Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Major Countries Shrug Off Responsibility On Pirates Related Factor

Major Countries Shrug Off Responsibility On Pirates Related Factor
(NSI News Source Info) December 17, 2008: On December 13th, the Indian warship, INS Mysore, interrupted a pirate attack on a merchant ship, tracked the speedboats back to their mother ship, and captured it and 23 pirates (12 Somalis and 11 Yemenis) along with weapons, communications and GPS gear.
The incident occurred 250 kilometers east of the Yemeni port of Aden. The Mysore was 25 kilometers away from the merchant ship when they got the distress call.
The Mysore promptly dispatched its helicopter, which chased the two pirate speed boats away and found the mother ship. The Mysore rushed to the scene, and sent commandos to capture the mother ship, Since all this happened in international waters, there is a problem with finding a country that will accept, and prosecute, the pirates.
The Indian Foreign Ministry is working on that, and may be doing so for a while. Since World War II, national and international laws for dealing with pirates (which used to mean trying and executing the pirates on the spot) have been discarded. But nothing took the place of those procedures, because it was believed that piracy was no longer a problem. Some nations working the anti-piracy patrol, have signed deals with Kenya, which sends pirates captured off the Somali coast, to Kenyan courts for prosecution. These deals provide cash to help defer the costs of prosecution and incarceration, which would otherwise be a burden for a poor nation like Kenya.

Pakistan Admits Non-State Actors Its Responsibility

Pakistan Admits Non-State Actors Its Responsibility
(NSI News Source Info) December 17, 2008: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has accepted that non-state actors were his responsibility and said nobody will be allowed to use Pakistani soil for any form of aggression toward any friend or foe. "Yes, definitely. I do not shrug away from that position," he told Newsweek magazine in an interview when reminded that US Secretary of Condoleezza Rice had said that non-state actors on Pakistani soil were still its responsibility. "Anybody from my soil is my responsibility." When told that many times earlier Pakistani leaders had said they would do something about Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) that India has blamed for the Mumbai terror attacks, but never actually took action, Zardari said: "That is not us." Ajmal Amir Kasab on his killing spree before he was caught. The only gunman captured during the terrorist attacks on Mumbai says he was promised that his impoverished family would get $1250 if he died fighting for militant Islam, security officials said on Wednesday. The captive, Ajmal Amir Kasab, 21, is from Faridkot village in the Punjab region of Pakistan, according to the two Indian officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Kasab was arrested hours after the three-day rampage began on the night of November 26. Photographs of the young man walking calmly through Mumbai's main train station - assault rifle in hand - have made him a symbol of the attacks that killed 171 people, including 26 foreigners Asked if Pakistan was going to take any concrete steps to crack down on LeT, Zardari said: "Things have been done. One step is we have started combing the whole region for all nonstate actors and we have made certain arrests." "We will not allow anybody to have the capability to perform such acts," he said when asked if Pakistan can shut the LeT down and prevent training on Pakistani soil. "Nobody will be allowed to use Pakistan soil for any form of aggression toward any friend or foe." Asked about Rice's demand that Pakistan do something about the Mumbai attacks, Zardari said: "She is a friend and she knows Pakistan is a responsible state, and the Americans and the British know how much my government has done for this operation... against the terrorists since we've been in government." "I don't have any specific information to that effect because the Indians have given us very little information," he said when asked about reports that all of the terrorists were trained in Pakistan. "I have offered to the Indians that we will do a joint investigation into this Mumbai incident and if it leads anywhere, we will take action." Asked if the terrorists were trained in Pakistan, does it not have to do something, Zardari said: "Definitely. Not for them, it's for myself... The Indians must understand that the government and the people of Pakistan are net losers of the situation. We had put in a lot of effort... to make good relations with India." On India's demand to send it accused people to bring to justice, he said: "We don't have that kind of relationship yet. America and Pakistan have hardly gotten to the position where we can interact and exchange information." Zardari said Pakistan would not send anyone to India. "No, that is a decision to be made by the parliament and not by the president." Zardari admitted that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency had links with LeT in the past but claimed "things have changed to a great extent". "We are talking about an age-old situation. This is something (that happened) in the old days when dictators used to run the country. Maybe before 9/11, that may have been a position. Since then, things have changed to a great extent," he said. "There is no supportive interaction with our intelligence (agencies) and the LeT. Lashkar-e-Taiba happens to be a banned organization in Pakistan," Zardari said when asked about charges that Lashkar is operating with the help of ISI now, not in the past. Zardari also admitted that LeT may have been used in Kashmir by the Pakistani Army to fight India before he came to office but claimed things have changed. "That may have been the situation then, but things have changed. Lashkar-e-Taiba has been banned," he said. "Of course, these nonstate actors keep re-emerging in different forms. Whenever there is actionable intelligence, we move in before anyone else does." On reports that Rice had asked Pakistan to arrest a former ISI chief, Gen. Hamid Gul, who is allegedly tied up with the Taliban and Al Qaeda, he said: "Hamid Gul is an actor who is definitely not in our good books. Hamid Gul is somebody who was never appreciated by our government." But Rice "did not go into specifics, if I may share that with you", Zardari added. "He (Gul) has not been accused in the Mumbai incident... I think he is more of a political ideologue of terror rather than a physical supporter." On reports that US intelligence has evidence of ISI's involvement in the July bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, he said: "No, we have not had that intimation from the Americans. I totally deny that. We had nothing to do with the Kabul bombing. Again, these are non-state actors."
Additional Info: Related Topic
FBI interrogates Mumbai terrorist; ISI cleared Dawn Staff Reporter
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD - December 17, 2008: The US investigators probing Mumbai attack have concluded after quizzing the lone captured terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab that there was no involvement of Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency Inter Services Intelligence in the carnage, Dawn reported. According to diplomatic sources, Federal Bureau of Investigation personnel were allowed to interrogate Kasab for nine hours during which they were able to establish that he was a Pakistan national. The source said FBI investigations have further established that the attackers had reached Mumbai from Pakistan, where the plan was allegedly hatched and the terrorists were provided necessary training by Laskar-e-Taiba. Based on Indian example of allowing FBI to probe Kasab, the US and UK are now pressuring Pakistan to allow their investigators to grill those arrested by Pakistani authorities. Besides, the renewed US pressure on Pakistan government to rein in ISI, the sources said, was because of previous involvement of ISI in ‘questionable activities’. The sources revealed that although the government publicly denies such allegations, but in their meetings with visitors from the West, there is hardly any effort to make such a denial. Rather, they say, the government has made a commitment with the Western governments to reform ISI.

