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Defiant North Korea fires rockets, blames U.S.

May 26, 2009
By Jack Kim

North Korea defied international condemnation of its latest nuclear test by firing three short-range missiles off its coast on Tuesday and major powers considered tougher action against the isolated communist state.

With tension in the region high, South Korea said it would join a U.S.-led initiative to intercept ships suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction, something Pyongyang has warned it would consider a declaration of war.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted a government source in Seoul as saying the North had test-fired one surface-to-air and one surface-to-ship missile off its east coast. The missiles had a range of about 130 km (80 miles). …

North Korea also fired three short-range missiles on Monday and South Korean media quoted government sources as saying further missile tests were possible. …


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French President Sarkozy opens UAE base

BBC News – UK
26 May 2009

President Nicolas Sarkozy has formally opened a French military base in the United Arab Emirates, France’s first permanent base in the Gulf.

The flags of France and the UAE were raised at a ceremony at the so-called “Peace Camp” in the Abu Dhabi emirate.

France is a leading military supplier to the Gulf state, and signed a nuclear co-operation agreement last year. …

The US maintains the predominant foreign military presence in the Gulf, with key air bases and logistics operations, and its Fifth Fleet housed in Bahrain.

However, Peace Camp gives France a strategic position on the vital Gulf shipping corridor, which carries about 40% of the world’s petroleum supplies.


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New bases in Afghanistan – more outposts of America’s Empire

21 May 2009
Fabius Maximus

The invasion of Iraq achieved what might be its primary purpose: a chain of bases from which America can project power throughout the Middle East… Now the colonization of Afghanistan begins (the past 7 years, Operation Enduring Freedom, being just a holding action). Across Afghanistan a chain of bases rises. Such as Camp Leatherneck. Any bets on how long we’ll be there? …

As America’s foreign policy becomes increasingly defined by our hubris and paranoia — seeing a world filled with nothing but client states, rivals, and enemies — we construct something almost unique in history: an Empire with no economic basis. Costing much, built with borrowed money, and providing no economic benefit to America (although enriching powerful special interests). A monument to folly. …

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Russian FM: arms control and missile shield linked

Associated Press
20 May 2009

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister says U.S. missile defense plans need to be taken into account in talks on further reductions in nuclear arsenals.

Sergey Lavrov says it’s impossible to achieve progress in negotiating a new arms control treaty without taking into consideration the planned missile shield.

Lavrov spoke Wednesday as Russian and U.S. negotiators continued their talks to work out a replacement to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START I, which expires in December. The talks started in Moscow Tuesday.

President Barack Obama has put his predecessor’s plan for a missile defense in Europe on hold, but Russia wants the U.S. to scrap the anti-missile system altogether.

Lavrov’s statement followed a similar warning from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.


US-Europe missile defense won't work: think tank

AFP – New York
19 May 2009

A planned US anti-missile system, hotly opposed by Russia, to defend Europe against the threat of missile attack from Iran would not work, a new study by a US-based think tank said Tuesday.

The study by the New York-based EastWest Institute found the proposed system “will not provide dependable protection against an Iranian threat if and when it emerges.”

The study titled “Iran?s Nuclear and Missile Potential” was produced by a joint team of US and Russian military and academic experts.

Its findings fall in line with arguments made by Moscow, which says the plan for a radar-and-interceptor system based in Poland and the Czech Republic would threaten Russian security, but fail to protect against an Iranian attack.

The issue poisoned relations between Moscow and Washington under former US president George W. Bush.

President Barack Obama, who took office this January, has said he will pursue the planned missile shield as long as Iran remains a “real threat,” while adding that the system needs to be “cost-effective and proven.”

According to the report, Iran could in theory easily launch sufficient rockets or decoys to overwhelm the planned system. …


Patriot Battery to Arrive This Year, Poland Says

Global Security Newswire – Washington
Monday, May 18, 2009

A senior Polish defense official said today that the United States is likely to field a Patriot battery in his nation this year even if the Obama administration curbs plans for missile defense installations in Europe …

The Bush administration planned to deploy 10 ballistic missile interceptors in Poland as part of a European missile shield that would also include a radar base in the Czech Republic. In return, it promised military aid that would include deployment of the 100-missile Patriot battery to Poland for a limited time per year in 2009, 2010 and 2011, “providing an opportunity for training up our soldiers and our systems,” Komorowski [Deputy Defense Minister] said. …

“Regardless of the decision (on missile defense), President [Barack] Obama has said other cooperation with Poland, including strategic projects such as modernization of our armed forces, will definitely be continued,” Komorowski told Reuters. …


US wars mentally scars troops for life

Press TV
Sun, 17 May 2009

The psychological impacts of US wars on Iraq and Afghanistan has reportedly left American military forces mentally scarred for life.

