging World War III and losing it when the country recoils.

As international relations have deteriorated in recent years, critics of U.S. global primacy have frequently warned that a new cold war was brewing. I have been among them. Yet pointing to a cold war in some ways understates the danger. Relations with Russia and China are not assured to stay cold. During the original Cold War, American leaders and citizens knew that survival was not inevitable. World-rending violence remained an all-too-possible destination of the superpower contest, right up to its astonishing end in 1989.

Today the United States is again assuming the primary burden of countering the ambitions of governments in Moscow and Beijing. When it did so the first time, it lived in the shadow of world war and acted out of a frank and healthy fear of another. This time, lessons will have to be learned without that experience.

Stephen Wertheim is a senior fellow in the American Statecraft Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a visiting lecturer at Yale Law School and Catholic University.

IRGC Commander Praises Khamenei For Nuking Up: Daniel 8

IRGC commander Hossein Salami speaking on December 1, 2022

IRGC commander Hossein Salami speaking on December 1, 2022

IRGC Commander Praises Khamenei For Not Needing A Nuclear Deal

8 hours ago3 minutes

Author: Iran International Newsroom

The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard says the Supreme Leader wants to reach a point where having a nuclear deal with the West will make no difference for Iran.

Speaking to a large crowd on Thursday, General Hossein Salami also tried to present the IRGC and its paramilitary Basij as “servants of the people,” amid a popular uprising in which security forces have so far killed around 450 civilians since mid-September.

Salami repeated regime slogans about “independence” and “self-sufficiency” and said, Khamenei “has turned a few issues into a matter of pride that America cannot swallow. One of these is his strong stand on the issue of JCPOA, and it has reached a stage when the acceptance or rejection of the JCPOA has no importance for Iran.”

After 18 months of indirect negotiations by the Biden Administration to revive the 2015 nuclear accord known as the JCPOA, talks broke down in early September, when the US rejected excessive demands by Iran.

Salami also praised the 83-year-old authoritarian ruler for spreading the influence of the Islamic Republic to other countries, adding that “enemies” cannot accept “this development.”

The Islamic regime uses the term “enemies” to refer to the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and lately Western Europe, as many countries have criticized its use of deadly violence against protesters.

Many countries raise the issue of Tehran’s “malign activities” in the Middle East, by financially and militarily building a network of militant groups in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere.

People celebrating in the Kurdish city of Sanandaj after the Islamic Republic’s soccer team lost against the US and exit the World Cup on November 29, 2022

People celebrating in the Kurdish city of Sanandaj after the Islamic Republic’s soccer team lost against the US and exit the World Cup on November 29, 2022

The IRGC commander then went on repeating accusations made by Khamenei and other officials in the past two months against “enemies” for plotting to destroy Iran. At the same time, he claimed that Iran has become a “powerful force” and “the enemy is fleeing from the Islamic world.”

For this reason, he claimed, the United States is fomenting unrest in Iran, but the Iranian people “are standing up to America.”

In fact, thousands of Iranians across the country celebrated the defeat of Iran’s team by the US side in the World Cup on Tuesday, seeing the loss as a defeat for the regime that tries to use sports to strengthen its image.

The United States has repeatedly dismissed accusations that it has anything to do with the anti-regime protests. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that one of the “profound mistakes” that the “regime makes is in accusing the United States or any other country” of somehow being “responsible for, instigating what’s happening. That’s not at all the case. And to misunderstand their own people is at the heart of the problem that they’re facing.”

But the Biden Administration has also voiced support for Iranians to have the right to peacefully protest and officials have met with Iranian activists to underline that policy.

Blinken in a separate interview with NBC also reiterated the administration’s policy, saying “the most important thing that we can do is first to speak out very clearly ourselves in support of the people’s right to protest peacefully, to make their views known, and as I said, to take what steps we can take to go after those who are actually oppressing those rights, including through sanctions.”

Iranians mainly blame Khamenei, the Revolutionary Guard and its Basij paramilitaries for deadly use of violence against protesters. Many have reached the point that they will accept nothing short of a complete regime change and the establishment of a secular, democratic political system.

Russia Will Build Up Her Nuclear Horn: Revelation 16

Russia to bolster its nuclear weapons ‘infrastucture’

Wed, November 30, 2022 at 5:42 AM

STORY: Shoigu said in televised comments that the Russia would also work to improve the combat capabilities of its missile forces and that facilities were being built to accommodate new missile systems.

President Vladimir Putin has placed territory seized by Russia in Ukraine under Moscow’s nuclear umbrella, warning that he is ready to defend Russia’s “territorial integrity” by all available means. The United States says it has warned Russia over the consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.

Russia and the United States were due to hold talks in Cairo this week on their existing New START treaty, which limits the number of warheads each can deploy.

But Moscow pulled out on the eve of the meeting, accusing the United States of toxic anti-Russian behavior and trying to manipulate the treaty to its advantage.

