“Bringing the world into focus
through the lens of Scripture”

 

frosty@khouseafrica.com

 

 

 

K-House Africa

 

Banking Details

 

 

 Watch us
on YouTube

 

 

Radio 66/40

 

 

 

 Africa news

 

THE STRUGGLE FOR JERUSALEM

 

 

The Rise Of Islam

 

 

THE DECLINE OF THE USA

 

 

GLOBAL RELIGION

 

 

GLOBAL PESTILENCE

 

 

Global Government

 

 

THE RISE OF THE FAR EAST

 

 

THE RISE OF THE EUROPEAN SUPER STATE

 

 

WEAPONS PROLIFERATION

 

 

THE MAGOG INVASION

 

 

0

 

Articles

 

DVD PRICELIST

 

Price List

 

 Kings High Way Briefing Packs

 

Topical Teachings

DVD Briefing Back

Packs

 

Audio CD

 

Audio MP3 Collections

 

DVD

 Commentaries

 

Strategic Trends

 

Verse By Verse Commentaries

 

Old Testament Study Notes

 

New Testament Study Notes

 

Personal Update

 

Donations

 

New Product Notice

 

FAQ

 

Contact US

 

K-House USA

 

Comment Line

 

Time Traveller

 

Other Links

 

DEVOTIONAL

 

Words in Red

 

Prophecy News Watch

 

The Coming Prince

 

THE WITNESS 1 Audio MP3

 

THE WITNESS 2 Audio MP3

 

hawk warrior

 

 

 

 

 

Monitor The Strategic Trends

 

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]
 
 
 

Behold a Red Horse

 

 

Price R 249.00

 

 


•What does the Bible say about “wars”?
•How can the classic literature of centuries ago impact todays (and tomorrow’s) tactics and strategies?
•Which technologies are predicted in the Bible? Which ones have yet to be witnessed?
•In what ways have the economies of scale in violence been reversed?
•What is the threat assessment and risk analysis pending today?
•In what ways can a country be regarded as a “one-bomb target”?
•What are the likely implications of trans-humanism in the quests for the “Super-Soldier”?
•How could electromagnetic pulses emerge to become the “Great Equalizer”?
•Where is the safest place to be?
 Dr. Chuck Missler, an honor graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, with an international background including three decade’s experience in the board rooms of the defense industry, reviews the major Biblical references to warfare, the trends in modern weapons technology, and some of the current preparations for war among the major powers.
 

Behold a White Horse

 

 

Price R 249.00

 

 

 

The final world dictator seeking global domination will also be an “Assyrian” who is here characterized by a bow, riding a white horse. It is interesting how many confuse this counterfeit with the rider of the white horse in Revelation 19. In chapter 6, however, this rider is among some very bad company!
 “Behold a White Horse” explores the career of the first of these “Four Horsemen” who seems to have at least 33 titles in the Old Testament and 13 in the New Testament and the common term “AntiChrist” really isn’t one of them. We also explore the only physical description of him in the Scripture!
 • Why is he a “mistaken identity”?
 • How do we know this is NOT the Christ?
 • What is the precedent condition(s) for his appearance?
 • What is the precedent condition for the unsealing of the Seven Sealed Book? What is the Seven Sealed Book?
 • Is his “bow” a pun? How? Why?
 • How can he “go forth to conquer” if he is a “peace maker”?
 • Is the Church on the earth at this time? How do we know?
 • Is He alive today? How do we know?
 • How can he be the “Seed of the Serpent”?
 Join Chuck Missler as he looks at the first of the Five Horsemen.

 

This briefing pack contains 2 hours of teaching

DVD

1 Disc

2 MP3

1PDF NOTES FILE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Russia News Headlines - Yahoo! News        Feed image

 

Go Direct

 

Middle East News Headlines - Yahoo! NewsFeed image

 

 

Syria's Kurds: An embattled US ally in a complex civil war

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎1 hour agoGo to full article
FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2015 file photo, Syrian Kurdish militia members of the YPG make a V-sign next to a drawing of Abdullah Ocalan, jailed Kurdish rebel leader, in Esme village in Aleppo province, Syria. A Turkish military expedition into Syria has threatened a Kurdish political project just as Kurdish forces seemed on the verge of connecting their northern Syrian zones. It is the first Turkish ground intervention in the course of the Syria war, now in its sixth year, and it underscores how seriously Turkey is taking Kurdish autonomy next door. (Mursel Coban/Depo Photos via AP, File)BEIRUT (AP) — Syria's battle-hardened Kurds have proven their mettle against the Islamic State group, and in the process, carved out an autonomous zone across the country's north. But their advance has alarmed Turkey, and Ankara on Wednesday sent tanks across the border against IS, and demanded that the Kurds withdraw from recently seized territory.
 
 

Violence has taken years off of life expectancy in Syria

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎11 hours agoGo to full article
LONDON (AP) — The ongoing violence in Syria has taken years off of people's life expectancy, according to a new analysis published in the journal Lancet on Wednesday.
 

Kerry in Saudi on Yemen peace push

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎7:58:39 PMGo to full article
US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Saudi Arabia to meet Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and other Gulf ministers over YemenUS Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to push for peace in Yemen after UN-brokered talks collapsed despite global concern over mounting civilian casualties. Kerry was to discuss a range of issues including Yemen Wednesday night with Saudi Arabia's powerful Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman, ahead of talks Thursday with King Salman.
 
 

Bulgaria seeks closer ties with Turkey to tackle migrant inflow

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎6:30:47 PMGo to full article
Bulgarian Prime Minister Borisov inspects the barbed wire fence constructed on the Bulgarian-Turkish border, near Malko TarnovoThe lack of coordinated European response to the migrant flow from the Middle East means Bulgaria must work more closely with neighboring Turkey to deal with the crisis, Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said on Wednesday. Government sources say Borisov is due to visit Turkey on Friday or Saturday, although there has been no official confirmation of the planned visit. One million migrants and refugees, many coming via Turkey which says it hosts 2.7 million Syrian refugees, arrived in Europe last year and several EU states have taken unilateral measures to tighten borders despite a deal between Ankara and Brussels which stemmed the flow from Turkey in recent months.
 
 

China sets sights on new global export: nuclear energy

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎1:30:02 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this June 10, 2005 file photo, workers walk past a part of the Qinshan No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant, China's first self-designed and self-built national commercial nuclear power plant in Qinshan, about 125 kilometers (about 90 miles) southwest of Shanghai, China. Beijing's wants to compete with the United States, France and Russia as an exporter of atomic power technology. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)BEIJING (AP) — On a seaside field south of Shanghai, workers are constructing a nuclear reactor that is the flagship for Beijing's ambition to compete with the United States, France and Russia as an exporter of atomic power technology.
 
 

Exiled Yemen government risks humanitarian catastrophe with decision on central bank

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎11:11:26 AMGo to full article
Workers count Yemeni currency at the Central Bank of Yemen in SanaaBy Sami Aboudi and Noah Browning DUBAI (Reuters) - In Yemen's war of attrition, the Saudi-backed exiled government has now decided that the central bank is an easier target than the capital, shielded from its troops by 60 kilometers (40 miles) of daunting mountains teeming with fighters. A decree this month to cut the bank from the outside world is aimed at using economic pressure to vanquish the Houthi fighters of the Zaydi branch of Shi'ite Islam, who have ruled the capital and most of northern Yemen for nearly two years. Diplomats, economic experts and employees of the central bank itself say the move risks destroying the lifeline for millions of impoverished Yemenis and pushing the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country to the edge of starvation.
 
 

Clinton in eye of Trump storm over charity donors

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎8:19:15 AMGo to full article
Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump cheer during a rally at the Travis County Exposition Center on August 23, 2016 in Austin, TexasDonald Trump stepped up his attacks on Hillary Clinton as her campaign battled to silence suggestions that donors to her family's charity paid for access when she was America's top diplomat. The Democratic nominee, looking to make history as America's first female commander-in-chief, is polling well ahead of her Republican rival but has hit choppy waters this week as the Trump campaign has fought to rebound from a series of damaging self-inflicted wounds. "Hillary Clinton is totally unfit to hold public office," Trump told a rally in Austin, Texas interrupted several times by protesters.
 
 

China sets sights on new global export: nuclear energy

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎6:12:03 AMGo to full article
FILE - In this June 10, 2005 file photo, workers walk past a part of the Qinshan No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant, China's first self-designed and self-built national commercial nuclear power plant in Qinshan, about 125 kilometers (about 90 miles) southwest of Shanghai, China. Beijing's wants to compete with the United States, France and Russia as an exporter of atomic power technology. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)BEIJING (AP) — On a seaside field south of Shanghai, workers are constructing a nuclear reactor that is the flagship for Beijing's ambition to compete with the United States, France and Russia as an exporter of atomic power technology.
 
 

Private lives are exposed as WikiLeaks spills its secrets

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎11:10:15 PMGo to full article
In this Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016 photo, a selection of private medical files published by transparency website WikiLeaks is shown in Paris. WikiLeaks’ global crusade to expose government secrets is causing collateral damage to the privacy of hundreds of innocent people, including survivors of sexual abuse, sick children and the mentally ill, The Associated Press has found.(AP Photo/Raphael Satter)CAIRO (AP) — WikiLeaks' giant data dumps have rattled the National Security Agency, the U.S. Democratic Party, and the Saudi foreign ministry. But its spectacular mass-disclosures have also included the personal information of hundreds of people — including sick children, rape victims and mental health patients, The Associated Press has found.
 
 

Analysis: Turkey's potentially momentous shift on Assad

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎7:30:07 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Oct. 20, 2015 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, shakes hand with Syrian President Bashar Assad as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, looks on, at the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia. For five years fighting has raged in Syria -- a globally resonant nightmare kept going in part by the insistence of Bashar Assad’s opponents that he must go even though they were failing to dislodge him from power. Now an inflection point may finally be at hand, with increasingly important Turkey suggesting Assad could play a role in an unspecified transition period. (Alexei Druzhinin, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)CAIRO (AP) — For five years fighting has raged in Syria — a humanitarian disaster destabilizing the region and the world. The aim of Bashar Assad's opponents always was to drive the Syrian leader from power, but they have lacked the means to dislodge him. Now an inflection point may be at hand, with powerful opposition backer Turkey suggesting Assad, despite his brutality in the war, could play a role in an unspecified transition period.
 
 

Morocco posts fall in foreign tourist arrivals

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎5:42:07 PMGo to full article
Tourism is a backbone of Morocco's economy, along with revenues from exports and the remittances of Moroccans who work abroadMorocco has announced a 5.6 percent drop in foreign tourist arrivals for the first half of 2016, with holidaymakers apparently put off by unrest and attacks across the region. Morocco has been spared unrest triggered by the Arab Spring revolts that have rocked North Africa and the Middle East since 2011, as well as attacks claimed by the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group. The number of Moroccans living abroad who visited the country in the first half of the year was up by 1.7 percent, said the Moroccan Observatory for Tourism.
 
 

US, Biden face tough task to mend relations with Turkey

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎2:22:33 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2016 file photo, Vice President Joe Biden gestures during a news conference in Belgrade, Serbia. Biden faces a difficult mission when he travels to Ankara on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, to try to smooth over recent strains: He comes bearing no assurances that the U.S. will agree to Turkey’s demand that it extradite Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — With suspicions on both sides mounting, the United States is struggling to preserve its wobbly partnership with Turkey as the Turks entertain closer relations with Russia and fume over a U.S.-based cleric blamed for orchestrating last month's failed coup.
 
 

Sudanese migrant killed in Calais clashes

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎11:57:01 AMGo to full article
The two migrants were among a group of people from the "Jungle" camp who tried to access a motorway to smuggle onto trucks crossing the Channel to BritainOne Sudanese migrant was killed and another injured in clashes with Afghan migrants outside the French port of Calais, authorities said Tuesday. The two migrants were among a group of people from the "Jungle" camp who tried to access a motorway to smuggle onto trucks crossing the Channel to Britain on Monday night, local police said. A fight later broke out between groups of Afghans and Sudanese returning to the sprawling "Jungle", which is home to nearly 7,000 migrants from across Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
 
 

Israeli air strikes target Syria after Syrian fire hit its territory

 
‎Monday, ‎August ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎9:00:33 PMGo to full article
Israeli aircraft attacked a target in Syria on Monday after errant fire from fighting among factions in Syria struck inside Israel, Israel's military said. The Syrian fire had hit an open area near the border in the Golan Heights, causing no injuries, and in retaliation the air force targeted a "Syrian army launcher", the military said. The Israeli military has responded similarly in the past when mortar fire has landed in the Golan, territory Israel captured in a 1967 Middle East war, during battles in the Syrian conflict.
 

Separated during migrant chaos, family reunites in Sweden

 
‎Monday, ‎August ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎5:23:31 PMGo to full article
In this Aug. 14, 2016 photo, Mahdi Azizi hugs his mother goodbye before boarding a bus to return to a centre for unaccompanied minors, in Vasteras, Sweden. Love, not war, made the Azizi family flee Iran during last summer’s chaotic mass migration to Europe. Luck reunited them a year after a dark night in a Turkish forest separated 14-year-old Mahdi Azizi from his parents and sisters. (AP Photo/David Keyton)VASTERFARNEBO, Sweden (AP) — Love, not war, sent an Afghan family fleeing from Iran during last summer's chaotic mass migration to Europe. Luck reunited them a year later, after a dark night in a Turkish forest separated 14-year-old Mahdi Azizi from his parents and sisters.
 
 

Kerry says hopes talks with Russia on Syria 'nearing the end'

 
‎Monday, ‎August ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎5:07:06 PMGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday talks between the United States and Russia on military cooperation in the fight against Islamic State in Syria were nearing an end, with technical teams meeting this week to discuss details. "We are in indeed engaged currently in ongoing conversations, and it is my hope that we are reaching the end of those discussions one way or another," Kerry told a news conference during a visit to Kenya. "But that decision has to be made on the basis of where we are in the next couple of days." Kerry said the "Syrian travesty" had gone on for too long and it was imperative that powers supporting the Syrian regime, - Russia and Iran - and those backing the opposition - the United States and its Middle East partners - came together to end the fighting.
 

