This Might Be Where the Very First Total Nuclear War Starts

And where billions of people die.

by War Is Boring

May 24, 2019

Undoubtedly, for nearly two decades the most dangerous place on Earth has been the Indian-Pakistani border in Kashmir. It’s possible that a small spark from artillery and rocket exchanges across that border might — given the known military doctrines of the two nuclear-armed neighbors — lead inexorably to an all-out nuclear conflagration. In that case the result would be catastrophic. Besides causing the deaths of millions of Indians and Pakistanis, such a war might bring on “nuclear winter” on a planetary scale, leading to levels of suffering and death that would be beyond our comprehension.

Alarmingly, the nuclear competition between India and Pakistan has now entered a spine-chilling phase. That danger stems from Islamabad’s decision to deploy low-yield tactical nuclear arms at its forward operating military bases along its entire frontier with India to deter possible aggression by tank-led invading forces. Most ominously, the decision to fire such a nuclear-armed missile with a range of 35 to 60 miles is to rest with local commanders. This is a perilous departure from the universal practice of investing such authority in the highest official of the nation. Such a situation has no parallel in the Washington-Moscow nuclear arms race of the Cold War era.

(This article by Dilip Hiro originally appeared at War is Boring in 2016.)

When it comes to Pakistan’s strategic nuclear weapons, their parts are stored in different locations to be assembled only upon an order from the country’s leader. By contrast, tactical nukes are pre-assembled at a nuclear facility and shipped to a forward base for instant use. In addition to the perils inherent in this policy, such weapons would be vulnerable to misuse by a rogue base commander or theft by one of the many militant groups in the country.

In the nuclear standoff between the two neighbors, the stakes are constantly rising as Aizaz Chaudhry, the highest bureaucrat in Pakistan’s foreign ministry, recently made clear. The deployment of tactical nukes, he explained, was meant to act as a form of “deterrence,” given India’s “Cold Start” military doctrine — a reputed contingency plan aimed at punishing Pakistan in a major way for any unacceptable provocations like a mass-casualty terrorist strike against India.

New Delhi refuses to acknowledge the existence of Cold Start. Its denials are hollow. As early as 2004, it was discussing this doctrine, which involved the formation of eight division-size Integrated Battle Groups. These were to consist of infantry, artillery, armor and air support, and each would be able to operate independently on the battlefield. In the case of major terrorist attacks by any Pakistan-based group, these IBGs would evidently respond by rapidly penetrating Pakistani territory at unexpected points along the border and advancing no more than 30 miles inland, disrupting military command and control networks while endeavoring to stay away from locations likely to trigger nuclear retaliation.

In other words, India has long been planning to respond to major terror attacks with a swift and devastating conventional military action that would inflict only limited damage and so — in a best-case scenario — deny Pakistan justification for a nuclear response.

Islamabad, in turn, has been planning ways to deter the Indians from implementing a Cold-Start-style blitzkrieg on its territory. After much internal debate, its top officials opted for tactical nukes. In 2011, the Pakistanis tested one successfully. Since then, according to Rajesh Rajagopalan, the New Delhi-based co-author of Nuclear South Asia: Keywords and Concepts, Pakistan seems to have been assembling four to five of these annually.

All of this has been happening in the context of populations that view each other unfavorably. A typical survey in this period by the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of Pakistanis had an unfavorable view of India, with 57 percent considering it as a serious threat, while on the other side 59 percent of Indians saw Pakistan in an unfavorable light.

 

This is the background against which Indian leaders have said that a tactical nuclear attack on their forces, even on Pakistani territory, would be treated as a full-scale nuclear attack on India, and that they reserved the right to respond accordingly. Since India does not have tactical nukes, it could only retaliate with far more devastating strategic nuclear arms, possibly targeting Pakistani cities.

According to a 2002 estimate by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, a worst-case scenario in an Indo-Pakistani nuclear war could result in eight to 12 million fatalities initially, followed by many millions later from radiation poisoning. More recent studies have shown that up to a billion people worldwide might be put in danger of famine and starvation by the smoke and soot thrown into the troposphere in a major nuclear exchange in South Asia. The resulting “nuclear winter” and ensuing crop loss would functionally add up to a slowly developing global nuclear holocaust.

