Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

Nuclear or Biological Attack in U.S. Called ‘Likely’

December 2, 2008

The odds that terrorists will soon strike a major city with weapons of mass destruction are now better than even, a bipartisan congressionally mandated task force concludes in a draft study that warns of growing threats from rogue states, nuclear smuggling networks and the spread of atomic know-how in the developing world.

By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer

The sobering assessment of such threats, due for release as early as today, singled out Pakistan as a grave concern because of its terrorist networks, history of instability and arsenal of several dozen nuclear warheads. The report urged the incoming Obama administration to take “decisive action” to reduce the likelihood of a devastating attack.

“No mission could be timelier,” says the draft report of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, which spent six months preparing an assessment for Congress and the new president-elect. It adds: “In our judgment, America’s margin of safety is shrinking, not growing.”

The report, ordered by Congress last year, concludes that terrorists are more likely to obtain materials for a biological attack than to buy or steal nuclear weapons. But it says the nuclear threat is growing rapidly, in part because of the increasing global supply of nuclear material and technology.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/
01/AR2008120102710.html?hpid=topnews

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India and Pakistan: Two Very Dangerous Neighbors

December 1, 2008

The tensions between India and Pakistan since the Mumbai terrorism should serve as a reminder that India and Pakistan are two of the more dangerous neighbors on earth.

Both nuclear-armed, India and Pakistan have fought several wars since Britain left South Asia and the nations were “partitioned” in 1947.

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Wikipedia says, “resulted in the creation of the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, there have been three major wars, one minor war and numerous armed skirmishes between the two countries. In each case, except the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, where the dispute concerned East Pakistan, the casus belli was the disputed Kashmir region.”

India sees itself as a rival to another “emerging superpower”: China.  The two have tense relationships.

China has built the largest seaport in the world in Pakistan and provides Pakistan with military hardware, technology and assistance.  But when Pakistan recently needed cash, Hu Jintao’s China turned them away and sent them to the IMF.

The U.S. tries to have friendly and helpful relations with both India and Pakistan.  The U.S. just completed a nuclear technology assistance deal with India and Pakistan’s air force has U.S.-made F-16 aircraft.

China, the U.S., Pakistan and India all want a Navy strong enough to assure security in the Indian Ocean and surrounding sea lanes.  Persian Gulf oil headed to Japan, the U.S., and China all passes through these waters.

File photo of the Indian naval warship INS Tabar. A maritime ... 
The Indian naval warship INS Tabar has been involved in recent anti-piracy missions near Somalia.
AFP/Indian Navy/Ho/File

India has a variety of missiles including the short-range Prithvi ballistic missile, the medium-range Akash, and the supersonic Brahmos. The Agni missiles are the most powerful.

India last year successfully test-fired the Agni-III, which is capable of carrying nuclear warheads across much of Asia and the Middle East.

New Delhi says it developed its missile program as a deterrent against neighbors China and Pakistan.

The Agni-II missile being displayed on a mobile launcher during the 2004 Republic Day parade.

The Agni-II missile being displayed on a mobile launcher during the 2004 Republic Day parade.

Pakistan has its own ballistic missiles plus assistance from China on many weapons and projects.

JF-17 testing.jpg

Related:

China and Pakistan’s Strategic Importance: Background

JF-17 “Thunder” Aircraft Join Pakistani Air Force

GhauriMissile.jpg
Pakistan’s Ghauri missile can strike into India and other neighboring nations….

Four months after the U.S. ordered its troops into Afghanistan to remove the Taliban regime, China and Pakistan joined hands to break ground in building a Deep Sea Port on the Arabian Sea. The project was sited in an obscure fishing village of Gwadar in Pakistan’s western province of Baluchistan, bordering Afghanistan to the northwest and Iran to the southwest. Gwadar is nautically bounded by the Persian Gulf in the west and the Gulf of Oman in the southwest.

Related:
Attacks push India and Pakistan into deep water: analysts

Poland to get U.S. Patriot missiles in 2009

November 19, 2008

U.S. Patriot missiles will be dispatched in Poland in 2009, the country`s defense minister said on Tuesday while on an official visit to Ukraine, RIA Novosti reported.

“Patriot missiles will be in Poland in 2009, at first temporarily, and from 2012, permanently,” Bogdan Klich said.

