Monday, September 26, 2016

The Iran-Korea Nuclear Connection (Daniel 8)

635935539094349312-DFN-Iran-missile-testNorth Korea-Iran Missile Cooperation

By Michael Elleman
22 September 2016

North Korea’s ground test of a powerful, liquid-fueled engine on September 20, and the launch of three modified-Scud missiles earlier this month renewed allegations that Pyongyang and Tehran are collaborating on ballistic-missile development. The accusations are mostly speculative, based largely on the apparent similarities of ballistic missiles and satellite launchers appearing in both Iran and North Korea. A detailed examination of the designs employed by the two countries casts doubt on claims that the two countries are co-developing missiles and satellite launchers, exchanging detailed design data, and testing prototypes for each other. Pyongyang and Tehran may share test data on a limited basis, and perhaps trade conceptual ideas. But there is little evidence to indicate the two regimes are engaged in deep missile-related collaboration, or pursuing joint-development programs.
During its war with Iraq in the 1980s, Iran’s cities and petroleum infrastructure were repeatedly attacked by Baghdad, which possessed a sizable arsenal of Soviet-supplied aircraft and Scud-B ballistic missiles. Lacking reliable access to the skilled technicians and spare parts needed to maintain and fly its Western-supplied aircraft in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran was unable to respond to and punish Iraq for the assaults. Tehran was thusly driven to acquire ballistic missiles and artillery rockets from willing exporters for its counter-strike capabilities. Libya and Syria initially shipped a limited number of Scud-B missiles to Iran, with allowed the Islamic regime to target Baghdad and other large Iraqi cities in the mid-1980s. In need of a much larger arsenal of missiles, Iran turned to North Korea for its longer-term requirements. Pyongyang shipped between 200 and 300 Soviet-built Scud-B and Scud-C missiles to Iran during the latter years of the war and into the early 1990s. Iran renamed the missiles Shahab-1 and -2, respectively.
The transactional relationship between Iran and North Korea continued throughout the 1990s, with Pyongyang providing missile-maintenance infrastructure and training, as well as medium-range Nodong missiles, which Iran dubbed Shahab-3. When Tehran test fired its Shahab-3 in July 1998, it was only the second known launch of the Nodong, with North Korea having successfully flown the missile just once, in 1993. Iran continued to flight test the Shahab-3, as did Pakistan, another recipient of the Nodong, which it calls Ghauri. The preliminary flight trials conducted by Iran and Pakistan showed promise, though Iran was concerned that the Shahab-3’s maximum range was less than 1,000 km. Consequently, Tehran’s engineers and missile specialists modified the Shahab-3 to create the 1,600-km range Ghadr missile, which was initially test flown in 2004.
It is unclear how deeply involved North Korea was in Iran’s program to modify the Shahab-3, and create the Ghadr missile. While it is reasonable to assume that some flight-test data were shared, interviews with Russian and Ukrainian specialists aiding the Iranian missile program during the late-1990s suggest that cooperation between Pyongyang and Tehran was isolated and not comprehensive. Iran’s compartmentalisation of the missile programs would have impeded deep technical collaboration with North Korea, if not preventing it altogether. Moreover, if the security procedures in Iran continue today, it is unlikely Pyongyang and Tehran are actively cooperating on missile and satellite-launcher development, though critical materials and components may continue to flow from one country to the other.
Four Allegations of Possible Collaboration and Cooperation 
Those arguing that Iran and North Korea are cooperating on missile development cite four observations. Two of them center on the similarities in the evolutionary versions of Pyongyang’s Nodong missiles and Tehran’s Shahab-3 and Ghadr systems. The third observation focuses on the solid-propellant technology recently used by North Korea to propel its submarine-launched ballistic missile, the KN-11, which some argue is identical to that employed by Iran’s two-stage, medium-range Sajjil missile. The fourth, and most often citied observation, and the one said to be corroborated by official US government sanctions, claims that Tehran and Pyongyang are cooperating on the development of large rockets used to loft satellites into orbit.
As discussed above, to overcome shortfalls in the reliability and reach of the Nodong missiles imported from North Korea, Iran modified the Nodong/Shahab-3 to create the Ghadr missile. The evolution in design was incremental, with several versions of the improved Shahab-3 tested in Iran. North Korea, which launched only one Nodong prior to 2006, presumably retained the original design. There are no publicly available photographs of the Nodongs tested in 2006, so it is impossible to know if any modifications were introduced by North Korea. The first public appearance of the missile occurred in 2010, when the Nodong was seen during in a military parade in Pyongyang. The Nodong that appeared in the parade was a mock-up, though, at first glance, it looked similar to the Ghadr, including the complex shape of the nosecone. This led some to conclude that North Korea and Iran collaborated on its design, and by extrapolation, possibly the flight-trials conducted in Iran during the 2000s.
In August 2016, North Korea’s KCTV aired video of Nodong missiles being fired from their respective mobile launchers near Hwangju and roughly 40-km south of Pyongyang. The missiles resembled those seen in the 2010 parade, with the Ghadr-like nosecone design. It is reasonable to conclude from these occasions that engineers from the two countries shared at least some nosecone-design information. However, a closer examination of 2016 launches reveals definitively that the similarities between the North Korea’s new Nodong missile and Iran’s Ghadr do not extend beyond the shape of their nosecones. Indeed, the external dimensions and features, other than the similar nosecones, are quite different. Figure 1 illustrates two prominent differences. The Ghadr’s rear fins are much smaller than those found on either version of the Nodong, and the Ghadr’s airframe and propellant tanks have been lengthened to carry more fuel. The original and new Nodong airframes appear to be the same, only the nosecone has been altered.
Figure 1. Key differences between North Korea’s Nodong and Iran’s Ghadr missiles.
Iran’s Ghadr missile body is longer than either the original Nodong or Shahab-3. North Korea’s latest version of the Nodong, tested in 2016, incorporates a nosecone very similar to that on the Ghadr, yet it retains the shorter airframe used on the original Nodong design. Note also, the Ghadr has smaller fins mounted on the tail, relative to those seen on either Nodong version. It is unclear if the new Nodong airframe is constructed with an aluminium alloy, like the Ghadr, or with steel, like the original version of the Nodong. Iran’s Ghadr missile body is longer than either the original Nodong or Shahab-3. North Korea’s latest version of the Nodong, tested in 2016, incorporates a nosecone very similar to that on the Ghadr, yet it retains the shorter airframe used on the original Nodong design. Note also, the Ghadr has smaller fins mounted on the tail, relative to those seen on either Nodong version. It is unclear if the new Nodong airframe is constructed with an aluminium alloy, like the Ghadr, or with steel, like the original version of the Nodong.
