This is the DEFCON Warning System. Alert status for 8 P.M., Thursday, October 13th, 2016. Condition code is Yellow. DEFCON 3.
Tensions between Russia and the United States have reached levels beyond the cold war in the recent week.
The situation between Russia and the United States is extremely fluid at the moment. In all likelihood as dynamic as at times during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Mainstream media has taken a very serious tone concerning the change from diplomatic to military options between NATO and Russia. CNN stated, â€œIt’s not a new Cold War. It’s not even a deep chill. It’s an outright conflict.â€ On October 10th Former Soviet Premier Gorbachev is quoted as saying, â€œI think the world has reached a dangerous point.â€â€¨â€¨There are signs of a potential growing large scale conflict in nearly every geopolitical hotspot including Syria, Yemen, Ukraine, and the Philippines. Syria is seen as one of the trigger points to the renewed tensions between the United States and Russia. The United States has also accused Russia of a cyberattack and meddling with the US Presidential Election. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest promised on Tuesday that the U.S. would deliver a â€œproportionalâ€ response to Russiaâ€™s alleged hacking of American computer systems. The US and Britain are also expected to weigh into Syrian military options on Friday. This could increase tensions between the two superpowers to a greater extent.
Moreover, Houthi rebels on the South Coast of Yemen fired one anti-ship missile at the U.S.S. Mason on Sunday, and another on Wednesday. The Pentagon responded by firing 5 TLAM missiles at radar stations inside Yemen. Around this same time, Iran dispatched a fleet of ships to the area. The U.S.S. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group has also been dispatched to the area.
At this time, the DEFCON Warning System feels that an increase to DEFCON 3 would be a prudent move. The situation is currently fluid with diplomatic ties strained and military threats coming from both sides. Russian media is reportedly telling its citizens to prepare for nuclear war. Russia has recently conducted civil defense drills and completed inspections of underground areas to house government officials and some civilians in the event of nuclear war. This is a very sensitive situation which has the potential to spiral out of control. It is recommended that all citizens learn the steps to be taken in the event of nuclear war. We will continue to bring updated information as we receive it.
The DEFCON Warning System is an analytical reporting organization which focuses on nuclear threats against the United States and offers an alert code to the public based on current events. It is not affiliated with any government agency and does not represent the alert status of any military branch. The public should make their own evaluations and not rely on the DEFCON Warning System for any strategic planning. At all times, citizens are urged to learn what steps to take in the event of a nuclear attack.
If this had been an actual attack, the DEFCON Warning System will give radiation readings for areas that are reported to it. Your readings will vary. Official news sources will have radiation readings for your area.
For immediate updates, go to http://www.defconwarningsystem.com. Breaking news and important information can be found on the DEFCON Warning System message board and on the DEFCON Twitter feed DEFCONWS. You may also subscribe to the YouTube channel DefconWarningSystem and the DEFCON Warning System mailing list. Note that Twitter and YouTube updates may be subject to delays. The next scheduled update is 6 P.M. Pacific Time, October 20th, 2016. Additional updates will be made as the situation warrants, with more frequent updates at higher alert levels.
This concludes this broadcast of the DEFCON Warning System.
A team of Chinese researchers from Sichuan University’s West China Hospital is preparing for the first ever trial of CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique on humans next month after receiving ethical approval from the hospital’s review board last July 6.
“I hope we are the first,” said Lu You, an oncologist at the West Chine Hospital and leader of the trial, in a report from Nature. “And more importantly, I hope we can get positive data from the trial.”
Researchers from the United States are also planning to perform the very first CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing on humans to fight against melanoma, sarcoma and myeloid cancers. They have received the green light from the US National Institute of Health but still waiting the approval from the US Food and Drugs Administration and a university review board.
The Chinese team is planning to use the gene-editing tool to patients with metastatic non-small lung cancer that have failed results in chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other treatments.
During the procedure, immune cells, known as T-cells, will be extracted from the blood of the patients. CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique will then be used to modify the extracted T-cells, cutting out a gene that encodes a protein cal PD-1 that prevent the cell from attacking healthy cells. The modified cells will first be multiplied in the lab before re-introducing into the patient’s bloodstream.
Due to the potential high risk of CRISPR, the researchers will proceed on their trial slowly, increasing the dosage gradually with just one patient, who will monitored closely for side-effects. The researchers will also keep a watchful eye on blood markers that could indicate if the treatment is working.
China’s role in international affairs continues to grow. From the world’s second-largest economy to its military muscle flexing in the Pacific, Beijing’s influence on the world stage cannot be understated.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently sat down for a 40-minute one-on-one interview with Al Jazeera in Beijing to discuss its relationship with the world.
Al Jazeera: After attending the US-Philippines joint military drill in mid-April, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter accused China of militarising the South China Sea and said countries in the Asia Pacific were concerned about China’s land reclamation. Is this a military provocation by the US and Southeast Asian countries against China?
