Archive for November, 2013

IRAN, NORTH KOREA SECRETLY DEVELOPING NEW LONG-RANGE ROCKET BOOSTER AMID TALKS

November 28, 2013

Washington Free Beacon on November 26, 2013, reported that Iranian missile technicians secretly visited North Korea as part of joint development of a new rocket booster for long-range missiles or space launchers at the same time nuclear talks took place in Geneva, according to U.S. officials. Excerpts below:

Several groups of technicians from the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG), a unit in charge of building Iran’s liquid-fueled missiles, traveled to Pyongyang during the past several month, including as recently as late October, to work on the new, 80-ton rocket booster being developed by the North Koreans, according to officials familiar with intelligence reports.

The booster is believed by U.S. intelligence agencies to be intended for a new long-range missile or space launch vehicle that could be used to carry nuclear warheads, and could be exported to Iran in the future.

Recent U.S. intelligence assessments have said that both North Korea and Iran are expected to have missiles capable of hitting the United States with a nuclear warhead in the next two years.

The Iranian cooperation reveals that the nuclear framework agreement concluded Sunday in Geneva has not slowed Tehran’s drive for missiles…

US FLIES B 52 BOMBERS OVER DISPUTED ISLANDS CLAIMED BY CHINA

November 27, 2013

Fox News on November 26, 2013, reported that the United States flew two B-52 bombers over the disputed Senkaku Islands as part of a training exercise, further dipping a toe into the heated territorial fight between China and Japan.

A senior U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, described it as a “routine” flight that started and ended in Guam.

Although the flight path is routine for the U.S., there were much larger risks and implications involved in the exercise, called “Coral Lightning.”

Over the weekend, the Chinese publicly designated the disputed island territory to be within its own Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), meaning airspace that it controls.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that China’s new policy “is unnecessarily inflammatory.”

“These are the kinds of differences that should not be addressed with threats or inflammatory language, but rather can and should be resolved diplomatically,” Earnest said.

U.S. defense officials said the Pentagon would ignore requests from the Chinese for U.S. aircraft to identify themselves when in that airspace.

The U.S. officially deems the Senkaku region as international airspace.

The two unarmed B-52 aircraft, which required aerial refueling to make the flight from Guam to the Senkakus and back, were not intercepted by the Chinese, nor did the Chinese attempt to communicate with them.

Last year, the Pentagon announced a new defense strategy that would “pivot” focus from the Middle East to Asia.

CAPITOL HILL: SKEPTICISM OVER IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL – CALL FOR MORE SANCTIONS

November 25, 2013

Fox News on November 24, 2013, reported that Congress is voicing widespread, bipartisan skepticism about the deal between the United States and Iran to curb that country’s nuclear program, with a group of top senators vowing to impose more sanctions on the isolated Middle East country. Excerpts below:

The announcement follows the overnight deal in which the U.S. and five other world powers agreed to ease billions of dollars worth of import-export sanctions in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear-enrichment program and a range of reaction off Capitol Hill.

“A nuclear weapons-capable Iran presents a grave threat to the national security of the United States and its allies and we are committed to preventing Iran from acquiring this capability,” the group said. “We will work together to reconcile Democratic and Republican proposals over the coming weeks and to pass bipartisan Iran sanctions legislation as soon as possible.”

The group of 15 senators included Democrats Ben Cardin of Maryland and Bob Menendez of New Jersey, as well as Republicans Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Cornyn of Texas.
Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told “Fox News Sunday” that Iran was celebrating because its deal overnight with the U.S. and the five other world powers allows it to continue to enrich uranium while getting billions in crippling sanctions lifted.

He also said his greatest concern was that the Obama administration wouldn’t follow through on the terms of the deal — including daily inspections on Iran’s nuclear facilities and ensuring that the country sticks to new thresholds for nuclear enrichment — below levels toward building a nuclear weapon.

Iran agrees to turn off centrifuges, stop construction and fuel production at an unfinished nuclear reactor, limit its enrichment of uranium – needed to make a nuclear bomb — to 5 percent and dilute its stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium.

Cornyn was among the most critical of the historic deal that President Obama is hailing as an “important first step.”

“Amazing what WH will do to distract attention from O-care” tweeted Cornyn, referring to the White House and ObamaCare.

