Tuesday, December 29, 2009

DTN News: Iran TODAY December 29, 2009 ~ Ali Larijani Raps US, UK Over Tehran Protests

DTN News: Iran TODAY December 29, 2009 ~ Ali Larijani Raps US, UK Over Tehran Protests *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN, Iran - December 29, 2009: Iran's parliament speaker condemns US and British officials for their reactions to disturbances in Tehran, saying that they orchestrated the "sacrilegious" events. In Europe protester supporting the Iranian opposition holds a sign depicting Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during demonstrations in front of the Iranian embassies in Paris, Brussels and Berlin December 28, 2009. Addressing the parliament on Tuesday, Ali Larijani said that Iran was not surprised about the stance that Washington and London had taken towards the anti-government protests, which were held during Sunday's Shia Muslim ceremonies of Ashura. According to Tehran chief prosecutor general Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, seven people were killed in the clashes that broke out between security forces and demonstrators in Tehran on Sunday. The Tehran police headquarters said that the police forces neither used violence nor fired a single bullet on Sunday. "US and British officials' disgraceful comments about the sacrilegious events of Ashura are so disgustingly vivid that they clarify where this movement stands when it comes to destroying religious and Revolutionary values," Ali Larijani said. "Israel's restlessness and its covert efforts to secure more Western aide for these sacrilegious movements has worsened the political situation. The anxiety of royal Wahhabi media has also caused an especially big scandal," he added. Larijani also singled out US President Barack Obama's defense of Sunday's anti-government protests and said that his reactions was a "gift from God" that would prevent any "naive interpretations" about a possible shift in US policy. "Washington's behavior during the past few months was nothing but an opportunist attempt to harm the national interest of Muslim Iranians. "That goes for its childish interference in our internal affairs and its duplicitous gestures on the nuclear issue," he said. After the Sunday protests, Obama condemned what he called “Iran's crackdown on protesters” and called for the release of the people who were detained. “We call for the immediate release of all who have been unjustly detained within Iran,” Obama said on Monday in Hawaii, where he is on vacation. Obama said that the US will support protesters during the “extraordinary events.” On Monday, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband also hailed what he called the “great courage” of those who took part in the illegal protests. Iran's Foreign Ministry has vowed to summon the British Ambassador to Tehran, Simon Lawrence Gass, in reaction to Miliband's remarks.

DTN News: Indian Air Force Su-30MKI Back In Full Swing And Formation

DTN News: Indian Air Force Su-30MKI Back In Full Swing And Formation *Source: DTN News / Defense Media (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - December 29, 2009: Last month November, 2009 an IAF Su-30MKI fighter jet crashed near Jaisalmer in the northwestern state of Rajasthan. As a result the entire fleet of Su-30MKIs was grounded while the cause of the problem was investigated. According to official reports, IAF Su-30MKIs an air superiority fighter which can also act as a multirole, strike fighter jets are back in full swing and formation. The Indian Air Force IAF has close to 120 of the Su-30MKI fighters in its inventory and has placed an order for 230 aircraft. Out of this, the majority of 140 fighters would be manufactured or assembled by HAL. The earlier batch of aircraft that have been in operation for the past few years were imported from Russia. The Su-30MKIs aircrafts are primarily for air defence and air superiority purposes. However, most of them have significant strike and close air support capabilities. The MKI variant features several improvements over the basic K and MK variants and is classified as a 4.5 generation fighter. Due to similar features and components, the MKI variant is often considered to be a customized Indian variant of the Sukhoi Su-35. The Su-30MKI is the IAF's prime air superiority fighter. The Su-30K variant was first acquired in 1996. That year, the IAF signed a US$1.6 billion contract with Russia for the supply of 50 Su-30MKIs and the technology transfer and license to manufacture 140 Su-30MKIs by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The two-seat, multi-role fighter has a maximum speed of 2500 km/h (Mach 2.35) and a service ceiling of 20,000 meters. With one mid-air refueling, it can travel as far as 8000 km, making it a suitable platform to deliver strategic weapons. In 2007, the IAF spent US$700 million to upgrade its remaining 10 Su-30Ks and 8 SU-30MKs to MKI Std variant and signed a contract for the supply of 40 additional MKIs with Russia. The Su-30MKIs total ordered (50+140+40) + (Additional 50 still to be ordered, as per Force India/ no official confirmation so far) will be procured/produced/assembled by 2015-2016 bringing the total number to 280. All 50 of the first batch delivered (1 crashed)/ 52 of the 140 HAL built delivered so far (1 crashed)(balance 88 at the rate of 14 per year by HAL ) and, 3 of the 40 ordered delivered so far(balance 37 by 2012-13). The Indian Air Force is going to augment its attack capability in near future by getting its own version of BrahMos, a supersonic cruise missile that will be fitted on Sukhoi 30-MKI. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which has already developed the land and sea version of the BrahMos in partnership with Russia s NPO Mashinostroeyenia, is working on the air version of the supersonic cruise missile for the Air Force.

