(NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - March 13, 2009: A top Taliban commander has told CNN his insurgents are poised and ready to attack Kabul and could strike virtually anywhere in the city. (Photo/image: Afghan security forces patrol the streets of Kabul). It would be tempting to put this down to Taliban propaganda except one of Kabul's top cops is saying the same thing. "We are working on a security strategy for the city and if we don't get it right, they [the Taliban] can attack at any minute, at any hour, any time," says Commander Mohammed Daud Amin, in charge of securing the Kabul district that includes the Presidential Palace and many government ministries. Proof of the menacing threat came just last month when eight Taliban fighters, bristling with weapons and suicide vests, burst into three government buildings in the center of Kabul. Police and security forces managed to kill all the insurgents before they could detonate their vests, but 20 people were killed and dozens were wounded. The attack took many by surprise and it underlined the credibility of Taliban threats. It was also seen as one of the most direct attacks on the government of President Hamid Karzai and gave new authority to claims that the Taliban are isolating the capital, one of the last bastions of security in Afghanistan, compromising many routes in and out of the city. "Staff... staff," Amin points to pictures of dead Justice Ministry staff from his evidence book of the crime scene of last month's attack. With every page, the carnage is laid bare. There are several pictures of government employees shot dead as they worked, blood splattering the ministry walls and floors. Watch Amin pore over photos of the bloodshed » As Amin continues to flip through the book, he reveals pictures of dead militants and many of those images defy description. In one picture, the militant is missing an arm, which Amin says was torn off as he detonated a hand grenade. In other pictures there are few body parts that can be discerned, save for the militant's head. "Police went looking for the insurgents and they went after them inside. We are convinced the insurgents wanted to hold ministry employees hostage." says Amin. Many in Kabul applauded the courage and tactics of individual officers in their handling of the ministry attack. Amin says he and his men managed to prevent a deadly and prolonged hostage situation One of his men is 22-year-old Ahmed Zahir. We found him patrolling the streets of Kabul just outside the Presidential Palace walls. He describes what happened to him that day as dozens of people started pouring out of the Justice Ministry and running towards his police post in a panic. Zahir says he ran into the ministry building and was caught in a firefight, eventually killing one insurgent. While his courage seems commendable, his disillusionment over how his superiors responded to his efforts is less so, and his reactions are disturbing. "The government didn't thank me and they did not help me afterwards," says Zahir, with evident bitterness. By help, he means money. Police in Kabul earn less than $200 a month, considerably less than it costs to live in the capital, even for those not supporting a family. With low wages comes low morale and an invitation to corruption -- Afghanistan's police are regularly accused of being on the take. And yet their jobs couldn't be more crucial in trying to keep together the country's fragile security. Take Kabul, a city clogged with somewhere between four and five million people -- no one knows for sure -- and traffic to match that human crush. It's not hard to see how eight Taliban fighters seemed to so easily slip into the city last month. "They used government cars with tinted glass and we have no authority to stop them" says Abdulla Mahbob, a police officer at one of Kabul's key checkpoints. Still, coalition forces have no choice by to keep rooting for Kabul's cops. By the end of the year, NATO will hand over much of the responsibility for securing the capital to the city's police force. And that will be a crucial test to see if this city and this country can stand on its own, even with the Taliban standing at the gate.
Friday, March 13, 2009
ATK, Indonesian Aerospace Team For ISR Opportunities / PTDI And ATK Mission Systems Group In Cooperation
ATK, Indonesian Aerospace Team For ISR Opportunities / PTDI And ATK Mission Systems Group In Cooperation
(NSI News Source Info) March 13, 2009: PTDI (Indonesian Aerospace) is working out a closer cooperative agreement with Alliant Techsystems International Mission Group – Special Mission Aircraft Business, a leading and prominent company in the field of aerospace and defense from Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA).
The MoU between the two companies is signed today by Vice President Director, Budi Santoso and ATK Vice President and General Manager, David L. Sharpen on March 11, 2009 in Jakarta. ATK Mission Systems - ATK provides mission systems solutions through ATK Mission Systems, a leading supplier of aerospace systems, weapons systems, and technical services. Major Products and Programs *Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) *Extended Range Munition (ERM) *120mm tank ammunition *Force protection systems *Fuzing and integrated ordnance *Directed-energy and high-power microwave technologies *Structures for aircraft, weapons, missile defense interceptors, satellites, and spacecraft *Electro-optical and infrared sensor systems and testing *Advanced signal processing and communications techniques *Hardened microelectronics for nuclear and space environments *Advanced laser and coherent optics applications *STAR upper-stage motors and STAR stages for spacecraft orbit transfer *Propulsion and control systems for missile defense interceptors *Hypervelocity and air-breathing propulsion systems for next-generation space vehicles and weapons *AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Systems *Integrated sensor and data acquisition for surveillance aircraft *Propulsion systems for tactical missiles and guided projectiles ATK Mission Systems Overview Locations and Contact Information
According to Budi Santoso, Alliant Techsystems Inc (ATK) and PT Dirgantara Indonesia (Persero) have agreed to work together to explore and asses airborne intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) opportunities and initiatives leading to a future cooperative business relationship.
So far PTDI has successfully marketed its maritime patrol aircraft for both domestic and foreign uses, namely four CN-235 MPA for the Republic of South Korea, one unit of CN-235 MPA for the Indonesian Air Force and one unit of C-212 MPA for the Indonesian Navy.
Another PTDI experience in this field is MPA system application on the CN-235 operated by the Air Force and Navy of Turkey.
