Saturday, December 26, 2009

DTN News: Did U.S. Men In Pakistan Target Nuke Site?

DTN News: Did U.S. Men In Pakistan Target Nuke Site? *Pakistan Has Made Varied Claims about DC-Area Men Arrested This Month; Say They Had Maps of Nuclear Power Facility
*Source: DTN News / CBS & AP (NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - December 27, 2009: Police are trying to determine whether five Americans detained in Pakistan had planned to attack a complex that houses nuclear power facilities. The young Muslim men, who are from the Washington, D.C., area, were picked up in Pakistan earlier this month in a case that has spurred fears that Westerners are traveling to the South Asian country to join militant groups.
Pakistani police and government officials have made a series of escalating and, at times, seemingly contradictory allegations about the men's intentions, while U.S. officials have been far more cautious, though they, too, are looking at charging the men.
A Pakistani government official alleged Saturday that the men had established contact with Taliban commanders and planned to attack sites in Pakistan. Earlier, however, local police accused the men of intending to fight in Afghanistan after meeting militant leaders.
The men had a map of Chashma Barrage, a complex that along with nuclear power facilities houses a water reservoir and other structures, said Javed Islam, a senior police official in the Sargodha area of Punjab province. He stressed the men were not carrying a specific map of any nuclear power plant, but rather the whole of Chashma Barrage.
The detained men also had exchanged e-mails about the area, Islam said. "We are also working to retrieve some of the deleted material in their computers," he said.
Pakistan has a nuclear weapons arsenal, but it also has nuclear power plants for civilian purposes. Any nuclear activity in Pakistan tends to come under scrutiny because of the South Asian nation's past history of leaking sensitive nuclear secrets due to the actions of the main architect of its atomic weapons program, Abdul Qadeer Khan.
But as militancy has spread in Pakistan, officials have repeatedly insisted the nuclear weapons program is safe. Pakistani police plan to recommend that courts charge the five men with collecting and attempting to collect material to carry out terrorist activities in Pakistan, police official Nazir Ahmad told The Associated Press.
The punishments for those charges range from seven years to life in prison, he said. Officials in both countries have said they expected the men would eventually be deported back to the United States, but charging the men in Pakistan could delay that process.
Pakistan's legal system can be slow and opaque. In an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday, Punjab province Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the men had established contact with Taliban commanders.
Watch CBS News Videos OnlineHe said they had planned to meet Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud and his deputy Qari Hussain in Pakistan's tribal regions before going on to attack sites inside Pakistan. The nuclear power plant "might have been" one of the targets, Sanaullah alleged.
The FBI, whose agents have been granted some access to the men, is looking into what potential charges they could face in the U.S. Possibilities include conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist group.
The U.S. Embassy has declined to comment on the potential charges and would not say what efforts Washington was making to bring the men back. The five were arrested in Sargodha earlier this month, but are being held in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province.
In Islamabad, it was a political bombshell that dominated the news this week, reports CBS News correspondent Terry McCarthy. A Supreme Court decision has left over 150 politicians - including four cabinet ministers - open to investigation on corruption charges. Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar is on the list.
He says he is innocent. He was meant to go on an official visit to China last week, but was prevented from leaving the country.
The political crisis comes at the worst possible time for the United States, which needs Pakistan's help now more than ever as it pours more troops into neighboring Afghanistan.

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY December 27, 2009 (Part # 2) ~ Elite U.S. Force Expanding Hunt In Afghanistan

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY December 27, 2009 (Part # 2) ~ Elite U.S. Force Expanding Hunt In Afghanistan *Source: DTN News / The New York Times By Eric Schmitt (NSI News Source Info) BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan - December 27, 2009: Secretive branches of the military’s Special Operations forces have increased counterterrorism missions against some of the most lethal groups in Afghanistan and, because of their success, plan an even bigger expansion next year, according to American commanders. (Officers at Bagram Air Base expect a major fight in Marja)
The commandos, from the Army’s Delta Force and the Navy’s classified Seals units, have had success weakening the network of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the strongest Taliban warrior in eastern Afghanistan, the officers said. Mr. Haqqani’s group has used its bases in neighboring Pakistan to carry out deadly strikes in and around Kabul, the Afghan capital. Guided by intercepted cellphone communications, the American commandos have also killed some important Taliban operatives in Marja, the most fearsome Taliban stronghold in Helmand Province in the south, the officers said. Marine commanders say they believe that there are some 1,000 fighters holed up in the town.
Although President Obama and his top aides have not publicly discussed these highly classified missions as part of the administration’s revamped strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the counterterrorism operations are expected to increase, along with the deployment of 30,000 more American forces in the next year. American and Afghan troops in Helmand Province. Special Operations units are stepping up attacks on insurgents, officers say. The increased counterterrorism operations over the past three or four months reflect growth in every part of the Afghanistan campaign, including conventional forces securing the population, other troops training and partnering with Afghan security forces, and more civilians to complement and capitalize on security gains. American commanders in Afghanistan rely on the commando units to carry out some of the most complicated operations against militant leaders, and the missions are never publicly acknowledged. The commandos are the same elite forces that have been pursuing Osama bin Laden, captured Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003 and led the hunt that ended in 2006 in the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader in Iraq of the insurgent group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. In recent interviews here, commanders explained that the special-mission units from the Joint Special Operations Command were playing a pivotal role in hurting some of the toughest militant groups, and buying some time before American reinforcements arrived and more Afghan security forces could be trained. “They are extremely effective in the areas where we are focused,” said one American general in Afghanistan about the commandos, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the classified status of the missions. Gen. David H. Petraeus, who is in charge of the military’s Central Command, mentioned the increased focus on counterterrorism operations in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Dec. 9. But he spoke more obliquely about the teams actually conducting attacks against hard-core Taliban extremists, particularly those in rural areas outside the reach of population centers that conventional forces will focus on. “We actually will be increasing our counterterrorist component of the overall strategy,” General Petraeus told lawmakers. “There’s no question you’ve got to kill or capture those bad guys that are not reconcilable. And we are intending to do that, and we will have additional national mission force elements to do that when the spring rolls around.” Senior military officials say it is not surprising that the commandos are playing such an important role in the fight, particularly because Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the senior American and NATO officer in Afghanistan, led the Joint Special Operations Command for five years. In addition to the classified American commando missions, military officials say that other NATO special operations forces have teamed up with Afghan counterparts to attack Taliban bomb-making networks and other militant cells. About six weeks ago, allied and Afghan special operations forces killed about 150 Taliban fighters in several villages near Kunduz, in northern Afghanistan, a senior NATO military official said. Some missions have killed Taliban fighters while searching for Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, who was reported missing on June 30 in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban in July posted a video on jihadist Web sites in which the soldier identified himself and said that he had been captured when he lagged behind on a patrol. A second video was released on Friday. “We’ve been hitting them hard, but I want to be careful not to overstate our progress,” said the NATO official, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to describe the operations in detail. “It has not yet been decisive.” In Helmand, more than 10,000 Marines, as well as Afghan and British forces, are gearing up for a major confrontation in Marja early next year. Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, the senior Marine commander in the south, said in a recent interview, “The overt message we’re putting out is, Marja is next.” General Nicholson said there were both “kinetic and nonkinetic shaping operations” under way. In military parlance that means covert operations, including stealthy commando raids against specific targets, as well as an overt propaganda campaign intended to persuade some Taliban fighters to defect. Military officials say the commandos are mindful of General McChrystal’s directive earlier this year to take additional steps to prevent civilian casualties. In February, before General McChrystal was named to his current position, the head of the Joint Special Operations Command, Vice Adm. William H. McRaven, ordered a halt to most commando missions in Afghanistan, reflecting a growing concern that civilian deaths caused by American firepower were jeopardizing broader goals there. The halt, which lasted about two weeks, came after a series of nighttime raids by Special Operations troops killed women and children, and after months of mounting outrage in Afghanistan about civilians killed in air and ground attacks. The order covered all commando missions except those against the top leaders of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, military officials said. Across the border in Pakistan, where American commandos are not permitted to operate, the Central Intelligence Agency has stepped up its missile strikes by Predator and Reaper drones on groups like the Haqqani network. But an official with Pakistan’s main spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or I.S.I., said there had also been more than 60 joint operations involving the I.S.I. and the C.I.A. in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Baluchistan in the past year. The official said the missions included “snatch and grabs” — the abduction of important militants — as well as efforts to kill leaders. These operations were based on intelligence provided by either the United States or Pakistan to be used against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the official said. “We can expect to see more U.S. action against Haqqani,” a senior American diplomat in Pakistan said in a recent interview. The increasing tempo of commando operations in Afghanistan has caused some strains with other American commanders. Many of the top Special Operations forces, as well as intelligence analysts and surveillance aircraft, are being moved to Afghanistan from Iraq, as the Iraq war begins to wind down. “It’s caused some tensions over resources,” said Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., the second-ranking commander in Iraq. Richard A. Oppel Jr. contributed reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan.