It is interesting to note that the minimum distance between North Korean territory and Tokyo is just over 1,000 km. If the new Nodong is a clone of the original version, but with a new nosecone and smaller warhead, it has a maximum range of about 1,000 km, when launched with a 700 kg payload. To ensure pre-launch survival, Pyongyang would presumably want to deploy and fire the missile from deep within its territory, which requires a reach of 1,200 km or greater. In other words, North Korea has great incentive to extend the Nodong’s range, yet it does not appear to have adopted the Ghadr’s design.
In September 2016, North Korea fired three missiles, again from mobile launchers situated on a highway near Hwangju. The missiles travelled about 1,000 km before crashing into the East Sea, though within Japan’s air defense identification zone. Most observers initially suspected that the missiles launched were Nodongs because the longest-range alternative is the Scud-D, which has a range limit of just over 700 km. Pyongyang reportedly developed a Scud-D missile with a range of just over 700 km. Video of the launch appear to show a Scud-B warhead placed on a Nodong airframe, with a short flange connecting the two. An Iranian missile with a similar nosecone and airframe configuration was seen in Tehran a dozen years ago, leading one analyst to conclude that North Korea and Iran collaborated on the design. But again, closer scrutiny of the missiles and an analysis of the trajectories expose a different story (see Figure 2). The missiles were extended range Scud missiles, or Scud-ER, having a diameter of 1.0 m, and an overall length of about 12.6 m. The diameter and length of the Scud-B and –C are 0.88m and 10.944 m, respectively. The Scud-D has the same diameter as the –B and –C versions, though its length is 12.4 m. The Scud-ER is very different than the Shahab-3—with the so-called NRV nosecone—seen in Iran in 2004.
Figure 2. Key differences between North Korea’s Scud-ER and Iran’s Shahab-3 missiles.
Iran’s Shahab-3 missile is outfitted with a Scud-B warhead. The warhead has a base diameter of 0.88 m, and is mated to the 1.25-m diameter airframe by a skirt-like flange section. The North Korean Scud-ER has a 1.0-m diameter airframe, and thus a tighter skirt-like flange. Iran is not known to have flown a Scud-ER missile, though one could appear in the future. Iran’s Shahab-3 missile is outfitted with a Scud-B warhead. The warhead has a base diameter of 0.88 m, and is mated to the 1.25-m diameter airframe by a skirt-like flange section. The North Korean Scud-ER has a 1.0-m diameter airframe, and thus a tighter skirt-like flange. Iran is not known to have flown a Scud-ER missile, though one could appear in the future.
Iran, unlike North Korea, has pursued both liquid- and solid-fueled missiles since its dual-track approach to missile acquisition started in the early 1980s. Iran now possesses a family of short-range missiles, including the Fateh-110 and Fateh-313, which were developed over a period of at least two dozen years. Tehran is also developing a two-stage, medium-range missile, the Sajjil. The Sajjil program likely began in or about the year 2000. The first ground tests of the 13.5-metric ton, stage-one motor reportedly occurred in 2005. The Sajjil, though dubbed Ashoura at the time, underwent its initial flight test, which failed, in 2007; a successful test occurred in 2008, though only the first stage was active. Flight-testing continued until 2011, when launches abruptly stopped before the missile was fully developed. The reasons behind the halt in testing remain unclear.
North Korea, on the other hand, has limited experience developing and producing solid-fueled missiles. The largest solid-rocket motor manufactured by Pyongyang before 2016 weighs only one-metric ton and propels the KN-02 missile, a copy of the Soviet Tochka. The KN-02 has a maximum range of about 100 km, though versions of the original Tochka can reach beyond 120 km. In April 2016, North Korea conducted a ground test of a large solid-fueled motor and test launched at least two solid-propellant missiles from an underwater platform, likely its GORAE-class submarine. The KN-11, submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is a two-stage system. Each stage consists of a solid-propellant rocket motor substantially larger than any tested by the North before, excepting the April ground test. Learning to manufacture large-diameter, solid-fueled rocket motors typically requires decades of effort, as illustrated by the history of Iran’s program, as well as others. Yet, with no public reporting of large solid-motor development in North Korea prior to 2016, the KN-11 emerged suddenly and flies successfully to a distance of 500-600 km.
The sudden, unexpected appearance of the solid-fueled KN-11 led to speculation that Iran may have aided Pyongyang’s efforts to design, develop and manufacture large-rocket motors, or perhaps supplied the motors to North Korea outright. Tal Inbar, an Israeli analyst who closely follows the missile and space programs of Iran and North Korea, asserts that the KN-11’s 1.25 m diameter motors are the same as those found on Iran’s Sajjil missile. He further states that the KN-11 is built using a propellant that is “identical to the technology developed in Iran.”
The exact dimensions of the KN-11 are difficult to extract from the photos and videos released by Pyongyang. However, the relative dimensions are readily derived from the photos. Based on the performance of the KN-11, the missile’s diameter is likely between 1.2 and 1.5 m. The length of the KN-11’s first stage is then between 3.5 and 4.4 m; the second stage is between 1.5 and 1.9 m long. The Sajjil has a diameter of 1.25 m, with first- and second-stage lengths of 9 m and 5.6 m, respectively. The relative dimensions—the ratio of the length to the diameter—of the KN-11 stages are clearly different from those of Iran’s Sajjil. Further, the external features of the Sajjil reveal stage separation apparatus that are not visible on the KN-11, indicating differing design philosophies. Both missiles do use jet vanes for steering during the boost phase of flight, though the vanes themselves are slightly different. Finally, it is possible that the propellant formulation used by the KN-11 and Sajjil are very similar, though this should be expected. Most solid-fueled rockets use a variation of what is called a composite propellant formulation, so it would be surprising if the KN-11 and Sajjil differed significantly.
Figure 3. Key differences between North Korea’s KN-11 and Iran’s Sajjil missiles.
Iran’s two-stage, medium-range Sajjil missile employs two solid-propellant motors, as does the North Korean KN-11 submarine-launch ballistic missile, or SLBM. The Sajjil’s diameter is 1.25 m, while the KN-11 is believed to be about 1.5 m in diameter, though it could be less according to some analysts. Regardless of the KN-11’s absolute dimensions, it is obvious that relative dimensions, most notably the ratio of the length to diameter of each stage, are substantially dissimilar to the length-to-diameter ratios of the Iranian Sajjil. The KN-11 does not employ rocket motors similar to those found on the Sajjil. Iran’s two-stage, medium-range Sajjil missile employs two solid-propellant motors, as does the North Korean KN-11 submarine-launch ballistic missile, or SLBM. The Sajjil’s diameter is 1.25 m, while the KN-11 is believed to be about 1.5 m in diameter, though it could be less according to some analysts. Regardless of the KN-11’s absolute dimensions, it is obvious that relative dimensions, most notably the ratio of the length to diameter of each stage, are substantially dissimilar to the length-to-diameter ratios of the Iranian Sajjil. The KN-11 does not employ rocket motors similar to those found on the Sajjil.