German official says situation in Turkey 'complicated'

 
‎Sunday, ‎August ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎12:15:46 PMGo to full article
BERLIN (AP) — Germany's top security official has defended his ministry's confidential assessment of Turkey as "the central platform of action for Islamist groups" in the Middle East, which was leaked last week to the public.
 

Gulf tourism frenzy in Bosnia delights business, polarizes locals

 
‎Sunday, ‎August ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎10:14:46 AMGo to full article
Tourists enjoy along the Prokosko Lake near FojnicaBy Daria Sito-Sucic SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Abdulah Al Sanousi enjoys the breeze in the lush resort outside Sarajevo where his family bought a flat to escape the summer heat at home in Kuwait, one of thousands of new Gulf buyers whose investment has polarized local opinion. Bosnia does not have a national tourism authority and data on land purchases is patchy in the Balkan country which has a fragmented government system.
 
 

US cuts military advisers to Saudi-led coalition in Yemen

 
‎Saturday, ‎August ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎9:26:45 PMGo to full article
Saudi Arabia leads an Arab coalition that began air raids in March last year and later sent in ground forces to support Yemen's internationally recognised governmentThe US military has slashed the number of intelligence advisers directly supporting the Saudi-led coalition's air war in Yemen, the US Navy said Saturday, following concerns over civilian casualties. The reassignment of personnel, around June, came because "there was not the same sort of requests coming in for assistance", Fifth Fleet spokesman Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey told AFP from its base in Bahrain. Saudi Arabia has faced repeated criticism from rights groups over civilian casualties in its 17-month campaign against rebels in Yemen.
 
 

The Latest: About 40 migrants get into Spanish enclave

 
‎Saturday, ‎August ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎4:22:18 PMGo to full article
A woman from Nigeria reacts on the Astral vessel after been rescued by members of Proactiva Open Arms NGO, during a rescue operation at the Mediterranean sea, about 17 miles north of Sabratah, Libya, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. Migrants seemingly prefer to face the dangers of the journey towards Europe, rather than stay at home.(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)MILAN (AP) — The Latest on European response to the influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa (all times local):
 
 

Syria's first responders: 'Most dangerous job in the world'

 
‎Saturday, ‎August ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎5:36:45 AMGo to full article
FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015 file photo, comrades carry Ilias Mahmoud al-Taweel, a member of Syrian Civil Defence, or White Helmets, during his funeral in in Douma, the suburbs of Damascus. Taweel died while rescuing victims of the shelling of the city. A Syrian volunteer search-and-rescue group has launched a campaign to win its first responders the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. The Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, operate in the country's war-ravaged opposition areas, where they are exposed daily to bombs dropped by government and Russian warplanes. The group's global following say their task is "the most dangerous job on the planet." (Feras Domy via AP, File) MANDATORY CREDITBEIRUT (AP) — It took Mahmoud Fadlallah and the team of seven rescue workers 30 minutes to reach the middle-aged couple trapped beneath the rubble of their apartment building in the contested Syrian city of Aleppo. They had been notified a rocket had struck the building, and they had to wait for the debris to fall and the dust to settle.
 
 

British-Australian man detained in Dubai for charity work

 
‎Friday, ‎August ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎2:45:55 PMGo to full article
In this undated photograph provided by the advocacy group Detained in Dubai, British-Australian dual national Scott Richards is seen in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Richards, who wanted to raise money for Afghans who fled their country's long war, has been detained by Dubai police for weeks over promoting a charity, his supporters say. (Detained in Dubai photo via AP)DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A British-Australian dual national living in Dubai who wanted to raise money for Afghans who fled their country's long war has been detained for weeks over promoting a charity, his supporters said Friday.
 
 

Ahmad Al-Faqi al-Mahdi, Islamic enforcer of Timbuktu

 
‎Friday, ‎August ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎11:50:57 AMGo to full article
Ahmad Al-Faqi Al-Mahdi is expected to become the first person to face a single war crime charge of destroying cultural heritage when his trial opens in The Hague on MondayAhmad Al-Faqi Al-Mahdi, whose war crime trial in The Hague opens on Monday, is a quiet Koranic scholar turned ruthless enforcer for jihadists when they occupied the fabled Malian city of Timbuktu. Born around 40 years ago in Agoune, 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Timbuktu, the curly-haired former teacher was steeped in Islamic learning from a young age. Mahdi was soon recruited by the Islamist group Ansar Dine as "the most competent and prominent person in Timbuktu when it came to being knowledgeable in religious matters", in the words of International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors.
 
 

Bird strike forces Qatar Airways jet into emergency landing

 
‎Thursday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎4:38:19 PMGo to full article
Qatar Airways is one of the biggest carriers in the Middle EastA Qatar Airways passenger plane made an emergency landing at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport Thursday after a bird strike on one of its engines, the Gulf carrier said. All 312 passengers and crew were evacuated safely, Qatar Airways said. "Qatar Airways can confirm that QR240 from Istanbul to Doha experienced a bird strike, which resulted in its safe return to Istanbul," the airline said in a statement.
 
 

Abu Dhabi's NBAD to launch MidEast's first green bond: sources

 
‎Thursday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎3:56:22 PMGo to full article
DUBAI (Reuters) - National Bank of Abu Dhabi plans to start an investor roadshow next week to issue a benchmark-sized green bond, the proceeds of which would be used to invest in renewable energy, banking sources said on Thursday. The bond would be the Middle East's first such "green bond", the sources said. Benchmark-sized generally means at least $500 million. An NBAD spokesman declined to comment. (Reporting by Stanley Carvalho and David French; Writing by Tom Arnold; Editing by Andrew Torchia)
 

Sierra Leone urged to ban FGM after death of teenage girl

 
‎Thursday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎1:55:02 PMGo to full article
By Kieran Guilbert DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The death of a teenage girl in Sierra Leone during a female genital mutilation (FGM) procedure performed by a women-run secret society should spur the West African nation to ban the practice, anti-FGM campaigners said on Thursday. Fatmata Turay, 19, died earlier this week after undergoing FGM as part of her initiation rites for entry to the Bondo, a powerful society that carries out the practice and wields significant political clout, according to several campaigners. Rights groups which campaign against FGM, including FORWARD and Equality Now, urged Sierra Leone to carry out a thorough investigation into Turay's death, and ban the practice.
 

Serbia intercepts over 3,000 illegal migrants in a month: spokesman

 
‎Thursday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎1:10:18 PMGo to full article
Migrants walk on a dirt road as they approach the Croatian border near the town of SidSerbia detained over 3,000 migrants illegally entering into the country in one month, a military spokesman said, suggesting many were still trying to make their way along a Balkan corridor to the European Union despite border closures. Balkan countries along the route processed hundreds of of thousands of migrants over their borders last year, but clamped down in February to stop the mass influx and many migrants now resort to people smugglers to try to reach the EU. With a steady trickle of migrants mainly from conflict- and poverty-wracked areas of Asia and the Middle East continuing, Serbia on July 16 decided to form joint police and army patrols to intercept them.
 
 

Chinese admiral visits Syria in show of support

 
‎Thursday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎10:15:44 AMGo to full article
BEIJING (AP) — A top Chinese military officer visited Syria this week in a show of support for President Bashar Assad's embattled regime, official media reported Thursday, underscoring Beijing's backing of fellow authoritarian governments and concerns about the spread of religious militancy.
 

Top Asian News 3:28 a.m. GMT

 
‎Thursday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎5:28:31 AMGo to full article
BEIJING (AP) — Efforts by Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi this week to bolster ties with her country's dominant northern neighbor China may hinge on whether she can resolve the fate of a massive, Chinese-funded dam project blocked by overwhelming local opposition. Suu Kyi was to be greeted with a formal welcome ceremony on Thursday as part of a visit ending Sunday that will include talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. It's her first trip to China since her party won a historic majority last year. Now leading Myanmar with the title of state counselor, Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace Prize winner who spent 15 years in house arrest under Myanmar's former military junta, which was supported for years by the authoritarian Communist Party-led government in Beijing.
 

Amnesty denounces 'appalling abuse' in Syrian jails

 
‎Thursday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎3:03:26 AMGo to full article
Since the Syria war began in 2011 more than 17,000 people are estimated to have died in custodySyrian authorities are committing torture on a "massive scale" in government prisons including beatings, electric shocks, rape and psychological abuse that amount to crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said Thursday. It said the report was based on interviews with 65 torture survivors, mostly civilians, who described "appalling abuse and inhuman conditions" in intelligence agency detention centres and the Saydnaya Military Prison near Damascus. Most described witnessing at least one, if not several, deaths in custody, Amnesty said.
 
 

Rights group: More than 17,000 killed in Syrian state jails

 
‎Thursday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎2:43:20 AMGo to full article
FILE - In this Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, file photo, Syrian prisoners sit in a courtroom before their release in Damascus, Syria. The Amnesty report highlights new statistics from the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, or HRDAG, an organization that uses scientific approaches to analyze human rights violations, which indicate that 17,723 people died in custody across Syria between March 2011 and the end of 2015. (AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi, File)BEIRUT (AP) — The young Syrian activist was beaten, prevented from going to the toilet and saw her cellmates taken for rounds of whipping when she was held for more than a month in several government detention facilities.
 
 

Iran acknowledges Russia using its air base to strike Syria

 
‎Thursday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎2:04:45 AMGo to full article
In this photo taken on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016, A Russian Tu-22M3 bomber stands on the tarmac at an air base near Hamedan, Iran. Russian warplanes took off on Tuesday Aug. 16, from Iran to target Islamic State fighters and other militants in Syria, widening Moscow's bombing campaign in Syria.(WarfareWW Photo via AP)BEIRUT (AP) — In a move that could reverberate across the Middle East, Iran confirmed Wednesday that Russia is using its territory to launch airstrikes in Syria even as a second wave of Moscow's bombers flew out of the Islamic Republic to hit targets in the war-ravaged country.
 
 

French president visits pope after Islamic attacks

 
‎Wednesday, ‎August ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎7:31:11 PMGo to full article
Pope Francis and French President Francois Hollande, left, exchange gifts on the occasion of their private audience at the Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. Hollande is visiting Pope Francis for a special audience after a spate of Islamic extremist attacks over recent months left more than 200 dead, including an elderly French priest. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)VATICAN CITY (AP) — French President Francois Hollande visited Pope Francis on Wednesday to thank him for his words of comfort after a spate of Islamic extremist attacks in recent months left more than 200 dead, including an elderly French priest.
 
 

Hollande meets pope, visits Rome church to honor terror victims

 
‎Wednesday, ‎August ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎6:53:37 PMGo to full article
Pope Francis exchanges gifts with French President Hollande at the VaticanFrench President Francois Hollande met Pope Francis on Wednesday to thank him for his solidarity with the French people after attacks by Islamist militants, including the killing of an elderly priest in July. A professed atheist, Hollande started his brief, private trip to Rome and the Vatican with a stop in San Luigi dei Francesi, the 16th century church of the French community in the Italian capital. To the left of the altar, near bowls where visitors leave notes to honor victims of terrorism, was a photograph of Father Jacques Hamel, the French priest killed on July 25 in the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.
 
 

Saudi facing 'long' Yemen war after talks fail

 
‎Wednesday, ‎August ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎5:13:53 PMGo to full article
Yemeni security forces take part in a raid in Ja'awla a northern neighbourhood of the southern city of AdenSix months after Saudi Arabia said its war in Yemen was winding down, air strikes are again pounding rebels and rockets flying across the border, with no end to the conflict in sight. Facing criticism of its bombing campaign and a budget crunch from low oil prices, Riyadh is keen to bring an end to the intervention it launched last year against Shiite Huthi rebels and their allies, analysts say. "Both sides now are trying to prove they are better in war than peace," said Farea al-Muslimi, a Yemeni specialist and visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Centre.
 
 

Duterte slams UN for 'interfering' in Philippine drug war

 
‎Wednesday, ‎August ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎3:21:10 PMGo to full article
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he talks during the 115th Police Service Anniversary at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Manila Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. The brash-talking Philippine president criticized the United Nations Wednesday for condemning the spate of killings of suspected drug criminals in the country, but allegedly remaining silent on bombings in the Middle East that have killed entire villages and communities. (Noel Celis/Pool Photo via AP)MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The brash-talking Philippine president criticized the United Nations on Wednesday for condemning the spate of killings of suspected drug criminals in his country while allegedly keeping silent on deadlier violence in the Middle East.
 
 

France's Hollande to meet pope over priest killing

 
‎Wednesday, ‎August ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎8:48:01 AMGo to full article
French President Francois Hollande has not yet stated whether he will run for a second term in the 2017 electionsFrench President Francois Hollande will meet Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday, three weeks after the jihadist murder of a priest in France sent shockwaves through the Catholic Church. The two will discuss the killing of 85-year-old priest Jacques Hamel by two teenagers claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group, as well as the situation facing Christians in the Middle East, French officials said. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve will accompany Hollande on the trip.
 
 

Australia returns 6 rejected asylum seekers to Sri Lanka

 
‎Wednesday, ‎August ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎3:00:44 AMGo to full article
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Six asylum seekers who attempted to reach Australia by boat have been sent back to Sri Lanka in a demonstration that tough border enforcement measures had not softened since recent Australian elections, a Cabinet minister said Wednesday.
 

In a first, Russia uses Iran base to bomb targets in Syria

 
‎Wednesday, ‎August ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎2:01:58 AMGo to full article
In this frame grab provided by Russian Defence Ministry press service, Russian long range bomber Tu-22M3 flies during an air strike over Aleppo region of Syria on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. Russia's Defense Ministry said on Tuesday Russian warplanes have taken off from a base in Iran to target Islamic State fighters in Syria. (Russian Defence Ministry Press Service photo via AP)BEIRUT (AP) — Iran allowed Russian warplanes to take off from its territory to bomb targets in Syria on Tuesday, an unprecedented move that underscores the deepening cooperation between two powerhouses heavily invested in the Syrian civil war.
 
 

Russia uses Iran as base to bomb Syrian militants for first time

 
‎Wednesday, ‎August ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎12:25:47 AMGo to full article
Still image shows shows airstrikes carried out by Russian air force in SyriaBy Andrew Osborn MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia used Iran on Tuesday for the first time as a base from which to launch air strikes against Syrian militants, widening its air campaign in Syria and deepening its involvement in the Middle East. In a move underscoring Moscow's increasingly close ties with Tehran, long-range Russian Tupolev-22M3 bombers and Sukhoi-34 fighter bombers used Iran's Hamadan air base to strike a range of targets in Syria. It was the first time Russia has used the territory of another nation, apart from Syria itself, to launch such strikes since the Kremlin launched a bombing campaign to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in September last year.