Central African Republic Another Chaotic Country In Africa

Central African Republic Another Chaotic Country In Africa
(NSI News Source Info) December 17, 2008: Representatives of most political or armed groups in the country have been meeting in the capital since December 8th, for two weeks to negotiations to try and work out a peace deal. So far, so good, and there is some optimism that some kind of useful deal will be agreed to by the end of the negotiations on the 20th. But no final and complete deal is expected. There are simply too many groups with too many conflicting goals. A convoy of Swedish soldiers of the EUFOR, the European peacekkeping contingent are about to go on patrol in the area of Abeche. The force is also there to protect some 180,000 internally displaced people in Chad who have fled the fighting between the army and rebel groups, as well as refugees from neighbouring Central African Republic "Spillover warfare" from Sudan and Chad continues to plague the Central African Republic (CAR). The government claims that the Popular Army for the Restoration of the Republic and Democracy (APRD), which has bases in the country's northern areas near Chad, intends to topple President Francois Bozize, and is responsible for many attacks on towns and villages along the Chad-CAR border. The APRD, which had agreed to a ceasefire deal in June 2008, denied the accusation. The APRD and the government have been at odds over "the amnesty agreement" that was supposed to solidify the ceasefire and become the global peace accord" (yes, that's the name the government used to describe the initial deal). The ceasefire was supposed to give the CAR rebels political and criminal amnesty-- of some type. Negotiations on the details broke down in August 2008. The CAR-Chad-Sudan border region is anarchic, and many different rebel organizations use it as a "transit zone" for moving supplies and personnel. The region is definitely an area of "overlapping warfare" and uncontrolled crime. Civilians in the area have said for at least the last two years that bandit groups are their biggest threat-- the CAR government doesn't have the police forces or military forces to bring the thieves to heel, much less the well-financed rebels. CAR military also attacks civilians. Another rebel group, led by a supporter of former president Ange-Felix Patasse, is also challenging the Bozize regime. The Democratic Front for the Central African People (FDPC) has forces operating in the northern CAR. The Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) also operates in the northern area. The truth is, all three rebel groups have their own agendas. At the moment they are big threats to poor tribal people in northern Chad, but aren't in position to topple the government. Several times a week there are gun battles and skirmishes between these various armed groups. November 11, 2008: Rebels operating along the Chad-CAR border near the town of Sido ambushed a military patrol and killed at least 14 CAR soldiers. The Office of the United Nations in the CAR (BONUCA) condemned the attack and urged the government and rebel groups to commit themselves to implementing the June 2008 ceasefire agreement.