Lastly, many observers note the similarity between the satellite-launch vehicles, or SLVs, used by Iran and North Korea, and speculate that the two countries are collaborating on large rocket development. It is true that the Taepodong-1 SLV launched by Pyongyang in 1998, and Iran’s Safir SLV have first stages powered by the Nodong engine. It is also true that the first stage of the North Korea’s Unha SLV and Iran’s Simorgh SLV use a cluster of four-Nodong engines, and the upper-most stages of both SLVs are propelled by the steering engines originally employed by the now-retired Soviet R-27 SLBM. But a closer look at the SLVs reveals differences inconsistent with close cooperation between Pyongyang and Tehran.
The most obvious difference is that the two North Korean SLVs operate using three stages, whereas Iran’s two SLVs are two-stage systems. This likely reflects the more conservative design approach taken by North Korea, where until late-2015, engineers had limited experience developing new missiles and launchers. The paucity of missile-development testing, and learned knowledge accrued from testing activities, likely led North Korean specialists to over design the Taepodong-1 and Unha launchers to ensure each succeeded in lofting a specified payload to a certain orbit. There may, however, be other reasons behind the decision to employ three rather than two stages. Regardless, the divergent design philosophies argue against deep cooperation.
The decision to power the first stage of the Taepodong-1 and Safir with a Nodong engine was very likely driven by that lack of viable alternatives. Neither North Korea nor Iran have the experience and wherewithal to design and develop a powerful liquid-propellant engine indigenously, so therefore each had to rely on the engines available for use. The roughly 27-ton thrust Nodong engine was a logical engineering choice for small SLVs. The alternative would have been to cluster two or four Scud engines together to form the power unit for a first stage, though such configurations would have required a new and larger diameter airframe.
When North Korea, and later Iran, began the design of the Unha and Simorgh SLVs, respectively, the most powerful engine available was still that associated with the Nodong missile. Again, the lack of viable alternatives drove both countries to design a first stage powered by a cluster of four Nodong engines, with each engine relying on its own turbo-pump assembly to deliver propellant to the combustion chamber. It was, and remains today, beyond the technical capacity of either country to design, develop and build a larger pump capable of simultaneously feeding all four engines.
The Unha and Simorgh both employ four small engines to steer the first stage. Arguably, this feature suggests some level of design cooperation. However, beyond the use of four small engines, the two designs diverge. Each steering engine of the Unha receives its propellant from the turbo-pump of an adjacent Nodong engine by tapping into the fuel and oxidizer lines of the nearby engine and diverting a small portion of the flow. In other words, each Nodong turbo-pump feeds a Nodong engine and a steering engine. Iranian engineers, on the other hand, adopted a different design for the Simorgh. All four steering engines of the Simorgh are supplied propellant by a single Scud-engine turbo-pump assembly placed at the center of the Nodong engine cluster. The Iranian design delivers up to 13 tons of additional thrust compared to the Unha.
Covert Development of Long-Range Rocket Booster
In November 2013, Bill Gertz reported that Iranian missile technicians had visited North Korea in secret to jointly develop a new “80-ton rocket booster” for long-range missiles or SLVs. Two months later the US Treasury Department issued sanctions against several persons and entities, including the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, or SHIG, the firm responsible for development of Iran’s liquid-fueled missiles, and two individuals, Seyed Mirahmad Nooshin and Sayyed Medhi Farahi. The Treasury Department notice specifically mentions that Nooshin and Farahi had travelled to North Korea, and that the two “have been critical to the development of the 80-ton rocket booster.”
It is unclear if the 80-ton rocket booster specified in the media and Treasury Department reports describes the overall size of multi-stage booster rocket, or just that of the single stage of a larger SLV. In either case, the description might apply to the Unha or Simorgh SLV. The overall mass of the Unha SLV is about 87 metric tons, and the Simorgh SLV is roughly 85 metric tons. The first-stage masses of the Unha and Simorgh are approximately 70 and 76 metric tons, respectively. It is within reason to conclude that the reports apply to either the first stages of the two SLVs, or the multi-stage configuration of the Unha or Simorgh. It would not be surprising if Iran and North Korea held discussions about their respective space programs, and the general technical details of their SLVs. Iran has, in the past, presented technical papers about its space program and SLVs at international meetings, so sharing general design and performance information is not unprecedented. However, as discussed above, the significant design differences of the Unha and Simorgh first stages indicate that the two countries are not co-developing rockets and that there may be limits to just how much technical information Tehran and Pyongyang share, or employ.
The recent ground test of an 80-ton thrust engine by North Korea raises additional questions, and might be the focus of the Gertz article and the Treasury Department notice. The engine tested is likely a version of China’s YF-20 design, of which there are several varieties. The YF-20 engine uses high-energy propellants, similar to the combination employed by North Korea’s Musudan, or KN-10, intermediate-range ballistic missile, and generates roughly 80 tons of thrust. North Korea announced that the engine tested produces 80 tons of thrust, and was for lifting satellites into geosynchronous orbit. The Treasury notice specifically mentioned an 80-ton booster; it did not refer to an engine. Nonetheless, perhaps the intelligence reporting that informed the sanctions lacked the necessary detail to distinguish between a rocket and engine, or the authors of the notice did not appreciate the differences. If the report was referring to the amount of thrust produced by the booster’s engine, then it is possible that Iran and North Korea are working together on a new rocket. If so, the booster rocket itself would necessarily weigh fewer than about 65 metric tons, and even less if it is the first stage of a larger system.
Evidence available in the public domain indicates that North Korea has, for several decades, supplied Iran with complete missiles and critical components for larger missiles and SLVs. The transactional relationship very likely results in information exchanges, including the sharing of flight-test data, possibly more. But, the evidence to date is inconsistent with design collaboration or joint-development efforts between the two countries. This could change, especially as North Korea presents new capabilities. Given Pyongyang’s history of shipping missile components to Iran and others, and its willingness to support the secret construction of a nuclear reactor in Syria, it is possible, if not likely, that North Korea would ship advanced engines to Tehran, including the engine most recently tested. Therefore, the international community must remain vigilant and closely monitor the missile and SLV activities in both countries. Signs of deeper collaboration between Iran and North Korea must also be closely monitored, since deeper cooperation has the potential to accelerate the development efforts on both parties.

