Sunday, September 13, 2009

DTN News: Security And Defense ~ Israel Goes Ballistic

DTN News: Security And Defense ~ Israel Goes Ballistic
*Source: DTN News / The Jerusalem Post By Yaakov Katz
(NSI News Source Info) JERUSALEM, Israel - September 13, 2009: On Sunday, the USS Higgins hauled up its anchor and sailed out of Haifa Port where it had docked for a short visit. An Arleigh Burke class destroyer - one of the largest and most powerful naval vessels built in the United States - the Higgins is one of 18 American ships with an Aegis interceptor system, capable of destroying enemy ballistic missiles above the atmosphere. (Image: An Arrow 2 missile test.) In just a few weeks, additional Aegis vessels will arrive here to participate in the biennial Juniper Cobra missile defense exercise that the IDF has been holding with the US European Command (EUCOM) and Missile Defense Agency since 2001. This year's drill, scheduled for mid-October, is being described as the largest joint exercise ever held by the countries. During it they will jointly test four ballistic missile defense systems. In addition to the Aegis, the MDA and EUCOM are sending THAAD and Patriot 3 missile defense systems - America's most-advanced - for the first time. While the Higgins has not yet needed to use its Aegis system to intercept missiles fired into Israel, its crew is intimately familiar with the country's various security issues, particularly along the northern border. The ship is named for US Marine Col. William R. Higgins, who was kidnapped by Hizbullah in southern Lebanon in 1988, while serving as a commander of a UN peacekeeping mission. In August 1989, a cell linked to Hizbullah murdered him in response to the IDF kidnapping of Sheikh Abdul Karim Obeid, a senior cleric and leader of the guerrilla group who was involved in the kidnapping. His body was dumped, over a year later, on a Beirut side street. Israel had planned to use Obeid to obtain information regarding the fate of IAF navigator Ron Arad. Obeid was released in 2004 in exchange for the bodies of three soldiers - kidnapped in October 2000 - as well as shady businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum, in a large prisoner swap with Hizbullah. The cooperation between Israel and the US on missile defense dates back to the mid-1980s when they began to jointly develop the Arrow missile defense system. Since then, the US government has spent close to $3 billion on the Arrow, which is manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries and Boeing. Earlier this year, Congress approved additional funding for the development of the Arrow 3, a larger version with greater range and the capability of intercepting missiles at higher altitudes. The cooperation peaked ahead of the 1991 Gulf War when the first Bush administration sent Patriot missile batteries to help defend the country against Saddam Hussein's Scud missile attacks. Last October, the Bush administration gave Israel a farewell gift in the form of the X-Band radar, which is deployed in the Negev and is capable of detecting targets thousands of miles away, providing five to seven minutes of warning before an Iranian missile strikes. This is in contrast to the 10 seconds the residents of Sderot have when a Kassam rocket is launched from the Gaza Strip. Juniper Cobra, senior defense officials said this week, is aimed at creating infrastructure in case Israel is attacked and the US decides to send the Aegis or THAAD to bolster the Arrow. The exercise spans several days and involves hundreds of Israeli and American soldiers, mostly from the air force. The primary focus of the Juniper Cobra exercise held in 2007, for example, was integrating the lower-altitude US Patriot missile systems with the higher-altitude Arrow-2. This year, the integration will focus on improving the interoperability between the Arrow, THAAD and Aegis. Officials said that the exercise may include live fire by the systems - most likely the Patriot - but the teams will mainly conduct computerized simulations of various threat scenarios launched from fictitious countries. The threats are then tracked and engaged by the various systems and the teams jointly write doctrine and staff procedures. For Israel, the exercise could not have come at a more important time. Since the beginning of the year, Iran has made some impressive leaps with its ballistic missile development, culminating with the February launch of its first homemade satellite - called Omid - as well as the successful launch in May of a new missile, the Sajil, that has a range of more than 2,000 kilometers, easily reaching most of Eastern Europe. This is impressive considering that just 10 years ago, the Iranians only had Scud B and C missiles. Today, they have their own production line of Shihabs and Sajils, for which they are building underground silos. In addition, Israeli assessments are that the Iranians will soon be capable of independently manufacturing their own version of the BM25 missile which they received from North Korea and has a range of more than 3,000 km. According to the assessments, the launch of the Omid demonstrates that Iranian scientists have also made breakthroughs in guidance technology which has also likely been applied to its ballistic missiles. According to Uzi Rubin, founder of the Arrow missile and a former head of the Homa Missile Defense Agency, Iran can also take unguided rockets like the Zelzal - which are also in Hizbullah's hands - and turn them into guided rockets with ranges topping 220 km. "This is an original Iranian project; we don't see it anywhere else," Rubin noted in a recent briefing at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. The second major breakthrough is in the propulsion systems, which Iran has succeeded in upgrading from liquid to solid fuel. The main difference is that a missile that operates on liquid fuel needs to be fueled very close to launch, making it easier to discover with surveillance satellites or hovering aircraft. Solid-fuel missiles have a significantly longer shelf life and can be stored in underground silos for a long time, allowing the Iranians to just lift their cover and launch. It is not an easy task though to assess Iran's progress in missile development. On May 19, the EastWest Institute, a New York-based think tank that monitors global security, issued a report claiming that there was "no reliable information" on Iran's success in developing a solid fuel rocket. The next day, on May 20, Iran test fired the Sajil, proving without a doubt that it had independently mastered the capability. These developments indicate as possible reversal in roles between Iran and North Korea. If Teheran bought technology from Pyongyang two decades ago, today the flow of technology is believed to have reversed.