Wang Yi: Your question makes sense. The South China Sea is originally peaceful and stable. As for the disputes left over from history over some specific islands and reefs, China is committed to seeking proper, peaceful settlement through dialogue and consultation even though its own rights and interests had been infringed upon. This process is still under way.
Construction on the islands and reefs is something normal; many littoral states of the South China Sea started it many years ago, including their so-called construction on the Chinese islands and reefs they illegally occupied. China began some necessary construction only very recently. For one thing, China’s construction is meant to improve the living and working conditions of the personnel on the islands and reefs. Harsh natural conditions – the wind and rains – have made such improvements absolutely necessary. At the same time, China, as the largest littoral state of the South China Sea, is willing to provide more public goods by building necessary facilities, which can benefit everyone. For example, we have built light houses which, once in operation, will benefit all vessels that pass by. People think this is a good thing. The ports we built for emergency relief, including medical facilities and meteorological stations, will also serve the public good. What we did does not breach any international law or affect the freedom of navigation.
As for the so-called militarisation you just mentioned, it is common sense that all countries enjoy the right to self-preservation and self-defence under international law. It is therefore perfectly normal that China has some self-defence facilities on its stationed islands and reefs. Other countries have long maintained a large number of military facilities on the islands and reefs around us. We need necessary means and capabilities to defend ourselves, but this has nothing to do with militarisation. If one talks about militarisation, we have seen aircraft carriers coming to the South China Sea, strategic bombers flying over the South China Sea waters, and guided-missile destroyers coming close to China’s islands and reefs, all to exert military pressure on China. I am afraid this is what militarisation really looks like, including large-scale military drills and the construction of military bases of all sorts in the Philippines.
Be it island construction or militarisation, there should be no double standard. It is not fair for one to criticise others on the one hand while doing whatever he likes on the other. I think more and more countries have realised this, and people without prejudice will see clearly the current situation and the root of the problem.
Al Jazeera: I mentioned the United States and Carter’s criticism of China. Yet you didn’t name the US in your answer. Did you do it deliberately to avoid provoking the United States?
Wang Yi: We will articulate our position very clearly when it’s necessary to do so. You asked about the United States several times and I gave a clear answer already. Who is engaging in massive military exercises in this region? Who is sending a lot of advanced weaponry to the South China Sea and building new military bases? The answer is all too clear: the United States.
Al Jazeera: North Korea has unsettled the world with its military policy. As its neighbour and probably the country with the closest relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, how does China view the situation?
Wang Yi: You raised a very important question about the Korean nuclear issue. This issue has attracted growing international attention, and has been in the spotlight after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was reached on the Iranian nuclear issue… It goes without saying that war or chaos serves no one’s interests. So we need to work together to avoid such scenario and jointly uphold peace and stability on the peninsula. As such, it is imperative to resume the six-party talks and bring the nuclear issue on the peninsula back to the track of negotiation… For the DPRK, security is its top concern, so it wants to replace the armistice agreement with a peace treaty to ensure its national security. This is understandable, while the United States and other countries, including China, hope that the DPRK will give up its nuclear programme and the denuclearisation of the peninsula can be achieved.
Al Jazeera: The 20th century was the American century. Can we expect the 21st century to be the Chinese century?
Wang Yi: It’s not China’s preference to describe any century as one belonging to a certain country. We believe that affairs of a country should be handled by its own people, and likewise the affairs of the world should be handled through discussion by all countries, instead of being dominated or monopolised by any single country. In this sense, China has all along supported the current international system with the United Nations at its core. The UN is the most authoritative inter-governmental organisation with the broadest representation, whose charter is endorsed by people across the world. In fact, many problems in our world, turbulence, chaos and wars, all result from the failure to fully implement the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, the very essence of which is respect for sovereignty, non-interference in internal affairs, peaceful settlement of disputes and international cooperation. If all countries, big and small, strong and weak, abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, the world will be more peaceful and stable, and countries will prosper together. That is the goal and philosophy of China’s diplomacy.
Al Jazeera: The United States is on a path of decline, and such decline will become quite pronounced in the next 10 to 20 years. Is China prepared to lead the world?
Wang Yi: Different countries may not have exactly the same assessment of the status and influence of the US. From what we know about the country, the United States will probably remain the world’s No 1 for a fairly long time to come. But this does not mean that the world can only be led by one country, which, in fact, is simply impossible. We need greater international cooperation to ensure a better future for our planet.
At the summits marking the 70th anniversary of the UN last year, President Xi Jinping laid out a very important vision, calling on countries to work together for a community of shared future for mankind. Given the level of interdependence and integration among the world’s nations, our planet has in fact become a village where no one can prosper in isolation. This requires us to build a community of shared interests, shared responsibilities and shared security.