 

 

 Iran News - Yahoo!News     Feed image

 

 
 
 
 

Syria's Kurds: An embattled US ally in a complex civil war

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎1 hour agoGo to full article
FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2015 file photo, Syrian Kurdish militia members of the YPG make a V-sign next to a drawing of Abdullah Ocalan, jailed Kurdish rebel leader, in Esme village in Aleppo province, Syria. A Turkish military expedition into Syria has threatened a Kurdish political project just as Kurdish forces seemed on the verge of connecting their northern Syrian zones. It is the first Turkish ground intervention in the course of the Syria war, now in its sixth year, and it underscores how seriously Turkey is taking Kurdish autonomy next door. (Mursel Coban/Depo Photos via AP, File)BEIRUT (AP) — Syria's battle-hardened Kurds have proven their mettle against the Islamic State group, and in the process, carved out an autonomous zone across the country's north. But their advance has alarmed Turkey, and Ankara on Wednesday sent tanks across the border against IS, and demanded that the Kurds withdraw from recently seized territory.
 
 

Report: Iran detains Greek national for smuggled oil tankers

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎1 hour agoGo to full article
An Iranian state-run daily is reporting that authorities in Tehran have detained a Greek national they accuse of embezzling money from smuggled oil and selling three oil tankers for $100 million. The report ...
 

In Iran, unique system allows payments for kidney donors

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
In Iran, unique system allows payments for kidney donorsThe whirling hum of a dialysis machine could have been the soundtrack to the rest of Zahra Hajikarimi's life but for an unusual program in Iran that allows people to buy a kidney from a living donor. Iran's ...
 
 

Iran vessels make 'high speed intercept' of U.S. ship: U.S. official

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎8 hours agoGo to full article
USS Nitze is greeted by spray of fireboat to kick off Fleet Week in New York HarborBy Idrees Ali WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Four of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) vessels "harassed" a U.S. warship on Tuesday near the Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. defense official said, amid Washington's concerns about Iran's posture in the Gulf and in the Syrian civil war. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday that two of the Iranian vessels came within 300 yards of the USS Nitze in an incident that was "unsafe and unprofessional." The vessels harassed the destroyer by "conducting a high speed intercept and closing within a short distance of Nitze, despite repeated warnings," the official said.
 
 

Kerry tackles Yemen, Syrian conflicts in Saudi Arabia talks

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎10 hours agoGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during an event to promote the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) educational program for girls in AbujaBy Lesley Wroughton JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held talks with Saudi Arabia's powerful deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, into the early hours of Thursday morning on ways to end Yemen's conflict and resume peace talks between the warring sides. Kerry arrived in Jeddah from Nigeria for discussions with Saudi leaders and other Gulf Arab states and will also update them on U.S. meetings with Russia addressing military cooperation in Syria, a senior U.S. official said ahead of the talks. Backing by Gulf nations for the Syria plan is vital because they wield influence over Syrian opposition groups involved in Syria's civil war.
 
 

White House condemns Syrian use of chemical weapons

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎11 hours agoGo to full article
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday condemned the use of chemical weapons by Syria, after a probe by the United Nations found that Syrian government troops were responsible for two toxic gas attacks. "It is now impossible to deny that the Syrian regime has repeatedly used industrial chlorine as a weapon against its own people," U.S. National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. "The United States will work with our international partners to seek accountability through appropriate diplomatic mechanisms," Price said. ...
 

Kerry in Saudi Arabia for meetings on Yemen war impasse

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎9:42:35 PMGo to full article
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for meetings with the kingdom's senior royals and other Gulf officials for talks focusing on Yemen's stalled peace process.
 

Turkey makes first major foray into Syria with assault on IS

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎9:17:54 PMGo to full article
Turkish artillery stationed near the Syrian border in Karkamis, Turkey, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. Turkey's military launched an operation before dawn Wednesday to clear a Syrian border town from Islamic State militants, and a private Turkish TV station reported that a small number of Turkish special forces had crossed into Syria as part of the operation.The operation was launched hours before Vice President Joe Biden was due in Ankara for talks that include developments in Syria.(AP Photo)ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey on Wednesday launched its first major ground assault into Syria since the country's civil war began, sending in tanks and special forces backed by U.S. airstrikes to help Syrian rebels retake a border town from Islamic State militants.
 
 

Exiled Yemen government risks humanitarian catastrophe to cut off central bank

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎8:58:51 PMGo to full article
Workers count Yemeni currency at the Central Bank of Yemen in SanaaBy Sami Aboudi and Noah Browning DUBAI (Reuters) - In Yemen's war of attrition, the Saudi-backed exiled government has now decided that the central bank is an easier target than the capital, shielded from its troops by 60 kilometers (40 miles) of daunting mountains teeming with fighters. A decree this month to cut the bank off from the outside world is aimed at using economic pressure to vanquish the Houthi fighters of the Zaydi branch of Shi'ite Islam, who have ruled the capital and most of northern Yemen for nearly two years. Diplomats, economic experts and employees of the central bank itself say the move risks destroying the lifeline for millions of impoverished Yemenis and pushing the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country to the edge of starvation.
 
 

Syria rebels backed by Turkey tanks 'seize' IS-held town

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎8:42:57 PMGo to full article
A Turkish army tank drives towards Syria in the Turkish border city of Karkamis, in the southern region of Gaziantep on August 24, 2016Turkish tanks and hundreds of opposition fighters thrust deep inside Syrian territory Wednesday in a lightning operation that within hours ousted Islamic State jihadists from a key Syrian border town. The air and ground offensive -- the most ambitious launched by Ankara in the Syria conflict -- made rapid progress towards Jarabulus with rebel fighters already proclaiming victory by the late afternoon just 14 hours after it started. "Jarabulus is completely liberated," Ahmad Othman, a commander of the Sultan Mourad rebel group, told AFP from the scene, while another rebel spokesman said IS fighters had fled towards Al-Bab to the southwest.
 
 

Kerry in Saudi on Yemen peace push

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎7:58:39 PMGo to full article
US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Saudi Arabia to meet Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and other Gulf ministers over YemenUS Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to push for peace in Yemen after UN-brokered talks collapsed despite global concern over mounting civilian casualties. Kerry was to discuss a range of issues including Yemen Wednesday night with Saudi Arabia's powerful Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman, ahead of talks Thursday with King Salman.
 
 

Kerry to discuss Yemen, Syria with Gulf Arab states

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎6:37:13 PMGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during an event to promote the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math educational programe for girls in AbujaU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will present proposals on ending Yemen's conflict and resuming peace talks in meetings with Saudi leaders over the next two days, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday. As Kerry landed in Jeddah for the talks with Saudi leaders and other Gulf Arab states, the U.S. official said he would update them on U.S. meetings with Russia addressing military cooperation in Syria. Backing by the Saudis and other Gulf countries for the plan, which would see Washington share some intelligence with Moscow, is vital because of their support for opposition groups involved in Syria's civil war.
 
 

Why has Turkey launched an operation against IS in Syria?

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎5:14:53 PMGo to full article
An air strike by a Turkish jet fighter hits the Syrian village of Jarabulus on the Syrian-Turkish border during fighting against the IS group on August 24, 2016Turkey launched its most ambitious operation of the Syrian conflict on Wednesday with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying it targeted the double threat from Islamic State extremists and Syrian Kurdish militias. Turkey says the air and ground operation dubbed "Euphrates Shield" will clear jihadists from the Syrian town of Jarabulus, which lies directly opposite the Turkish town of Karkamis. The operation was launched just days after Ankara appeared to soften its often-confrontational line on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Turkey wants to see removed.
 
 

Advocacy groups write Oman's sultan over journalists' trial

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎4:09:55 PMGo to full article
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Two journalism advocacy groups have jointly written to Oman's sultan over the trial of three reporters and the shuttering of their newspaper.
 

Gas explosion in residential building in Iran kills 6

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎3:11:47 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's official IRNA news agency says a gas explosion in a residential building has killed six people and wounded 11.
 

The world's deadliest earthquakes since 2000

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎2:26:05 PMGo to full article
This aerial photo shows the damaged buildings in the town of Amatrice, central Italy, after an earthquake, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. The magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 a.m. (0136 GMT) and was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, including Rome where residents of the capital felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)A magnitude 6 earthquake shook central Italy early on Wednesday, followed hours later by a magnitude 6.8 temblor in Myanmar. Here is a list of some of the world's deadliest earthquakes since 2000:
 
 

Syrian Kurds accuse Turkey of aggression in Syria

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎1:16:23 PMGo to full article
ISTANBUL/BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian Kurdish officials attacked Turkey's military intervention in Syria as "a blatant aggression" and warned that Ankara was entering a "quagmire" after it deployed tanks and troops against an Islamic State-held border town on Wednesday. Turkish forces and Turkey-backed Syrian rebels have crossed the border to take the town of Jarablus from Islamic State in an operation described by Ankara as aimed at securing its frontier against both the jihadist group and Kurdish fighters. Saleh Muslim, head of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), wrote in a tweet that "Turkey is in Syrian quagmire", adding that it "will be defeated as Daesh", using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.
 

Stocks lackluster, oil drops ahead of Fed chair's speech

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎12:37:50 PMGo to full article
Stocks lackluster, oil drops ahead of Fed chair's speechGlobal stock markets were subdued and the price of oil fell Wednesday as investors awaited fresh cues from the U.S. Federal Reserve on the outlook for interest rates in the world's largest economy. KEEPING ...
 
 

Syrian Kurdish YPG calls Turkish operation 'blatant aggression'

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎12:17:38 PMGo to full article
Turkey's military intervention in Syria is a "blatant aggression in Syrian internal affairs", and results from an agreement between it, Iran and Syria's government, Redur Xelil, the spokesman for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia said on Wednesday. Xelil added that Turkish demands for the YPG to pull back east of the Euphrates could only be answered by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a U.S.-backed coalition against Islamic State of which the Kurdish group is a major part.
 

Asian stocks meander, dollar up on North Korea's missile

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎6:24:11 AMGo to full article
FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2014, file photo, a Wall Street address is carved in the side of a building in New York. European stock markets rose on solid economic data Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016, while investors in Asia largely stayed on the sidelines ahead of a widely anticipated speech by the Fed chief. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stocks meandered Wednesday as investors awaited fresh cues from Federal Reserve on the outlook for interest rates. Markets were steady following the submarine launch of a ballistic missile by North Korea.
 
 

Turkey strikes IS as Syria border tensions flare

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎4:04:12 AMGo to full article
Turkey has shelled Islamic State positions in Syria for a second day, in response to mortar fire from across the border, reports sayTurkey vowed to give full support to efforts to free a key Syrian border town from the control of Islamic State (IS) jihadists as anticipation grew of a major Ankara-backed offensive against the group. Activists have said hundreds of Ankara-backed rebels were preparing an offensive against the IS group to seize control of the Syrian town of Jarabulus, which lies opposite the town of Karkamis in Turkey. Without confirming the operation, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu pledged to give "all kinds of support" to push the jihadists out of Jarabulus.
 
 

Iran interested in proposed Chinese-built canal in Nicaragua

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎1:45:57 AMGo to full article
Iran's chancellor Mohammad Javad Zarif (C) is welcomed by the Nicaraguan Foreign Affairs Minister Samuel Santos (L) in Managua, Nicaragua on August 23, 2016Iranian firms want to participate in the construction of a massive canal across Nicaragua that a Chinese company has vowed to build, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said Wednesday. Representatives of private Iranian construction companies accompanying Zarif on a visit to Nicaragua's capital discussed the possibility of getting a slice of the $50 billion project, the minister told a news conference. Iran has enjoyed good relations with Nicaragua, one of the poorest states in the Americas, and particularly its leftwing president, former rebel Daniel Ortega, who returned to power in 2007.
 
 

Why Turkey's shelling of ISIS and Kurds in Syria is a big deal

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎12:21:17 AMGo to full article
On Tuesday, Turkey entered its second consecutive day of shelling Islamic State and Kurdish YPG forces in Syria, amid reports that more than 1,500 Turkish-backed Syrian rebels have gathered in Turkey to launch an offensive against Jarablus, the last town controlled by ISIS on the Turkish border. The Turkish offensive strategy may exacerbate political tensions in the region, even if ISIS forces are successfully driven out of Jarablus. Turkey is an important player in the Syrian conflict.
 

Moscow calls on US to do more to counter Syria's al-Nusra

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎11:19:14 PMGo to full article
Fighters from the former Al-Nusra Front -- renamed Fateh al-Sham Front after breaking from Al-Qaeda -- drive a tank as they seized key positions south of Aleppo on August 6, 2016Russia called on the US to do more to combat the al-Nusra Front in Syria, considered a terrorist group by both Moscow and Washington even after it split from Al-Qaeda. "Washington agrees that al-Nusra, which will henceforth be called the Fateh al-Sham Front, is a terrorist organisation, but it has not been the target of strikes" carried out in Syria by the US-led international coalition, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement. "It has been nearly a year in which the Americans have refused to share with us their data on the location of al-Nusra militants," the statement said.
 
 

Anti-Americanism surges in Turkey, fueled by politicians and a fervent press

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎8:35:05 PMGo to full article
Just days after Turkey’s failed coup attempt on July 15, pro-government newspapers splashed front page “news” that CIA agents had orchestrated the bid to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from a resort island near Istanbul. The luxury Splendid Palace Hotel, an Ottoman-era landmark with two silvery rooftop domes, may seem like an unlikely and high profile staging post for regime change – and in fact it is. Recommended: Think you know Turkey?
 