US, Russia & France Are ‘Pushing’ Germany Towards Becoming a Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

US, Russia & France Are ‘Pushing’ Germany Towards Nukes; Berlin Drafting Its 1st Ever National Security Strategy

ByEurAsian Times Desk

November 21, 2022

Among its other fallouts, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has energized the Atlantic Alliance (Europe on one side of the Ocean and the US on the other) like never before in the post–Cold War era. Some pundits say that the alliance under the United States’ leadership may have reached its peak.

But at the same time, the two foremost powers of Europe – France and Germany – seem very particular about the importance of “strategic autonomy” and lessening Europe’s dependence on the US for its security by building the prowess of their militaries.

And here, the significant trend is the growing recognition of the need to develop and strengthen “European Nuclear Weapons.”

The capture of the US House of Representatives by the Republicans and the announcement of former President Donald Trump for the Presidency in 2024 have further strengthened this trend of ‘autonomy’ in both Germany and France.

They are mindful of the Trump Presidency’s repeated admonishment to European countries for not sharing enough for their security at the cost of American taxpayers.

As Jeremy Shapiro, research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations, apprehends, the Republicans will again ask why Americans should pay more than Ukraine’s neighbors.

All told, while the US has already spent billions of dollars and is committed to more than $40 billion in military aid for Ukraine, Europe has pledged only half that.

French President Macron’s Stance For The Nation’s Future

Against this backdrop, one may see the timing of French President Emmanuel Macron’s unveiling on November 9 of France’s “national strategic review,” meant to define how the country’s defense will look in 2030.

Macron said France wants to be an “independent, respected, agile power at the heart of European strategic autonomy” with strong links to the Atlantic alliance.

He added that France wanted to focus on boosting the European Union’s defense capacity building, lessening the dependence of the bloc of 27 nations’ security dependence on the US and NATO.

Of course, Macron has consistently argued the above theme of Europe building its strength. After interviewing him, the Economist magazine wrote, “Europe has become dependent on others for too much—from its ability to innovate to military heft and even food.

In a world led by unreliable folk like Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and Vladimir Putin, that set his nerves jangling. Europe, in Mr. Macron’s jargon, needs strategic autonomy. That pitch for greater sovereignty encompasses everything from more defense spending to Europe coming up with its tech giants and much else besides.”

Importantly, in his “national strategic review,” the French President has insisted that a “credible, modern” nuclear deterrence is the key. After BREXIT, France became the only EU country with nuclear weapons. “Our nuclear forces contribute through their existence to the security of France and Europe,” he said.

But, and it is exceptionally significant, Macron also made it clear that “a potential nuclear ballistic attack from Russia in the region would not bring any nuclear response from Paris.” He said that France’s doctrine “is based on what we call the fundamental interests of the nation. They would not at all be at stake” in such a situation.

In other words, Macron says that the French nuclear weapons are for France only. And this, in turn, seems to have revived a debate in Germany about developing a nuclear deterrent of its own.

This is an issue that few in Germany wanted to discuss until recently, given its history and aversion to all things nuclear. All the more so after the 2021 general elections that ended a 16-year-long streak of conservative governments under Angela Merkel.

The country today has a government of a broad coalition of three parties from the left and the right – the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Free Democratic Party (FDP), and the Greens. Both the SPD and the Left Greens, particularly the latter, are big-time votaries of nuclear disarmament and the closure of even civilian nuclear plants.

The last time it was in the government (1988), the Greens party had argued strongly to replace NATO with a European peace order. Even during election campaigns last year, the Greens had proposed a Germany free of nuclear weapons.

But the Russian invasion of Ukraine has changed all that. The German government, led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), has not only pledged to spend at least two percent of a country’s gross domestic product for defense purposes but also supported the sharing of NATO’s nuclear weaponry on German soil.

Germany Leans Toward Nuclear Weapons

Reportedly, the German government is now drafting a first-ever national security strategy, which is expected to be made public early next year, and will talk of retaining a credible nuclear deterrence through Germany’s NATO membership.

The public debate at present in Germany also shows that as the international security environment deteriorates, military options and new nuclear armaments are becoming more attractive among political leaders.

Even otherwise, in a June 2022 poll, most interviewees supported hosting US nuclear weapons in Germany. This starkly contrasted with previous years when many Germans in polls favored removing these weapons from the country.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

Of course, under the previous German government of Angela Merkel of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), there were calls for a “Euro-deterrent” (independent of US nuclear weapons through NATO).

The leading defense expert of the Christian Democrats in the Bundestag, Roderich Kiesewetter, made this case. And Roderich Kiesewetter, a lawmaker and foreign policy spokesman with then Germany’s ruling party, had elaborated this line of thinking.

This “Euro deterrent” by its advocates did not necessarily mean that Germany would make nuclear weapons in violation of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty (NPT). It meant supporting and financing those European countries that already had nuclear weapons – France and the United Kingdom.

“My idea is to build on the existing weapons in Great Britain and France,” Kiesewetter argued while acknowledging that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union could preclude its participation.

Kiesewetter’s thesis had four ingredients: “a French pledge to commit its weapons to a common European defense, German financing to demonstrate the program’s collective nature, a joint command, and a plan to place French warheads in other European countries.”