DTN News: U.S. Army Details Ground Combat Vehicle Plans

DTN News: U.S. Army Details Ground Combat Vehicle Plans *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON, USA - September 13, 2009: The U.S. Army's vice chief of staff said September 10 that the service plans to begin replacing its M113 and Bradley armored vehicles with a new infantry carrier vehicle within the coming decade. The Army’s next armored vehicles may have V-hulls and tracks, and should be better protected than the canceled Future Combat Systems vehicles, according to a draft paper that will shape the formal requirements for the Ground Combat Vehicle. The service plans to buy hundreds of GCVs over the next 10 to 20 years for use throughout the force. The first models are slated to be ready within five to seven years. Gen. Peter Chiarelli laid out new details of the Army's new modernization strategy at an Association of the United States Army breakfast, focusing on the Ground Combat Vehicle effort. Army acquisition officials announced the GCV effort after Defense Secretary Robert Gates killed the 27-ton Manned Ground Vehicles portion of the Army's Future Combat Systems program in the fiscal 2010 defense budget, criticizing the design as ill-suited to survive current battlefield threats. "The Ground Combat Vehicle represents one of the most important combat development and acquisition decisions we are going to make in a long time," Chiarelli said. These futuristic vehicles, which the Army hopes to develop and begin fielding within seven years, will be designed to be flexible enough to fight in any environment and adaptable enough to be upgraded with technology that surfaces decades into the future, Chiarelli said. The outdated M113 personnel carrier will be the first to go between now and 2018, according to a chart Chiarelli referred to in his talk. While he gave no specific date, the Bradley fighting vehicles will likely be retired as well. "When it comes to the Bradley, we will reset the Bradley, but we know there is a point in time in the future where we will divest ourselves of the Bradley," Chiarelli said. "We want to develop the Ground Combat Vehicle which we see in its first iteration as an infantry fighting vehicle." The Army plans to continue upgrading the M1 tank, the Stryker family of vehicles and the Paladin 155mm self-propelled howitzer, Chiarelli said. The vice chief's comments came as the Army senior leadership is preparing to brief Gates on the findings of "Task Force 120," a working group led by Training and Doctrine Command's Army Capabilities Integration Center, to create a new strategy for modernizing Army BCTs. The task force's findings will include a blueprint for how BCTs will fight in the future. "I can't tell you what the GCV will look like, but I will tell you that in the past 120 days, we have thought our way through how we are going to move forward," Chiarelli said. The Army officially began the acquisition process for the GCV Sept. 3 when it issued a "sources sought" solicitation to the defense industry, inviting companies to show the service what they have to offer in future vehicle concepts. The Army will hold two industry days, one in October and one in November, to discuss requirements with industry, Chiarelli said. The dates have not yet been set. In addition to the new vehicles, Chiarelli also described how the Army intends to develop and field "capability packages" to BCTs in two-year increments out to 2026 to coincide with how brigades deploy for roughly a year, return home, reset, train-up and prepare for their next deployment. The Army is conducting a 23-day Limited User Test at Fort Bliss, Texas on the first of these capability packages. The equipment, formerly known as "spin-outs" under the FCS program, includes sophisticated network gear, unattended ground sensors, a small unmanned ground vehicle, a hovering unmanned aerial vehicle and the Non Line Of Sight Launch System, also known as "rockets in a box." The plan is to field the first set to BCTs beginning in 2011. But not all sets will look alike, Chiarelli said. Based on battlefield conditions, the Army plans to tailor these packages at the beginning of each two-year increment to ensure units have the equipment they need. Packages could include former FCS spin-out technology, vehicle upgrades, battlefield innovations or Mine Resistant Ambush Protective vehicles if necessary, Chiarelli said. However, all capability sets will include what Army leaders maintain as the key to the BCT modernization effort - the network. "Soldiers get four important things from the network - I know where I am, I know where my friends are, I know where the enemy is and I can bring precision fires on that enemy," Chiarelli said. "The information they receive over the network isn't simply nice to have; it can often mean the difference between living and dying on today's battlefield."