Iran 'One Or Two Years' From Nuclear Weapon: Russian Expert / Iran Missile, Nuclear Threat 'Real, Dangerous' - Russian Analyst
Iran 'One Or Two Years' From Nuclear Weapon: Russian Expert / Iran Missile, Nuclear Threat 'Real, Dangerous' - Russian Analyst
(NSI News Source Info) March 13, 2009: Russia and the West would be making a big mistake if they ignored or underestimated the potential missile and nuclear threat coming from Iran, a Russian military expert said on Thursday. "Iran is actively working on a missile development program. I won't say the Iranians will be able to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles in the near future, but they will most likely be able to threaten the whole of Europe," said Maj. Gen. Vladimir Dvorkin, head of the Moscow-based Center for Strategic Nuclear Forces. Some Western and Russian sources claim that Iran may be currently running a program, dubbed Project Koussar, to develop a totally different missile with a range of 4,000-5,000 km (2,500-3,300 miles). "Iran has long abandoned outdated missile technologies and is capable of producing sophisticated missile systems," Dvorkin said at a news conference in RIA Novosti. Iran successfully launched last year an upgraded Shahab-3 ballistic missile as part of a navy exercise, dubbed Great Prophet 3, in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. With a reported range of 2,000 kilometers and armed with a 1-ton conventional warhead, the Shahab-3 puts Israel, Turkey, the Arabian peninsula, Afghanistan and Pakistan within striking distance. Western powers led by the United States, along with Israel, accuse Tehran of attempting to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology for their delivery. Iran says it needs its nuclear program for the peaceful generation of electricity and missile program for space exploration. Iran has consistently defied international demands to halt its nuclear program and insists it plans to use enriched uranium fuel produced at a uranium enrichment facility at Natanz in its first domestically-built nuclear power plant, in the town of Darkhovin, which is scheduled to become operational in 2016. Tehran announced in late February that it had 6,000 operating centrifuges at Natanz and was planning to install a total of 50,000 over the next five years. Commenting on the Iranian nuclear program, Dvorkin said the potential danger of its military aspect was not the possibility of a nuclear strike against some countries, but the ability to assume a more bold approach in dealing with the international community after becoming a nuclear power. "The real threat is that Iran, which is already ignoring all resolutions and sanctions issued by the UN Security Council, will be practically 'untouchable' after acquiring nuclear-power status, and will be able to expand its support of terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Hezbollah," the expert said. He added that the possession of nuclear weapons by Iran could force non-nuclear countries to seek similar weapons and ballistic missile technologies thus starting a nuclear race and increasing the possibility of a nuclear conflict. Dvorkin has had a role in writing all major strategy documents for the Strategic Nuclear Forces and the Strategic Missile Forces. As an expert in the field he participated in preparing the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the START I and START II pacts, and has made a significant contribution to formulating Soviet and Russian positions at negotiations on strategic offensive arms control and reduction.
US Lawmakers: Pakistan Must Give Access To Nuclear Scientist
(NSI News Source Info) Washington - March 13, 2009: US lawmakers on Thursday introduced legislation aiming to cut off military aid to Pakistan unless US officials are able to question alleged nuclear proliferator Abdul Qadeer Khan. Pakistani cricket star turned politician Imran Khan (R) meets nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, at his residence after a court verdict in Islamabad February 7, 2009. A Pakistani court declared Abdul Qadeer Khan free on Friday, ending five years of house arrest for the man at the centre of the world's most serious proliferation scandal. Abdul Qadeer Khan, lionised by many Pakistanis as the father of the country's atomic bomb, confessed to selling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya in 2004, but was immediately pardoned by the government, although his movements were restricted to effective house arrest. Khan, released from house arrest in early February, "is again a loose nuke scientist with proven ability to sell the worst weapons to the worst people," said Democratic Representative Jane Harman, a lead author of the bill. The legislation would also tie continued US military aid -- equipment, supplies, and training -- to getting satisfactory assurances from Islamabad that it is monitoring Khan's movements and activities. "Hopefully, appropriate Pakistani officials worry as we do that their civilians could become nuclear targets -- as could NATO soldiers in neighboring Afghanistan or civilians in any number of Western countries," said Harman. The measure would tie aid to White House certification that Pakistan is making Khan available to the US government for questioning and is giving "adequate assurances" that it will watch him "to prevent his participation in any efforts to disseminate nuclear technology or know-how." It would also, however, give President Barack Obama the power to waive the restriction if he certifies that it is in the US national interest to do so. Khan, 72, was freed by a Pakistani court February 6. He had been under a virtual house arrest in Islamabad since February 2004, when he publicly confessed to sending nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, although he later retracted his remarks. Military ruler and then president Pervez Musharraf pardoned Khan in 2004, but he was kept at his residence, guarded by troops and intelligence agents. Days after the court ordered Khan, dubbed the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, freed from house arrest, a US State Department official said Islamabad had promised steps to keep him from becoming a renewed proliferation threat. But the official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, said Washington was skeptical and wanted more "solid" assurances that Pakistan was restricting his movements and contacts. "I understand that he has to notify (his) government 48 hours in advance if he wants to travel outside of Islamabad. That's one of the things they've communicated to us," according to the official. Khan's release came after the United States, one of Pakistan's key allies, on January 12 unveiled sanctions against Khan, 12 associates and three firms linked to his nuclear proliferation network. The US sanctions forbid them from having business dealings with the US government or private US firms in what the State Department said was a renewed bid to make sure the network has been shut down entirely. Democratic Representatives Ellen Tauscher and Gerry Connolly and Republican Representative Ed Royce joined Harman in introducing the measure.
Singapore Firm Running For Key India Arms Contract: Report
(NSI News Source Info) Singapore - March 13, 2009: A state-linked Singapore firm is bidding for a key contract worth one billion Singapore dollars (650 million US) to supply mobile artillery to the Indian military, a newspaper said Thursday. The Straits Times quoted an unnamed Indian official as saying the South Asian giant's army was happy with an ultra-lightweight cannon from defence and engineering firm Singapore Technologies Kinetics (ST Kinetics). "We like the artillery," the Indian official said. ST Kinetics, the land systems and specialty vehicles arm of Singapore Technologies Engineering, confirmed it had made a bit for the contract. "We are participating in the tender which is currently at the evaluation stage," a company spokeswoman said. "As it is still under evaluation and we are bound by customer confidentiality agreements, we are unable to comment further." The report said the Indian army evaluated the Singapore-made Pegasus ultra-lightweight cannon -- said to be the first self-propelled, helicopter-portable weapon of its kind and capable of firing three rounds in 24 seconds. The contract is for 145 cannons, it said. India, which has long had uneasy relations with fellow nuclear-armed neighbour Pakistan, is looking to modernise its military hardware, in the past sourced mainly from the former Soviet Union. The Indian military has said it cannot cut defence spending even during the current financial crisis and plans to hand out contracts worth 30 billion US dollars in the next three to four years. The defence budget accounts for 2.5 percent of GDP and India has imported military hardware worth 28 billion dollars since 2000. ST Engineering is listed on the Singapore exchange and reported a turnover of 5.34 billion Singapore dollars (3.47 billion US) in 2008. It is one of the companies under state investment agency Temasek Holdings.