This thesis of a “Euro-deterrent,” provided by the French strategic forces, is being reasserted today by Friedrich Merz, the leader of the CDU. His party colleague and head of the conservative European People’s Party in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, has even proposed that Germany fund the French “force de frappe.”

However, the problem with the German idea of a “Euro-deterrent” has met a significant setback, and that is the irony, with the latest French national strategic review and President Macron’s announcement that the French deterrent is there to protect and defend French territory, and does not extend to its European partners.

And this, in turn, may lead to the revival of the public demand that the country should have its nuclear weapons. Germany had a discussion in the late 1960s about whether it should have a nuclear force, something that then Defense Minister Franz Josef Strauss had strongly advocated.

As Stephen F Szabo, Adjunct Professor at the BMW Center for German and European Studies, Georgetown University, and author of “Germany, Russia and the Rise of Geo-economics,” writes, “A nuclear North Korea, a nuclear-curious Iran, and the prospect of Japan and South Korea becoming nuclear powers begs the question: Why should Germany stay behind given its power and centrality to European security?”

A pertinent question, indeed!

  • Author and veteran journalist Prakash Nanda has been commenting on politics, foreign policy on strategic affairs for nearly three decades. A former National Fellow of the Indian Council for Historical Research and recipient of the Seoul Peace Prize Scholarship, he is also a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.

Iran Media Looks Beyond Nuclear Deal As Obama Deal Fails: Daniel 8

Iran Media Looks Beyond Nuclear Deal As Negotiations ‘Fail’

Thursday, 11/24/20223 minutes

Author: Iran International Newsroom

With nuclear talks frozen and the US and Europe levying further sanctions, Iranian commentators are looking at life under permanent US ‘maximum pressure.’

IRNA, the official news agency, November 24 portrayed Iran’s acceleration of its nuclear program since 2019 as a series of responses to United States, Israeli or European actions – beginning 2018 with the US “covenant-breaking” in leaving the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), and imposing ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions.

Iran’s announcement Tuesday that it was enriching uranium to 60 percent at the Fordow site was yet another “reaction to the excesses of the West,” IRNA argued, just as enrichment to 60 percent at Natanz, another nuclear site, in April came in response to “sabotage actions” at the site attributed to Israel.

In fact, Iran decided to start 60-percent enrichment in early 2021 just as the new US administration had announced its readiness to return to the JCPOA and talks in Vienna were about to begin.

Tehran announced the latest move as a reply to a resolution raised by France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States passed November 17 at the board of the 37-member board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The US and ‘E3’ had “tied a technical and legal case…to events inside the country and protests turned into riots,” IRNA argued. “The troika of Europe and the United States stopped the nuclear talks under the pretext of unrest inside Iran.”

Casting further doubts on talks, IRNA argued, was the looming return to power of Benjamin Netanyahu, which it suggested would “definitely intensify…the Zionist regime’s delusional claims against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

‘Impasse’ in diplomacy

Separately, Fararu, a privately owned news agency, carried a discussion with Hosseini Kanani-Moghadam, head of Iran’s conservatively-inclined Green Party, and Fereydoun Majlesi, a former diplomat who has for some time been pessimistic over the JCPOA.

Ali Bagheri-Kani Iran's chief negotiator in Vienna talks on August 4, 2022

Ali Bagheri-Kani Iran’s chief negotiator in Vienna talks on August 4, 2022

Majlesi argued that “the West” had long given up hope of negotiating with Iran and sought to re-use tactics that had undermined the Soviet Union. “Western countries,” he said, had judged that President Ebrahim Raisi’s government, which took office in 2021, inclined against the JCPOA with ministers asking why Iran accepted nuclear restrictions while gaining nothing from the agreement.

The result was an “impasse” in diplomatic efforts to restore the JCPOA – an impression confirmed, Majlesi said, by the French president and Canadian prime minister recently meeting “supporters of subversion in our country,” a reference to exiled activists and social-media ‘influencers.’ This accelerated an “agenda against Iran” over “recent years” that had “led to significant economic pressures” aimed at “impoverishing Iran.”

Kanani-Moghadam argued that Iran retained political levers “in the event of the escalation of hostile policies,” including “complete withdrawal from the JCPOA” (presumably ending all nuclear restrictions but staying within the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), or even leaving the NPT.

Bagheri-Kani in India: Focus on economy

Post-JCPOA thinking were also evident in discussions during the visit to India of Ali Bagheri-Kani, deputy Iranian foreign minister and leading nuclear negotiator. While IRNA Thursday reported Bagheri-Kani attacking “the atmosphere created by some western media regarding the developments in Iran,” its focus was business.

While Bagheri-Kani’s brief as one of five deputy ministers is politics, his interview with Asia International News Agency(ANI) also focused on economics, and how commerce might continue should US ‘maximum pressure’ last. ANI noted that bilateral trade had risen 46 percent between 2011-12 and 2019-20.

