DTN News: Russia Needs Minimum 50 Nuclear Submarines For Fleet - Navy Vice AdmiralSource: DTN News / Ria Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - March 21, 2010: The Russian Navy ideally needs to have at least 50 nuclear-powered submarines, a high-ranking Navy officer said during a live interview with Ekho Moskvy radio station on Saturday.
The Russian Navy has some 60 strategic, multi-functional and diesel-powered submarines in its fleet that are combat ready.
"The number of nuclear submarines in Russia's Navy should be no less than 40-50," First Deputy of the Naval General Staff Vice Admiral Oleg Burtsev said.
He said that France, Britain and the United States have at least nine combat ready nuclear subs at sea at all times.
"In order to counterbalance them, we need to have two or three nuclear-powered submarines. They need to know that we are prepared to respond to any strike," Burtsev said.
In answering a call-in question of whether Russia is behind in developing its fleet in comparison with China, which builds two or three submarines a year, Burtsev said that Russia was not behind in development.
"Trial runs are taking place with the Yasen class subs, and this year the final trial stages of the Lada class submarine will be held."
DTN News: Fate Of Russia's Bulava Missile Must Be Decided This Summer — Navy
Source: DTN News / RIA Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - March 21, 2010: The upcoming tests of Russia's troubled Bulava ballistic missile will determine whether it will be put in service with the Russian Navy or scrapped, a senior Navy commander said.
The Russian Navy is planning to conduct at least four test launches of the Bulava ballistic missile at the end of June.
"I believe that this summer will be decisive in terms of adopting Bulava for the service with the Navy," First Deputy of the Naval General Staff Vice Admiral Oleg Burtsev said in an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio station on Saturday.
"We will continue Bulava tests launches from Dmitry Donskoy submarine and ultimately from Borey class Yury Dolgoruky sub, which is scheduled to carry out several test launches during sea trials," Burtsev said.
The Yury Dolgoruky is the first of Russia's Borey class strategic nuclear submarines, which have been exclusively designed for the Bulava, and is currently undergoing sea trials.
The admiral confirmed that if the tests are successful, both the submarine and the missile could be put into service with the Russian Navy by the end of 2010.
The Bulava (SS-NX-30) is a three-stage liquid and solid-propellant submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). It carries up to 10 MIRV warheads and has a range of over 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles).
The future development of Bulava has been questioned by some lawmakers and defense industry officials following a series of test failures. Only five of 12 Bulava test launches from the Dmitry Donskoy sub have been officially reported as being successful.
Some analysts suggest that in reality the number of failures was considerably larger, with Russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer contending that of the Bulava's 12 test launches, only one was entirely successful.
But the military has insisted there is no alternative to the Bulava and said the tests of the missile would continue until it is ready to enter service with the Russian Navy.
DTN News: Black Sea Fleet Future In Ukraine May Become Clear In Few YearsSource: DTN News / RIA Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) KIEV, Ukraine - March 21, 2010: Russia and Ukraine could agree on the extension of the Black Sea Fleet's presence in the Crimea while Viktor Yanukovich serves his first term as Ukrainian president, a Russian lawmaker said.
Russia's lease on the Black Sea Fleet's base of Sevastopol is due to expire in 2017, but the new president may look to step back from his predecessor Viktor Yushchenko's strict insistence that the foreign forces leave.
"I do not see why we would not be able to agree and sign documents during Viktor Yanukovich's first term [as president] on the extension of the Black Sea Fleet's presence in Ukraine, in the Crimea and Sevastopol after 2017," Ukraine's UNIAN news agency quoted Russian MP Konstantin Zatulin as saying on Saturday.
"As far as I know, over 70% of Ukrainians believe that the Russian fleet will not leave Sevastopol in 2017," Zatulin told a news conference in Sevastopol.
He also said the issue could be linked with a new natural gas price agreement between Russia and Ukraine.
During his meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on March 5, Viktor Yanukovych, who was sworn in on February 25, pledged to steer a more balanced policy towards Russia and to continue discussions on the future of the Black Sea Fleet bases in Crimea.
Russia's Black Sea Fleet uses a range of naval facilities in the Crimea, including the Sevastopol base, as part of a 10-year lease agreement signed in 1997.
A Russian-Ukrainian subcommittee on the Black Sea Fleet at the level of deputy foreign ministers holds regular meetings to discuss the implementation of 1997 agreement.
DTN News: Taliban Fighters Being Taught At Secret Camps In Iran. Source: DTN News / The Sunday Times By Miles Amoore in Kabul
(NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - March 21, 2010: THE Taliban fighters scurried up the craggy mountainside. As they neared the top, their 30-strong platoon split into three sections and they launched a ferocious assault on an enemy fort, opening fire from numerous positions.
The bullets they sprayed at the fort’s mud-coloured walls were blank, however. They merely pretended to fire their rocket-propelled grenades. When they reached the desert at the foot of the mountain, they did not race away on motorbikes, but filed into sand-coloured tents to refresh themselves with tea and naan.
