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The Magog Invasion

 

 Introduction:

 

The ancient people called Magog are commonly believed to have been the ancestors of the Russian nation. The prophet Ezekiel spoke of an invasion of Israel by Russia, which has not yet been fulfilled. What could cause Russia to come against the tiny nation of Israel -- which has no oil and no real strategic value? This question has puzzled Bible scholars for centuries. However, recent developments in the Middle East have for the first time in history lent credence to this long-awaited prophecy.


[READ THE FULL INTRODUCTION]

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Israel's Yaalon in US after spat over Kerry remarks

 
‎19 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:18:37 AMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, at a press conference in Jerusalem, on August 27, 2014Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon sought to calm fresh tensions with Washington on Sunday as he began a five-day trip to the United States.
 
 

HRW urges Polisario to respect Sahrawi refugee rights

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:06:39 PMGo to full article
Refugees from Western Sahara walk through a school in a refugee camp in the Tindouf reigon of south-western Algeria on October 18, 2005Algiers (AFP) - Human Rights Watch has urged the Western Sahara's Polisario Front to make more of an effort to ensure respect for human rights in refugee camps the pro-independence group runs in the Algerian desert.
 
 

Frustrating West, Turkey maintains cautious stance on jihadists

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:16:40 AMGo to full article
A Syrian Kurdish woman walks in a refugee camp in the town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province, on October 17, 2014Istanbul (AFP) - Turkey is turning a deaf ear to insistent pressure to take a more pro-active stance in the fight against Islamic State (IS) jihadists, adding to existing strains with the West under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
 
 

Activists: Islamic State group may have warplanes

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:45:12 AMGo to full article
FILE - This undated image posted on Aug. 27, 2014 by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, a Syrian opposition group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters of the Islamic State group waving the group's flag from a damaged display of a government fighter jet following the battle for the Tabqa air base, in Raqqa, Syria. The Islamic State group is test flying, with the help of former Iraqi air force pilots, several fighter jets captured earlier from air bases belonging to the Syrian military, a Syrian activist group said Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. The report by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights could not be independently confirmed, and U.S. official said they had no reports of Islamic State group militants flying jets in support of their forces on the ground.(AP Photo/ Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group)BAGHDAD (AP) — Syrian activists say the Islamic State militant group has captured some MiG fighter jets and is test-flying the warplanes in Syria with the help of former Iraqi air force pilots.
 
 

U.N. Security Council urges stronger campaign against Islamic State

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:10:23 AMGo to full article
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council on Friday pushed for a bombing campaign in Iraq against Islamic State militants and associated extremist groups to be strengthened and expanded. A U.S.-led military coalition has been bombing Islamic State fighters who hold a large swathe of territory in both Iraq and Syria, two countries involved in complex multi-sided civil wars in which nearly every country in the Middle East has a stake. U.S. ...
 

Kobani key to US strategy against Islamic State

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:41:45 PMGo to full article
Kobani mapWASHINGTON (AP) — Dusty and remote, the Syrian city of Kobani has become an unlikely spoil in the war against Islamic State militants — and far more of a strategic prize than the United States wants to admit.
 
 

Kobani key to US strategy against Islamic State

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:33:08 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — Dusty and remote, the Syrian city of Kobani has become an unlikely spoil in the war against Islamic State militants — and far more of a strategic prize than the United States wants to admit.
 

Former Iraqi pilots train IS fighters on MiG jets

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:08:48 PMGo to full article
FILE - This undated image posted on Aug. 27, 2014 by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, a Syrian opposition group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters of the Islamic State group waving the group's flag from a damaged display of a government fighter jet following the battle for the Tabqa air base, in Raqqa, Syria. The Islamic State group is test flying, with the help of former Iraqi air force pilots, several fighter jets captured earlier from air bases belonging to the Syrian military, a Syrian activist group said Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. The report by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights could not be independently confirmed, and U.S. official said they had no reports of Islamic State group militants flying jets in support of their forces on the ground.(AP Photo/ Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group)BEIRUT (AP) — The Islamic State group is test flying, with the help of former Iraqi air force pilots, several fighter jets captured earlier from air bases belonging to the Syrian military, a Syrian activist group said Friday.
 
 

Arabs from Israel risk arrest for 'Arab Idol' show

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:27:28 PMGo to full article
CAPTION CORRECTION, CORRECTS IDENTITY FROM MANAL MOUSA TO SABREN MOUSA - In this image made from AP video filmed on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, Sabren Mousa, sister of Manal Mousa, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at her family home in the Galilee village of Deir Al-Assad, northern Israel. Her sister Manal Mousa's goal is to win Arab Idol, the Arab world's premiere television song competition. The journey Manal Mousa and another singer Haitham Khalaily, 24, have taken from their villages in Israel to the competition in Lebanon could comprise a television drama of its own - featuring travel to an enemy country, Israeli security interrogations, and the complicated identity crisis of Israel's Arabs. (AP Photo/AP video)MAJD AL-KRUM, Israel (AP) — Their goal is to win Arab Idol, the Arab world's premiere television song competition.
 
 

U.S. general says Iraq retaking some ground from Islamic State

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:04:14 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of U.S. troops in the Middle East said on Friday Iraqi forces are "incrementally" recapturing ground from Islamic State militants who seized much of the country's northwest this year, but he added that major Iraq advances will take time. "They are doing some things now to incrementally recapture ground that's been lost," General Lloyd Austin, head of U.S. Central Command, said in his first news conference about the conflict. He cited the Kurdish operation around Mosul Dam and their recapture of the border post of Rabia. Austin said U.S. ...
 

General: Kobani provides chance to take out IS

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:02:48 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. commander for the Middle East says fighting over the Syrian border town of Kobani has allowed the U.S.- led coalition to take out large numbers of Islamic State group fighters that have been pouring in.
 

Correction: Turkey-Islamic State-Istanbul story

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:43:16 PMGo to full article
In this photo taken Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, a student puts the finishing touches on an anti-Islamic State poster at Istanbul University's Department of Literature, Istanbul, Turkey. The student was one of several critical of the militant group, whose supporters clashed with left-wing students on Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. The violence was one of the clearest signs that the radical Islamic State group has found sympathizers in Istanbul. (AP Photo/Raphael Satter)ISTANBUL (AP) — In a story Oct. 14 about Islamic State group supporters in Istanbul, The Associated Press erroneously referred to the city as the capital. Ankara is Turkey's capital. Istanbul is its largest city.
 
 

Yemen's al Qaeda expresses support for Islamic State against 'crusade'

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:37:16 PMGo to full article
DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's wing in Yemen expressed support on Friday for Islamic State against what it described as a "crusade alliance", referring to U.S.-led air strikes on the insurgents in Iraq and Syria, and called for attacks to damage the United States. U.S. and Arab forces have bombed Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq since the militants declared a caliphate in the territory under their control. Islamic State is an offshoot of al Qaeda but now challenges that group for influence among jihadists. ...
 

Philippine militants get part of ransom for kidnapped Germans

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:17:28 PMGo to full article
Soldiers ride in a truck as they patrol a road in Jolo, SuluMANILA (Reuters) - Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants in the Philippines holding two Germans said on Friday they had received some of the ransom they had been demanding and would not kill one of the Germans as they had threatened to. The hostages, captured by militants of the Abu Sayyaf group in April from a yacht on the high seas, are being held in the interior of the remote island of Jolo, 600 miles (960 km) south of Manila. ...
 
 

Egypt's foray into Libya underlines its concerns

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:24:27 AMGo to full article
A fire truck drives towards smoke caused by an attack by Islamist militias during clashes with forces led by renegade Libyan Gen. Khalifa Hifter in Benghazi, Libya, Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Islamist militias fought Wednesday with forces loyal to Hifter, who vows to seize the eastern city of Benghazi, as a top militia commander accused Egypt of bombing his positions with warplanes. (AP Photo/Mohammed el-Sheikhy)BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — Egypt's military involvement in Libya underlines Cairo's concerns about the threat posed by Islamic militant groups operating near the two nations' porous border, as well as home-grown jihadis who rely on their Libyan comrades for weapons. Above all, Egypt aims to prevent these groups from linking up.
 
 

US still searching for credible allies in Syria

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:26:07 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2014 file photo, President Barack Obama after Congress voted to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against the Islamic State group, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. Despite years of diplomacy and a CIA operation to vet and train moderate Syrian rebels, the U.S. finds itself without a credible partner on the ground in Syria as it bombs the Islamic State group there, exposing a gaping hole in the Obama administration’s strategy to ultimately defeat the militants. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite years of diplomacy and a CIA operation to vet and train moderate rebels, the U.S. finds itself without a credible partner on the ground in Syria as it bombs the Islamic State group. That's a potentially serious flaw in its strategy to ultimately defeat the militants.
 
 

Bahrain activist detained for 'insulting' the king

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:05:21 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this file photo taken Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, Bahraini opposition activist Zainab al-Khawaja checks her cellphone as she waits to hear about her detained sister, Maryam al-Khawaja, outside the court in Manama, Bahrain. Human rights organizations said Thursday, Oct. 16, that the Bahraini activist who is eight months pregnant has been detained for "insulting" the king after she tore up his photograph in court. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A Bahraini activist who is eight months pregnant was detained for "insulting" the king after she tore up his photograph in court, a human rights organization said Thursday.
 
 

Red Cross delivers first medical aid in a year to Palestinians in Syria

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:02:16 PMGo to full article
GENEVA (Reuters) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday it had delivered its first medical supplies in a year to Palestinian refugees living in a camp in the Damascus suburb of Yarmouk in Syria. Around 20,000 people are believed to be living in Yarmouk, once home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and Syrian nationals, where food and water supplies are now scarce. The camp is caught between Syrian government forces and opposition forces including al-Nusra. ...
 

Philip Morris Int'l 3Q profit falls 8 percent

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:48:09 PMGo to full article
FILE - This Jan. 17, 2008 file photo shows a pack of Marlboro cigarettes in Bremen, Germany. Cigarette maker Philip Morris International Inc., which sells Marlboros and other U.S. brands abroad, on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014 said its third-quarter profit dropped 8 percent as cigarette sales fell in the overseas markets that it serves and it was hurt by foreign exchange rates for the U.S. dollar. (AP Photo/Joerg Sarbach, File)RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Philip Morris International's third-quarter profit dropped 8 percent as cigarette sales fell in the overseas markets that it serves and it was hurt by foreign exchange rates for the U.S. dollar.
 
 

Britain to re-deploy drones from Afghanistan to Iraq

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:05:14 PMGo to full article
Britain will shortly begin re-deploying its unmanned armed drones from Afghanistan to counter Islamic State jihadists in Iraq, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told parliamentLondon (AFP) - Britain will shortly begin re-deploying its unmanned armed drones from Afghanistan to counter Islamic State jihadists in Iraq, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told parliament on Thursday.
 
 

'Sporadic' MERS cases in Saudi: health ministry

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:23:16 PMGo to full article
Egyptian medical workers wear masks as they leave the emergency section in King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, 370 kms East of the Saudi capital Riyadh, on June 16, 2013Riyadh (AFP) - Saudi Arabia is seeing "sporadic" cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which has killed 324 people in the country, the health ministry said Thursday.
 
 

Exxon Mobil votes with feet to stay in EU as energy laws loom

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:27:33 PMGo to full article
A view of the Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, TexasBy Barbara Lewis ANTWERP Belgium (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil is pouring $1 billion into a refinery in the European Union, setting aside concerns ranging from poor margins to EU green energy rules due to be agreed next week that will cut demand for oil. The company, which believes all its oil and gas reserves will be ultimately be needed to meet future demand, despite efforts to curb climate change, says the Antwerp refinery upgrade is one of its highly strategic long-term investments. ...
 
 

Australian naval base in lockdown, bomb squad called

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:59:00 AMGo to full article
SYDNEY (Reuters) - A naval base in the Australian state of Victoria went into lockdown and a police bomb squad was sent to the scene to investigate unspecified "hazardous material", security officials said on Thursday. An exclusion zone of 400 meters was declared around a residential apartment at HMAS Cerberus, a naval training base on the Mornington Peninsula, 75 km (45 miles) southeast of Melbourne, Victorian police said. The incident occurred after a routine inspection at the base found the material in the apartment, the Australian Defence Force said in a statement. ...
 

Trinidad says 'several' citizens aid Islamic group

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:05:10 AMGo to full article
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) — At least "several" citizens of Trinidad & Tobago have traveled overseas to aid militants including the group known as the Islamic State, the national security minister of the Caribbean nation said Wednesday.
 

What's at stake in Iran nuclear talks?

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:38:58 PMGo to full article
From left, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are photographed as they participate in a trilateral meeting in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. The three will try and advance nuclear talks and meet the target date of Nov. 24. But with less than six weeks left until Nov. 24, there may be no alternative than to prolonging them. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)VIENNA (AP) — An Iranian nuclear agreement is the Obama administration's grandest foreign policy objective, a legacy-defining endeavor that holds the prospect of ending the gravest potential threat to Israel and the Middle East and reintegrating Iran into the world community.
 
 

Yemeni man sues German gov't over US drone strikes

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:15:48 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this July 30, 2014 file photo the flags of the United States and Germany fly behind a sign at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. A Yemeni man is suing the German government for allegedly letting the United States use the air base in Germany for lethal drone strikes. Faisal bin Ali Jaber claims his brother-in-law Salim bin Ahmed Ali Jaber and nephew Waleed were killed in a U.S. drone strike in August 2012. (AP Photo/Lucas Jackson, Pool, File)BERLIN (AP) — A Yemeni man filed a suit against the German government Wednesday for allegedly letting the United States use an air base in Germany for lethal drone strikes.
 
 

Saudi court convicts outspoken Shiite cleric

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:15:24 PMGo to full article
A Bahraini anti-government protester holds up a picture of jailed Saudi Sheik Nimr al-Nimr during clashes with riot police in Sanabis, Bahrain, a suburb of the capital Manama, Wednesday night, Oct. 15, 2014. The well-known Shiite cleric was sentenced to death Wednesday by a court in Saudi Arabia, sparking fears of renewed unrest from his supporters in the kingdom and neighboring Bahrain. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A widely revered Shiite Muslim cleric was convicted Wednesday in Saudi Arabia of sedition and other charges and sentenced to death, raising fears of renewed unrest from his supporters in the kingdom and neighboring Bahrain.
 
 

Syria-Iraq fight gets a name: 'Inherent Resolve'

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:09:48 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2014 file photo, an armored vehicle belonging to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters rushes to a bombing site as smoke rises after airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants near the Khazer checkpoint outside of the city of Irbil in northern Iraq. The airstrikes were launched outside the Kurdish regional capital Irbil, and marked the first time U.S. forces have directly targeted the extremist Islamic State group, which controls large areas of Syria and Iraq. It may be less punchy than previous nicknames for U.S. conflicts in the Middle East -- remember Operation Desert Storm and its thunderous attacks on Saddam Hussein’s occupation army -- but the Pentagon has finally named its fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria: Operation Inherent Resolve. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — It's less punchy than previous nicknames for U.S. conflicts in the Middle East -- remember Operation Desert Storm and its thunderous attacks against Saddam Hussein? -- but the Pentagon has finally named its fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria: Operation Inherent Resolve.
 
 

IS group has made 'substantial gains' in Iraq: US 

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:55:13 PMGo to full article
Islamic State fighter said he was not afraid of deathWashington (AFP) - Islamic State jihadists have made important advances in Iraq despite US-led air strikes, Washington's envoy to the US-led coalition fighting the group warned Wednesday.
 
 

UN refugee chief says Europe must open borders

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:32:05 PMGo to full article
Syrian Kurdish refugee children that have fled fighting in Kobani, Syria with their families, peer from a window of a public warehouse building where families have found refuge, in Suruc at the Turkey-Syria border, Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. The onslaught has forced more than 200,000 people to flee across the border into Turkey. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The head of the United Nations refugee agency on Wednesday urged countries, particularly in Europe, to review their laws to allow entry to more Syrians fleeing their country's civil war.
 
 

Turkish Airlines investigates Arabic engine inscriptions after staff scare

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:44:00 PMGo to full article
ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish Airlines said it is investigating after Arabic inscriptions found on several of its plane engines sparked panic among staff who feared a security breach by Islamist militants - only to find the inscriptions were of a prayer for abundance. The incident has raised security fears at Istanbul's Ataturk airport as no security camera footage was available to find those responsible for the mysterious blessings, airport news website Airporthaber reported. ...
 

U.N. refugee chief says EU should let more Syrian refugees enter legally

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:43:37 PMGo to full article
By Sami Aboudi SHARJAH United Arab Emirates (Reuters) - The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said on Wednesday he had asked the European Union to grant legal entry to more Syrian refugees who are risking their lives trying to reach Europe illegally by sea. Thousands of migrants, including many Syrians fleeing a three-year civil war, have drowned while crossing the Mediterranean on rickety boats operated by human traffickers. ...
 

Economic crisis, political strife drive Venezuela brain-drain

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:42:44 PMGo to full article
Natalie Pereira says goodbye to her friend before her move to the U.S. with her family, after winning the Green Card lottery, at their home in ValenciaBy Julia Symmes Cobb and Carlos Garcia Rawlins CARACAS (Reuters) - After three weeks trapped inside their home, Natalie Pereira and her family made a final decision: they must leave Venezuela. "I could see clashes from my apartment window, tear gas, every day," Pereira said, recounting violent confrontations between anti-government protesters and security forces earlier this year. Forty-three people died and hundreds were hurt in three months of confrontations in major urban centers. "The protests confirmed it - we had to go. ...
 
 

U.S.-led air strikes intensify as Syria conflict destabilizes Turkey

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:58:28 AMGo to full article
A U.S.-led coalition aircraft flying over Kobanii, as seen from near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian borderBy Humeyra Pamuk and Daren Butler MURSITPINAR Turkey/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - American-led forces have sharply intensified air strikes in the past two days against Islamic State fighters threatening Kurds on Syria's Turkish border after the jihadists' advance began to destabilize Turkey. The coalition had conducted 21 attacks on the militants near the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani over Monday and Tuesday and appeared to have slowed Islamic State advances there, the U.S. military said, but cautioned the situation remained fluid. U.S. ...
 
 

Strong explosion hits Cairo, leaving 12 injured

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:22:33 AMGo to full article
CAIRO (AP) — A strong blast hit a busy district in central Cairo on Tuesday night, leaving 12 injured, Egypt's official news agency reported, as a court sentenced seven Islamic militants to death over earlier terror attacks.
 

Factbox: Who's who on the new EU executive

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:04:46 AMGo to full article
(Reuters) - The European Parliament is due to vote on Oct. 22 on whether to confirm in office the incoming European Commission, the EU executive to be led by Jean-Claude Juncker. EU government leaders must first approve Juncker's proposal to take a new Slovenian nominee, Violeta Bulc. She and Slovak Maros Sefcovic would then face confirmation hearings, a source close to Juncker said on Tuesday. Each of the 28 member states nominates a commissioner. The provisional line-up proposed by Juncker is as follows: PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER Luxembourg, center-right, 59. Prime minister for 19 years. ...
 

Qatar beats Australia 1-0 in friendly

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:45:07 AMGo to full article
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Qatar notched its first victory over Australia on Tuesday after a 61st-minute goal by Khalfan Ibrahim sealed a 1-0 win in an international friendly.
 

US, Russia vow intel-sharing on Islamic State

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:36:01 AMGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov talk as they walk together on the grounds of the Chief of Mission Residence in Paris, France, Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. The top U.S. and Russian diplomats are hoping to find a way to begin reversing a yearlong spike in tensions stemming from Ukraine's revolution and civil war. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)PARIS (AP) — The United States and Russia vowed Tuesday to renew cooperation on a broad array of global security matters, including intelligence sharing on Islamic State militants, even as the two powers remained deeply at odds over the crisis in Ukraine.
 
 

Islamic State hostage found his calling in Mideast

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:48:21 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this undated file photo provided by his family, Peter Kassig stands in front of a truck filled with supplies for Syrian refugees. The Indianapolis, Indiana, aid worker being held by the Islamic State group told family and teachers that he’d found his calling in 2012 when he decided to stay in the Middle East instead of returning to college, according to an email released Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014 by his family. (AP Photo/Courtesy Kassig Family, File)INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A U.S. aid worker being held by the Islamic State group told family and teachers that he'd found his calling in 2012 when he decided to stay in the Middle East instead of returning to college, according to an email released Tuesday by his family.
 
 

Strikes pound jihadists as US-led coalition meets

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:05:12 PMGo to full article
Smoke rises from the the Syrian town of Kobane after a strike from the US-led coalition, as seen from the Turkish border village of Mursitpinar, October 14, 2014Mursitpinar (Turkey) (AFP) - American-led warplanes hammered Islamic State militants on Monday and Tuesday with 21 raids near Kobane, a strategic Syrian town on the border with Turkey, the US military said, as top brass from 22 countries met to discuss a strategy for combatting them at an air force base outside Washington.
 
 

Top Obama aide, NYC mayor discuss terror threat

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:25:38 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism adviser has been talking with New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton about the threat posed in the U.S. by terrorist groups and foreign fighters operating in the Middle East.
 

Yemen's Shiite rebels win another stunning victory

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:23:53 PMGo to full article
Houthi Shiite Yemenis wearing an army uniforms, stand near the coffins of a men who were killed last Thursday by a suicide bomber in central Sanaa, Yemen, Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. Two suicide bombings in Yemen killed nearly 70 people last Thursday, with one targeting an anti-government rally by followers of the Houthi Shiite group, who control Sanaa. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Shiite rebels who overran Yemen's capital last month won another stunning victory Tuesday, capturing a key port on the Red Sea in a move that underlined their apparent intention to create a mini-state in the mostly chaotic and lawless Arab country.
 
 

U.S.-led air strikes intensify as Syria conflict destabilizes Turkey

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:00:27 PMGo to full article
Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobani, seen from near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of SurucBy Humeyra Pamuk and Daren Butler MURSITPINAR Turkey/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - American-led forces sharply intensified air strikes against Islamic State fighters threatening Kurds on Syria's Turkish border on Monday and Tuesday after the jihadists' advance began to destabilise Turkey. The coalition had conducted 21 attacks on the militants near the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani over the past two days and appeared to have slowed Islamic State advances there, the U.S. military said, but cautioned that the situation remained fluid. ...
 
 

Militias rule the day in strife-torn Middle East

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:35:45 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 10, 2012 file photo, a Free Syrian Army fighter walks through a street in Amariya district in Aleppo, Syria. The chaos unleashed by the Arab Spring has led to the rise of powerful militias -- including many Islamic extremist groups -- across a Middle East where many central governments have been exposed as weak. Some of the groups are allied with such governments, others are fighting to topple them and some -- like the Kurdish peshmerga in northern Iraq -- are seen as vital Western allies. All could prove to be major obstacles to bringing peace or stability to the troubled region. (AP Photo/ Manu Brabo, FIle)Embattled governments in Iraq and Syria have come to rely on Shiite militias as their armies have crumbled in the face of mostly Sunni insurgents and rebels. In Libya, various armed groups loosely allied with two rival governments have fought over bullet-riddled airports. Shiite rebels in Yemen have swept down from the north, capturing the capital and, on Tuesday, a key port city.
 