The United States and Poland signed a formal agreement on the deployment of 10 interceptor missiles on Polish soil on August 20, which followed the signing on July 8 by the U.S. and Czech foreign ministries to station a U.S. radar in the Czech Republic as part of a planned missile defense shield in Central Europe.

Washington had to commit to measures to ensure Poland`s security, including the deployment of the Patriot missiles, before Warsaw would agree to host the interceptor base.

Moscow has consistently expressed its opposition to the U.S. missile shield, saying it threatens its national security. The United States says the shield is designed to thwart missile attacks by what it calls “rogue states,” including Iran.

RIA Novosti

Fading American Economic and Military Dominance; Even More Global Danger – Experts

November 19, 2008

The top U.S. intelligence panel this week is expected to issue a snapshot of the world in 2025, in a report that predicts fading American economic and military dominance and warns of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

By Nicholas Kralev
The Washington Times

The predictions come from the National Intellignce Council (NIC), part of Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell’s office.

The NIC report, a draft copy of which is titled “Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World,” is slated for release as early as Thursday.

The report also predicts “a unified Korea” is likely by then, and that China  will be the world’s second-largest economy and a major military power.

“The United States will remain the single most powerful country, although less dominant,” according to a “working draft” of the document obtained by The Washington Times. “Shrinking economic and military capabilities may force the U.S. into a difficult set of tradeoffs between domestic and foreign-policy priorities.”

A senior intelligence official said some details have changed in the final report, but “the thrust is the same.”

The draft says:

“The next 20 years of transition toward a new international system are fraught with risks, such as a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and possible interstate conflicts over resources.”

“We see a unified Korea as likely by 2025 and assess the peninsula will probably be denuclearized, either via ongoing diplomacy or as a necessary condition for international acceptance of and cooperation with a needy new Korea.”

Thomas Fingar, deputy director of national intelligence for analysis and chairman of the NIC, said Tuesday that the report “should not be viewed as a prediction.” Even “projection” is not entirely correct, he said, though he used that word several times during a luncheon at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008
/nov/19/panel-foresees-lesser-us-role/

Israel Urges “Greater Force” On Iran’s Nuclear Work, “Devious Goals”

November 17, 2008

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called on Sunday for a stronger international campaign against Iran‘s nuclear programme to “thwart it with greater force.”

“We must increase our measures to prevent Iran from achieving its devious goals,” Olmert said in a speech to Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. “Iran cannot become nuclear. Israel cannot afford it … the free world must not accept it.

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert attends the weekly cabinet ... 
Olmert (Gali Tibbon/Pool/Reuters)

“We must unite our forces as part of the international community, led by the United States of America. We must confront Iran’s malevolent diligence and thwart it with greater force.”

Israel and the West fear Iran may be using its nuclear programme to develop a nuclear weapon, which the Jewish state sees as a potential threat to its existence. Iran says its atomic programme is solely for energy purposes.

Israel is widely believed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal, although it has never confirmed nor denied it.

Israel has backed Western economic sanctions against Iran but has said it is keeping all options on the table in its bid to halt Iran’s nuclear programme.

Israeli leaders have voiced concern about U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s stated readiness to seek dialogue either alongside or instead of sanctions as a method of persuading Iran to change its policies.

“Iran has not terminated its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” Olmert said.

He also accused the Islamic Republic of continuing to fund Palestinian militants and gunmen in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Olmert called for further sanctions against Iran, saying: “It must become more costly to Iran to pursue nuclear weapons than to give it up.”

Olmert resigned as prime minister in September in the heat of a corruption investigation, but is staying on as caretaker prime minister until a new Israeli government can be formed after a February 10 election.

(Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Janet Lawrence of Reuters)

Pact, Approved in Iraq, Sets Time for U.S. Pullout

November 17, 2008

Iraq’s cabinet on Sunday overwhelmingly approved a proposed security agreement that calls for a full withdrawal of American forces from the country by the end of 2011. The cabinet’s decision brings a final date for the departure of American troops a significant step closer after more than five and a half years of war.

By Campbell Robertson and Stephen Farrell 
The New York Times

The proposed pact must still be approved by Iraq’s Parliament, in a vote scheduled to take place in a week. But leaders of some of the largest parliamentary blocs expressed confidence that with the backing of most Shiites and Kurds they had enough support to ensure its approval.