The attack was a training exercise overseen by Iranian security officials in plain clothes. The Taliban do not know whether they were police officers, soldiers or secret service agents. What they can say is that in camps along the border between Afghanistan and Iran, Taliban recruits are being taught how to ambush British, American and other Nato troops using guns and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
They are learning to attack checkpoints as well as mountain bases. Iranian instructors are also giving them target practice on desert ranges with Kalashnikov assault rifles.
In the past, Shi’ite Iran has opposed the Sunni Taliban. But western officials say Iran now wants to expand its influence within the Taliban movement.
A Taliban commander who has been trained in Iran said last week: “Our religions and our histories are different, but our target is the same — we both want to kill Americans.”
In recent months, senior American officials have accused Iran of playing “a double game” by training and arming the Taliban while supporting the Afghan government.
Taliban leaders interviewed by The Sunday Times last week provided the first direct evidence of how Iran is training insurgents on its own soil.
According to one Taliban source, emissaries travelled to Iran early last year to discuss a training programme with Iranian officials. The training began during the winter.
Working through local mediators, this newspaper persuaded two Taliban commanders who had attended the programme in Iran to travel to Kabul, the Afghan capital, to tell their stories. The men, interviewed separately in a partially constructed concrete building on the edge of the city, were both extremely nervous. “How do I know you are not spies and that you will not follow me when I leave?” said one before the interview began.
At times, their voices dropped to whispers as they spoke about their role in the insurgency and drank cups of tea on dirty cushions.
One of the commanders, from the central province of Wardak, described how he travelled to Iran with 20 of his men.
His journey took him south into Pakistan, then west to the border with Iran and on to Zahedan, a city of 600,000 people in southeast Iran.
The second Taliban commander, from Ghazni province in southern Afghanistan, took a group of his men on a five-day drive to Nimroz, in the southwest. From there, he crossed into Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan province, a hotbed of drug smuggling and tribal rivalry.
The militants paid a $500 fee to Afghan people-smugglers using routes usually taken by refugees looking for work in Iran. They crossed the border at night in cars with the help of Baluch traffickers who guided the groups along dirt tracks to avoid checkpoints. After stopping to rest in the mountains, they headed out again at first light.
Finally, they were met by their Iranian instructors in white Toyota pick-up trucks and were taken to a village on the outskirts of Zahedan, an hour’s drive from the training camps.
There they were placed in basic compounds, each housing up to 30 Taliban fighters, mostly from the south and southeast of Afghanistan where the insurgency against British and American forces is fiercest.
Battered buses and pick-up trucks ferried the militants back and forth between the village and the camps every morning and night.
“Iran paid for the whole trip. We paid the travel fees to begin with and once we got to Iran they refunded us. They paid for our food, our mobile phone cards, any expenses,” said the Ghazni commander.
At one camp, a cluster of low tents erected in the shadow of a mountain, the Taliban fighters conducted live firing exercises, physical training and mountain assaults under the watchful eye of the plain-clothes Iranians, the commander said.
During a course lasting three months, the Iranian instructors worked in groups of two to five men. Their programme was split into three parts, each taking a month to complete.
For the first month, the recruits were taught how to launch complex ambushes on moving convoys. They learnt where to set up firing positions, when to trigger the ambush and how to escape before the enemy had time to respond.
“They were strong on the planning side. We would sit in the tents and they would take us through things like where the best escape routes were, making sure we had good cover and where to place our lookouts,” the commander said.
The second month was spent learning how to plant the roadside bombs that are responsible for most of the deaths of British soldiers in Helmand province. The insurgents were taught to use carefully positioned secondary and tertiary devices to kill or wound rescuers organising medical evacuations.
During the third month, the instructors taught the Taliban how to storm fixed enemy positions, climbing mountains in formation to launch attacks on checkpoints and bases.
“We were told ambushing was a very useful tool compared with a straightforward attack. They taught us how to select a good hiding position and how to limit the enemy’s response to our attacks by laying well- positioned mines,” said the commander. “We can kill a lot of our enemies this way.”
Both commanders said Iran also supplied them with weapons, often paying nomads to smuggle ammunition, mines and guns across the desert and mountain passes between Iran and Afghanistan’s western provinces. The nomads used donkeys, camels and horses to carry the military supplies into provinces such as Ghazni and Wardak, the commanders said.
Although the commanders believed that, after years on the battlefields of Afghanistan, they already possessed some of the skills that were taught in Iran’s camps, they agreed the training had improved their ability to launch more sophisticated attacks.
“I found some elements of the training in Iran very useful, especially the escape and evasion techniques I was taught,” said the commander from Wardak as he showed me video footage of his men patrolling on motorbikes with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenade launchers slung over their shoulders.
The commanders gave no indication of precisely who was behind the training. Late last year General Stanley McChrystal, the US commander of foreign troops in Afghanistan, accused Iran’s al-Quds force — an elite wing of the Revolutionary Guard — of undermining the efforts of the Afghan government and Nato forces.