DTN News: Japan ~ Moving U.S. Base To Guam 'Unreasonable'

DTN News: Japan ~ Moving U.S. Base To Guam 'Unreasonable' *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) TOKYO, Japan - December 29, 2009: Relocating a contentious U.S. airbase from southern Japan to Guam is "unreasonable" from the standpoint of national security, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told a radio program. Hatoyama said it would not be practical to shift the whole base, which has been the subject of friction between Tokyo and Washington, from Okinawa to the U.S.-controlled Pacific Ocean territory. "Thinking realistically, it would be unreasonable to relocate all its functions to Guam from the standpoint of deterrence," Hatoyama told a Nippon Radio program Dec. 26. The U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station currently sits in a crowded urban area of tropical Okinawa island. Tokyo and Washington agreed in 2006 to move it out to a coastal region, away from the population, many of whom resent its presence. The agreement was part of a broader realignment of U.S. forces in Japan and includes the redeployment of around 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to the U.S. territory of Guam. Soon after coming to power, Hatoyama's centre-left government announced a review of the agreement, provoking irritation in Washington. However, Hatoyama appeared to soft pedal the review in his weekend comments to the broadcaster. "It's been decided that 8,000 Marines and their families are to be moved to Guam. I expressed my idea that moving more than (8,000) is very difficult from the viewpoint of deterrence," Hatoyama said Dec. 27 before leaving for India, when asked by reporters about his Dec. 26 comments. Since its defeat in World War II, officially pacifist Japan has relied on a massive U.S. military presence to guarantee its security, initially as an occupier and later as an ally. But the dispute over Futenma has raised fears among some Japanese that this alliance might cool, at a time when a rising China is making its presence felt across Asia. Hatoyama's comments drew the ire of the Socialists in his ruling coalition, who favor shifting the base out of the country and have threatened to leave the coalition over the base row. "The Socialist Party regards the relocation to Guam as the best plan. We will pursue this possibility with our utmost efforts," said Mizuho Fukushima, head of the Socialists. Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) needs votes from Socialists and another junior coalition partner for a majority in the upper house of parliament. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano is due Dec. 28 to chair a meeting with coalition partners on the base issue. Referring to the Dec. 28 meeting, Hatoyama said "finding a new location for the Futenma base is important, but naturally, discussing deterrence is inevitable." Hatoyama's government took power in Japan in August after half a century of almost continuous conservative rule, pledging to review past agreements on the U.S. military presence and to deal with Washington on a more "equal" basis. The United States, which defeated Japan in World War II and then occupied the country, now has 47,000 troops stationed there, more than half of them on Okinawa, the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the war. Touching on possible amendments to the U.S.-imposed pacifist constitution for the first time since taking office, Hatoyama said: "I bear in my mind a desire to draft a constitution which serves the country in the best possible manner." But he added his plan "is not necessarily about Article Nine" which says Japan renounces the use of military force in settling international disputes. "I want to make amendments which serve local autonomy by reversing the positions of the central government and local governments." Hatoyama's government has pledged to transfer more authority to local government from powerful bureaucrats in the central government.