DTN News: Brazil President Has Last Word On Fighter Says Foreign Minister Celso Amorim

DTN News: Brazil President Has Last Word On Fighter Says Foreign Minister Celso Amorim *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - September 13, 2009: President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will have the final say on who will sell billions of dollars in fighter jets to Brazil to modernize its air force, Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said September 11. Saab, in its own statement on September 10, underlined that it, too, would give "key technology" if Brazil chose its Gripen NG fighter. "President Lula has the last word; of course, he will take into account the position of the National Defense Committee," Amorim told international journalists in Rio. "Let me reiterate: there was an evaluation of various proposals, and Brazil made the decision to start negotiations with France. Its proposal was the most favorable," he added. Rival bidders trying to sell fighter jets to Brazil have made a final push for the multi-billion-dollar contract, which had looked all but sewn up by France's Dassault. Sweden's Saab and the United States, backing defense contractor Boeing in the race, both emphasized they would transfer important technology to meet Brazil's requirement that it not only acquire new jets but also the knowhow to build them. But a Brazilian official speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity said French President Nicolas Sarkozy wrote to Lula promising "unrestricted access to technology" in the Dassault offer and a competitive price. That letter was "instrumental" in Lula's announcement on Monday that he was opening negotiations to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from Dassault, the official said. A French official said the deal was worth up to seven billion dollars. Lula's announcement prompted the U.S. government, through a statement on its embassy Web site in Brazil, to say it had approved the transfer to Brazil of "all necessary technology" related to its F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft. Saab, in its own statement on September 10, underlined that it, too, would give "key technology" if Brazil chose its Gripen NG fighter. But the Brazilian official said those offers were "unlikely to change the situation because it's not clear what is 'necessary technology' when another competitor guarantees 'unrestricted technology.'"

DTN News: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Calls An Attack On Iran 'Unacceptable'

DTN News: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Calls An Attack On Iran 'Unacceptable' *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) NOVO OGAREVO, Russia - September 13, 2009: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned Sept. 11 that an attack on Iran would be "unacceptable" but also urged Tehran to show restraint in its controversial nuclear program. (Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin seen at a meeting with foreign experts on Russia in the Novo-Ogaryovo outside Moscow, Friday, Sept. 11, 2009. Putin warned against the use of force or new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program Friday.) "This would be very dangerous, unacceptable, this would lead to an explosion of terrorism, increase the influence of extremists," Putin said when asked about the possibility of an attack. "I doubt very much that such strikes would achieve their stated goal," he added, speaking at a meeting with foreign Russia experts at his residence outside Moscow. At the same time Putin called for Iran to move carefully with its nuclear program, which has raised tensions in the Middle East with fears that the Islamic Republic may be seeking an atomic bomb. "The Iranians should show restraint in their nuclear program," Putin said. "We have told Iran that it has the right to a civilian nuclear program but that it should understand what region of the world it is in," he added. "This is a dangerous region and Iran should show responsibility, especially by taking into account Israel's concerns, all the more so after the absolutely unacceptable statements about the destruction of the state of Israel." Iran's hardline President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly said that the Jewish state is doomed to be "wiped off the map." Russia has long opposed tougher penalties against Tehran over its nuclear program and called for continued talks, while the United States and Israel have never ruled out air strikes to stop Iran from acquiring an atomic bomb. The U.S., the European Union and Israel fear that Tehran is hiding development of nuclear weapons behind its civilian nuclear program, but Iran denies this and insists the program is aimed strictly at producing energy. Moscow's ties with Tehran came under intense scrutiny this week with reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quietly visited Russia on Sept. 7 in a bid to convince Moscow to stop selling arms to Iran and Syria. Netanyahu's office said the Israeli premier was engaged in a "confidential and classified activity" but did not explicitly deny media reports that Netanyahu had flown to Russia aboard a private plane. Asked whether he had met Netanyahu, Putin sidestepped the question Sept. 11. "We only talk about facts," Putin said, laughing. Earlier this week a Putin spokesman denied that the Russian premier had met Netanyahu. Israel has been seeking to convince Russia not to sell S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, amid persistent media reports that such a deal is in the works. The sophisticated Russian-made missiles would greatly enhance Iran's ability to defend against an air strike. Last week, some media reports said the Arctic Sea, a cargo ship allegedly hijacked by pirates under murky circumstances in July and later recaptured by Russian warships, may have been carrying S-300s to Iran. Russia vehemently denied the reports and said a search of the ship after its recovery turned up nothing suspicious. Besides the reported S-300 deal, Russia has also drawn scrutiny for its role in helping Iran build its first civilian nuclear power plant, at the southern Iranian city of Bushehr. Russia is one of six world powers negotiating with Tehran over its nuclear program, along with the United States, Britain, China, France and Germany. An EU official said Friday that the six powers would seek an urgent meeting with Iran over its latest nuclear proposals, which they deemed inadequate.