 

Yemen on the brink as rebels oust the old guard

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:33:19 PMGo to full article
A follower of the Shi'ite Houthi group holds a flag during a mass funeral for victims of a suicide attack on followers of the Shi'ite Houthi group, in SanaaBy Peter Salisbury and William Maclean SANAA/DUBAI (Reuters) - The Houthi rebels who stunned the Arab world with the sudden seizure of Yemen's capital will have to strive to cement their power in the face of well-armed rivals, a test of strength that could tip the unstable country deeper into turmoil. A suicide bombing last Thursday that killed 47 in Sanaa is an example of the indiscriminate tactics Yemenis fear some armed groups are prepared to employ to check the ascent of the Shi'ite Muslim movement that swept into the city on Sept 21. The attack was claimed by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), apparently furious at the ability of Houthi fighters to take over Yemen's fragile state and dictate terms to its embattled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The mood in Sanaa is apprehensive.
 
 

France: Palestinian recognition shouldn't be merely symbolic

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:09:49 PMGo to full article
French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius attends the jumping first round third competition at the World Equestrian Games at the d'Ornano stadium in CaenPARIS (Reuters) - France's foreign minister said on Tuesday that Paris should recognize a Palestinian state only if doing so would help achieve peace, not as a symbolic gesture. However, if negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel fail, Paris "would not shirk its responsibilities" but would recognize the Palestinian state, the minister, Laurent Fabius, said in answer to a question in parliament. His remarks came a day after British lawmakers voted to recognize Palestine. ...
 
 

Kurdish town becomes symbolic heart of war against jihadists

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:29:20 PMGo to full article
Smoke rises from the the Syrian town of Kobane on October 14, 2014Beirut (AFP) - Few people had ever heard of Kobane before recent weeks, but the once-sleepy Syrian border town has become a crucial symbolic battleground in the fight against Islamic State jihadists.
 
 

Analysis: Iran nuclear talks extension possible

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:05:22 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Monday, July 14, 2014 file photo, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, foreground left, holds a bilateral meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, background right, on the second day of talks, in Vienna, Austria. With differences still unresolved and a Nov. 24 deadline for a deal nearing, Iran and the United States have a choice to make: Extend nuclear talks for the second time or face the risk of renewed confrontation and armed conflict. (AP Photo/Jim Bourg, Pool-File)VIENNA (AP) — With differences still unresolved and the deadline for a deal nearing, Iran and the U.S. have a choice to make: Extend nuclear talks for a second time or face the risk of renewed confrontation and armed conflict.
 
 

British ex-PM Blair may have been terrorism target, court hears

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:07:49 PMGo to full article
Blair attends a conference in CairoBy Michael Holden LONDON (Reuters) - A man charged in Britain with terrorism offences at a trial so sensitive that prosecutors sought to have it heard entirely in secret might have been planning an attack on ex-prime minister Tony Blair, a court heard on Tuesday. Erol Incedal, 26, was arrested in October last year with another man, Mounir Rarmoul-Bouhadja, who last week admitted possessing a bomb-making document on a memory card, prosecutor Richard Whittam said. ...
 
 

Companies abandon ambitious desert solar project

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:49:49 PMGo to full article
BERLIN (AP) — It sounded like a good idea: build massive solar energy plants in the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East to supply Europe with 15 percent of its electricity needs by 2050.

 

 

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Iran summons Pakistani ambassador over border killings

 
‎19 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:07:56 AMGo to full article
Iranian soldiers stand guard on a mound built to prevent drug trafficking in the Mirjaveh point where the borders of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan meetIran has summoned the Pakistani ambassador and demanded immediate steps to stop attacks by "terrorists and rebels" that sparked deadly clashes on the countries' border, state media reported Sunday.
 
 

Top Asian News at 9:00 a.m. GMT

 
‎19 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:02:39 AMGo to full article
BEIJING (AP) — Despite heavy pollution blanketing Beijing on Sunday, an international marathon went ahead, with face masks and sponges among the equipment used by competitors to battle the smog. The 34th Beijing International Marathon began at Tiananmen Square with many of the tens of thousands of participants wearing face masks. The 42-kilometer (26-mile) course ended at the Chinese capital's Olympic Park, on a day when buildings across the city disappeared into the gray-tinged mist.
 

Israel's Yaalon in US after spat over Kerry remarks

 
‎19 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:18:37 AMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, at a press conference in Jerusalem, on August 27, 2014Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon sought to calm fresh tensions with Washington on Sunday as he began a five-day trip to the United States.
 
 

US, China in 'candid exchanges' ahead of Obama trip

 
‎19 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:59:02 AMGo to full article
US Secretary of State John Kerry and a top Chinese official had "candid exchanges" over several contentious issues dogging relations between Washington and Beijing, an American diplomat saidWashington (AFP) - US Secretary of State John Kerry and a top Chinese official had "candid exchanges" over several contentious issues dogging relations between Washington and Beijing, an American diplomat said.
 
 

US, China vow to manage rifts ahead of Obama visit

 
‎19 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:26:30 AMGo to full article
Secretary of State John Kerry, right, talks with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi prior to a meeting in Boston, Saturday Oct. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)BOSTON (AP) — The U.S. and China pledged Saturday to overcome mistrust, manage their differences and cooperate on key issues like combatting terrorism and the spread of the Ebola virus as President Barack Obama prepares to travel to the Chinese capital next month.
 
 

U.S. and China look to manage differences, cooperate against threats

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:52:53 PMGo to full article
China's State Councillor Yang and U.S. Secretary of State Kerry talk over tea during a day of meetings in BostonBy David Brunnstrom BOSTON (Reuters) - America and China's top diplomats stressed the need to manage differences and cooperate against global threats including Islamic State and Ebola, as they sought to warm the mood between their countries ahead of a summit next month. "There are many areas that the United States and China are cooperating on, even as we have some differences that we try to manage effectively," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Boston on Saturday before a second day of talks with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi. ...
 
 

US, China vow to manage rifts ahead of Obama visit

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:44:01 PMGo to full article
Secretary of State John Kerry, right, talks with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi prior to a meeting in Boston, Saturday Oct. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)BOSTON (AP) — The U.S. and China pledged Saturday to overcome mistrust, manage their differences and cooperate on key issues like combatting terrorism and the spread of the Ebola virus as President Barack Obama prepares to travel to the Chinese capital next month.
 
 

Iran says number of foreign tourists surges

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:30:00 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The number of foreigners visiting Iran jumped dramatically over the 12-month period ending in March, with 35 percent more tourists compared to the same period a year earlier, Iran's top tourism official said Saturday.
 

Iran says militants infiltrating from Pakistan

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:02:13 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has proof that militants are entering the country from neighboring Pakistan to carry out attacks and will be pursuing the matter through "diplomatic channels," an Iranian military official said Saturday.
 

Iraq fills top security posts as violence rages

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:00:15 PMGo to full article
A member of Iraq's security forces fires ammunition in the air during the funeral procession of a member of parliament killed in a suicide blast, on October 15, 2014 in BaghdadBaghdad (AFP) - Iraqi lawmakers approved defence and interior ministers on Saturday, filling the key posts after weeks of delay as security forces battle Islamic State jihadists who hold swathes of the country.
 
 

India approves plan to develop Iran's Chabahar port

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:59:49 PMGo to full article
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India will float a company to develop Iran's Chabahar Port, a government statement said on Saturday, as New Delhi aims to take advantage of a thaw in Tehran's relations with world powers. The port of Chabahar in southeast Iran is central to India's efforts to circumvent Pakistan and open up a route to landlocked Afghanistan where it has developed close security ties and economic interests. Iran and six world powers are engaged in talks to agree on a deal easing sanctions against Tehran before a late-November deadline. ...
 

Shooting in eastern Saudi after cleric's death sentence

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:29:29 PMGo to full article
Demonstrators gather in Qatif, in the Shiite-populated east of Saudi Arabia, following the arrest of Shiite cleric and goverment critic Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on July 8, 2012Riyadh (AFP) - Gunfire aimed at security forces set fire to an oil pipeline in eastern Saudi Arabia Saturday, official media said, three days after a dissident local Shiite cleric was sentenced to death.
 
 

Dozens dead in Yemen as Shiite rebels fight Sunnis

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:53:08 PMGo to full article
Yemeni Shiite rebels drive a pickup truck at an army base which they captured on September 22, 2014 in the capital, SanaaSanaa (AFP) - Shiite rebels seeking to expand their territory across Yemen have clashed with Sunni tribesmen and Al-Qaeda fighters in violence that has left dozens dead, officials said Saturday.
 
 

Iraqi parliament approves defense, interior ministers: state TV

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:42:22 PMGo to full article
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Iraqi parliament on Saturday approved a Sunni Muslim to become defense minister and a Shi'ite to be interior minister, state television said, as part of a more inclusive government to help tackle Islamist insurgents. Six Kurdish members of the cabinet were also sworn in after the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) had held out for a larger share of ministries than the three offered when Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi unveiled his government on Sept.8. ...
 

Houthis, Sunni supporters clash in central Yemen

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:52:47 PMGo to full article
By Mohammed Ghobari SANAA (Reuters) - Yemeni Shi'ite Houthi fighters and supporters of the Sunni Muslim party Islah clashed in central Yemen on Saturday, residents and local officials said, another sign of sectarian warfare in the violence-prone country that borders Saudi Arabia. Saturday's fighting in the town of Yareem in Ibb province came after 15 people were killed in fighting on Friday between Sunni tribesmen and Houthi rebels on the outskirts and in the city of Ibb, 150 km (90 miles) south of Sanaa. ...
 

Lebanon pulled into war with Islamic State group

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:25:13 PMGo to full article
In this Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014 photo, Hamza Hommos, 55, father of Lebanese policeman Wael Hommos, who was kidnapped by Islamic State militants and the Nusra Front, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in front of his tent set up for their sit-in protest in downtown Beirut, Lebanon. With all eyes on the Islamic State group's onslaught in Iraq and Syria, a less conspicuous but potentially just as explosive frontline with the extremists is emerging in Lebanon, where Lebanese soldiers and Shiite Hezbollah guerrillas are increasingly pulled into deadly fighting with the Sunni militants along the country's border with Syria. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)BEIRUT (AP) — With all eyes on the Islamic State group's onslaught in Iraq and Syria, a less conspicuous but potentially just as explosive front line with the extremists is emerging in Lebanon, where Lebanese soldiers and Shiite Hezbollah guerrillas are increasingly pulled into deadly fighting with the Sunni militants along the country's border with Syria.
 
 

Kerry in 'frank' talks with top Chinese official

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:25:10 AMGo to full article
US Secretary of State John Kerry and a top Chinese official had "candid exchanges" over several contentious issues dogging relations between Washington and Beijing, an American diplomat saidWashington (AFP) - US Secretary of State John Kerry wined and dined a top Chinese official as Washington and Beijing grapple with a number of bilateral differences and global issues.
 
 

Kerry welcomes Chinese official to his Boston home

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:20:51 AMGo to full article
Secretary of State John Kerry, left, walks with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi outside Kerry's home on Beacon Hill in Boston, Friday Oct. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)BOSTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry has opened his home to a top Chinese diplomat for two days of discussions aimed at easing tensions between the two nations.
 
 

Turkey drops case against 53 people in graft probe

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:35:30 PMGo to full article
One of more than 50 peope involved in a recently dropped case, detained Azerbaijani businessman Reza Zarrab (C) is surrounded by journalists as he arrives at a police center in Istanbul on December 17 ,2013Istanbul (AFP) - Turkish prosecutors on Friday dropped a case against more than 50 people, including sons of two former ministers, in a corruption probe that had rocked the Islamic-rooted government, the state-run Anatolia agency said.
 
 

Iran guards, Pakistan officer dead in border incident

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:53:15 PMGo to full article
Sistan-Baluchistan province has a large Sunni Muslim community in an otherwise predominantly Shiite country, and has been plagued by violence involving Sunni extremists and drug smugglersTwo Iranian border guards and a Pakistani paramilitary officer were killed in a shooting incident, sources on the two sides said Friday, as Tehran said rebels tried to infiltrate the country.
 
 

Iran border guards kill 1 from Pakistani patrol

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:38:14 PMGo to full article
QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — A Pakistani official says Iranian border guards opened fire at a Pakistan patrol van, killing a member of the paramilitary Frontier Corps and wounding three other troops.
 

Sunni tribesmen and Houthi fighters clash in Yemen, 15 dead

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:06:51 PMGo to full article
A Shi'ite Houthi protester dismantles a protest camp on a road leading to the Sanaa Airport in SanaaSANAA (Reuters) - At least 15 people were killed in heavy fighting between Sunni Muslim tribesmen and Shi'ite Houthi rebels in central Yemen on Friday, increasing fears of outright sectarian warfare. The Houthi rebels also entered Radaa city, in the central province of al-Bayda, a bastion of the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), local officials and residents said. The Houthis established themselves as Yemen's new powerbrokers last month, capturing the capital Sanaa on Sept. ...
 
 

Shiite-Sunni clashes leave 20 dead in Yemen

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:24:55 PMGo to full article
Yemeni Shiite supporters of the Huthi movement rally in Sanaa on October 16, 2014Sanaa (AFP) - Shiite rebels sweeping across Yemen clashed with Sunni tribesmen on Friday in violence that left 20 people dead, officials said.
 
 

Kurds sharing intel with US for Syria strikes

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:14:40 PMGo to full article
A Syrian Kurdish refugee boy who fled fighting in Kobani, Syria, with his family, plays at a refugee camp in Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. The onslaught has forced more than 200,000 people to flee across the border into Turkey. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)BEIRUT (AP) — Kurdish fighters are sharing information with the U.S.-led coalition to coordinate strikes against Islamic State militants in the Syrian border town of Kobani, a Kurdish official said Friday.
 
 

Venezuela jubilant over UN Security Council win

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:25:23 AMGo to full article
In this photo provided by the United Nations, Venezuela's Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez Carreño, second from right, is greeted with a handshake during a meeting of the General Assembly on Thursday Oct. 16, 2014, at U.N. headquarters. Venezuela, New Zealand, Spain, Angola and Malaysia were elected Thursday to coveted seats on the United Nations Security Council, while Turkey failed in its effort to join the U.N.'s most powerful body. (AP Photo/United Nations, Mark Garten)CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela on Thursday celebrated its new seat on the United Nations' most powerful body as a global ratification of the country's socialist revolution.
 
 

Venezuela, New Zealand win UN seats but Turkey rebuffed

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:42:41 PMGo to full article
A photographer works as members of the UN General Assembly prepare to vote in a secret ballot to fill five non-permanent seats on the Security Council on October 16, 2014 in New YorkUnited Nations (United States) (AFP) - Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela won coveted seats on the UN Security Council Thursday, but Turkey suffered a humbling defeat in its bid to join the world's "top table."
 
 

Falling oil prices shake up global economies

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:06:12 PMGo to full article
CORRECTS TRILLIONS TO BILLIONS - Gas prices below $3 dollars are displayed at a gas station, Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. A sudden plunge in the price of oil is sending economic and political shockwaves around the world as oil exporting countries face the prospect of billions of dollars of lost revenue and importing nations get some relief in a time of slower economic growth. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)NEW YORK (AP) — A sudden plunge in the price of oil is sending economic and political shockwaves around the world. Oil exporting countries are bracing for potentially crippling budget shortfalls and importing nations are benefiting from the lowest prices in four years.
 
 

Iran, Russia hold joint naval exercise

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:46:27 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's state television says two Russian warships have left a northern Iranian port after the two countries held a joint, three-day naval exercise in the Caspian Sea.
 

Iran, U.S. say some headway made in 'difficult' nuclear talks

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:28:04 PMGo to full article
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif walks down an aisle at the 69th United Nations General Assembly in New YorkBy Parisa Hafezi and Fredrik Dahl VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran and the United States said they made some progress in high-level nuclear talks but much work remained to clinch a breakthrough deal by a late-November deadline. Both sides said they still aimed to meet the self-imposed Nov. 24 date, despite doubts among many experts that they can reach a full agreement to end a decade-old dispute over Tehran's nuclear program with just a few weeks remaining. U.S. ...
 
 

Venezuela, Malaysia, Angola, N.Z., Spain win U.N. Council seats

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:10:41 PMGo to full article
By Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Venezuela, Malaysia, Angola, New Zealand and Spain won seats on the United Nations Security Council on Thursday for two years from Jan. 1, 2015. The 193-member U.N. General Assembly elected Venezuela with 181 votes, Malaysia with 187 votes, Angola with 190 votes. All three countries campaigned unopposed for their seats after being chosen as the candidates for their respective regional groups, but still needed to win the votes of two-thirds of the General Assembly to secure their spots. ...
 

Turkey fails in bid to join UN Security Council

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:57:28 PMGo to full article
In this photo provided by the United Nations, Mevlut Cavusoglu, right, Foreign Minister of Turkey, attends a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/United Nations, Mark Garten)UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Turkey failed in its effort to join the U.N.'s most powerful body on Thursday, while Venezuela, New Zealand, Spain, Angola and Malaysia were elected to coveted Security Council seats.
 
 

US meets with Syrian Kurds linked to terror group

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:46:50 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department said Thursday that it has met directly with a Kurdish political party in Syria that is linked to a guerrilla group considered by the U.S. and Turkey as a terrorist organization.
 

'Kerry Air' grounded again, this time in Vienna

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:50:20 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2014 file-pool photo Secretary of State John Kerry waves as he boards his plane at Orly Airport, south of Paris, France, en route to Vienna, Austria. The US may be the mightiest military and economic power in the world but when it comes to shuttling its top diplomat around the globe, it’s beginning to look like a poor orphan. For the fourth time this year _ and the second time in three months, Kerry was forced to fly home commercially when his aging Air Force Boeing 757, known in military parlance as a C-32, was grounded on Thursday with a mechanical problem in Vienna. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File-Pool)VIENNA (AP) — The United States may be the mightiest military and economic power in the world but when it comes to shuttling its top diplomat around the globe, it's beginning to look like a poor orphan.
 
 

Islamic Jihad chief hails Iran role in Gaza war

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:06:56 PMGo to full article
This handout photo from the website of the Center for Preserving and Publishing the Works of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, shows him meeting with the head of Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Abdullah Shalah (L) in Tehran on October 16, 2014Tehran (AFP) - The head of Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militant group, praised Iran for its role in last summer's Gaza conflict against Israel, during a visit to Tehran on Thursday.
 
 

Al Qaeda and Houthis clash in central Yemen: residents

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:45:49 PMGo to full article
File photo shows Shi'ite Houthi rebels riding a patrol truck in SanaaBy Mohammed Ghobari SANAA (Reuters) - At least 10 people were killed in fighting between Houthi tribesmen and militants linked to al Qaeda in central Yemen on Thursday, witnesses said, part of a growing struggle over territory and influence between the two enemy sides. The Shi'ite Muslim Houthis established themselves as Yemen's new powerbrokers last month, capturing Sanaa on Sept. 21 to little resistance from residents or from the weak administration of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Their ascendance has angered al Qaeda, which views Shi'ites as heretics and Houthis as pawns of Iran. ...
 
 

U.S. seeks more from China, Asian Muslim nations, on Islamic State

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:39:10 PMGo to full article
By David Brunnstrom and Randy Fabi WASHINGTON/JAKARTA (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will seek greater cooperation from China and Southeast Asia's main Muslim states, Indonesia and Malaysia, in the campaign against Islamic State and staunching the flow of foreign fighters to the militant group, U.S. and Asian officials said. China's most senior diplomat, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, is expected in Kerry's home city of Boston on Friday and Saturday, a Chinese diplomat said. ...
 

Iran opposes extending troubled nuclear talks

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:05:33 PMGo to full article
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gives a press statement with Catherine Ashton in Vienna, on July 18, 2014. Iran is against extending nuclear talks beyond Nov. 24 deadlineVienna (AFP) - Iran's foreign minister said Thursday that Tehran opposes extending troubled nuclear talks beyond a November 24 deadline, even though major stumbling blocks remain in the way of a deal.
 
 

AP NewsBreak: Iran looks at compromise nuke offer

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:17:24 PMGo to full article
Police guard in front of Hotel Palais Coburg during closed-door nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif continue their nuclear talks in an effort to meet the target date of Nov. 24., but with less than six weeks left, there may be no alternative than to prolonging them. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)VIENNA (AP) — Iran is considering a U.S. proposal at nuclear talks that would allow it to keep more of its nuclear infrastructure intact while still reducing its ability to make an atomic bomb, two diplomats told The Associated Press on Thursday.
 
 

Iran says Saudi cleric's death sentence risks tensions

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:19:19 AMGo to full article
A picture taken on July 8, 2012 shows Shiite cleric and goverment critic Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr wounded in the back of a police car, following his arrestTehran (AFP) - A top Iranian official warned Thursday that a death sentence passed on a prominent Shiite cleric in Saudi Arabia could escalate tensions and called for the decision to be reversed.
 
 

Iran not in favour of extending nuclear talks: Zarif

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:26:29 AMGo to full article
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gives a press statement with Catherine Ashton in Vienna, on July 18, 2014. Iran is against extending nuclear talks beyond Nov. 24 deadlineTehran (AFP) - Iran does not want to extend its nuclear talks with world powers beyond a November 24 deadline, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Thursday.
 
 

NKorea praises rights record in draft resolution

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:25:16 AMGo to full article
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — North Korea on Wednesday circulated a draft U.N. resolution praising its own human rights record in a rare effort to counter the international community's growing condemnation of the way it treats its people.
 

U.S. sees some progress in Iran nuclear talks, still aims for November deal

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:54:02 PMGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State Kerry walks to his car with Austria's Foreign Minister Kurz as he arrives at Vienna International AirportBy Matt Spetalnick and Parisa Hafezi VIENNA (Reuters) - A senior U.S. official said some progress was made in high-level nuclear negotiations with Iran on Wednesday but much work remained to be done, adding the goal was still to reach a deal by a late November deadline. The State Department official spoke after about six hours of talks between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Vienna. ...
 
 

America's Saudi problem in its anti-IS coalition

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:42:43 PMGo to full article
Following two years in jail, most of that time in solitary confinement, Saudi Arabia sentenced dissident Shiite cleric Nimr Baqir al-Nimr to death today for leading demonstrations and "inciting sectarian strife." Mr. Nimr's predicament – and that of at least 5 other Shiite activists Saudi Arabia has sentenced to death this year – illustrates a problem for the US strategy for taking on the so-called Islamic State in Iraq.
 

What's at stake in Iran nuclear talks?

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:38:58 PMGo to full article
From left, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are photographed as they participate in a trilateral meeting in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. The three will try and advance nuclear talks and meet the target date of Nov. 24. But with less than six weeks left until Nov. 24, there may be no alternative than to prolonging them. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)VIENNA (AP) — An Iranian nuclear agreement is the Obama administration's grandest foreign policy objective, a legacy-defining endeavor that holds the prospect of ending the gravest potential threat to Israel and the Middle East and reintegrating Iran into the world community.
 
 

Saudi court convicts outspoken Shiite cleric

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:15:24 PMGo to full article
A Bahraini anti-government protester holds up a picture of jailed Saudi Sheik Nimr al-Nimr during clashes with riot police in Sanabis, Bahrain, a suburb of the capital Manama, Wednesday night, Oct. 15, 2014. The well-known Shiite cleric was sentenced to death Wednesday by a court in Saudi Arabia, sparking fears of renewed unrest from his supporters in the kingdom and neighboring Bahrain. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A widely revered Shiite Muslim cleric was convicted Wednesday in Saudi Arabia of sedition and other charges and sentenced to death, raising fears of renewed unrest from his supporters in the kingdom and neighboring Bahrain.
 