The Washington Post published a fact-based report on Sunday, estimating that more than 20 percent of the US combat forces deployed to in Iraq and Afghanistan war zones return home psychologically damaged.

According to the report, the soldiers mostly suffer from major depression and long periods of combat-related stress, and show severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The report said that US commanders became especially alarmed after military suicide rates reached an all-time high this year with 64 men killing themselves only in the first months of 2009 — a number that could soon surpass those killed in action. …


US puts ballistic missile flight tracking satellite in orbit

15 May 2009

The United States has launched a satellite intended to detect and track missile flights, the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced. The Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) Advanced Technology Risk Reduction (ATRR) satellite was launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

The STSS ATRR is a small experimental satellite that will serve as a forerunner for next-Credit: Northrop Grummangeneration sensor technology for future MDA space missions.

The MDA is pursuing a space-based sensor layer to detect missile launches, provide continuous target tracking, and pass track data to missile defense interceptors with the accuracy and timeliness necessary to enable successful target interception. …

The Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) space sensor layer will provide combatant commanders with the ability to continuously track strategic and tactical ballistic missiles from launch through termination. …


Pentagon Preparing for War with the 'Enemy': Russia

by Rick Rozoff
16 May 2009

“Today the situation is much more serious than before August 2008…. [A] possible recurrence of war will not be limited to the Caucasus.

“The new President of the United States did not bring about any crucial changes in relation to Georgia, but having a dominant role in NATO he still insists on Georgia’s soonest joining of the Alliance. If it happens, the world would face a more serious threat than the crises of the Cold War.

“Under the new realities, Georgia’s war against South Ossetia may easily turn into NATO’s war against Russia. This would be a third world war.”

On May 12 James Mattis, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation [ACT] and commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command, spoke at a three-day symposium called Joint Warfighting 09 in Norfolk, Virginia, where NATO’s Allied Command Transformation is based, and stated: “I come with a sense of urgency. The enemy is meeting like this as well.” …

A local newspaper summarized his speech:

“Mattis outlined a future in which wars will not have clearly defined beginnings and ends. What is needed, he said, is a grand strategy, a political framework that can guide military planning.”

He failed, for what passes for diplomatic reasons no doubt, to identify who “the enemy” is, but a series of recent developments, or rather an intensification of ongoing ones, indicate which nation it is.

Last week the head of the U.S. Strategic Command, Gen. Kevin Chilton, told reporters during a Defense Writers Group breakfast on May 7 “that the White House retains the option to respond with physical force – potentially even using nuclear weapons – if a foreign entity conducts a disabling cyber attack against U.S. computer networks….”

An account of his talk added “the general insisted that all strike options, including nuclear, would remain available to the commander in chief in defending the nation from cyber strikes.” …

So in addition to US plans to deploy ground-, sea-, air- and space-based anti-missile systems primarily around and against Russia (Poland, the Czech Republic, Norway, Britain, Japan and Alaska to date), the Pentagon will hold in reserve nuclear warheads for activation without a monitoring mechanism provided to Russian inspectors and arms reduction negotiators.

On May 6 Euronews conducted an interview with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who warned, “The way it [the US anti-ballistic missile shield] is designed has nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear program. It is aimed at Russian strategic forces, deployed in the European part of the Russian Federation. …


Obama boosts nuclear talks, split remains

Sat May 16, 2009
By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Talks on reforming a 1970 nuclear arms treaty ended on Friday with signs of progress due to President Barack Obama’s vow to reduce the U.S. arsenal, but the wide chasm between rich and poor states remains.

A two-week conference at U.N. headquarters on the landmark nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty defied expectations last week when the 189 signatories unanimously agreed an agenda for the next major review next year. …

The latest conference was the first time in years that the NPT signatories, polarized after former U.S. President George W. Bush backed out of previous disarmament pledges, had reached an agreement.

Obama sent a message to the conference in which he reiterated his vow to take new steps to cut nuclear weapons while urging delegations to bridge differences on strengthening the treaty. Many delegates said it helped break years of deadlock at NPT meetings. …