 

Last November, to reduce the chances of such a catastrophic exchange happening, senior Obama administration officials met in Washington with Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif — the final arbiter of that country’s national security policies — and urged him to stop the production of tactical nuclear arms. In return, they offered a pledge to end Islamabad’s pariah status in the nuclear field by supporting its entry into the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group to which India already belongs. Although no formal communiqué was issued after Sharif’s trip, it became widely known that he had rejected the offer.

This failure was implicit in the testimony that DIA Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart gave to the Armed Services Committee this February. “Pakistan’s nuclear weapons continue to grow,” he said. “We are concerned that this growth, as well as the evolving doctrine associated with tactical [nuclear] weapons, increases the risk of an incident or accident.”

Strategic nuclear warheads

Since that DIA estimate of human fatalities in a South Asian nuclear war, the strategic nuclear arsenals of India and Pakistan have continued to grow. In January 2016, according to a U.S. congressional report, Pakistan’s arsenal probably consisted of 110 to 130 nuclear warheads. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India has 90 to 110 of these.

China, the other regional actor, has approximately 260 warheads.

As the 1990s ended, with both India and Pakistan testing their new weaponry, their governments made public their nuclear doctrines. The National Security Advisory Board on Indian Nuclear Doctrine, for example, stated in August 1999 that “India will not be the first to initiate a nuclear strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail.”

India’s foreign minister explained at the time that the “minimum credible deterrence” mentioned in the doctrine was a question of “adequacy,” not numbers of warheads. In subsequent years, however, that yardstick of “minimum credible deterrence” has been regularly recalibrated as India’s policymakers went on to commit themselves to upgrade the country’s nuclear arms program with a new generation of more powerful hydrogen bombs designed to be city-busters.

In Pakistan in February 2000, President General Pervez Musharraf, who was also the army chief, established the Strategic Plan Division in the National Command Authority, appointing Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai as its director general. In October 2001, Kidwai offered an outline of the country’s updated nuclear doctrine in relation to its far more militarily and economically powerful neighbor, saying, “It is well known that Pakistan does not have a ‘no-first-use policy.’”

He then laid out the “thresholds” for the use of nukes. The country’s nuclear weapons, he pointed out, were aimed solely at India and would be available for use not just in response to a nuclear attack from that country, but should it conquer a large part of Pakistan’s territory (the space threshold), or destroy a significant part of its land or air forces (the military threshold), or start to strangle Pakistan economically (the economic threshold), or politically destabilize the country through large-scale internal subversion (the domestic destabilization threshold).

Of these, the space threshold was the most likely trigger. New Delhi as well as Washington speculated as to where the red line for this threshold might lie, though there was no unanimity among defense experts. Many surmised that it would be the impending loss of Lahore, the capital of Punjab, only 15 miles from the Indian border. Others put the red line at Pakistan’s sprawling Indus River basin.

Within seven months of this debate, Indian-Pakistani tensions escalated steeply in the wake of an attack on an Indian military base in Kashmir by Pakistani terrorists in May 2002. At that time, Musharraf reiterated that he would not renounce his country’s right to use nuclear weapons first. The prospect of New Delhi being hit by an atom bomb became so plausible that U.S. Ambassador Robert Blackwill investigated building a hardened bunker in the embassy compound to survive a nuclear strike. Only when he and his staff realized that those in the bunker would be killed by the aftereffects of the nuclear blast did they abandon the idea.

Unsurprisingly, the leaders of the two countries found themselves staring into the nuclear abyss because of a violent act in Kashmir, a disputed territory which had led to three conventional wars between the South Asian neighbors since 1947, the founding year of an independent India and Pakistan. As a result of the first of these in 1947 and 1948, India acquired about half of Kashmir, with Pakistan getting a third and the rest occupied later by China.

Kashmir, the root cause of enduring enmity

The Kashmir dispute dates back to the time when the British-ruled Indian subcontinent was divided into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan, and indirectly ruled princely states were given the option of joining either one. In October 1947, the Hindu maharaja of Muslim-majority Kashmir signed an “instrument of accession” with India after Muslim tribal raiders from Pakistan invaded his realm.

The speedy arrival of Indian troops deprived the invaders of the capital city, Srinagar. Later, they battled regular Pakistani troops until a United Nations-brokered ceasefire on Jan. 1, 1949. The accession document required that Kashmiris be given an opportunity to choose between India and Pakistan once peace was restored. This has not happened yet, and there is no credible prospect of it taking place.