Analysis: Turkey's potentially momentous shift on Assad

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎7:30:07 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Oct. 20, 2015 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, shakes hand with Syrian President Bashar Assad as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, looks on, at the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia. For five years fighting has raged in Syria -- a globally resonant nightmare kept going in part by the insistence of Bashar Assad’s opponents that he must go even though they were failing to dislodge him from power. Now an inflection point may finally be at hand, with increasingly important Turkey suggesting Assad could play a role in an unspecified transition period. (Alexei Druzhinin, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)CAIRO (AP) — For five years fighting has raged in Syria — a humanitarian disaster destabilizing the region and the world. The aim of Bashar Assad's opponents always was to drive the Syrian leader from power, but they have lacked the means to dislodge him. Now an inflection point may be at hand, with powerful opposition backer Turkey suggesting Assad, despite his brutality in the war, could play a role in an unspecified transition period.
 
 

Special Report: Massacre reports show U.S. inability to curb Iraq militias

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎7:22:54 PMGo to full article
An Iraqi Shi'ite fighter fires artillery during clashes with Islamic State militants near FallujaBy Ned Parker and Jonathan Landay WASHINGTON(Reuters) - Shi’ite militias in Iraq detained, tortured and abused far more Sunni civilians during the American-backed capture of the town of Falluja in June than U.S. officials have publicly acknowledged, Reuters has found. More than 700 Sunni men and boys are still missing more than two months after the Islamic State stronghold fell. The abuses occurred despite U.S. efforts to restrict the militias' role in the operation, including threatening to withdraw American air support, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials.
 
 

Iran rounds up 450 social network users

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎5:55:12 PMGo to full article
Facebook and Twitter are officially banned in Iran but applications such as Instagram, Telegram and WhatsApp are available and very popularIran has "arrested or summoned" around 450 social media users over their online activities, a website linked to the powerful Revolutionary Guards said on Tuesday. Gherdab, the cyber arm of the Guards, said the people targeted administered pages on social networks including smartphone applications such as Instagram, Telegram and WhatsApp. Iranian authorities have for years tried to impose curbs on its citizens using social media.
 
 

Iran parliament pushes back on military for Russian base use

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎5:30:57 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's parliament on Tuesday pushed back against the military after it appeared to dismiss civilian oversight following Russia's use of an Iranian air base to launch airstrikes on Syria.
 

Iran's Revolutionary Guard targets 450 social media users

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎3:24:45 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The cyber-arm of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard says it has summoned, detained and warned some 450 administrators of social media groups in recent weeks.
 

Saudi court sends Egyptian to jail for espionage, sorcery

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎2:45:09 PMGo to full article
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — A Saudi newspaper is reporting that an Egyptian man has been sentenced to six years in prison on charges of attempting to disturb public order, violating the kingdom's labor laws and communicating with a sorcerer to bewitch his employer.
 

US, Biden face tough task to mend relations with Turkey

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎2:22:33 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2016 file photo, Vice President Joe Biden gestures during a news conference in Belgrade, Serbia. Biden faces a difficult mission when he travels to Ankara on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, to try to smooth over recent strains: He comes bearing no assurances that the U.S. will agree to Turkey’s demand that it extradite Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — With suspicions on both sides mounting, the United States is struggling to preserve its wobbly partnership with Turkey as the Turks entertain closer relations with Russia and fume over a U.S.-based cleric blamed for orchestrating last month's failed coup.
 
 

Tehran renames street near Saudi Embassy for executed cleric

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎12:39:09 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A semi-official news agency in Iran is reporting that Tehran's City Council has voted to rename a street near the Saudi Embassy for a Shiite cleric executed by the Sunni-ruled kingdom in January.
 

Iran says it requested Russian strikes on Syria's Aleppo

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎2:34:27 AMGo to full article
This image taken from footage released by the Russian Defence Ministry's official website reportedly shows a Russian bomber Tupolev Tu-22M3 conducting airstrikesRussian warplanes bombed Aleppo at Iran's request to assist its military advisors on the ground in the flashpoint Syrian city, a senior Iranian official said on Tuesday. Ali Shamkhani, the top official coordinating security and political affairs between Tehran and its allies, Moscow and Damascus, was quoted by state television saying Iran called in Russian strikes "next to the land operation" in Aleppo. "Iran has brought the powerful Russia along... due to its need to cooperate with Syria" in the fight against jihadists, added Shamkhani.
 
 

US works to keep Turkey in its fold as NATO ally looks east

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎1:21:21 AMGo to full article
US works to keep Turkey in its fold as NATO ally looks eastWith suspicions on both sides mounting, the United States is struggling to preserve its wobbly partnership with Turkey as it entertains a closer relationship with Russia and fumes over a U.S.-based cleric ...
 
 

Russia says future use of Iran air base depends on Syria circumstances

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎12:07:56 AMGo to full article
Still image shows shows airstrikes carried out by Russian air force in SyriaBy Bozorgmehr Sharafedin DUBAI (Reuters) - The Russian military said on Monday its aircraft operating from an Iranian air base to conduct strikes in Syria had completed their tasks, but left open the possibility of using the Hamadan base again if circumstances warranted. Iran's Foreign Ministry said Russia had stopped using the base for strikes in Syria, bringing an abrupt halt to an unprecedented deployment that was criticized both by the White House and by some Iranian lawmakers. "Russian military aircraft that took part in the operation of conducting air strikes from Iran's Hamadan air base on terrorist targets in Syria have successfully completed all tasks," a Russian Defence Ministry spokesman, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, said in a statement.
 
 

Iran: Russia has stopped using Iran base for Syria strikes

 
‎Monday, ‎August ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎10:40:24 PMGo to full article
Iran: Russia has stopped using Iran base for Syria strikesTEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Russia has stopped using an Iranian air base for launching airstrikes on Syria for the time being, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday, just hours after the Iranian defense minister criticized Moscow for having "kind of show-off and ungentlemanly" attitude by publicizing their actions.
 
 

Iran seeks closer ties with Cuba

 
‎Monday, ‎August ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎10:01:05 PMGo to full article
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) shakes hands with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez upon his arrival at the Foreign Ministry in Havana, on August 22, 2016Iran wants to forge a "new path" in its relations with Cuba by tightening ties, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday at the start of a Latin American tour. "It's a very opportune moment to extend our relations," he told journalists at the start of a meeting with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. "We have always been on the side of the great Cuban people in the face of the atrocities and unjust sanctions they have faced, and vice versa," he said, in an apparent reference to Cuba's long history of enmity with the United States.
 
 

U.S. says not clear whether Russia has ended use of Iranian air base

 
‎Monday, ‎August ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎9:02:43 PMGo to full article
The U.S. State Department said on Monday it had seen reports that Russia had ended its use of an Iranian air base to carry out strikes against Syrian militants, but it was not clear whether Russian use of the base actually had stopped. Iran said earlier on Monday that Russia had stopped using the air base "for now." Russia said further use of the base would depend on the situation in Syria.
 

The Latest: Reports: Turkey strikes Kurds, IS in Syria

 
‎Monday, ‎August ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎7:44:57 PMGo to full article
FILE -- In this Feb. 16, 2016 file photo, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, right, and Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Hossein Dehghan shake hands during their meeting in Moscow, Russia. Dehghan was quoted by Iranian State TV website Monday, Aug. 22, 2016, as saying an announcement by Russia on using an Iranian airbase to attack Syrian militants was “a kind of show off and ungentlemanly.” The remarks suggest that the operation was not supposed to get public by either side. (Vadim Savitsky/ Russian Defense Ministry Press Service pool photo via AP, File)BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments in the Syrian war (all times local):
 
 

Turkey PM urges world powers to turn 'new page' on Syria

 
‎Monday, ‎August ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎7:16:15 PMGo to full article
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (L) welcoming Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahceli (R) for a meeting at Cankaya Palace in Ankara on August 22, 2016Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Monday urged world powers including Iran, Russia and the United States to join together to rapidly open a "new page" in the Syria crisis. "It is vital that without losing more time a new page is opened in Syria, based on a model involving particularly Turkey, Iran... Russia, the United States and even some Gulf states and Saudi Arabia," he told reporters after a cabinet meeting. "Syria's territorial integrity must be protected and an inclusive government ... where all groups are represented must be formed, so that all the animosity is removed," he added.
 
 

Iran says will open new chapter in relations with Cuba

 
‎Monday, ‎August ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎6:53:56 PMGo to full article
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif waves after a meeting at the Elysee Palace in ParisKicking off a six-day tour of Latin America, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Monday in Havana his visit would open a new chapter in the Islamic Republic's relations with Communist-ruled Cuba. Iran, which has long been friendly with Cuba, is on a drive to improve foreign commerce after the removal in January of international sanctions against the Islamic Republic. "We will start a new chapter in the bilateral relations with Cuba on the basis of a big (business) delegation accompanying me on this visit," Zarif said at a meeting with his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez.
 
 

Iranian foreign minister starts Latin American tour in Cuba

 
‎Monday, ‎August ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎6:48:15 PMGo to full article
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, is welcomed by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, in Havana, Cuba, Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. Iran’s foreign minister begun a Latin American tour in Cuba, declaring Iran and Cuba united by their histories of resisting what he called U.S. atrocities. Zarif also plans to visit Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and Venezuela. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)HAVANA (AP) — Iran's foreign minister has begun a Latin American tour in Cuba, saying the two countries are united by histories of resisting what he called U.S. atrocities.
 
 

Deadly battles as Yemen army seeks to break Taez siege

 
‎Monday, ‎August ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎6:21:54 PMGo to full article
A tribesman from the Popular Resistance Committees, supporting forces loyal to Yemen's President, holds a position in the city of Taez, on August 9, 2016Deadly clashes raged on Monday between pro-Iran rebels and Yemeni government forces battling to secure an entrance to the besieged city of Taez, military sources said. Backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition, Yemeni troops launched an offensive last week to break the rebel siege on Yemen's flashpoint third city, in the country's southwest. The heaviest fighting Monday was near its western entrance where air strikes by the Arab coalition and ground battles left 11 dead among Huthi rebels and their allies, loyalist military sources said.
 
 

Separated during migrant chaos, family reunites in Sweden

 
‎Monday, ‎August ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎5:23:31 PMGo to full article
In this Aug. 14, 2016 photo, Mahdi Azizi hugs his mother goodbye before boarding a bus to return to a centre for unaccompanied minors, in Vasteras, Sweden. Love, not war, made the Azizi family flee Iran during last summer’s chaotic mass migration to Europe. Luck reunited them a year after a dark night in a Turkish forest separated 14-year-old Mahdi Azizi from his parents and sisters. (AP Photo/David Keyton)VASTERFARNEBO, Sweden (AP) — Love, not war, sent an Afghan family fleeing from Iran during last summer's chaotic mass migration to Europe. Luck reunited them a year later, after a dark night in a Turkish forest separated 14-year-old Mahdi Azizi from his parents and sisters.
 
 

Kerry says hopes talks with Russia on Syria 'nearing the end'

 
‎Monday, ‎August ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎5:07:06 PMGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday talks between the United States and Russia on military cooperation in the fight against Islamic State in Syria were nearing an end, with technical teams meeting this week to discuss details. "We are in indeed engaged currently in ongoing conversations, and it is my hope that we are reaching the end of those discussions one way or another," Kerry told a news conference during a visit to Kenya. "But that decision has to be made on the basis of where we are in the next couple of days." Kerry said the "Syrian travesty" had gone on for too long and it was imperative that powers supporting the Syrian regime, - Russia and Iran - and those backing the opposition - the United States and its Middle East partners - came together to end the fighting.
 

Russia to stop using airbase in Iran for Syria strikes 'for now'

 
‎Monday, ‎August ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎4:45:04 PMGo to full article
Russia is no longer using Iran's Nojeh airbase for strikes in Syria, announced Iran's foreign ministry on Monday. 
 

Russian raids from Iran airbase 'over for now'

 
‎Monday, ‎August ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎4:38:56 PMGo to full article
This image taken from footage released by the Russian Defence Ministry's official website reportedly shows a Russian bomber Tupolev Tu-22M3 conducting airstrikesIran said Monday that Russian raids on jihadists in Syria from one of its airbases had ended for now, after accusing Moscow of "showing off" when it revealed the bombing runs. Any further use of Hamedan base by Russian aircraft would take place "in line with mutual accords on the fight against terrorism and taking into account the situation in Syria", he said in a statement. The Russian ambassador to Tehran, Levan Dzhagaryan, said nothing prevented a renewed use of Hamedan.
 
 

Russia's use of Iranian air base will depend on situation in Syria

 
‎Monday, ‎August ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎3:34:45 PMGo to full article
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Further use of the Iranian air base near the city of Hamadan by Russian air forces for strikes in Syria will depend on the situation in Syria, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement on Monday. Russia stopped using the base for strikes in Syria, Iran's foreign ministry announced earlier on Monday, bringing an abrupt halt to an unprecedented deployment that was criticized both by the White House and some Iranian lawmakers. (Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; editing by Polina Devitt)
 

Jordanian Olympic Marathon runner beaten by stray dog

 
‎Monday, ‎August ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎8:34:21 AMGo to full article
Jordan's Methkal Abu Drais celebrates crosssing the finish line of the Men's Marathon at the Rio 2016 Olympic GamesAmid celebrations for the end of the Rio Olympics, few spared a thought for Jordan's Methkal Abu Drais who finished the marathon behind a Japanese comedian, a stray dog and an Argentinian running sideways. It sounds like a punchline to a joke, but that's what happened as the 32-year-old army sergeant trotted home last in Sunday's race, finishing 140th more than 37 minutes behind gold medallist Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya. "It wasn't my best day perhaps," Abu Drais told AFP.
 

 

 

Iraq News Headlines - Yahoo! News    Feed image

 

UK MPs say Facebook, Twitter failing on extremist content

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎1 hour agoGo to full article
Britain's official international terrorism threat level is currently set at "severe", meaning an attack is considered highly likelyFacebook, Twitter and Google are not doing enough to prevent their social networks from being used by extremists for a recruitment drive, a panel of British MPs said Thursday. Failure to act would lead to the sites becoming "the 'Wild West' of the internet," the Home Affairs Committee warned. The report was published after the number of counter-terrorism arrests in Britain increased 35 percent between 2010 and 2015, although the country has not seen a mass casualty extremist attack since 2005's London bombings.
 