U.S. Destroyers To Escort Ships In S. China Sea / US Destroyers To Escort Ships In South China Sea: official
U.S. Destroyers To Escort Ships In S. China Sea / US Destroyers To Escort Ships In South China Sea: official
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - March 13, 2009: The United States has decided to provide heavily armed destroyers to escort U.S. surveillance ships operating in the South China Sea after a tense naval standoff this week, a U.S. official said March 12. "Right now they are going to escort these types of ships for the foreseeable future," the defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP. The U.S. government has said Chinese boats moved directly in front of the U.S. Navy surveillance vessel Impeccable on Sunday, forcing the ship to take emergency action to avoid a collision. A day after the incident, the USS Chung-Hoon destroyer accompanied the Impeccable - an unarmed ship designed to track submarines with sonar - in the same area, the official said. Since Sunday's high-seas standoff, there have been no incidents of harassment from Chinese boats or aircraft, he said. "It's been quiet," the official said. "There's a great deal of emphasis right now to keep this at the diplomatic level. So that's been our focus." The escorts by warships applied to operations in the South China Sea, he said. Chinese military chiefs believe the U.S. Navy ship was on a spying mission, state media reported March 11. The U.S. keeps a close eye on China's military arsenal, including its expanding fleet of submarines. The episode complicated fragile military relations between the world powers, which had improved after the two held defense talks in Beijing last month. President Barack Obama on March 12 urged more military dialogue with China to avoid similar incidents after talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, the White House said in a statement. "The president also stressed the importance of raising the level and frequency of the U.S.-China military-to-military dialogue in order to avoid future incidents," it said. As part of cooperation efforts, the two countries established a hotline between the Chinese defense ministry and the Pentagon in April last year. But the hotline was not used during or after Sunday's standoff, defense officials said. The U.S. government immediately protested to Chinese authorities after the incident, which occurred about 75 miles (120 kilometers) south of Hainan Island. Beijing has rejected the U.S. account and demanded the United States cease what it calls illegal activities in the South China Sea. The Chinese maintain the area is part of the country's exclusive economic zone. Washington insists the area is part of international waters and that U.S. ships have a legal right to operate there. The Chung-Hoon is a guided-missile destroyer based in Hawaii that joined the U.S. Navy fleet in 2004.
Georgia Says It Would Consider Hosting U.S. Base
(NSI News Source Info) TBILISI - March 13, 2009: Ex-Soviet Georgia would seriously consider hosting a U.S. military base if asked and is prepared to act as a transit route for Western forces in Afghanistan, senior Georgian officials said March 12. "If the United States thinks it wants to establish a base, we will seriously consider it," Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze told Japan's Nikkei newspaper in an interview published Thursday. He emphasized, however, that the U.S. and Georgia were not currently holding talks on the issue. Georgia's deputy foreign minister, Giga Bokeria, said that as well as hosting a base the country was prepared to act as a conduit for troops and supplies to Afghanistan. "Georgia was and remains ready to cooperate with the United States both on the deployment of U.S. bases on Georgian territory, if the U.S. expresses such a desire, and in using Georgian territory as a transit route to Afghanistan," he told AFP. The remarks came as the U.S. steps up efforts to find new transit routes to supply coalition forces in Afghanistan amid growing instability in Pakistan, its main transit route, and the announcement by Central Asian nation Kyrgyzstan last month of the closure of a key U.S. airbase on its territory. This week U.S. military officials held talks with government and business representatives from Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan about using the Caucasus region south of Russia as a transit route. The two days of talks were held in the Azerbaijani capital Baku. There are nearly 70,000 international soldiers in Afghanistan helping the government fight an extremist insurgency led by the Taliban, who were in power between 1996 and 2001. The deployment of a U.S. base in Georgia could seriously strain Washington's relations with Russia, which fought a brief war with Georgia last year. Russia sent troops and tanks deep into Georgia last August in response to a Georgian military attempt to retake the Moscow-backed rebel region of South Ossetia. Russian forces later mostly withdrew to within South Ossetia and another rebel region, Abkhazia, which Moscow has recognized as independent states.
U.K. To Extend UAV-By-The-Hour Deal
(NSI News Source Info) LONDON - March 13, 2009: Britain's Ministry of Defence is to extend a UAV-by-the-hour deal with Thales UK that provides the military in Afghanistan with key intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance capabilities. Company officials attending an engineering and science event here March 11 confirmed that they are close to completing arrangements for the ISTAR deal to run through to the in-service date of the British Army's Watchkeeper UAV system scheduled for 2011.In July 2004, the UK Ministry of Defence announced that Thales UK had been selected as the preferred bidder for the Watchkeeper Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicle (TUAV) system. Watchkeeper will provide the UK armed forces with intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability. "Watchkeeper will provide the UK armed forces with intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance capability." In August 2005, Thales UK was awarded the contract for the development, manufacture and initial support (DMIS) phases of the Watchkeeper programme. The number of Watchkeeper systems has not yet been formally announced, but is thought to be about 54 systems. Watchkeeper is a tactical system that will be operated in theatre by the British Army Royal Artillery. Thales UK's Watchkeeper proposal included a large UAV and a smaller UAV, support equipment and ground stations. The MoD has decided that a single UAV solution is more cost effective and only the larger WK450 UAV will be developed. The air vehicle will be capable of carrying a range of sensors including day and night cameras and surveillance radars. In June 2007, following completion of the critical design review, Thales unveiled the final design which features the dual payload, all-weather operation with de-icing and automatic take-off and landing capability. First flight of the Watchkeeper UAV was in April 2008, from Megido Airfield in northern Israel. Trials of Elbit's Magic X-band automatic take-off and landing system were successfully completed in August 2008. Trials with the I-Master radar and electro-optic payloads are due later in 2008. Flight testing will move to Parc Aberporth in Wales in early 2009. The Watchkeeper system will enter service in the British armed forces Royal Artillery in 2010. A full Watchkeeper system can be deployed to theatre in a single C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. As an urgent operational requirement to provide intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) until Watchkeeper enters service, the British Army has ordered a Hermes 450 UAV (on which the Watchkeeper is based) unit from Thales UK / Elbit. The unit has been operational in Iraq since June 2007. Thales has been providing the service for British forces since mid-2007 to help plug a gap in British ISTAR capabilities in Afghanistan and Iraq. Under an urgent operational requirement deal with the MoD, Thales provides the Elbit Hermes 450 tactical UAV, contractor logistics support and program management services. It also trains the military in the use and maintenance of the system. The UAV-by-the-hour service has drawn considerable attention from Canada, France and other NATO nations that need similarly rapid hikes in ISTAR capabilities. To date, the Hermes 450s have flown more than 18,000 hours for the British in the two operational theaters, a Thales UK spokeswomen said. The original two-year deal was expected to be worth around 60 million pounds ($83 million), much of that going to UAV provider Elbit. British forces are likely to pull out of Iraq later this year and it remains unclear whether the UAVs in that theater will be switched to bolster capabilities in Afghanistan. MoD officials at the event declined to discuss the ISTAR plans, citing operational security issues. The British arm of Thales was selected in 2005 as the winner of the 900 million-pound Watchkeeper program. Based on a much-modified version of the Hermes 450, the first platform and associated ground segment equipment is scheduled to be delivered to the Army here in October 2010 and enter service a few months later. The platform is currently undergoing flight testing in Israeli prior to transitioning to Britain in the fourth quarter of this year to begin U.K. eyes-only tests on sensitive equipment such as the radar and datalink.
