Entries Tagged as ''

The Pentagon Prepares for a Missile Attack from 'Iran'

Time Magazine
By Mark Thompson
December 17, 2009

Fake “North Korean” missiles have been hurtling over the Pacific toward the U.S. for years, providing test fodder for the Pentagon’s missile-defense systems. But next month, the fake enemy missiles flying over the same ocean are going to be “Iranian.” The timing of the test, however, has nothing to do with a missile test-fired by Iran on Tuesday. That was a medium-range Sajjil-2 missile capable of targeting Israel or U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf. Next month’s U.S. interceptor test will, instead, be aimed at the as-yet-hypothetical threat of an Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), even though such a threat has been deemed by the Obama Administration to be unlikely in the immediate future. …

The U.S. currently has 23 ground-based interceptors based in Alaska and California, and they could be used against missiles launched — for real — from either North Korea or Iran.

Read more: www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1948070,00.html#ixzz0aV8vCTNj

US approves 2010 military budget

Capital FM
December 19, 2009

The US Congress on Saturday sent US President Barack Obama a massive annual military spending bill that funds current operations in Afghanistan and pays for the troop withdrawal from Iraq.

In a rare weekend vote, the Senate approved the 636.3-billion-dollar package, which cleared the House of Representatives 395-34 on Wednesday, by an 88-10 margin.

Obama is expected to send Congress an emergency spending measure of at least 30 billion dollars early next year to pay for his recently announced decision to send 30,000 more US troops to Afghanistan.

The bill includes 101.1 billion dollars for operations and maintenance and military personnel requirements in Iraq and Afghanistan and to carry out the planned withdrawal of all US combat forces from Iraq by August 2010.

The package also funds the purchase of 6,600 new Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armoured vehicles configured to better resist improvised explosive devices — roadside bombs used to deadly effect by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bill includes 80 million dollars to acquire more unmanned “Predator” drones, a key tool in the US air war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

That campaign deploys unmanned Predator and larger Reaper drones equipped with infrared cameras and armed with precision-guided bombs and Hellfire missiles.

With little public debate in the United States, the pace of the drone bombing raids has steadily increased, starting last year during ex-president George W. Bush’s final months in office and now under Obama’s tenure.

The spending bill upholds Obama’s ban on torture of detainees in US custody, continues a general provision forbidding the establishment of permanent bases in Iraq or Afghanistan, and provides no funds to close the prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay.

Read more: http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/International/US-approves-2010-military-budget-6871.html#ixzz0aJMyn2R7
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Turkey opposed to U.S. missile defense deployment

RIA Novosti
December 16, 2009

Turkey objects to plans of deploying U.S. missile defense elements on its soil because it could worsen relations with Russia and Iran, national media reported Wednesday.

According to Milliyet daily, U.S. President Barack Obama last week proposed placing a “missile shield” on Turkish soil.

“Both Russia and Iran will perceive that [deployment] as a threat,” a Turkish military source was quoted as saying.

U.S. President Barack Obama recently scrapped plans for Poland and the Czech Republic to host missile shield elements to counter possible strikes from Iran.

Due to a re-assessment of the threat for Iran, Washington announced a new scheme for a more flexible system, with a combination of land and sea-based interceptors based on the Standard Missile interceptor, SM-3.

Under the new plan, the U.S. would place ship-based SM-3s in the North and Mediterranean seas in 2011, and mobile land-based SM-3s in Central Europe by 2015.

The paper said “such technology will turn Turkey into a legitimate target for Iran’s medium and shorter range missiles.”


US, Poland status of forces pact deepens military cooperation

Christian Science Monitor
By Jaroslaw Adamowski
December 11, 2009

The US, Poland status of forces pact signed Friday allows deployment of a missile defense system to go forward. An earlier proposal for a more robust missile system had drawn the ire of Russia.

The US and Poland have reached an agreement to station an American antimissile defense system on Polish soil two months after plans to install a more robust missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic were scrapped in the face of intense Russian opposition. But the close military cooperation between the US and Poland, including US troops in the country, means the deal is likely to remain a major concern for Russia.

The deployment, under a new Status of Forces Agreement reached between Poland and the US, calls for US troops to install and operate a mobile, land-based set of short- and medium-range missiles to defend against incoming attacks.

The equipment includes SM-3 IA missiles and a MIM-104 Patriot mobile missile battery. Both types of missile are designed to shoot down short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. The missiles could arrive in Poland as soon as the first quarter of 2010.

Though Russia is unhappy about the growing military ties between the US and former Warsaw Pact nations, the current plan is more modest than the earlier one, which included long-range missile interceptors. The missiles to be stationed in Poland will not have the capacity to be used offensively against Russia and aren’t capable of shooting down the long-range missiles in the Russian arsenal. …


United States, Russia Extend START Arms Cut Pact Past Deadline


The United States and Russia have agreed to maintain a critical nuclear arms control agreement past its expiration date until a new agreement is reached, saying that strategic stability is very important.

In April, when President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev held their first face-to-face meeting in London, the two leaders pledged to work for a world free of nuclear arms, and said every effort would be made before the end of this year to reduce their nuclear arsenals with the long-term goal of reducing global nuclear tensions.

In a joint statement December 4 issued in Washington and Moscow, they said that it’s too important to let the terms of the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty ( START ) expire on December 5 while negotiators continue working on a successor treaty. …

At the Moscow Summit in July, Obama and Medvedev agreed to reduce the number of nuclear warheads each possesses to a range of 1,500 to 1,675 over seven years. The treaty would also limit the means of delivery, which include nuclear-powered submarines, long-range bombers, and intercontinental ballistic missiles. The missiles can be used to deliver non-nuclear warheads over the same distance, and that has been one of several highly technical areas of discussion.

