Sunday, November 30, 2008

Taliban kill 'US spy' in Pakistani tribal area: official

Taliban kill 'US spy' in Pakistani tribal area: official
(NSI News Source Info) MIRANSHAH - November 30, 2008: Taliban militants hanged and shot dead an Afghan man in a restive Pakistani tribal area bordering Afghanistan, accusing him of spying for the US, an official said on Sunday. The body of Ajab Khan, 35, was found in the tribal district of North Waziristan on Sunday, a local administration official told AFP. Militants have killed several people, accusing them of spying on their activities on behalf of the Pakistani government and US forces operating across the border in Afghanistan Khan's body had bullet wounds and there was rope tied around his neck, indicating he was hanged and later shot, the official said. A note found with Khan's body said he had been killed because he was spying for US forces. Militants have killed several people, accusing them of spying on their activities on behalf of the Pakistani government and US forces operating across the border in Afghanistan. The northwest has been wracked by violence since hundreds of Taliban and Al-Qaeda rebels fled there after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.

Thales WATCHKEEPER Successfully Passes First System Flight Trial

Thales WATCHKEEPER Successfully Passes First System Flight Trial (NSI News Source Info) London, UK - November 30, 2008: Thales UK has announced the successful first system flight trials of the WATCHKEEPER unmanned air vehicle (UAV), with the autonomous flight taking place under the system guidance of the WATCHKEEPER ground control software and fully integrated within the ground control station (GCS). These trials of the UAV, which operates with dual payloads, will continue into 2009, and will validate the key mission system capability of the WATCHKEEPER system. This is another significant step forward in the WATCHKEEPER programme and follows closely from the first successful flight trials of the WATCHKEEPER air vehicle in April 2008 and the demonstration of the WATCHKEEPER Automatic Take-Off and landing (ATOL) capability in August 2008. The control software has been produced by Thales UK at its Crawley facility. The GCS has been designed and manufactured in the UK by UAV Tactical Systems Ltd (U-TacS), the Thales UK/Elbit Systems joint company site in Leicester. During the first successful flight trials at Elbit's facilities in Israel, the WATCHKEEPER UAV was controlled by the WATCHKEEPER GCS using Thales-developed software and performed an automatic take-off and landing. This initial stage of systems trials will provide an essential link between the various sub-system level trials and the full WATCHKEEPER systems trials to be undertaken in the UK next year. The WATCHKEEPER system test programme includes: + System command and control of UAV from WATCHKEEPER GCS + Initial assessment of system data link performance + Dual payload installation + Generation and exploitation of payload imagery (the 'imagery chain') + WATCHKEEPER avionics system trials (IFF and airborne radio assessment) + Further systems ATOLS assessment + Electrical power system performance with dual payloads installed Mark Barclay, Managing Director of Thales UK's aerospace business, says: "This is another major step forward on the WATCHKEEPER programme and one of a number of trials that are scheduled over the coming months. We have made steady progress since the contract was signed in 2005 and I am particularly pleased that Thales and our external partners continue to deliver in line with the agreed customer schedule."

Russia, India to step up anti-terror interaction - Kremlin

Russia, India to step up anti-terror interaction - Kremlin (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - November 30, 2008: Russia and India will step up their anti-terrorist cooperation in the wake of militant attacks on India's financial capital that killed nearly 200 people, the Kremlin press office said on Sunday. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev held a telephone conversation on Sunday with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Kremlin press office said. "Both sides expressed their intention to intensify anti-terrorist interaction. These issues will be discussed during the forthcoming visit by the Russian president to India and within the framework of the Russian-Indian working group for combating international terrorism," the Kremlin press office said. Terrorists swept through Mumbai on Wednesday night, armed with submachine guns and grenades attacking hotels, the railway station, a cinema, and a hospital. The three-day rampage killed 174 people, including more than 20 foreigners

Iran proposes building nuclear power plants with Arab states

Iran proposes building nuclear power plants with Arab states (NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN - November 30, 2008 Iran on Sunday proposed building light-water nuclear power plants jointly with neighboring Arab countries. The proposal was put forward by Gholamreza Agazadeh, Iranian vice-president and head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, who spoke at a conference on nuclear power plants, environment and sustainable development. "Iran is ready to provide very soon a comprehensive plan for the proposal if it were approved in generalities by the Persian Gulf littoral states," the Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Agazadeh as saying. Iran is under three sets of relatively mild UN Security Council sanctions over its controversial nuclear program, which it insists has purely civilian goals. Western powers led by the United States, along with Israel, accuse Tehran of attempting to develop nuclear weapons, something Iran has consistently denied. Iran is completing the construction of its first nuclear power plant at Bushehr in the south of the country with the assistance of Russian specialists. The $1bln project is subject to UN monitoring following Iran's refusal to halt its uranium enrichment program and Western suspicions that Tehran is seeking to build nuclear weapons. The Bushehr nuclear power plant is expected to be launched in the first half of 2009.