Babylon Invades Iraq Again

Posted on Sep 25, 2016
By Juan Cole / Informed Comment
The U.S. plans to send another 500 troops to Iraq to help with the massive Mosul campaign, which will involve the Iraqi army and its allies, the Kurdistan paramilitary Peshmerga, hard line Shiite militias, and Sunni Arab tribal levies. US troops will not engage in war-fighting at the front, but will help call in air strikes on Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) targets and provide tactical advice and training. Some of them are stationed at a newly recaptured airbase, Qayara, just south of Mosul.
The exact number of US troops in Iraq is hard to calculate, since units are transferred in and out with some frequency, but the number is heading for 6,000. All US troops had been withdrawn from the country at the end of 2011 because the Iraqi parliament would not grant them immunity from prosecution if they killed Iraqi civilians in the course of carrying out joint operations with the Iraqi Army.
The question is when US troops can again leave Iraq? Will it be after the fall of Mosul? Or will Iraq need years of “stabilization” in the aftermath, according to Washington? (This kind of talk is so ironic since the US destabilized Iraq in the first place). If we look over at the 15-year war in Afghanistan, where there is no prospect of victory and where there are still thousands of US troops (some of them still do some war-fighting from time to time), it might be an omen for what we can expect in Iraq.
The only difference is that I think Iran will be pretty eager to see US troops leave after Daesh is defeated (at the moment Iran and the US are de facto allies in Iraq), and it has many levers of power with the Shiite elite in the Iraqi government.
US tactical cooperation with Iran and the Shiite militias could have been turned into a diplomatic deepening, but apparently it is just too embarrassing for Washington and Tehran to admit. And so, likely, down the line the US will get pulled right back into Iraq, because it refuses to recognize the real power dynamics there at the level of policy rather than just of tactics.

The Sixth Seal: Real Risk, Few Precautions (Revelation 6:12)