ISRAEL SAYS IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL BASED ON ‘DECEPTION AND SELF-DELUSION’

November 24, 2013

Fox News on November 24, 2013, reported that Israel harshly criticized the international community’s nuclear deal with Iran, accusing the world of “self-delusion” and saying the agreement would not halt Tehran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Excerpts below:

Israel has long accused Iran of trying to develop a nuclear weapon, and in the weeks leading up to the agreement, had warned the emerging deal was insufficient. It had called for increased pressure on Iran, and warned that any relief from economic sanctions would make Iran less willing to compromise down the road.

Israel’s Cabinet minister for intelligence issues, Yuval Steinitz, said the last-minute changes to the deal were “far from satisfactory” and did nothing to change Israel’s position.

The minister compared it to a failed 2007 international deal with North Korea and said it “is more likely to bring Iran closer to having a bomb.”

“Israel cannot participate in the international celebration, which is based on Iranian deception and (international) self-delusion,” said Steinitz, whose responsibilities include monitoring Iran’s nuclear program.

Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran a threat to its very survival, citing Iranian calls for Israel’s destruction.

Israel has repeatedly threatened to carry out a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities if it concludes international diplomacy has failed to curb the Iranian nuclear program.

“Despite our disappointment, we will remain steadfast in our position and work with our friends and allies in the United States and the rest of the world in an attempt to achieve a comprehensive solution which includes a full and genuine dismantling of Iran’s military infrastructure,” he said.

TYMOSHENKO TO YANUKOVYCH:‘YOUR FEAR IS SO EVIDENT’

November 23, 2013

Kyiv Post on November 22, 2013, published a letter from Yulia Tymoshenko to the Ukrainian president. Excerpts below:

Editor’s Note: The following is an unofficial translation of a letter written by imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to President Viktor Yanukovych on Nov. 22.
Dear Viktor Fedorovych!

Today I can relatively safely write a letter to you.

We beg your pardon for all…spontaneous emotions, we are all human and sometimes it is hard to control one’s temper. But now it is important not to sink into aggression, but to save the situation by all means. You are the only one, who can do this, that is why I reply to you with this letter.

Viktor Fedorovych, I advise and beg you to call the National Security and Defense Council…

This is your only chance to survive as politician, because now, while killing the agreement, you make the main mistake of your life.

I am well aware of your true internal motivation that is why I will not overstrain you with moral or civilizing adages. I want to give you only three pieces of advice, which you will certainly understand, and which maybe, will save the agreement.

Advice #1. You choose the vector of international strategy of Ukraine depending on the way it will influence your chances to re-elect for the president position. You decided that the best solution for this aim is to straddle the fence between the European Union and Russia, and because you are killing the association agreement with the EU. You think that you can continue to bluff, blackmail and play between two civilizing centers and to receive desired gifts from them for the sake of your power position. From some of them – cheap gas, electorate and money, from others – international legislation of your authoritarian rule and corruption. You are wrong. I believe, that after the failure of signing the agreement, the Western democratic world will leave you alone until 2015, because they are not in the business of reeducating primitive politicians.

Since the final agreement break, you will lose one of the most powerful influence centers, which you want to continue to exploit – the Western democratic world. You will be one to one with Russia; you will have to live up to its road map. At this point, the failure of agreement with the EU will be well approved by Russia, and you are even likely to get some sort of remuneration over this “courageous” step. I do not know what it will be like – relatively cheap gas, discreet loans or withdrawal of trade problems. It doesn’t matter. But keep in mind that these are not just gifts but hooks which you will fall for. And that’s not all. When you will have hardship during the economic and social failure, and there are no International Monetary Fund, no European Union, then your only “friend,” the Russian Federation, will help you, no doubts.

But the price of surrender is the national interests of Ukraine, which even you are not willing to pay. Russia will make you choose: either it will rescue you from socio-economic collapse, which has come already, or will not rescue at all.

So, my advice for you is: under no circumstances stay one to one with Russia, because in this case you will lose everything. You can only be protected with the association agreement.

Advice #2. Stop trying to get money from the Western world so roughly and hysterically in exchange for the agreement. It looks like primitive, crude impropriety. Sign the agreement – and the Western world will give you everything itself. They will save you from all the financial and socio-economic gaps that you have made. Understand that when you sign the agreement, the whole democratic world will be honored not to disappoint Ukrainian society in the European vector of development. Everything will be done for the 46 million people to experience real and substantial positive results by signing the agreement with the EU.