 

Up in the sky, a mystery space plane _ but why?

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:50:55 PMGo to full article
This June 16, 2012 file image from video made available by the Vandenberg Air Force Base shows an infrared view of the X-37B unmanned spacecraft landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The purpose of the U.S. military's space plane is classified, only fueling speculation about why it has been orbiting Earth for nearly two years on this, its third mission. The plane is expected to land this week at a Southern California Air Force base.(AP Photo/Vandenberg Air Force Base, File)LOS ANGELES (AP) — What looks like a mini space shuttle, can fly itself for millions of miles and goes by the name X-37B?
 
 

U.S. says some progress in Iran nuclear talks, but much work remains

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:46:48 PMGo to full article
VIENNA (Reuters) - A senior U.S. official said after nuclear talks with Iran on Wednesday that some progress continued to be made but much work remained to be done, adding the aim was still to reach a deal by a late November deadline. The State Department official spoke after about six hours of talks between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Vienna. "We’ve been chipping away at some of the issues. ...
 

Yemen's Houthis advance near al Qaeda stronghold

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:55:21 PMGo to full article
File photo shows Shi'ite Houthi rebels riding a patrol truck in SanaaBy Mohammed Ghobari SANAA (Reuters) - Yemen's new Shi'ite Muslim powerbrokers sent fighters towards an al Qaeda stronghold on Wednesday, raising the possibility of clashes between the politically ascendant Houthi movement and the hardline Sunni Muslims of the militant network. Witnesses said dozens of cars carrying armed Houthi fighters were seen arriving in the city of Ibb, bordering al-Bayda province, a bastion of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). ...
 
 

US military denied treatment to soldiers exposed to chemical weapons in Iraq

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:47:35 PMGo to full article
The New York Times's C.J. Chivers has dropped a bombshell of a scoop that details 17 US troops and seven Iraqi policemen who were exposed to old chemical weapons in Iraq, some of whom were declined appropriate medical care and service awards on the grounds of secrecy.
 

Iran nuclear talks: Parties officially upbeat, but is failure an easier sell?

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:49:05 PMGo to full article
US and Iranian negotiators are putting on a brave face during a new round of nuclear talks in Vienna this week, with positions still far apart despite years of haggling and less than six weeks before a deadline to strike a deal.
 

Iran tips hand about structure of secret services

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:40:38 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran drew back the veil — if slightly — over its intelligence services on Wednesday, with its top nuclear security official crediting them for helping protect the Islamic Republic's atomic program from attempts at sabotage.
 

Saudi Shiite cleric sentenced to death for 'sedition'

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:16:12 PMGo to full article
Demonstrators gather in Qatif, in the Shiite-populated east of of Saudi Arabia following the arrest of Shiite cleric and goverment critic Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on July 8, 2012Riyadh (AFP) - A Saudi court on Wednesday sentenced prominent Shiite cleric and anti-government protest leader Nimr al-Nimr to death after convicting him of sedition, his family said.
 
 

Earthquake hits western Iran, at least four injured

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:02:43 PMGo to full article
LONDON (Reuters) - An earthquake struck Iran's western Ilam province near the border with Iraq on Wednesday, injuring at least four people, officials said. A provincial official told Iranian state television no deaths had been reported. The quake with a magnitude of 5.5, revised down from an earlier estimate of 6, struck at a depth of 10km, said the U.S. Geological Survey. Its epicentre was 53km (33 miles) east-southeast of Dehloran, the survey added. (Additional reporting by Mehrdad Balali in Dubai; Writing by Alison Williams; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
 

Correction: Iraq story

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:05:57 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014, file photo, a Shiite militiaman stands guard in Amirli, where 15,000 Shiite Turkmens were stranded in the farming community surrounded by militants since mid-July, 105 miles (170 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq. Iraq's Shiite militias have abducted and killed "scores" of Sunni civilians in retaliation for the onslaught by the Sunni militant Islamic State group, Amnesty International said Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, claiming that the attacks are supported by the Shiite-led government in Baghdad. The Shiite militiamen number in the tens of thousands and wear military uniforms but operate outside any legal framework and without any official oversight, Amnesty said. (AP Photo, File)BAGHDAD (AP) — In a story Oct. 14 about violence in Iraq, The Associated Press reported erroneously the year of a series of lethal attacks by two Iraqi Shiite groups and the peak years of Iraq's sectarian strife. The years are 2011, and 2006-2007, respectively.
 
 

Al-Qaida and Shiite rebels clash in south Yemen

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:52:30 PMGo to full article
Houthi Shiite Yemenis ride on a pickup truck during funeral of victims who were killed last Thursday by a suicide bomber in central Sanaa, Yemen, Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. Two suicide bombings in Yemen killed nearly 70 people last Thursday, with one targeting an anti-government rally by followers of the Houthi Shiite group, who control Sanaa. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen's Shiite rebels pushing to seize more territory across the country were locked in fierce battles with al-Qaida militants on Wednesday in a province south of the capital, Sanaa, security officials said.
 
 

Iran calls for 'confidence' over nukes, extremists

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:37:16 PMGo to full article
In this photo released by the Iranian Presidency Office, President Hassan Rouhani attends an interview with the state-run TV in Tehran, Iran, on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. Iran's president said on Monday that Tehran and world powers may still be able to reach a final deal on the country's controversial nuclear program before the Nov. 24 deadline. The remarks by moderate President Hassan Rouhani came as Iran and the six nation group — the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany — are to begin another round of talks in Vienna on Tuesday, in the countdown to the November deadline for a final, comprehensive deal. (AP Photo/Iranian Presidency Office, Mohammad Berno)GENEVA (AP) — Confidence-building between Iran and the West would help both nuclear talks and efforts to fight the extremist Islamic State group, Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani said Wednesday.
 
 

U.S. says no talk about extending Iran nuclear negotiations

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:22:04 PMGo to full article
VIENNA (Reuters) - World powers and Iran are not discussing extending a late November deadline for reaching an accord over Tehran's nuclear program, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday, adding there was still time to strike a deal. However, the State Department official said there were still some significant gaps in negotiating positions on Iran's uranium enrichment program: "We don’t know if we’ll be able to get to an agreement, we very well may not.” The official spoke ahead of a meeting on Wednesday between U.S. ...
 

Iran official says centrifuges are 'trivial' in nuclear talks

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:53:06 AMGo to full article
GENEVA (Reuters) - U.S. nuclear negotiators should stop focusing on Iran's number of centrifuges and should push for a deal, which could help build confidence between Iran and the coalition of countries fighting against Islamic State militants, a senior Iranian politician said on Wednesday. "This is something like a trivial matter and we should not bargain over trivial matters," Iran's Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani told a news conference in Geneva. "This is not going to be useful, this is not going to solve any real problems." (Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Alison Williams)
 

Saudi Arabia sentences outspoken Shi'ite cleric to death: brother

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:40:25 AMGo to full article
A protester holds up a picture of Sheikh Nimr during a rally in Qatif, against Sheikh Nimr's arrestBy Angus McDowall RIYADH (Reuters) - A Saudi judge sentenced to death a prominent cleric on Wednesday who has called for greater rights for the kingdom's Shi'ites, the cleric's brother said, two years after his arrest prompted deadly protests in the oil-producing east of the country. Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was detained in July 2012 following demonstrations that erupted in February 2011 in Qatif district, home to many of the Sunni-ruled country's Shi'ite minority. His brother, Mohammed al-Nimr, reported Wednesday's sentencing on his Twitter account. ...
 
 

New Zealand, Spain, Turkey vie for UN council

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:59:33 AMGo to full article
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Venezuela has taken the spotlight in this year's campaign for coveted seats on the U.N. Security Council but the hottest race is between New Zealand, Spain and Turkey whose foreign ministers are in New York this week lobbying for votes.
 

Australia says forces sent to Iraq standing idle in UAE over legal status

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:46:58 AMGo to full article
By Matt Siegel SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Wednesday that 200 special forces sent to battle Islamic State militants in Iraq had not entered the country because Baghdad had not offered them sufficient legal protections. Australian fighter jets began hitting targets inside Iraq earlier this month as part of the U.S.-led coalition to beat back the radical group, which has in recent days made advances at the north Syrian town of Kobani and in western Iraq. U.S. ...
 

Factbox: Who's who on the new EU executive

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:04:46 AMGo to full article
(Reuters) - The European Parliament is due to vote on Oct. 22 on whether to confirm in office the incoming European Commission, the EU executive to be led by Jean-Claude Juncker. EU government leaders must first approve Juncker's proposal to take a new Slovenian nominee, Violeta Bulc. She and Slovak Maros Sefcovic would then face confirmation hearings, a source close to Juncker said on Tuesday. Each of the 28 member states nominates a commissioner. The provisional line-up proposed by Juncker is as follows: PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER Luxembourg, center-right, 59. Prime minister for 19 years. ...
 

Iran expects progress, if no breakthrough, in nuclear talks with EU, U.S.

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:56:05 AMGo to full article
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif walks down an aisle at the 69th United Nations General Assembly in New YorkBy Parisa Hafezi and Fredrik Dahl VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran does not expect a breakthrough in high-level nuclear talks with the United States and the European Union this week but hopes they will help pave the way for a final deal, its foreign minister said on Tuesday. Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted by Iran's Fars news agency after arriving in Vienna, where he was due to meet European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will join them on Wednesday. ...
 
 

US, Russia vow intel-sharing on Islamic State

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:36:01 AMGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov talk as they walk together on the grounds of the Chief of Mission Residence in Paris, France, Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. The top U.S. and Russian diplomats are hoping to find a way to begin reversing a yearlong spike in tensions stemming from Ukraine's revolution and civil war. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)PARIS (AP) — The United States and Russia vowed Tuesday to renew cooperation on a broad array of global security matters, including intelligence sharing on Islamic State militants, even as the two powers remained deeply at odds over the crisis in Ukraine.
 
 

Syrian Kurds feel abandoned as Kobani battle rages

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:52:31 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014 file photo, Kurdish Rabia Ali, right, accompanied by her son Ali Mehmud, mourn at the grave of her son Seydo Mehmud 'Curo' , a Kurdish fighter, who was killed in the fighting with the militants of the Islamic State group in Kobani, Syria, and was buried at a cemetery in Suruc, Turkey. No one contests that the U.S.-led coalition has conducted more than 40 airstrikes against the militants besieging Kobani, nor that Turkey has granted refuge to more than 200,000 people who have flooded across the border to escape the offensive. But Kurds say that both countries - and the international community in general - should be doing more to help save Kobani from the fanatical militants who have massacred and beheaded their enemies across Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)SURUC, Turkey (AP) — Kneeling over his brother's fresh grave, Ali Mehmud gathered clumps of dirt in his hands, raised them to his lips to kiss them, then softly placed them back on the small mound.
 
 

IS jihadists close in on town west of Baghdad

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:22:45 PMGo to full article
Iraqi security forces inspect the wreckage of cars following a suicide bomb attack in Ramadi, on September 17, 2014Baghdad (AFP) - Islamic State fighters closed in Tuesday on the Iraqi town of Amriyat al-Fallujah, one of the last still controlled by the government in the troubled western province of Anbar, its police chief said.
 
 

The Islamic State, gardening metaphors, and misinformation

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:27:50 PMGo to full article
Thomas Friedman yesterday likened the so-called Islamic State to an "invasive species" ("IS," get it?). Comparing the ideology of Islamic State to an invasive, noxious weed that needs tearing up by the roots is attractive for the purposes of writing a column. But Mr. Friedman, a New York Times columnist, is on shaky ground here, and his representation of IS is both wrong and analytically useless.
 

Yemen's Shiite rebels win another stunning victory

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:23:53 PMGo to full article
Houthi Shiite Yemenis wearing an army uniforms, stand near the coffins of a men who were killed last Thursday by a suicide bomber in central Sanaa, Yemen, Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. Two suicide bombings in Yemen killed nearly 70 people last Thursday, with one targeting an anti-government rally by followers of the Houthi Shiite group, who control Sanaa. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Shiite rebels who overran Yemen's capital last month won another stunning victory Tuesday, capturing a key port on the Red Sea in a move that underlined their apparent intention to create a mini-state in the mostly chaotic and lawless Arab country.
 
 

On Islamic State's western front, Lebanon girds for pre-winter attacks

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:04:00 PMGo to full article
As the first rains of the approaching winter lash the rugged mountains along Lebanon’s eastern border with Syria, Lebanese officials fret that militants belonging to the self-described Islamic State and allied factions could be preparing to break out of their isolated mountain strongholds, threatening populated areas.
 

Kerry: Final Iran nuclear deal by November 24 'not out of reach'

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:48:42 PMGo to full article
PARIS (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday he did not believe that reaching a final deal on Iran's nuclear program by a Nov. 24 deadline was out of reach, although he noted that many issues remained to be resolved. (Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Writing by Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

 

 

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Israel's Yaalon in US after spat over Kerry remarks

 
‎19 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:18:37 AMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, at a press conference in Jerusalem, on August 27, 2014Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon sought to calm fresh tensions with Washington on Sunday as he began a five-day trip to the United States.
 
 

UK grapples with delicate issue of returning jihadists

 
‎19 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:22:07 AMGo to full article
Of the 250 or so jihadists who have returned, more than 60 have been arrested and 16 have so far been chargedLondon (AFP) - Do you lock them up, or try to rehabilitate them? Britain has taken a hard line on citizens returning from fighting in Syria and Iraq, but anti-extremism groups and experts say more good might come from trying to help them.
 
 

Today in History

 
‎19 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:00:37 AMGo to full article
Today is Sunday, Oct. 19, the 292nd day of 2014. There are 73 days left in the year.
 

Iraq lawmakers approve interior, defense ministers

 
‎19 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:15:12 AMGo to full article
Civilians inspect the aftermath of a car bomb explosion in the morning in Baghdad's eastern neighborhood of Baladiyat, Iraq, Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. After nightfall Friday, the car bomb exploded near a cafe killing and wounding tens of people, Iraqi officials said. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi lawmakers approved Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's remaining Cabinet nominees on Saturday, including for the critical defense and interior portfolios, completing the formation of a government that will strive to push the Islamic State extremist group out of the sprawling territory it has seized in recent months.
 
 

Kurds thwart new jihadist bid to cut off Syria town

 
‎19 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:43:55 AMGo to full article
Kurdish people watch the Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, from the Turkish border in the southeastern village of Mursitpinar, on October 18, 2014Mursitpinar (Turkey) (AFP) - Kurdish forces in the Syrian town of Kobane repulsed a new attempt by Islamic State fighters to cut off the border with Turkey as troops battled the jihadists in neighbouring Iraq.
 
 

Slain journalist Foley 'tried to see the good'

 
‎19 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:37:17 AMGo to full article
FILE - In this Friday, May 27, 2011, file photo, journalist James Foley poses for a photo during an interview with The Associated Press in Boston. A memorial service is scheduled Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, in Foley's hometown of Rochester, N.H., on what would have been his 41st birthday. Foley was abducted in Syria on Thanksgiving Day 2012, and a video by Islamic State militants that purported to show his killing by the militant group was released Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)ROCHESTER, New Hampshire (AP) — James Foley was a compassionate and capable journalist who tried to see the good in people, friends said Saturday at a memorial for the New Hampshire man beheaded by Islamic State group extremists.
 
 

Spain to train Iraqi troops to fight Islamic State

 
‎19 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:38:07 AMGo to full article
Defense Minister Pedro Morenes announced that Spain will begin training Iraqi forces later this year to battle Islamic State fightersWashington (AFP) - Spain will begin training Iraqi forces later this year to battle Islamic State fighters but has ruled out taking part in ground operations in Syria, officials said Saturday.
 
 

U.S. and China look to manage differences, cooperate against threats

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:52:53 PMGo to full article
China's State Councillor Yang and U.S. Secretary of State Kerry talk over tea during a day of meetings in BostonBy David Brunnstrom BOSTON (Reuters) - America and China's top diplomats stressed the need to manage differences and cooperate against global threats including Islamic State and Ebola, as they sought to warm the mood between their countries ahead of a summit next month. "There are many areas that the United States and China are cooperating on, even as we have some differences that we try to manage effectively," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Boston on Saturday before a second day of talks with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi. ...
 
 

Benazir Bhutto's son vows defeat for jihadists in Pakistan

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:55:15 PMGo to full article
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (C), chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), waves to supporters as he arrives at a rally in Karachi on October 18, 2014The son of slain former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto launched his formal political debut in a massive rally Saturday, vowing to resist extremism and stop the Islamic State group from gaining a foothold in the country.
 
 

Slain journalist Foley 'tried to see the good'

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:45:42 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Friday, May 27, 2011, file photo, journalist James Foley poses for a photo during an interview with The Associated Press in Boston. A memorial service is scheduled Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, in Foley's hometown of Rochester, N.H., on what would have been his 41st birthday. Foley was abducted in Syria on Thanksgiving Day 2012, and a video by Islamic State militants that purported to show his killing by the militant group was released Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)ROCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — James Foley was a compassionate and capable journalist who tried to see the good in people, friends said Saturday at a memorial for the New Hampshire man murdered by Islamic State group extremists.
 
 

Iraq fills top security posts as violence rages

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:00:15 PMGo to full article
A member of Iraq's security forces fires ammunition in the air during the funeral procession of a member of parliament killed in a suicide blast, on October 15, 2014 in BaghdadBaghdad (AFP) - Iraqi lawmakers approved defence and interior ministers on Saturday, filling the key posts after weeks of delay as security forces battle Islamic State jihadists who hold swathes of the country.
 
 

US-led strike kills 8 in IS-held Syria town

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:36:07 PMGo to full article
Backdropped by Kobani, in Syria, a Turkish forces armoured vehicle is stationed along the border road in Mursitpinar, on the outskirts of Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border, where fighting between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group continued, Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)MURSITPINAR, Turkey (AP) — A U.S.-led coalition airstrike on a gas distribution facility in a stronghold of the Islamic State group set off a series of secondary explosions and killed at least eight people in eastern Syria, activists said Saturday.
 
 

Kerry congratulates Iraq on defense, interior ministers

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:32:22 PMGo to full article
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi attends a meeting at the Waldorf Astoria hotel on September 25, 2014 in New YorkWashington (AFP) - US Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday congratulated Iraq after lawmakers there finally approved new defense and interior ministers, following weeks of delay.
 
 

Lebanon sharply limits Syrian refugee entry

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:21:32 PMGo to full article
Young Syrian refugees in Lebanon's Bekaa valley village of Deir al-Ahmar on September 16, 2014Beirut (AFP) - Lebanon has all but closed its borders to refugees fleeing Syria's civil war, overwhelmed by an influx of over one million people displaced by fighting, UN and Lebanese officials said Saturday.
 
 

U.S.-led coalition jets strike Kobani, Islamic State shells hit Turkey

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:46:27 PMGo to full article
Syrian Kurds Battle IS To Retain Control Of KobaniBy Humeyra Pamuk and Oliver Holmes MURSITPINAR Turkey/BEIRUT (Reuters) - U.S.-led coalition jets pounded suspected Islamic State targets at least six times in the besieged Syrian town of Kobani on Saturday after the fiercest shelling in days by the insurgents shook the town's center and hit border areas within Turkey. Shelling continued after the strikes hit the center of Kobani. Several mortars fell inside Turkey near the border gate, called Mursitpinar, according to witnesses. ...
 
 

US slams IS with 25 new air strikes in Iraq, Syria

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:05:41 PMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) - US war planes struck more than two dozen times in Syria and Iraq on Friday and Saturday, hitting Islamic State jihadists and oil infrastructure they control, the American military said.
 

Iraqi parliament approves defense, interior ministers: state TV

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:42:22 PMGo to full article
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Iraqi parliament on Saturday approved a Sunni Muslim to become defense minister and a Shi'ite to be interior minister, state television said, as part of a more inclusive government to help tackle Islamist insurgents. Six Kurdish members of the cabinet were also sworn in after the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) had held out for a larger share of ministries than the three offered when Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi unveiled his government on Sept.8. ...
 

U.S.-led air strikes in Syria killed 10 civilians: monitor

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:18:13 PMGo to full article
BEIRUT (Reuters) - U.S-led forces which are bombing Islamic State militants in Syria killed ten civilians in two recent air strikes, a group monitoring the violence said on Saturday. Washington said there was no evidence to back up the report and said U.S. forces use mitigation measures to reduce the potential for civilian casualties when it targets Islamic State. ...
 

Germany arrests two suspected IS supporters, raids properties

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:04:54 PMGo to full article
BERLIN (Reuters) - German police have arrested two men suspected of supporting Islamic State and raided properties across the country of another 13 suspected supporters of militant Islamist groups, prosecutors said on Saturday. The two men were arrested in the western city of Aachen and identified as a 38-year-old Tunisian, Kamel Ben Yahia S., and a 28-year-old Russian, Yusup G., said federal prosecutors in a statement. ...
 

U.S.-led coalition jets strike Kobani after Islamic State shelling

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:52:57 PMGo to full article
Smoke rises over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian borderMURSITPINAR Turkey (Reuters) - U.S.-led coalition jets struck suspected Islamic State targets at least twice in the besieged Syrian town of Kobani on Saturday after fierce shelling by the insurgents hit the town center. Shelling continued after the strikes, according to witnesses. Islamic State militants have been battling Kurdish fighters for a month to take control of the town near the Turkish border, but stepped-up coalition air strikes have helped Kurds fend off the advance. ...
 
 

Iraq lawmakers approve nominees for interior, defense ministers amid Islamic State group fight

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:39:40 PMGo to full article
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq lawmakers approve nominees for interior, defense ministers amid Islamic State group fight.
 

Read This! Syria’s Tokyo Rose and WMDs

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:45:00 PMGo to full article
Read This! Syria’s Tokyo Rose and WMDs@PartisanGirl trolls for Assad, Rove covered up news of WMDs in Iraq and why are some gamers so angry? Here’s our best work from this week.
 
 

The Violent Side of Friday Night Lights

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:45:00 PMGo to full article
The Violent Side of Friday Night LightsSeven players were arrested at a high school for raping their teammates. You can draw a line from there through Steubenville, Penn State, and the NFL.
 
 

Lebanon pulled into war with Islamic State group

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:25:13 PMGo to full article
In this Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014 photo, Hamza Hommos, 55, father of Lebanese policeman Wael Hommos, who was kidnapped by Islamic State militants and the Nusra Front, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in front of his tent set up for their sit-in protest in downtown Beirut, Lebanon. With all eyes on the Islamic State group's onslaught in Iraq and Syria, a less conspicuous but potentially just as explosive frontline with the extremists is emerging in Lebanon, where Lebanese soldiers and Shiite Hezbollah guerrillas are increasingly pulled into deadly fighting with the Sunni militants along the country's border with Syria. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)BEIRUT (AP) — With all eyes on the Islamic State group's onslaught in Iraq and Syria, a less conspicuous but potentially just as explosive front line with the extremists is emerging in Lebanon, where Lebanese soldiers and Shiite Hezbollah guerrillas are increasingly pulled into deadly fighting with the Sunni militants along the country's border with Syria.
 