Mumbai attacks push India and Pakistan into deep water

Mumbai attacks push India and Pakistan into deep water
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI - November 30, 2008: Outrage in India over the Mumbai attacks risks sparking a dangerous escalation in tensions with Pakistan, analysts say, even as Islamabad cautions against any knee-jerk reaction. Having accused "elements in Pakistan" of involvement in the ruthless attacks that left 195 dead in India's financial capital, the government here is now under extreme public pressure to exact some form of visible retribution.
The two nuclear-armed South Asian rivals are past masters of the art of military and diplomatic brinkmanship, but the stakes are heightened by looming general elections in India in which national security will be a key issue. In a televised address to the nation on Thursday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh vowed that the perpetrators and organisers of the Mumbai assault would be made to pay "a heavy price".
On Saturday, Singh called a meeting of India's army, navy and air force chiefs. But while India would like to lean heavily on Islamabad to ensure it delivers on repeated promises to prevent Pakistani territory being used for anti-India activities, analysts say the government's options are limited.
Pakistani protesters shout anti-terror slogans in Lahore. The demonstration was organised after the terrorist attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai. Outrage in India over the Mumbai attacks risks sparking a dangerous escalation in tensions with Pakistan, analysts say, even as Islamabad cautions against any knee-jerk reaction
Former national security adviser Brajesh Mishra said New Delhi would be constrained by a lack of proof that Islamabad had any direct role in the attacks. "There is little to suggest that the gunmen were sponsored by the Pakistani government," Mishra said. The scale and style of the assaults -- involving multiple targets and hostage-taking -- bore "the hallmarks of Al-Qaeda attacks in the Middle East and North Africa," Mishra said.
"These are new elements that differentiate the Mumbai attacks from the parliament attack." In 2001, gunmen from the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group attacked the Indian parliament, resulting in the complete rupture of diplomatic ties and pushing the rivals to the brink of war.
Supporters of the Pakistan Awami Tehrik (Pakistan People's Movement) march against the Indian government's claim that Pakistani based militants were behind the Mumbai attacks at a rally in Lahore November 30, 2008. Pakistan's government has begun rallying support both at home and abroad as tension flared with old rival India after a bloody militant assault on the Indian city of Mumbai
Former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal all but ruled out the possibility of India resorting to any cross-border military response. "The Indian leadership would have to weigh very carefully the consequences of using the military option in the wider context of peace and stability in the region," Sibal said.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari appealed for calm on Saturday and argued that any increase in Indian-Pakistani tensions would be a victory for the extremists. "Whoever is responsible for the brutal and crude act against the Indian people and India are looking for reaction," Zardari said in an interview with Indian CNN-IBN television.
"We have to rise above them and make sure ourselves, yourself and world community guard against over-reaction," he said. Kalim Bahadur, a retired professor of international relations, said India might find it difficult to take a hard line with Pakistan, given that Zardari's government was still finding its feet and itself battling Islamic militants.
"The Pakistani president's grip on power is not strong. We have seen that Zardari says things, then he is contradicted or he has to clarify what he has said. "The situation seems to be that the democratic government has no control over extremist elements," Bahadur said.
Independent security analyst K. Subrahmanyam suggested that a primary motive for the Mumbai attacks could well have been a desire to "wreck the peace process" launched by India and Pakistan in January 2004.
Given the targeting of foreigners by the Mumbai attackers, Subrahmanyam said New Delhi had an opportunity to rally international pressure on Islamabad to cut support to Islamist groups. Another analyst, C.Uday Bhaskar, urged Singh and his government to keep the engagement with Pakistan on track while carefully monitoring Islamabad's actions in the coming weeks. "Snapping links is not a desirable option," he said.