Published: October 24, 1989
The chances of such an occurrence are much less in the East than on the West Coast. Geologic stresses in the East build up only a hundredth to a thousandth as fast as in California, and this means that big Eastern quakes are far less frequent. Scientists do not really know what the interval between them might be, nor are the deeper-lying geologic faults that cause them as accessible to study. So seismologists are at a loss to predict when or where they will strike.
For this reason, ''we can't preclude that a Charleston-sized earthquake might occur anywhere along the East Coast,'' said David Russ, the assistant chief geologist of the United States Geological Survey in Reston, Va. ''It could occur in Washington. It could occur in New York.''
If that happens, many experts agree, the impact will probably be much greater than in California. Easterners, unlike Californians, have paid very little attention to making buildings and other structures earthquake-proof or earthquake-resistant. ''We don't have that mentality here on the East Coast,'' said Robert Silman, a New York structural engineer whose firm has worked on 3,800 buildings in the metropolitan area.
The result, said Dr. John Ebel, a geophysicist who is the assistant director of Boston College's Weston Observatory, is that damage in the East would probably be more widespread, more people could be hurt and killed, depending on circumstances like time of day, and ''it would probably take a lot longer to get these cities back to useful operating levels.''
On top of this, scientists say, an earthquake in the East can shake an area 100 times larger than a quake of the same magnitude in California. This is because the earth's crust is older, colder and more brittle in the East and tends to transmit seismic energy more efficiently. ''If you had a magnitude 7 earthquake and you put it halfway between New York City and Boston,'' Dr. Ebel said, ''you would have the potential of doing damage in both places,'' not to mention cities like Hartford and Providence.
Few studies have been done of Eastern cities' vulnerability to earthquakes. But one, published last June in The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, calculated the effects on New York City of a magnitude 6 earthquake. That is one-tenth the magnitude of last week's California quake, but about the same as the Whittier, Calif., quake two years ago.
The study found that such an earthquake centered 17 miles southeast of City Hall, off Rockaway Beach, would cause $11 billion in damage to buildings and start 130 fires. By comparison, preliminary estimates place the damage in last week's California disaster at $4 billion to $10 billion. If the quake's epicenter were 11 miles southeast of City Hall, the study found, there would be about $18 billion in damage; if 5 miles, about $25 billion.
No estimates on injuries or loss of life were made. But a magnitude 6 earthquake ''would probably be a disaster unparalleled in New York history,'' wrote the authors of the study, Charles Scawthorn and Stephen K. Harris of EQE Engineering in San Francisco.
The study was financed by the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The research and education center, supported by the National Science Foundation and New York State, was established in 1986 to help reduce damage and loss of life from earthquakes.
The study's postulated epicenter of 17 miles southeast of City Hall was the location of the strongest quake to strike New York since it has been settled, a magnitude 5 temblor on Aug. 10, 1884. That 1884 quake rattled bottles and crockery in Manhattan and frightened New Yorkers, but caused little damage. Seismologists say a quake of that order is likely to occur within 50 miles of New York City every 300 years. Quakes of magnitude 5 are not rare in the East. The major earthquake zone in the eastern half of the country is the central Mississippi Valley, where a huge underground rift causes frequent geologic dislocations and small temblors. The most powerful quake ever known to strike the United States occurred at New Madrid, Mo., in 1812. It was later estimated at magnitude 8.7 and was one of three quakes to strike that area in 1811-12, all of them stronger than magnitude 8. They were felt as far away as Washington, where they rattled chandeliers, Boston and Quebec.
Because the New Madrid rift is so active, it has been well studied, and scientists have been able to come up with predictions for the central Mississippi valley, which includes St. Louis and Memphis. According to Dr. Russ, there is a 40 to 63 percent chance that a quake of magnitude 6 will strike that area between now and the year 2000, and an 86 to 97 percent chance that it will do so by 2035. The Federal geologists say there is a 1 percent chance or less of a quake greater than magnitude 7 by 2000, and a 4 percent chance or less by 2035.
Elsewhere in the East, scientists are limited in their knowledge of probabilities partly because faults that could cause big earthquakes are buried deeper in the earth's crust. In contrast to California, where the boundary between two major tectonic plates creates the San Andreas and related faults, the eastern United States lies in the middle of a major tectonic plate. Its faults are far less obvious, their activity far more subtle, and their slippage far slower. 
The vulnerability is evident in many ways. ''I'm sitting here looking out my window,'' said Mr. Silman, the structural engineer in New York, ''and I see a bunch of water tanks all over the place'' on rooftops. ''They are not anchored down at all, and it's very possible they would fall in an earthquake.''
Buildings of reinforced masonry, reinforced concrete and steel would hold up much better, engineers say, and wooden structures are considered intrinsically tough in ordinary circumstances. The best performers, they say, would probably be skyscrapers built in the last 20 years. As Mr. Silman explained, they have been built to withstand high winds, and the same structural features that enable them to do so also help them resist an earthquake's force. But even these new towers have not been provided with the seismic protections required in California and so are more vulnerable than similar structures on the West Coast.
Buildings in New York are not generally constructed with such seismic protections as base-isolated structures, in which the building is allowed to shift with the ground movement; or with flexible frames that absorb and distribute energy through columns and beams so that floors can flex from side to side, or with reinforced frames that help resist distortion.
''If you're trying to make a building ductile - able to absorb energy - we're not geared to think that way,'' said Mr. Silman.
Manhattan does, however, have at least one mitigating factor: ''We are blessed with this bedrock island,'' said Mr. Silman. ''That should work to our benefit; we don't have shifting soils. But there are plenty of places that are problem areas, particularly the shoreline areas,'' where landfills make the ground soft and unstable.
As scientists have learned more about geologic faults in the Northeast, the nation's uniform building code - the basic, minimum code followed throughout the country - has been revised accordingly. Until recently, the code required newly constructed buildings in New York City to withstand at least 19 percent of the side-to-side seismic force that a comparable building in the seismically active areas of California must handle. Now the threshold has been raised to 25 percent.
New York City, for the first time, is moving to adopt seismic standards as part of its own building code. Local and state building codes can and do go beyond the national code. Charles M. Smith Jr., the city Building Commissioner, last spring formed a committee of scientists, engineers, architects and government officials to recommend the changes.
''They all agree that New York City should anticipate an earthquake,'' Mr. Smith said. As to how big an earthquake, ''I don't think anybody would bet on a magnitude greater than 6.5,'' he said. ''I don't know,'' he added, ''that our committee will go so far as to acknowledge'' the damage levels in the Scawthorn-Harris study, characterizing it as ''not without controversy.''
For the most part, neither New York nor any other Eastern city has done a detailed survey of just how individual buildings and other structures would be affected, and how or whether to modify them.
''The thing I think is needed in the East is a program to investigate all the bridges'' to see how they would stand up to various magnitudes of earthquake,'' said Bill Geyer, the executive vice president of the New York engineering firm of Steinman, Boynton, Gronquist and Birdsall, which is rehabilitating the cable on the Williamsburg Bridge. ''No one has gone through and done any analysis of the existing bridges.''
In general, he said, the large suspension bridges, by their nature, ''are not susceptible to the magnitude of earthquake you'd expect in the East.'' But the approaches and side spans of some of them might be, he said, and only a bridge-by-bridge analysis would tell. Nor, experts say, are some elevated highways in New York designed with the flexibility and ability to accommodate motion that would enable them to withstand a big temblor.
Tunnels Vulnerable
The underground tunnels that carry travelers under the rivers into Manhattan, those that contain the subways and those that carry water, sewers and natural gas would all be vulnerable to rupture, engineers say. The Lincoln, Holland, PATH and Amtrak tunnels, for instance, go from bedrock in Manhattan to soft soil under the Hudson River to bedrock again in New Jersey, said Mark Carter, a partner in Raamot Associates, geotechnical engineers specializing in soils and foundations.
Likewise, he said, subway tunnels between Manhattan and Queens go from hard rock to soft soil to hard rock on Roosevelt Island, to soft soil again and back to rock. The boundaries between soft soil and rock are points of weakness, he said.
''These structures are old,'' he said, ''and as far as I know they have not been designed for earthquake loadings.''
Even if it is possible to survey all major buildings and facilities to determine what corrections can be made, cities like New York would then face a major decision: Is it worth spending the money to modify buildings and other structures to cope with a quake that might or might not come in 100, or 200 300 years or more?
''That is a classical problem'' in risk-benefit analysis, said Dr. George Lee, the acting director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Center in Buffalo. As more is learned about Eastern earthquakes, he said, it should become ''possible to talk about decision-making.'' But for now, he said, ''I think it's premature for us to consider that question.''