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY December 27, 2009 ~ Afghan Religious Council Condemns Pakistani Taliban Over Sending Fighters

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY December 27, 2009 ~ Afghan Religious Council Condemns Pakistani Taliban Over Sending Fighters *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - December 27, 2009: Council of religious scholars in Afghanistan has strongly denounced the decision of Pakistani Taliban to send more militants to fight in the war-torn country, a statement of the religious body said on Saturday. In this photo taken on Oct. 3, 2007, Shah Abdul Aziz, a leader of a pro-Taliban religious party and former lawmaker smiles in Islamabad, Pakistan. Police in Pakistan say on Sunday, July 26, 2009 they are holding two men, including a former lawmaker Aziz, in custody for the beheading of a Polish geologist kidnapped near the Afghan border last year "The Afghanistan National Council of Ulemma (Religious Scholars)strongly condemns the recent announcement made by the Pakistani Taliban on sending militants to fight in Afghanistan," the statement said.
"Continuation of fighting is not in the interest of Islam and would rather harm the region," the statement further said. Pakistani tribesmen and supporters of religious party Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam chant slogans as they take part in a protest against U.S drone attacks in the tribal areas in the Pakistani-Afghan border town of Chaman. A Pakistani Taliban commander Waliur Rahman said recently that the outfit had sent thousands of fighters to fight against NATO-led troops stationed in Afghanistan, according to media reports.
Rahman made the announcement in the wake of the surge of U.S. and NATO-led forces in Afghanistan and mounting pressure by Pakistani troops against the militants in tribal areas along the Afghan border. In the statement, the religious body stressed that more fighting would "spread evil and fuel violence" and called on militants to renounce violence and instead resume normal life. Both the neighboring Asian states of Afghanistan and Pakistan have been facing a surging militancy which has claimed thousands of lives over the past couple of years.

DTN News: ‘Each House Should Be Fortress To Resist Enemy’ Says Georgian President Saakashvili

DTN News: ‘Each House Should Be Fortress To Resist Enemy’ Says Georgian President Saakashvili * ‘Very painful reforms in the army’ * ‘Very correct regrouping of forces’
(NSI News Source Info) TBILISI, Georgia, - December 27, 2009: Each and every citizen of Georgia should be ready for defense and each family and house should “become a fortress of resistance” in case of enemy’s attack, President Saakashvili said on December 26.People take part in a protest rally calling for the resignation of Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili in Tbilisi November 7, 2009. Speaking at a meeting with National Guard personnel in Tbilisi in presence of Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia and chief of staff of the armed forces, Devi Chankotadze, he said “war is ongoing against Georgia” and “daily threats are heard against our country.” It will be “a tragic mistake” to ignore these threats, Saakashvili added. “But the enemy should not have an illusion either,” he continued. “Any new wide-scale adventure will come across a fierce resistance of each Georgian soldier, officer and entire Georgian people.” He said that protection of Georgia should not be only up to its regular armed forces. “When this moment comes; if this moment comes – and we should do all our best avoid this moment, but every country should be ready for that, especially those which are in the situation similar to us – each Georgian man and woman will be fighter for Georgia; they should be ready to fight for Georgia,” Saakashvili said. “Each Georgian family, each of our street, region, village, city, each settlement and neighborhood, each house and family should become a bastion, a fortress of resistance,” he added.Workers dismantle the War Memorial in Kutaisi December 17, 2009. Diggers tore into a Soviet World War Two memorial in Georgia on Thursday to make way for a new parliament in the former Soviet republic, angering Russia and opponents of pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili. Saakashvili also said that Georgia was preparing for peace and “we want peace as never before.” “We are winning peace and that irritates our enemy – it threatens peace because we are winning it. Our enemy should know that although it is losing the peace, it will also lose the war and therefore it should not launch a war,” he said. Saakashvili said that along with level of training and adduction, “the massiveness of our armed forces” was also an important aspect. “100,000; 200,000; 300,000 and if needed half a million people should stand with arms in their hands. We have enough automatic rifles for that and we have ammunition more than enough,” he added. “Each person and each family, which can fight for Georgia, should be ready to struggle and defend their country. Without it nobody will serve us on a tray either long-term guarantees of freedom or economic development and success.” In a concept paper presented in October by the National Guard, the building of a new system of Georgia’s reserve troops should be “oriented on quality, instead of its size”. The target on the first stage will be having of 3,000 well-trained reservists in four years, according to the document. ‘Painful Reforms’ In the speech Saakashvili also spoke briefly about “painful reforms”, which he said were carried out recently in the armed forces. “In recent months a very painful reforms, also involving army personnel, were carried out quietly,” he said. “Serious assessments [of the personnel] have been conducted; level of readiness and training has increased seriously of each soldier; and new replenishment is coming in our armed forces,” Saakashvili added without giving further details. The Georgian daily, Rezonansi, reported this week that about 150 officers were dismissed from the armed forces. According to the newspaper, the Ministry of Defense although declined to comment on reported dismissal of officers, but confirmed that the process of “optimization” was ongoing. Saakashvili also said that “a very right regrouping of our armed forces” had been conducted recently. The regrouping of the armed forces was carried out in late November, reportedly involving concentration of forces in Tbilisi and its surrounding, in particular, relocation of the 1st infantry brigade and the artillery brigade from the town of Gori.