 

Hostages arrive at German embassy after Philippine ordeal

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:59:13 AMGo to full article
A photo released by Armed Forces of the Philippines-Pubic Affairs Office (AFP-PAO) shows released German hostages Stefan Okonek (center L) and Henrike Dielen (center R) arriving in Manila on October 18, 2014A German couple kidnapped by Islamic militants were handed over to their embassy Saturday after a six-month ordeal marked by constant threats of beheading, as the Philippines confronted a security threat it thought it had overcome.
 
 

US military sees long haul ahead for war with IS

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:51:19 AMGo to full article
Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of U.S. Central Command, updates reporters at the Pentagon about the military campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. The top U.S. commander for the Middle East says fighting over the Syrian border town of Kobani has allowed the U.S.- led coalition to take out large numbers of Islamic State group fighters that have been pouring in. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)WASHINGTON (AP) — Ten weeks into its war against Islamic State extremists, the Pentagon is settling in for the long haul, short on big early successes but still banking on enlisting Syrians and Iraqis to fight the ground war so that U.S. troops won't have to.
 
 

Quotations in the News

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:23:46 AMGo to full article
"It's the regional office in Africa that's the front line. And they didn't do anything. That office is really not competent." — Dr. Peter Piot, the co-discoverer of the Ebola virus, after an internal report revealed the World Health Organization bungled efforts to halt the spread of the virus in West Africa.
 

Top Asian News at 6:00 a.m. GMT

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:02:31 AMGo to full article
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Rebooting a slowing economy in a nation of 250 million where inequality is rising, a looming decision on raising fuel prices and vulnerability to any U.S. interest rate hikes would be enough to tax any incoming president. But Indonesia's Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who takes office Monday, must also find a way to work with a powerful and well-funded opposition that could block moves to address the challenges holding back the country's rise as an emerging market powerhouse.
 

Frustrating West, Turkey maintains cautious stance on jihadists

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:16:40 AMGo to full article
A Syrian Kurdish woman walks in a refugee camp in the town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province, on October 17, 2014Istanbul (AFP) - Turkey is turning a deaf ear to insistent pressure to take a more pro-active stance in the fight against Islamic State (IS) jihadists, adding to existing strains with the West under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
 
 

Philippine militants free 2 kidnapped Germans

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:02:58 AMGo to full article
In this photo released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, kidnapped German nationals Stefan Okonek, right, and female companion Henrike Dielen disembark from the Philippine Navy vessel upon arrival at dawn Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, at the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga city in southern Philippines. Okonek and Dielen, who had been kidnapped and held for six months in the southern Philippines were released Friday by the militant group just hours after it had threatened to behead one of them if no ransom payment was made, the Philippine defense chief said. (AP Photo/Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command) EDITORIAL USE ONLYMANILA, Philippines (AP) — Two Germans freed after being held for six months in the southern Philippines by a militant group that threatened to behead one of them if ransom was not paid were flown to Manila on Saturday under the care of their embassy, a Philippine military spokesman said.
 
 

Activists: Islamic State group may have warplanes

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:45:12 AMGo to full article
FILE - This undated image posted on Aug. 27, 2014 by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, a Syrian opposition group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters of the Islamic State group waving the group's flag from a damaged display of a government fighter jet following the battle for the Tabqa air base, in Raqqa, Syria. The Islamic State group is test flying, with the help of former Iraqi air force pilots, several fighter jets captured earlier from air bases belonging to the Syrian military, a Syrian activist group said Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. The report by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights could not be independently confirmed, and U.S. official said they had no reports of Islamic State group militants flying jets in support of their forces on the ground.(AP Photo/ Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group)BAGHDAD (AP) — Syrian activists say the Islamic State militant group has captured some MiG fighter jets and is test-flying the warplanes in Syria with the help of former Iraqi air force pilots.
 
 

Kerry seeks to warm summit mood with dinner for China's top diplomat

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:10:35 AMGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry welcomes China's State Councillor Yang Jiechi outside Kerry's home in Boston, MassachusettsBy David Brunnstrom BOSTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed China's top diplomat, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, to his Boston home on Friday for talks aimed at warming the often strained U.S.-China relationship ahead of a summit between their leaders next month. Kerry stood outside his imposing townhouse residence in Boston's exclusive Louisburg Square to welcome Yang with smiles and handshakes. After their dinner on Friday night, the two will hold formal talks on Saturday, when Kerry also plans to show Yang some of the sights of his native city. Chinese and U.S. ...
 
 

Relatives of British IS victims urge unity against hatred

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:31:39 AMGo to full article
Floral tributes surround the base of the Eccles Cross for murdered British aid worker Alan Henning in Eccles in Greater Manchester, on October 5, 2014London (AFP) - Relatives of two Britons murdered by Islamic State (IS) militants urged people of all faiths to come together to fight the hatred espoused by the group, ahead of a memorial service for one of the men on Saturday.
 
 

U.N. Security Council urges stronger campaign against Islamic State

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:10:23 AMGo to full article
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council on Friday pushed for a bombing campaign in Iraq against Islamic State militants and associated extremist groups to be strengthened and expanded. A U.S.-led military coalition has been bombing Islamic State fighters who hold a large swathe of territory in both Iraq and Syria, two countries involved in complex multi-sided civil wars in which nearly every country in the Middle East has a stake. U.S. ...
 

Iraq imposes curfew in Ramadi, fearing militants

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎01:35:15 AMGo to full article
Security forces inspect the site of a car bomb explosion in the largely Shiite eastern neighborhood of Talibiyah in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a police checkpoint Thursday in the Iraqi capital, killing more than 10 and wounding tens of people, Iraqi officials said. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq imposed a curfew in the western city of Ramadi on Friday amid fears that the Islamic State group was looking to advance on the strategically important city as attacks in Baghdad killed 28 people, officials said.
 
 

Philippine militants release two German hostages: military

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:10:42 AMGo to full article
Philippine soldiers aboard their vehicles flash the peace sign as they patrol a road in Jolo town, on southern island of Mindanao on October 17, 2014, near where two Germans were recently releasedTwo Germans held hostage by Islamic militants on remote southern Philippine islands for six months were released on Friday, the Philippine military said.
 
 

Nigeria, Boko Haram agree to immediate cease-fire

 
‎18 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎12:06:55 AMGo to full article
FILE - In this Thursday May 30, 2013 file photo, Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, Nigeria's top military spokesman speaks during an interview in Abuja, Nigeria. Nigeria's government and Islamic extremists from Boko Haram have agreed to an immediate cease-fire, officials said Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. The fate of more than 200 missing schoolgirls abducted by the insurgents six months ago remains unclear. Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade said their release is still being negotiated. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell, File)ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria's government said Islamic extremists from Boko Haram have agreed to an immediate cease-fire, but many people expressed doubts Friday about a development that could end an insurgency that has killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands homeless in Africa's most populous nation.
 
 

Kobani key to US strategy against Islamic State

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎11:41:45 PMGo to full article
Kobani mapWASHINGTON (AP) — Dusty and remote, the Syrian city of Kobani has become an unlikely spoil in the war against Islamic State militants — and far more of a strategic prize than the United States wants to admit.
 
 

Hagel seeks info on Iraq chemical weapons exposure

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:53:39 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has asked his military chiefs and service-branch secretaries to look into questions about the medical care and treatment of about 20 service members who were exposed to chemical weapons during the Iraq war, a senior defense official said Friday.
 

British police charge four with IS-linked terror plot

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:44:55 PMGo to full article
Scotland Yard said they had charged four men from London with intending to carry out or assist in acts of terrorismLondon (AFP) - Four men appeared in a British court on Friday charged with an alleged terror plot to shoot to kill police officers or soldiers on the streets of London, and with allegedly pledging allegiance to the Islamic State organisation.
 
 

Stocks rally as global selloff abates, bonds fall

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:21:13 PMGo to full article
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock ExchangeBy Herbert Lash NEW YORK (Reuters) - World equity markets rallied, with European stocks surging the most in more than two years, and bond prices slid on Friday as investors poured back into beaten-down markets on solid U.S. corporate earnings and rising consumer sentiment. Wall Street followed Europe's lead, with all major stock indexes climbing more than 1 percent after earnings reports eased concerns about the impact of weak global demand on U.S. growth and businesses. Expectations among some investors that the European Central Bank will increase stimulus also buoyed sentiment. ...
 
 

Red Sea drownings of Yemen-bound migrants hit new high: UNHCR

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:12:11 PMGo to full article
An undated picture shows Yemeni coast guards checking a small boat with refugees arriving from Somalia to the Yemeni port city AdenGeneva (AFP) - Scores have drowned in the Red Sea in recent weeks trying to cross to Yemen making this year's death toll the highest in years, the UN's refugee agency said Friday.
 
 

Pentagon readying for long war in Iraq, Syria

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:58:19 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — Ten weeks into its war against Islamic State extremists, the Pentagon is settling in for the long haul, short on big early successes but still banking on enlisting Syrians and Iraqis to fight the ground war so that U.S. troops won't have to.
 

US planes, Iraqi ground forces battle IS jihadists

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:54:08 PMGo to full article
A Kurdish man stands close to the Turkish-Syrian border as smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobane, as seen from the southeastern village of Mursitpinar, in the Sanliurfa province, on October 16, 2014Mursitpinar (Turkey) (AFP) - US-led warplanes pummelled Islamic State fighters in Syria Friday as Iraqi forces fought the jihadists west of Baghdad, with the US military reiterating that Iraq is its top priority.
 
 

Islamic State: Would three old MiGs an air force make?

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:50:01 PMGo to full article
And now the self-described Islamic State is building an air force? Reports emerged Friday of IS fighters flying three jets around a captured airbase in northwestern Syria, though there is as yet no indication that the apparently aging warplanes are capable of carrying out offensive operations.
 

Baghdad car bombs kill 23

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:49:51 PMGo to full article
Iraqi men inspect the site of a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in the mostly Shiite Sadr City district of Baghdad on October 14, 2014Baghdad (AFP) - Car bombs exploded in three crowded areas of the Iraqi capital Friday, killing at least 23 people, the latest in a string of deadly blasts in the city, officials said.
 
 

US stocks power higher; GE, Morgan Stanley gain

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:19:41 PMGo to full article
Specialist David Haubner works with traders at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. U.S. stocks opened higher Friday as investors weighed the latest corporate earnings news and data showing home construction picked up last month. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street's wild swings returned Friday, with the Dow Jones industrial average jumping more than 200 points in afternoon trading following strong corporate earnings reports from Morgan Stanley, General Electric and Textron. Homebuilder stocks rose following a report that U.S. home construction picked up last month, and energy stocks gained as the price of crude oil turned higher.
 
 

Former Iraqi pilots train IS fighters on MiG jets

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:08:48 PMGo to full article
FILE - This undated image posted on Aug. 27, 2014 by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, a Syrian opposition group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters of the Islamic State group waving the group's flag from a damaged display of a government fighter jet following the battle for the Tabqa air base, in Raqqa, Syria. The Islamic State group is test flying, with the help of former Iraqi air force pilots, several fighter jets captured earlier from air bases belonging to the Syrian military, a Syrian activist group said Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. The report by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights could not be independently confirmed, and U.S. official said they had no reports of Islamic State group militants flying jets in support of their forces on the ground.(AP Photo/ Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group)BEIRUT (AP) — The Islamic State group is test flying, with the help of former Iraqi air force pilots, several fighter jets captured earlier from air bases belonging to the Syrian military, a Syrian activist group said Friday.
 
 

Iran nuclear talks: How will Islamic State's rise affect negotiations?

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:05:00 PMGo to full article
As negotiations between world powers and Iran on the Gulf nation's nuclear program approach a late November deadline, signals from the talks are all over the place: Progress is being made, the toughest outstanding issues haven’t advanced, a deal is still possible by the deadline, reaching a deal over the coming weeks is not realistic.
 

Using virtual reality to desensitize troops

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:30:02 PMGo to full article
Using virtual reality to desensitize troopsA group of clinicians who began treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with virtual reality are now developing a system that could better prepare combat medics for battle. Using augmented reality, the Virtual Reality Medical Institute hopes to be able to harden troop's physical and emotional response to the stress of combat. The Virtual Reality Medical Institute began life nearly 20 years ago.
 
 

Islamic State flying three jets in Syria: monitor

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:02:46 PMGo to full article
By Sylvia Westall BEIRUT (Reuters) - Iraqi pilots who have joined Islamic State in Syria are training members of the group to fly in three captured fighter jets, a group monitoring the war said on Friday, saying it was the first time the militant group had taken to the air. The group, which has seized swathes of land in Syria and Iraq, has been flying the planes over the captured al-Jarrah military airport east of Aleppo, said Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Reuters was not immediately able to verify the report and U.S. ...
 

U.S. launches six air strikes near Kobani: military

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎08:02:20 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. fighter aircraft launched six air strikes on Islamic State positions near Kobani, Syria, and its allies hit militant targets in Iraq, the U.S. military said on Friday. U.S. forces damaged Islamic State fighting positions, vehicles and buildings near Kobani and a strike hit oil collection equipment near Shadadi in a bid to disrupt the militants' ability to operate oil tankers, Central Command said in a statement. The statement did not say which nations were involved in the strikes in Iraq near Baiji. (Reporting by Jim Loney; Editing by Doina Chiacu)
 

General: Slow progress against militants in Iraq

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:29:52 PMGo to full article
Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of U.S. Central Command, updates reporters at the Pentagon about the military campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. The top U.S. commander for the Middle East says fighting over the Syrian border town of Kobani has allowed the U.S.- led coalition to take out large numbers of Islamic State group fighters that have been pouring in. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)WASHINGTON (AP) — The commander of U.S. military operations against Islamic State militants cautioned Friday against expecting quick progress in Iraq.
 
 

General: Slow progress against militants in Iraq

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:21:59 PMGo to full article
Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of U.S. Central Command, updates reporters at the Pentagon about the military campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. The top U.S. commander for the Middle East says fighting over the Syrian border town of Kobani has allowed the U.S.- led coalition to take out large numbers of Islamic State group fighters that have been pouring in. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)WASHINGTON (AP) — The commander of U.S. military operations against Islamic State militants cautioned Friday against expecting quick progress in Iraq.
 
 

General: Kobani provides chance to take out IS

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:07:07 PMGo to full article
Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of U.S. Central Command, updates reporters at the Pentagon about the military campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. The top U.S. commander for the Middle East says fighting over the Syrian border town of Kobani has allowed the U.S.- led coalition to take out large numbers of Islamic State group fighters that have been pouring in. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)WASHINGTON (AP) — Fierce fighting over the Syrian border town of Kobani has allowed the U.S.-led coalition to take out large numbers of Islamic State group fighters that have been pouring in to try and take over the community, the top commander in the Middle East said Friday.
 
 

Iraq is the top priority in fight against IS: US commander

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:56:52 PMGo to full article
General Lloyd Austin conducts a media briefing on Operation Inherent Resolve, the international military effort against the Islamic State group, on October 17, 2014 in WashingonWashington (AFP) - Confronting the Islamic State group in Iraq is the "main" priority for the US-led fight against the jihadists, while strikes in Syria are designed to disrupt the group's supply lines, the US commander overseeing the air war said Friday.
 
 

Sources: Biden son out of Navy after drug test

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:23:49 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2010, file photo, Vice President Joe Biden, left, with his son Hunter, right, at the Duke Georgetown NCAA college basketball game in Washington. Hunter Biden is expressing regret for being discharged from the Navy Reserve amid published reports that he tested positive for cocaine. The Wall Street Journal reports that Hunter Biden failed the drug test last year and was discharged in February. In a statement issued Thursday, Oct. 16, Biden doesn't say why he was discharged. He says he's embarrassed that his actions led to his discharge and that he respects the Navy's decision. The vice president's office declined to comment.(AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Hunter Biden, the youngest son of Vice President Joe Biden, has been expelled from the military after testing positive for cocaine, two people familiar with the matter say.
 
 

U.S. general says Iraq retaking some ground from Islamic State

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎06:04:14 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of U.S. troops in the Middle East said on Friday Iraqi forces are "incrementally" recapturing ground from Islamic State militants who seized much of the country's northwest this year, but he added that major Iraq advances will take time. "They are doing some things now to incrementally recapture ground that's been lost," General Lloyd Austin, head of U.S. Central Command, said in his first news conference about the conflict. He cited the Kurdish operation around Mosul Dam and their recapture of the border post of Rabia. Austin said U.S. ...
 

Shiite-Sunni clashes leave 20 dead in Yemen

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:39:57 PMGo to full article
Supporters of the Yemeni Shiite Houthi movement guard a funeral procession, for members of the movement killed in a suicide bombing last week, in the capital Sanaa on October 14, 2014Sanaa (AFP) - Shiite rebels sweeping across Yemen clashed with Sunni tribesmen and Al-Qaeda militants on Friday in violence that left 20 people dead, officials said.
 
 

Yemen's Qaeda urges worldwide Muslim support of IS

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:24:07 PMGo to full article
A picture taken with a mobile phone early on May 24, 2014 shows Al-Qaeda militants posing with the Al-Qaeda flag in front of a museum in Seiyun, second Yemeni city of Hadramawt provinceDubai (AFP) - Al-Qaeda's Yemen-based franchise on Friday urged Muslims worldwide to support Islamic State group jihadists in Syria and Iraq in the face of attacks by a US-led military coalition.
 
 

Kerry: Ebola presents 'test of global citizenship'

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:19:25 PMGo to full article
Sec. of State John Kerry speaks to members of the US Diplomatic Corp regarding State Departments response to the Ebola outbreak, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, at the State Department building in Washington. Kerry is pleading with diplomats from around the world to donate more money and aid to West African nations battling the Ebola virus. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry pleaded with world diplomats on Friday to rush more money and supplies to battle the Ebola virus in west Africa, calling it "a real test of global citizenship."
 
 

Have Silencer, Will Recon: Details Emerge in London Terror Arrests

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎05:17:00 PMGo to full article
Have Silencer, Will Recon: Details Emerge in London Terror ArrestsCops: 4 Men Pledged Allegiance to ISIS, Did Recon on Police Station, Army Barracks
 
 

Biden son booted from Navy. What's the backstory?

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:47:02 PMGo to full article
Joe Biden’s son Hunter has been kicked out of the Navy for drug use, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Cocaine was the controlled substance in question: The younger Biden tested positive for the drug last year and was subsequently discharged from the Navy Reserve, where he served as an ensign in a public affairs unit based in Norfolk, Va.
 

Jihadis take their kids to war; moms fight back

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:35:34 PMGo to full article
Pranvera Abazi kisses her son Erion Zena during their reunion at Kosovo's main airport upon his return to Kosovo's capital Pristina on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Kosovo's Prime Minister says the country's intelligence and security forces have returned an 8-year-old ethnic Albanian boy to his mother in Kosovo after he was taken by his jihadi father to Syria. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — It started out as a father-and-son trip to Kosovo's western mountains in July. It turned into a months-long ordeal for an 8-year-old boy who was taken to war-torn Syria by his jihadi father and only returned following a shadowy operation involving Kosovo's spy agency.
 
 

Top Asian News at 2:30 p.m. GMT

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:32:23 PMGo to full article
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Sixteen people watching an outdoor pop concert in South Korea fell 20 meters to their deaths Friday when a ventilation grate they were standing on collapsed, officials said. Photos of the scene in Seongnam, just south of Seoul, showed a deep concrete shaft under the broken grate.
 

Pakistan clerics condemn IS group

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:08:33 PMGo to full article
An image from Islamist media outlet Welayat Halab on October 10, 2014, allegedly shows the trademark Islamic State group flag positioned in the Mishtenur area, a plateau south of Kobane, SyriaA leading group of Pakistani clerics on Friday condemned the Islamic State organisation, amid concerns the hardline jihadists could gain a foothold in the militant-plagued nuclear state.
 
 

The Daily Fix: U.S. Considers Ebola Travel Ban, Major Storm to Hit Bermuda, and Whisper App Monitors Anonymous Users

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:49:16 PMGo to full article
There’s a passenger on a cruise ship somewhere near Belize who was exposed to the Ebola virus, the State Department said Friday. The agency also said that the employee was “low risk” and staying in a cabin on board the ship.
 

Yemen's al Qaeda expresses support for Islamic State against 'crusade'

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:37:16 PMGo to full article
DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's wing in Yemen expressed support on Friday for Islamic State against what it described as a "crusade alliance", referring to U.S.-led air strikes on the insurgents in Iraq and Syria, and called for attacks to damage the United States. U.S. and Arab forces have bombed Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq since the militants declared a caliphate in the territory under their control. Islamic State is an offshoot of al Qaeda but now challenges that group for influence among jihadists. ...
 

IS snipers, mortars hinder Kobane evacuations: local official

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎03:22:03 PMGo to full article
A Syrian Kurdish woman walks in a refugee camp in the town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province, on October 17, 2014Beirut (AFP) - Sniper and mortar fire from jihadists are preventing authorities from evacuating civilians caught up in the battle for the Syrian border town of Kobane, a local official said Friday.
 