Fearing a defeat in such a plebiscite, given the pro-Pakistani sentiments prevalent among the territory’s majority Muslims, India found several ways of blocking U.N. attempts to hold one. New Delhi then conferred a special status on the part of Kashmir it controlled and held elections for its legislature, while Pakistan watched with trepidation.

In September 1965, when its verbal protests proved futile, Pakistan attempted to change the status quo through military force. It launched a war that once again ended in stalemate and another U.N.-sponsored truce, which required the warring parties to return to the 1949 ceasefire line.

A third armed conflict between the two neighbors followed in December 1971, resulting in Pakistan’s loss of its eastern wing, which became an independent Bangladesh. Soon after, Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi tried to convince Pakistani president Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to agree to transform the 460-mile-long ceasefire line in Kashmir (renamed the “Line of Control”) into an international border. Unwilling to give up his country’s demand for a plebiscite in all of pre-1947 Kashmir, Bhutto refused. So the stalemate continued.

During the military rule of Gen. Zia al Haq from 1977 to 1988, Pakistan initiated a policy of bleeding India with a thousand cuts by sponsoring terrorist actions both inside Indian Kashmir and elsewhere in the country. Delhi responded by bolstering its military presence in Kashmir and brutally repressing those of its inhabitants demanding a plebiscite or advocating separation from India, committing in the process large-scale human rights violations.

In order to stop infiltration by militants from Pakistani Kashmir, India built a double barrier of fencing 12-feet high with the space between planted with hundreds of land mines. Later, that barrier would be equipped as well with thermal imaging devices and motion sensors to help detect infiltrators. By the late 1990s, on one side of the Line of Control were 400,000 Indian soldiers and on the other 300,000 Pakistani troops. No wonder Pres. Bill Clinton called that border “the most dangerous place in the world.”

 

Today, with the addition of tactical nuclear weapons to the mix, it is far more so.

Kashmir, the toxic bone of contention

Even before Pakistan’s introduction of tactical nukes, tensions between the two neighbors were perilously high. Then suddenly, at the end of 2015, a flicker of a chance for the normalization of relations appeared. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi had a cordial meeting with his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, on the latter’s birthday, Dec. 25, in Lahore.

 

But that hope was dashed when, in the early hours of January 2nd, four heavily armed Pakistani terrorists managed to cross the international border in Punjab, wearing Indian army fatigues, and attacked an air force base in Pathankot. A daylong gun battle followed. By the time order was restored on Jan. 5, all the terrorists were dead, but so were seven Indian security personnel and one civilian.

The United Jihad Council, an umbrella organization of separatist militant groups in Kashmir, claimed credit for the attack. The Indian government, however, insisted that the operation had been masterminded by Masood Azhar, leader of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e Muhammad — the Army of Muhammad.

As before, Kashmir was the motivating drive for the anti-India militants. Mercifully, the attack in Pathankot turned out to be a minor event, insufficient to heighten the prospect of war, though it dissipated any goodwill generated by the Modi-Sharif meeting.

There is little doubt, however, that a repeat of the atrocity committed by Pakistani infiltrators in Mumbai in November 2008, leading to the death of 166 people and the burning of that city’s landmark Taj Mahal Hotel, could have consequences that would be dire indeed. The Indian doctrine calling for massive retaliation in response to a successful terrorist strike on that scale could mean the almost instantaneous implementation of its Cold Start strategy. That, in turn, would likely lead to Pakistan’s use of tactical nuclear weapons, thus opening up the real possibility of a full-blown nuclear holocaust with global consequences.

Beyond the long-running Kashmiri conundrum lies Pakistan’s primal fear of the much larger and more powerful India, and its loathing of India’s ambition to become the hegemonic power in South Asia. Irrespective of party labels, governments in New Delhi have pursued a muscular path on national security aimed at bolstering the country’s defense profile.

Overall, Indian leaders are resolved to prove that their country is entering what they fondly call “the age of aspiration.” When, in July 2009, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh officially launched a domestically built nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, the INS Arihant, it was hailed as a dramatic step in that direction. According to defense experts, that vessel was the first of its kind not to be built by one of the five recognized nuclear powers — the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia.