DTN News: Test Of Newest U.S. Missile Defense Technology Will Simulate Attack By Iran

DTN News: Test Of Newest U.S. Missile Defense Technology Will Simulate Attack By Iran *Source: By Mike Mount, CNN (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - December 27, 2009: The U.S. military's Missile Defense Agency will practice protecting the United States from a simulated Iranian missile attack next month in an exercise using the agency's newest missile-killing technology, Pentagon officials said Friday. Previous tests have been focused on a missile trajectory that mimics an attack from North Korea, but the January test will have a trajectory and distance resembling an intercontinental ballistic missile launch from Iran.The fake ICBM will be launched from the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific, with the interceptor originating from California. At the same time, the agency will be testing its new "Capability-2" technology, with upgraded software and sensors loaded inside an interceptor missile that will be fired at the fake Iranian missile. The Capability-2 technology is designed to eventually replace the existing hardware the United States has in its two missile defense bases in California and Alaska, according to Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency. While intelligence assessments of that country's capabilities now suggest an Iranian ICBM threat is as far away as 2020, this test was planned more than three years ago, when the threat seemed much closer, Lehner said. In the January test, the fake ICBM is slated to originate from the Missile Defense Agency's launch facility in the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific while the interceptor missile will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, according to Lehner. Missile defense tests have been likened to hitting a bullet with a bullet. This test will be even more difficult: It will be like hitting a bullet head-on with another bullet, because any launch from Iran would have a trajectory that would require a U.S. interceptor missile hitting the target directly, Lehner said. The missiles will be flying at speeds of between 17,000 and 18,000 miles per hour, according to Lehner, about 3,000 mph faster than tests involving mock North Korean missiles. The speed will reduce the strike window, meaning the interceptor, also known as the "kill vehicle," will have to work even faster at identifying and striking the target missile. The United States has only two missile defense bases, one at Vandenberg, with three missiles, and the other at Fort Greely, Alaska, with 20 interceptor missiles at the ready. Lehner said that if Iran were to launch an ICBM attack against the United States, the most likely defense option would be firing a missile from Alaska, because of the shorter distance around the globe. The United States was prepared to put a third missile defense site in eastern Europe, but the Obama administration scrapped that option because of the reduced ICBM threat from Iran. In its place, the administration said it will move ships with the capability of shooting down short- and medium-range missile from Iran which, they say, pose a greater threat to Iran's neighbors and U.S. bases in the Middle East.

DTN News: BAE Systems Receives French Order For BvS10 MK II All-Terrain Vehicles

DTN News: BAE Systems Receives French Order For BvS10 MK II All-Terrain Vehicles *Source: DTN News / BAE Systems (NSI News Source Info) ÖRNSKÖLDSVIK, Sweden - December 27, 2009: BAE Systems has been awarded a contract by the Direction générale de l'armement (DGA) - French Armament Procurement Agency - for 53 BvS10 MkII vehicles, a new and improved version of the all-terrain vehicle in service with the Dutch and British armed forces. With options, the total value of the contract could reach €220 million for 129 vehicles. The BvS-10 is the successor to the wildly popular Bv206, 11,000 of which have been sold to 40 countries around the world – including the USA (M978). It is in use in both Britain and the Netherlands as a key armored vehicle for their respective Marines, and is under evaluation elsewhere. Singapore has developed and manufactured an improved variant of its own called the Bronco ATTC, and Finland and Norway also have their own local Bv-206 variants. The contract is for three variants - troop carrier, command post and logistic vehicle - together with a comprehensive through-life support package. The project will be run in close cooperation with French partners, such as Panhard and EADS and deliveries are to commence 2010. "The French requirements were very challenging and so it was particularly rewarding to win this contract," said Jan Söderström, managing director for BAE Systems' Vehicles business. "The contract acknowledges the high performance and strong market position of our battle-proven BvS10 and secures the continued development of the vehicle." More than 35 years' experience of articulated vehicle design and production in Örnsköldsvik, and in-theatre experience from countries like Afghanistan and Chad, has fed into development of the BvS10. "The MkII version of the BvS10 completely fulfils the French Army's requirements in terms of protection, mobility and payload while maintaining the flexibility to perform across the spectrum of military operations," says Söderström. About BAE Systems BAE Systems is the premier global defense, security and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services. With approximately 105,000 employees worldwide, BAE Systems' sales exceeded £18.5 billion (US $34.4 billion) in 2008.

DTN News: Indonesian Project Shows Obstacles After Tsunami

DTN News: Indonesian Project Shows Obstacles After Tsunami *Source: The New York Times By Peter Gelling (NSI News Source Info) BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - December 27, 2009: It resembles no other road in Indonesia: mile after mile of superb blacktop running flat and smooth south from this provincial capital, with bridges that bear gleaming emblems of foreign donors. The construction of this bridge is part of a road project from Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh Province, to Calang to reconnect displaced communities to the outside world. But long before the end of the planned 93-mile route, the roadway halts at a partly constructed bridge over a river. Local residents operate a raft to ferry vehicles from one shore to the other. The project is in many ways an apt testament to the extraordinary reconstruction effort mounted here after the tsunami that struck five years ago, slamming 13 countries and killing about 226,000 people. This province, Aceh, bore the brunt of the catastrophe: an estimated 170,000 people were killed, including 35,000 whose bodies were never found. Since then, more than 800 nongovernmental organizations, multilateral agencies and donor countries have spent $6.7 billion here to build homes, schools, clinics and roads. But they have had to contend with many more obstacles than most suspected, including lagging coordination, local resentment, obscured questions of land ownership and the remains of a 30-year separatist conflict. “There have been so many issues,” said Wahyu Purnama, construction manager for Wika, the Indonesian contractor hired by the United States Agency for International Development, to build the road from Banda Aceh. “I have worked on foreign projects all over the country, some very big projects, including major roads. But I have never seen anything like this.” The United States had high hopes for the project — a $250-million highway along a chunk of Aceh’s magnificent western coast that would reconnect displaced communities to the outside world. American officials foresaw a showcase for Western engineering and a better profile in a conservative Muslim area isolated by the civil war. The Indonesian government saw the project as vital both to immediate reconstruction and to Aceh’s economic development for decades to come. And indeed, the successes are many. “The new road has made getting around so much easier,” said Romi, 42, who lost his wife and his house in the tsunami and now sells fish to people visiting the river near his new home in a small village an hour west of Banda Aceh. Like most Indonesians, he uses one name. “Before the road, this area was totally isolated,” he said. “But now people can drive an hour from Banda Aceh to sit by the river and have picnics.” Before the tsunami, he said, very few people traveled to his village because of the fighting and the many military checkpoints along the old meandering road between his home and the provincial capital. Mr. Romi’s new house lies hundreds of yards inland from where his old one had stood near the water. It is one of several hundred, all identical and bearing the names of their builders — Mercy Corps, Oxfam, International Red Cross. The village also has a new schoolhouse, mosque and clinic. “It’s difficult for me emotionally,” he said. “But I got married again and have a new home. And I have a job. These things help me to move on. Nothing will ever be the same, but things are getting better.” But some villagers along the route, unhappy with payments they have or have not received for their land, continue to resist the project, erecting blockades of barbed wire and boulders to obstruct traffic and further construction. The Agency for International Development “just said, ‘This is where the road will go,’ without consulting much with us,” said a 38-year-old man named Ilias, sipping coffee by a food stall in Leupung, a town near Banda Aceh. He added: “Sometimes they planned for the road to go through cemeteries. We were angry.” The usefulness of the road, though, helped change attitudes. “Now that this section is finished, I think most people are happy,” he said. “I mean, we can go to Banda Aceh now in half the time we could before.” Land acquisition was a major problem, for the road project as well as for many others. Throughout the province, 140,000 houses have been built, along with 1,700 schools, almost 1,000 government buildings, 36 airports and seaports and 2,300 miles of road, according to the Agency for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Aceh. But in many cases construction was delayed for months or even years because land titles were lost in the tsunami or never existed. The owners of many properties who did have documentation were killed in the tsunami.
Before the governor’s office could begin buying the land for the road, A.I.D. surveyed the planned route and determined that 3,280 parcels would need to be bought. There were disputes over the value of properties that had been ravaged by the tsunami. Contractors and agency officials continue to spend their days traveling the planned route, dismantling barricades and negotiating with communities. A peace agreement negotiated and sealed in the months after the tsunami struck ended the civil war, creating a new political reality and unexpected challenges. The peace agreement allowed, for the first time ever in Indonesia, local political parties to contest provincial elections. An election in 2006 put a former rebel leader into the governor’s seat. Last April, Partai Aceh, the political vehicle of the former separatist movement, swept the election for the provincial legislature. As part of the broader effort to help reintegrate former combatants into society, A.I.D. has hired several of them as subcontractors to supply materials or to plant sod embankments. But extortion is a constant problem. “I’ll ask for a certain amount of material, and they’ll show up with twice the amount we need,” said Mr. Purnama, the construction manager on the bridge project, shaking his head in disbelief. “We have no choice but to pay or they’ll block the road and disrupt construction.” Mr. Purnama said the former rebels, many of whom were hiding in the mountainous jungle before the peace agreement, also fought among themselves for jobs. “One group will come to me and ask me to get rid of the other group,” he said. “It is a constant discussion, endless meetings with everyone involved. It takes a lot of time.” Despite all, A.I.D. officials said they were hopeful that the entire road would be completed within 18 months. Over the past five years, they said, they have learned how to operate in Aceh’s politically and culturally sensitive communities. Nowadays, a dispute tends to be solved in a matter of hours, rather than the days or even weeks it took the Americans in the early going. The Acehnese provincial government has begun to help expedite the project, sending the police to mediate disputes and take down barricades. Walter North, mission director for A.I.D., remains optimistic about the future of the region, envisioning an economic rebirth and maybe even a vibrant tourism industry along Aceh’s west coast served by the new road, which is less than half complete. “We are making progress,” he said, “and, in the end, I think people will be proud.” But he also acknowledged the scale of the obstacles his project had had to face. “There have been incredible challenges,” Mr. North said. “I think in the beginning we felt that if the international community could respond the way it did and that peace could come out of this immense disaster, then such spirit would make building a road a snap. But life turned out to be a little more complicated.”