Advice #3 — Do not feel uneasy because of my issue. Your fear is so evident that you cannot hide it. Signing the agreement while holding a political prisoner in your dungeons significantly reduces you

But that’s your risk and your loss. Do what you consider necessary. I give you my word, that if you decide to sign the agreement, on the same day I will apply to European leaders asking to sign the agreement without implementation some parts of criteria, including those related to my release.

Remember my third advice and think about success the country you are responsible for, not about banal conquest of power at all costs, and success will come imperceptibly.

Naturally, you don’t have to listen to my advice. It means no one will give half of the coin for your political future, and you will hardly stay as president of Ukraine for long. But for now, you have time and right to choose. You choose.

Yulia Tymoshenko, imprisoned in Kharkiv’s Kachaniv colony, is the former prime minister of Ukraine. She wrote this letter to President Viktor Yanukovych on Nov. 22.

UKRAINE SUSPENDS PREPARATIONS FOR SIGNING DEAL WITH EUROPEAN UNION

November 22, 2013

Fox News on November 21, 2013, published an AP report on the Ukrainian government saying it’s suspending its preparations to sign a landmark association agreement with the European Union. Excerpts below:

Instead, the government said in a statement posted on its website Thursday that it was setting up a joint commission to work on boosting ties between Ukraine, Russia and the European Union.

The move follows the parliament’s refusal earlier today to pass a bill allowing the release of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko…

It also dealt a harsh blow to Ukraine‘s hope to integrate with the 28-member bloc and move out of Russia’s shadow.

(Comment: No doubt the decision of the Ukrainian government is a result of unfair pressures by Russia.)

KERRY: AGREEMENT REACHED ON US-AFGHAN SECURITY PACT

November 21, 2013

Fox News on November 20, 2013, reported that Secretary of State John Kerry announced that he and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have reached an agreement on a critical security pact governing the presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014. Excerpts below:

The document will be presented to a meeting of tribal elders for their approval on November 21.

“I’m pleased to say that in a series of conversations with President Karzai over the course of this morning … that we reached an agreement as to the final language of the bilateral security agreement,” Kerry announced.

The deal is still not finalized. Approval by the traditional council of 3,000 prominent Afghans, known as the Loya Jirga, is not guaranteed. The group can revise or reject any clause of the draft agreement, and a flat-out rejection would most likely prevent the Afghan government from signing it.

“We have agreed on the language that would be submitted to the Loya Jirga, but they have to pass it,” Kerry said.

The biggest sticking point has been the Afghan government’s jurisdiction over U.S. troops. The Afghans wanted to try U.S. troops in Afghanistan if they commit a crime, something the U.S. ruled out.

There was also the issue of night raids — the details of what U.S. forces will be allowed to do if they remain after 2014 remains controversial.

While U.S. officials have not yet disclosed the number of U.S. troops they want to keep in Afghanistan post-2014, Kerry said the role of the U.S. military would be “limited.”

“It is entirely train, equip and assist. There is no combat role for United States forces, and the bilateral security agreement is a way to try to clarify for Afghans and for United States military forces exactly what the rules are with respect to that ongoing relationship,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

MICHAEL INGMIRE: MY NEPHEW SEAN SMITH WAS KILLED IN BENGHAZI – I’D LIKE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2012

November 20, 2013

Michael Ingmire on Fox News wrote on November 19, 2013, about his nephew Sean Smith, who was killed in the attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi. Excerpts below:

Since publicly expressing my support for Congressman Frank Wolf’s efforts to establish an Independent Select Committee to investigate Benghazi in December 2012, via House Res. 36, I have spoken to hundreds of Congressional and Senatorial Representatives asking for support for Congressman Wolf’s bill and have discussed a variety of Benghazi based topics.

I have given interviews to members of the media, consulted with various intelligence and military personnel about what happened in Benghazi.

In addition, I have also written articles about a variety of Benghazi related topics and have written many emails and letters asking for assistance in pursuit of the truth about the real scandal that is Benghazi.

The object lesson of this journey is that every American citizen should hold their government accountable and not be afraid to confront the members of Congress and the president when bad behavior, avarice greed, or lies and criminal activity are present.

It is especially frustrating when President Obama pleads continued ignorance to issues like Benghazi…

Without a doubt, Benghazi became personal when my nephew Sean was murdered. Granted, Sean was part of my extended family via his marriage to my wife’s niece. But, ultimately, family is family.