DTN News: Turkey Eyes Light Utility Helicopter Production

DTN News: Turkey Eyes Light Utility Helicopter Production *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) ANKARA, Turkey - September 13, 2009: Turkey plans to develop and produce its own light utility helicopter over the next 10 years and is open to cooperation with other countries, Ankara's defense procurement agency said in its latest official report on strategy objectives. The Agusta-Westland A109LUH (Light Utility Helicopter), AgustaWestland and Sikorsky are competing for joint production of more than 100 new utility platforms, worth more than $1 billion. "A program will be developed for the design, production and logistical support of a light utility helicopter with a take-off weight of between three and four tons," the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (Savunma Sanayii Mustesarligi, or SSM) said in its "Strategic Document for Defense Industry Between 2009 and 2016," a copy of which was obtained by Defense News. "The program mainly will target the local market, but also will be open to cooperation with other nations," the SSM said. The program is due to have both military and civilian components. The Turkish military operates hundreds of utility helicopters, including more than 100 S-70 Black Hawks made by U.S.-based Sikorsky Aircraft and more than 100 Vietnam War-era UH-1 Hueys. Also, under an ongoing program, the Italian-British company AgustaWestland and Sikorsky are competing for joint production of more than 100 new utility platforms, worth more than $1 billion. But most of these helicopters are medium in size, and Turkey's newly announced multibillion-dollar program targets manufacture of light utility platforms. The SSM said it would welcome cooperation with "second countries" for the planned light utility helicopter program. "Our assembly line will be based in Turkey, and an assembly line can be established for any interested second country," according to the SSM strategy document. "These potential second countries would be welcome to manufacture the fuselage of their platforms themselves, but their final assembly line would be located in Turkey. "Parts of the engine to be selected will be produced and the engine's assembly will be performed in Turkey," the SSM said. "Turkey believes it now has the necessary technology to manufacture its own small-sized utility helicopters," said one industry analyst in Ankara. "But eventually, indigenous design and development may prove to be too expensive." To boost the Army's air transport capabilities, the SSM separately is negotiating with the United States a deal for the purchase of 10 Boeing-made CH-47 heavy-lift helicopters. In the strategy document, the SSM also projects that Turkish defense companies will export defense equipment worth $1 billion per year by the end of 2010. Turkish defense exports totaled $576 million last year, SSM chief Murad Bayar earlier told Defense News. The SSM particularly qualified Turkey's land vehicles production sector as an industry that could rapidly raise its export rate. Turkish land vehicle manufacturers exported vehicles worth $120 million in 2007 - a figure expected to reach $300 million annually by the end of 2010, it said. By the end of 2010, the SSM said, nearly 50 percent of the defense systems requirements of the Turkish Armed Forces would be met locally in financial terms. This year, Turkey is spending about $5 billion for defense procurement. The SSM was created within the National Defense Ministry in 1985 to oversee defense equipment purchases and help bolster the local defense industry.

DTN News: UK, Libya Sign Secret 'Defense Deal'

DTN News: UK, Libya Sign Secret 'Defense Deal'
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) PARIS, France - September 13, 2009: Amid uncertainties and anger about the release of Lockerbie bomber, a report reveals that Britain and Libya have been sharing closing relations over the last six months.
The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday that a contingent of between four and 14 men from the Special Air Service (SAS) had been training Libyan forces in the past six months. An unnamed SAS source told the paper that the training was related to an agreement struck with Tripoli over release of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi. (Image: Britain's secretive SAS is among the world's best respected commando units.)
Last month, Scotland freed Megrahi on compassionate grounds to the anger of many relatives of the 1988 airliner bombing, which killed 270 people.
London says that the decision to free him was taken by the Scottish government and had not been done to improve Britain's trade links with the oil-rich Libya.
On Saturday, the British government confirmed the training, but asserted there had been no defense deal connected to the release of Megrahi.
Britain's Ministry of Defense and Foreign Office also announced that they could not comment on the work of the SAS. However, a Foreign Office spokeswoman said, "We have ongoing cooperation with Libya in the field of defense, but to suggest that this is part of any deal related to Megrahi is simply untrue."
The spokeswoman claimed there had been defense cooperation with Tripoli since Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi renounced weapons of mass destruction in 2003.

DTN News: NATO Afghanistan TODAY September 13, 2009 ~ Russian Envoy Cautions US On Afghan Troops Surge