DTN News: Needed ~ India’s Positive Role For Universal Nuclear Disarmament

DTN News: Needed ~ India’s Positive Role For Universal Nuclear Disarmament *Source: Mainstream by Sailendra Nath Ghosh ( (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - December 27, 2009: Recently the DRDO’s former senior scientist, Dr K. Santhanam, raised a controversy that the Pokhran-II test for thermonuclear device was unsuccessful and that fresh nuclear tests were necessary to face the threat from China. Two former Chairmen of the Atomic Energy Commission, Dr P.K. Iyenger and Dr Homi Sethna, supported his contention. Whether Pokhran-II was successful or not is a question of science and technology. But whether fresh nuclear tests are necessary to meet the defence needs is basically a question of policy, which should be informed by science and technology but not wholly determined by it. Even if Dr Santhanam’s assessment is accepted—despite strong evidences to the contrary—there is no warrant for fresh nuclear tests in the context of (i) the carefully and very correctly formulated India’s Nuclear Doctrine, (ii) the changed global political situation, and (iii) some consideration basic to survival of life on Earth. India’s Nuclear Doctrine The Nuclear Doctrine drafted in 1999, was subse-quently formalised, with some modification, in 2008. It decided not to embark on a nuclear arms race as is done by countries ready for a massive first strike on the adversary country’s offensive weapons in strength (in kiloton yield) or number, but just develop arms as the instrument of minimal nuclear deterrence. What is enough for effective deterrence is a matter for judgment. In response to some other country’s first—even if massive—attack on us, our capacity to inflict an order of damage which the attacking country will find unacceptable, cannot be precisely quantified. But a realistic calculation is possible. The simple uranium-based 15-kiloton atomic device which was dropped on Hiroshima killed about one lakh people.1 The plutonium-based 20-kiloton atom bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki killed a somewhat lesser number (about 80,000) because of the latter’s hilly terrain. Those bombs were “mere firecrackers” compared to today’s—including India’s—smallest atom bombs; and the cities—ours as well as theirs—are also more populous than in those days. Therefore, in case of a nuclear attack by an adversary country, India’s capacity to inflict “unacceptable damage” need not be in doubt. What is more important is the capacity of our early warning system and the efficiency of our delivery system. Fresh tests are irrelevant for both purposes. Vastly Changed Global Context The world has been changing fast. The world’s foremost nuclear hawks of yesteryears are now campaigning for a nuclear-free world. Henry Kissinger, George Shultz (two former US Secretaries of State), William Perry (former US Secretary of Defence), and Sam Nunn (former Chairman of the USA’s Senate Armed Services Committee) have been playing leading roles in this campaign. They have found a large number of prominent public figures in their country as fellow-participants. Twenty of them held positions of policy-makers in the US Adminis-tration. As many as 79 religious organisations representing Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims in the USA registered their protests against George Bush’s plan to reactivate the US nuclear weapons manufacturing plants. The above-mentioned “gang of four” (Kissinger et al.), in an article in the Wall Street Journal, dated January 4, 2007, said that nuclear weapons, far from promoting security, are bringing more insecurity. With the cessation of the Cold War between the USA and Russia, that is, between the two largest possessors of nuclear arsenals, these weapons have become obsolete for deterrence for them. However, “deterrence continues to be a relevant consideration for many states with regard to threats from other states”. But in their case, too, “reliance on nuclear weapons for this purpose is becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective”. Increasingly hazardous because the new nuclear nations do not have the benefit of years of step-by-step safeguards to prevent nuclear accidents, misjudgments, and unauthorised launches. Decreasingly effective as deterrence because the plethora of weapon states, harbouring various sources of conflicting interests, will always tend to push headlong into war. “The need today is to take the world to the next stage—to reversing the reliance on nuclear weapons globally, and preventing proliferation into potentially dangerous hands.” (’Potentially dangerous hands’ mean fanatical states and non-state terrorists.) In the UK, another “gang of four” – Lord Douglas Hurd, Sir Malcom Rifkind, Lord George Robertson, Lord David Owen, who were earlier among the staunchest supporters of British nuclear deterrence—started campaigning since 2007 for “ditching the nuclear bomb”. They noted that “there is a powerful case for dramatic reduction in the stockpile of nuclear weapons” and called upon Britain and France to join in renewed multilateral efforts to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in existence and to consider what further contribution they might make to “achieve a non-nuclear weapons world”. “Nuclear weapons are security problems—not a solution.” Britain’s former Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett proposed that the country’s expertise in nuclear weapons establishment be used to become a “disarmament laboratory”. In Germany, both at the government and people’s levels, there is a strong sentiment not only against nuclear weapons but also against nuclear power generation for civilian use. In Australia, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has set up an International Commission for Non-proliferation and Disarmament with Gareth Evans, a former Foreign Minister of Australia, and Yariko Kawaguchi, a former Foreign Minister of Japan, as co-chairs—for reviewing the NPT in 2010 and to begin the process of abolishing nuclear weapons. Evidently, the former nuclear hawks’ change of mind came from the realisation that the world has become a powder keg. Whereas till the end of 1948, the USA was the lone possessor of nuclear weapons technology, all the five big powers came to possess it in the 1960s. Later, Israel and India, facing encirclement by hostile countries, came to acquire it. Thereafter, Pakistan, with aid from China, developed its own bomb. In recent years, North Korea, frightened by the USA’s “regime change” rhetoric and its concomitant actions in Serbia and Iraq (and unable to rely wholly on the Soviet nuclear umbrella), developed nuclear weapons, even though on a modest scale. Iran, described by the USA as a member of “axis of evil”, is frantically trying to develop its nuclear arms and seems to be considerably progressing. Besides, countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Korea, Egypt, Taiwan and South Africa are capable of producing nuclear weapons in less than a decade. Of these, South Africa alone has voluntarily decided to abstain from it while the others have been kept under varying degrees of pressure to desist from it. But the world saw that the small North Korean state, armed with small amounts of nuclear arsenal, has been able to keep the USA at bay. Therefore, the urge for acquisition of nuclear weapons will keep on working in all nations afraid of being bossed over by powerful states. This will inexorably push towards nuclear disasters, either from accidents or by ill-thought-out actions. Besides, when the production of nuclear fissile material is widespread, there can be no fool-proof system against its falling into the hands of non-state actors (the terrorists). This raises the question: what is the level of people’s awareness in today’s powerful countries and in the world as a whole. The people’s sentiment for peace is always ahead of the elite’s. But until this sentiment takes the form of sustained mass movements, it does not become visible to the people of distant lands. Lord Douglas Hurd and his fellow-campai-gners have revealed that a majority of the British people are against the nuclear stockpile. Within Britain—as the votes in the Scottish Parliament showed—the overwhelming majority of Scottish people are firmly opposed to nuclear weapons. They believe the warheads are more likely to cause accidents and destroy their own people. The accidents can happen in storage or in the warheads’ movements in military transports on public roads or in sea lanes. In Europe, skepticism about safety by the USA’s nuclear umbrella is widespread. In Germany in particular, the demands for removing all nuclear weapons from their country and removing the US nuclear umbrella from Europe is quite strong. A large segment of the German population is opposed to nuclear power generation for civil use as well. In Japan, the latest opinion survey showed that 58 per cent of the people are for removal of the US nuclear umbrella. They also demand that the US take a vow for “no-first-use”. In our own country, the government makes occasional pronouncements desiring universal nuclear disarmament but no political party has any programme for attaining this objective, even though this country was the pioneer in demanding this in international fora. In the USA, as the opinion polls over the last decade have consistently shown, at least 70 per cent support the global abolition of nuclear weapons. But the