Pakistan May Be Under World Pressure But Its Military Gets Help From China

Pakistan May Be Under World Pressure But Its Military Gets Help From China (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI - December 17, 2008: As tensions between India and Pakistan rise in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks and Islamabad finds itself burdened under international pressure, it's only in Beijing that it has found solace. Signing a defence agreement with China on Monday, the two countries publicly reaffirmed their military and security ties, with promises of more Chinese military help coming Pakistan's way.
The talks were led by Chen Bingde, chief of general staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), and Tariq Majid, chairman joint chiefs of staff committee of Pakistan.
They also resolved to co-operate with each other to fight terrorism. Majid said Pakistan cherished the traditional friendship and co-operation with China and was ready to make concerted efforts with the PLA to strengthen military ties.
While there were few details about the talks, it's clear Pakistan is seeking a lot of military help from China including equipment and intelligence. It's also clear that the current crisis with India was the focus of discussions between the two sides.
Beijing regards Islamabad in much the same way as Washington regards Tel Aviv in its national security calculus.
In the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, China lifted its opposition to proscribing Jamaat-ud-Dawa in the UN Security Council. On previous occasions, including about six months ago, China fudged on banning this group, citing lack of evidence.
The Mumbai attacks, however, changed that. But that does not mean China will not extend covert assistance to Pakistan despite the fact that when President Zardari went to Beijing to ask for financial assistance, he returned empty-handed.
Not so the defence establishment of Pakistan, because, sources say, China continues to assist Pakistan in the military sector.
In return, Pakistan tamps down on the Uighur separatists in Xinjiang province, though it's not stopped many Uighurs from training in Pakistani terror camps.
Earlier this year, China completed four militarily important naval frigates as part of an $800 million deal to Pakistan. Over the past few years, Pakistan has agreed to jointly produce with China up to 250 JF-17 fighter planes in a deal estimated by defence officials to be worth at least $5 billion.
In addition, Pakistan is reportedly negotiating the purchase of 35-40 of the J-10 fighter planes which is one of the most advanced fighter planes produced by China.

CV90 Enters Service with Dutch Army

CV90 Enters Service with Dutch Army
(NSI News Source Info) December 16, 2008: Dutch State Secretary Jack de Vries was visibly impressed by the brand-new CV90 during the test ride he was given at the Bernhard barracks in Amersfoort. The event marked the official service introduction of the new infantry fighting vehicle in the Dutch Army.
After the successful completion of the trials phase, the Director of Defence Material Organisation (DMO), Lex Hendrichs, this morning handed over the first five vehicles to the deputy commander of the Land Forces, Major General Marcel van den Broek.
The CV90, together with the Fennek reconnaissance vehicle and the Boxer heavy wheeled armored vehicle, will ultimately replace all of the “good old” YPR armored transport vehicles, which must be retired after dozens of years of faithful service.
CV90 has much increased firepower, a top speed of 70 km/h, a radius of action of 600 kilometers and offers much improved protection for its occupants. The CV90 can carry 10 people, including three crew and seven fully-equipped infantrymen. (The CV90 is designated CV9035NL by the Netherlands).
The Ministry of Defence has chosen to procure a combination of modern vehicles to ensure that the Royal Netherlands Army is optimally equipped for the full spectrum of future missions, ranging from humanitarian aid missions to participation in a large-scale conflict.
Thanks to its heavy weapons and armor, the CV90 can operate in the heaviest operational conditions. The Netherlands have opted to arm their CV90s with the Bushmaster III, a 35mm rapid-fire gun which can disable targets at ranges of up to two kilometers.
Furthermore, the vehicle has a 7.62 mm machine-gun and 10 launchers for smoke and shrapnel grenades. With minor modifications, the turret can be equipped with a 50 mm gun. The crew is protected against hostile fire by effective armor protection, and the vehicle is fitted with laser warning receivers.
The Ministry of Defence will procure 192 CV90s, including those intended for training. Earlier versions of CV90 are already in operation with the armed forces of Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Switzerland.