Italy's Military Chief: It's Wise To Be Out Of A400M
(NSI News Source Info) ROME - March 13, 2009: As delays continue to plague the development of the A400M European transport aircraft, Italy's senior military commander has said Italy did the "wise" thing in steering clear of the program at the beginning of the decade. On 9 January 2009, EADS announced that the first delivery has been postponed until at least 2012. EADS also indicated that it wants to renegotiate 'certain technical characteristics' of the aircraft. EADS has long maintained the first deliveries would begin three years after the A400M's first flight. The German newspaper Financial Times Deutschland has closely followed the A400M program and reported on 12 January 2009 that the aircraft is overweight by 12 tons and may not be able to achieve a critical performance requirement, the ability to airlift 32 tons. Sources told FTD that, currently, the aircraft can only lift 29 tons, which is insufficient to carry a modern armored infantry fighting vehicle. The FTD report prompted the chief of the German Air Force to say, "That is a disastrous development," and could delay deliveries to the Luftwaffe until 2014. The Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the Luftwaffe is delayed at least until 2017. This leads the political planning to potential alternatives in the shape of a higher integration of European airlift capabilities. The OCCAR reminded the participating countries that they can terminate the contract before 31 March 2009. "I am convinced of this. Italy was strongly criticized when it made this decision. Today, those critics should indulge in some self-criticism," Gen. Vincenzo Camporini, Italian chief of staff, said March 12, when he was asked whether Italy had made the right decision to opt out of the group of European nations that was planning the airlifter in 2001. Camporini said he was nevertheless perturbed by the technical problems that have pushed back delivery dates for the aircraft. "As a passionate supporter of European capacity, I am seriously concerned about the news arriving from industry about the program," he said. "I hope that difficulties are overcome, because that way the European Union can finally carry out its strategic capacity." But Camporini said that Italy was vindicated in its decision not to sign up. "It is worth underlining the wise decision taken by political and military planners at the start of the decade, knowing the theoretical difficulties of the program, to opt for a solution that provides possibly a reduced capacity but gives Italy today a capacity for transport air that is modern, adequate and among the best in Europe." Italy operates the C-130J and the C-27J tactical transport, charters civilian aircraft, and is expecting delivery of 767 tanker transports.
BAE Buys U.S. UAV Maker
(NSI News Source Info) LONDON - March 13, 2009: BAE Systems has taken another step toward building its unmanned air vehicle business by acquiring the privately owned Advanced Ceramics Research for an undisclosed sum. Silver Fox UAV - From the original Silver Fox research and development program funded by Small Business Innovative Research grants and Science Technology Transfer programs under the Office of Naval Research and by the Naval Air Systems Command came evaluations of it by units of the Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard. Through spiral development grounded in battle front use and in employment for training and exercises the Silver Fox UAV has proven to be the unmanned aerial vehicle of choice by many. The Silver Fox UAV provides lower cost, high endurance and exceptional autonomous aerial surveillance imaging, carrying miniaturized sensor payloads for day or night operations with a small operations footprint. The Silver Fox engineering team can integrate cameras and sensors for image or data collection and transmission via its integrated ground control system (iGCS). It can be launched from the portable, lightweight, closed gas piston rail system mounted atop its storage case, on board small boats, submarines and ships, armored vehicles, HUMVEEs or trucks. Arizona-based Advanced Ceramics Research produces three small UAVs and related ground support equipment. It also sells ceramic materials in the military and civil aerospace markets. Unmanned systems, primarily for air applications, are for the moment a fledgling business for BAE but it is one of the sectors targeted for major growth by the company through acquisition and organic growth. To date, BAE's work in the UAV business has centered on larger tactical and strategic platform developments based in the U.K. The company has started marketing its Herti autonomously operated UAV and is center stage in British efforts to develop a wider capability in the sector with the much larger Reaper-sized Mantis and Taranis vehicles. Mantis is already in Australia, awaiting its maiden flight from the Woomera test range early in the second quarter of this year. Taranis is now in final assembly with ground trials slated to begin in late 2009. Both programs are part U.K. government funded. Advanced Ceramics' UAVs range from the Silver Fox with its 8-pound payload and 10-hour duration, to the Coyote with a 1-pound payload and 90-minute duration. Walt Havenstein, the president and chief executive of BAE's U.S. operations, said in a statement that the acquisition will "provide BAE with an excellent set of mature, operational products within the small/mini and tactical unmanned air systems market. The addition of these smaller platforms will complement the larger UAS being developed by BAE in the U.K."