While criticizing the US for disrupting world energy security with sanctions against Iran, Russia, and Venezuela, Bagheri-Kani highlighted potential for Iran to help India over energy in return for food exports, presumably through barter or non-dollar arrangements. He also stressed that India’s project for developing Chabahar port, in Sistan-Baluchistan province, was continuing.

New Delhi has been slow to develop the port in fear of US punitive action under ‘maximum pressure.’ Once a major buyer of Iranian oil, India has grown increasingly frustrated at Washington’s approach. It abstained, along with Pakistan, at the recent vote condemning Iran at the IAEA board.

Khamenei’s “Nuclear Fatwa,” Once Again

November 29, 2022 | By A. Savyon, Y. Carmon, and Ze’ev B. Begin*

Iran | MEMRI Daily Brief No. 433

In a new book titled Religion and Nuclear Weapons, A Study of Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan  (Vij Books India Pvt Ltd, 2022, 120 pp.), Dr. Shameer Modongal of Kerala University and Professor Seyed Hossein Mousavian of Princeton University lay out a detailed argument that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons. Professor Mousavian has some experience in this issue, as he was spokesperson for Iran in its nuclear negotiations with the International Community in 2003-2005 and foreign policy advisor to the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2005-2007.

The authors begin in an academic and methodical manner, with general descriptions of various political science models that explain why some states choose to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Next is a learned discussion of the role of religion in shaping states’ national security policies, and a very detailed focus on statements by Iranian clerics and a discussion of the Iranian theocracy’s policy on WMDs. The authors’ reasoning is based on the decisive role played by religious edicts (fatwas) in the decisions of the Islamic Iranian regime. Asserting that the development, acquisition and use of WMDs are forbidden in Islam, they then discuss how Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s alleged anti-nuclear weapons fatwa is legally binding upon Iran’s theocracy and would completely prevent Iranian attempts to acquire a nuclear bomb.

In a detailed rebuttal to those who doubt the existence of the fatwa, Modogal and Mousavian acknowledge that there is no such written fatwa (p. 69) but argue that “this concern is not significant considering the position of Ayatollah Khamenei and the publicity of his statements. As far as the legitimacy of a fatwa in concerned, it is not necessary to be issued in written form. It has been a practice since early times to issue oral fatwas, and it may be written down by those who heard them. The statements of Ayatollah Khamenei have also been reported by those who heard it. His statements against nuclear weapons have been published on his personal website.”

What the authors do not clarify is how one might distinguish between a political declaration in a speech by the Supreme Leader as head of state and a formal and binding religious edict that is considered a fatwa that he issues as the supreme religious authority. If Khamenei’s statements against Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons have indeed been published on his personal website, it would be strange for him, a jurisprudent, to have consistently refrained from taking one more step and publishing it on one of his two sites in which  his fatwas appear in their traditional format. That format is a specific question addressed to the jurisprudent and, in response, his ruling on it, based on religious arguments.

With this question looming above their discussion, the authors conclude that “the position and power of Ayatollah Khamenei ensure the long-lasting of this religious position of Iran [banning acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran] without being challenged by other scholars…” (p.71). However, they fail to mention that it was Khamenei himself who explained, in writing, that his position on Iranian nuclear weaponry is not based on religion. On March 15, 2012, the following question was submitted to Khamenei via Facebook by an Iranian opposition group called Cheragh-e Azadi (“The Light of Freedom”):

“Question:Your Excellency has announced a ban on the use of nuclear weapons, and considering that nuclear weapons are a requirement for deterrence and that the aim of obtaining them is to intimidate the enemies in order to prevent them from acting aggressively, and in light of what is written in Surat Al-Anfal, Verse 60 […] is it also forbidden to obtain nuclear weapons, as per your ruling that their use is prohibited?”

Khamenei’s response, also on Facebook, was brief: “Answer: Your letter has no jurisprudential aspect. When it has a jurisprudent position, then it will be possible to answer it.” The exchange was concluded by a “Summary: No answer was given.”[1]

Nine years later, on February 22, 2021, Khamenei tweeted a less cautious message in English: “Iran is not after nuclear weapons. But it’s [sic] nuclear enrichment will not be limited to 20% either. It will enrich Uranium to any extent that is necessary for the country. Iran’s enrichment level may reach 60% to meet the country’s needs.” It is well known, though, that there are no civilian purposes for which a country needs uranium enriched to more than 20%; 60% is the enrichment level required to fuel nuclear submarines.[2]

A year later, on March 10, 2022, addressing Iran’s Assembly of Experts, Khamenei referred to nuclear weapons as “an arm of power” and explained: “The nuclear issue is […] about scientific progress and our future technology. […] People are talking about making concessions to America or to others in order to become immune to the sanctions. This means severing this arm of our policy and [giving up] this bargaining chip […] I believe that these [compromises] are mistakes. If, over the years, the people who want to chop off some of those arms of power had been given permission to do so, our country would be facing great danger today.”[3] This position is in line with Khamenei’s ridicule, in his March 20, 2011 Persian New Year address, of Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi for handing over his nuclear installations to the U.S.: “This gentleman wrapped up all his nuclear facilities, packed them on a ship, and delivered them to the West and said, ‘Take them!’ Look in what position our nation is, and in what position they [the Libyans] are now.”[4]  