 

 
Military Space News, Nuclear Weapons, Missile Defence

 

 

 

 
 

Russia says sanctions against U.S. may be on the table

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:31:51 PMGo to full article
Moscow (UPI) Oct 16, 2014
Russia's deputy foreign minister told state media Thursday the Kremlin has "every right" to counter U.S. sanctions on the energy sector with its own response. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the Kremlin likely won't issue reactive sanctions against the United States, but felt the measures targeting the Russian energy sector were reflexive. "Strictly speaking, we now h
 

Missile Defense Agency orders THAAD system components

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:31:51 PMGo to full article
Dallas (UPI) Oct 16, 2014
Ground components for a key element of U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System are to be manufactured and delivered by Lockheed Martin. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency contract for Terminal High Altitude Defense system equipment covers interceptor launchers, support equipment, fire control and communication spares, and launcher spares. The contract value is $124.6 million. "
 

New TALON tactical robot makes debut

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:31:51 PMGo to full article
Waltham, Mass. (UPI) Oct 16, 2014
A new man-transportable, tactical robot has been introduced into the military and law enforcement market by QinetiQ North America. The robot, displayed at the 2014 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., is the TALON V. It is the first tactical, man-transportable robot that has successfully completed the U.S. Army's TARDEC Interoperability Profile testi
 

Britain to re-deploy drones from Afghanistan to Iraq

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:31:51 PMGo to full article
London (AFP) Oct 16, 2014
Britain will shortly begin re-deploying its unmanned armed drones from Afghanistan to counter Islamic State jihadists in Iraq, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told parliament on Thursday. The remotely-piloted Reaper aircraft will provide surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence support to the Iraqi troops and international coalition forces taking on the IS group in northern Iraq. T
 

NATO says no sign of major Russian pullback from Ukraine border

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:31:51 PMGo to full article
Brussels (AFP) Oct 16, 2014
NATO said Thursday it saw no sign of any significant Russian pullback from Ukraine's border, despite President Vladimir Putin ordering thousands of troops to withdraw ahead of truce talks. "We would welcome the withdrawal of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, as this would be a step in the right direction. But for the moment, we have not seen major and significant movements yet," a N
 

Support for NATO membership grows in Ukraine: poll

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:31:51 PMGo to full article
Kiev (AFP) Oct 16, 2014
The number of Ukrainians in favour of joining the NATO alliance has risen sharply during Kiev's drawn-out conflict with pro-Russian rebels in the east of the country, a poll showed Thursday. Becoming a NATO member would be the best way for Ukraine to ensure security, said 44 percent of respondents to the poll by the Foundation for Democratic Initiatives and Kiev's International Sociology Ins
 

SNC contracted for U.S. military technology demonstrator satellite

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:31:51 PMGo to full article
Sparks, Nev. (UPI) Oct 15, 2014
A next-generation science and technology demonstration satellite is being built by the Sierra Nevada Corporation's Space Systems unit for the U.S. military. The STPSat-5 is for the Department of Defense's Space Test Program, or STP, and will carry four scientific payloads to low-Earth orbit. The satellite's mission, scheduled for 2016, will support development of future national
 

US sanctions Syrian officer, firms

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:31:51 PMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 16, 2014
The United States imposed new financial sanctions on Syria Thursday for human rights abuses, by blacklisting a general and a dozen firms and officials. The Treasury Department sanctioned high-ranking military leader Brigadier General Qusay Mihoub of the Syrian Air Force Intelligence, saying he had ordered his unit in the southwestern city of Daraa to "stop the protesters by all possible mean
 

Kurds hold out in Syria's Kobane one month into IS assault

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:31:51 PMGo to full article
Mursitpinar, Turkey (AFP) Oct 16, 2014
Kurdish fighters backed by a flurry of US-led air strikes were still holding out Thursday against jihadists in Kobane, as an Islamic State offensive on the Syrian border town entered its second month. IS militants have also been beaten back this week from Amriyat al-Fallujah, a key city just west of Baghdad, but the US military denied the Iraqi capital was in "imminent" danger. The Ameri
 

France moves closer to law cracking down on jihadists

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:31:51 PMGo to full article
Paris (AFP) Oct 16, 2014
France moved closer Thursday to adopting an "anti-terrorism" law which would slap a travel ban on anyone suspected of planning to wage jihad after the upper house Senate approved the draft law. The bill comes as authorities are increasingly wary about the number of French citizens and residents travelling to fight in Iraq and Syria who could potentially come back and stage attacks in their h
 

US says Baghdad is not under 'imminent threat' from IS

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:31:51 PMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 16, 2014
The Iraqi capital Baghdad is not facing immediate danger from Islamic State jihadists despite battlefield gains by the group in the country's west and recent car bombings in the city, the US military said Thursday. Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby acknowledged several deadly bombing attacks in Baghdad earlier Thursday, including one claimed by the IS group, but said the city's defe
 

Iran opposes extending troubled nuclear talks

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:31:51 PMGo to full article
Vienna (AFP) Oct 16, 2014
Iran said Thursday it is against extending a November 24 deadline for troubled nuclear talks, even though major stumbling blocks remain in the way of a deal. "We only have 40 days left to the deadline and... none of the negotiators find (an) extension of talks appropriate," Mohammad Javad Zarif said in Vienna, a day after six hours of intense talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
 

FBI renews call for wider wiretap powers

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:31:51 PMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 16, 2014
FBI chief James Comey renewed a call Thursday for broader authority to tap into emerging technologies, saying the Edward Snowden revelations have led to unwarranted mistrust of law enforcement. Comey said revelations about widespread surveillance have led to a climate which could hinder the ability to catch criminals and terrorists, underscored by new efforts to encrypt smartphones to make t
 

Army, Navy getting tougher combat helmets

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:31:51 PMGo to full article
Minneapolis (UPI) Oct 16, 2014
Thousands of combat helmets are to be delivered to the U.S. Army and Navy by 3M company Ceradyne Inc. under U.S. government orders. A total of 35,000 Enhanced Combat Helmet are earmarked for the Army and 2,500 for the Navy. The U.S. Marine Corps are receiving 77,000 helmets under an order given to the company in the fall of last year. "The helmet, which is equivalent in weight to
 

Australia asks U.S. for FMS deal to upgrade ship defense system

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:31:51 PMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Oct 15, 2014
Australia has asked the United States for upgrades to Close-In Weapon System Block 1B Baseline 1 weapons aboard its Navy ships. The Close-In Weapon System Block 1B Baseline 1 is also known as the Phalanx, a six-barrel Gatling cannon that can fire as many as 4,500 rounds a minute. "The proposed sale will improve Australia's maritime defense capability to contribute to national def
 

US resists extension of Iran nuclear talks

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:09:00 AMGo to full article
Vienna (AFP) Oct 15, 2014
Iran and the US still aim to strike a mammoth nuclear deal by a November 24 deadline, a US official said Wednesday after talks involving US Secretary of State John Kerry that yielded no apparent major breakthrough. "We have not discussed an extension. We believe in keeping the pressure on ourselves," the senior US State Department official said after six hours of "very intense" discussions i
 

US military's robot space plane due to land this week

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:09:00 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 14, 2014
The US military's mysterious robot space plane is expected to land this week after a 22-month orbit, officials said Tuesday, but the craft's mission remains shrouded in secrecy. The unmanned X-37B, which looks like a miniature space shuttle, is due to glide back to Earth after having launched on December 11, 2012, on a mission that military officers say is strictly top secret. "Preparati
 

Development of software for electronic warfare resumes

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:09:00 AMGo to full article
El Segundo, Calif. (UPI) Oct 15, 2014
Raytheon is resuming work on development of an electronic warfare planning management software program for the U.S. Army, the company said. Resumption of the project to give the Army automated tools to help plan and execute complex electronic warfare missions was authorized by the service following a decision by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which denied a protest by Sotera Defense
 

Beijing expresses concern over India's planned road on border

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:09:00 AMGo to full article
New Delhi (AFP) Oct 15, 2014
India plans to build a highway along its remote, disputed border with China in the country's northeast, an official said Wednesday, prompting concern from Beijing. China defeated India in a brief but bloody war in 1962 and their border remains unresolved, with both sides regularly accusing soldiers of crossing over into the other's territory. The proposed billion-dollar project aims to c
 

China says no need 'so far' for PLA deployment in Hong Kong

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:09:00 AMGo to full article
Hong Kong (AFP) Oct 15, 2014
China sees no need "so far" for its army to be deployed in Hong Kong to contain democracy protests, a Beijing official said Wednesday, without ruling out the prospect after violent overnight clashes. Rumours have frequently swept protest camps that the People's Liberation Army (PLA), which maintains a garrison in the city, will be deployed if Beijing feels Hong Kong authorities cannot handle
 

IS group has made 'substantial gains' in Iraq: US

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:09:00 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 15, 2014
Islamic State jihadists have made important advances in Iraq despite US-led air strikes, Washington's envoy to the US-led coalition fighting the group warned Wednesday. It was clear the IS group "has made substantial gains in Iraq" and it will take time to build up local forces that could defeat them in Syria and Iraq, John Allen, a retired four-star US general, told reporters. The Iraqi
 

US air war has a name: 'Operation Inherent Resolve'

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:09:00 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 15, 2014
After more than two months of air strikes, American commanders have finally decided on a name for the US-led war against Islamic State jihadists - "Operation Inherent Resolve." The decision was taken "a few days ago" by the chiefs of all the armed services, said Colonel Ed Thomas, spokesman for the US military's top officer, General Martin Dempsey. "The operation is called 'Operation In
 

Raytheon, Polish firm to explore military radar opportunities

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:09:00 AMGo to full article
Tewksbury, Mass. (UPI) Oct 15, 2014
Raytheon and Poland's PIT-RADWAR are planning to cooperate in the area of radar systems and sub-systems for the country's military and international market. The partnering comes under a letter of intent signed recently by the firms and announced by Raytheon this week. "Raytheon looks forward to its continued partnership with PIT-RADWAR," said Mike Shaughnessy, vice president of S
 

Stryker combat vehicles getting hull, engine upgrades

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:09:00 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Oct 15, 2014
The U.S. Army plans to upgrade additional flat-bottomed Stryker combat vehicles to the "Double V-Hull" configuration beginning in 2017. The upgrade, which will involve not more than 360 existing vehicles, will give the Army a total of four out of nine Stryker Brigade Combat Teams with the strengthened hulls. Lt. Col. Jason Toepfer, the program manager for Stryker development, sai
 

Bell Helicopter chooses GE Aviation for its V-80 Valor program

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:09:00 AMGo to full article
Fort Worth, Texas (UPI) Oct 15, 2014
Bell Helicopter has chosen GE Aviation's T64-GE-419 engine to power its V-280 Valor demonstrator vertical lift aircraft. Under the contract to Bell Helicopter, GE will provide installation and test support of T64-GE-419 engines for the demonstrator aircraft. Bell Helicopter said it also plans to use a version of the Future Affordable Turbine Engine in the production version of t
 

Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose scheduled for upgrades

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:09:00 AMGo to full article
London (UPI) Oct 15, 2014
British firm Babcock International is ready to begin a 15-month refit of the Royal Navy's HMS Montrose, a Type 23 frigate, at its dockyard in Devonport. A total of 16 upgrades and improvements are to be performed on the ship. Among them: replacement of the vessel's 996 radar with an Artisan 3D medium range radar 997, and a midlife update of its Seawolf vertical launch system. Bab
 

Turkey eyes new police powers after pro-Kurdish protests

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:09:00 AMGo to full article
Istanbul (AFP) Oct 15, 2014
The Turkish government on Wednesday presented a bill granting greater powers to the security forces after deadly pro-Kurdish protests, as the opposition accused the authorities of creating a "police state". The "homeland security reform" bill was submitted to parliament's justice commission by the ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), a parliamentary source told AFP.
 

North, South Korea hold high-level military talks

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:09:00 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Oct 15, 2014
North and South Korea held high-level military talks on Wednesday to air grievances over recent exchanges of fire across their land and sea borders, Seoul's defence ministry said. Government officials and officers up to the rank of general met for five hours at the border truce village of Panmunjom in what media reports described as the highest-level military exchange between the two rivals
 

Kerry slams 'abhorrent' Yazidi slavery by IS militants

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:09:00 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 15, 2014
US Secretary of State John Kerry slammed the Islamic State group for "abhorrent" abuses on Tuesday after the jihadists boasted of selling captured women and girls as slaves. Islamic State militants said abducted Yazidi women and children had been divided among its fighters according to sharia law. Kerry described the act as despicable, and said the group "does not represent Islam."
 

Fears for Kobane as Obama meets coalition commanders

 
‎16 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎02:09:00 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 14, 2014
US-led aircraft will continue bombing near the Syrian town of Kobane and in western Iraq, President Barack Obama said Tuesday after talks with military leaders from an international coalition fighting the Islamic State group. Obama voiced grave concern over the plight of Kobane but warned that the campaign would be a "long-term" struggle. "Obviously at this point we're also focused on th
 

JLENS radar data integrates with NORAD system

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:38:58 PMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Oct 14, 2014
A series of laboratory tests have proven that data collected by the JLENS aerostat-radar system can be successfully be converted into a format for use by NORAD. The test series was conducted by Raytheon, developer of the system which will soon by deployed in Maryland to help protect the National Capital Region from cruise missiles, drones and other low-flying vehicles. "The lab t
 

BAE Systems rocket conversion kit a hit with Australians

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:38:58 PMGo to full article
Arlington, Va. (UPI) Oct 14, 2014
BAE Systems' Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, which converts 2.75-inch standard rockets into laser-guided weapons, has been tested by Australia. The Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, or APKWS, was demonstrated in live-fire testing with the Belgian Forges de Zeebrugge rocket carried by Tiger helicopters of Australia's army and navy. "Through its long track record of suc
 

Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense facility established in Romania

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:38:58 PMGo to full article
Deveselu, Romania (UPI) Oct 14, 2014
The U.S. Navy has established a support facility in Romania as part of NATO's overall ballistic missile defense system. The Naval Support Facility in Deveselu. Romania, was officially established earlier this month during an establishment and assumption of command ceremony. It will become operational next year, the Navy said. "This is a historic occasion because ballistic
 

Navy announces Milestone C for counter-IED electronic jamming system

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:38:58 PMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Oct 14, 2014
The U.S. Navy has approved low-rate production for a system to combat radio-controlled improvised explosive devices. The Navy developed electronic jamming system, with Northrop Grumman Information Systems as its prime contractor, is part of the Joint Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare, or JCREW program. The electronic system comes in three var
 

Qatar receiving special systems for new Apache helicopters

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:38:58 PMGo to full article
Orlando, Fla. (UPI) Oct 14, 2014
The Qatar Emiri Air Force is receiving Apache helicopter targeting and pilotage systems from Lockheed Martin under a Foreign Military Sales contract. The award for Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor systems, or M-TADS/PNVS, is worth $90.6 million and was issued by the U.S. Army. The order is a Lot 9 contract awarded to Lockheed Martin in May
 

New Thales innovation hub in Singapore

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:38:58 PMGo to full article
Singapore (UPI) Oct 14, 2014
The Thales Group has inaugurated a multi-discipline innovation hub in Singapore, its first innovation center outside Europe. Thales Innovation Hub Singapore is to bring "Asian concepts, Asian innovation and Asian thinking," for understanding of the operational needs of regional clients and do design new products and services to meet those needs and concerns. "Innovation is in our
 

Brazil's KC-390 set for series production

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:38:58 PMGo to full article
Brasilia, Brazil (UPI) Oct 14, 2014
Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer says it's ready to begin series production of KC-390 aircraft for the Brazilian Air Force. The production of 28 of the airlifters follows the development and assembly of two prototype aircraft for the service. "We are continuing the schedule that will ensure the aircraft for the FAB arrive when needed, requiring no interruptions in the air
 

New fighters added to Russian Air Force fleet

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:38:58 PMGo to full article
Moscow (UPI) Oct 13, 2014
Russia's Ministry of Defense has received a number of multi-role fighters from the Sukhoi Company. The planes were the SU-35S, designated by NATO as the Flanker-E, and the Su-30M2 fighter, or the Flanker-C. Sukhoi said the transfer occurred recently at the airport of the Sukhoi Company's branch — Komsomolsk-on-Amur aviation plant but did not detail the number of planes involved
 

Why America's Arab allies should lead the war on ISIS

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:38:58 PMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Oct 14, 2014
While former key members of President Obama's team turn on the man who gave them historic opportunities of a lifetime, it doesn't seem to occur to them POTUS is determined to avoid another Vietnam - this time in Iraq. Mr. Obama is also reflecting the opinion of an overwhelming majority of 300 million Americans: no U.S. ground troops in Iraq's civil war. Among the countries direc
 

IS forces move freely across Iraq's Anbar province: US

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:38:58 PMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 14, 2014
Islamic State jihadists can move freely across Iraq's Anbar province and are piling pressure on government forces, despite two months of US air strikes, Pentagon admitted Tuesday. "It is a tough fight in Anbar," spokesman Colonel Steven Warren told reporters, referring to the unruly Sunni-majority province. The Islamic State group has pushed back Iraqi government troops in the western pr
 

Russia used Windows flaw to spy for years: researchersw

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:38:58 PMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 14, 2014
Hackers based in Russia used a flaw in Microsoft Windows to spy on NATO, European governments and other organizations as far back as 2009, security researchers said Tuesday. A report by the cybersecurity firm iSight Partners said the flaw dubbed "Sandworm" allowed the cyber spies to gain access to computers using all versions of Windows for PCs and servers during the past five years. The
 

Putin says will speak to Merkel about cancellation of key forum

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:38:58 PMGo to full article
Moscow (AFP) Oct 14, 2014
President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday he would speak to German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week about the cancellation of a key forum that has served to promote ties between the two countries. German media reported this week that Western NGOs had warned Merkel they were refusing to take part in a prominent civil society forum scheduled to take place in Russia in late October. The ca
 

Moscow and Beijing 'natural allies' Putin tells China

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:38:58 PMGo to full article
Moscow (AFP) Oct 14, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday praised growing economic ties with "natural ally" Beijing as he hosted Chinese premier Li Keqiang for high-profile talks. Li's three-day visit to Russia comes as the Kremlin is locked in a battle of wills with the West over Ukraine and is seeking to ramp up cooperation with Asia and Latin America. "We are natural partners, natural allies, we ar
 

Uighur group condemns sentencing of 12 to death in China

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:38:58 PMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Oct 14, 2014
An overseas-based Uighur exile group on Tuesday denounced the sentencing to death of 12 people in China's Xinjiang, saying the government's approach "will invariably exacerbate an already tense situation" in the far-western region. Xinjiang, home to China's mostly Muslim Uighur minority, has been racked by violence, with incidents becoming increasingly severe in recent months and also taking
 

Ex-colleague shoots dead American in Saudi capital

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:38:58 PMGo to full article
Riyadh (AFP) Oct 14, 2014
A former employee of a US defence contractor shot dead one American colleague and wounded another in the Saudi capital Tuesday, officials said, in a rare attack on Westerners in the kingdom. The alleged shooter, Abdulaziz Fahad Abdulaziz Alrashid, 24, "worked at the same company as the victims, and was recently dismissed from his job due to drug related issues," Riyadh's embassy in Washingto
 

Coalition commanders seek plan to counter IS advance

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:32:24 PMGo to full article
Mursitpinar, Turkey (AFP) Oct 14, 2014
Commanders from the US-led coalition against Islamic State jihadists will meet in Washington Tuesday to discuss halting the group's advance in Iraq and Syria, as air strikes failed to stop militants from reaching the centre of Kobane. IS fighters claimed nearly half of the flashpoint town, on the border with Turkey, on Monday - despite more than three weeks of US-led airstrikes aimed at hal
 

Japan lawmakers to visit controversial war shrine

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:32:24 PMGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) Oct 14, 2014
Dozens of Japanese politicians, possibly including cabinet ministers, are poised to visit a Tokyo shrine condemned by China and Korea as a symbol of Tokyo's militarist past, as it begins its autumn festival this week. A cross-party group of national lawmakers plans to go to Yasukuni Shrine en masse on Friday as it kicks off the four-day festival. However, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who i
 

N. Korea's Kim Jong-Un reappears with walking stick

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:32:24 PMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Oct 14, 2014
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has finally resurfaced with the help of a walking stick after a prolonged, unexplained absence that fuelled rampant speculation about his health and even rumours of a coup in the nuclear-armed state. State media on Tuesday reported that Kim, who had not been seen in public for nearly six weeks, made an inspection tour of a newly-built housing complex in Pyongy
 

State-backed Iraq Shiite militias commit 'war crimes': Amnesty

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:32:24 PMGo to full article
Baghdad (AFP) Oct 14, 2014
Shiite militias backed by the Iraqi army are committing war crimes against civilians in their fightback against the Islamic State jihadist group, rights watchdog Amnesty International said Tuesday. It accused the Baghdad government of supporting and arming groups of Shiite fighters who have carried out a string of kidnappings and killings against Sunni civilians in response to IS's lightning
 

Iceland shuts down 'Islamic State' website

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:32:24 PMGo to full article
Reykjavik (AFP) Oct 13, 2014
Iceland has closed down a website believed to be used by the jihadist organisation Islamic State and which showed the murder of hostages, the authority responsible for the country's Internet domain name ".is" said Monday. Internet in Iceland Inc, or ISNIC, made the decision after taking into account "the reputation of the main domain .is", ISNIC head Jens Petur Jensen told AFP. The site
 

China, Russia seek 'international justice', agree currency swap line

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:32:24 PMGo to full article
Moscow (AFP) Oct 13, 2014
Russia and China on Monday pledged to ramp up efforts to promote a just world order as they signed dozens of deals ranging from energy to finance. Visiting Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev oversaw the signing of 38 agreements, including a deal to open a yuan-ruble swap line worth 150 billion yuan ($24.5 billion) in an apparent bid to reduce depend
 

Taiwan upholds jail term for retired major turned China spy

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:32:24 PMGo to full article
Taipei (AFP) Oct 13, 2014
Taiwan's top court Monday upheld a High Court ruling that sentenced a retired army major to five years in prison after finding him guilty on charges of spying for China, officials said. Chen Shu-lung, who worked at the Ministry of National Defence, was recruited by a Chinese intelligence unit in 2006, the Supreme Court said in its verdict. It added that he had told the mainland authoriti
 

Lithuania creates response force to prevent Ukraine scenario

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:32:24 PMGo to full article
Vilnius (AFP) Oct 13, 2014
Lithuania on Monday announced a new rapid reaction force designed to meet what it termed new unconventional security threats highlighted by the Ukraine crisis. The Baltic nation's top general said 2,500 troops will be on high alert as of November to counteract so-called "hybrid warfare" involving unconventional attacks by unmarked combatants, like those in eastern Ukraine. The move comes
 

US force cuts too deep in uncertain world: Army chief

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:32:24 PMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 13, 2014
The US Army leaders warned Monday that budget cuts may force them to cut the size of force too deeply at a time of proliferating security challenges. The warnings come as the army rolls out a new strategic vision that calls for reshaping the force to meet unpredictable demands in a fast-changing world situation. General Raymond Odierno, the army chief of staff, said the advisability of p
 

IS jihadists boast of enslaving Yazidis

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:32:24 PMGo to full article
Baghdad (AFP) Oct 13, 2014
The Islamic State jihadist group says that it has given Yazidi women and children captured in northern Iraq to its fighters as spoils of war, boasting it had revived slavery. The latest issue of its propaganda magazine Dabiq released on Sunday was the first clear admission by the organisation that it was holding and selling Yazidis as slaves. Tens of thousands of Yazidis, a minority whos
 

Triple Baghdad blasts kill at least 22: police

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:32:24 PMGo to full article
Baghdad (AFP) Oct 13, 2014
Three bombings within an hour on Monday rocked Shiite neighbourhoods in the Iraqi capital as people filled the streets, distributing sweets for the Eid al-Ghadir Muslim feast, leaving at least 22 dead. The attacks, at least two of which were carried out with suicide car bombs, occurred in or on the edge of the frequently targeted districts of Kadhimiyah and Sadr City, police said. A suic
 

12 condemned to death for attack in China's Xinjiang: media

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:32:24 PMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Oct 13, 2014
A Chinese court on Monday condemned 12 people to death and gave another 15 suspended death sentences in connection with a July attack in violence-racked Xinjiang, the regional government's Tianshan portal said. Thirty-seven civilians and 59 "terrorists" were killed and another 13 civilians wounded in the July 28 attack on a police station and government offices in Shache county, also known a
 

Rouhani says Iran and West will solve nuclear crisis

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:32:24 PMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Oct 13, 2014
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Monday that even if there is no comprehensive deal with the West on its nuclear programme by next month's deadline, neither side would walk away. With discussions for a comprehensive agreement seemingly deadlocked, Rouhani's comments were the strongest signal yet that the long-running talks seeking an agreement will continue. Rouhani said there was "n
 

2 dead in Algeria military plane crash

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:32:24 PMGo to full article
Algiers (AFP) Oct 13, 2014
An Algerian air force plane crashed Monday in the south of the country during a training exercise, killing the two soldiers on board, the defence ministry said. It said the Sukhoi Su-24, a bomber first developed in the former Soviet Union, went town near Hassi Bahbah in the Djelfa region, 270 kilometres (165 miles) south of Algiers. An investigation has been opened to determine the cause
 

Ukraine leader sacks defence minister ahead of Russia talks

 
‎14 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:32:24 PMGo to full article
Kiev (AFP) Oct 13, 2014
President Petro Poroshenko will nominate his fourth defence minister of the year Monday, after dismissing the incumbent ahead of high-level talks with Moscow aimed at bringing peace to the Western-backed former Soviet state. Poroshenko's official website said he would nominate a new defence chief after "accepting the resignation" of Valeriy Geletey, who was only appointed in July. The sa
 