 

Syria's Kurds: An embattled US ally in a complex civil war

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎1 hour agoGo to full article
FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2015 file photo, Syrian Kurdish militia members of the YPG make a V-sign next to a drawing of Abdullah Ocalan, jailed Kurdish rebel leader, in Esme village in Aleppo province, Syria. A Turkish military expedition into Syria has threatened a Kurdish political project just as Kurdish forces seemed on the verge of connecting their northern Syrian zones. It is the first Turkish ground intervention in the course of the Syria war, now in its sixth year, and it underscores how seriously Turkey is taking Kurdish autonomy next door. (Mursel Coban/Depo Photos via AP, File)BEIRUT (AP) — Syria's battle-hardened Kurds have proven their mettle against the Islamic State group, and in the process, carved out an autonomous zone across the country's north. But their advance has alarmed Turkey, and Ankara on Wednesday sent tanks across the border against IS, and demanded that the Kurds withdraw from recently seized territory.
 
 

U.S. tells Turkey Syrian Kurdish YPG moving back to east of Euphrates: sources

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday that Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters were retreating to the east of the Euphrates river, Turkish Foreign Ministry sources said. In an early morning call, the two emphasized that the fight against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq would continue together, the sources said. Syrian rebels backed by Turkish special forces, tanks and warplanes entered one of Islamic State's last strongholds on the Turkish-Syrian border on Wednesday, in Turkey's first major U.S.-backed incursion into its southern neighbor.
 

More Turkish tanks enter Syria in push against Islamic State, Kurdish militia

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
Turkish army tanks drive towards to the border in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep provinceBy Humeyra Pamuk and Umit Bektas KARKAMIS, Turkey (Reuters) - At least nine more Turkish tanks entered northern Syria on Thursday as part of an operation aimed at driving Islamic State out of the border area around Jarablus and stopping Kurdish militia fighters from seizing territory, Reuters witnesses said. A senior Turkish official said there were now more than 20 Turkish tanks inside Syria and that additional tanks and construction machinery would be sent in as required. "We need construction machinery to open up roads ... and we may need more in the days ahead.
 
 

Attack on American University in Afghanistan leaves 12 dead

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
Afghan security forces stand guard after an attack on the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The attack has ended, a senior police officer said Thursday, after several people were killed. Kabul police Chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said the dead included one guard, and that about 700 students had been rescued. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A brazen, hours-long militant attack on the American University of Afghanistan ended early Thursday after at least 12 people were killed and dozens were wounded in the assault on the sprawling campus on Kabul's outskirts, a government spokesman said.
 
 

In Iran, unique system allows payments for kidney donors

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
In Iran, unique system allows payments for kidney donorsThe whirling hum of a dialysis machine could have been the soundtrack to the rest of Zahra Hajikarimi's life but for an unusual program in Iran that allows people to buy a kidney from a living donor. Iran's ...
 
 

Soldier who killed 5 Dallas officers showed PTSD symptoms

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎4 hours agoGo to full article
FILE - In this Tuesday, July 19, 2016, file photo, damage from a blast is shown in a hallway at El Centro College downtown campus in Dallas. According to officials, this site is where gunman Micah Johnson was killed by the blast after he killed five police officers wounding several in July during a protest. Johnson, an Army reservist, showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after returning home from Afghanistan in 2014 and sought treatment for anxiety, depression and hallucinations, according to newly released documents from the Veterans Health Administration. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)The Army reservist who killed five Dallas police officers last month showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after returning home from Afghanistan in 2014, but doctors concluded that he presented no serious risk to himself or others, according to newly released documents from the Veterans Health Administration.
 
 

Planes hovering above Baltimore right now are recording every move people make

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎6 hours agoGo to full article
“Imagine Google Earth with TiVo capability.” That’s how the impressive, and very high-tech, one company's real-time surveillance system is sold to interested parties. In short, Big Brother is here, and as time goes on it’ll get only better at seeing everything you do. DON’T MISS:  iPhone 7: New leak may have just solved the only mystery left Mounted on a Cessna plane that can hover above a city around the clock, an array of wide-angle cameras produce 192-megapixel images of an area that measures roughly 30 square miles, constantly beaming the images down to hard drives that store them indefinitely. Sitting at their desks, analysts can sift through the available images and move backward and forward thorough time to search for clues that might help law enforcement. The system may not be able to identify a person, which measures about a pixel, and can’t magically read license plates numbers by simply magnifying a blurry image like you see in the movies. Instead, it’s able to track objects and identify patterns. Analysts can tell police what a person did after he or she killed or robbed someone, for example. They can track a getaway car to see where it stopped, and they can go back in time to see how it arrived at the crime scene in the first place. Police can then combine that data with street cameras and footage from other locations that offer local surveillance, giving them a better chance of apprehending suspects. This isn’t the plot of an Enemy of the State sequel. It’s actually happening in the US right now, with a privately funded program underway in Baltimore, Maryland. At $2 million per year, the program is cheaper than police helicopters and it could help out with the city’s aim of lowering crime rates. But in the wrong hands, the technology can be devastating, as it’s essentially invading the privacy of every individual in the city. In Bloomberg Businessweek’s massive expose , you’ll learn exactly how this type of surveillance came to be. It all started in Iraq for Persistent Surveillance Systems’ CEO Ross McNutt, where he provided a similar system that the Army could use to investigate bombings. Upon his return, he founded a private company that deals in professional surveillance. His object is to prevent crimes, and he says the system is designed in such a way that analysts looking at images would not be able to track targets for personal reasons, since everything is logged. However, as successful as the Baltimore project might be, it’s still something local police would not acknowledge. And something regular citizens might not appreciate because of the obvious privacy implications. If this type of spying sounds similar, that’s because law enforcement agencies have used similarly sophisticated surveillance systems mounted on planes in the recent past. Called StingRays, fake cell phone towers that can be installed on small plans can also help agencies spy on a community. And yes, before you ask, it appears that StingRays were also used in Baltimore as part of this new program. McNutt’s firm isn’t the only one selling surveillance to cities, and as camera and computer technologies evolve we’ll only see more advanced systems ready to track everything we do from up above. Bloomberg ’s story, complete with video, is available in full at this link . Definitely check it out.
 

Iran vessels make 'high speed intercept' of U.S. ship: U.S. official

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎8 hours agoGo to full article
USS Nitze is greeted by spray of fireboat to kick off Fleet Week in New York HarborBy Idrees Ali WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Four of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) vessels "harassed" a U.S. warship on Tuesday near the Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. defense official said, amid Washington's concerns about Iran's posture in the Gulf and in the Syrian civil war. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday that two of the Iranian vessels came within 300 yards of the USS Nitze in an incident that was "unsafe and unprofessional." The vessels harassed the destroyer by "conducting a high speed intercept and closing within a short distance of Nitze, despite repeated warnings," the official said.
 
 

Australian veteran Cahill makes low-key debut for Melbourne City FC

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎9 hours agoGo to full article
Australian international Tim Cahill warms up before his debut FFA match for Melbourne City against the Brisbane Strikers, at Perry Park in Brisbane, on August 24, 2016Veteran Tim Cahill made a low-key debut for Melbourne City after hitting the right notes in a team karaoke session. The 36-year-old who made his name at Everton came on as a second-half substitute in a 2-1 cup win against Brisbane Strikers on Wednesday night. It was Cahill's first club game at home in Australia since he joined London club Millwall from Sydney United nearly 20 years ago.
 
 

Post Arab Spring, lifespan drops across region: study

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎10 hours agoGo to full article
In Syria -- ravaged by a civil war that has left more than 290,000 people dead and displaced millions since March 2011 -- average life expectancy has been cut by six yearsThe conflict and civil strife that has erupted across the eastern Mediterranean region since the Arab Spring began in 2010 has shortened lifespans and damaged health, according to a study released Thursday. Yemen, Tunisia and Egypt all lost about three months in life expectancy between 2010 and 2013, with deteriorating conditions threatening health gains made over the previous two decades, researchers said. In Syria -- ravaged by a civil war that has left more than 290,000 people dead and displaced millions since March 2011 -- average life expectancy has been cut by six years, they reported in the journal The Lancet Global Health.
 
 

Violence has taken years off of life expectancy in Syria

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎11 hours agoGo to full article
LONDON (AP) — The ongoing violence in Syria has taken years off of people's life expectancy, according to a new analysis published in the journal Lancet on Wednesday.
 

Pentagon probes possible civilian deaths in Syria strike

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎11:25:05 PMGo to full article
A US-led coalition air strike on an Islamic State weapons factory near the jihadists' Syria stronghold Raqa may have killed civilians, the Pentagon said WednesdayA US-led coalition air strike on an Islamic State weapons factory near the jihadists' Syria stronghold Raqa may have killed civilians, the Pentagon said Wednesday. "Reports indicate that what appeared to be a non-military vehicle drove into the target area after the weapon was released from the aircraft," the US military's Central Command said. CENTCOM said it had referred the August 23 strike for an initial internal investigation.
 
 

US says airstrike in Syria may have killed civilians

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎11:14:26 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military says an airstrike in Syria may have inadvertently killed an unspecified number of civilians.
 

Does the president need a dream team of historians?

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎10:34:27 PMGo to full article
Among the ideas being floated during this year's presidential election is one from academia: creating a historian "dream team" to keep the president straight on dates and facts. Two historians with Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs have asked the winner of November's election to establish a Council of Historical Advisers at the White House. The proposal creates an intriguing talking piece during a presidential campaign year, but it also highlights a deeper concern about Americans' historical knowledge that will resonate long after the November polls conclude.
 

IMF approves $720 mn Jordan loan deal

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎10:28:36 PMGo to full article
Jordan's economy has been rattled from conflicts in neighbouring Syria and IraqThe International Monetary Fund said Wednesday it has approved a $723 million three-year line of credit to Jordan aimed at boosting the kingdom at a time of war in the region. "The executive board of the International Monetary Fund today approved a three-year extended arrangement under the extended fund facility for Jordan," the Fund said in a statement. It said the $723 million loan amounting to 150 percent of Jordan's quota was to support the country's "economic and financial reform program".
 
 

Mississippi Islamic State recruit gets 8 years in prison

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎10:18:30 PMGo to full article
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi man who once tried to join the Islamic State group credited arresting FBI agents with saving his life as he was sentenced to eight years in prison Wednesday, telling a federal judge he didn't then understand what the Islamic State represented.
 

The Latest: Islamic State recruit thanks FBI for his arrest

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎10:12:19 PMGo to full article
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on the sentencing of a Mississippi man who tried to join the Islamic State group (all times local):
 

In Turkey's cross-border operation into Syria, a dual purpose

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎9:57:25 PMGo to full article
Turkish tanks and special forces units crossed into Syria at dawn today to capture one of the last border towns held by the so-called Islamic State, and to prevent further territorial advances by US-backed Kurdish forces. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the trigger for “Operation Euphrates Shield” was a string of recent IS bombings – culminating in a weekend suicide attack on a wedding that left 54 dead in southern Turkey. “We reached the final point where we said, ‘We have to end these attacks,’” said Mr. Erdoğan, as he announced Turkey’s first concerted ground incursion into Syria, which was backed by US air support and led some 1,500 rebels of the Free Syria Army (FSA) to seize the town of Jarablus.
 

Islamic State attacks Western-backed camp on Jordan-Syria border

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎9:45:29 PMGo to full article
Islamic State launched a bomb and gun attack on a Western-backed Syrian rebel camp near the Jordanian border on Wednesday, according to the rebels who said they had killed at least 30 of the attackers and suffered at least three casualties themselves. A suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into the camp belonging to the Forces of Martyrs Ahmad al-Abdo rebel group in a sparsely populated desert area near where the borders of Syria, Jordan and Iraq meet, the rebels' spokesman, Saeed Saif, said. "We repelled the attack by Daesh (Islamic State) on several areas and they failed to make any progress and have retreated," Saif told Reuters.
 

Iraq forces advance in town south of Mosul

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎9:29:24 PMGo to full article
After retaking Fallujah in June, Iraqi security forces are focused on Mosul, the Islamic State group's de facto capital in the countryIraqi forces on Wednesday took key positions in the centre Qayyarah, officials said, on the second day of an operation to recapture the northern town from jihadists. The operation launched on Tuesday is led by Iraq's elite counter-terrorism service (CTS), which broke into the town centre Wednesday and secured several neighbourhoods.
 
 

Turkey makes first major foray into Syria with assault on IS

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎9:17:54 PMGo to full article
Turkish artillery stationed near the Syrian border in Karkamis, Turkey, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. Turkey's military launched an operation before dawn Wednesday to clear a Syrian border town from Islamic State militants, and a private Turkish TV station reported that a small number of Turkish special forces had crossed into Syria as part of the operation.The operation was launched hours before Vice President Joe Biden was due in Ankara for talks that include developments in Syria.(AP Photo)ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey on Wednesday launched its first major ground assault into Syria since the country's civil war began, sending in tanks and special forces backed by U.S. airstrikes to help Syrian rebels retake a border town from Islamic State militants.
 
 

Raped and tortured by IS, Yazidi women recover in Germany

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎7:59:09 PMGo to full article
In this July 28, 2016 picture, 17-year-old Yazidi girl Yasmin shows her hands at her home in Germany. After escaping the clutches of Islamic State, Yasmin, a Yazidi girl, was so traumatized by her captivity that she poured gasoline on herself and set it alight - hoping to render herself no longer desirable to the extremists. Two years later, she’s being treated in Germany not only for her physical wounds, but for the psychological damage that led her to her act of desperation. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)VILLINGEN-SCHWENNINGEN, Germany (AP) — The Yazidi girl had been in the safety of a refugee camp in Iraq for two weeks when she imagined she heard the voices of Islamic State fighters outside her tent.
 
 

Finland arrests Iraqi suspected of killings in 2014 in Iraq

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎6:55:16 PMGo to full article
HELSINKI (AP) — Police in Finland have arrested a 24-year-old Iraqi man on suspicion of murder and war crimes related to the massacre of hundreds of Iraqi soldiers by the Islamic State group in 2014.
 

EU refugee relocation scheme must be bigger, quicker: UNHCR chief

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎6:36:07 PMGo to full article
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi meets with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at the Maximos Mansion in AthensBy Karolina Tagaris ATHENS (Reuters) - A European Union scheme to relocate refugees from frontline countries Greece and Italy to other member states must be bigger and move faster, the U.N. refugee chief said in Athens on Wednesday. The program, devised last year, was intended to relocate 160,000 from Greece and Italy to other European countries over two years but fewer than 4,000 people have moved so far. Some central European member had fought the scheme, with Hungary and Slovakia challenging the decision in EU courts.
 