The New Iranian Talk About Iran’s Need For Nuclear Weapons

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 sparked a surge of blunt Iranian talk, including depictions of Iran’s future nuclear weapons as essential to Iranian national security.[5] Iranian Majlis (parliament) member Mohammad Ka’ab Amir said on February 26, 2022: “Ukraine is an example from which the supporters of the West and the East must learn. We must insist on the nuclear rights of the Iranian people […] so Iran will be strong, with nuclear and military might.” On the same day, the daily mouthpiece of the Iranian regime, Kayhan, wrote: “A close look at the dimensions of the Ukraine crisis and the world’s response to it indicates very clearly why the leader of the [Iranian] Revolution [Khamenei] has stressed the issue of building strength on every level, and has firmly opposed any concession regarding factors that guarantee the country’s [ability to defend its] security on its own, without relying on others.” Two days later, it clarified: “An important lesson of the Ukrainian war is that, in order to dispel threats, one must be strong. Disarming and handing over one’s sources of strength is the deadliest mistake…” Similarly, Passive Defense Organization head, Gen. Gholamreza Jalali said on March 6, 2022: “One of [Ukraine’s] mistakes was that although it is one of the world’s nuclear powers, it transferred all its nuclear facilities and capabilities to Europe in exchange for European security and support.”

Continuing in this series of open statements, Dr. Mahmoud-Reza Aghamiri, head of the nuclear engineering department at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran, spoke candidly to an audience on April 9, 2022, saying: “Today, you have deterrence capability. What does this mean? It means you can raise your uranium enrichment level to 99% within a very short period of time. You have the power, if needed, to ‘let off control’ the nuclear fission. In other words, you can install it on a warhead and let it do whatever it wants […] It is natural to have the power, the might, and the capabilities that would make your enemy succumb to your demands in the negotiations.”

Kamal Kharrazi, former Iranian foreign minister (1997-2005) and currently a foreign policy advisor to Khamenei as well as chairman of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, said in a July 17, 2022 interview on Qatar’s Al-Jazeera TV: “It is no secret that we have become a nuclear threshold country. This is the reality. This is a fact. It is no secret that we have the required technological capabilities to produce a nuclear bomb. But we do not want that and have not decided to do so. In the past, we raised the level of uranium enrichment from 20% to 60% in a matter of days. We can simply raise this level to 90%.”[6]

The Nuclear Fatwa Legend – Where Did It Come From?

In view of these statements, one may wonder where the legend of a binding, anti-nuclear fatwa issued by Khamenei came from. The following account shows its trivial origin. On November 15, 2004, in Paris, Iran signed an agreement with France, Germany and the United Kingdom in which it declared that “it does not and will not seek to acquire nuclear weapons.” It also undertook to “continue and extend its suspension to include all enrichment related and reprocessing activities.” In return, the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors decided not to refer Tehran to the UN Security Council.

To reach this agreement, Iran’s then-chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rouhani, who would later become Iranian president, sought an argument that would win the confidence of the Europeans, and decided to make use of a Friday sermon that Khamenei had delivered in Tehran on November 5, 2004, 10 days before the Paris agreement was signed. Years later, in a television interview with the U.S. Public Broadcasting Service that aired in May 2012, Rouhani claimed that Khamenei had “talked about the fatwa” in his sermon. However, Khamenei had only said in the sermon that “nuclear weapons, their production, storage and use – each of these is problematic. We have also expressed our jurisprudential opinion. It is clear, and everyone knows [it].” In other words, in his sermon Khamenei had neither issued a fatwa nor used the religious term “haram” (“forbidden”) – he had merely called nuclear weapons “problematic.”

In this 2012 interview, Rouhani exposed his trick, stating: “That was when we were on the verge of the Paris Agreement. The European troika emphasized [the need for] strong guarantees [to not develop nuclear weapons] […] I told the three European ministers that they should know about two explicit guarantees from our side, one of which is the fatwa of the Supreme Leader [who] declared the production of nuclear weapons haram [forbidden]. This fatwa is more important to us than the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] and its Additional Protocol, more important than any other law.” Asked whether he brought the matter up after previous consultations Rouhani answered: “it occurred to me right there to bring it up.”[7] Thus, on the spur of the moment, the “nuclear fatwa” was diplomatically birthed. Responding to the next question, Rouhani said that the Iranian government had even considered making the “fatwa” into a law, because the Europeans “were saying that if [the fatwa] becomes the law, it would eliminate the West’s concerns. […] This was a confidence-building measure for the West.” It is thus clear that the legend of the “nuclear fatwa” was the result of Rouhani’s 2004 cunning political move.