“The problem with dealing with the Iranian regime is knowing to what extent these initiatives are conducted by local commanders and to what extent they are backed by the government,” said a western defence source. He added that, although he had seen no direct evidence, the accounts of Taliban training camps in Iran were “credible”.
American officials believe Iran’s support for the Taliban has reached “troubling” proportions, although it is not on the same scale as its backing for Shi’ite insurgents in Iraq. The commanders’ accounts suggest the number of Taliban fighters trained in Iran may already have reached the hundreds.
Taliban militants still receive much of their training in neighbouring Pakistan. Elements of the ISI, Pakistan’s secret service, are known to train, equip and fund the Taliban. But a recent crackdown on Taliban safe havens in Pakistan has forced many insurgents to look to Iran for support.
“The military is pressuring the Taliban in Pakistan. It is certainly harder to reach places that were once easy to get into. I think more of my fighters will travel to Iran for training this year,” said the Ghazni commander.
Two weeks ago Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, said of the Iranians: “They want to maintain a good relationship with the Afghan government. They also want to do everything they possibly can to hurt us, or for us not to be successful.”
Days later, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran insisted he wanted to rebuild Afghanistan and criticised the presence of foreign troops.
The Taliban commander from Ghazni province said he had no doubt Iranian police and intelligence services knew about the training camps, however. “The government is not sleeping,” he said. “You just have to wiggle your ears in Iran and they will know about it.”
DTN News: Illusion Of “21st Century, The Century Of China”Source: DTN News / Global Times By Zhao Fasheng
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - March 21, 2010: A louder and louder message has been heard recently, one that claims China will dominate the 21st century. As a Chinese citizen, I really hope the “superpower dream” will come true.
But, the reasons presented by the message makers make me feel ill at ease.
I remember the message was originally put forward by a scholar who claimed to be a master of Chinese classics. (It's funny that while we are living in a time with no Chinese classics, more masters of it keep showing up.) I read this master's article carefully, hoping to find sound reasons. The master told us that because the past century was the one of Western culture, the 21st century will naturally be China's, because Chinese culture is superior to Western culture. He didn't make it clear how Chinese culture is superior, and I am reluctant to agree with this point.
The 21st century needs scientific facts, so it's dangerous to put the future of our country in the hands of a fengshui theory that means “fortune knocks at least once at every man's gate.”
In modern Chinese history, the debate about which culture is superior, Western or Chinese, has become a cliché. The invincible Western firepower in the Opium War and the subsequent tragedy that put China in ruins best illustrated this debate. China does have the potential in the future to generate culture that is richer than Western culture, but only after Chinese culture completely digests the essence of the values of Western culture.
When we were young, we heard so many times the grandiloquence that we would eventually emancipate the people of capitalistic countries that we even forgot we were starving and determined to fulfill the honorable duty. Not until we opened the door in the 1980s did we find that we were the ones who really needed rescuing.
Someone raised an interesting question – what's right with Deng Xiaoping? My answer is that he brought Chinese people's spirit back to normal from the ideological paranoia that the Chinese would emancipate mankind. We finally began another surge of learning from the West since the late 19th century. This is an emancipation of the mind.
Bo Yang, a famous Chinese writer, made an important observation that the US and Japan never claimed their dominance in the next century. After the global financial crisis began, the view that China would save the world economy continually appeared in local newspapers. China's GDP accounts for only 6 percent of the world's total, and the per-capita GDP ranks far behind the 100th. How can a country like that save the world? We also have problems in social administration, official management and moral beliefs. China was less affected by the recession because our capital market was not developed enough.
The odd thing is that Uncle Sam seems to agree with the opinion of that Chinese classics scholar. For months, people in the West talked about the precautions that the era of the US will end. Actually this is the secret strategy for the US to maintain its superpower status. As long as the alarm that the US is declining keeps ringing in its people's heads, the US will maintain its No. 1 position. So an important task for the US intellectuals is to find the most likely candidate to replace the US and generously crown it with the “next century” award.
When high-quality and low-priced Japanese products flooded the US in the 1980s and the GDP of Japan jumped to the world's second place, the US asserted that Japan would be the world's No. 1 and the next century would be Japan's. Japanese people, however, were not so gullible to accept this award. They manifested their awareness of their national crisis by shooting a movie Submersion of Japan.
In recent years, the voice of ultra-nationalism gradually grows louder in the Chinese mainland and the message “China will be the world's No. 1” shocks the world. Yet Japan remains serene. Its serenity reminds us of the warning from Lao Tse: “Gravity is the foundation of levity. Serenity masters hastiness.”
Who will dominate the 21st century? Maybe only God knows the answer. But one thing is for sure: the 21st century could belong to anyone – except those who are too arrogant to remember a short time ago they have barely survived.
The author is a scholar with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. This article was translated by Ren Yaling
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