situation there is more complex than in any other country. This is the country that is the most advanced in nuclear technology-related offensive as well as defensive systems. American people have been conditioned to thinking that theirs is the “divine duty” to be the world’s policeman and that this can be done by the “peace-through-assertion-of-strength” approach. This is the country which has the largest nuclear weapons-making industry employing a large percentage of its people, and making substantial gains from arms exports. Hence, even though many members of the militarist culture have renounced their nuclear war commitments, the nuclear complex has remained undented. See-saw between Conflicting Pulls in the USA The pulls between people’s opinion and the militarist complex was evidenced in the see-saw between two conflicting policies over the decades following America’s resolve to salve its guilt-complex (for bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki) through Eisenhower’s “doctrine of peace”. This doctrine was sincere but misguided. Peace was sought by disseminating the nuclear power generation technology throughout the world “for the benefit of the people”. Of course, this supposed benevolence was not without the desire for establishing the USA’s leadership. The following facts will show the strengths and weaknesses of the contrasting pulls in the USA and the consequential shifting policies of the world’s greatest nuclear weapon possessing nation—and their corresponding influences on the rival power, namely, the USSR (later Russia): a) In the early 1960s by which time the USSR—and the UK and France—had built sizeable nuclear arsenals, the USA’s accent was mainly on defence. For building defences against missiles, it developed anti-satellite weapons. (Some of sky-based defence weapon systems could, however, be used for offensive purposes.) b) In the absence of political reconciliation by diplomatic efforts, the deployment of anti-missile defence meant provoking the adversary to improve its capacity to penetrate the defence system by more lethal weapons of attack. In turn, the USA itself had to engage in making its improved offensive versions. Since both the USA and USSR found it destabilising, the two rival powers signed an Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 1972. c) Meanwhile, the US-led Non-Proliferation Treaty (NTP) was formalised in 1968 and signed by 181 countries. It envisioned the elimination of all nuclear weapons as its final goal. But its programme was opportunistic. It provided (i) that states which did not possess nuclear weapons as of 1967 agree not to obtain these, and (ii) that states that do possess them agree to divest themselves of these over time. It did not, specify the time-horizon of the process of divestment. It did not say by how many stages this divestment would take place and what would be the percentage of reduction in each stage. In actual practice, the ban was only on non-possessors; they would not try to obtain nuclear weapons. The possessors, while paying lip-service to the ultimate goal, went on increasing their military budgets, manufacturing more weapons, enhan-cing their own nuclear arsenals, and engaging in more arms exports.2 Thus, the USA’s arms manufacturing firms and China’s political-military leadership became the greatest proliferators. d) In 1978, President Jimmy Carter announced that the USA would not go for the first strike against any non-nuclear state unless the latter was acting as an ally of a nuclear state. e) Ronald Reagan, who held the US presidency from 1981 to 1989, considered nuclear weapons “totally irrational, totally inhumane, good for nothing but killing, possibly destructive of life on earth and civilisation” and called for “abolishment of all nuclear weapons”. Mikhail Gorbachev, the then President of the USSR, was also of the same view. They, therefore, met at Geneva in 1985 and at Reykjavik (in Iceland) in 1986. Even though they failed to get rid of all nuclear weapons, they, in Kissinger’s language, “did succeed in turning the arms race on its head. They initiated steps leading to significant reductions in deployed long- and intermediate-range nuclear forces, including the elimination of an entire class of threatening missiles.” In the joint communique following the Geneva summit, they clearly said: “A nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.” Reagan mistakenly thought that the most efficient defence system against missiles—that is, space-based defence—would be nearest to nuclear weapons abolition. It was called a “star war” plan whereby nuclear lasers and other power-driven devices would detect and destroy missiles fired from any direction during the missile’s trajectory. Specialists felt it was more hazardous. Strong opposition from the US people and USA’s allied powers made him quietly shelve the plan. To Reagan’s credit, it could be said that he was willing to share the anti-missile defence techno-logy with the USSR, much to the dislike of the US nuclear establishment. f) Several times the USA committed itself, at least notionally, to nuclear arms abolition. It signed six arms control treaties that established general and complete disarmament as its goal. Its Arms Control and Disarmament Agency was given the task of preparing comprehensive peace alter-natives. Later, the Agency was allowed to shift its focus to piecemeal arms control treaties. g) During Bill Clinton’s presidency (1993-2001), the size of the USA’s nuclear arsenal was reduced from 18,290 to 12,500 warheads. None can deny that it was a significant achievement. Negotiations started at that time for drastically reducing both the USA’s and Russia’s strategic arsenals.3 h) After Pakistan’s intrusion into Kargil in 1991, when Islamabad sought to hold on to its surreptitiously occupied status by using nuclear weapons against India, there was a stir in the USA about the global dimension of a nuke strike anywhere. There was the realisation that it would deplete the ozone layer, make the White-skinned people of the north latitudes vulnerable to skin cancer and also derail the economies of the world. The USA’s intervention saved the day. Even then, there was no advance towards general disarmament. i) The weakness of the US people’s sentiment for nuclear abolition became manifest during George W. Bush’s (junior Bush’s) time. The US seemed to move in the reverse direction. Bellicosity was at its peak. The US not only continued to maintain an arsenal of 10,000 warheads but also added other “tactical nuclear weapons”. In 2002, it “reserved” the USA’s right to use nuclear weapons in a pre-emptive strike against “the rogue states”. It withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and also announced its plan to allow the critical agreement, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), to expire in 2009. Besides, it announced a programme called “Complex 2030” and planned to spend $ 150 billion for plutonium production and to design a new generation of warheads which might need fresh nuclear-testing. Thus, by the end of 2008, the world teetered on the brink of a nuclear holocaust. Fear and despondency was writ large all over the world. Luckily, the US people voted Bush’s party out. His plan to let START lapse and his “Complex 2030” plan would now remain unimplemented. j) In 2009, the election of Barack Obama to the US presidency has rekindled hopes. He rejected Reagan’s outer space-based missile shield plan and also Bush’s ground-based “missile shield for Europe with interceptors in Poland and the linked radars in Czechoslovakia” plan, both of which had been seen by Russia as threats to its own missile shield and overall security. The Obama Administration’s new sea-based missile shield plan has been considered by Russia as not too objectionable. It leaves scope for the East European countries to build a more pragmatic relationship with both the USA and Russia. Russia is also collaborating with the USA in arresting the hostilities in West Asia and mitigating the vulnerabilities of both Iran and Israel. The new US President’s belief that without Russia’s cooperation, shielding Europe is impossible is a great positive factor favouring the world The question is: will he succeed against the deeply entrenched business-military complex in the USA which has a vested interest in perpe-tuating the “Cold War” atmosphere, and about which President Eisenhower had issued a warning as far back as in the 1950s? President Obama, presiding over a recent UN Security Council meeting, gave a call to all nations to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This shows he has not realised that the discriminatory NPT itself has become a major cause for proliferation. Since the NPT’s blatant misuse by the officially recognised nuclear weapon states has been the cardinal sin, the President has to strive to remove this root cause by amending the NPT first. All nuclear weapon possessor states must declare their nuclear weapon-related stocks including the warheads, the delivery vehicles and the “tactical weapons”. The UN must appoint an impartial broadbased team (by enlarging the IAEA), capable of inspiring international confidence, to periodically inspect and verify the stocks. The possessors must commit themselves to destroying 60 per cent of their stocks within the next three years and the remaining 40 per cent within five years from now. And the UN must, right now, outlaw the use, and even the threat of use, of nuclear weapons