Finally, a surprise: Despite the learned content of his new book Religion and Nuclear Weapons, and its emphasis on the binding nature of the “nuclear fatwa,” Professor Mousavian warned in a recent article (emphasis added): “If Western powers try to corner Iran and reinstate UN-led sanctions, Tehran would likely withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Any military strike by Israel or the U.S. would likely then push Iran towards building a nuclear weapon.”[8]

* Ayelet Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iran Media Project; Yigal Carmon is MEMRI Founder and President; Ze’ev B. Begin is a Senior Fellow at MEMRI.

China’s expanding nuclear arsenal to preempt the Australian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

China’s expanding nuclear arsenal to preempt ‘hostile activities’ in region: Analyst
China will likely have a stockpile of 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035 if it continues with its current nuclear buildup pace, according to a report released by the Pentagon on Nov 29. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

China’s expanding nuclear arsenal to preempt ‘hostile activities’ in region: Analyst

China will likely have a stockpile of 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035 if it continues with its current nuclear buildup pace, according to a report by the Pentagon. 

Calvin Yang

30 Nov 2022 07:20PM(Updated: 30 Nov 2022 08:36PM)

SINGAPORE: Concerned with various alliances forming in its backyard, China may take on a more offensive nuclear posture, said a defence analyst on Wednesday (Nov 30).

Beijing “has to adopt a more offensive stance with regards to the use of its nuclear weapons”, as the geostrategic environment around China continues to change dramatically, said Mr Ridzwan Rahmat, principal defence analyst at defence intelligence company Janes.

According to a report out of the United States, China will likely have a stockpile of 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035 if it continues with its current nuclear buildup pace. 

The figures released by the Pentagon on Tuesday underscore mounting concerns over China’s intentions for its expanding nuclear arsenal, with a US official stating that the Asian superpower has a rapid buildup too substantial to keep under wraps. 

China is worried about the type of alliances that are currently forming in its backyard, Mr Ridzwan told CNA’s Asia Now.

This includes the AUKUS trilateral security pact between Australia, Britain and the US, which facilitates cooperation on security issues in the Indo-Pacific.

It will equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, which China views as a hostile move and has repeatedly criticised as an act of nuclear proliferation. 

“I think the Chinese nuclear programme has evolved, from a point where it was purely a defensive weapon to a point where it’s now being postured as a weapon to preempt any hostile activities surrounding that particular region,” said Mr Ridzwan. 

When its nuclear programme started more than 50 years ago, the preoccupation in China’s strategic calculations was the reunification with Taiwan and to ensure that its territorial sovereignty was not violated, he said. 

“The nuclear weapon was viewed, at that point of time, as something that might guarantee its survival.”

However, the dynamics have since shifted, with observers calling China’s rapid military buildup as a strategic breakout from its minimum deterrence nuclear posture. 

The Pentagon’s latest annual report on China’s military said the country currently has a nuclear stockpile of more than 400 warheads.

The estimate for 2035 was based on an unchanged pace of military buildup, a US official said after the report was released. 

CHINA TO BOOST ITS STRATEGIC DETERRENT

China had said that its arsenal is dwarfed by those of the US and Russia, and that it is ready for dialogue, but only if Washington reduces its nuclear stockpile to China’s level.

During the Communist Party Congress in October, Chinese President Xi Jinping noted that China would boost its strategic deterrent, a term typically used to describe nuclear weapons.

The Pentagon’s report reiterated concerns about mounting pressure by Beijing on Taiwan, but Washington does not see an invasion of the island as imminent.

Mr Ridzwan believes any reunification attempts with Taiwan will “probably be carried out by conventional forces rather than nuclear forces”. 

“While the Taiwan Strait crisis itself is the catalyst for China’s nuclear programme, I don’t think it will be the tool that China will deploy in the event that it needs to reunify with Taiwan by force,” he added. 

Meanwhile, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said earlier this week that China has what it takes to dissuade North Korea from pursuing its nuclear ambitions. 

However, Mr Ridzwan does not believe there is any interest for Beijing to curtail Pyongyang’s nuclear programme. 

He added that North Korea’s preparations for resuming the testing of nuclear weapons is going to complicate deterrence calculations for the US. 

“And from China’s point of view, any complications to the Americans will be in Beijing’s favour, given how Beijing is very concerned about the security roadblocks that have formed around its territorial areas,” he added

The Threat of Nuclear War: Revelation 16

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attends a meeting with officials of the Defence Ministry in an unknown location
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attends a meeting with officials of the Defence Ministry in an unknown location, in this still image taken from video released on November 9, 2022. Russian Defence Ministry/Handout via REUTERS

Russia says it will focus on building nuclear arms infrastructure in 2023

Nov 30 (Reuters) – Russia will pay special attention to building infrastructure for its nuclear forces in 2023, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday.

Shoigu said in televised comments that the Russia would also work to improve the combat capabilities of its missile forces and that facilities were being built to accommodate new missile systems. Russia has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, with close to 6,000 warheads.

President Vladimir Putin has placed territory seized by Russia in Ukraine under Moscow’s nuclear umbrella, warning that he is ready to defend Russia’s “territorial integrity” by all available means. The United States says it has warned Russia over the consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.