India’s two secret nuclear sites

On the nuclear front in India, there was more to come. Last December, an investigation by the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity revealed that the Indian government was investing $100 million to build a top secret nuclear city spread over 13 square miles near the village of Challakere, 160 miles north of the southern city of Mysore.

When completed, possibly as early as 2017, it will be “the subcontinent’s largest military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, atomic-research laboratories, and weapons- and aircraft-testing facilities.” Among the project’s aims is to expand the government’s nuclear research, to produce fuel for the country’s nuclear reactors and to help power its expanding fleet of nuclear submarines. It will be protected by a ring of garrisons, making the site a virtual military facility.

Another secret project, the Indian Rare Materials Plant near Mysore, is already in operation. It is a new nuclear enrichment complex that is feeding the country’s nuclear weapons programs, while laying the foundation for an ambitious project to create an arsenal of hydrogen bombs.

The overarching aim of these projects is to give India an extra stockpile of enriched uranium fuel that could be used in such future bombs. As a military site, the project at Challakere will not be open to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency or by Washington, since India’s 2008 nuclear agreement with the U.S. excludes access to military-related facilities.

These enterprises are directed by the office of the prime minister, who is charged with overseeing all atomic energy projects. India’s Atomic Energy Act and its Official Secrets Act place everything connected to the country’s nuclear program under wraps. In the past, those who tried to obtain a fuller picture of the Indian arsenal and the facilities that feed it have been bludgeoned to silence.

Little wonder then that a senior White House official was recently quoted as saying, “Even for us, details of the Indian program are always sketchy and hard facts thin on the ground.” He added, “Mysore is being constantly monitored, and we are constantly monitoring progress in Challakere.”

However, according to Gary Samore, a former Obama administration coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction, “India intends to build thermonuclear weapons as part of its strategic deterrent against China. It is unclear, when India will realize this goal of a larger and more powerful arsenal, but they will.”

Once manufactured, there is nothing to stop India from deploying such weapons against Pakistan. “India is now developing very big bombs, hydrogen bombs that are city-busters,” said Pervez Hoodbhoy, a leading Pakistani nuclear and national security analyst. “It is not interested in … nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield; it is developing nuclear weapons for eliminating population centers.”

In other words, as the Kashmir dispute continues to fester, inducing periodic terrorist attacks on India and fueling the competition between New Delhi and Islamabad to outpace each other in the variety and size of their nuclear arsenals, the peril to South Asia in particular and the world at large only grows. (Click to Source)

 

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Indian general warns Pakistan ‘dare not try’ any cross-border military actions near Kashmir

Published time: 20 May, 2019 14:46

Islamabad will inevitably face a “befitting reply” from New Delhi should Pakistani forces engage in any kind of ‘misadventure’ in the disputed Kashmir territory, a high-ranked Indian general said on Monday.

A tough message to the arch-rival came from Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, commander of Northern Indian Army as he was talking to the media in Kashmir. The official made it clear that any cross-border activity on behalf of the Pakistani military would be regarded as an affront on the Indian side.

“They dare not try and come anywhere across the Line of Control to carry out any kind of actions. Our deterrence, articulation of our military strategy has been absolutely clear. Should there be any misadventure by the Pakistan armed forces, they shall always be given a befitting reply.”

Kashmir is experiencing a lull in fighting since the latest skirmishes that occurred between the two nations in February. India, however, insists Pakistan is continuing its hostile activities, namely cross-border infiltrations, ceasefire violations, and drug trafficking. “All their actions are actually working towards ensuring that the proxy war by them against India is continuing,” the general said.

The official also shared his thoughts on the details of the February flare-up in Kashmir as two neighboring countries clashed in a series of aerial combats following an Indian air-raid on the Pakistani territory. The air strikes, which according to New Delhi targeted a terrorist camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group, were “indeed laudable,” the general said calling the operation “a major achievement.” The general, however, warned that ‘terrorist infrastructure’ on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control remains ‘intact.’

Meanwhile, there is no shortage of war rhetoric on the other side of the conflict as well. Earlier in May, a high-profile Pakistani military officer praised his country’s actions during the February encounter as local air forces launched several strikes and downed the Indian fighter jet. Labeling the maneuver ‘Operation Swift Retort’, he urged that any further Indian actions will receive a response that “would be even stronger than before.” (Click to Source)

 
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‘US mainland in our nuclear strike range’, Kim Jong-un warns in New Year’s speech

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has declared his county a nuclear power in possession of technology capable of striking the US mainland should there be a need.