North Korea Now Has ICBM

SEPTEMBER 20, 2016
The announcement followed the North’s nuclear test on Sept. 9. The United States and its allies are calling for the Security Council to adopt a new resolution to enforce tougher sanctions to punish the North for the latest nuclear test, its fifth since 2006.
In the past, such sanctions have usually prompted the North to respond with provocations, like another nuclear test or a rocket launch to place a satellite into orbit.
North Korea last launched a carrier rocket in February, a month after its fourth nuclear test, to place its Kwangmyongsong, or Shining Star, satellite into orbit. (The country also launched a rudimentary satellite in 2012.)
Analysts have said the North may launch another satellite in time for the Oct. 10 anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party, using that as a signal to the outside world that it was pushing ahead with its long-range missile program despite sanctions. At home, such a launch is used to boost Kim Jong-un’s leadership.
On Tuesday, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said Mr. Kim visited the Sohae Space Center, the North’s main satellite launch site near its northwestern border with China, to observe the engine test. He ordered officials there to finish preparations for another satellite launch “as soon as possible” to glorify the North Korean people who he said “have fastened their belts owing to the enemies’ harsh sanctions,” the agency said.
The news agency did not say when the single-engine test took place.
“The test was aimed to make a final confirmation of the feature of combustion chamber, operation accuracy of valves and control systems and structural reliability of the engine during 200 second-long working time,” it said, calling the test a success. It said the successful test of the engine will enable the country to launch “various kinds of satellites including earth observation satellite at a world level.”
After the North’s latest nuclear test and a series of ballistic missile tests in recent months, its claim that it has acquired the ability to mount short- and midrange missiles with nuclear warheads has been taken more seriously by United States and South Korean officials. But they said the country was still years from being able to build a nuclear tipped long-range missile, although it habitually threatens to attack the mainland United States with nuclear missiles.
After the satellite launch in February, South Korean defense officials said that the Unha rocket used in the launch, if successfully reconfigured as a missile, could fly more than 7,400 miles with a warhead of 1,100 to 1,300 pounds — far enough to reach the West Coast of the United States.
Mr. Kim has called for his country to develop and launch “a variety of more working satellites” using “carrier rockets of bigger capacity.” The country has also renovated and expanded the gantry tower and other facilities at the launch site to accommodate more powerful rockets.
In an analysis posted on the website 38 North, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. and Jack Liu said that the engine test represented an “anticipated and significant step in the continued development of larger, more advanced space launch vehicles” by the North.
In January, while announcing sanctions imposed on 11 individuals and entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program, the United States Treasury included three Iranian officials it said have worked with North Korea on its missile and space programs, including the development of “an 80-ton rocket booster.”

Sunday, September 25, 2016

N.Y. Times endorses the Scarlet Woman (Rev 17)

N.Y. Times endorses Clinton in White House race

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign event at the Frontline Outreach and Youth Center in Orlando, U.S. September 21, 2016.  
REUTERS/Carlos Barria
By John Whitesides | WASHINGTON
The New York Times endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton for the White House on Saturday, saying she was more qualified than Republican presidential rival Donald Trump to handle the challenges facing the United States.

The newspaper described Clinton as “one of the most tenacious politicians of her generation” and said she had displayed a command of policy and diplomatic nuance while building a reputation for grit and bipartisan cooperation.

“A lifetime’s commitment to solving problems in the real world qualifies Hillary Clinton for this job, and the country should put her to work,” the Times said of the former secretary of state and U.S. senator from New York.

Clinton will face off against Trump on Monday night in the first of three presidential debates, with opinion polls showing her once sizable lead over the New York businessman narrowing amid continued public doubts about her trustworthiness.