Al Jazeera: Under President Putin, Russia is again in rivalry with the West. How does China see Russia? Is it a competitor or a partner?
Wang Yi: We hope that all countries are our partners. This is certainly the case with Russia, because it is China’s largest neighbour and we share a long border. As you may know, historically, relationship between the two countries went through ups and downs. There were tensions, confrontations and even conflicts. Later, the two sides learned lessons and built a more normal, friendly relationship… In recent years, China and Russia have worked closely together in various fields, and we do need each other as neighbours.
Al Jazeera:The US has sent several thousand American troops to the Philippines for the joint military exercise. Do you see this as a direct threat to China?
Wang Yi: Such a move, to say the least, has added destabilizing factors to the South China Sea situation, if not further heightening the tensions, and we don’t think it is constructive. China and the Association of South East Asian Nations agreed that specific disputes should be settled through negotiations by parties directly concerned. It is for this reason that China does not approve of, accept or participate in the so-called international arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines… The Philippines also violated a number of bilateral agreements it reached with China, the centerpiece of which is to resolve problems through negotiations. What’s more, the Philippines claimed that it initiated the arbitration because it had exhausted the means of negotiation. That’s not true; or to put it more bluntly, that is a lie. The Philippines had not engaged in any serious bilateral negotiations with China on any of the so-called requests it submitted to the arbitral tribunal. Even till this day, China is still saying to the Philippines that we may sit down and talk, and China’s door for dialogue is open. It is the Philippines who still refuses to negotiate or consult with us. As we see it, what the Philippines did lacks legality and legitimacy from the very beginning.
Al Jazeera: You served as the Chinese ambassador to Japan. The Japanese foreign minister visited China a couple of days ago amid strained relations between China and Japan. How do you see the future of China-Japan relations?
Wang Yi: China and Japan are close neighbours. We certainly want stable, healthy, friendly and good-neighborly relations with Japan. This is our consistent policy. But just as you cannot clap with one hand alone, the two sides need to meet each other half way. We need to see not only what Japan says, but also how it acts. It is important for Japan to view China as a cooperation partner rather than a rival, a friendly neighbour rather than a “threat”.
China has allegedly tested a weapon of mass destruction capable of hitting London and other major European or American cities in just 30 minutes.
The People’s Republic reportedly fired a nuke called the Dongfeng-41, which has the longest range of any missile in the world.
It can carry up to 10 warheads over a distance of roughly 7,450 miles in just half an hour before hitting several targets at once.
This would mean Beijing could destroy the whole of London – which is slightly more than 5,000 miles from the Chinese capital – or wipe out any city in the West.
Pentagon sources told the Washington Beacon that the nuke had been detected by American satellites.
The development is likely to make American military chiefs extremely nervous.
Previous reports have indicated the Dongfeng-41 could be operational at some point during 2016.
Mark Stokes, an expert on the Chinese military and ex-Pentagon analyst, said: “China and Russia are increasingly coordinating their military forces against the United States and that China’s program of enabling North Korea and Iran to become nuclear missile powers is nearing completion.”
A number of states near China are now armed with weapons of mass destruction.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un now has nuclear weapons – and could soon be able to target America and Japan.
Kim, 33, was recently pictured standing next to what was thought to be a miniaturised weapon.
Miniaturisation is achieved when the nuclear warhead weighs less than 2,200 lb and the diameter of the bomb measures 35 inches or less.
Inside nuclear bunker converted into a HOUSE:
It is feared North Korea now had between eight and 20 miniaturised warheads.
The claims came as the US senate was warned it is only a matter of time before Kim had long-range missiles capable of hitting America and Japan.
General Vincent Brooks told the Armed Services Committee that Kim was determined to build rockets which could target the US.
He said: “Over time, I believe we’re going to see them acquire these capabilities if they’re not stopped.”
Senator John McCain, who chairs the committee, asked how concerned he was about the “immaturity and unpredictability of the rotund ruler in Pyongyang”.
General Brooks replied: “I’m very concerned about the direction he’s going, and it’s evident that he’s not yet deterred from his pursuit.”
The US has 28,500 troops in South Korea. They have kept a military presence there since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
The two Koreas technically remain at war, as the conflict ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty.
China supported the North in the Korean War but has become increasingly exasperated by the antics of Kim, who came to power after the death of his father Kim Jong-il in 2011.
Pyongyang last week conducted a test of what appeared to be a medium-range missile, but the rocket suffered a catastrophic failure on launch.
Washington and Seoul may deploy the Theater High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD), to protect against ballistic missiles from the North.
South Korea pointed out that it took the US seven years to miniaturise a nuclear warhead in the 1960’s while the Soviet Union took six and China only two years.
North Korea is thought to be planning another nuclear test in the run-up to its Party Congress on May 7. Some experts believe Kim’s missiles have a longer range than previously assessed.