During the summer of 2013, when I was feeling somewhat frustrated about the slow moment of progress in the House of Representatives regarding Benghazi, I started asking friends, Congressional aides and other individuals whom I respect why the Senate cannot step up to the plate and establish their own Independent Select Committee.

Therefore, I was thrilled when I read Senator Ted Cruz’s proposed bill, Senate Resolution 225, the week of the year anniversary of my nephew Sean’s death on September 11, 2013. Senate Resolution 225 wishes to establish an Independent Joint Select Committee to fully investigate Benghazi.

I believe in the process of a Select Committee. For Benghazi, we need one set of committee members, from both the House and Senate, who can read classified documents and who have subpoena power.

Starting today, a letter I wrote to Senator Cruz, in support of Senate Res. 225, will be handed out to the members of the Senate as a “Dear Colleague” letter. That letter is included in the text of this commentary. All Americans should be outraged about what happened in Benghazi.

This op-ed, the letters I have written, and the phone calls I have made about Benghazi are one more step towards the getting to the truth about what happened to four brave Americans on September 11, 2012 and the continued aftermath and consequences of that attack.

IRANIAN DISSIDENTS SAY TEHRAN HAS BUILT SECRET NUCLEAR SITE

November 19, 2013

Washington Times on November 18, 2013, reported that an Iranian opposition group claimed that Tehran has built a secret underground nuclear facility that’s key to its developing atomic weapons program. Excerpts below:

The shocking claim reported by Ynet News comes as Iran and the heads of six global powers are set to meet this week and resume talks about Tehran’s nuclear program — a controversial topic that has seen the international community impose tighter sanctions on the country, even while Iranian leaders continue to deny their nuclear enrichment is for anything but peaceable purposes.

…amid the international swirl comes the claim from the People’s Mujahideen Organization of Iran, PMOI, a group affiliated with the National Council of Resistance of Iran that members have proof of a secret site set up by the regime, for nuclear purposes, Ynet News reported. The group could not detail what type of nuclear activity was taking place at the site — but the NCRI has a history of honest reporting. This is the group that exposed Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment plant in 2002, along with a related heavy-water facility, named Arak.

…the report has sparked international interest and investigation.

“According to specific information obtained by the Iranian resistance, the clerical regime is establishing or completing parallel secret and undeclared sites for its nuclear project,” said NCRI’s Mehdi Abrichamtchi in the Ynet News report.

The group said Iran’s secret site was located inside a sizeable tunnel underneath mountains that are located about six miles from the town of Mobarekeh. That puts it within the borders of Iran’s existing military industrial complex, at Haft-e Tir.

Mr. Abrichamtchi said officials started to construct the facility in 2005. The tunnels were completed by 2009, and construction on the actual facility finished just recently, he said, in Ynet News. He also said the group has sent its evidence to the International Atomic Energy Agency for further investigation. Ynet News said the IAEA did not have immediate comment.

TENS OF THOUSANDS ATTEND ‘PRO-EUROPE’ RALLY IN MOLDOVAN CAPITAL

November 18, 2013

Radio Free Europe on November 3, 2013, reported that thousands of Moldovans gathered in downtown Chisinau for a rally organized by the country’s ruling coalition to highlight public support for further European integration. Excerpts below:

The demonstration’s aims were to signal internal support but also send a message to Brussels in the weeks ahead of a major EU summit in Vilnius on November 28-29.

Eastern Partnership states Moldova and Georgia are hoping to initial Association Agreements with the European Union at the Lithuanian summit, while Ukraine is expected to sign its Association Agreement.

But Russia, still a powerful trade partner and political player in the region, has intensified its efforts to derail those plans for Moldova, as well as for Ukraine and Georgia.

Armenia, another Eastern Partnership country reportedly under pressure from Moscow, complicated its publicly stated EU aspirations recently by announcing its intention to join a Russian-led Customs Union.

The November 3 rally in Chisinau ended with the adoption of a symbolic “Pro Europe” statement describing “the European option” as “the only correct one for the future of our country’s major national interests and the only chance to ensure rights, freedom, and prosperity for all [Moldova’s] citizens.”

President Nicolae Timofti told the crowd that Moldovans will “have to work harder to reach European standards.”

“But we can do this effort, for us and the future generations,” Timofti said. “Moldova belongs to Europe.”

Organizers claimed 100,000 people attended the rally, while other sources put the figure at between 60,000 and 70,000.