The Times said Clinton‘s mistakes had distorted perceptions of her character, but praised her work restoring U.S. credibility in foreign affairs as secretary of state and on behalf of children, women and families throughout her career.

“Mrs. Clinton has shown herself to be a realist who believes America cannot simply withdraw behind oceans and walls, but must engage confidently in the world to protect its interests and be true to its values,” the newspaper said.

It said Clinton‘s decision to use a private email server for government work as secretary of state deserved the scrutiny it has received in the campaign, but considered alongside the real challenges facing the United States it “looks like a matter for the help desk.”

Viewed against those challenges, Trump “shrinks to his true small-screen, reality-show proportions,” the Times said, promising another editorial on Monday explaining “why we believe Mr. Trump to be the worst nominee put forward by a major party in modern American history.”

The endorsement from the Times editorial board is no surprise. The last Republican the Times backed for the White House was President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956. But several newspapers with more conservative editorial boards, including the Dallas Morning News and Cincinnati Enquirer, also have recently endorsed Clinton.

The Times said Clinton‘s best argument for the White House was her ability to rise to the challenges facing the country.

“The 2016 campaign has brought to the surface the despair and rage of poor and middle-class Americans” facing the burdens of recession, technological change, foreign competition and war, it said.

“Over 40 years in public life, Hillary Clinton has studied these forces and weighed responses to these problems. Our endorsement is rooted in respect for her intellect, experience, toughness and courage over a career of almost continuous public service, often as the first or only woman in the arena,” the newspaper said.

(Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Franklin Paul)

North Korea Nukes Courtesy Of Pakistan

North Korea’s Bomb Made in Pakistan

By MADHAV NALAPAT | LONDON | 25 September, 2016
Both the nuclear explosions that took place in North Korea this year are “made in Pakistan”, according to those silently, and in total secrecy, tracking the nuclear trajectory of the East Asian country. “Silently” because most governments are chary of publicly naming and presumably shaming the military establishment in Pakistan for its drive to weaponise the country’s nuclear deterrent. Cooperation in the development of nuclear weapons between Pakistan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has been ongoing since the 1970s, but accelerated some years after the 1998 Chagai tests by Pakistan. “By end-2005, it was clear that testing of nuclear devices through computer modelling was not yielding operationally significant results”, a key analyst based mainly in Hong Kong claimed, adding that from then onwards, a hyper secretive programme of cooperation between the DPRK military and the Pakistan army was begun. In both countries, the men in uniform control the development and production of nuclear devices. The October 2006 and May 2009 North Korean tests took place with regular participation of scientists from a secret nuclear weapons development facility near Hyderabad (Sindh) in Pakistan, the sources asserted. They said that “the Pakistan army has so far done brilliantly what they are expert at, which is bluff”, in that they hyped the degree to which Pakistan had proceeded on the road towards a weaponised nuclear deterrent and attack system. “When A.Q. Khan gave his 1987 interview to Kuldip Nayar about Pakistan having the bomb, they had nothing to show for their pains except a few lumps of radioactive material.” 
However, “subsequently they received assistance from a member of the United Nations P-5 to launch them on the path towards developing nuclear weapons. However, such assistance was almost totally cut off after the 1998 tests,” thereby forcing Pakistan to conduct further tests in the laboratory rather than underground. After six years, the results of such tests were meagre, although externally, the spin given was that the military establishment in Pakistan had perfected a nuclear weapon and indeed had more such items in stock than India.

The non-proliferation ayatollahs in the US have, from the 1974 Pokhran tests, concentrated on rolling back the Indian nuclear programme, and “although the primitive nature of the Pakistan programme was known to the intelligence services, with which non-proliferation websites and groups in the US closely (albeit covertly) worked, it suited this lobby to broadcast that Pakistan had a robust programme”. The aim was to persuade India that there was an equivalence of nuclear terror between Delhi and Islamabad, thereby (it was calculated) making it more likely that India would undertake reciprocal actions in downsizing its nuclear weapons programme. According to a source based in a European capital, “The A.B. Vajpayee government, through National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra, gave specific promises to its US counterparts that key elements of the Indian programme would be slowed down in the field”, the fig leaf being that laboratory testing would intensify. A source claimed that “thus far, the results of such cold tests have been insufficient to generate designs for a tactical nuclear weapon or weapons that could reliably be loaded onto missile systems already available in the armoury of India”. He added that “unless India conducts at least a half-dozen more tests, it will be extremely difficult to perfect the trigger mechanism for separate devices or to ensure devices that could be safely married on to delivery platforms”.

However, this has been contested by scientists in India, who claim that laboratory testing in the country is sophisticated enough to generate data that would be of use in battlefield situations.
The Pakistan army has, on the contrary, opted to take the field testing route for its nuclear weapons programme, except that “such tests are being conducted by North Korea, with the results being made available to the Pakistan side almost instantaneously”. A source in Hong Kong said that “the results of the February 2013 test by North Korea were the most valuable, and enabled a refinement of the device that became apparent in the two tests conducted this year” by the Kim Jong Un regime in Pyongyang. The sources said that “designs are ferried through North Korean diplomats as well as by individuals acting under commercial cover, and while direct air and sea flights and sailings have taken place, much of the to and fro of date and materiel takes place via China”, which according to these sources “has looked the other way for more than two decades at nuclear cooperation between North Korea and Pakistan”, as, in effect, has the United States. These sources claim that key scientific and technical staff from Pakistan visit the DPRK on a regular basis since 2005 “under assumed identities”.