The test this month revealed the KN-08 first stage uses Musudan rather than No Dong engines, along with a more capable fuel.
That means the KN-08 would be able to reach throughout the US, including New York City and Washington, rather than only the Pacific Northwest.
The resolution, adopted by the UN cultural agency’s 58-nation executive board last week, condemns the Israeli government’s stewardship of Jerusalem and decries the renovation of “so-called Jewish ritual baths” and the alleged creation of “Jewish fake graves.”
Sites are either referred to by their Arabic or English names or, in the case of the Western Wall Plaza, the holiest site where Jews can pray, are put in quotes.
The Israeli government described the resolution, which was voted for by 33 countries, as “hideous” and penned letters to all countries that signed the resolution, which included France, Russia and China.
“The UNESCO resolution has no practical validity. Nevertheless, we will not permit international entities to blur the Jewish people’s connection to its eternal capital.” Dore Gold, director general of the country’s foreign minister said in a statement on Thursday.
The United Kingdom and the US abstained from the vote.
If it blows again, it could make Vesuvius look like a tea party.
Now, in a ground-breaking collaboration between the West and North Korea, vulcanologists are gaining new insights into Mount Paektu, on North Korea’s border with China, and whether it might blow its top any time soon.
“If it erupted, it would have impacts way beyond Korea and China,” says James Hammond of Birkbeck, University of London, one of the scientists involved.
In 946 AD, the eruption of Mount Paektu, Korea’s highest mountain, blasted 96 cubic kilometres of debris into the sky, 30 times more than the relatively puny 3.3 cubic kilometres that Vesuvius spewed over Pompeii in AD 79.
Yet despite is size and the potential impact of an eruption, little is known about this enigmatic volcano.
Western researchers got involved because the team investigating the volcano in North Korea, led by Ri Kyong-Song of the government’s Earthquake Administration in Pyongyang, needed access to extra scientific equipment and know-how.
Chinese vulcanologists, who have been monitoring the volcano they call Changbaishan from their side of the border, also wanted more information from the Korean side.
They and the Koreans have been monitoring the volcano closely ever since suspicious bulges were seen in and around the volcano between 2002 and 2005. These involved ground deformations measured by GPS, increased gas emissions and seismic rumbles.
“It’s a priority for both countries, and both have monitoring networks on the volcano, keeping an eye on it,” says Hammond.
Hammond and others from the West were invited to Korea in 2011 to install six seismometers at distances up to 60 kilometres from the volcano. These were sited to detect seismic waves from earthquakes elsewhere in the world passing through the ground beneath Paektu.
Seismic waves travel at different speeds through solid and molten rock, giving the researchers crucial information about what lies beneath.
The results reveal that there is indeed extensive magma beneath the volcano. “It’s a mushy mixture of molten rock and crystals that goes down right through the crust around 35 kilometres deep,” says Hammond.
It’s rare to see a partially melted type of magma with such a large fluid component throughout the whole crust, he says.
These are the first known estimates of the crustal structure of the volcano’s North Korea side and for anywhere beneath North Korea.
The partially melted crust is a potential source for magma in past eruptions and it may be associated with the recent volcanic unrest there.
At the moment, though, there’s no pool of liquid magma gathering near the surface – often a prelude to an eruption.
“One of the challenges now is to go beyond simply saying there’s magma in the crust, discovering instead how it’s sitting, how much there is and what are the implications,” says Hammond. “It’s only when it gets to a certain amount and a certain overpressure that it will erupt.”
At present, the researchers are not sure how much has to accumulate before the volcano erupts, he says.
That’s why the collaboration is set to continue for some time, with Hammond due back in Pyongyang next week. “We’ll be discussing what we’ll do over the next 12 months, and longer term over the next five to 10 years,” says Hammond.
After years working together, the two teams have got to know each other well, talking geology through an interpreter during the day, and in the evening heading for a restaurant or karaoke bar.
No politics, just science
“With what we’re doing, there’s no political element – we’re involved to understand a huge volcano, and the fact we’re having this dialogue is a great example of science transcending political differences,” says Hammond.
Ri also spent a month in the UK finalising the results and the draft for publication. “Our project is an example that it’s possible to build these collaborations and establish mutual trust,” says Hammond. “It’s been an advantage that our science doesn’t come with much political baggage.”
North Korea is keen to open doors for more scientists through an institution called Piintec, Hammond says. “The Koreans are very open to science engagement in most areas.”
“This is a bit of a first, in terms of a collaboration resulting in publication in a high-profile Western journal,” says Hammond.
So next week, when he reaches Pyongyang, he and his Korean colleagues will be celebrating, probably in a karaoke bar in Pyongyang, drinking soju, the rice liquor popular in the country.
“We get on very well,” says Hammond. “That’s why it works, through relationships and trust, and for that to work you need to understand each other.”
Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501513