 

Saudi police foil mosque suicide bombing: ministry

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎5:57:59 PMGo to full article
Saudi police stand guard at the site of a suicide bombing in the early hours of July 4, 2016, near the American consulate in the Red Sea city of JeddahSaudi police shot dead a would-be suicide bomber targeting a mosque in the Shiite-dominated district of Qatif, the interior ministry said on Wednesday. Security officers "managed to foil a terrorist operation targeting worshippers" at Mustafa Mosque in Qatif, the ministry said.
 
 

Qatari state fund buys stake in NY's Empire State Building

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎2:07:28 PMGo to full article
FILE -- This March 9, 2016 file photo, shows the Empire State Building, in New York. Qatar's sovereign wealth fund has made an iconic purchase in America -- a stake in the company owning New York's Empire State Building. The Empire State Realty Trust Inc., which manages the building, announced late Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016, that the Qatar Investment Authority purchased a 9.9-percent stake in the company for $622 million. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Qatar's sovereign wealth fund has made an iconic purchase in America — a stake in the company that owns New York's Empire State Building.
 
 

Hasakeh: A strategic prize for Syria's regime and Kurds

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎1:18:09 PMGo to full article
The battle between Kurdish fighters and Syrian government forces was the most intense one since the start of the Syria war, drawing in the Russian military and the US-led coalitionKurdish fighters and Syrian government forces had clashed heavily for a week in the battle for the northeastern city of Hasakeh before agreeing to a ceasefire on Tuesday. The fighting was the most intense between the two sides since the start of the Syria war five years ago, and it drew in both Russian military officials and the US-led coalition. Why is Hasakeh so important and what is likely to happen next?
 
 

Oil falls on surprise build in U.S. crude stocks

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎12:28:15 PMGo to full article
Crude oil storage tanks are seen from above at the Cushing oil hub in CushingOil prices fell on Wednesday on an unexpected increase in U.S. crude stocks that revived worries about the supply glut that has capped prices for the past two years. Global benchmark Brent crude was down 52 cents, or one percent, at $49.44 a barrel at 1010 GMT, after touching an intraday low of $49.07. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 80 cents, or 1.7 percent, at $47.30 a barrel.
 
 

Turkey's Erdogan says U.S. has 'no excuse' to keep coup suspect Gulen

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎11:51:53 AMGo to full article
Turkish President Erdogan makes a speech during a meeting at the Presidential Palace in AnkaraTurkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday said he would tell U.S. Vice President Joe Biden that Washington has "no excuse" for not handing over the Pennsylvania-based cleric blamed for last month's failed coup. Erdogan, who is due to meet with Biden in Ankara later on Wednesday, said Turkey would continue to provide U.S. officials with documents to demand the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999. Gulen, once an Erdogan ally, denies any involvement in the July 15 coup attempt and has condemned it.
 
 

Erdogan says Syria operation aimed at IS jihadists, Kurdish PYD

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎11:22:04 AMGo to full article
A Turkish army tank drives towards Syria in the Turkish border city of Karkamis on August 24, 2016The Turkish operation inside Syrian territory is aimed not just against jihadists but also Kurdish militia and should permanently put an end to problems on the border, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday. "From 4:00 am (0100 GMT) our forces began an operation against the Daesh (IS) and PYD (Kurdish Democratic Union Party) terror groups that threaten our country in northern Syria," Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara. Turkey considers the PYD and its People's Protection Units (YPG) militia to be terror groups bent on carving out an autonomous region in Syria, although they are key allies of the United States in the fight against IS.
 
 

Turkey targets Gulen-inspired projects around the world

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎11:21:50 AMGo to full article
FILE: In this Aug. 2014 file photo, worshippers gather at the Nizamiye Mosque for prayers after celebrating Eid in Midrand, north of Johannesburg, South Africa. Turkey has launched an international campaign to shut schools and foundations linked to Fethullah Gulen, the Muslim preacher that it blames for an attempted coup last month. Some Erdogan supporters also criticized the Nizamiye mosque north of Johannesburg, a soaring structure built with the funds of a Gulen backer. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell, file)JOHANNESBURG (AP) — In past years, big names in South Africa picked up the annual Gulen Peace Award, a local accolade inspired by a Turkish preacher who has been blamed by Turkey for an attempted coup last month.
 
 

Finland arrests suspect in 2014 Islamic State mass killing in Iraq

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎10:44:30 AMGo to full article
Finnish police has arrested Iraqi man on suspicion of taking part in a 2014 mass killing of Iraqi soldiers by Islamic State militants at former U.S. military base Camp Speicher north of Baghdad, the authorities said on Wednesday. As many as 1,700 mainly Shi'ite Muslim soldiers were killed after they fled the base when it was overrun by Islamic State, the ultra-hardline Sunni militant group. Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said the 24-year-old man had entered Finland in August 2015.
 

Raped and tortured by IS, Yazidi women recover in Germany

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎9:20:23 AMGo to full article
In this July 28, 2016 picture, 17-year-old Yazidi girl Yasmin shows her hands at her home in Germany. After escaping the clutches of Islamic State, Yasmin, a Yazidi girl, was so traumatized by her captivity that she poured gasoline on herself and set it alight - hoping to render herself no longer desirable to the extremists. Two years later, she’s being treated in Germany not only for her physical wounds, but for the psychological damage that led her to her act of desperation. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)VILLINGEN-SCHWENNINGEN, Germany (AP) — The Yazidi girl had been in the safety of a refugee camp in Iraq for two weeks when she imagined she heard the voices of Islamic State fighters outside her tent.
 
 

Turkey strikes IS as Syria border tensions flare

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎4:04:12 AMGo to full article
Turkey has shelled Islamic State positions in Syria for a second day, in response to mortar fire from across the border, reports sayTurkey vowed to give full support to efforts to free a key Syrian border town from the control of Islamic State (IS) jihadists as anticipation grew of a major Ankara-backed offensive against the group. Activists have said hundreds of Ankara-backed rebels were preparing an offensive against the IS group to seize control of the Syrian town of Jarabulus, which lies opposite the town of Karkamis in Turkey. Without confirming the operation, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu pledged to give "all kinds of support" to push the jihadists out of Jarabulus.
 
 

Why Turkey's shelling of ISIS and Kurds in Syria is a big deal

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎12:21:17 AMGo to full article
On Tuesday, Turkey entered its second consecutive day of shelling Islamic State and Kurdish YPG forces in Syria, amid reports that more than 1,500 Turkish-backed Syrian rebels have gathered in Turkey to launch an offensive against Jarablus, the last town controlled by ISIS on the Turkish border. The Turkish offensive strategy may exacerbate political tensions in the region, even if ISIS forces are successfully driven out of Jarablus. Turkey is an important player in the Syrian conflict.
 

Oil up on Iran talk; stockpile build cited by API surprises

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎11:32:15 PMGo to full article
Iranian flags are seen at a petrol station in TehranOil prices rose on Tuesday after Reuters reported Iran was sending positive signals that it may support joint OPEC action to prop up the market, before the market pared gains on trade data showing a surprise build in U.S. crude stocks. Iran, the third-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, refused to join a previous attempt this year by the group and non-OPEC members led by Russia to stabilize production. "Iran is reaching its pre-sanctions production level soon and after that it can cooperate with the others," said a source familiar with Iranian thinking after a visit by Venezuelan Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino to Tehran as part of a tour to convince OPEC of a production freeze.
 
 

Private lives are exposed as WikiLeaks spills its secrets

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎11:10:15 PMGo to full article
In this Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016 photo, a selection of private medical files published by transparency website WikiLeaks is shown in Paris. WikiLeaks’ global crusade to expose government secrets is causing collateral damage to the privacy of hundreds of innocent people, including survivors of sexual abuse, sick children and the mentally ill, The Associated Press has found.(AP Photo/Raphael Satter)CAIRO (AP) — WikiLeaks' giant data dumps have rattled the National Security Agency, the U.S. Democratic Party, and the Saudi foreign ministry. But its spectacular mass-disclosures have also included the personal information of hundreds of people — including sick children, rape victims and mental health patients, The Associated Press has found.
 
 

With Biden visit, U.S. seeks balance with truculent Turkey

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎10:22:45 PMGo to full article
U.S. VP Biden meets with Turkey's President Erdogan in IstanbulBy Jeff Mason and Humeyra Pamuk RIGA/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - When U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Turkey in January, he struck a difficult balance between showing support for a NATO ally faced with multiple security threats while criticizing its record on free speech and dissent. Now with relations between Washington and Ankara going through one of their testiest periods in recent memory, he may find it even tougher to get those dual messages across when he visits on Wednesday. Biden will be the most senior U.S. official to visit Turkey since the failed July 15 coup, when a group of rogue soldiers tried to overthrow the government and killed at least 240 people.
 
 

Syria Kurds win battle with government, Turkey mobilizes against them

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎10:15:46 PMGo to full article
A Kurdish fighter stands with his weapons near a fluttering Kurdish flag in the Ghwairan neighborhood of HasakaBy Rodi Said and Tom Perry HASAKA, Syria/BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian Kurdish forces took near complete control of Hasaka city on Tuesday as a ceasefire ended a week of fighting with the government, consolidating the Kurds' grip on Syria's northeast as Turkey increased its efforts to check their influence. The Kurdish YPG militia, a critical part of the U.S.-backed campaign against Islamic State, already controls swathes of northern Syria where Kurdish groups have established de facto autonomy since the start of the Syria war in 2011. Syrian rebels backed by Turkey said they were in the final stages of preparing an assault from Turkish territory on the Islamic State-held Syrian border town of Jarablus, aiming to preempt any YPG attempt to take it.
 
 

In Turkey, Biden aims to mend wobbly ties to key NATO ally

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎9:48:31 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — With suspicions on both sides mounting, the United States is struggling to preserve its wobbly partnership with Turkey as the Turks entertain closer relations with Russia and fume over a U.S.-based cleric blamed for orchestrating last month's failed coup.
 

Fists not football: Brain injuries seen in domestic assaults

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎9:29:14 PMGo to full article
Susan Contreras stands next to her bed in a Phoenix-area shelter for victims of domestic violence on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016. Contreras is part of a unique program at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix that aims to assist abuse survivors who have suffered head trauma. (AP Photo/Beatriz Costa-Lima)CHICAGO (AP) — There are no bomb blasts or collisions with burly linemen in Susan Contreras' past. Her headaches, memory loss and bouts of confused thinking were a mystery until doctors suggested a probable cause: domestic violence.
 
 

Turkey's Erdogan, Iraqi Kurdish leader Barzani discuss fight against militants

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎9:23:04 PMGo to full article
Turkish President Erdogan leaves from a mosque after Friday prayers in IstanbulTurkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday discussed strategy in fighting Islamic State and Kurdish PKK militants with visiting Iraqi Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani, sources at Erdogan's office said. The meeting in the Turkish capital comes as NATO member Turkey faces multiple threats from Islamic State at home and across the border with neighboring Syria as well as from the outlawed PKK militants whose bases are in Qandil mountains in northern Iraq.
 
 

The Latest: UN says 65,000 fled fighting in Syria's Hasakeh

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎9:05:44 PMGo to full article
A Turkish army tank and an armored vehicle are stationed near the border with Syria, in Karkamis, Turkey, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016. Turkish media reports say Turkish artillery on Tuesday launched new strikes at Islamic State targets across the border in Syria, after two mortar rounds, believed to have been fired by the militants, hit the town of Karkamis, in Turkey's Gaziantep province. Hurriyet newspaper and other reports said the mortar rounds were fired from IS-held Jarablus, Syria.(IHA via AP)BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the Syrian civil war (all times local):
 
 

Why peace is prevailing, for now, in south Lebanon

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎8:56:02 PMGo to full article
South Lebanon has long been synonymous with occupation, violence, and conflict – a legacy of its proximity to Israel and the presence of militant groups dating back to the Palestinian armed factions that emerged here in the 1960s. In a Middle East that is beset with turmoil and instability, south Lebanon has become an “oasis of peace,” says Maj.-Gen. Michael Beary, the newly appointed commander of the United Nations peacekeeping force in south Lebanon, which is known by the acronym UNIFIL. Recommended: How well do you understand the conflict in Syria?
 

UN: Over a million could be displaced by Mosul offensive

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎8:39:19 PMGo to full article
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations says more than a million people could soon be displaced as a result of the fighting in Iraq.
 

Anti-Americanism surges in Turkey, fueled by politicians and a fervent press

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎8:35:05 PMGo to full article
Just days after Turkey’s failed coup attempt on July 15, pro-government newspapers splashed front page “news” that CIA agents had orchestrated the bid to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from a resort island near Istanbul. The luxury Splendid Palace Hotel, an Ottoman-era landmark with two silvery rooftop domes, may seem like an unlikely and high profile staging post for regime change – and in fact it is. Recommended: Think you know Turkey?
 

Rights groups condemn executions over Iraq massacre

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎7:47:21 PMGo to full article
The "Speicher" massacre, named after a base near Iraq's Tikrit where up to 1,700 military recruits were kidnapped before being executed by Sunni jihadists and allied militantsRights groups said Wednesday that the executions by the Iraqi state of 36 men over a 2014 massacre claimed by the Islamic State group were failing to deliver justice and security. Iraq on Sunday hanged 36 men found guilty of involvement in the killing of up to 1,700 military recruits who were captured by IS and allied militants from Camp Speicher, near the city of Tikrit. The executions came after trials that rights watchdogs and the United Nations said failed to meet most basic standards.
 
 

Portugal investigates Iraq ambassador's sons over beating

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎7:45:36 PMGo to full article
By Andrei Khalip LISBON (Reuters) - Portuguese police are investigating the beating of a local youth by two teenage sons of the Iraqi ambassador which landed the victim in intensive care and caused an uproar in Portugal. Media reports said the 17-year-old twin sons of Ambassador Saad Mohammed Ridha beat and kicked 15-year-old Ruben Cavaco in an incident on the night of Aug. 17 in a town in central Portugal after an earlier brush with a group of young men at a bar. The incident threatened to turn into a diplomatic row when Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva suggested it was so serious the Iraqi brothers might forfeit their diplomatic immunity from prosecution.
 