Russia Offers to Lease India “Several” Akula-Class Nuclear Submarines

Russia Offers to Lease India “Several” Akula-Class Nuclear Submarines (NSI News Source Info) December 16, 2008: Russia could lease 'several' 'Shchuka-B' class nuclear attack submarines to India in coming years though the delivery of the first of the two nuke subs reportedly contracted by India is far behind schedule. The Russian offer comes as Indian Navy has formulated a 20 year plan to produce indigenously 24 conventional submarines. At the same time, the official had ruled out any plans by Moscow to strike similar deals with China. "Yes, there is a real possibility of leasing for ten years several of our nuclear powered multi-role submarines of Project 971 of 'Shchuka-B' class," the Director of Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSVTS) Mikhail Dmitriyev was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS. (Note: NATO designation is Akula class—Ed.) The Russian offer comes as Indian Navy has formulated a 20 year plan to produce indigenously 24 conventional submarines. New Delhi had also contracted for two nuclear submarines from Moscow, but navy has projected that in the next 10 years India would need to acquire or build another 10-12 nuclear subs. These nuclear submarines would be similar to the 'Nerpa' class, which was involved in an accident in November during final sea trials in Sea of Japan. "This possibility can materialise in the coming years," he added. Dmitriyev also denied that Moscow was negotiating supply of nuclear submarines to China. "The question of supply of our multi role nuclear submarines to China does not exist, as unlike India, China never asked for them. That's why we never negotiated with China on their lease or sale," Dmitriyev said. "This issue was also not raised at the Russian-Chinese Intergovernmental Commission session on December 11 in Beijing," he said. The offer is only for leasing of the submarines to the Indian navy and not their sale to India, Dmitriyev specified. According to earlier reports, under a deal as part of the larger Gorshkov aircraft carrier package, Russia was to lease two "Shchuka-B" (NATO codename -Akula-II) nuclear attack submarines to India. Until the last-month's accident on board 'Nerpa' nuclear submarine, when 21 crew and technical staff suffocated to death due to accidental release of toxic Freon gas used in fire-suppressing system, Moscow was silent on the deal. Built on advances reportedly paid by the Indian government, the nuclear submarine is expected to join Indian Navy as 'INS Chakra' sometime next year, sources said. They claimed that India's advanced technology vessel (ATV) project to develop an indigenous nuclear submarine was based on the Russian 'Shchuka-B' design.

F-35 Fighter Jet Sales On Schedule: Pentagon Manager

F-35 Fighter Jet Sales On Schedule: Pentagon Manager
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - December 16, 2008: International sales of Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 fighter jet are developing as scheduled despite the global economic slowdown and despite unfounded criticism of its performance, the Pentagon official managing the program said on Monday. "The deals are coming on the schedule the deals were supposed to come on," Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles Davis told the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit in Washington. The F-35 is a family of radar-evading, multi-role fighters designed to replace a wide range of aircraft for the United States and the international partners in the project. It is the costliest U.S. arms acquisition program ever at a projected $299 billion through 2027. Development was co-financed by Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway. Britain is down for three F-35s in the next production batch, Davis said, adding: "I have no doubt about the UK." The Netherlands has an option for one F-35 in the coming batch, known as Low-Rate Initial Production Lot 3, though the parliament is expected to take "some time" to review the government's decision, he said. Davis said he expected Israel to place an order for 25 F-35s by the end of 2009, with Singapore likely to follow with an order roughly a year later. He said he expected Japan to register its formal interest in the F-35 with a "letter of request" for pricing and availability information by the end of next year. Davis stoutly defended the design of the F-35 in the face of critics in Australia and elsewhere who say it was a compromise hybrid, undercutting its performance. "They have a very shallow view of what an airplane is," he said. "Their measure of an airplane's success is what its air show profile looks like, which to me should be its last measure." F-35 competitors include Saab's Gripen, the Dassault Rafale, MiG-35 and Sukhoi Su-35, and the Eurofighter Typhoon, made by a consortium of British, German, Italian and Spanish companies. The first F-35, a conventional take-off and landing version, began its flight testing program in December, 2006. After the June 11 maiden flight of a short take-off, vertical landing model, the Pentagon's top arms buyer, John Young, said the program was more mature than comparable ones at this stage of development "in terms of quality, software, testing and manufacturing readiness." Lockheed's chief F-35 subcontractors are Northrop Grumman Corp and BAE Systems Plc. Two rival, interchangeable F-35 engines are under development. One is built by United Technologies Corp's Pratt & Whitney unit; the other by a team of General Electric Co and Rolls-Royce Group Plc. The United States currently plans to buy a total of 2,443 F-35 models -- including 1,763 for the U.S. Air Force and 680 for the Marine Corps and Navy.
Hundreds of others may be sold overseas to replace a range of fighters, including Lockheed F-16s and Boeing Co F-18s. Davis has said the F-35 is on course to become a $1 trillion venture worldwide through 2065, when the last fighter scheduled to be built would reach the end of its projected service life. Britain and the Netherlands are the only F-35 co-development partners scheduled to participate in an initial operational test and evaluation program. Italy decided against taking part. Data from this program is to be shared with all partners.