DTN News: NATO Afghanistan TODAY September 13, 2009 ~ Russian Envoy Cautions US On Afghan Troops Surge *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - September 13, 2009: Russia's ambassador to Afghanistan has some advice for top NATO commanders fighting the Taliban based on the Soviet Union's bitter experience battling Islamist insurgents here in the 1980s: Don't bring more troops. U.S. soldiers salute during a ceremony to mark the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, at the main U.S. base, in Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Sept. 11, 2009. The Sept. 11 attacks were both a tragedy and a call to arms for many of the soldiers at this sprawling military air base, although few would have guessed that eight years on, the war in Afghanistan would still be raging. "The more troops you bring the more troubles you will have here," Zamir Kabulov, a blunt-spoken veteran diplomat, told The Associated Press in an interview. In 2002, he noted, there were roughly 5,000 U.S. soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and the Taliban controlled just a small corner of the country's southeast. "Now we have Taliban fighting in the peaceful Kunduz and Baghlan (provinces) with your (NATO's) 100,000 troops," he said this week, sitting on a couch in the Russian Embassy in Kabul. "And if this trend is the rule, if you bring here 200,000 soldiers, all of Afghanistan will be under the Taliban." Kabulov served as a Soviet diplomat in Afghanistan from 1983 to 1987, during the height of the Kremlin's 10-year Afghan war, when Soviet troop levels peaked at 140,000. The Soviet war here, which is estimated to have cost the lives of 14,500 Soviet soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Afghans, ended in 1989 in a humiliating withdrawal. Kabulov has little sympathy for the U.S. or NATO. He said the U.S. and its allies are competing with Russia for influence in the energy-rich region. But the 55-year-old envoy speaks from experience, and NATO leaders have sought his advice. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the new top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, asked Kabulov a number of "precise" questions about the Soviet war at a diplomatic function last month, the Russian envoy said. McChrystal is supervising the expansion of U.S. combat forces to 68,000 and is likely to soon request thousands of more troops. Forty-one other NATO countries have another 35,000 troops here. Air Force Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis, a public affairs officer assigned to the NATO commander's staff, said: "Gen. McChrystal is a voracious student of Afghan history and welcomes any opportunity to learn from people with experience in Afghanistan or perspectives on our situation here. That certainly includes the Russians." While Kabulov called raising troop levels a mistake, he said he approved of McChrystal's overall strategy, which includes holding and clearing Taliban areas, training more Afghan security forces and better-coordinated intelligence efforts. But he said the NATO commander faces daunting challenges. "Gen. McChrystal is trying to do his best to make this mission a success and to reduce the number of casualties of his soldiers, which is very noble and normal," Kabulov said. "But I'm afraid at this stage it will be very difficult for him to change the direction" of the war. The Soviet war here was by most accounts a brutal one, with Soviet forces mounting indiscriminate attacks on civilians. But in Kabulov's view, the war effort was successful overall, though crippled in the end by the decline and fall of the Soviet Union. The U.S. and NATO, he said, made the same fundamental mistake the Kremlin made after its December 1979 invasion, when Soviet special forces killed President Hafizullah Amin and Moscow replaced Amin's Communist regime with another judged more loyal. "We should have left Afghanistan as soon as possible after the job had been done," Kabulov said. "It should not have taken more than six months. Same as you. You came and you stayed. And all the problems have started." In some ways, Kabulov, named ambassador to Afghanistan by then President Vladimir Putin in 2004, is an unlikely figure to be advising NATO. The New York Times said in October 2008 that he served covertly as the KGB's Kabul resident, or top officer, during the Soviet war. But when asked about this, Kabulov insisted he was just a diplomat. "My career was quite transparent and well known," he said. His only role in Afghanistan during the Soviet war, he said, was as the embassy's second secretary, serving as press attache, from 1983 to 1987. While NATO has made some of the same mistakes the Soviets made in Afghanistan, in some ways the Kremlin was more successful, Kabulov said. The Soviets, he asserted, were better than NATO at providing security in major cities and along main highways. And he said the Soviets completed more major construction and development projects. The Soviet government bankrolled those efforts out of its own pocket, he said, in contrast to the U.S. and its Western allies, which have made what amount to charity appeals at donor conferences. "We never arranged international conferences with high pledges of dozens of billions of dollars which never came to this country," he said. And Kabulov said the Soviets trained and employed Afghans, rather than importing highly paid and, in his view, pampered foreign contractors. When it comes to Westerners, he said, "guards also need guards." Afghanistan, a resource-poor, landlocked country of mountainous deserts, has long played a pivotal role in Moscow's dealings with the West. In the 19th century, Russian and British spies and diplomats competed for access to markets here in what was known as "The Great Game." During the 1980s Afghanistan became the principal battlefield of the Cold War, as the U.S. covertly supported Muslim resistance groups fighting the Soviets. Today, Kabulov said, Afghanistan remains a strategic prize because of its location near the gas and oil fields of Iran, the Caspian Sea, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. Russia has a major stake in NATO's success in Afghanistan, Kabulov said. If the alliance withdraws before Afghanistan is stabilized, he said, the aftershocks could weaken Moscow's allies throughout former Soviet Central Asia. But the Kremlin has bitterly opposed NATO's expansion into former Eastern bloc and former Soviet countries, and has accused the alliance of trying to encircle and weaken Russia. Kabulov said Russia has questions about NATO's intentions in Afghanistan, which he said lies outside of the alliance's "political domain." He suggested that Moscow is concerned that NATO is building permanent bases in the region. "We agreed and supported the United States and later on NATO operation in Afghanistan under the slogan of counterterrorism" after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S., he said. "And we believed that this agenda is a genuine one and there is no other hidden agendas. But we are watching carefully what is going on here with the expansion of NATO's military infrastructure in all of Afghanistan." From Russia's perspective, Kabulov said, NATO should accomplish its goals in Afghanistan and quickly leave. "We want NATO to successfully and as soon as possible complete its task and to say goodbye and to go back to their own geographical and political domain," he said. "But before their departure they should help establish a real, independent, strong, prosperous, peaceful Afghanistan with self-sustainable government." NATO's Sholtis said the purpose of the alliance's presence in Afghanistan is "not some kind of imperial project," but an effort to stabilize the country. "U.S. and NATO officials have been clear that we have no long-term interest in a military presence in Afghanistan," he said.