The sources warn that the covert collaboration between North Korea and Pakistan is geared on the Pakistan side towards developing a tactical nuclear weapon, and on the North Korean side towards producing a nuclear device that could be married to a North Korean missile capable of entering the airspace of the continental United States. They claim that “the Pakistan military has made available extensive information to Pyongyang about how accuracy and reliability can be improved on their missile systems”. Because of external assistance as well as domestic expertise, the missile programme in Pakistan, which is centred in a secret facility near Bahawalpur, has developed a level of sophistication that has yet to be matched by the nuclear weapons programme. These sources expect that North Korea will conduct “at least a half dozen more tests” as “the calculation by both sides is that these will be required to ensure a reliable nuclear weapons system that could, with small modifications, be entered into the armoury of both states. 

“The Pakistan army sees the development and deployment of tactical nuclear weapons as being sufficient to permanently deter India from launching a conventional war on its territory”, a source based in a European capital revealed, adding that “at present Pakistan is years away from actually inducting such weapons, which is why they are going the North Korea route towards developing them”. Another source added that “there is no substitute for field data, and unless India manages to persuade the US to share some of its field data on nuclear tests, the (Indian) deterrent will continue to be less than fully reliable in battlefield conditions”. These sources claimed that although India is significantly more advanced than Pakistan in the nuclear weapons trajectory, “as yet tactical nuclear devices have not been perfected” by this country, a lack the cause for which they assign to the unpublicised limitations placed on the nuclear weapons programme by the Vajpayee government—“constraints that were added on to by Manmohan Singh, especially after his 2005 agreement with George W. Bush on nuclear matters”. It would appear that it was the Bush-Singh understanding which helped to motivate the Pakistan army to launch a programme of conducting nuclear tests through North Korea.

A high-placed source warned that by 2023 at the latest and 2021 more likely, the DPRK and Pakistan would each have a “fully functional nuclear weapons stockpile together with reliable means of delivery”. They were pessimistic about the international community having the will to ensure that effective steps be taken (such as through blockade and inspection of both countries including overland routes through China) to freeze and afterwards roll back the joint programme of the North Korean and Pakistan militaries to develop and deploy nuclear weapons that would include battlefield variants.

The Political Power of Korea’s Nukes

North Korea Nuclear Missiles 
North Korea’s nuclear lure


Signals of a North Korean underground nuclear test were picked up by various seismic stations around the world on September 9, 2016. The magnitude on the Richter scale was registered from 5.1 to 5.3, which indicates the explosion yield to be around 12 to 16 kilotons — almost equivalent to the explosion of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. It was the fifth and most powerful nuclear test so far in the nuclear history of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the second one this year. The first test of 2016 was conducted in the first weak of January.

Immediately after the test, the Korean Central News Agency reported the claim made by North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Institute that the standardisation of the nuclear warhead will enable the DPRK to produce a variety of smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear warheads of a higher strike power. It will also enable North Korea to have a firm hold on the modern technology for the production and use of several fissile materials. This has definitely put the DPRK’s technology of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles on a higher level.

Whether this claim was credible or not, and whether the DPRK has the capacity to do that or not, the question arises: why is North Korea following the path that leads to global sanctions imposed by the US and the UN? Why does this state invite a series of condemnation by other states? Despite the fact that another nuclear test will make matters worse in international landscape given UN Security Council’s resolution condemning the earlier nuclear detonations, the DPRK conducted this test. There might be several reasons that are keeping North Korea sticking to this path, and those reasons should be brought under the light of analysis for a better understanding of the DPRK’s pursuit for nuclear weapons.

One of the reasons might be that North Korea yearns to engage in bilateral talks with the United State of America; if bilateral negotiations are secured, then have leverage in negotiations. These tests might be merely an attempt to gain significance in the region, and become the substantial party in probable negotiations. The DPRK may eliminate its nuclear stockpiles in return of economic and diplomatic incentives by the US. Selig Harrison, an expert of Asian affairs, and is said to have exceptional access to the higher authorities of North Korea, also argues that the DPRK is willing to have a denuclearisation agreement on certain conditions. However, the US seems to be reluctant to manifest a lenient attitude toward this country and meet its demands.

There can be another reason on part of North Korea, and that is to ensure the security of the regime. Fear that was evolved from the Korean War decades ago may have consumed the country that the US may attack it again. President George W Bush in 2002 also labelled North Korea as the “axis of evil.”
The US boldly invaded Iraq, and one pretext was that Iraq was pursuing a nuclear weapons programme. Before Iraq could succeed in its alleged mission, the US invaded Iraq and turned it into one of the most dangerous and devastated places on earth. Therefore, DPRK officials may have decided to develop and demonstrate a nuclear capability, deeming it the only recourse to deter the US from planning any attack on the country. They may have drawn this strategy from the Iraq episode. North Korea may believe that after a series of condemnations and imposition of sanctions, ultimately they will have the most effective weapon to utilise it by a nuclear-deterrence posture.

Domestic political factors could be another reason that led this country to manufacture nuclear weapons. ‘Policy of appeasement’ for hardliners is very common in every state, and the test conducted by the DPRK might have been envisioned to appease the hardliners of the regime. After the Korean War, South Korea, the US’s ally and neighbour of the DPRK, was gaining extensive recognition because of the explicit support of the US. This factor may have intensified hatred against the US, and a sense of loss against South Korea among the people of the DPRK.

These factors may have framed the public opinion raising internal pressure for the acquisition of nuclear weapons. Keeping in view all the possible reasons that led the DPRK to development, stockpiling and conducting of nuclear tests, the US seem, more or less, responsible for the nuclearised picture of the Korean Peninsula. The US, in its self-avowed role as the guardian of the current world order, should take appropriate steps to denuclearise North Korea. Unlike Iraq, North Korea has gained the status of a nuclear power whether the international community accepts that fact or not. Therefore, the US must meticulously deal with this country through means of negotiations. Any violent move on the part of the US may prove to be catastrophic for the entire region.
The writer can be reached at, and on Twitter @alibaber