Analysis: Turkey's potentially momentous shift on Assad

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎7:30:07 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Oct. 20, 2015 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, shakes hand with Syrian President Bashar Assad as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, looks on, at the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia. For five years fighting has raged in Syria -- a globally resonant nightmare kept going in part by the insistence of Bashar Assad’s opponents that he must go even though they were failing to dislodge him from power. Now an inflection point may finally be at hand, with increasingly important Turkey suggesting Assad could play a role in an unspecified transition period. (Alexei Druzhinin, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)CAIRO (AP) — For five years fighting has raged in Syria — a humanitarian disaster destabilizing the region and the world. The aim of Bashar Assad's opponents always was to drive the Syrian leader from power, but they have lacked the means to dislodge him. Now an inflection point may be at hand, with powerful opposition backer Turkey suggesting Assad, despite his brutality in the war, could play a role in an unspecified transition period.

 

 

US wants Mosul offensive on IS in April-May

 
‎20 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎10:00:50 AMGo to full article
Smoke billows after an US air strike near the Mosul dam, Iraq's largest, on the Tigris river, on August 17, 2014The US wants Iraq to launch its offensive to retake the strategic northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State group in April or May, military officials said. Mosul is believed to be held by 1,000-2,000 IS fighters and 20,000-25,000 Iraqi troops are needed to carry out the offensive, an official with US Central Command said on Thursday. US-led coalition aircraft have recently focused air strikes in the area of Mosul and Kurdish forces have made inroads on the ground nearby. Kurdish peshmerga forces have also launched successful offensives against IS-held roads near Mosul, which is in the north of the country.

 

 


 

Nuclear Weapons, Proliferation and Policy Doctrine

 

 
 

Cold War echoes as inter-Korean diplomacy goes back to basics

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎9 hours agoGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Aug 18, 2016 - One year after North and South Korea vowed to resume a constructive dialogue, they have instead resurrected a spirit of Cold War-era antagonism, complete with cross-border propaganda shouting matches, spy messaging and defection dramas.

Official contact between the two Koreas has never been easy, but the current situation, with all official lines of communication severed and a host of flash-point issues raising tensions, appears to be particularly volatile and fraught with risk.

"The relations between North and South Korea have never been as tense as they are now since the Cold War period of the 1970s", said professor Kim Yong-Hyun, a North Korean expert at Dongguk University.

High-profile defections are suddenly back in vogue, with the North Korean deputy ambassador to Britain, Thae Yong-Ho, handing Seoul a propaganda coup this week by defecting to South Korea with his family.

Although Thae's motives were probably as much personal as ideological -- he has two children, one of school age -- South Korean officials attributed his decision to a straightforward choice between good and evil.

On his reasons for defecting, Thae "cited disgust with (North Korean leader) Kim Jong-Un's regime and admiration for South Korea's free, democratic system," said Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-Hee.

- Communications cut -

This sort of old-school diplomatic baiting has become increasingly common at a time of almost zero cross-border contact.

As tensions rose in the wake of North Korea's fourth nuclear test in January, Pyongyang shut down the two existing hotlines with South Korea -- one used by the military and one for government-to-government communications.

And last month it severed its only direct communications link with the United States when it shut down the so-called "New York channel" which had previously served as a key point of contact between North Korean and US diplomats at the United Nations.

"The total absence of channels for dialogue between the two Koreas as well as between Pyongyang and Washington is a real cause for concern," Kim Yong-Hyun said.

Inter-Korean communication has now gone back to the basics, with both sides effectively reduced to shouting across the heavily militarised border.

Banks of loudspeakers have been dusted off and brought up to the frontlines, blasting music and propaganda messages into each other's territory.

In another nod to Cold War methodology, North Korea appears to have resumed the transmission of coded messages over state radio -- presumably meant for spies operating in the South.

The short-wave transmissions -- the first of their type for around 20 years -- were picked up by the South's intelligence agency in mid-June and comprised a female announcer reading long lists of numbers for several minutes.

- False starts -

It wasn't meant to be this way.

In August last year, a top North Korean negotiator was trumpeting a "dramatic turning point" for inter-Korean relations after the two sides agreed to defuse a crisis that had pushed them to the brink of an armed conflict.

The accord, which the lead South Korean negotiator also hailed as providing a "new momentum" for cross-border cooperation, included a commitment to resuming a regular, high-level dialogue.

But just two weeks later, the two sides were back in familiar territory, trading insults and accusations of insincerity.

They did finally manage to hold vice-ministerial talks in December, but the discussions went nowhere and the prospect of further dialogue was then wiped out for good by the North's nuclear test the following month.

The strong international reaction to the test emboldened the South to take a hard line and match the North's brinkmanship, instead of turning the other cheek as it had often done in the past

The diplomatic fallout was toxic enough to kill off the sole remaining North-South cooperation project -- the Kaesong joint industrial zone, which had managed to ride out pretty much every inter-Korean crisis thrown up since it opened for business in 2004.

"Inter-Korean peace-time relations are really at their worst... with trade, and exchanges of people and dialogue all severed," said Professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies.

- Flashpoints -

The North's state media, meanwhile, has become a vehicle for abusing South Korean President Park Geun-Hye -- often employing coarse and highly sexist language.

Tensions are expected to spike again next week when South Korea and the US kick off a joint military exercise involving tens of thousands of troops.

The two week-long Ulchi Freedom drill is one of a number of annual exercises viewed as provocative rehearsals for invasion by Pyongyang, which often test fires missiles in a mark of protest.

Yang said the North might opt for a low-key response this time around so as to avoid undermining a Cold War-flavoured stand-off that has built up over South Korea's recent decision to deploy a sophisticated US anti-missile system on its territory.

While Seoul and Washington insist the deployment is purely defensive in nature, it has been sharply criticised by Beijing and Moscow.

 

 

N.Korea says it has resumed plutonium production: Kyodo

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎9 hours agoGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 17, 2016 - North Korea says it has resumed plutonium production from spent fuel rods and has no plans to stop nuclear tests as long as the United States still "threatens" Pyongyang, Kyodo News reported Wednesday.

The North's Atomic Energy Institute, which has jurisdiction over the country's main atomic complex Yongbyon, told Kyodo it had been producing highly enriched uranium for nuclear arms and power "as scheduled".

"We have reprocessed spent nuclear fuel rods removed from a graphite-moderated reactor," the agency said in a written interview with Kyodo.

The agency did not disclose how much plutonium or enriched uranium the North has produced, Kyodo said.

The type of plutonium suitable for a nuclear bomb typically needs to be extracted from spent nuclear reactor fuel.

In June, the UN's atomic watchdog warned that North Korea could have reactivated the Yongbyon plant for reprocessing plutonium for use in nuclear weapons, following similar warnings from a US think tank.

The director of US National Intelligence, James Clapper, warned in February that the North could begin recovering plutonium from the reactor's spent fuel "within a matter of weeks to months".

North Korea mothballed the Yongbyon reactor in 2007 under an aid-for-disarmament accord, but began renovating it after its third nuclear test in 2013. It carried test out a fourth on January 6.

The North's Atomic Energy Institute did not rule out the possibility of further nuclear tests, claiming it had had success in "minimising, making lighter and diversifying" nuclear weapons, Kyodo said.

"Under conditions that the United States constantly threatens us with nuclear weapons, we will not discontinue nuclear tests," the institute said, according to Kyodo.

 

 

N. Korea calls South's leader 'psychopath' over missile row

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎9 hours agoGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Aug 17, 2016 - North Korea on Wednesday labelled South Korean President Park Geun-Hye a "psychopath" after she made a speech slamming Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions and defending the deployment of a US anti-missile system.

In her televised address on Monday, Park had stressed that deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system was an act of "self-defence" in response to the North's expanding nuclear weapons programme.

A spokesman for the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country said Park's argument was "preposterous" and unfounded.

"This is just a lame excuse and she should know that no one will be taken in by such sophism of a puppet that can do nothing without an approval of her US master," the spokesman said.

"This is no more than nonsense talked by a psychopath," he added in a statement carried by the North's official KCNA news agency.

North Korea has threatened to take "physical action" against the THAAD deployment, saying any South Korean ports and airfields hosting US military hardware would become a target.

Beijing is also opposed to the move, seeing it as a US bid to flex its military muscle in the region and undermine China's own missile capabilities.

US Army Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley, addressed those concerns during talks on Tuesday with his Chinese counterpart, General Li Zuocheng in Beijing.

THAAD is "not a threat in any way to China," Milley told Li according to a US Army statement.

Deploying the system "is a defensive measure to protect South Koreans and Americans from the North Korean ballistic missile threat," he added.

Milley was due to hold talks with top South Korean military officials in Seoul on Wednesday.

The THAAD issue has also been a target of domestic criticism, particularly from those living in the rural South Korean county of Seongju where the first battery will be installed.

Several hundred protestors turned out in Seongju for a visit Wednesday by Defence Minister Han Min-Koo, who sought to ease concerns that the system's powerful radar will pose health and environmental hazards and make the district a military target.

Han began by apologising for the lack of prior notice regarding the planned deployment but stressed that defending the South against North Korean aggression was the ultimate priority.

"Please understand (the government's) desperate resolve to protect people's lives," he said.

More than 900 Seongju residents had their heads shaved on Monday as a mark of protest, and many of those were among the demonstrators who greeted Han with anti-THAAD slogans and demands to scrap the deployment.

 

 

China to restrict North Korean airline operations

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎9 hours agoGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Aug 17, 2016 - China will restrict the operations of North Korean national airline Air Koryo after one of its planes had to make an emergency landing last month because of a fire on board, it said Wednesday.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) will take "relevant measures to limit operations" for the carrier, it said in a statement on its website, without giving specific details.

Last month, a scheduled Air Koryo flight from Pyongyang to Beijing was forced to divert and land in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang "because the plane caught fire", the official Xinhua new agency said, quoting a passenger on board. There were no casualties.

The CAAC said an investigation found the fire was caused by a call button.

Air Koryo must improve training for similar incidents, improve communications with air traffic controllers and upgrade aircraft maintenance, the Chinese regulator said.

Although Air Koryo is the sole airline in the bottom "one star" category in the global Skytrax rating system for commercial airlines, its public safety record only has one fatal accident in more than 30 years.

Its route network is extremely limited, with regular flights to just three destinations in China, and Vladivostok in Russia.

The Pyongyang-Beijing service uses a Russian Tupolev Tu-204 -- a twin-engine medium-range jet airliner that carries about 140 passengers.

 

 

S. Korea's Park defends missile shield as residents shave heads

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎9 hours agoGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Aug 15, 2016 - South Korea's president Monday defended the proposed deployment of a US anti-missile system as an act of self-defence against North Korea, as hundreds of residents shaved their heads in protest at the plan.

Tensions have been running high on the divided Korean peninsula since the North carried out its fourth nuclear test in January and followed up with a series of missile tests.

South Korea responded last month by announcing deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system -- a move which sparked domestic protests as well as complaints from China.

"I urge the North Korean government to immediately stop all provocations and threats targeting South Korea as well as the development of weapons of mass destruction," said President Park Geun-Hye in a televised Liberation Day speech.

Her comments came as both Koreas celebrated the anniversary of the peninsula's liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945.

Stressing that "true liberation" would involve reunification of the peninsula, Park said that could only happen by removing the fear of nuclear weapons, missiles and war.

She also warned the North that all attempts to provoke and intimidate the South would be counter-productive.

"The more efforts (the North) makes, the deeper the country's isolation in the international community will be and the bigger its economic problems will be," she said

The North's nuclear test in January resulted in a substantial strengthening of UN sanctions, but a defiant Pyongyang doubled down with a series of ballistic missile tests also banned by UN resolutions.

Tensions are expected to rise again when the South launches an annual joint military exercise with the United States later this month.

The planned missile shield has been condemned not only by Pyongyang but also Beijing, which views the deployment as a US move against its own national security interests and a threat to regional stability.

"The deployment of THAAD is an act of self-defence," Park said in her speech, adding that her priority as president was to "protect the lives of our people from the reckless provocations of the North".

THAAD has also hit domestic opposition, particularly from those living in the rural county of Seongju where the first battery will be installed.

Residents say the system's powerful radar will pose health and environmental hazards and argue that its presence will make them a target.

On Monday more than 900 Seongju residents had their heads shaved, a symbol of protest and determination.

"We need to show our determination in order to stop THAAD!" the protesters chanted as men and women, some in tears, had their heads shaved at a local park.

Some opposition lawmakers have sided with the residents and called for the deployment to be scrapped, a stance criticised by Park.

"I believe that such a matter ... should not be the subject of a political fight," she said.

"If there is any other way to protect our people and the country, one should propose an alternative," Park added.

 

 

Russia teases with Hypersonic Nuclear Glider Armed With ICBMs "program"

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎9 hours agoGo to full article
Moscow (Sputnik) Aug 15, 2016 - The lethal hypersonic nuclear glider that looks to revolutionize defense aviation could travel the distance from Moscow to London within 13 minutes and could penetrate NATOs missile defense system.

After launching initial tests on Russia's first futuristic glider last year as part of Russia's Project 4202, the aircraft believed to be the Yu-74 is "ready for action" reports Britain's Daily Star.

The glider can travel at a speed of Mach 10 (7,680MPH or 12,3560kmh) and will reportedly be fit with RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles although details about the glider's specifications remain top secret. In April, US military officials confirmed the existence of Russia's deadly hypersonic glider.

Considered a first in a growing aviation arms race, both the US and China are now hurrying to develop comparable hypersonic gliders equipped with nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles increasing the defense gap between the military superpowers and the rest of the world.

The report on the development of Russia's hypersonic glider comes at a time when Moscow's relations with the West approach a historic tipping point driven most recently by accusations that President Vladimir Putin is attempting to intervene in the US political election after Hillary Clinton's campaign hurled a desperate allegation that the WikiLeaks file dump exposing her own bid, joined by the media and Democratic Party officials, to subvert the 2016 presidential election was all a plot of the Russians.

The splurge of Russophobia appears to have spilled over into defense relations with feverish assaults on Moscow's strategy in Syria of stabilizing the Assad regime at least as long as necessary to root out Daesh and other jihadist elements in addition to renewed struggle in Crimea after Ukrainian forces were thwarted in a terror plot, an incident that has brought Moscow and Kiev to the brink.