DTN News: Patriot Missiles Offered To Turkey In $7.8 Billion Arms Deal

DTN News: Patriot Missiles Offered To Turkey In $7.8 Billion Arms Deal *Source: DTN News / Defense News (Click here for link) (NSI News Source Info) BETHESDA, Maryland - September 13, 2009: The Pentagon has notified Congress it plans to sell Turkey its most advanced version of the Patriot air-defense missile in an arms package worth as much as $7.8 billion, according to a press release. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said the deal for nearly 290 Patriot missiles includes 72 PAC-3 models along with communications gear needed to establish an integrated air- defense system for more than a dozen command posts, according to the release dated Sept. 9 and posted to its Web site yesterday. Congress has 30 days to veto the agreement before it’s considered approved. Lockheed Martin Corp., based in Bethesda, Maryland, and Waltham, Massachusetts-based Raytheon Co. would then enter into talks for a potential contract with Turkey. “Turkey will use the PAC-3 missiles to improve its missile defense capability, strengthen its homeland defense, and deter regional threats,” the agency said in the statement. Turkey has not previously acquired PAC-3 missiles, “but will be able to absorb and effectively utilize these missiles,” it said. The PAC-3, introduced in 2001, is the most advanced model of the Patriot missile. It is more effective than prior versions because it destroys incoming missiles by collision. Earlier Patriots exploded in the path of an enemy weapon. The U.S. has already sold the missile to the Netherlands, Germany and Japan. Lockheed Martin also received a $774 million contract in December to sell PAC-3s to the United Arab Emirates and U.S. Army. Boeing Co. is also a subcontractor.

DTN News: Boeing Sweetens Bid To Brazil To Win Jet Fighter Race

DTN News: Boeing Sweetens Bid To Brazil To Win Jet Fighter Race *Source: DTN News / Bloomberg By Joshua Goodman (NSI News Source Info) SEATTLE, USA - September 13, 2009: Boeing Co., sweetening its bid to beat Dassault Aviation SA and win an order for 36 jet fighters from Brazil’s air force, offered to assemble most of the proposed contract’s F/A-18 Super Hornets in the country. In October 2008, it was reported the Super Hornet was selected as one of three finalists in Brazil's fighter competition. Brazil has put forward an initial requirement for 36 planes, with a potential total purchase of 120.
The planemaker wants to manufacture the first 12 planes in the U.S. and transfer equipment and tools to assembly lines to Brazil so Sao Jose dos Campos-based Empresa Brasileira Aeronautica SA could assemble the remainder, said Mike Coggins, who is overseeing the sale for Boeing. “If Brazil chooses to exercise this option, we’re on board, and the U.S. government has been on board since February, when they granted us full authority and approval,” Coggins said in a phone interview from Brasilia. “We do recognize it is important to Brazil that these jets are final-assembled here.” Boeing wants to prevent France’s Dassault from winning work that analysts estimate could be valued at as much as 5 billion euros ($7.29 billion). The Chicago-based company made its offer last week, before French President Nicolas Sarkozy traveled to Brazil, pitching Dassault’s Rafale jet with a promise to build some locally as well as buy 10 Embraer military transport aircraft. Boeing, Dassault and a third finalist, Sweden’s Saab AB, are being allowed to amend their bids delivered in June, Coggins said. Brazil’s air force will make its recommendation this month, Coggins said. ‘Heating Up’ Defense Minister Nelson Jobim told reporters today that the competition was “heating up” and that it was up to Dassault to present an acceptable final offer so President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s “political decision” to strengthen ties with France could be fulfilled. Lula, after being asked yesterday by reporters about a U.S. government statement that the transfer of “all necessary technology” to Brazil had been approved, joked that “pretty soon I’ll get these fighter jets for free.” During Sarkozy’s visit, France promised to grant Brazil exclusive rights to sell the Rafale in Latin America. Coggins called the offer a “marketing ploy” since few other regional buyers can afford the plane or have committed to other suppliers. “We feel that Brazil’s goals of national autonomy and industrial development are best served by a 30-year partnership with the largest aerospace company in world,” he said, adding that no competitor could match its track record for on-time and on-budget delivery. Order Expansion Under Boeing’s offer, Embraer would perform both the final assembly on the remaining 24 jets and “do the same work should the number of jets grow,” Coggins said. Brazil has said it may expand the order to 120 warplanes to replace its aging fleet, which is primarily supplied by the French. Michel Merluzeau, an aviation analyst at Seattle-based market research firm G2 Solutions, said the sale was Dassault’s to lose. If successful, it would be Dassault’s first international sale after failed bids in Morocco, South Korea and Singapore. The competition in Brazil is being closely watched by India, where both Boeing and Dassault are competing to win an order for 126 warplanes. “Boeing’s offer is interesting, but it falls short of Brazil’s requirement for a more competitive package that goes beyond just the aircraft,” Merluzeau said. To contact the reporter on this story: Joshua Goodman in Rio de Janeiro

DTN News: Iran TODAY September 13, 2009 ~ No Desire To Develop Atomic Bomb Says Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi

DTN News: Iran TODAY September 13, 2009 ~ No Desire To Develop Atomic Bomb Says Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN, Iran - September 13, 2009: Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi on Saturday renewed Iran's insistence that it has no ambitions to develop an atomic bomb as world powers sought urgent talks on its latest proposals to allay concerns. "We regard production of weapons of mass destruction as contrary to our religious, human and national principles," the Fars news agency quoted Vahidi as saying. "Manufacturing nuclear weapons is not, and has never been, on our agenda." Vahidi is wanted by Argentina in connection with a deadly 1994 bombing against a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires but was unanimously approved as defence minister in a vote of confidence in parliament last week. His comments came as six world powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- considered new proposals handed over by Iran on Wednesday to delay Western concerns about the real purpose of its nuclear programme. Washington has already expressed disappointment with the proposals. "It is not really responsive to our greatest concern," assistant secretary of state for public affairs, Philip Crowley, told reporters on Thursday. The UN Security Council has given Iran repeated ultimatums to suspend uranium enrichment, the process which produces nuclear fuel or, in highly extended form, the fissile core of an atomic bomb. But on Friday, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei insisted once again that the regime would not bow to international pressure over its nuclear programme. The Security Council has adopted three sets of sanctions against Iran over its failure to heed the ultimatums.