Pakistan Frees 12 Taliban Militants In Swat Valley
(NSI News Source Info) MINGORA, Pakistan - March 13, 2009: Pakistani authorities have released 12 Taliban militants in a bid to consolidate a pact struck last month with Islamists in the troubled northwestern Swat valley, a senior government official said Sunday. Their release is likely to deepen concerns among Western countries which say the policy of making pacts with Islamists is tantamount to appeasement and emboldens the militants. Pakistani students study on rubble of their school blown up by militants in Mingora, capital of troubled Swat valley, Pakistan, on Thursday, March 12, 2009. Pakistani authorities have agreed to close shops at prayer times and crack down on prostitution and drug dealers as part of a proposed peace deal with militants that will impose Islamic law in a northwest valley. U.S. officials fear the deal in Swat may create another safe haven for al Qaeda and the Taliban on Pakistani soil. The Taliban militants were released Saturday night after talks between North West Frontier Province (NWFP) authorities and representatives of the Taliban and the Islamists, officials said. "It was one of the demands of the Taliban. It was a goodwill gesture. We have fulfilled it and we hope now they will play their part for peace," Syed Mohammad Javed, Commissioner of Swat, told Reuters. The Pakistani government, already facing economic crisis, is also confronting a growing tide of militancy flowing out of the lawless tribal belt on the Afghan border and into cities and towns, mainly in North West Frontier. Sunday, officials said 10 policemen had been killed in a clash with the Taliban in the Mohmand tribal region on the Afghan border late Saturday. A government official and three policemen were abducted by the militants after the clash and their decapitated bodies were found early Sunday, officials said. SHARIA LAW President Asif Ali Zardari has vowed his government will not negotiate with Taliban militants but NWFP authorities sealed the pact with an influential cleric in Swat, Maulana Sufi Mohammad. They agreed to enforce Islamic sharia law in the region in the hope that Mohammad would be able to rein in the militants. Mohammad this month called on the government and the Taliban to release each other's prisoners by March 10. The militants released seven government officials and soldiers last month. Taliban militants announced a ceasefire on February 24 and Pakistani forces have also halted operations in Swat, a former tourist destination in the mountains just 130 km (90 miles) north of the capital, Islamabad. Mohammad, an aging cleric who led violent protests by Islamists in the 1990s, has also set a deadline of March 15 for the government to enforce sharia law in the region or face protests. NWFP officials have assured him his demand will be met. While businesses and schools have reopened in scenic Swat, critics doubt the deal will last long, saying earlier pacts were used by militants to consolidate their strength. Authorities signed a peace agreement with the militants in May 2008. That pact failed and militants later virtually took control of the valley. Since the latest agreement was signed, two soldiers were killed in an ambush with the militants, while several government and paramilitary officials were kidnapped and then released after Mohammad intervened. Officials say the Swat deal is an attempt to alleviate worsening security by involving Mohammad, who has given up militancy, and that President Asif Ali Zardari would only sign off on wider use of sharia justice if peace was sustained. Even then a softer interpretation of sharia was seen, with no special courts and with existing officials to be trained in Islamic jurisprudence, officials have said. (Writing by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Paul Tait)
Taliban Operate Freely From Quetta In Pakistan: US By Anwar Iqbal DAWN News Pakistan ....Click here (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - March 13, 2009: The central nervous system for the next major terrorist attack on the US soil lies in Pakistan, say senior US officials and lawmakers. Pakistan came under immense pressure at a US Senate hearing this week, as both officials and senators accused Islamabad of allowing terrorists to use its soil for planning attacks on the United States. Two key US officials - director national intelligence and director military intelligence - told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Pakistan has allowed Taliban to operate freely from Quetta while the tribal areas have become a ‘central nervous system’ for al-Qaeda. National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Maples arrive for Senate hearing on worldwide threats to national security of US on March 10, 2009. - File photo US lawmakers and officials also said that Lashkar-e-Taiba has the ideological commitment to replace al-Qaeda as the next major terrorist group in the world. They said that the Pakistani establishment and intelligence agencies had taken some measures against the Lashkar recently but were not cooperating fully with the United States in dealing with this threat. The committee was also told that the Lashkar had supporters among the Pakistanis living in the United States who could abet its efforts to carry out a terrorist attack in North America. ‘The central nervous system for the planning (of an attack on the US soil) would emanate from Fata,’ said Senator Evan Bayh, an Indiana Democrat, during a hearing on current and future worldwide threats to the national security of the United States. ‘Yes, sir,’ said Director of US National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair. Earlier, chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, Senator Carl Levin, set the tone for the discussion on Pakistan, claiming that the Afghan Taliban forces under Mullah Omar operate with impunity from Balochistan, crossing unhampered into Southern Afghanistan while al-Qaeda is based in Fata from which attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan itself are launched. ‘I do not underestimate the challenge that this could present to Pakistan. I have doubts, however, as to whether Pakistan has the will or the capacity to make significant changes in the near-term,’ he said. While responding to the chairman’s remarks, Director Blair said that Pakistan is taking control of its border areas, improving governance and creating economic and educational opportunities throughout the country. He noted that in 2008, Islamabad intensified counter-insurgency efforts but claimed that Pakistan’s record in dealing with militants had been mixed. ‘A government is losing authority in the north and the west and even in the more developed parts of the country mounting economic hardships and frustration over poor governance have given rise to greater radicalization,’ said Admiral Blair. Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, director, US Defence Intelligence Agency, noted that while ‘strategic rivalry’ with India drove Pakistan’s defence strategy, al Qaeda was using Fata to recruit and train operatives, plan and prepare regional and transnational attacks, disseminate propaganda and obtain equipment and supplies. Gen. Maples warned that while Pakistan has taken important steps to safeguard its nuclear weapons, ‘vulnerabilities still exist.’ Quetta Shura (Taliban council in Balochistan) Senator Levin then asked both intelligence officials if the Taliban council in Balochistan, known as the Quetta Shura, operated openly, without interference from the government. ‘It’s true that the Taliban governing bodies operate quite freely in Pakistan,’ said Admiral Blair. The Pakistan approach to handling that threat was a combination of lack of capability and desire to combat the militants. Gen. Maples was more direct, agreeing with the senator that ‘the Quetta shura is operating openly in Quetta.’ Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba for the latest terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, the Nov. 26 terrorist attacks in Mumbai and the subway killings in London. She claimed that despite the Lashkar’s involvement in such major attacks, Pakistan was protecting the group and refused to help the US investigate its deeds. ‘I don’t think the picture with Pakistan’s cooperation is quite as bleak as you portrayed,’ said Admiral Blair. He noted that since the Mumbai attacks Pakistan had arrested Lashkar leaders and was taking steps to prosecute them. ‘So I think that that particular trend is positive, but it has a ways to go and it’s not a simple progress,’ he said. Senator McCaskill then claimed that the Lashkar had many sympathizers among Pakistanis living in Europe and the United States and was using them for planning attacks in these places. ‘I think on the particulars related to Pakistani-Americans and visa-waivers (Pakistanis living in European nations whose citizens do not need visas to visit the US), we’ll have to get back to you,’ said Admiral Blair. Senator Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, claimed that the ISI had created the Lashkar and asked if the Lashkar was filling up the operational space denied to al-Qaeda. Admiral Blair sad the ISI or Pakistan government had changed its policy towards Lashkar-e-Taiba partially, but it had not become a force for good in Pakistan or in the region. ‘I don’t assess that it is replacing al Qaeda as a worldwide terrorist directed against Western American interests or shares the al Qaeda messianic ideology of a greater non-Islamic state,’ Blair replied. Gen Maples said he also believed that the Pakistani government had distanced themselves from LeT and had taken some very significant action since the recent past towards the organization. Responding to a question on the Swat peace deal, Gen. Maples said the agreement had both some pluses and minuses to it. ‘From a judicial standpoint, the application of Sharia law in some form provides a more responsive approach to the citizens in the valley,’ he said. ‘And that’s how the Pakistanis see it.’ ‘If you were a woman in Pakistan, would that be unnerving to you?’ asked Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Democrat. ‘Absolutely sir it would. And it is also unnerving to us from the standpoint of what that means to other militants,’ said Gen. Maples. ‘And we’re very concerned about that.’