DTN News: Financial News TODAY December 29, 2009 ~ Air Terrorism Attempt Reveals Bigger 'System' Failure

DTN News: Financial News TODAY December 29, 2009 ~ Air Terrorism Attempt Reveals Bigger 'System' Failure *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media By Eugene Robinson (NSI News Source Info) - December 29, 2009: Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano's initial assessment of the Christmas Day airliner attack -- that "the system worked" -- doesn't quite match the absurdity of "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." But only because she quickly took it back. Passengers go through a security checkpoint at Washington's Reagan National Airport on Saturday. (Sarah L. Voisin/the Washington Post) A 'system' dangerously off course; A system that allows a man identified to U.S. officials as a potential threat -- by his own concerned father -- to board a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit with powerful explosives sewn into his underwear? That lets this man detonate his bomb as the plane prepares to land, igniting a potentially catastrophic fire? That depends on a young, athletic passenger to be seated nearby? That counts on this accidental hero to react quickly enough to thwart the terrorist's plans? If that's how the system works, we need a new system. Don't misunderstand. I'm not blaming the Obama administration for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's alleged terrorist attack, and it would be reprehensible for anyone to try to use the incident to score political points. The White House is guilty only of defensiveness in not immediately recognizing the obvious: We have a problem. Actually, we have two problems. The first is that the incident reveals serious deficiencies in the "system" that Napolitano and others were so quick to defend. At this point, no one can doubt that civilian aviation remains a major target of al-Qaeda, affiliated groups and imitators. Most of us are under the impression that removing our shoes at the airport and limiting ourselves to those tiny, trial-size containers of toothpaste, shaving cream and lotion are enough to ensure a safe flight. For passengers on Northwest Flight 253, this was not the case. One solution -- expensive and intrusive, but effective -- would be to make use of new airport screening technology mandatory. Either a "whole-body imaging" scanner, which gives a much more detailed picture than a regular metal detector, or a "sniffer" machine, which analyzes trace chemicals, would have been likely to detect the explosives that Abdulmutallab allegedly was carrying. In this instance, however, the system seems to have malfunctioned well before Abdulmutallab reached Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. Abdulmutallab's father, wealthy Nigerian banker Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, had warned U.S. and Nigerian authorities about his son's increasing radicalization -- information that led U.S. officials to put Abdulmutallab's name in a database, along with 550,000 other names, but not to revoke his multiple-entry visa or keep him off a Detroit-bound jetliner. It is an ordeal for anyone from the developing world to obtain a visa to enter the United States. We already turn away multitudes. It will be no small task, but the system needs to be re-engineered to let the right people in and keep the dangerous people out. When Abdulmutallab allegedly set his lap on fire, there were no air marshals on board to handle the situation. I realize it is not possible to provide an armed federal escort for every flight. But whatever algorithm officials use to determine which flights get marshals evidently needs improvement. The second problem we face is much bigger, and there is no real solution in sight. According to reports of Abdulmutallab's statements to authorities after his arrest, he claims to have gotten the bomb -- and instruction on how and when to use it -- from al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen. As noted previously in this space, and illustrated by a sobering report Monday in The Post, Yemen features prominently in al-Qaeda's expansion plans. Abdulmutallab's story suggests that an infrastructure for indoctrination, training and bomb-making is already in place, and that this ambitious young branch of al-Qaeda is confident enough to launch an attack on what the George W. Bush administration infelicitously called the "homeland." Our enemy apparently sees its future in places such as Yemen -- or perhaps Somalia, a failed state for almost two decades, where militant fundamentalist Islam is on the march. The enemy's leadership is believed to be ensconced in remote areas of Pakistan, beyond the government's reach. Yet the United States will soon have about 100,000 troops chasing shadows in Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda's presence is now minimal. I understand and appreciate the fear that if the Taliban were to take power again, it could invite al-Qaeda back into Afghanistan to set up shop. But I can't escape the uneasy feeling that we're fighting, and escalating, the last war -- while the enemy fights the next one. The writer will be online to chat with readers at 1 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday. Submit your questions and comments before or during the discussion.