DTN News: Bolivia To Buy Presidential Plane An-148 From Russia

DTN News: Bolivia To Buy Presidential Plane An-148 From Russia *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) LA PAZ, Bolivia - September 13, 2009: President Evo Morales says Bolivia has decided to buy a presidential plane from Russia after Moscow offered to set up an aircraft maintenance center in the South American nation. Bolivia officially addressed to Russia with a request to provide a 100-million-dollar loan, the nation’s Defense Minister Walker San Miguel Rodriguez said. The money, the minister added, would be used to modernize the outdated military hardware in Bolivia and to purchase a presidential jetliner. The credit terms will be determined as soon as Russia gives its answer. It is worthy of note that Russia already gave a loan to Cuba last week. “It does not go about any arms race or a threat to any country. It goes about the normal replacement of military hardware. The government of Bolivia addressed to Russia with a request to provide a loan of $100 million for the modernization of Bolivian armed forces,” the defense minister said in an interview with a local radio station. The loan from Russia will give Bolivia an opportunity to replace the outdated hardware, which has been used in the nation during the recent 20 years. In addition, the country intends to acquire the An-148 jetliner as a presidential plane. The cost of the liner will make up about $30 million, Itar-Tass news agency reports. Defense Minister Walker San Miguel announced in early August that Bolivia had agreed to purchase an Antonov presidential plane with satellite phone, Internet links and a meeting room from Russia for $30 million. Morales postponed the purchase, but said his government has now decided to buy it because of the offer to set up a service center for Russian planes in Bolivia. Morales said Saturday the offer from President Dmitry Medvedev was delivered to him by Russia's ambassador. The current presidential plane is U.S.-made Sabre jet from the 1970s.

DTN News: India Protests Pakistani Dam in Disputed Region

DTN News: India Protests Pakistani Dam in Disputed Region *Source: DTN News/ Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) BANGKOK, Thailand - September 13, 2009: The Indian government has lodged a protest against Pakistan over its plans to build a dam in the disputed region of Kashmir, with the help of China. India's foreign ministry said Friday the dam is being built in part of the Himalayan valley that is "illegally" occupied by Pakistan. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed by both. Last month, Pakistan and China signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction of the Bunji hydroelectric project, which is aimed at generating electricity for Pakistan. The country is dealing with power shortages. The project has caused concern in India over Pakistan's growing ties with China.Friday, Pakistan summoned an official with the Indian High Commission in Islamabad to reject the India's protest of the dam. The Deputy High Commissioner of India in Islamabad was called to the Foreign Office on Friday and Indian protest on Gilgit-Baltistan self-rule order was rejected. The Foreign Office Director General (South Asia) emphasised that Pakistan rejects the Indian protest as the Government of India has no locus standi in the matter. A Press release issued by the Foreign Office stated that the Government of Pakistan also rejects the Indian claim that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. “Pakistan’s position on Jammu and Kashmir dispute is based on relevant UN resolutions.” Two protest notes were handed over to the High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi on Friday by the Ministry of External Affairs of India, on the Gilgit-Baltistan (Empowerment and Self-Governance Order, 2009); and construction of Bunji Dam in Astore District. Monitoring Desk adds: The Indian Government on Friday summoned the Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan Riffat Masood and registered its protest against the Government of Pakistan’s so-called Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order -2009 and its move to construct the Bunji Hydroelectric Project, reported Indian media. Insofar as the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order-2009 was concerned, the Indian government charged Pakistan with denying basic democratic rights to the people in those parts of the state of Jammu and Kashmir under its illegal occupation for the past six decades. New Delhi told the Pakistani envoy that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession in 1947.A government spokesman described the so-called Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order-2009 was yet another cosmetic exercise intended to camouflage Pakistan’s illegal occupation of the region. The Indian Government also lodged a protest on Friday over the proposed construction of the Bunji Hydroelectric Project. The 7000-megawatt dam is being constructed at Bunji in the Astore District of the Gilgit-Baltistan area with the help of China.