Pakistan And The Ministry Of Jihadization
by M.D. Nalapat Manipal, India
(NSI News Source Info) March 13, 2009: Say this for Pakistan's army -- its aftershave works. It seems to reduce to blobs of helpless jelly the critical faculties of U.S. "experts" on Pakistan within the CIA, the State Department and the Department of Defense. Since the jihadization of the military by Pakistan's former president Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in the 1970s, the officer corps has continued as a force multiplier for the numerous terror groups headquartered in urban and rural communities across the country. Except for Jehangir Karamat, the former chief of army staff who accepted his 1998 dismissal by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, no chief of army staff since Zia-ul-Haq (1976-1988) has paid heed to the elected civilian government of Pakistan in matters considered by the military to be within its purview. These include the portfolios of defense, interior, foreign affairs and now the prime minister's office, as well as subjects such as assistance to terror organizations and the nuclear deterrent. Such an arrangement has had the tacit acquiescence of every North Atlantic Treaty Organization country -- including those that specialize in delivering sermons on democracy and human rights. Despite the armed forces' control over areas considered key to the functioning of government in any major country, both India and the United Kingdom are enthusiastic in insisting that Pakistan remain within "value-based" forums like the Commonwealth. They also back every loan application Pakistan makes to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, despite the kleptomania of its higher echelons. Admittedly, this trait of Pakistan is shared with many countries in the world, including India. As for the United States, no country has lavished more treasure on Pakistan -- not even the two runners-up in the "Santa Claus" sweepstakes, Saudi Arabia and China. The generals in Islamabad have found a new champion in U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who seems eager to funnel billions of U.S. taxpayers' dollars to a state whose key functions are controlled by accessories of Jihad International. U.S. President Barack Obama has made a few comments about ensuring that the Pakistani military withdraws from jihad and from governance. However, Obama now seems to be following the lead of former U.S. President Bill Clinton, whose tenure saw a sharp rise in the influence of jihadists within the Pakistani military, helped along by complaisant U.S. envoys. It was during the Clinton presidency that Saudi Arabia and the United States helped the Pakistani army set up the Taliban. Sometimes hindsight produces clarity of vision, but in the case of Pakistan, the United States has seemed almost blind throughout four decades of involvement in the country. Since 2005, Pakistan's army has been using its multiple and credulous contacts within the U.S. policy and academic establishments to press its line of engagement with the "good Taliban." These are the people who believe women should neither study nor work, except in the house, and that minorities have the same "rights" as Jews did in Nazi Germany. By surrendering the Swat Valley to the Taliban, the army in Pakistan has created a safe haven for al-Qaida to continue its mission of converting the entire country into a safe haven for terrorists, as Afghanistan was under the Taliban. Expert at managing the media, Pakistan's military under Gen. Ashfaq Kayani -- an officer in the social and ideological mold of his hero Zia-ul-Haq -- has ensured a steady flow of reports in the Western media pointing out the obvious: that President Asif Ali Zardari is a playboy known to have made money through means other than saving a percentage of his official salary. What such commentaries fail to consider is that Zardari is a Sufi, whose family has been bred in the syncretic and moderate traditions of that philosophy, and that he has sought to delink the Pakistani establishment from the terror networks that operate today in the country with near impunity. With his prime minister, defense minister, interior minister and foreign minister taking orders from Kayani rather than from himself, Zardari has found his authority ebbing away. Despite Zardari's recent decision to endorse the army-sponsored deal with the so-called moderate Taliban in Swat, the embattled president is likely to be confronted by a slew of charges that Kayani hopes will force his resignation. Instead, it is Kayani's head that should roll. Under his watch Pakistan has abandoned even the pretense of fighting the Taliban and other terror networks -- a charade that former President Pervez Musharraf maintained to the military's great advantage. Pakistan's current president needs to appoint an army chief of his choice. He needs to ensure, through amendments to the law, that this appointee behaves not as an overlord but as a professional soldier, based on the U.S. model. Subsequently, jihadist elements should be ruthlessly winnowed out of the Pakistani army's officer corps, and the special privileges given to jihadists since the 1970s should be withdrawn in stages. Such surgery may seem drastic, but unless it is carried out, Pakistan will continue its descent into Talibanization. The bold and the beautiful in the country's urban centers will be swallowed up the way their counterparts in Afghanistan were during the 1990s. Kerry is wrong. Pakistan needs major surgery and not coddling. Unless the civilian government headed by Zardari is empowered by the international community to conduct such an operation, and unless Nawaz Sharif is warned away from his current flirtation with the military brass and their terrorist associates, within five years Kerry will need to convene a series of Senate hearings on "why Pakistan failed." Although his ignorance of ground realities in Pakistan is appalling, Kerry is regrettably hardly alone. Practically all of the NATO "experts" on Pakistan are as blind to the looming future as they were in the previous decade about the real nature of the Taliban. The civilized world is already in a war, and Pakistan is the major theater. Unless it gives battle now, the West will face a much more deadly battle within the next five years, just as the Allies did from 1939 to 1945, after they ignored the Nazi storm from 1936 to 1938. (Professor M.D. Nalapat is vice chair of the Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO peace chair and professor of geopolitics at Manipal University. Copyright M.D. Nalapat.) (United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)
India: Prithvi ABM Hits Target Missile
(NSI News Source Info) New Delhi - March 13, 2009: India took another step Friday toward joining the elite club of nations that have developed their own anti-ballistic interceptor systems. But it has a long way to go yet. The Indian Ministry of Defense announced in a statement that it had successfully carried out the third test firing of a Prithvi Air Defense anti-ballistic missile interceptor in the past three years. The test was carried out at the usual Integrated Test Range at Wheeler Island in Orissa state in eastern India. The designated target was a Dhanush missile fired over the Bay of Bengal from a ship at sea, the statement said. The PAD interceptor shot it down. "The mission-control room burst into raptures as the radar display indicated the interception and destruction of the decoy enemy missile by the interceptor," the Ministry of Defense said. The test "achieved all the mission objectives. The two-stage interceptor missile fitted with advanced systems hit the target enemy missile at 75 kilometers (47 miles) altitude," the statement said. The Ministry of Defense said the target Dhanush missile had been adapted to "mimic" the performance of a potential enemy intermediate-range ballistic missile, presumably of the kind that Pakistan has. The Dhanush rose to a height of 120 kilometers, or 75 miles, and was fired 100 kilometers, 62 miles, out to sea from the Orissa coast, it said. "The interceptor missile was launched from a mobile launcher located on Wheeler Island Launch Complex," the statement said. The Defense Ministry statement said the successful test "once again demonstrated the robustness of