against any nation. Arguments will be raised that deactivating 60 per cent of the large, accumulated stock within three years is not practicable. That is a false argument. There is no reason why this cannot be done. Those who advance the plea of impracticality have an imperfect knowledge of the process of deactivating the weapons and an inadequate understanding of its urgency from the non-possessor countries’ viewpoints. Nuclear Weapons are Destructive of the Planet and All Life Nuclear weapons, especially of the latest varieties, are not for waging wars in which some party expects to win. These are weapons for destroying the planet and all living species. To use a nuclear weapon is a crime against the whole of humanity and all creatures and their life-support systems. Therefore, there is no reason why the UN should not, or cannot, right now outlaw its use, or threat of use, against any country. Fortunately, some countries are aware of the nuclear weapon’s un-usability. To illustrate the point. In the Asian continent, if Pakistan decides to drop bombs on Indian spaces and, for its own safety, chooses the farthest point from its own borders, say the easternmost region of India, their fall-outs will even then inflict “unacceptable damage” on Pakistan itself. If China drops nuclear bombs on the westernmost parts of India, still their fall-outs will inflict unacceptable damages on China itself. (India is committed to “no first use”. Moreover, its civilisation and culture have bound it to “no aggression”, not to speak of nuclear misadven-ture.) Even though the amendments suggested above are all cogent and practicable, the reform seekers will face tough opposition from vested interests —the nuclear weapons manufacturing industries, their ancillaries, and their representatives in the corridors of power. Even the Presidents of the USA and Russia, with their vast constitutional powers, will need the support of people’s movements in their own countries and in the world. For initiating a world people’s movement for nuclear disarmament, the Indian people are the freest, un-snared by the arms industry and military forces having no hold over the political process. India’s ancient as well as recent heritage is favourable for this. Even if we leave out India’s civilisational characteristics and Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy, post-independence India’s legacy is a beacon light for this initiative. Recalling this, the International Commission for Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, in the very first paragraph of a recent article, says: “India’s great founding Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, worked energetically to defuse global tensions during the cold war, commissioned the first study of the human effects (read “effects on humans”) of nuclear explosions and campaigned tirelessly to eliminate what he termed ‘these frightful engines of destruction’. It is our ambition to carry forward Nehru’s vision in the 21st century.” Henry Kissinger and his co-authors, too, in their article in Wall Street Journal, referred to another Indian Prime Minister’s address to the UN General Assembly delivered on June 9, 1988. Rajiv Gandhi was the first to appeal to the world people through the UN forum for the abolition of nuclear weapons. He said then: “Nuclear war will not mean the death of a hundred million people. Or even a thousand million. It will mean the death of four thousand million, the end of life as we know it on our planet Earth. We come to the United Nations to seek your support. We seek your support to put a stop to this madness.” The present Government of India has been failing to be their worthy successor. On the NPT question, it has remained content by saying that India would not sign the discriminatory NPT. This is much less than a positive step. It has not bothered to say how the NPT should be amended. The campaign for universal nuclear disarmament should be its top priority. Universal nuclear disarmament should be the foremost programme for every political party, as eradication of poverty is, may be even higher —because it is vital for the survival of life on this planet. The truth is, both poverty eradication and denuclearisation are inextricably linked. At deeper levels, both need New Deals and will progressively lead to changes in ecological, economic, political and socio-cultural spheres rooted in concepts of universal brotherhood/ sisterhood and unity with the cosmos. Epilogue After the above paper was scripted, this author received from Prof Sujay Basu, formerly of the Electrical Engineering Department of Jadavpur University, a paper written by him in 2002. He was one of the few Indian intellectuals who were critical of the Pokhran explosions. He points out that a Pugwash publication of 1993 had shown that a nuclear weapon-free world was both desirable and feasible and that this publication helped in influencing the policy- makers of many nations to shun the nuclear path. In 1996, the “Statement on Nuclear Weapons” by International Generals and Admirals with 60 signatories said that “long term international policy must be based on the declared principle of continuous, complete and irrevocable elimination of nuclear weapons”! Notably, the signatories included 17 from Russia and 19 from the USA. The same year, the International Court of Justice gave the ruling that “the threat and use of nuclear weapons will generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflicts and in particular the principles and rules of international law”. The Court also clearly ruled that the threat or use of nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear weapon state is illegal. The Conventions on the Chemical and Biological Weapons also played a role. These raised the hope that if peace-loving governments and peoples vigorously start the denuclearisation movement, the opposition from vested interests would collapse and humanity would be saved from the scourge of nuclear weapons. Yet, much progress towards disarmament has not been possible. This is because there are heavy roadblocks. These found expression in two recent happenings. President Obama repeated his call to all nations, who have remained outside the NPT, to sign it. And the Iranian President said that it is the big powers who have done the greatest harm to the NPT. The former shows that the US President is far away from realising the iniquitousness and deception embedded in the NPT text. And the Iranian President, whatever may be his other faults, was correct in this comment. India is the only de facto nuclear weapon possessor state which, despite being a non-signatory to the NPT, has an impeccable record of non-proliferation. Hence it alone could rightfully tell the USA and the other major powers to remove the iniquitous aspects of the existing NPT, bind all nuclear weapon possessors to the schedule of deactivating/ destroying these weapons and to refrain meanwhile from threatening any country unilaterally (that is, bypassing the UN). Short of these, nothing will work. This stance of India may annoy the US, French and Chinese arms traders. But India must not flinch from telling the truth. From the negativity of not signing the NPT, India must rise to positively fight out its iniquitous aspects, enforce its righteous imple-mentation and save the world from nuclear death. NOTES 1. According to National Geographic, the dropping of the 15-kiloton uranium bomb killed some 68,000 people instantly; and about 70,000 people died over the next few years. Some other sources estimated that the total casualty reached two-and-a-half lakh people over the years. 2. The same kind of double-dealing was indulged in by the nuclear weapon states in the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva in 1996, too. This was the Conference which concluded the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). A large number of member states of the Conference sought to go beyond a mere ban on tests and sought to set up a Committee for Nuclear Disarmament to include the decommissioning of the existing weapons, in its terms of reference. Three nuclear weapon states (NWS)—the USA, Britain and France— rejected the idea. Thereupon, India refused to sign this lopsided Treaty which allowed the NWS to retain their privileges. Instead, it persisted in the demand for total elimination. Pakistan said it would sign the CTBT if India signed it. Moreover, the “test ban treaty” did not prohibit “subcritical” tests or tests of such devices which were necessary for retaining the capabilities of the existing nuclear weapons. Taking advantage of this loophole, the USA later conducted at least two tests which the international community considered as violations of the Treaty. 3. These negotiations culminated in the USA and Russia signing on May 24, 2002 the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty to the effect that each agree to cut its deployed strategic arsenal to 2200 warheads by the end of 2012 – that is, after as many as ten years. The author is one of the country’s earliest environmentalists and a social philosopher. He can be contacted at and Disclaimer statement Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information supplied herein, DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Unless otherwise indicated, opinions expressed herein are those of the author of the page and do not necessarily represent the corporate views of DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News.