Twenty-seven of the 28 cabinet ministers who were present at the two-and-a-half-hour session voted in favor of the pact. Nine ministers were absent. The nearly unanimous vote was a victory for the dominant Shiite party and its Kurdish partners. Widespread Sunni opposition could doom the proposed pact even if it has the votes to pass, as it would call into question whether there was a true national consensus, which Shiite leaders consider essential.

US soldiers secure the area along with Iraqi troops following ...
US soldiers secure the area along with Iraqi troops following a roadside bomb in the northern city of Mosul, some 370 kms from Baghdad. The White House on Sunday welcomed the approval by Iraq’s cabinet of a military pact that requires the withdrawal of all US troops by the end of 2011.(AFP/Ali al-Saadi)

The proposed agreement, which took nearly a year to negotiate with the United States, not only sets a date for American troop withdrawal, but puts new restrictions on American combat operations in Iraq starting Jan. 1 and requires an American military pullback from urban areas by June 30. Those hard dates reflect a significant concession by the departing Bush administration, which had been publicly averse to timetables.

Iraq also obtained a significant degree of jurisdiction in some cases over serious crimes committed by Americans who are off duty and not on bases.

In Washington, the White House welcomed the vote as “an important and positive step” and attributed the agreement itself to security improvements in the past year.

Throughout the negotiations, the Shiite parties and the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, under pressure from forces both within and outside the country, had been trying to strike a balance in forging a viable agreement with the Americans that would guarantee Iraq’s security and that would still stand firm against what many, including neighboring Iran, consider a hostile force

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/17/world/middleeas
t/17iraq.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

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BAGHDAD – Iraq’s Cabinet overwhelmingly approved a security pact with the United States on Sunday, ending prolonged negotiations to allow American forces to remain for three more years in the country they first occupied in 2003.

Read the Associated Press report:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081117/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_
iraq;_ylt=AgDMXJb9ChdxknE9ktwMJ6.s0NUE

Medvedev backpedals on missile threats

November 16, 2008
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said Saturday that Russia will not carry out its threats to deploy new missiles facing Europe and that the advent of a new U.S. administration provides “great opportunities” to overcome other differences between the United States and his country.

By Barbara Slavin
The Washington Times

In Washington to attend a meeting of the world’s 20 largest economies, Mr. Medvedev suggested that the global financial crisis had a potential silver lining.

“I believe we have great opportunities to restore relations to the fullest extent, and we can build them on a new foundation,” the Russian leader told the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mr. Medvedev stunned President-elect Barack Obama by delivering a harsh speech in Moscow the day after the U.S. elections. The Russian threatened to put missiles in the enclave of Kaliningrad if the United States carries out plans to deploy missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic.

On Saturday, he said he meant “nothing personal” by the timing of the speech. “I absolutely forgot about the important political event taking place that day,” he said.

 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaks at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations at the Washington Club Saturday in Washington. (Associated Press)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaks at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations at the Washington Club Saturday in Washington. (Associated Press)

The Bush administration has said that the missile defenses are intended for Iran, but Russia objects to their deployment so close to its borders and says they are aimed at Russian targets.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Saturday also seemed to back down from comments critical of the planned missile-defense system.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008
/nov/16/medvedev-backpedals-on-missile-
threats/

Medvedev: Russia, U.S. have opportunities to ease confrontation over missile defense

November 16, 2008

The incoming administration led by Barack Obama could bring opportunities to ease up the U.S.-Russian confrontation over the controversial missile defense plan in Europe, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said here on Saturday.

By: The People’s Daily, China

“We will not do anything until America does the first step”, said Medvdev, hinting a plan to deploy missiles in Russia’s Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad bordering Poland, in a tough response to the planned deployment of a U.S. missile shield in Eastern Europe’s Poland and the Czech Republic.

The Russian president, in Washington for the summit of the Group of 20on the financial markets and world economy, made the remarks Saturday evening at a forum hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, an independent nonpartisan organization and think tank.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) speaks with President of ... 
French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) speaks with President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev, before the Europe-Russia finance reform summit in Nice southern France. Sarkozy urged Russia and the United States to stop threatening each other with missiles and missile shields Friday and called for talks on Europe’s future security.(AFP/Valery Hache)

The United States and Russia have opportunities to ease up the confrontation through talks, said Medvedev, adding that he has received signals showing U.S. President-elect Barack Obama prefers holding talks with Moscow over the plan but not to simply approve it.