the Indian Ballistic Missile Defense system." India's Defense Research and Development Organization has "already conducted two interception trials, first in exo-atmospheric region at 48 kilometers (30 miles) altitude on Nov. 27, 2006, and second in endo-atmospheric region at 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) using an Advanced Air Defense missile on Dec. 6, 2007," it said. India is developing the PAD missile for high-altitude interception, and the Advanced Air Defense missile for lower-altitude interception, the Ministry of Defense said. The statement claimed that India was already "the fourth country to have successfully developed an anti-ballistic missile system, after the United States, Russia and Israel." However, as we have repeatedly documented in these columns, the DRDO and the Indian defense-industrial sector in general have an extremely poor record in being able to follow up and convert extremely promising prototypes into reliable weapons systems that can be mass produced and then deployed en masse in robust operational conditions. India's highly successful BrahMos cruise missile program relies on imported Russian technology and a great deal of Russian technological cooperation in the joint venture. The day before the highly publicized Prithvi ABM test, another BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was successfully tested over India's Rajasthan desert. Unlike the Prithvi PAD, reliable versions of the BrahMos cruise missile have already been deployed with the Indian army and navy, and work is far advanced on an air-launched cruise missile version as well. The DRDO and the Ministry of Defense have still to show that they can make that jump with the PAD as well.:
Russia Sees 'New Page' In US Ties: Medvedev
(NSI News Source Info) Moscow - March 13, 2009: President Dmitry Medvedev Tuesday predicted a "new page" in Russia-US relations under Barack Obama, amid reports Moscow is shelving a missile delivery to Iran that risked irking Washington. "The signals being received from the US president are completely positive," Medvedev said after a meeting with members of a US commission on Russia relations, including Senator Chuck Hagel and former senator Gary Hart. In the last years "relations between the United States and Russia deteriorated severely. This makes us sad. But now there is a chance to open a new page in our relations," said Medvedev. Medvedev also comfirmed he would meet Obama for the first time on April 1 in London, on the eve of the G20 summit in the British capital. The president's comments were his most upbeat assessment yet of the chances of a turnaround in relations frayed by rows over the 2008 Georgia war and missile defence. They remarks coincided with a report by the Interfax news agency that Russia may shelve the delivery of its advanced S-300 air defence missile system to Iran. "Such a possibility is not excluded. The question must be decided at a political level, especially as the contract was worked out on a purely commercial basis," an unnamed source told the news agency. The fulfillment of the S-300 contract is particularly controversial as such weapons could significantly upgrade Iranian air-defence capabilities at a time of mounting tension with the West. The source said that the contract was signed in 2005 but the delivery had still not taken place. There was no official confirmation but Interfax is known for running stories with high-ranking military sources. The comment was published less than a month after Iranian defence minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar met his Russian counterpart, Anatoly Serdyukov for talks whose substance was never officially disclosed. But the Kommersant newspaper cited unnamed sources as saying at the time Russia was unwilling to supply the weapons at a time when it wants to improve relations with the new US administration Obama. The United States has never ruled out the option of a military strike against the Islamic republic over its contested nuclear drive, which Western powers fear could be aimed at making an atomic bomb. Washington is also uncomfortable with Russia's work to build Iran's first nuclear plant in the southern city of Bushehr. The much delayed facility is to start operating by August 22, Iranian officials said on Tuesday. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov had on Friday held their first bilateral meeting in Geneva, marking the beginning of a thaw in relations between the two superpowers. They agreed to work towards a fresh start on missile defence and disarmament issues, including their START disarmament treaty, which is due to expire by December 5. Russia's war in Georgia in August over the breakaway region of South Ossetia sent relations between Russia and the West plummeting to lows not seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Moscow also reacted furiously to plans by the former administration of George W. Bush to place missile defence facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic, saying the move was directly aimed against Russia. But US Vice President Joe Biden has declared it was time to "press the reset button" in relations and Medvedev has repeatedly spoken of his hopes of the new US administration.
US, China 'Unified' In Opposing North Korean Missile Launch: Clinton
(NSI News Source Info) Washington - March 13, 2009:The United States, China and negotiating partners are willing to discuss a range of responses, even UN action, if North Korea test fires a missile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday. After her talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Clinton said China as well as South Korea, Japan and Russia are committed to dismantling North Korea's nuclear program and to opposing its planned missile launch. Under a landmark six-party agreement signed in 2007, North Korea agreed with the United States and the four other countries to scrap its weapons-grade nuclear program in exchange for energy aid. However, not only has North Korea balked at their terms for verifying nuclear disarmament, it also insists it will launch a satellite that US officials say would amount to a missile test-fire in breech of UN resolutions. "We are outspoken in our opposition to the North Korean's missile launch, and we believe that that is a unified position, and that each of the members of the six-party talks have attempted to dissuade North Korea from proceeding," Clinton said. "And we are also agreed that we will discuss a response if we are not successful in convincing them not to go forward with what is a very provocative act," she said. "And there are a range of options available to take action against the North Koreans in the wake of the missile launch, if they pursue that, but also to try to resume the six-party talks," said the chef US diplomat. "Let's not confuse the two." Clinton noted that missiles were not part of the brief of the six-party negotiations, although she said she would like them to be included. When asked whether the Chinese shared the US view that a missile launch would violate UN resolution 1718, she said: "I think that our partners in the Six-Party Talks are concerned about the missile launch." "They are willing to address it if it does happen with us in a variety of ways, including the Security Council," she said. "But I don't want to, you know, talk about hypotheticals. We are still working to try to dissuade the North Koreans. The Clinton-Yang talks took place after State Department spokesman Robert Wood dismissed as "baseless" fresh North Korean charges that US-South Korean military exercises amounted to war preparations and accused Pyongyang of stoking more regional tensions. North Korea's foreign ministry described the annual ongoing drill involving tens of thousands of troops as "nuclear war exercises designed to mount a pre-emptive attack," and vowed to take "every necessary measure to protect itself." But Wood said: "They're baseless. They're nonsense, frankly... These exercises which take place, as you know, annually, are not a threat to the North." North Korea's "bellicose rhetoric is not helpful, it can only increase tensions in the region," he added. "And what we want to see happen is we want to see the North comply with its international obligations with regard to the six-party framework."
