US Rejected Israel's Plea For Strike Against Iran: Report
(NSI News Source Info) Washington (AFP) January 12, 2009: US President George W. Bush last year rejected a secret Israeli request for an air strike against the main Iranian nuclear complex using US bunker-busting bombs, The New York Times reported on its website late Saturday.International concerns are growing over the extent and purpose of Iran's nuclear industry.
Iran says its intentions are purely peaceful. But while some sites appear dedicated to developing nuclear energy, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says the role of others is less clear.But citing unnamed senior US and foreign officials, the newspaper said Bush had authorized a new covert operation aimed at sabotaging Iran's suspected effort to develop nuclear weapons.
The request was made last year by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who wanted US bunker-busting bombs and permission to fly over Iraq to attack Iran's major uranium enrichment complex at Natanz, the report said.
But top US administration officials led by Defense Secretary Robert Gates had convinced Bush that any overt attack on Iran would prove ineffective, lead to the expulsion of international inspectors and drive Iran's nuclear program deeper underground, the paper said.
Bush and his aides also discussed the possibility that an airstrike could ignite a broad Middle East war in which US troops in Iraq would inevitably become involved, according to The Times.
However, Bush opted for more intensive covert operations actions aimed at Iran, the report said. They include renewed US efforts to penetrate Iran's nuclear supply chain abroad, undermine the country's electrical and computer systems as well as other networks on which Iran relies, The Times said.
The effort is aimed at delaying the day that Iran can produce weapons-grade fuel for a workable nuclear weapon, according to the report.
Australian Troops Kill Taliban Commander / Australian Military Says Senior Taliban Commander Killed
(NSI News Source Info) January 12, 2009: Australian Special Forces have killed a senior Taliban insurgent in southern Afghanistan, the military said Sunday.
The Australian Defence Force said Mullah Abdul Rasheed was involved in bringing foreign fighters, improvised explosive device (IED) experts and potential suicide bombers into the restive area.
"Rasheed was a senior commander in the Baluchi Valley and was believed to be responsible for Taliban operations in the area resulting in the deaths of Coalition Force members and Afghan civilians in recent months," it said in a statement.
"He had been identified as a primary IED facilitator, responsible for coordinating IED emplacement in Uruzgan province."
The Australian military said its special forces troops ordered the attack following the receipt of all necessary approvals from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operating in Afghanistan.
In a statement, the ISAF said that Rasheed was killed on January 7.
On a visit to Australia's 1,000 troops in Afghanistan Saturday, defence force head Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said special forces had killed a long-hunted Taliban leader but did not name the commander.
"They went into an area (where) this guy was the leader. They got him," he told Australian Associated Press.
Rasheed is believed to be the organiser of the rocket attack that struck a remote patrol base in the Baluchi Valley just over a week ago, killing Australian Private Gregory Sher.
The soldier, whose funeral was held in Melbourne on Sunday, was the eighth Australian serviceman to die in Afghanistan.
Cyprus Buys Russian Tanks; Missiles May Follow / Greek-Cypriots To Buy Russian Tanks, Considering Missile Purchases
(NSI News Source Info) NICOSIA, Cyprus - January12, 2009: The House Defense Committee of the Greek-Cypriot government has approved funds for the purchase of 41 Russian-built T-90 tanks. The money is included as part of the 2009 defense budget.
The T-90 is a Russian main battle tank (MBT) derived from the T-72, and is currently the most modern tank in service with the Russian Ground Forces and Naval Infantry, and the Indian Army. The successor to T-72BM, the T-90 uses the gun and 1G46 gunner sights from the T-80U, a new engine, and thermal sights. Protective measures include Kontakt-5 ERA, laser warning receivers, the EMT-7 electromagnetic pulse creator for the destruction of magnetic mines and the Shtora infrared ATGM jamming system. It is designed and built by Uralvagonzavod, in Nizhny Tagil, Russia.
Cyprus already operates the Russian-made T-80 tank. The Russian tanks were selected over a rival bid from France. The cost of this deal is EUR115 million.
Currently, the Greek-Cypriot National Guard operates aging AMX30B2 tanks purchased from France and EE-9 Cascavel armored personnel carriers (APCs) acquired from Brazil.
The Greek-Cypriot Defense Ministry is also calling for the purchase of TOR M2 (SA-15 Gauntlet) mobile air defense missile systems and KORNET (AT-14) anti-armor missiles.
Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Launching South Korea's KOMPSAT-3 Satellite / Japan Rocket To Launch South Korean Satellite
(NSI News Source Info) SEOUL - January 12, 2009: Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said on Monday it had received an order from South Korea's aerospace agency to launch one if its satellites, marking the first time a Japanese rocket will carry a foreign satellite.
The launch of South Korea's KOMPSAT-3 satellite, designed to take images of the Earth, will be in Japan in 2011 or 2012, Mitsubishi Heavy (7011.T), the country's biggest machinery maker, said in a statement.
The deal was announced during a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso to South Korea.
South Korea, which is trying to develop its own rockets, has previously used a private firm in Russia for a satellite launch.
Mitsubishi Heavy, which took over the production and management of the H2-A rocket from Japan's space agency in 2007, has only launched government satellites. Out of the 14 launches, 13 have succeeded, Mitsubishi said.
Japan's space programme has struggled after launch failures. In 2003, it had to destroy an H2-A rocket carrying two spy satellites.
A spokesman for Mitsubishi Heavy in Tokyo declined to comment on how much the firm charged for the launch. Japan's Jiji news agency had reported last year that the launch may cost around 9 billion yen ($99.91 million).
North Korea Aiming To Expand Export Of Missiles At Any Cost To Earn Hard Currency / North Korea Arms Exports Rose To 100 Million Dollars Last Year: Report
(NSI News Source Info) January 12, 2009: Exports of North Korean missiles and other weapons rose in value to about 100 million dollars last year mainly due to tensions in the Middle East, a South Korean newspaper reported
The hardline communist country saw a sharp drop in weapons exports in 2007 because of international sanctions imposed after it tested missiles and an atom bomb in 2006.
Last year the value of its overseas arms sales rose to about 100 million dollars or more than 10 percent of total exports, the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper said.
It quoted an unidentified Seoul government official as saying progress in six-party nuclear disarmament talks last year helped North Korea sell more weapons.
The paper said purchasers felt less political burden in buying such weapons because the talks had made some headway.
The Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America were said to be export destinations.
"Middle East countries are known to have purchased a large amount of weapons from North Korea due to a military confrontation with Israel," the official was quoted as saying.
North Korea has allegedly supplied missiles to Syria, and Washington said Iranian officials were present at the North's missile test-launches in 2006.
The South's unification ministry and defence ministry said they could not confirm the newspaper report.
The United States has accused North Korea of being a leading global proliferator of weapons. But the cash-strapped country has refused to stop missile exports, a major source of hard currency earnings.
Additional Info: Related Topic
Source: Dawn - Pakistani Media
North Korea Gave Missile Technology To Pakistan(NSI News Source Info) January 12, 2009: The US for the first time on Wednesday explicitly accused Pakistan and North Korea of missile-related trade, but said it was unable to substantiate reports of nuclear technology transfers.
A State Department statement received here said North Korea had exported missile technology to the A.Q. Khan Research Laboratories (KRL).
The export prompted the US to slap trade sanctions on KRL and the North Korean missile marketing entity, Changgwang Sinyong Corporation, on March 24, spokesman Philip Reeker said in the statement.
“Changgwang Sinyong Corporation transferred missile-related technology to KRL,” Mr Reeker said, without specifying when.
“The United States made a determination to impose penalties on both Changgwang Sinyong Corporation and KRL as a result of this specific missile-related transfer.”
KRL and the North Korean firm have been banned from trade with US firms under the sanctions imposed on March 24, but only formally announced by the US on Monday.
Japan’s Sankei Shimbun newspaper reported on Wednesday that US satellites and spy networks detected North Korean exports of some 10 Scud B missiles to Pakistan last month.
An unnamed US security official told the paper the missiles were loaded on to a Pakistan-flagged cargo ship at a North Korean port in mid-March, and entered Pakistani territory in late March.
Numerous media reports, quoting unnamed US intelligence officials, have alleged that Pakistan exported nuclear technology to North Korea.
The reports alleged North Korea had received from Pakistan designs for gas centrifuges to make weapons-grade uranium to manufacture fissile material for nuclear bombs.But Mr Reeker said Washington was unable to prove the reports.
“We informed the Congress on March 12 that the administration had carefully reviewed the facts relating to the possible transfer of nuclear technology from Pakistan to North Korea, and decided that the facts do not warrant the imposition of sanctions under applicable US laws.”