DTN News: Op-Ed ~ Time For Military Strikes In Iran

DTN News: Op-Ed ~ Time For Military Strikes In Iran *Source: Toronto Populist Examiner Bruce Maiman....(click here link)
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - December 27, 2009: In what one observer has called the first NY Times op-ed "explicitly advocating a military campaign against Iran," Alan Kuperman argues that diplomacy has failed with Iran and military strikes are the only way to prevent the country from developing its nuclear program. It's a good thing that Iran rejected the U-N deal, writes Kuperman, because the plan would only have provided the country with a steady stream of enriched materials that could eventually be used for weapons. "This raises a question: if the deal would have aided Iran's bomb program, why did the United States propose it and Iran reject it?" According to Kuperman, the United States proposed the plan in order to appease GOP critics, and Iran rejected it for similarly political reasons --it feared it would appear to be were pandering to the West. Ultimately, because Iran needs enriched uranium, the only plans it will agree to are those that allow it to slowly accrue nuclear weapons-grade materials over time. "Since peaceful carrots and sticks cannot work, and an invasion would be foolhardy," Kuperman says, "the United States faces a stark choice: military air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities or acquiescence to Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons." Kuperman contends that precision attacks at nuclear facilities could seriously impair the country's nuclear development, and the backlash would be manageable. Diplomacy is always preferable, Kuperman concludes, "but in the face of failed diplomacy, eschewing force is tantamount to appeasement." One of the more persistent illusions among some neoconservatives is the idea that people subjected to random extermination respond by becoming less belligerent. A recent embarrassing examples was the notion that we'd be "greeted with flowers" as we marched into Baghdad, which delivers us to yet another conclusion about some neoconservatives: They don't learn their lessons from history. It's worth noting that there's a reason why terrorism is also known as asymmetrical warfare. It is the unfortunate but rational countermeasure in the face of overwhelming force. Kuperman's proposal is the sort of pathetic war-mongering that gives conservatives and neoconservatives such a bad name, particularly when it's not only a bad idea but a bad piece of scholarship on the part of a person representing the University of Texas at Austin as director of that institution's Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Program (with a PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
Almost every non-neoconservative observer, including, unanimously, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, believes that bombing Iran's nuclear facilities would be a) ineffective and b) immeasurably dangerous, given that Iran has many effective ways to strike back --not only at U-S troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also utilizing its international Hezbollah network to mount terror attacks at home. Further, the risk of destabilization in an already-unstable part of the world is the last thing the global economy needs now that it's beginning to climb out of the recession --yet another flaccid trait of the selfish warmonger who thinks only about what he wants without considering the consequences. Iranian protester (AP file) Finally, start dropping bombs on Iran and you can kiss that country's internal resistance movement goodbye, a populist resistance now on terra firma of the kind that Iran hasn't seen since the 1979 revolution. Bomb Iran and see how fast those freedom fighters turn their zeal against outside interlopers bent on killing innocent Iranians. Kuperman, of course, discounts these matters in his op-ed, or he doesn't bother acknowledging them. He does concede that aerial strikes against any suspected nuclear facilities "might not work." But he thinks history is on his side, citing Israel's 1981 attack on a nearly-finished Iraqi reactor, and NATO's 1999 air campaign against Yugoslavia, which he says "briefly bolstered support for President Slobodan Milosevic, but a democratic opposition ousted him the next year." These are specious arguments at best and outright crap at worst. Yugoslavia was an ethnically fractured part of the world held together by the iron grip of Marshal Tito. Ethnic tensions grew after his death in 1980 as nationalism and separatist movements fueled regional wars throughout most of the 1990s. The fall of Milosevic was inevitable. Nor was anyone in the region threatening to build nuclear reactors, nor did they have ownership to some of the world's largest oil and natural gas supplies, nor was there any jihadist animosity towards Israel or the United States. In short, there's no comparison between the two examples. You might as well argue that we can rebuild Afghanistan because the Marshall Plan was such a great success in the rebuilding of post-World War II Europe. The Israeli example proves nothing. Anyone familiar with Desert Storm knows that Israel's attack failed to deter Saddam Hussein's imperial and biological or nuclear ambitions, though that 1991 invasion finally did put an end to the Iraqi dictators chemical warfare efforts. Further, the Persian Gulf War was a coalition operation consisting of 3 countries, few of which would support a bombing campaign against a sovereign nation that has every right to develop whatever energy needs and military weapons it sees fit. It's great being an American, where it's OK that we have nukes, but we can sanction or attack any other country that wants them who we don't want to have them. It's worth remember in this part of the world that Iran is a signatory of the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Guess who isn't: India, Pakistan and Israel, the only three nations in the region that have nuclear weapons. If Mr. Kuperman is worried about an unstable country having nuclear weapons, he might do better to find solutions to the problem represented by Pakistan, a nation crawling with insurgents who have comfortably embedded themselves while the United States goes gallivanting around in Afghanistan. However, Israel's 1981 attack on Iraq's Osirak reactor did demonstrate a signal reality: She can take care of herself and will, in no short order, make mincemeat out of anything Iran might represent should Mr. Ahmadinejad and the clerics foolishly decide to push any envelopes. Indeed, the whole business of fulminating over Iran getting "the bomb" is ludicrous when there's a much easier way to address the concern. Just make it very clear to Iran's president and its clerics: No problem, boys. You can pursue your nuclear energy aspirations. And maybe that will result in you developing nuclear weapons --we'll know you'll have them when you test them. But having them will come with a price: Never mind the obvious firing of a missile to some target in Israel, or even Europe. Our response to that will be no brainer. But if there is a single nuclear incident anywhere in the world connected with any form of jihadism, if a dirty bomb goes off in London or New York or Tel Aviv, we will blame you and innocent Iranians will die because their government decided to play fast and loose with a dangerous privilege. Let the Iranian people know, let the resistance movement know, that if their leaders want nuclear weapons, they will be held to account at the slightest incident, and that the United States will not hesitate to turn Tehran or any other city into a glass parking lot. As long as you understand those terms, you can have your nukes. Oh, and if you're worried that maybe insurgent elements in Pakistan may actually perpetrate said dirty bomb attack because they think you'll get blamed for it, all the more reason to get with the United States to help stabilize Afghanistan and defuse tensions in Pakistan from the emerging radical elements using that country as a base of operations. How's that for a sanction? Call us when you want to talk. The number's 202 456-1414
Disclaimer statement Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information supplied herein, DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Unless otherwise indicated, opinions expressed herein are those of the author of the page and do not necessarily represent the corporate views of DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News.