Iraqis will have to fight IS to win back country

 
‎12 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:20:00 PMGo to full article
Cairo (AFP) Oct 12, 2014
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday it was ultimately up to Iraqis to fight back against the Islamic State group advancing in Iraq despite US-led airstrikes. "Over time we believe that the strategy will build, the capacity will build, Daesh will become more isolated," he said, referring to the jihadist IS by its acronym in Arabic. "But ultimately it is Iraqis who will have t
 

Kurd woman leading Kobane battle against IS: activists

 
‎12 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:20:00 PMGo to full article
Beirut (AFP) Oct 12, 2014
A Kurdish woman fighter is leading the battle against Islamic State jihadists in the Syrian battleground town of Kobane, a monitoring group and activists said Sunday. "Mayssa Abdo, known by the nom-de-guerre of Narin Afrin, is commanding the YPG in Kobane along with Mahmud Barkhodan," Syrian Observatory for Human Rights head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. The secular and left-leaning Kurdis
 

Future ground role for US military advisors in Iraq likely: Dempsey

 
‎12 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:20:00 PMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 12, 2014
US military advisors are likely to take a more direct role in the ground campaign against jihadists in Iraq once Iraqi forces are ready to go on the offensive, the top US officer said in comments aired Sunday. General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he had not yet encountered a situation where US air strikes would be more effective if US troops were on the gro
 

Triple bomb attack kills 40 in Iraq town

 
‎12 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:20:00 PMGo to full article
Baquba, Iraq (AFP) Oct 12, 2014
Three suicide attacks against offices in a Kurdish-controlled Iraqi town killed at least 40 people on Sunday, many of them Kurdish forces veterans volunteering to re-enlist, officials said. The Islamic State jihadist group claimed the attack via affiliated Twitter accounts, saying the three suicide bombers were from Germany, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. "At 10:30 this morning (0730 GMT), thr
 

Turkey urges military support for Syria's 'moderate opposition'

 
‎12 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:20:00 PMGo to full article
Istanbul (AFP) Oct 12, 2014
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Sunday called for military backing for Syria's "moderate opposition" to create a "third force" in the war-torn country to take on the Damascus regime as well as Islamic State militants. The call comes as Turkey faces international pressure to step in to defend the mainly Kurdish Syrian border town of Kobane from IS jihadists. "We need a security
 

Ukraine leader sacks third defence minister this year

 
‎12 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:20:00 PMGo to full article
Kiev (AFP) Oct 12, 2014
President Petro Poroshenko dismissed Ukraine's third defence minister of the year Sunday in a surprise decision ahead of high-level talks with Moscow on bringing peace to the Western-backed former Soviet republic. Poroshenko's official website said he would nominate a new defence chief on Monday after "accepting the resignation" of Valeriy Geletey. But the sacking also highlighted a sens
 

Edward Snowden says British surveillance is out of control

 
‎12 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:20:00 PMGo to full article
London (UPI) Oct 12, 2014
Edward Snowden says government surveillance in the United Kingdom is out of control. Snowden appeared via Skype at the Observer Ideas festival Sunday and claimed British domestic espionage is much worse than its equivalent in the United States. He also said the lack of media coverage in Britain concerning surveillance does a "disservice to the public." "In the UK ... is the syste
 

IS pours in reinforcements to Syria's Kobane: monitor

 
‎12 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:20:00 PMGo to full article
Beirut (AFP) Oct 12, 2014
The Islamic State group poured in reinforcements Sunday for its nearly month-long siege of Kobane as the Syrian town's Kurdish defenders kept up their high-profile resistance. IS has sustained serious losses in the battle for the town despite their superior armour, with at least 36 of its fighters killed on Saturday alone, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. With the world'
 

Kurds thwart IS in Syria town but Iraq forces on back foot

 
‎12 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:20:00 PMGo to full article
Mursitpinar, Turkey (AFP) Oct 12, 2014
Islamic State jihadists met dogged Kurdish resistance in the high-profile Syrian battleground town of Kobane Sunday but they put Iraqi forces under heavy pressure, prompting the first US-led relief drops. A roadside bomb killed the police chief of the Iraqi province of Anbar, between Baghdad and the Syrian border, where Pentagon officials have voiced concern about the vulnerability of govern
 

Kurdish PKK fighters called back to Turkey after protests

 
‎12 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎09:20:00 PMGo to full article

 

 
 

Nuclear Weapons, Proliferation and Policy Doctrine

 

 
 

US, Iran keep pushing for elusive nuclear deal

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:34:03 AMGo to full article
Vienna (AFP) Oct 14, 2014 - Iran's foreign minister warned Tuesday of "numerous" gaps in troubled nuclear talks with world powers but both he and US counterpart John Kerry, due in Vienna Wednesday, insisted a deal remains possible by a November 24 deadline.

Speaking early Tuesday as he arrived in Vienna for talks with US and EU officials, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said there was "general agreement" but that "numerous questions still need to be resolved".

Quoted by Iranian media he added: "We will make every effort to make progress in the coming days."

US Secretary of State Kerry, speaking in Paris a day before he was due to join Zarif in Vienna, said that although hard work remained to be done a deal was achievable.

"I don't believe it's out of reach, but we have some tough issues to resolve," Kerry told reporters in the French capital after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

He refused to be drawn on whether -- as speculated by many experts -- Iran and the six powers might push back the deadline in order to gain more time to bridge the differences.

"We need to continue to have some serious discussions, which we will, and we'll see where we are. And I just think I'll let the negotiation process speak for itself at this point in time," Kerry said.

"I don't think anything is served by a lot of speculation."

But Russia's Lavrov, whose country together with the US, China, Britain, France and Germany forms the P5+1 group, said at a separate news conference in Paris that the November 24 deadline was not "sacred".

"I am sure that a compromise is possible. But I cannot guarantee that this can absolutely be done by November 24. This is not a sacred date," Lavrov said, according to Interfax.

"We aspire to get a result by that date but I am convinced by the principle that it is not artificially-set deadlines but the essence of the deal, the quality of the deal (that counts)," Lavrov said.

Speculation about a possible extension has been stoked by comments from Iranian officials, with Araqchi saying on Friday such a move was "possible" and even President Hassan Rouhani not ruling it out.

"Our will is that in 40 days the matter will be resolved. But if other things happen and we are not able to solve all the problems, the two camps will find a solution," Rouhani said Monday.

- Grand bargain -

Negotiating intensively for months, Washington and the P5+1 -- the five permanent UN Security Council members, plus Germany -- want Iran to reduce the scope of its atomic activities in return for relief from painful sanctions.

After more than a decade of rising tensions, this would ease long-held fears -- rejected by Iran -- that the Islamic republic wants to develop nuclear weapons under the guise of its civilian atomic activities.

In November 2013, Iran and the P5+1 struck an interim deal and gave themselves initially until July 20 to reach a lasting accord. They missed that deadline and agreed to push it back to November 24.

The main problem issue remains the central question of Iran's future capacity to enrich uranium, a process that can produce fuel for reactors but also, at high purities, the core of a nuclear bomb.

- Mini-round -

The Vienna talks on Tuesday, following discussions in New York last month, involved Wendy Sherman, Washington's lead negotiator, her Iranian counterpart Abbas Araqchi and the powers' chief negotiator, EU foreign policy head Catherine Ashton.

Russia's chief negotiator, Sergei Ryabkov, said in Moscow that a "mini-round" involving all Iran and the six powers would take place in Vienna on Thursday after Kerry and Zarif's discussions, Interfax reported.

A spokesman for Ashton confirmed that to reporters in Vienna, saying the all-in meeting would see Zarif meeting P5+1 political directors. The State Department said it would last one day only.

Analyst Kelsey Davenport from the Arms Control Association told AFP that this week's talks were "critical" and that a deal by November 24 was "still possible if both sides... are willing to be flexible and creative".

 

 

N. Korea's Kim Jong-Un reappears with walking stick

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:34:03 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Oct 14, 2014 - North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has finally resurfaced with the help of a walking stick after a prolonged, unexplained absence that fuelled rampant speculation about his health and even rumours of a coup in the nuclear-armed state.

State media on Tuesday reported that Kim, who had not been seen in public for nearly six weeks, made an inspection tour of a newly-built housing complex in Pyongyang and a science institute.

The front page of the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun was mostly taken up with a large close-up portrait of a smiling Kim, photographed from the waist upwards.

The daily carried smaller, full-length photos showing Kim leaning on a black walking stick in his left hand as he toured the residential complex built for scientists working on North Korea's satellite programme.

The visit was also reported by state TV, but using the same pictures and without any video footage, making it impossible to judge just how mobile Kim was.

"Looking over the exterior of the apartment houses and public buildings, decorated with diverse coloured tiles, (Kim) expressed great satisfaction, saying they looked very beautiful," the official KCNA news agency said.

KCNA did not specify the date of the visit, but the agency usually reports such events the day after.

It also made no mention of Kim's absence from the public eye and offered no insight into his physical wellbeing.

Kim, believed to be 30 or 31, dropped out of sight after attending a music concert with his wife in Pyongyang on September 3.

While there is precedent for a North Korean leader to "disappear" for a while, the absence was more noticeable with Kim, who has maintained a particularly pervasive media presence since coming to power after the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in late 2011.

- Multiple rumours -

Competing theories on his disappearance ranged widely from an extended rest period to a leadership coup, via a long list of possible illnesses and ailments including broken ankles, gout and diabetes.

The rumours multiplied after Kim failed to attend a major political anniversary event on Friday, at which other top leaders were present.

The only North Korean mention of a possible health problem came in a state TV documentary several weeks ago which spoke of Kim's "discomfort".

Kim, a heavy smoker, has shown striking weight gain since coming to power and recent TV footage had shown him walking with a pronounced limp.

"It's still not clear how much he has recovered from the apparent 'discomfort' or how serious it was," said Kim Yeon-Chul, a North Korea expert at Inje University in the South.

"The important thing is that this really corroborates observations by South Korea, China and the United States that Kim is ruling normally."

Given the supreme importance of the leadership of the Kim family dynasty in North Korea, there had been speculation that a further extended absence might lead to a period of instability.

His reappearance followed a rare exchange of heavy machine-gun fire over the inter-Korean border on Friday, after the North's military tried to shoot down some leaflet-laden balloons launched by South Korean anti-Pyongyang activists.

- 'We created the frenzy' -

Some analysts suggested Pyongyang had not moved to silence the rumour mill earlier because it craves international attention, especially attention motivated by uncertainty.

"But then it's not as if they had a plan to not show the leader for a month and let the world go into a frenzy. We created the frenzy ourselves," said John Delury, a North Korea expert at Yonsei University in Seoul.

The North's propaganda machine has always pushed an image of Kim Jong-Un as young and dynamic, but Delury said it would have little problem spinning the walking stick.

"Assuming this is what it looks like -- not a life-threatening or debilitating condition -- they'll probably push the line that he hurt himself working for the country and the people," he said.

The narrator of the TV documentary in late September said Kim had kept up his field guidance trips "despite suffering discomfort".

Kim was accompanied on his visit to the residential complex by several top officials including Hwang Pyong-So, the vice chairman of the powerful National Defence Commission who is widely seen as Kim's number two.

Hwang led a top-ranking North Korean delegation that made a surprise visit to the South just over a week ago.

 

 

Rouhani says Iran and West will solve nuclear crisis

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:34:03 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Oct 13, 2014 - Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Monday that even if there is no comprehensive deal with the West on its nuclear programme by next month's deadline, neither side would walk away.

With discussions for a comprehensive agreement seemingly deadlocked, Rouhani's comments were the strongest signal yet that the long-running talks seeking an agreement will continue.

Rouhani said there was "no turning back" on the need for a deal but with the cut-off date of November 24 just 40 days away the reality was that further discussions may be necessary.

"Our will is that in 40 days the matter will be resolved but if other things happen and we are not able to solve all the problems, the two camps will find a solution," he said in a live interview on state television.

"We succeeded in a provisional agreement and we have a great task in reaching a final agreement. This problem has lasted 12 years and it cannot be solved in a few days, though we made positive steps."

Iran and the P5+1 group of nations (Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany) signed an interim deal in January that gave Iran some relief from economic sanctions in return for curbs on its disputed nuclear programme.

But the road to a final deal has stalled since because of disputes on the extent of uranium enrichment Iran would be allowed to undertake and on the timetable for sanctions on the Islamic republic to be lifted.

Iran insists its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful but the West has not yet accepted its assurances and believes Tehran's activities could mask the long-term military plan of building an atomic bomb.

"The world has accepted our nuclear programme and agreed that this issue should be resolved through negotiations and a win-win solution," Rouhani said.

Pointing out the economic benefits of a deal, the Iranian president said "hundreds of big companies were waiting to rush" to Tehran to cash in on what the energy-rich country had to offer.

Iran has the world's fourth largest crude oil reserves and, according to some estimates, the largest gas reserves, but international trade has been dramatically hit by nuclear sanctions imposed by the West.

Talks on the nuclear issue resume in Vienna on Wednesday with US Secretary of State John Kerry and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton meeting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The US and Iran have spoken of big gaps between their negotiating teams.

Eight days of intensive talks at the end of September between Iran and the P5+1 group on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York failed to make significant progress.

However, in his interview Monday, Rouhani said French President Francois Hollande said if there was a nuclear deal, the two countries would "interact" on nuclear matters, with France supplying "modern technology."

 

 

Iran nuclear talks could be extended again: negotiator

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:34:03 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Oct 10, 2014 - One of Iran's top nuclear negotiators signalled on Friday that talks with world powers could be extended beyond November's deadline, given big barriers standing in the way of a deal.

With both sides speaking of wide gaps in what limits should be placed on Iran's nuclear programme, the next round of talks will take place in Vienna on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But Iran's deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi, quoted by the Fars and ISNA news agencies, said there was already an acceptance that a November 24 deadline could be missed.

"Time passes quickly, we are not still disappointed but if we cannot get a good enough result from this round of talks, it is obvious that we will not reach an agreement by November 24," he said.

"Everything is possible even to extend the talks," he added, noting that Iran "expected some progress" during discussions on the issue in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last month.

Next week's Vienna round will centre on the two biggest areas of contention, Iran's enrichment of uranium and the lifting of US, European and UN sanctions imposed on Iran in recent years, Araqchi said.

"The two sides of the negotiations are serious," he added.

On Thursday, Iran said it had held "constructive" talks with a visiting delegation of the UN nuclear watchdog, regarding outstanding issues in Tehran's disputed atomic activities.

But Tero Varjoranta, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the "technical meetings" on Tuesday and Wednesday did not resolve outstanding concerns on whether the Islamic republic's nuclear activities had military dimensions.

The IAEA disclosed in September that Iran had failed to meet an August 25 deadline to provide information on five points meant to allay fears it was developing nuclear weapons.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.

One of the IAEA's questions centres on Iran's purported experiments with large-scale high explosives.

Under an agreement reached in November 2013 with the IAEA, Iran has already responded to 16 of the 18 issues the agency identified as relevant to its nuclear activities.

After failing to reach an initial July deadline, Iran and the P5+1 group of nations -- China, the United States, France, Britain, Russia and Germany -- set November 24 as the date for a deal guaranteeing that Tehran's nuclear programme is used for exclusively peaceful means.

 

 

S. Korea coastguard shoot dead Chinese fishing boat skipper

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:34:03 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Oct 10, 2014 - The South Korean coastguard shot and killed the Chinese skipper of a fishing boat Friday in a confrontation in the Yellow Sea, triggering an angry protest from Beijing.

A coastguard spokesman said shots were fired as the vessel was boarded for illegally fishing in South Korean territorial waters, around 80 miles (130 kilometres) off the western island of Wangdeung.

"Dozens of Chinese sailors attacked our officers with knives and beer bottles," said Choi Chang-Sam, chief of the Mokpo Coastguard Station.

"It was a dangerous situation. One officer fired a warning shot but they did not stop. So he fired several more rounds," Choi said, adding that five coastguard officers needed treatment for injuries.

The Chinese captain was taken to a hospital in Mokpo on the mainland where he was declared dead on arrival.

An emergency room staffer at the hospital told AFP that X-rays had shown a bullet lodged in his chest.

"His lungs were full of blood", the staffer said.

The Chinese foreign ministry reacted angrily to the incident and urged immediate action.

"We are deeply shocked and strongly dissatisfied with this violent law enforcement activity," ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

"We urge (South Korea) to immediately investigate this case, bring those accountable to justice, and inform China of the result of the investigation in a timely fashion," Hong said.

The South Korean foreign ministry sent its condolences to the dead man's relatives but argued the root cause of the accident was in illegal fishing by Chinese vessels.

"We would like to make it clear that... the accident took place... as Chinese fishermen reacted with violence to our coastguard's legitimate enforcement of laws (regarding) illegal fishing," it said in a statement.

Illegal fishing by Chinese boats is common in South Korean waters, and scores of vessels are seized every year.

In an incident two years ago, a 44-year-old Chinese fisherman was fatally wounded by a rubber bullet after South Korean coastguards boarded his ship, which was suspected of fishing illegally.

In 2011, a coastguard officer was stabbed to death in a struggle with Chinese sailors.

 

 

Iran hails 'constructive' talks with UN nuclear agency

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:34:03 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Oct 09, 2014 - Iran said Thursday it held "constructive" talks with a visiting delegation of the UN nuclear watchdog seeking to resolve outstanding issues in Tehran's disputed atomic programme.

Tero Varjoranta, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, led the team which held talks Tuesday and Wednesday on two final points on which the IAEA is still seeking explanations from Iran.

The two questions focus on concerns that the Islamic republic's nuclear activities had military dimensions.

"During these two days, all the bilateral issues were discussed, in particular, how to carry out the agreed measures and the ways forward were discussed," said Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Reza Najafi.

"These negotiations were constructive in terms of content. They were also direct," he said, quoted on the state television's website.

The Vienna-based IAEA said that the "technical meetings" did not resolve the two outstanding issues.

"The Agency and Iran will continue discussions on these measures" at a date to be confirmed, the body added in a statement on Thursday.

The IAEA disclosed in September that Iran had failed to meet an August 25 deadline to provide information on five points meant to allay fears it was developing nuclear weapons.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.

One of the IAEA's questions centres on Iran's purported experiments with large-scale high explosives.

Under an agreement reached in November 2013 with the IAEA, Iran has already responded to 16 of the 18 issues the agency identified as relevant to its nuclear activities.

Satisfying the IAEA's concerns is considered crucial to a hoped for conclusion by November 24 of a comprehensive nuclear agreement with the United States and other world powers.

In a letter to the IAEA, Najafi said the delay was due to the "complexity" of the issues and that allegations of nuclear-orientated experiments lacked credibility and any solid proof.

The visit by the watchdog's delegation came after a deadly fire on Sunday at a defence ministry plant used to produce explosives in an area east of Tehran that also houses several other military sites.

A defence ministry official on Wednesday denied reports published in foreign media of an explosion at the Parchin base, which UN nuclear inspectors have been seeking to visit to answer concerns about Iran's atomic programme.

The base lies at the centre of allegations of past Iranian research into sophisticated explosives that can be used to detonate a nuclear warhead.

The Institute for Science and International Security, a US research centre, said the blast could have hit a site at the south of the Parchin complex.

"Two buildings that were present in August 2014 are no longer there, while a third building appears to be severely damaged. In total at least six buildings appear damaged or destroyed," the centre said after analysing satellite imagery.

 

 

Iran issues 'red lines' ahead of key nuclear talks

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:34:03 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Oct 08, 2014 - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated on Wednesday his country's "red lines" in negotiations with world powers over its controversial nuclear programme due to resume next week in Vienna.

Khamenei's intervention came as both the United States and EU confirmed that US Secretary of State John Kerry and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton would meet in the Austrian capital with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Ashton will first hold bilateral talks next Tuesday with Zarif, as is customary ahead of each round of nuclear negotiations, and a three-way meeting is to be held the next day on October 15, her spokesman Michael Mann said.

Top-level US diplomats would also meet with their Iranian and EU counterparts on October 14 ahead of the trilateral ministerial talks, a US official said, also confirming the trilateral talks.

"Our focus... is determining whether it's possible to reach an agreement by November 24 that effectively closes down Iran's pathways to nuclear materials for a nuclear weapon," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

US officials "continue to believe that there is still adequate time to work through these issues and arrive at a comprehensive agreement that will give the international community assurances that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon," she added.

After failing to reach an initial July deadline, Iran and the P5+1 group of nations -- China, the United States, France, Britain, Russia and Germany -- have set November 24 as the date to strike a deal guaranteeing that Tehran's nuclear programme is used for exclusively peaceful means.

But talks have stalled over the issue of Iran's future capacity for uranium enrichment and the timetable for the lifting of international sanctions against Tehran.

"We still don't have an understanding of the major issues, so that's what the purpose of the discussion is," Psaki said, adding there would be "many more meetings" including at expert level as they seek to hammer out a deal.

An infographic published on Khamenei's official website outlined 11 points to be observed by negotiators before Iran will sign an accord.

One of the stipulations includes "the absolute need for Iran's uranium enrichment capacity to be 190,000 SWU (Separate Work Units)" -- close to 20 times its current processing ability.

Iranian officials say this is needed to produce fuel for its Bushehr reactor, which is being provided by Russia until 2021.

The US and other Western states, however, want Iran to decrease its enrichment capability.

"Fordo, which cannot be destroyed by the enemy, must be preserved," the text on Khamenei's website said, referring to the uranium enrichment site built under a mountain 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Tehran.

"The work of nuclear scientists should in no way be stopped or slowed," the text said, adding Iran had the right to pursue nuclear "research and development".

Iran and the so-called P5+1 group signed a preliminary accord in November 2013 that froze some Iranian nuclear activities in exchange for a partial lifting of international sanctions.

Eight days of intensive talks at the end of September between Iran and the P5+1 group on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York also fell short of any final agreement, with the United States saying there were still serious gaps between the sides.

 

 

Funding procudure for ICBM parts changes

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:34:03 AMGo to full article
Barksdale Air Force Base, La. (UPI) Oct 6, 2014 - The U.S. Air Force is modernizing sustainment of intercontinental ballistic missiles through a centralized funding program for missile system parts.

As of the first of this month, the Air Force Global Strike Command is responsible for day-to-day funding of the weapon system's parts costs instead of individual wing commanders.

"What happened before was that wings had to choose between whether or not to buy a missile part or buy something to support their people," said Daryle Fry, an AFGSC ICBM program analyst. "That is a choice a wing commander shouldn't have to make."

"As of Oct. 1, a technician can go into supply and ask to order a part without being concerned about funding. The wing orders the parts it needs, and the bill gets sent to AFGSC.

"Wing commanders can focus more on their people and support structure and 20th Air Force won't have to worry about advocating to command to find funding for parts," he said.

The Air Force said the ICBM Parts Centralized Funding program will help AFGSC determine the true requirements of ICBMs and could correct second- and third-order effects that cause improper weapons sustainment.

"In the long run, the program will start to reverse the effects of failing equipment, which will in turn reduce man hours, increase weapon system reliability and improve the overall performance of the weapon," the Air Force said.