US, China Try To Defuse Tension, Focus On Economy
(NSI News Source Info) Washington - March 13, 2009: US President Barack Obama on Wednesday invited Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to the White House as both powers tried to defuse military tensions and focus on stabilizing the global economy. Obama is to take the symbolic step of meeting the foreign minister -- which is not standard protocol but has been used sparingly by previous presidents -- on Thursday after his talks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on Wednesday. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Yang would first meet national security advisor James Jones, then go with him into talks with Obama, adding that a row over a US surveillance ship off China would be on the agenda. "I don't think it will overshadow it, but I think the president will continue to make clear our country's position," Gibbs told reporters. Gibbs said Obama's talks with Yang, who also met former president George W. Bush as foreign minister, would also focus on the global economic crisis. Yang came here to work with Clinton and Geithner to prepare for the G20 summit of industrial and developing nations next month in London where Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao are to meet for the first time amid efforts to solve the international credit crunch. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said earlier that the two sides would not let disputes distract from common goals. He acknowledged "elements that come up that cause some tension. But the most important thing is that the US and China need to work together to solve a whole host of issues that the international community confronts." The spat between Washington and Beijing began after the Pentagon said Chinese vessels had harassed a US Navy ship in international waters in the South China Sea. Beijing hit back on Tuesday, rejecting that account and demanding the United States cease what it called illegal activities in the area. The two sides have also been sparring over the last two days over US expressions of concern over China's human rights record in Tibet. But Clinton, after her talks with Yang, said the pair agreed to work to prevent a similar standoff in the future and stood by her approach to not let human rights concerns interfere with progress on the economy and other areas. "We both agreed we should work to ensure such incidents do not happen again in the future," Clinton told reporters after her two hours of talks with the Chinese foreign minister. She said she also wanted to make sure there would be no "unforeseen" consequences emerging from the standoff. The chief US diplomat also rejected charges from human rights activists that the Obama administration was taking too soft a line on China. "The Obama administration is absolutely committed to a robust human rights agenda," Clinton said when asked if the administration was pulling its punches on Beijing. "There's no doubt about our commitment." But she vowed to "explore different ways" to fulfill the commitment, in an apparent sop to Beijing. China warned the United States Wednesday that its criticism of the situation in Tibet could harm relations between the two nations. "We ask the US side... to acknowledge that Tibet is a part of China and oppose Tibetan independence, to avoid harming overall China-US relations and to stop using the Tibet issue to interfere in China's internal affairs," foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement. On Tuesday, the White House and the US State Department voiced criticism of how China handles the Tibetan region. However, Wood had originally said that Clinton herself would issue the statement, which would have likely had a stronger impact. As they went into their talks, Clinton and Yang both smiled for the cameras and struck positive notes. "And we are here to get prepared for our two heads of state meeting in London and to work together to push our relationship forward," said the chief Chinese diplomat. In her February 21-22 visit to Beijing, Clinton called for a deeper partnership between the United States and China, saying the world powers needed to unite to tackle the economic crisis and climate change. "The United States and China have a joint responsibility to help ensure the summit yields tangible progress and concrete action steps toward a coordinated global response to stabilize the world economy and to begin a recovery," she said Wednesday.
Russia's Yaroslav Mudry Frigate To Enter Service Before Year-End
(NSI News Source Info) BALTIYSK - March 13, 2009: Russia's newest frigate, the Yaroslav Mudry, will begin service before the end of this year, the Baltic Fleet commander said on Thursday. The frigate - the second vessel in the 11540 Yastreb project after the Neustrashimy, which recently took part in an anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden - is currently undergoing sea trials. "The tests have been conducted successfully. They will last two or three months, after which the final trials will begin, which are set to end by fall," Rear Admiral Viktor Mardusin said. Earlier reports said the frigate could enter service in April. The construction of the Yaroslav Mudry has taken almost 19 years due to lack of financing. The frigate has a displacement of 4,250 tons and a maximum speed of 30 knots. It is armed with anti-ship missiles, air defense systems, a 100-mm artillery mount, depth charges, and a Ka-27 helicopter. Mardusin earlier said the Neustrashimy could be sent back to Somalia in May-June, and that the Yaroslav Mudry could join the international anti-piracy in the Gulf of Aden after entering service with the Baltic Fleet.
Germany Welcomes France Return To NATO Command
(NSI News Source Info) March 13, 2009: German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed on Thursday France's decision to rejoin NATO's military command after 43 years out of the alliance's key decision-making processes. French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced on Wednesday that France would return to NATO military structures and seek a larger role as a full partner of its Atlantic allies. "I would like to thank the French president and his government for the decision to return to NATO's military structures," Merkel said at a news conference after the 11th meeting of the French-German Council of Ministers in Berlin. "This step will strengthen the European components of the alliance and will have great significance for the improved correlation between European defense and security policy and NATO policy," she added. Both leaders announced their plans to introduce their vision of NATO new strategy at its summit in April and pledged to strengthen the "German-French axis" within the alliance. France abruptly pulled out of the NATO command in 1966, evicting all allied troops from its territory in what it said was a drive to safeguard its sovereignty. However, it remained part of the alliance and has continued to take part in NATO operations, including in Afghanistan where it has 2,780 troops.
Russia Seeks To Extend Lease Agreement For Azerbaijan Radar
(NSI News Source Info) BAKU - March 13, 2009: Russia's foreign minister told his Azerbaijani counterpart on Thursday that Russia wants to continue using the Gabala early-warning radar after the current lease expires in 2012. "Russia is interested in cooperation with Azerbaijan in using the Gabala radar station, and will seek appropriate agreements with our Azerbaijani colleagues," Sergei Lavrov told reporters after a meeting with Elmar Mamedyarov. The Azerbaijani diplomat said his country has no plans to transfer the facility to third countries after the lease expires. "The transfer of the Gabala radar station is not on the agenda," Mamedyarov said. He also said the sides had discussed "all aspects of relations between Azerbaijan and Russia." Russia strongly opposes the possible deployment by the U.S. of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic, considering them a threat to its security and nuclear deterrence, and has offered the United States the use of radar stations in Armavir in southern Russia and Gabala in Azerbaijan as alternatives.