Russia and the United States were due to hold talks in Cairo this week on their existing New START treaty, which limits the number of warheads each can deploy.

Predicting the Sixth Seal in New York: Revelation 6

A geologist taking measurements by a boulder.

A geologist heads to the hills to study precariously perched boulders, which could provide clues to the frequency of the rare major quakes that shake the region.

By Ben McGrath

November 28, 2022

Illustration by João Fazenda

    Every now and then, the ground trembles, in some places more often and more dramatically than in others. New York is no California. Still, Brooklyn chimneys toppled and windows shattered in the summer of 1884, when a quake struck near Coney Island: magnitude 5, or thereabouts. (Seismometers were not then in wide circulation.) Anything larger, amid today’s infrastructure, would cause quite a bit of damage. But we have scant records about how frequently such a quake occurs. “Every thousand years, every ten thousand years, every million years?,” William Menke, a seismologist at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty observatory, wondered recently, with the potential destruction of the metropolitan region in mind. “It makes a difference!” Many major earthquakes have occurred on the East Coast, he explained. We just don’t know when.

    Menke was hiking up a mountain in Harriman State Park, beside the Ramapo Fault, to try to fill in the gaps. He was in search of rocks whose shape and placement gave him a sense of existential comfort instead of dread. “That was the one that started me thinking about this,” he said, arriving at a bobsled-size boulder perched near the edge of a shallow cliff. “That must say something important about the amount of shaking that occurred since it was put up there. If there was a lot of shaking, it would have fallen.” A hiking companion couldn’t resist a futile push. The boulder was deposited there, of course, by a glacier. “Everything here reeks of the Ice Age,” Menke said. The last of the glaciers melted in these parts around fifteen thousand years ago. Auspicious.

    The two continued climbing, in search of ever more precariously perched boulders. Some were too small to rule out human intervention. “You can see somebody moved those hefty rocks into a bench configuration,” Menke noted of one arrangement, near the remains of a campfire. Another boulder, intriguingly top-heavy, sat in a crack, making it harder to dislodge, and therefore unworthy of scrutiny. Menke crouched beside others to sketch their contours in a notebook and measure the slopes of the underlying bedrock, using a carpenter’s level and an inclinometer, for which he’d paid eight dollars at Lowe’s. “Most of the stuff I do is pretty low tech,” he said. “I have occasionally lost things in the field and then found them six months later, a little rusty.”

    Caveman showing off puffer jacket.

    Menke’s gray hair was untrimmed and, like some of the stones he examined, in seeming defiance of gravity. His fixation on the geology was such that he failed to notice a buck galloping past, though he called attention to a small discoloration in the bedrock at one point. “See the surface here? Something was protecting this from erosion. Was there a boulder there that rolled off? Where is it?” Using some back-of-the-envelope physics, he estimated the amount of gravitational acceleration required to send various candidates in his notebook sliding downhill. “The last one we did was on a more gentle slope, and it was about point three of gravity,” he said. “So that would be about a seven-and-a-half magnitude.” By contrast, a giant sea-turtle-shaped rock on a steeper slope seemed likely to ski with a magnitude 7. “So that, actually, is an interesting number,” Menke said. “If you can rule out that there have been any earthquakes of magnitude 7 since the end of the Ice Age, that actually is pretty important in terms of New York’s seismic risk.

    Proper science would require his following up with sophisticated camera technology, for photogrammetry and 3-D computer modelling. “I’ll tell you a funny story about a Greek dude,” Menke said, referring to the astronomer Aristarchus, who attempted to estimate the distance from the earth to the sun. “He did a pretty good job, but there was a critical piece of info he needed to know, and that was the angular diameter of the sun. It’s half a degree, and he guessed that it was two degrees. Had he been careful to measure things, he would have gotten the right number.” For now, though, Menke took comfort in what the naked eye was telling him. Then again, a magnitude 7 earthquake is a thousand times more powerful than a magnitude 5. Think of Haiti in 2010, instead of Coney Island in 1884.

    Pausing for a water break before beginning his descent, Menke ran his hand over another boulder and broke off a piece of crusty rock tripe, or lichen. “Very low nutritional value,” he said. “But if faced with a choice between eating rock tripe and dying, you eat rock tripe.” ♦Published in the print edition of the December 5, 2022, issue, with the headline “Shake It Off.”

    A geologist taking measurements by a boulder.

    Predicting the Earthquake That Could Wreck New York

    A geologist heads to the hills to study precariously perched boulders, which could provide clues to the frequency of the rare major quakes that shake the region.

    By Ben McGrath

    November 28, 2022

    Illustration by João Fazenda

    Every now and then, the ground trembles, in some places more often and more dramatically than in others. New York is no California. Still, Brooklyn chimneys toppled and windows shattered in the summer of 1884, when a quake struck near Coney Island: magnitude 5, or thereabouts. (Seismometers were not then in wide circulation.) Anything larger, amid today’s infrastructure, would cause quite a bit of damage. But we have scant records about how frequently such a quake occurs. “Every thousand years, every ten thousand years, every million years?,” William Menke, a seismologist at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty observatory, wondered recently, with the potential destruction of the metropolitan region in mind. “It makes a difference!” Many major earthquakes have occurred on the East Coast, he explained. We just don’t know when.