AFGSC will run the program for about a year, after which it will be elevated up to Headquarters Air Force. ICBMs will then be funded like the service's other weapon systems.

 

 

Satellite pix suggest N. Korea reactor shut down: US think-tank

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:34:03 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Oct 04, 2014 - Recent satellite images suggest North Korea may have shut down the nuclear reactor seen as its main source of weapons-grade plutonium, a US think-tank said Saturday.

The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said any shutdown could be for either partial refuelling or renovation.

North Korea mothballed the five-megawatt reactor at its main Yongbyon nuclear complex in 2007 under an aid-for-disarmament accord, but began renovating it after its last nuclear test in 2013.

Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna said satellite photos showing steam discharges and cooling water outflows suggested the reactor was operational.

But the ISIS report said that in the latest images "both these signatures are missing," suggesting the reactor had been "partially or completely shut down."

When operational, the reactor is capable of giving North Korea, which has carried out three nuclear tests, six kilos (13 pounds) of plutonium a year -- enough for one nuclear bomb, experts say.

ISIS said the reason for the apparent shutdown was unclear.

"It is possible that North Korea is carrying out a partial refuelling of the reactor's core ... (or) has shut down the reactor for maintenance or renovation," it said.

IAEA inspectors have not had access to North Korea since being kicked out in 2009.

 

 

IAEA team to hold Tehran talks Tuesday

 
‎11 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:18:10 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Oct 06, 2014 - Nuclear experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will hold talks Tuesday in Tehran to try and resolve outstanding issues regarding Iran's disputed atomic programme.

The official IRNA news agency said the visitors were expected in the capital on Monday night ahead of talks with Iranian officials.

"The visit of Tero Varjoranta, deputy director general of the IAEA, and a delegation will continue discussions to finalise the last two points" on which an explanation from Iran is sought, it said.

Those two questions -- to the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran -- focus on concerns that the Islamic republic's nuclear activities had military dimensions.

The Vienna-based IAEA disclosed in September that Iran had failed to meet an August 25 deadline to provide information on five points meant to allay fears it was developing nuclear weapons.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.

One of the IAEA's questions centres on Iran's purported experiments with large scale high explosives.

Under an agreement reached in November 2013 with the IAEA, Iran has already responded to 16 of the 18 issues the agency identified as relevant to Iran's nuclear activities.

Satisfying the IAEA's concerns is considered crucial to a hoped for conclusion by November 24 of a comprehensive nuclear agreement with the United States and other world powers.

A large majority of US House of Representatives members wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry last week accusing Iran of its "refusal" to work with the UN watchdog.

"The only reasonable conclusion for its stonewalling of international investigators is that Tehran does indeed have much to hide," the US lawmakers said.

 

 

North, South Korea naval patrol boats exchange fire

 
‎11 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:18:10 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Oct 07, 2014 - North and South Korean naval patrol boats briefly exchanged warning fire Tuesday near their disputed Yellow Sea border which has been the site of numerous clashes in the past, the South's defence ministry said.

The incident came as hopes had been raised of a constructive reboot in strained inter-Korean relations following the surprise visit of a top-ranking North Korean delegation to the South just three days before.

The defence ministry said the South's patrol boat had initially fired a warning shot after the North Korean vessel penetrated half a nautical mile inside the South's territorial waters.

Instead of retreating immediately, the North patrol boat opened fire, so "our side fired back," a ministry spokesman said, adding that there neither vessel had directly targetted the other and "no damage" was sustained.

The South's patrol boat fired "around 90" rounds in total.

The incident took place at 9:50 am (0050 GMT) near the South Korean border island of Yeonpyeong, and the North patrol boat retreated to its side of the border 10 minutes later.

"We are now watching North Korean troop movements and tightening vigilance against any additional provocations," the spokesman said.

The de-facto maritime boundary between the two Koreas -- the Northern Limit Line -- is not recognised by Pyongyang, which argues it was unilaterally drawn by US-led United Nations forces after the 1950-53 Korean War.

The Korean conflict ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty, and technically the two Koreas are still at war.

Both sides complain of frequent maritime incursions by the other and there were limited naval clashes in 1999, 2002 and 2009.

In November 2010, North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong island, killing four South Koreans and briefly triggering concerns of a full-scale conflict.

The latest scrap followed the shock visit to South Korea on Saturday by some of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's closest aides.

It was led by Hwang Pyong-So, a newly elected vice chairman of the nuclear-armed North's powerful National Defence Commission who is widely seen as Kim Jong-Un's number two.

The visit resulted in an agreement to resume a high-level dialogue that had been suspended for seven months as military tensions on the divided peninsula soared.

The delegation also delivered the message that Kim Jong-Un had no serious health problem, despite not being seen in public for more than a month.

 

 

Russia to reopen missile warning station on Crimea

 
‎11 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:18:10 AMGo to full article
Moscow (AFP) Oct 04, 2014 - Russia will modernise and relaunch a Soviet-era radar station on the Crimean peninsula annexed from Ukraine to provide early warning of missile strikes, a senior defence official said Saturday.

The radar station in the port city of Sevastopol will become fully operational in 2016, the commander of the air and space defence forces, Alexander Golovko, was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency.

"The radar station's Dnepr warning system on air strikes, based in Sevastopol, will become part of Russia's missile warning system after modernisation, and will become operational in 2016," Golovko said.

Russia rented the Soviet-era facility from Ukraine for several years after the breakup of the USSR.

Russia is making huge investments into Crimea after annexing it in March this year in a demonstration of its intention to stay despite the annexation not being recognised internationally and the resulting sanctions from the United States and the European Union.

Russian forces will also from December 1 take over the Centre for Deep Space Communications in Yevpatoria in Crimea, which houses a giant radio telescope built in the 1970s, Golovko said.

Golovko said the Crimean installations would "make quite a weighty contribution" to Russia's space programme.

Russia plans to hike defence spending by 21.4 percent in 2015, with Crimea one of the priorities. Russia's Black Sea naval fleet, which is based in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, is also undergoing modernisation.

 

 

UN nuclear team to visit Iran next week

 
‎11 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:18:10 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Oct 03, 2014 - A UN atomic watchdog team is to visit Tehran next week, state media reported Friday, amid US warnings that completion of a probe into Iran's past research is crucial for a nuclear deal.

The delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will hold talks on the "outstanding issues" in its investigation, Iran's ambassador to the Vienna-based watchdog told the official IRNA news agency.

The IAEA regularly inspects Iran's nuclear facilities, but it also wants Iran to respond to allegations that its programme in the past had "possible military dimensions" -- in other words that it researched how to build a bomb.

After years of Tehran insisting that it had already dealt with all of the IAEA's concerns, progress began to be made in February.

Iran provided the watchdog with explanations on one out of 12 outstanding issues, and in May promised information on two more.

However it missed deadlines in late August and early September to take the investigation forward.

That prompted Washington to voice disquiet at the pace of progress as the clock ticks down to a November 24 deadline for a comprehensive nuclear deal between Iran and the major powers.

"Concerns about the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear programme must be addressed as part of any comprehensive" deal, the US representative at the IAEA, Lara Kennedy, said.

A large majority of US House of Representatives members wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday accusing Iran of "refusal" to work with the UN watchdog.

"The only reasonable conclusion for its stonewalling of international investigators is that Tehran does indeed have much to hide," the US lawmakers charged.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.

 

 

Iran's mysterious elite general in rare Iraq picture

 
‎08 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:08:11 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Oct 06, 2014 - Iranian television published a rare picture Monday of its elite Quds Force chief in Iraq that was widely circulated online, puncturing the mystique of one of the region's most powerful men.

The image of Major General Qassem Suleimani purportedly showing him on an Iraqi battlefield was published on the website of IRINN state television, and repeatedly shared on Twitter.

Grinning widely, Suleimani, easily identified by his greying hair and beard, was seen standing alongside Kurdish peshmerga fighters. IRINN did not say where the picture was taken.

Iran initially denied Suleimani was in Iraq, but several pictures used in official media have appeared to confirm his presence near battles against militants from the Islamic State group (IS).

The Quds Force, a branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, is highly secretive and conducts security functions abroad deemed necessary to protect the Islamic republic.

As its leader, Suleimani is seldom mentioned in Iranian media, but he has cultivated a reputation as one of the most influential security operatives in the Middle East.

Since the Iraqi government was caught out by the IS surge this summer, Iran has played a key role in trying to roll back the jihadist offensive, sending military advisers and arms across the border.

Suleimani was previously pictured near the Iraqi town of Amerli, which Kurdish fighters, Shiite militias and the Iraqi Army liberated on September 1. Again, the images were circulated on social media.

A senior Iranian justice official also recently stated that Suleimani was present during fighting near Arbil alongside Kurdish forces in early August, going against his reputation for remaining out of sight.

"He is indeed like Keyser Soze," a senior US official once said, comparing Suleimani to the seemingly invisible character portrayed by Kevin Spacey in the film "The Usual Suspects".

The Iraqi military's collapse at the hands of Sunni Muslim militants near Iran's border invokes fear in Tehran.

Bonded by Shiite Islam, Iran and Iraq have grown closer in the realms of government and security since the overthrow of Sunni leader Saddam Hussein in the US-led invasion of 2003.

Iranian media regularly report the death of Iranian "volunteers" killed in Syria and Iraq in fighting against jihadists. The authorities claim the combatants are there of their own choosing to protect Shiite holy sites.

 

 

N. Korea upgrades rocket launch site: US think-tank

 
‎08 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:08:11 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Oct 02, 2014 - Fresh satellite images show North Korea has completed upgrading its main satellite site to handle far larger rockets, suggesting a possible launch by the end of the year, a US think tank said Thursday.

"North Korea is now ready to move forward with another rocket launch," the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said on its closely followed 38 North website.

While stressing there was no evidence of a planned launch, the institute said Pyongyang now had the capability to send up a rocket by the end of 2014.

Satellite analysis has shown a major construction programme underway at North Korea's Sohae Satellite Launching Station since mid-2013, focused on upgrading facilities to handle larger, longer-range rockets with heavier payloads.

North Korea successfully put a satellite into orbit with its Unha-3 carrier in December 2012.

That launch was condemned by the international community as a disguised ballistic missile test and resulted in a tightening of UN sanctions.

The US-Korea Institute believes the completed upgrade would allow the Sohae site to handle rockets of up to 50 metres (165 feet) in length -- almost 70 percent longer than the Unha-3.

But such a rocket is still believed to be several years from becoming operational, meaning that a repeat Unha-3 launch would be more likely in the short-term, the institute said.

The latest images also suggested further engine-tests in August for an under-development intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

"It remains unclear how successful these tests have been," the institute said. "However, rocket motor tests are typically conducted prior to full-scale test launches."

Development of a working ICBM would be a game-changing step, bringing the continental United States into range and adding a whole new threat level to the North's regular nuclear-strike warnings.

 

 

Differences over Iran, settlements mar Netanyahu-Obama talks

 
‎08 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:08:11 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 01, 2014 - US anger at new Israeli settlements and Israel's skepticism over American nuclear diplomacy with Iran stirred new discord Wednesday between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they met for White House talks.

Several hours after Netanyahu emerged from the White House after 90 minutes, the White House publicly rebuked the Israelis over a plan for 2,600 new settlements in annexed east Jerusalem.

Netanyahu had earlier used a photo-op with journalists in the Oval Office to deliver a broad hint that his government remained concerned about the direction of talks between Iran and world powers on constraining the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

The leaders were meeting for the first time since their subordinates swapped some of the most pointed rhetoric in years between the allies, over the Gaza crisis.

While stressing the "unshakeable" bond between Israel and the United States, Obama and Netanyahu have often struggled to keep their differences on key issues under wraps, and Wednesday was no different.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Washington was "deeply concerned by reports the Israeli government has moved forward" with planning for settlements in a "sensitive area" of east Jerusalem.

He said Israel would send a "very troubling message" by following through with the project and in noticeably blunt language said that the step was contrary to Israel's stated goal of negotiating a permanent final status agreement with the Palestinians.

"This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, (and) distance Israel from even its closest allies," Earnest said.

He added that it would also "poison the atmosphere" -- not only with the Palestinians but with "the very Arab governments" with which Netanyahu has said he wants to build relations.

Obama raised his concerns during the meeting with Netanyahu, Earnest said.

- 'Fervent hope' -

Before the talks, the Israeli leader, who is deeply skeptical of Obama's bid to broker a deal on constraining Iran's nuclear program before a November 24 deadline, delivered a clear signal that Israel is dismayed at the outlines of a possible agreement.

"Iran seeks a deal that would lift the tough sanctions that you worked so hard to put in place and leave it as a threshold nuclear power," Netanyahu said, as he sat next to Obama.

"I fervently hope that under your leadership that would not happen," Netanyahu told Obama.

Netanyahu had said at the United Nations that Iran was trying to "bamboozle" the world into sealing a nuclear deal that would leave Tehran with the capacity of thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium.

The nuclear "threshold" is the point at which a nation is considered to have the radioactive material, equipment and know-how to quickly produce a nuclear device, but has not yet taken the decision to do so.

- Thorny issue -

Netanyahu's remarks on Iran highlighted the long-standing disagreement between Israel and the Obama administration on the nuclear talks involving Tehran, the permanent five members of the UN Security Council and Germany.

Washington wants to extract concessions from Iran -- which says its nuclear program is peaceful -- in exchange for sanctions relief.

But Israel wants a complete dismantling of what it calls Tehran's "military nuclear program" and for Tehran to be left with zero enrichment capacity after a deal.

The US leader has said in the past that such a "perfect" deal is unlikely.

Israel says it reserves the right to take military action against Iran's nuclear program if a deal is not reached to dismantle it.

- 'Change status quo' -

Obama said that he also wanted to discuss the rebuilding of Gaza with Netanyahu following the war with Hamas this year that killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and 73 Israelis, most of them civilians.

"We have to find ways to change the status quo so that both Israeli citizens are safe in their own homes and school children in their schools, from the possibility of rocket fire, but also that we don't have the tragedy of Palestinian children being killed as well," Obama said.

Netanyahu backed Obama's campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, but said the effort to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon was "even more critical."

 

 

Ailing North Korea leader sends message to China

 
‎08 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎04:08:11 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Oct 01, 2014 - North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, who has not been seen for nearly a month due to apparent health problems, sent a congratulatory message to China on its national day Wednesday, state media said.

Kim was last seen in public on September 3. A rare admission from North Korea that he was suffering "discomfort" has triggered frenzied speculation about his health and close scrutiny of any mention of the young leader in state media.

The three-paragraph message sent to Chinese President Xi Jinping marked the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

Kim voiced his hopes for China's future prosperity and the happiness of the Chinese people, KCNA said.

Kim took over the reins of power in North Korea following the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in December 2011.

He sent similar national day messages to the Chinese head of state in 2012 and 2013.

Recent state TV footage of Kim had shown him looking overweight and walking with a pronounced limp, which some analysts took to be a symptom of chronic gout.

Rumours about his health multiplied after Kim failed to attend a meeting of the North's rubber-stamp parliament last week.

 

 

US lawmakers worry Iran is stonewalling nuclear watchdog

 
‎06 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:45:19 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Oct 02, 2014 - A large majority of US House of Representatives members wrote Secretary of State John Kerry expressing their concern Thursday over Iran's "refusal" to work with the United Nations nuclear watchdog.

With a November deadline fast approaching for Tehran and world powers to reach a deal on the Islamic republic's nuclear program, 354 of the House's 435 members warned that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been frustrated in its efforts to glean more information about the "potential military dimensions" of Iran's atomic efforts.

"We believe that Iran's willingness to fully reveal all aspects of its nuclear program is a fundamental test of Iran's intention to uphold a comprehensive agreement," wrote the lawmakers including House Speaker John Boehner and several Democrats.

"We remain deeply concerned with Iran's refusal to fully cooperate with the (IAEA)," they added.

"The only reasonable conclusion for its stonewalling of international investigators is that Tehran does indeed have much to hide."

In a September 5 report, the IAEA accused Tehran of failing to fully respond to questions about its nuclear program.

Iran had until August 25 to clarify five points laid out in an agreement with IAEA in May, but it has only initiated discussions on two of them.

The West believes Iran is seeking nuclear weapons capability, while Tehran insists its program is for civilian use.

Congress has often expressed doubt about the negotiations between Iran and world powers Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States. A new round of nuclear talks will be held within the next two weeks, according to a senior Iranian official.

Some US senators tried this year to pass new sanctions that would enter into force if no final agreement is signed, but the effort failed amid opposition by President Barack Obama.

Iran top film directors launch nuclear deal campaign
Tehran (AFP) Oct 02, 2014 - Six top Iranian film directors have launched an Internet campaign for international agreement on Tehran's controversial nuclear programme, warning that "no deal" would be the worst possible outcome.

The appeal under the slogan "No2NoDeal" comes as Iran and world powers have set themselves a November 24 target for a comprehensive agreement on a peaceful Iranian nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions.

Israel has said it would be better to reach no agreement than a deal that could allow the Islamic republic to develop a nuclear bomb, despite repeated Iranian assurances that its programme is for purely civilian uses.

Among the signatories of No2NoDeal are Abbas Kiarostami, winner of the 1997 Palme d'Or in Cannes for his film "Taste of Cherry", and Asghar Farhadi, whose work "Separation" won an Oscar for best foreign language movie in 2012.

The Internet campaign (http://no2nodeal.com) was initiated by the foreign ministry which is in charge of negotiations with world powers, due to resume by the end of October, one of the signatories told Mehr news agency.

By Thursday, the English-language appeal had attracted more than 1,500 likes on Facebook and 240 followers on Twitter.

"Before the end of the year, a simmering crisis that affects us all can be resolved," the filmmakers declare on their site. "Sanctions have hurt ordinary Iranians, not the Iranian nuclear programme.

"Special interests should not mislead us: there is no deal that is worse than 'no deal'," warn the six directors, some of whose work is banned in Iran.

Majid Majidi, another of the signatories, quoted by Mehr, said he had been contacted by the foreign ministry to help build up support for the negotiations but stressed that the aim was not to strike a deal "at any price".

The ministry itself, meanwhile, hailed what it called "the participatory and responsible attitude of internationally known Iranian artists" to win the backing of world public opinion for a deal.

The other three signatories are Mehdi Asgarpour, who heads Iran's House of Cinema guild, Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, considered the "First Lady of Iranian Cinema", and Reza Mirkarimi, whose film "Today" is Iran's entry to the 2015 Academy Awards.

 

 

Korean NGOs call for social consensus on unification issue

 
‎06 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:45:19 AMGo to full article
Seoul (UPI) Oct 1, 2014 - Rumors that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had been overthrown in a military coup circulated among participants at a conference here on Korean Unification Tuesday. The story came from blogging sites in China. It illustrated a key conference message that change could come at any moment on the Korean peninsula so people should prepare now for unification.

The Global Peace Leadership Conference – Korea 2014 was held to build consensus in South Korean society to prepare for future unification. Action for Korea United, the main organizer, is a coalition of almost 400 religious and civic organizations in South Korea, representing a broad range of views, which are active on North Korean issues. The Korea NGO Association, and the Buddhist-related Korean Sharing Movement were also active organizers.

Participants came from a wide spectrum of Korean society to discuss the theme: "Vision, Principles, and Values for a Unified Korea." They included politicians of both main parties, government officials, scholars, leaders of six main faiths in Korea, and humanitarian aid and human rights groups.

A feature of the conference was the launch of the book, "The Korean Dream: A Vision for a United Korea," by Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon, founder and chair of the Global Peace Foundation. It calls for greater public engagement with the unification issue through the activities of civil society organizations working in partnership with government. Dr. Moon and GPF were instrumental in setting up AKU in 2012.

This call was supported by government representatives. "It is time for the people to cooperate with preparing for unification," Vice Minister for Unification, Nam-sik Kim told participants. Representative of the ruling Saenuri party, Sang-hyun Kim, said, "This conference has opened the door for the people to talk about Korean unification."

"The Korean Dream" also looks to Korean history for a framework that can move Koreans past the current division. Dr. Moon explained, "I realized in talking about Korean unification, political leaders and academics were not tapping into that rich wealth of common identity, history and culture that could be the basis of unity for the Korean people, North and South, and in the diaspora community. That became the genesis for this book."

International speakers included Dr. Edwin Feulner, founder of the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, Dr. Victor Cha, Korea Chair at the Center of Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, and Professor Feng Zhu of Nanjing University in China.

Dr. Feulner urged the continued importance of the U.S.-South Korea alliance in any move toward unification with South Korea taking the lead.

Professor Zhu said, "International dynamics in the Asia-Pacific region have never been better for the grand enterprise of Korean reunification since the end of the Cold War." He pointed to the growing cooperation between China and South Korea, a reassessment of China's policy on North Korea, and public opinion that was 75 percent in favor of unification under South Korean leadership.

Dr. Cha said that China and South Korea's interests would overlap significantly once China stopped believing it needed North Korea as a buffer state. He did not believe that this might lead to a deal that excluded the U.S. "South Koreans ... know that their outreach to China is only credible if it is grounded in a strong alliance with the U.S."

He concluded by saying unification was something "many of us in this room will witness, perhaps not next week or next year, but certainly within our lifetime."

 

 

Japan envoy invited to N. Korea over Cold War kidnappings: Abe

 
‎06 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:45:19 AMGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) Sept 30, 2014 - North Korea has invited a Japanese envoy to Pyongyang to hear details of its investigation into the Cold War kidnappings of Japanese citizens, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday.

Tokyo announced in July it was easing sanctions against Pyongyang, following its promise to reinvestigate the cases of the abductees.

During their latest talks in China on Monday, the North Korean side said it was too early to report detailed results of the investigation, Abe told reporters.

But the North asked a Japanese envoy to visit Pyongyang to "meet members of the special investigation committee directly and hear about details of the current state of the probe", he said.

The government is considering dispatching foreign ministry officials to Pyongyang, Jiji Press said.

Japan believes dozens of people were snatched in the 1970s and 1980s to train the North's spies in the Japanese language and customs.

Japanese officials had expected the report by September, but North Korea recently said it would be unable to supply substantial details by then.

North Korea admitted in 2002 that it had kidnapped 13 Japanese citizens to train its spies.

Five of the abductees returned home but Pyongyang said -- without producing credible evidence -- that the eight others had died.

That claim provoked uproar in Japan, where there are suspicions that dozens or perhaps even hundreds of others were taken.

Tokyo and Pyongyang have no formal diplomatic ties, partially because of what Japan says is the North's unwillingness to come clean over the abductions.

 

 

Iran rejects Israel PM accusations on nuclear threat

 
‎06 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:45:19 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Sept 30, 2014 - Iran on Tuesday rejected as baseless accusations levelled by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that it poses a greater threat to the world than the Islamic State jihadist group.

Speaking on Monday at the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu said that "to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear state power is to win the battle and lose the war".

Netanyahu also described the IS jihadists who have captured chunks of territory in Iraq and Syria and Hamas, the Islamist militant movement that largely controls Gaza, as "branches of the same poisonous tree".

Iran's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Khodadad Seifi, dismissed the accusations as part of Israel's campaign to undermine negotiations on his country's nuclear programme.

"The remarks made by the Israeli regime's premier include baseless allegations against the Islamic Republic of Iran and are basically made with the aim of ... justifying the crimes the regime recently committed against Palestinian civilians," said Khodadad, quoted by Fars news agency.