“The US mainland is in our nuclear strike zone,” Kim said in his New Year’s message which was broadcast on Chosun Central TV. “The United States will never start a war with me and our country,” and Pyongyang has “completed the creation of North Korea’s nuclear forces,” he added.

Tensions between Washington and Pyongyang reached unprecedented levels last year, as the North continued to pursue its missile and nuclear programs. Washington said all options, including a military solution, are on the table to tame North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. While the US is still on course to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis, Pyongyang has so far refused to negotiate its nuclear status.

In 2018, Kim promised to focus his country’s efforts on the “operational deployment” of nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles. At the same time, the North Korean leader said Washington“will never” be able to start a war of aggression against Pyongyang as long as the North remains a nuclear power.

Pyongyang had a busy time developing its nuclear and ballistic programs over the course of 2017, having staged 16 missile tests and conducting its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3.

In light of recent success in his nuclear endeavor, Kim called for the “mass-production” of nukes and missiles to be used as a deterrent against the US and its allies.

However, despite maintaining a belligerent posture towards the US, Kim said that the North is open to talks with S. Korea. North Korea, he said, is also willing to take part in Pyeong Chang Winter Olympics scheduled to begin in February 2018. (Click to Source)

WAR DRUMS: North Korea says it will continue preparing ‘pre-emptive attacks with nuclear force’

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 North Korea promised on Saturday to continue preparing “pre-emptive attacks with nuclear force” in the face of U.S. “blackmail,” according to The Associated Press.

“Do not expect any change in its policy,” the state’s official media arm, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Saturday. “Its entity as an invincible power can neither be undermined nor be stamped out.”

KCNA said North Korea has been working toward “bolstering the capabilities for self-defense and pre-emptive attacks with nuclear force,” in response to ongoing “nuclear threat and blackmail and war drills” by the U.S.

North Korea has tested missiles at least 16 times in 2017, and threatened the use of a hydrogen bomb small enough to fit on a missile. More than one North Korean missile flew into the air space of neighboring Japan, and new models have flown to heights that some military analysts predict could reach the mainland U.S.

Increased provocations from North Korea have led to the implementation of crippling sanctions from the United Nations in the form of trade and crude oil bans, and bombastic rhetoric from President Trump.

Trump in August said he would unleash “fire and fury” on Pyongyang if it continued to threaten the U.S. (Click to Source)

North Korea Begins Tests to Load Anthrax Onto ICBMs, Report Says

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North Korea has begun tests to load anthrax onto intercontinental ballistic missiles, Japan’s Asahi newspaper reported Tuesday, citing an unidentified person connected to South Korea’s intelligence services.

 The report said the testing involves ensuring the anthrax survives the immense temperatures generated during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. North Korea has a stockpile of between 2,500 tons to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons, and is capable of producing biological agents such as anthrax and smallpox, South Korea has previously said.

The Asahi report comes a day after the White House published its National Security Strategy, a document that said Pyongyang is “pursuing chemical and biological weapons which could also be delivered by missile.”

“North Korea — a country that starves its own people — has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that could threaten our homeland,” the report said.

North Korea claimed it had completed its nuclear force after it fired a new Hwasong-15 ICBM in late November. South Korea assessed the missile — North Korea’s largest yet — could potentially fly 13,000 kilometers (about 8,000 miles) and reach Washington, though additional analysis was needed to determine whether it was capable of re-entry. (Click to Source)

US will take N. Korea ‘into our own hands’ if China doesn’t do more – Haley

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China must do more to counter North Korea or the US will take things “into our own hands,” America’s Ambassador to the UN has said.

 

Nikky Haley told Fox News Sunday that Beijing and the rest of the international community are following through with sanctions against Pyongyang for developing its nuclear weapons programme. She then commended Washington for leading the charge.

“But to be clear, China can do more,” Haley said. “And we’re putting as much pressure on them as we can. The last time they completely cut off the oil, North Korea came to the table. And so we’ve told China they’ve got to do more. If they don’t do more, we’re going to take it into our own hands and then we’ll start to deal with secondary sanctions.”

Haley explained that Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping  have a “very good relationship,” but Trump “is really starting to put the pressure on, saying that they’ve got to do more.”