DTN News: Burma's Military Junta Buys 230 Military Aircraft In 21 Years

DTN News: Burma's Military Junta Buys 230 Military Aircraft In 21 Years
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) BANGKOK, Thailand - December 26, 2009: With its recent purchase of 20 MiG-29 fighter jets, Burma's military junta has acquired a total of 230 military aircraft since seizing power in a bloody coup in 1988—nearly 100 more than the regime of former dictator Ne Win. In his book “Building the Tatmadaw,” Burmese military expert Maung Aung Myoe writes that the junta procured 210 aircraft for the Tatamdaw-Lay [air force] between 1988 and 2006, supplied by China, Poland, Russia and the former Yugoslavia. A Russian-made MiG-29 jet fighter takes off from Mingaladon Air Force Base in Rangoon in 2008. (Photo: Andy Davey)
By comparison, from 1962 to 1988—the 26-year period that Burma was ruled by Ne Win's Burmese Social Programme Party—the air force acquired 131 military aircraft. With the 20 MiG-29s it recently bought from Russia for US $570 million, Burma appears to be continuing its ongoing efforts to close the gap with its much better-equipped neighbors. In 2001, the regime purchased 12 MiG-29s after a border clash with Thailand in which the Thai military forced Burmese troops from border strongholds using US-made F-16 fighter jets. Thailand's air force currently has an estimated 315 aircraft, including 184 combat aircraft. It has also ordered more advanced 12 JAS 39 Gripen aircraft from Sweden. Another Southeast Asian nation, Vietnam, recently signed a billion-dollar deal with Russia for the purchase of Sukhoi Su-30MK2s and a submarine. Bangladesh, a neighbor that has tension with Burma over a territorial dispute in the Bay of Bengal, is estimated to have more than 200 military aircraft, including MiG-29 SEs. Burma's latest batch of MiG-29s from Russia were purchased after the regime rejected an offer of a special price on J-10 fighter jets from its close ally, China. Lt-Gen Myat Hein, commander in chief of Burma's air force, (left) meets Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing on November 6, 2009.
According to Burmese military sources, the commander in chief of Burma’s air force, Lt-Gen Myat Hein, traveled to China in November to discuss upgrades of Chinese-made military aircraft already owned by Burma and to look into the possibility of making future purchases. However, the junta finally decided to buy the Russian planes, despite concerns about their reliability after frequent reports of MiG-29s being grounded in Russia and other countries. A fourth-generation military aircraft, the MiG-29 was first produced in the Soviet Union in 1983. The cost of the jets was also no deterrent, despite the fact that Burma remains one of the world's poorest countries. Around a third of the country's population live under the international poverty line, earning less than a dollar a day, according to UN figures. But even with its ruling generals sparing no expense in their pursuit of a more powerful air force, Burma is likely to remain behind its neighbors. “Compared with the air forces of neighboring countries, particularly Thailand’s, the Tatmadaw-Lay’s air power is relatively low,” wrote Maung Aung Myoe in his book. “Although it has acquired advanced aircraft such as the MiG-29, it has problems with operational capability, in addition to lacking qualified pilots.”

DTN News: Russian Air Force May Start Receiving An-124 Cargo Jets By 2020

DTN News: Russian Air Force May Start Receiving An-124 Cargo Jets By 2020
*Source: DTN News/ RIA Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - December 26, 2009: A senior Russian Air Force official said he hoped the country's military will begin receiving new An-124 Ruslan (Condor) heavy-lift transport aircraft by 2020. "I believe that by 2020 we will begin receiving new aircraft of this type," Lt. Gen. Viktor Kachalkin, commander of the 61st Air Army, said Friday at a news conference in Moscow. Russian Air Force Commander, Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin, said at the MAKS-2009 air show outside Moscow in August that the Defense Ministry decided to resume the production of the An-124, which could be used both for domestic and military purposes. The An-124 was designed by the Antonov Design Bureau in 1982, and was produced in Ukraine's Kiev and Russia's Ulyanovsk until 1995. The plane has a maximum payload of 150 metric tons with a flight range of around 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles). Kachalkin said that that the aircraft of this type is in high demand as "An-124 Ruslan is the most powerful military-transport aircraft in the world." He added that military equipment produced in the Soviet times is "unrivaled" and must be developed further without the necessity for Russia of placing military orders abroad. The cargo jet is the world's third largest after the An-225 and the Airbus A380F. Russia and Ukraine reached a preliminary agreement to resume production of the An-124 in April of 2008.