Israel and militants in Gaza fought a devastating 50-day war in July and August that killed 2,100 people in the Palestinian enclave and left 73 dead on the Israeli side.

Iran, which does not recognise Israel's existence, supports Gaza militants by providing them the technology needed to make the rockets to fire on the Jewish state.

Tehran is suspected by the West of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, a claim it denies. It is in talks with world powers aimed at reaching a comprehensive deal on the issue by November 24.

Israel has refused to rule out military action against Iranian nuclear facilities to prevent any possibility of it developing the technology for an atomic bomb.

The Jewish state is widely believed to have nuclear weapons but has never acknowledged it.

 

 

N. Korea moving 'further away' from denuclearisation: US envoy

 
‎01 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:15:19 PMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Sept 29, 2014 - The US diplomat in charge of North Korea policy said Monday a speech by its foreign minister at the United Nations shows the country is moving further away from a return to six-country nuclear talks.

Glyn Davies, the special representative for North Korea policy, spoke with reporters in Beijing as he began a nearly week-long trip that will also take him to Seoul and Tokyo.

He cited "troubling further signs" that North Korea "is even more directly rejecting its responsibilities to live up to its obligation to denuclearise.

"We saw this again in a speech given by the foreign minister at the UN General Assembly in New York."

"It is essential that North Korea begin to take steps that move in that direction," he told reporters. "Instead, they're moving further and further away from that requirement."

In the first UN address by a top Pyongyang official in 15 years, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong -- in a speech to the General Assembly on Saturday -- defended his country's nuclear weapons programme, which he said was necessary due to the "hostile policy" of the US.

The day Ri spoke, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in a speech at the assembly called for a resumption of talks on the North's programme as soon as possible.

China -- along with Russia, the US, North Korea, South Korea and Japan -- is a participant in the aid-for-denuclearisation talks, which have been stalled since 2009.

Davies said the purpose of his visit to the region was to stress "the importance of getting back to the necessity of denuclearisation" which he called the centrepiece of the talks.

He added that North Korea's repeated efforts to blame the US for its nuclear programme resembled a "broken record".

Davies' visit to Beijing comes amid North Korean state media reports that leader Kim Jong-Un is suffering a bout of ill health. Kim has not been seen in public since September 3.

The US envoy played down Kim's absence from the public eye.

"For us, what's important is not so much where the leader is but what North Korea's position is on the issues that are of deep concern to us," he said, declining to take part in what he described as "a game of 'Where in the World is Kim Jong-Un?'"

Davies also said the US was "very concerned" about three US detainees in North Korea -- Kenneth Bae, Jeffrey Fowle and Matthew Miller -- and was doing everything it could to gain access to them.

"I think it's unfortunate that North Korea continues to use these Americans ... as pawns," he said.

"They simply won't engage us," he said of North Korea. "It's very frustrating. It's unhelpful. And I think it puts the lie to the contention of the regime in Pyongyang that they want to have a relationship with us."

 

 

Israel PM warns Iran greater threat than IS jihadists

 
‎01 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:15:19 PMGo to full article
United Nations, United States (AFP) Sept 29, 2014 - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Monday at the United Nations that a nuclear-capable Iran would pose the gravest threat to the world, far outstripping the jihadist terror from Iraq and Syria.

"Make no mistake, ISIS must be defeated," Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly, referring to the Islamic State group.

"But to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear state power is to win the battle and lose the war."

Netanyahu spoke a week after US President Barack Obama took to the UN podium to appeal for international support for the US-led coalition firing air strikes to defeat the IS jihadists.

The prime minister took a swipe at Iran's "smooth-talking" President Hassan Rouhani, accusing him of seeking a deal on Tehran's nuclear program without scrapping any bomb-making capacity.

"The Islamic republic is now trying to bamboozle its way to an agreement... that will cement Iran's place as a threshold military nuclear power," he said.

"Allowing that to happen would pose the gravest threat to us all."

A week-long round of talks between Iran and six world powers in New York ended on Friday with no breakthrough toward a deal to ensure Tehran's nuclear program cannot be used for military purposes.

Iran and the so-called P5+1 comprised of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany have set a deadline of November 24 to reach a historic agreement.

The six powers are asking Iran to scale back uranium enrichment, which could be used to make a nuclear bomb, but Tehran has long denied that its atomic program would be used to build a weapon.

- Rouhani's 'phony tears' -

The prime minister derided Rouhani, who spoke out against jihadists during his UN address last week, accusing him of shedding "phony tears" while engaging in a "terror campaign" of his own.

"To say that Iran doesn't practice terrorism is like saying Derek Jeter never played shortstop for the New York Yankees," he quipped, referring to the Yankees captain, who retired to great fanfare at the weekend.

"Would you let ISIS enrich uranium? Would you let ISIS build a heavy-water reactor?" he asked.

"Iran's nuclear military capabilities must be fully dismantled," Netanyahu told the Assembly, drawing applause.

Israel has repeatedly warned the West against making concessions to Tehran in talks on its nuclear program and asserted that it reserves the right to weigh military action to confront the Iranian threat.

Netanyahu made a splash two years ago when he turned up at the UN General Assembly with a large cartoon drawing of a bomb to illustrate the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program.

At this year's gathering, he showed a photograph purportedly of Hamas rocket-launchers with children playing next to them -- a scene the Israeli leader said proved that Hamas had used civilians as human shields in Gaza.

Netanyahu said jihadists in Iraq and Syria share a radical ideology with the Palestinian Hamas group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, declaring: "ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree."

Hanan Ashrawi, an executive member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, called Netanyahu's comments a "blatant manipulation of facts" and accused him of using "hate language."

Netanyahu also drew a parallel with Nazis, saying that while they believed in a "master race", ISIS believes in a "master faith."

- 'Brazen lies' -

Netanyahu took to the podium of the world's largest diplomatic gathering, saying he wanted to expose "brazen lies" after Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas last week accused Israel of waging a 50-day "war of genocide" in Gaza.

In his address on Friday, Abbas called for an end to Israeli occupation, accused Israel of "genocidal crimes" during the Gaza war and said Palestinians living under Israeli rule faced a future of "apartheid".

Netanyahu offered a rebuttal, saying Israeli forces who fought in Gaza "deserve not condemnation but admiration" and said Israel was being "demonized."

"In what moral universe does genocide include warning the enemy civilian population to get out of harm's way or ensuring that they receive tons of humanitarian aid?" he asked.

Abbas' speech also drew a sharp rebuke from the United States, which said it contained "offensive characterizations" and undermined peace efforts.

 

 

Iran nuclear talks to resume by mid-Oct: Tehran

 
‎01 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:15:19 PMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Sept 29, 2014 - Difficult talks between Iran and world powers on Tehran's nuclear programme will resume in Europe before mid-October, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying Monday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said the negotiations -- aimed at brokering a historic deal by a November 24 deadline -- would resume in Vienna or Geneva within two weeks.

"We have been able to have a much better understanding in a constructive atmosphere but there are differences on major issues," Araqchi told Japan's Kyodo News.

He said recent talks in New York did not make "substantive progress" and that Iran was not interested in extending the deadline.

"If it would be a deal, let's do it now, an extension would be useless and difficult," Araqchi said in the report, which was picked up by Iran's official IRNA news agency.

Negotiators from the so-called P5+1 group -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany -- are seeking to reach a deal to scale back Tehran's nuclear activities by the deadline.

Western powers fear Tehran is using its nuclear programme as a cover to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says it has only peaceful intentions.

Iran wants UN and Western sanctions lifted and is pushing for the right to enrich uranium, a process which can produce material for a bomb.

 

 

Japan, N. Korea meet over Cold War kidnappings

 
‎01 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:15:19 PMGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) Sept 29, 2014 - Japan on Monday demanded North Korea promptly report the results of its probe into the Cold War kidnappings of Japanese citizens as the two nations began talks in China.

The meeting of senior officials in Shenyang came after Tokyo announced in July it was easing sanctions against Pyongyang, following the secretive state's promise to reinvestigate the cases of Japanese abductees.

Japan believes dozens of people were snatched in the 1970s and 1980s to train the North's spies in the Japanese language and customs.

Japanese officials had expected the report by September, but North Korea recently said it would be unable to supply substantial details to that timeline.

"We believe North Korea should promptly conduct a comprehensive, all-out investigation into abduction victims and all other Japanese nationals and quickly report the results," Junichi Ihara, the head of Japan's delegation, said at the start of the one-day talks, television pictures showed.

His North Korean counterpart Song Il-Ho said the meeting was not meant to report about investigation results but to report what activity both sides have been involved in since July and clarify their current stances.

North Korea admitted in 2002 that it had kidnapped 13 Japanese citizens to train its spies.

Five of the abductees returned home but Pyongyang said -- without producing credible evidence -- that the eight others had died.

That claim provoked an uproar in Japan, where there are suspicions that dozens or perhaps even hundreds of others were taken.

Tokyo and Pyongyang have no formal diplomatic ties, partially because of what Japan says is the North's unwillingness to come clean over the abductions.

 

 

US has 'fervent hope' of Iran nuclear deal in weeks: Kerry

 
‎01 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:15:19 PMGo to full article
United Nations, United States (AFP) Sept 26, 2014 - Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that the US hoped to seal a nuclear deal with Iran within the coming weeks, ahead of new talks with his Iranian counterpart.

"It remains our fervent hope that Iran and the P5+1 can in the next weeks come to an agreement that would benefit the world," Kerry said, addressing a meeting at the UN on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

He was speaking before he was due to later hold a second day of trilateral talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the EU's chief negotiator Catherine Ashton in New York.

Earlier, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said there had been "no progress" in the tough negotiations to rein in Iran's suspect nuclear program.

But Kerry said the talks had already borne fruit.

"The interim agreement that we struck with Iran, the P5+1, has made the world safer because a nuclear stockpile that was at 20 percent has been reduced," Kerry said.

The United States has yet to ratify the CTBT treaty, but Kerry said the administration of President Barack Obama was committed to seeing it ratified and entering into force.

Iran nuclear talks faltering amid 'no progress'
New York (AFP) Sept 26, 2014 - Top US diplomat John Kerry was to meet his Iranian counterpart Friday for a second time in two days, amid reports that tough talks on reining in Tehran's nuclear program have deadlocked.

"At this time as I speak, there is no significant progress," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said of the latest discussions.

Negotiators from the so-called P5+1 group -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany -- began a new round of talks here last Friday only two months before a November 24 deadline to reach a deal.

Seeking to make progress, the talks moved to a higher level Thursday when Kerry huddled late Thursday in a New York hotel with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the EU's chief negotiator Catherine Ashton.

But the trilateral discussion broke up with little news filtering out and US officials did not respond to AFP inquiries about reports of a new offer on the table.

Friday's "meeting will be a continuation of the discussions the three delegations held today on Iran's nuclear program," was all a State Department official said in a terse statement.

"We will be quickly meeting again. We regret that there has been no progress," Fabius told reporters Friday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, adding that a ministerial level P5+1 meeting had been cancelled.

At the heart of the issue is a fundamental clash between the West's desire to dismantle Iran's capability to produce a nuclear bomb, and the Islamic republic's insistence that it should retain the capacity to enrich uranium for a civilian energy program.

The West wants Iran to dismantle virtually all but a few thousand of its 19,000 centrifuges which can be used to develop weapons-grade uranium.

But Iran bristles at destroying machines in which it has invested billions of dollars, and wants to retain many more of the centrifuges.

- Significant gaps -

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday he remained "cautiously optimistic."

"We still have time," he told reporters at UN headquarters in New York as the clock ticks down to November.

"We will do our utmost to make sure that remaining small, but extremely important, issues be resolved in a way that is acceptable to all," Lavrov said.

A western diplomat said a lot of technical work had been done during the week on some of the core issues including enrichment and sanctions.

"When I say there are significant gaps, it means that we are still expecting significant moves from the Iranian side," the diplomat said, adding the level of "mistrust is pretty high."

Complicating the talks are domestic politics.

Under a 2013 interim deal, Iran agreed to freeze parts of its nuclear program and allow daily inspections of some nuclear sites in return for a partial release of billions of dollars from blocked oil revenues.

But US lawmakers are already drawing up more sanctions against Washington's arch-foe, while Iranian leaders are under pressure to achieve an end to the crippling economic measures without conceding too much.

The final deal would aim to ease fears that despite its denials Iran is seeking to develop an atomic bomb, by expanding the time needed for Tehran to make such a weapon and allowing for a tough monitoring regime by the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA.

"The objective is really to have Iran reduce significantly its enrichment capacity," the western diplomat said.

"In return the six are ready to lift sanctions step by step, starting with the EU sanctions and the US unilateral sanctions. That's a huge reward for the Iranians."

Analysts fear, however, that even if a deal is reached, Iran could try to secretly continue to develop its nuclear capabilities.

"The intelligence community judges it more likely that Tehran would choose a clandestine effort, sometimes called 'sneakout,' not using facilities that it had declared to the IAEA," wrote Greg Thielmann from the Arms Control Association.

"This would theoretically allow Iran to minimize the international community's warning time and ability to take effective blocking action."

 

 

Iran leader slams West 'blunders' but eyes cooperation

 
‎01 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:15:19 PMGo to full article
United Nations, United States (AFP) Sept 26, 2014 - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wavered between criticism and engagement in a speech to the UN on Thursday, slamming Western blunders in the Middle East but signaling commitment to securing a deal on nuclear power.

Days after the United States widened bombing raids against jihadists in Iraq to Syria, Rouhani warned that regional moderates -- albeit with international support -- were best placed to resolve extremism threatening the world.

"The strategic blunders of the West in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Caucasus have turned these parts of the world into a haven for terrorists and extremists," he told the UN General Assembly in New York.

"Improper interference in the developments in Syria are clear examples of this erroneous strategic approach in the Middle East."

The United States has the support of five Arab countries in its air campaign to defeat what President Barack Obama on Wednesday called a "network of death" -- the Islamic State group.

"The right solution to this quandary comes from within the region... with international support and not from outside," he said, warning otherwise there would be "repercussions for the whole world."

There was no interaction between Obama and Rouhani on the sidelines of the General Assembly, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters.

The two leaders last year spoke by telephone, but expectations had been low of contact this time.

Rouhani is determined to lift damaging Western sanctions that have hit his economy hard and prevented oil companies from doing business in the country.

- 'Good faith' -

"We are determined to continue negotiations with our interlocutors in earnest and good faith, based on mutual respect and confidence," Rouhani said of the nuclear talks.

In words that echoed Obama's a day earlier, the Iranian leader said a nuclear deal would be a "historic opportunity" that would send a message of "peace and security."

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany are seeking to scale back Tehran's nuclear activities by November 24. Thorny talks have taken place on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

US Secretary of State John Kerry met late Thursday for three-way talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton as they push for a nuclear deal by the deadline.

A State Department official said the talks would "take stock of the work that has been done this week and discuss the path forward."

There will be further talks between the trio on Friday.

Iran wants UN and Western sanctions lifted, and is pushing for the right to enrich uranium, a process which can produce material for a bomb.

It has long denied it is seeking to develop a nuclear arsenal.

Rouhani met late Thursday with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who said they had "good and intense talks.

"I think we can say that we have never been closer in the past 10 years than we are now, but the truth is the last part of the journey, that is still ahead of us, is probably the most difficult. There are still obstacles to overcome," Steinmeier said.

Negotiators say there are major hurdles to overcome and a July deadline to secure a deal has already been missed.

Western nations agreed to lift some sanctions against Iran last year in exchange for an agreement from Tehran to curb some nuclear activities and to get to work on a comprehensive agreement.

- Courted by European leaders -

At the UN for a second time since being elected in 2013, Rouhani has been courted by European leaders seeking greater support from Tehran in the war on IS, responsible for beheading two Americans and one British hostage.

Tehran has been unusually accepting of the US military action against jihadists in Iraq, where Iranian advisors are also tackling IS, but is a strong backer of the Syrian government -- a regime Washington says has no legitimacy.

Underlining the growing importance that the West affords Tehran, British Prime Minister David Cameron held landmark talks with Rouhani on Wednesday, leading Cameron to declare that Iran could be "part of the solution."

They were the first such talks between Britain and Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Rouhani also met French President Francois Hollande for a second time.

 

 

New test equipment due for Minuteman III guidance system

 
‎01 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:15:19 PMGo to full article
Ogden, Utah (UPI) Sep 24, 2014 - Equipment that tests the guidance system of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile is to be updated by Boeing.

Boeing said the work will be conducted on the guidance data acquisition system, or GDAS, under a U.S. Air Force contract worth $4.9 million.

"As national programs unfold that are critical to affordably sustaining and modernizing Minuteman III until 2030 and beyond, Boeing remains committed to helping the Air Force keep its ICBM force ready," said Peggy Morse, vice president, Boeing Directed Energy & Strategic Systems.

Boeing said the new and improved GDAS will be specifically designed for nuclear hardness and survivability testing at Little Mountain Test Facility in Ogden, Utah. The facility is where Boeing tests radiation, shock and vibration, environmental and electromagnetic effects on weapon systems.

Boeing has been the primary contractor for the operation and maintenance of the facility since 2007.

Additional details about the contract and GDAS were not provided in the contract announcement.

 

 

Poland needs nuclear arms to ward off Russia: Walesa

 
‎01 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎07:15:19 PMGo to full article
Warsaw (AFP) Sept 24, 2014 - Polish anti-communist icon Lech Walesa said Poland should procure nuclear weapons as a safeguard against Russia, which it blames for stoking the crisis in neighbouring Ukraine.

"Poland needs to stand up to Russia," the Nobel Peace laureate, who spearheaded Poland's democracy movement and became its first post-communist president, said in an interview published Wednesday.

EU and NATO member Poland has been rattled by Russia's actions in Ukraine, including its March annexation of the Crimean peninsula and suspected backing of rebels in the east.

Russian President Vladimir "Putin has been trying to intimidate us with his nuclear weapons, so why shouldn't we have our own arsenal?" Walesa told the Rzeczpospolita daily.

"We should borrow, lease nuclear weapons and show Putin that if a Russian soldier poses one foot on our land uninvited, we will attack. Just to be clear," the 70-year-old said.

Several countries including Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey currently host shared nuclear weapons on their territory under NATO.

But there is no tradition at the moment of borrowing or leasing the weapons.

Poland should speak up and say: "Mister Putin, we won't let you make one step forward. Try it and you'll perish, and so will we," added Walesa, who as leader of the Solidarity trade union negotiated a peaceful end to Communism at home in 1989.

It is under his presidency in 1993 that the last Soviet troops left Poland. Six years later the country joined the NATO defence alliance.

On Wednesday, Poland began major military exercises involving 12,500 troops, including 750 from other NATO countries, which will continue through October 3.

Poland stages the Anakonda manoeuvres every two years but this time they "take on a special significance given the events in Ukraine," Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said at the opening ceremony.

"It is important for NATO to show that we stick together," added Torben Moller, a brigadier general from the alliance's command centre at Brunssum in the Netherlands.

 

 

World powers warn of 'serious gaps' in Iran talks

 
‎28 ‎September ‎2014, ‏‎07:13:35 PMGo to full article
New York (AFP) Sept 27, 2014 - With just eight weeks left to broker a historic deal with Iran, world powers warned Friday they remained at loggerheads with the Islamic republic over curbing its nuclear ambitions.

Despite "an enormous amount of work" and "gazillions of hours" spent by experts pouring over highly technical, complex documents "the gaps are still serious," a senior US administration official told reporters.

The world powers -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany -- known as the P5+1 have already missed a July deadline to reach a comprehensive agreement with Iran to rein in its suspect nuclear program in exchange for an easing of crippling economic sanctions.

"We have about eight more weeks until our November 24 deadline. For an agreement this complicated, that's not a staggering amount of time," the US official said, adding however that it was still "technically" possible to seal the deal as so much ground work had already been done.

One of the biggest divides is Iran's capacity for enriching uranium, which can be used to make a nuclear bomb, although Iranian leaders have repeatedly denied they are seeking an atomic weapon.

Top US diplomat John Kerry met Friday for the second day with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and the EU's chief negotiator Catherine Ashton in a bid to narrow the gaps.

"It remains our fervent hope that Iran and the P5+1 can in the next weeks come to an agreement that would benefit the world," the US secretary of state said at a UN meeting ahead of the trilateral talks.

But Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is impatient to see the sanctions lifted, said the pace of the negotiations had to be picked up.

"The remaining time for reaching an agreement is extremely short. Progress that has been witnessed in the last few days has been extremely slow," Rouhani told reporters.

Iran had shown flexibility and now "the ball is in the interlocutor's court," he insisted.

"The progress realized so far has not been significant," he said. "We must strive forward and take more significant steps."

But US officials have said they are awaiting more moves from Tehran as they "seek to close down Iran's pathways to nuclear materials for a nuclear weapon" such as its enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordo and acquiring plutonium from its the Arak heavy water facility.

"We do not have an understanding on all major issues... We have an enormous amount of details still to work through," the US official added.

- Mistrust -

One of the thorniest questions is enrichment, and how many of its 19,000 centrifuges -- which can enrich uranium to weapons-grade material -- Iran should be allowed to keep.

Signs that there had been no breakthrough in this round of talks came early Friday when French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said: "There is no significant progress."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he remained "cautiously optimistic."

"We still have time," he told reporters. "We will do our utmost to make sure that remaining small, but extremely important, issues be resolved in a way that is acceptable to all."

A Western diplomat said a lot of technical work had been done during the past week, urging all sides not to get hung up on the centrifuges question.

"Numbers shouldn't be an obsession. We can be creative, but at the end of the day we need serious commitments from Iran on precise facts, technical points," the diplomat said.

But he acknowledged "we are still expecting significant moves from the Iranian side," adding that the level of "mistrust is pretty high."

Under an interim deal reached in November, Iran agreed to freeze parts of its nuclear program and allow daily inspections of some nuclear sites in return for a partial release of billions of dollars from blocked oil revenues.

There was no indication about when and where the talks will next resume, with all parties going back to their capitals to "absorb" the outcome of this round of talks, which began on September 19.

 

 

China calls for N. Korea nuclear talks to resume

 
‎28 ‎September ‎2014, ‏‎07:13:35 PMGo to full article
United Nations, United States (AFP) Sept 27, 2014 - China on Saturday urged restraint on the Korean peninsula and a resumption of talks on North Korea's nuclear program as soon as possible.

North Korea has in recent months sought to push the United States into agreeing to resume the talks on its nuclear program, but Washington and Seoul insist Pyongyang must first show a tangible commitment to denuclearization.

"The six party talks remain the only viable and effective way to resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the UN General Assembly.

"The pressing task now is to restart the talks as soon as possible," Wang added.

The aid-for-denuclearization talks involving both Koreas, China, the US, Russia and Japan have been at a standstill since 2009.

"The parties concerned should all exercise restraint, refrain from making provocations, do more things that will help ease tension, and jointly uphold peace and stability on the Korean peninsula," said Wang.

North Korea's Supreme Court earlier this month sentenced a US citizen to six years hard labor for "hostile acts," amid accusations that Pyongyang is seeking to extract political concessions from Washington.

 

 

N. Korea slams 'political prostitute' Park speech at UN

 
‎28 ‎September ‎2014, ‏‎07:13:35 PM