The president said there is “a lack of trust” between Moscow and Washington, but he hoped that the situation could be changed when the Obama administration takes office on Jan. 20, 2009.

Medvedev voiced hope for a meeting with Obama, saying “the main thing is that the meeting takes place and that it takes place quickly.”

The Bush administration is planning to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic as part of its European missile shield. The related treaty or agreement were signed separately this summer.

Washington has tried to convince Moscow that the U.S. missile defense system in Eastern Europe was aimed at protecting itself from so-called rogue countries, but not targeted at Russia, who strongly opposes the plan, saying it poses a threat to its security.

Pakistan: Militants Kidnapping, Killing Outsiders In Tribal Areas

November 15, 2008

A Canadian journalist abducted this week in Pakistan’s northern tribal region was working on a documentary film for the Al-Jazeera network, media reported Friday.

A handout picture obtained in 2006 shows the logo of Al-Jazeera ...

Beverly Giesbrecht, 52, also known as Khadija Abdul Qahaar, was seized at gunpoint on Tuesday while traveling in the Bannu district of Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan.

AFP

The daily Globe and Mail, citing Pakistan’s high commission in Ottawa, said the former magazine publisher who runs a website offering Islamic news was on a freelance assignment for the Arab language network when she was taken.

Her visa application was supported by two letters from Al Jazeera, verifying she would be doing freelance work, said the newspaper.

“The letters say … she will be reporting on the new government and the wider political situation, including the war on terrorism” for a documentary, high commission spokesman Mammona Malik told the newspaper.

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A gunman ambushed a Japanese reporter and an Afghan colleague Friday, wounding both men and their Pakistani driver in the latest attack on foreigners in Pakistan‘s volatile northwest region in three days.

Security appears to be crumbling in Peshawar, a city of 2 million where an Iranian diplomat was kidnapped Thursday and an American aid worker was killed Wednesday.

By RIAZ KHAN, Associated Press Writer

Motoki Yotsukura, Asahi Shimbun‘s bureau chief, was in a car with Sami Yousufzai, an Afghan who has worked for Western publications including Newsweek, when the assailant opened fire, police said.

Injured Japanese journalist Motoki Yotsukura arrives at a local ...

“Three armed men intercepted our car, and one of them aimed his pistol at me,” said the Afghan, Sami Yousufzai, from a hospital. “He opened fire when I put up resistance. I got a bullet in my hand.”

Yotsukura was wounded in the leg, police said. The injuries to Yousufzai and the driver also were not life threatening.

Asahi Shimbun reported that Yotsukura, 39, had left earlier Friday from Islamabad on a reporting trip to interview people close to the Taliban.

Officers were investigating whether the attack was an attempted assassination or an attempted kidnapping.

Peshawar and the nearby lawless tribal area have seen a rise in attacks on foreigners. A Chinese, an Afghan and a Pole are currently being held after being seized in the region, which is also home to criminal gangs who kidnap for ransom, drug runners and smugglers.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081114/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_108

Experts urge Obama to rethink Iran policy

November 15, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama must rethink U.S. policy toward Iran, eschewing confrontation and failed attempts to isolate Tehran through sanctions, according to a group of experts and former diplomats.

Reuters

Tackling Iran’s nuclear ambitions will be one of Obama’s main foreign policy challenges after he takes office on January 20. He has said he would harden sanctions but has also held out the possibility of direct talks.

The panel of 20 experts, who include academics and former U.S. ambassadors, warned against a military attack on Iran and called for unconditional negotiations, saying it was the only viable option to break “a cycle of threats and defiance”.

“An attack would almost certainly backfire … and long experience has shown that prospects for successfully coercing Iran through achievable economic sanctions are remote at best,” they said in a joint statement to be presented to a conference on the future of U.S.-Iran relations next week.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad smiles during a meeting ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad smiles during a meeting with Iraqi former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jafari in Tehran in October 2008. Barack Obama may have pledged during his campaign to talk to Iran’s leaders, but he could fall into a trap by replying to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s congratulatory letter, analysts warn.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081114/
pl_nm/us_usa_obama_iran_1