    Menke was hiking up a mountain in Harriman State Park, beside the Ramapo Fault, to try to fill in the gaps. He was in search of rocks whose shape and placement gave him a sense of existential comfort instead of dread. “That was the one that started me thinking about this,” he said, arriving at a bobsled-size boulder perched near the edge of a shallow cliff. “That must say something important about the amount of shaking that occurred since it was put up there. If there was a lot of shaking, it would have fallen.” A hiking companion couldn’t resist a futile push. The boulder was deposited there, of course, by a glacier. “Everything here reeks of the Ice Age,” Menke said. The last of the glaciers melted in these parts around fifteen thousand years ago. Auspicious.

    The two continued climbing, in search of ever more precariously perched boulders. Some were too small to rule out human intervention. “You can see somebody moved those hefty rocks into a bench configuration,” Menke noted of one arrangement, near the remains of a campfire. Another boulder, intriguingly top-heavy, sat in a crack, making it harder to dislodge, and therefore unworthy of scrutiny. Menke crouched beside others to sketch their contours in a notebook and measure the slopes of the underlying bedrock, using a carpenter’s level and an inclinometer, for which he’d paid eight dollars at Lowe’s. “Most of the stuff I do is pretty low tech,” he said. “I have occasionally lost things in the field and then found them six months later, a little rusty.

    Caveman showing off puffer jacket.

    Menke’s gray hair was untrimmed and, like some of the stones he examined, in seeming defiance of gravity. His fixation on the geology was such that he failed to notice a buck galloping past, though he called attention to a small discoloration in the bedrock at one point. “See the surface here? Something was protecting this from erosion. Was there a boulder there that rolled off? Where is it?” Using some back-of-the-envelope physics, he estimated the amount of gravitational acceleration required to send various candidates in his notebook sliding downhill. “The last one we did was on a more gentle slope, and it was about point three of gravity,” he said. “So that would be about a seven-and-a-half magnitude.” By contrast, a giant sea-turtle-shaped rock on a steeper slope seemed likely to ski with a magnitude 7. “So that, actually, is an interesting number,” Menke said. “If you can rule out that there have been any earthquakes of magnitude 7 since the end of the Ice Age, that actually is pretty important in terms of New York’s seismic risk.”

    Proper science would require his following up with sophisticated camera technology, for photogrammetry and 3-D computer modelling. “I’ll tell you a funny story about a Greek dude,” Menke said, referring to the astronomer Aristarchus, who attempted to estimate the distance from the earth to the sun. “He did a pretty good job, but there was a critical piece of info he needed to know, and that was the angular diameter of the sun. It’s half a degree, and he guessed that it was two degrees. Had he been careful to measure things, he would have gotten the right number.” For now, though, Menke took comfort in what the naked eye was telling him. Then again, a magnitude 7 earthquake is a thousand times more powerful than a magnitude 5. Think of Haiti in 2010, instead of Coney Island in 1884.

    Pausing for a water break before beginning his descent, Menke ran his hand over another boulder and broke off a piece of crusty rock tripe, or lichen. “Very low nutritional value,” he said. “But if faced with a choice between eating rock tripe and dying, you eat rock tripe.” ♦Published in the print edition of the December 5, 2022, issue, with the headline “Shake It Off.”

    Obama nuclear deal talks at ‘dead end’: Daniel 8

    Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanaani [@IRIMFA_EN/Twitter]

    Iran nuclear deal talks at ‘dead end’

    November 29, 2022 at 4:04 pm | Published in: Asia & AmericasIranMiddle EastNewsUS

    Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanaani [@IRIMFA_EN/Twitter]November 29, 2022 at 4:04 pm

    A spokesman for the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Kanaani, said the negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program have reached a “dead end”, adding that Europe has failed to fulfil its obligations as stipulated in the nuclear agreement.

    “It seems that we have reached a dead end in the negotiations of the nuclear agreement,” Kanaani told reporters on Monday.

    Commenting on the UN Human Rights Council decision, last Thursday, to form a high-level fact- finding investigation into the Iranian authorities’ crackdown on protesters following the death of Mahsa Amini, Kanaani said, “Iran will not cooperate with the political committee called the Fact-Finding Commission”.

    “The hasty use of human rights mechanisms and the use of these mechanisms as a tool against independent states is unacceptable and condemnable, and does not contribute to the advancement of human rights,” Kanaani said.

    “There is no doubt that Western governments, especially the US government and some governments allied with it, have played a role in provoking the riots inside Iran, and this information was presented to the ambassadors residing in Tehran in various frameworks, and a large number of citizens from different countries were also arrested for their role in inciting riots,” he added.

    Regarding the attack on the Israeli oil tanker, Kanaani said, “Making false accusations against Iran is a goal that the Israeli Occupation and its allies seek to achieve. If Iran does something, it is brave enough to bear its responsibility.”