“Now it’s time for China to respond,” she said.

Later in the interview, Haley was asked about her “sometimes undiplomatic talk for a diplomat,” in reference to her promise that North Korea would be “utterly destroyed,” in a war.

“It’s the truth,” she said. “I mean the reality is, if North Korea even attempts to try and threaten the United States or any one of our allies, they will be utterly destroyed. You know, diplomacy is great in some respects, but you have to also be honest. North Korea has pushed the envelope to an extreme level.”

Haley’s comments come in the wake of Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov revealing North Korea wants to engage directly with the US to protect its security. Lavrov said he briefed US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the matter at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) meeting in Vienna Thursday.

The US, South Korea and Japan are meanwhile gearing up for two days of missile tracking drills off the coast of Japan, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, the country’s Maritime Self-Defense Force announced. The maneuvers come on the heels of large-scale military exercises held by the US and South Korea in a show of force against Kim Jong-un. (Click to Source)

North Korea Nuclear Tests Raise Fears of Radioactive Fallout

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SEOUL, South Korea — Another powerful blast at North Korea’s underground nuclear test site could destabilize the area and send radioactive material into the atmosphere, the head of South Korea’s weather agency said on Monday

“Should another nuclear takes place, there is that possibility,” Nam Jae-cheol, director of the Korea Meteorological Administration, told lawmakers inquiring about the potential for radioactive fallout.

North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests since 2006, all of them in tunnels buried deep under Mount Mantap in Punggye-ri, in North Hamgyong Province.

Fears that the repeated nuclear explosions might be destabilizing the mountain have spread since the North’s latest and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3. The test produced between 50 and 300 kilotons of explosive energy, according to government and private estimates. In comparison, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II produced 15 kilotons.

Since the newest test, the authorities have detected four minor tremors from the test site, which some experts attributed to underground cave-ins caused by the powerful explosion. Commercial satellite imagery has also shown landslides and other earth deformations at the site.

An analysis of satellite imagery found a cavity as much as 300 feet wide under Mount Mantop, Mr. Nam told lawmakers on Monday during a parliamentary audit of his agency.

On Friday, The South China Morning Post reported that researchers at the Institute of Geology and Geophysics, an arm of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, had warned their North Korean counterparts of an implosion at the test site, 50 miles from the border with China.

A day after the Sept. 3 test, the newspaper quoted a senior Chinese nuclear scientist who warned that a future test could blow the top off Mount Mantop, causing radioactive contamination of the atmosphere.

Writing for the website 38 North, the researchers Frank V. Pabian and Jack Liu warned this month against “speculative fears,” saying that post-test tremors were not unusual. There was no reason to believe that North Korea would abandon Punggye-ri as a nuclear testing site, they said.

“While radioactive material would be released into the environment if the collapse occurred right after a test, the amount of fallout, even from a weapon in the 100 kiloton range, would likely only cause significant contamination in the vicinity of the site and perhaps a few hundred miles downwind,” said Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, which is based in Cambridge, Mass.

“Nevertheless, any amount of radioactive contamination of the environment from North Korea’s abhorrent nuclear test program is unacceptable and would add insult to injury,” he said.

The United States and its allies are accelerating their global campaign to apply sanctions and pressure against North Korea.  (Click to Source)

CHINA NOW ARRESTING FAMILIES FOR PRAYING AT HOME

GRANDMOTHER, DAUGHTER, AND GRANDSON ARRESTED FOR PRACTICING CHRISTIANITY IN THEIR HOME
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In the most recent case of religious persecution in China, a house church pastor, Xu Shizhen, her daughter and her 3-year-old grandson were arrested by authorities. The family was reportedly taken into custody after a month of being found singing and dancing in praise and worship, and preaching the gospel in a public park.

