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Washington negotiator calls on Israel to sign nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty

Julian Borger
6 May 2009

[Change of US policy on Israel’s nuclear weapons – or slip of the tongue?]

A diplomatic row broke out today between the US and Israel after Washington’s chief nuclear arms negotiator called on Israel to sign the Non Proliferation Treaty, breaking a US tradition of discretion over Israel’s nuclear arsenal. …

Israeli officials said they were puzzled by a speech to an international conference in New York by Rose Gottemoeller, an assistant secretary of state, who said: “Universal adherence to the NPT itself – including by India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea – also remains a fundamental objective of the United States.”

By including Israel on a list of countries known to have nuclear weapons. Gottemoeller broke with normal US diplomatic practice. Since 1968 when the CIA reported Israel had developed a nuclear weapon , Washington has pursued a policy of not demanding transparency from its close ally, and in return Israel agreed not to test a bomb or declare its nuclear capability – a policy of “strategic ambiguity”.

“As far as we are concerned, there is no change to the close dialogue we have with Washington,” Yossi Levy, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman …


The President’s 2010 Budget

President Obama’s Budget for the fiscal year 2010 is online at www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget

In his Presidental Transmittal Letter he says

“… in order to keep America strong and secure, the Budget includes critical investments in rebuilding our military, securing our homeland, and expanding our diplomatic efforts because we need to use all elements of our power to provide for our national security. We are not only proposing significant funding for our national security, but we are also being careful with those investments by, for instance, reforming defense contracting so that we are using our defense dollars to their maximum effect.”

A budget overview in the form a large number of pdf files together with a vast quantity of related information including a fact sheet on the U.S. Department of Defense.

The complete budget overview as a 140 document is available to download at www.whitehouse.gov/omb/assets/fy2010_new_era/A_New_Era_of_Responsibility2.pdf

FACTBOX-Major weapon changes in 2010 U.S. defense budget

Reuters – USA
7 May 2009

The Pentagon on Thursday sent Congress a fiscal 2010 budget plan that shifts funding to focus more on irregular warfare and take better care of troops, while cutting back or canceling several major weapons programs.

Some of the recommendations, which must still be approved by Congress, call for:

… [ a long list of cuts, cancellations and terminations including:] …

Cuts of $1.2 billion in funding from the missile defense program, with the lion’s share of the cuts coming from the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system built by Boeing, and the Patriot PAC-3 missile program run by Raytheon Co and Lockheed. Officials said they also canceled funding for the Kinetic Energy Interceptor being developed by Northrop Grumman Corp. …


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Obama pledge on nuclear weapons wins praise at UN

By Edith M. Lederer
Associated Press
May 4 2009

UNITED NATIONS – President Barack Obama’s pledge to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons won praise Monday from China and key developing countries, and spurred hope that Washington’s policy shift and new U.S.-Russian cooperation will end a long deadlock on global disarmament efforts. …

… there was widespread recognition — even from Iran — that Obama’s engagement with the Russians was an important reversal from Bush administration policies, which didn’t seek negotiations on major arms control cuts and angered Moscow by announcing its intention to install a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

In a joint declaration on April 1, Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered negotiators to start work on a new treaty reducing their nuclear stockpiles as a first step towards “a nuclear-weapon-free world.” The U.S. president also promised to seek speedy Senate ratification of the nuclear test ban treaty and to launch a global effort to secure nuclear material.


Inside the Numbers – Obama's War Budget

By Jeff Leys
4 May 2009

President Obama’s 2009 supplemental spending request to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is currently before Congress. The House Appropriations Committee will “mark up” (finalize its version) of a war funding bill at a committee hearing on May 7th. …

President Obama is seeking an additional $75.8 billion in war funds for this fiscal year. It is possible that Congress will add to this amount before final passage. If Congress enacts Obama’s request, total war spending will come to $144.6 billion for Fiscal Year 2009 (which ends on September 30, with Fiscal Year 2010 beginning on October 1). This compares to the $186 billion war spending in 2008. Obama’s proposed war budget for 2010 is $130 billion.

At first glance, it is easy to conclude that the proposed 22 percent reduction in war spending from 2008 to 2009 represents a significant shift in war strategy and is indicative of a drawing down of the twin wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sadly, such a conclusion would be wrong.


Krystian Zimerman's shocking Disney Hall debut

Los Angeles Times
April 27 2009

Poland’s Krystian Zimerman, widely regarded as one of the finest pianists in the world, created a furor Sunday night in his debut at Walt Disney Concert Hall when he announced this would be his last performance in America because of the nation’s military policies overseas.

Before playing the final work on his recital … Zimerman sat silently at the piano for a moment, almost began to play, but then turned to the audience. In a quiet but angry voice … he indicated that he could no longer play in a country whose military wants to control the whole world.

“Get your hands off of my country,” he said. [Obviously referring to US plans to put “missile defense” interceptors into Poland.] …

About 30 or 40 people in the audience walked out, some shouting obscenities. “Yes,” he answered, “some people when they hear the word military start marching.”

Others remained but booed or yelled for him to shut up and play the piano. But many more cheered. Zimerman responded by saying that America has far finer things to export than the military, and he thanked those who support democracy.


S. Korea, US Near Base Relocation Agreement

Korea Times – South Korea
By Jung Sung-ki
29 April 2009

South Korea and the United States have failed to finalize a deal on the relocation of U.S. military bases to south of Seoul.

Both sides, however, neared a final agreement, as they narrowed their differences on most aspects of the deal, including the timing, cost and other matters, but not the construction of homes for U.S. military families assigned to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, a spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense said Wednesday.

The two sides will hold another round of talks in May, he said. …

About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed here as a deterrent against Stalinist North Korea, which is seeking to become a nuclear power. …

The project is estimted to cost about $13 billion, about 50 percent of which is being provided by South Korea.


Confirmed: Israel, US Will Hold Massive Joint Exercise

Evening Bulletin – Philadelphia,PA,USA
By David Bedein, Middle East Correspondent
April 16, 2009

Israel and the United States plan to hold a major ballistic missile defense exercise later this year called Juniper Cobra. The maneuver will jointly test three different American and Israeli missile defense systems.

Israeli defense officials said Monday the exercise is necessary to create a joint missile defense infrastructure in the event of a conflict with Iran akin to what existed in 1991, when American Patriot batteries shot down inbound Iraqi Scuds. …