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY September 13, 2009 ~ President Hamid Karzai Holds Firm Lead In Disputed Vote

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY September 13, 2009 ~ President Hamid Karzai Holds Firm Lead In Disputed Vote
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - September 13, 2009: Nearly complete but still preliminary - and controversial - results show Afghanistan's incumbent as the winner in the country's presidential election.
An Afghan man rides on his bicycle past a poster of President Hamid Karzai in Kabul September 12, 2009. President Karzai remained headed for a single-round victory over his main challenger Abdullah Abdullah in partial results from last month's disputed presidential election released on Saturday.*
However, President Hamid Karzai is going to have a difficult time claiming a legitimate victory and his closest challenger is not ready to concede.In another trickle of preliminary results released by election commissioners, President Karzai retains his firm lead with more than 54 percent of the ballots.
Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah has 28 percent. Out of the 5.8 million votes deemed valid so far, the incumbent has three million while the top challenger has just more than half that amount. Other candidates are far behind with about 95 percent of all ballots tallied.
United Nations spokesman Aleem Siddque in Kabul tells VOA News that it is premature, however, to judge the outcome."The game is far from over.
There are no winners in this election yet. There have been over 2,000 complaints made during this electoral process. And it's imperative that those complaints are thoroughly investigated before any provisional results can be finalized," said Siddque.
That means a resolution is weeks - or possibly, months, away. The U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission may end up putting into quarantine hundreds of thousands of ballots until the major allegations stemming from the August 20 election are resolved.Asked at a press conference in Kabul why the criteria for quarantined votes has changed from 600 per ballot box to more than 1,000, chief electoral officer Daoud Ali Najafi says the ECC just made this decision and the Afghan government's Independent Election Commission agreed to it.
"Tomorrow morning the IEC (Independent Election Commission) and ECC will meet together to establish a procedure to implement the decision," he said.
A delay in the final vote count is raising fears of further instability in a country already divided by a Taliban insurgency and smoldering ethnic tensions. Staying in power, at least for the mean time, is President Karzai. He enjoys support from his fellow Pashtuns, the country's largest ethnic group. Abdullah, of Tajik and Pashtun descent, is backed by Tajiks. If election authorities invalidate enough ballots to bring President Karzai's total below a majority then he and Abdullah would face each other in a run-off.
But that would have to happen quickly before snow fall would make many areas inaccessible for the winter. The political uncertainty comes as Afghanistan faces its worst violence since the invasion that ousted the Taliban in late 2001.
Officials say a roadside bomb in Uruzgan province, apparently meant to target Afghan and foreign troops, struck two passenger cars Saturday killing 14 civilians. Another such explosion in Kandahar province killed six civilians. Also in Kandahar two Taliban suicide bombers attacked a government intelligence office killing one agent.
In the northern part of Kunduz province, the U.S. military says, an overnight raid by Afghan and coalition forces killed 11 militants who were in possession of bomb-making material and rocket-propelled grenades.

DTN News: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Plans New York Trip In 'Mid-September'

DTN News: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Plans New York Trip In 'Mid-September' *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN, Iran - September 13, 2009: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to visit New York to attend the 64th session of the UN General Assembly due to open on 15 September. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad meets with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, left, in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009. An unidentified translator sits at center. The presidential office announced that it is working on Ahmadinejad's itinerary for the visit to New York, mentioning that the office has received a number of requests and proposals in the same regard. Meeting Iranian expatriates in the US, conferring with the participating heads of state, attending interviews with US media, meeting different religious leaders and addressing American students are among the same requests which might be included in Ahmadinejad's agenda for the trip. Meantime, the Iranian President said on Monday that he is ready to "debate and talk" with US President Barack Obama in a public meeting before the mass media when he attends the UN General Assembly later this month. "As we have said earlier and as we announced during Mr. Bush's tenure, we are ready to debate and talk about important global issues (with Mr. Obama) in the presence of the world media," Ahmadinejad said in his first press conference after his reelection. The United Nations General Assembly meeting to be opened in two weeks, will study subjects including maintenance of international peace and security, promotion of sustained economic growth and sustainable development in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and recent United Nations conferences. Also the development of Africa, promotion of human rights, effective coordination of humanitarian assistance efforts, promotion of justice and international law, disarmament, drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and organizational, administrative and other matters are to be discussed during the meeting.

DTN News: In Yemen, Houthi Muslim Fighters Seize Military Base

DTN News: In Yemen, Houthi Muslim Fighters Seize Military Base
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) SANNA, Yemen - September 13, 2009: As clashes intensify, Yemeni Zeidi Muslim fighters say they have seized a military base, army weapons and arrested 85 soldiers. A Yemeni soldier fires on rebel targets from a military hummer during clashes with Shi'ite rebels in the northwestern province of Saada in this undated picture released by the Yemeni army August 30, 2009. Yemen said on Sunday it had killed a leader of northern rebels as the air force continued to attack targets in Saada province, where rights groups say tens of thousands have been displaced. The fighters led by Abdolmalek al-Houthi took control of the military base in Harf Sufian district of Amran province in northern Yemen, a website for Houthi fighters said in a statement. The statement also rejected reports that the Yemeni army was advancing in the region despite increased military attacks. The attack comes as the clashes continue to rise between the army and the fighters, with the army bombarding different northern areas. Houthi fighters say the army uses forbidden weapons including phosphorus bombs against them. Apart from clashes in Harf Sufian district the army extended attacks in al-Mulahit but the fighters could repel them and destroyed a tank and a military vehicle. Fighting between Yemeni troops backed by fighter aircraft and Muslim Shia fighters has killed dozens, mostly fighters, since the government launched a wide offensive against Shia tribes earlier in the month. The Shia fighters have been engaged in on and off fighting with government forces since 2004. The government accuses the fighters of seeking to reinstate the imamate rule, which ended in a 1962 coup. The Houthis, however, say they are defending themselves against religious oppression.