It is currently unknown where the family was taken after their arrest, but according to non-profit Christian human rights organization, China Aid, the two women, and the grandson have been separated. This is not the first time Xu Shizhen has got into trouble with Chinese authorities, who impose strict laws regarding practicing of religion other than those recognized by the state. Five years ago, this particular pastor had a run-in with officials when her then house church was seized and handed over to the control of Three-Self Patriotic Movement Church, a church which is run by the state. It was after this incident she founded her current home church, called Zion Church. Many believe that this is a move by the Chinese government to show the state and the world just how serious it is about its new rules regarding regulating religion in order to enhance national security, dismantling and preventing extremism, and curbing the practice of faith by organizations which are not approved by the state. Keeping in mind that the arrest of the family happened just two weeks after the state’s new religion regulations came into effect, it is a high possibility. Currently, it is mandatory for all types of religious institutions to register themselves. However, a lot of “underground churches” choose not to because registering automatically translates to being under the strict control and monitoring of the state. This includes, among many other requirements, submitting sermons to officials, prohibiting children and teens from attending Christian summer camps, Sunday schools and churches. According to Brent Fulton, President of ChinaSource, full enforcement of such government regulations could seriously impact unregistered churches in China, which are many in number. It could majorly affect not just the church’s practices when it comes to meeting and worship, but also the church’s engagement with other areas like the media, Christian education, and interaction and contact with other churches in other parts of the world. (Click to Source)

North Korea PLAGUE alert: Kim Jong-un could unleash BLACK DEATH in shock biowarfare attack

NORTH Korea is feared to be preparing for World War 3 by weaponising the Black Death for use in a biological warfare attack.

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A chilling new report claims Kim Jong-un’s regime could unleash the plague, cholera and other diseases across the US and South Korea.

The document, by Harvard University’s Belfer Centre, says Pyongyang may use missiles, drones or planes to spread the deadly viruses.

And it warns preparation against the devastating threat of biological warfare is “urgent and necessary”.

North Korea is thought to already have 13 pathogens in its weaponry, the researchers said, including anthrax, smallpox and yellow fever.

And scientists are feared to be weaponising the viruses in top-secret labs across the war-crazed rogue state.

The report states: “While nuclear programs can be monitored by the number of nuclear tests and the success of missile tests, weaponising and cultivating pathogens can stay invisible behind closed doors.

“Moreover, equipment used for BW [biological warfare] production are often dual-use for agriculture, making external monitoring and verification virtually impossible.”

The rogue state’s special forces could be used as “human agents” to spread the highly infectious diseases, it adds.

The terrifying document warns: “North Korea has 200,000 special forces; even a handful of those special forces armed with BW would be enough to devastate South Korea.

“What is alarming about human vectors is that they do not need sophisticated training or technology to spread BW amongst the targets, and they are difficult to detect in advance of an attack.”

The alert comes as North Korea continues to complete its huge nuclear arsenal, ramping up fears Kim could spark World War 3.

Soeul’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha yesterday said she expects the North to carry out further nuclear tests “at any time”.

She told Yonhap news agency: “Parts of its tunnel have been destroyed after the North conducted the sixth nuclear test.

“But it has more than one of them, so [an additional nuclear test] can be done at any time.” (Click to Source)

Ready for war? US cuts ALL contact with North Korea over nuclear crisis

NORTH Korea and the US have cut all channels of talks amid the growing threat of war between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.

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South Korean officials revealed Washington has severed all back channels with Pyongyang as both sides continue to talk up war.

The US quit any attempt to talk to Kim after he detonated his sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb last month.

War fears have been brewing as both sides ratchet up the rhetoric as Trump threaten to “totally destroy” North Korea.

Kim has threatened to detonate another nuclear bomb over the Pacific as tensions remain high.

Choung Byoung-gug, of South Korea’s opposition group the Bareun Party, revealed the US has cut all talks with the North.

Kim’s hydrogen bomb blast is believed to have been as powerful as 250 kilotons – more than 10 times the strength of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

World leaders condemned the blast which was seen as North Korea’s worth ever provocation of the West.

Mr Choung said: “I got the impression that there were talks up until the sixth nuclear test, and then they stopped.

“They told me they think the circumstances have changed.”

He added however the US reassured him there would be no military action without the consent of South Korea.

Trump however will defend their ally if Kim attacked the city of Seoul, Mr Choung said.

The devastating consequences of an attack on the South was revealed today by a North Korea watchdog.

It was predicted at least 2 million people would die if Kim launched a strike on South Korea.

Kim has not launched a missile or nuclear test since September 15, during which he fired a rocket over Japan.

Russia and China have both called for calm in the region amid the war talk from Trump and Kim.

President Vladimir Putin yesterday warned the US to back down over North Korea or risk triggering war.  (Click to Site)

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