START was signed July 31, 1991, by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and President George H.W. Bush; President Ronald Reagan originally proposed the treaty in 1982. It was designed to limit nuclear warheads to about 6,000 in each arsenal.

In 2002, the United States and Russia agreed to the Moscow Treaty that sought to reduce nuclear arsenals to between 1,700 and 2,200 operationally deployed warheads by 2012.

In Prague earlier this year, Obama called for a nuclear-weapons-free world and pledged to work for greater arms control and nonproliferation goals. It comes at a time when Washington is enlisting Moscow’s support in curbing the nuclear ambitions of both North Korea and Iran. The United States and Russia participate in talks aimed at convincing the two regimes to give up weapons and long-range missile development programs in return for economic and political incentives.

START negotiations are being held in Geneva and are led by Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller and Russian negotiator Anatoly Antonov. They have been working quickly to resolve remaining differences in areas of offensive weapons levels and missile defense issues.


Agent Orange's lethal legacy: At former U.S. bases in Vietnam, a potent poison is clear and present danger

Chicago Tribune
By Jason Grotto
December 9, 2009

… U.S. air bases in Vietnam remain highly polluted by defoliants, but the U.S. has done little to clean up the sites it contaminated during the war.

When a small Canadian environmental firm started collecting soil samples on a former U.S. air base in a remote Vietnam valley, Thomas Boivin and other scientists were skeptical they’d find evidence proving herbicides used there by the U.S. military decades ago still posed a health threat.

But results showed levels of the cancer-causing poison dioxin were far greater than guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for residential areas. …

Vancouver-based Hatfield Consultants began tracing the toxin through the food chain, from the soil and sediment of nearby ponds to the fat of ducks and fish to the blood and breast milk of villagers living on the contaminated site.

The breast milk of one woman from the study contained dioxin levels six times higher than what the World Health Organization deems safe. She also had a 2-year-old child with spina bifida, one of the birth defects for which the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs compensates the children of U.S. veterans.

Since then, Hatfield and Vietnamese scientists have taken samples from nearly 3,000 former U.S. military bases scattered throughout South Vietnam and identified 28 “hot spots,” including three highly contaminated sites around populated areas in Da Nang, Bien Hoa and Phu Cat.

Their findings offered a way to recast the legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam as a solvable — and urgent — issue. Instead of a messy controversy over birth defects and other complex health issues, the discovery of persistent contamination focused attention on a measurable, present-day problem that could be addressed.

Yet since the first Hatfield study was published in 2000, the U.S. government has done little to help clean up the sites it contaminated during the Vietnam War, providing just $6 million to tackle both the serious health issues related to the contamination and the significant environmental damage caused by the defoliants. …


Italy: Activists to protest against Obama peace prize

Adnkronos International
December 7, 2009

Italian peace activists opposed to the construction of a US airbase in the northern city of Vicenza have travelled to the Norwegian capital, Oslo, to challenge the presentation of the Nobel Peace prize to president Barack Obama. “Our goal is to protest against president Barack Obama, who will be receiving the Nobel peace prize for his war policy,” said the No Dal Molin organisation on its website.

“It materialised in Vicenza with the construction of a new and devastating military base.”

No Dal Molin says that the base, which will house the 173rd Airborne Brigade, plays a leading role in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The city of Vicenza also hosts Africom the US headquarters for military operations in the African continent.

“The US military presence is an occupation that the ‘Vicentini’ reject,” the activists said. “The man who will receive the Nobel Peace prize refuses to respect democracy in a European city and by imposing this new military project on Vicenza.

“With this decision president Obama loads a further magazine in his war machine-gun.”

The group defines itself as a movement led by ordinary people of all ages from across political, social and cultural boundaries mobilised to oppose the new US military base in Vicenza.

There are currently four major US Army installations in the country and several other naval bases. …


Japan's postponement of decision on Futenma relocation angers U.S.

Mainichi Daily News
December 7, 2009

Japan’s declaration that it will postpone a decision on the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture until sometime next year has drawn fire from the United States.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s attempt to gain a compromise from the United States failed as Washington stuck to the agreed upon plan to relocate Futenma base to an area off Camp Schwab in the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture.

After Japanese officials informed their U.S. counterparts of the postponement during a bilateral working group meeting on the issue Friday, U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos requested private talks with Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa while asking others to leave the room.

In the talks, Roos conveyed Washington’s anger at the decision and warned that Futenma base will remain in its current location permanently unless the two countries go ahead with the agreed upon relocation plan.


Japan to propose adding environmental regulations to U.S. bases treaty

Mainichi Daily News
December 3, 2009

The Japanese government will call for the addition of environmental regulations to the Japan-U.S. Status-of-Forces Agreement.

The proposal will be made at a coming meeting of the Cabinet-level working group established by the two nations to address the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. With the working group moving towards a solution of that issue and apparently ready to take up at least some reforms of the status-of-forces agreement, Japan is looking to lessen the burden of hosting U.S. forces on Okinawa Prefecture.

Specifically, the Japanese government will call on the inclusion of provisions calling on the United States to clean up any pollution connected to its bases, and allow both local and government officials access for inspections. There have been accidental spills of toxic substances such as fuel on and around U.S. bases, but under the current status-of-forces facilities management terms the United States is not responsible for cleaning up such spills upon return of the land to Japanese control and does not allow Japan to conduct environmental pollution assessments.

The Status-of-Forces Agreement was signed in 1960 based on the Japan-U.S. security pact. It has not been amended since, and contains no environmental provisions. …

… However, the United States is not showing any interest in amending the Status-of-Forces Agreement, and there is a danger that the U.S. will not shift away from its current incremental approach to improving the treaty.