There does appear to be a bit of opportunism in the reporting of Russia's defense capabilities by Western media outlets with recent leaks claiming that NATO would be outgunned by the Moscow military machine if a conflict were to ensue in a transparent effort to lobby for increased defense appropriations to further subsidize the Western military-industrial complex.

Although the latest report by Britain's Daily Star may be in line with this vein of exaggerating the threat of Russia, Moscow's program of hypersonic military capabilities has been an open secret and similar reports about the incredible capabilities of the experimental Yu-74 have been detailed by defense analytics webspite Ostkraft.ru which determined that the aircraft's outstanding maneuverability and high speeds would render NATO's missile defense systems and the US THAAD shield useless.

Source: Sputnik News

 

 

US nukes at Turkey base at risk of seizure: report

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎9 hours agoGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Aug 15, 2016 - Dozens of US nuclear weapons stored at a Turkish air base near Syria are at risk of being captured by "terrorists or other hostile forces," a Washington think tank claimed Monday.

Critics have long been alarmed by America's estimated stockpile of about 50 nuclear bombs at Incirlik in southern Turkey, just 70 miles (110 kilometers) from the border with war-torn Syria.

The issue took on fresh urgency last month following the attempted coup in Turkey, in which the base's Turkish commander was arrested on suspicion of complicity in the plot.

"Whether the US could have maintained control of the weapons in the event of a protracted civil conflict in Turkey is an unanswerable question," said Monday's report from the Stimson Center, a nonpartisan think tank working to promote peace.

Incirlik is a vital base for the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, with the strategically located facility affording drones and warplanes fast access to IS targets.

But the Pentagon in March ordered families of US troops and civilian personnel stationed in southern Turkey to quit the region due to security fears.

"From a security point of view, it's a roll of the dice to continue to have approximately 50 of America's nuclear weapons stationed at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey," report co-author Laicie Heeley said.

"There are significant safeguards in place. ... But safeguards are just that, they don't eliminate risk. In the event of a coup, we can't say for certain that we would have been able to maintain control," she told AFP.

- 'Avoided disaster so far' -

While the Pentagon does not discuss where it stores nuclear assets, the bombs are believed to be kept at Incirlik as a deterrent to Russia and to demonstrate America's commitment to NATO, the 28-member military alliance that includes Turkey.

The Incirlik nuke issue has been the subject of renewed debate in the United States since the coup attempt.

"While we've avoided disaster so far, we have ample evidence that the security of US nuclear weapons stored in Turkey can change literally overnight," Steve Andreasen, director for defense policy and arms control on the White House National Security Council staff from 1993 to 2001, wrote in an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times last week.

Kori Schake, a fellow at the California-based Hoover Institution, noted in a written debate in the New York Times that "American nuclear forces cannot be used without codes, making the weapons impossible to set off without authorization."

"The fact that nuclear weapons are stationed in Turkey does not make them vulnerable to capture and use, even if the country were to turn hostile to the United States," she argued.

The Pentagon declined to comment on questions arising from the Stimson study.

"We do not discuss the location of strategic assets. The (Department of Defense) has taken appropriate steps to maintain the safety and security of our personnel, their families, and our facilities, and we will continue to do so," it said in a statement.

The Incirlik concerns were highlighted as part of a broader paper into the Pentagon's nuclear modernization program, through which the United States would spend hundreds of billions of dollars to update its atomic arsenal.

The authors argue that a particular type of bomb -- the B61 gravity bomb -- should be immediately removed from Europe, where 180 of the weapons are kept in Belgium, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey.

The report can be viewed at: http://u.afp.com/ZV9i

 

 

UN fails to condemn N. Korea after China draws link to THAAD

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎9 hours agoGo to full article
United Nations, United States (AFP) Aug 9, 2016 - The UN Security Council failed to agree Tuesday on a statement condemning North Korea's launch of a missile that landed near Japan after China sought to include language opposing the US missile defense system in South Korea.

The United States had circulated a draft statement that strongly condemned the August 2 launch and expressed particular concern that the ballistic missile landed near Japan.

China proposed adding that "all relevant parties shall avoid taking any actions which could provoke each other and escalate tensions, and shall not deploy any new anti-ballistic missile stronghold in Northeast Asia with an excuse of dealing with threats of the DPRK nuclear and missile programs," according to a draft obtained by AFP.

US Ambassador Samantha Power called for a "strong, swift response from the Security Council" following an emergency meeting last week to discuss the latest missile test.

Power had said that the US agreement with South Korea to deploy the THAAD missile defense system was "purely defensive" and in response to North Korea's drive to refine its capabilities.

China, Pyongyang's closest ally, had sought to delete from the text a sentence expressing concern that the missile "impacted near Japan."

Diplomats said negotiations on the council statement, which must be agreed by consensus, had reached a dead end.

It was the second time in two months that the council has been unable to agree on condemnation of North Korea, due to objections from China.

The council last adopted a statement condemning North Korea for two medium-range missile tests on June 23.

North Korea has been hit by five sets of UN sanctions since it first tested an atomic device in 2006.

The council in March adopted its toughest sanctions resolution to date, banning exports of coal, iron and other minerals from North Korea and imposing other restrictions, in particular in the banking sector.

 

 

Melting ice sheet could release frozen Cold War-era waste

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎9 hours agoGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Aug 08, 2016 - Climate change could remobilize abandoned hazardous waste thought to be buried forever beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet, new research finds.

Camp Century, a U.S. military base built within the Greenland Ice Sheet in 1959, doubled as a top-secret site for testing the feasibility of deploying nuclear missiles from the Arctic during the Cold War. When the camp was decommissioned in 1967, its infrastructure and waste were abandoned under the assumption they would be entombed forever by perpetual snowfall.

But climate change has warmed the Arctic more than any other region on Earth, and a new study finds the portion of the ice sheet covering Camp Century could start to melt by the end of the century. If the ice melts, the camp's infrastructure, as well as any remaining biological, chemical and radioactive waste, could re-enter the environment and potentially disrupt nearby ecosystems, according to the study's authors.

Determining who is responsible for cleaning up the waste could also lead to political disputes not considered before, according to the study's authors.

"Two generations ago, people were interring waste in different areas of the world, and now climate change is modifying those sites," said William Colgan, a climate and glacier scientist at York University in Toronto, Canada, and a research associate at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) in Boulder, Colorado, lead author of the new study. "It's a new breed of political challenge we have to think about."

The new study was published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

The assumption that any waste could be buried forever under ice is unrealistic, according to James White, a climate scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder, who was not connected to the study.

"The question is whether it's going to come out in hundreds of years, in thousands of years, or in tens of thousands of years," White said. "This stuff was going to come out anyway, but what climate change did was press the gas pedal to the floor and say, 'it's going to come out a lot faster than you thought.'"

A "city under the ice"
During the Cold War, U.S. military attention shifted to the Arctic - the shortest route between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union. In April 1951, the U.S. and Denmark agreed to defend Greenland, a Danish territory, from Soviet attack, and the U.S. built several air bases in Greenland that year.

In 1959, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built Camp Century 200 kilometers (125 miles) inland from the Greenland coast. Encased completely within the ice sheet, Camp Century became known as the "city under the ice."

The camp's official purpose was to test construction techniques in the Arctic and conduct scientific research. While in operation, the camp housed 85 to 200 soldiers and was powered by a nuclear reactor. Scientists at Camp Century took ice core samples providing climate data still cited in research today, Colgan said.

The camp also provided proof of concept for a top secret program to test the feasibility of building nuclear missile launch sites close enough to reach the Soviet Union. While never built, a larger planned camp based on the concept of Camp Century would have housed a 4,000-kilometer (2,500-mile) long tunnel system underneath the ice, capable of deploying up to 600 nuclear missiles.

Although the camp was built with Denmark's approval, the missile launch program, known as Project Iceworm, was kept secret from the Danish government. Several years after the camp became operational, Project Iceworm was rejected by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the camp was decommissioned. The Army Corps of Engineers removed the nuclear reaction chamber but left the camp's infrastructure and all other waste behind, assuming the ice sheet would secure them forever. In the decades since, falling snow has buried the camp roughly 35 meters (115 feet) further underneath the ice.

Waste beneath the ice
In the new study, Colgan and his team took an inventory of the wastes at Camp Century and ran climate model simulations to determine whether the waste will stay put in a warming Arctic. The team analyzed historical U.S. army engineering documents to determine where and how deep the wastes were buried and how much the ice cap had moved since the 1950s.

The team found the waste at Camp Century covers 55 hectares (136 acres), roughly the size of 100 football fields. They estimate the site contains 200,000 liters (53,000 gallons) of diesel fuel, enough for a car to circle the globe 80 times. Based on building materials used in the Arctic at the time, the authors speculate the site contains polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pollutants toxic to human health. They also estimate the site has 240,000 liters (63,000 gallons) of waste water, including sewage, along with an unknown volume of low-level radioactive coolant from the nuclear generator.

Looking at existing business-as-usual climate projections, the team determined the wastes would not remain encased in ice forever, as was assumed by both the U.S. and Denmark when the camp was abandoned. Instead, they could melt and re-enter the environment.

"When we looked at the climate simulations, they suggested that rather than perpetual snowfall, it seems that as early as 2090, the site could transition from net snowfall to net melt," Colgan said. "Once the site transitions from net snowfall to net melt, it's only a matter of time before the wastes melt out; it becomes irreversible."

Camp Century's waste presents a significant environmental hazard, according to the study's authors. When the ice melts, pollutants could be transported to the ocean, where they could disrupt marine ecosystems, Colgan said.

Based on ice sheet observations near Camp Century but at lower elevations, the camp's waste could be exposed sooner than the study's models predict, said Jennifer Mercer, a cryospheric scientist with the National Science Foundation who specializes in operations on the Greenland Ice Sheet and who was not connected to the study.

Environmental, political implications
The study does not advocate for starting remediation activities at Camp Century now. The waste is buried tens of meters below the ice, and any cleanup activities would be costly and technically challenging, Colgan said.

"It really becomes a situation of waiting until the ice sheet has melted down to almost expose the wastes that anyone should advocate for site remediation," he said.

But the new study does raise questions about who is responsible for cleaning up the waste when it is exposed. International law is clear about responsibility for preventing future hazardous waste, but ambiguous about who is liable for waste already discarded, said Jessica Green, a political scientist specializing in international environmental law at New York University who was not connected to the study. Although Camp Century was a U.S. base, it is on Danish soil, and although Greenland is a Danish territory, it is now self-governing, she said.

The implications of climate change on politically ambiguous abandoned wastes have not been considered before, according to the study's authors.

"The study identifies a big hole in the extant set of laws and rules we have to deal with environmental problems globally," Green said.

Research paper: "The abandoned ice-sheet base at Camp Century, Greenland, in a warming climate"

 

 

Japan military on alert to destroy N. Korea missile: media

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎9 hours agoGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 8, 2016 - Japan's newly appointed defence minister on Monday ordered the nation's military to be ready to destroy any missiles fired by North Korea that threaten the country, local media reported.

Tomomi Inada issued the order, public broadcaster NHK said, without mentioning any indication that Pyongyang is preparing to launch such a missile.

Last week Prime Minister Shinzo Abe picked Inada, a close confidante with staunchly nationalist views, as the new defence minister.

NHK said Inada is expected to renew the readiness order every three months so that Tokyo can seamlessly maintain a state of alert.

A Japanese defence ministry spokesman declined to confirm the report.

Her appointment came Wednesday, the same day North Korea, a major security headache for Japan, fired a ballistic missile that landed just 250 kilometres (155 miles) off its coast -- hitting Japanese-controlled waters for the first time.

The US military said the North had actually launched two Rodong intermediate-range missiles simultaneously, but one appeared to have exploded on take-off.

The launches followed a North Korean threat of "physical action" over the planned deployment of a sophisticated US anti-missile system in South Korea, and came just weeks before the start of large-scale joint South Korea-US military exercises.

Pyongyang has conducted a series of missile tests this year in defiance of UN sanctions imposed after its fourth nuclear test in January.

After Wednesday's launch Japanese media quoted officials as saying they were surprised and voicing concern that North Korea was getting better at concealing its preparations to fire missiles.

S. Korea MPs defy president with China visit
Seoul (AFP) Aug 8, 2016 - A group of South Korean opposition lawmakers defied President Park Geun-Hye and left for China on Monday to discuss the deployment of a US anti-missile system that has opened a damaging rift between Seoul and Beijing.

Park had urged the MPs to scrap their trip, arguing that it would boost China's opposition to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and deepen divisions in South Korea over the issue.

Seoul's decision to host a THAAD battery, to counter a growing threat from North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes, has been condemned by China as a threat to its own security interests and to regional stability.

The ongoing row is threatening to undo the substantial effort President Park has put into strengthening ties with China, which is not only South Korea's largest trade partner but also the key player in curbing North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Kim Young-Ho, one of the six lawmakers from the main opposition Minjoo Party travelling to Beijing, said their sole motivation was to calm the situation.

"We are visiting with the hope of offering at least a little warmth to the icy Seoul-Beijing ties," Kim was quoted as saying by the Yonhap news agency before leaving Seoul.

But Park insisted the visit would be counter-productive and suggested the MPs were being irresponsibly disloyal.

"On a matter of national security, there should be no division between the ruling and the opposition parties," she told a meeting of top aides Monday morning.

"Some politicians are making ridiculous claims that the deployment of THAAD will only offer good excuses for North Korea to stage more provocations -- an argument that is very similar to the North's own views," she said in comments published on her official website.

THAAD has been the subject of domestic protests in South Korea, particularly by those living in the rural county of Seongju where the first battery will be installed.

Residents say the system's powerful radar poses health and environmental hazards and argue that its presence will make them a key military target.

Opposition parties have been less than supportive of the deployment, although outright criticism has largely been limited to left-leaning MPs and activists.

Responding to Park's criticisms, Kim said calling off the visit at this stage would make things worse.

"It would look like the president had blocked it," he told reporters.

On Sunday, Park's office had issued a statement that chided China for over-reacting to the THAAD deployment.

"We believe that China, before taking issue with our purely defensive move, should raise the issue more strongly with the North," the statement said, referring to a recent series of provocative North Korean missile tests.

 

 

Nagasaki marks 71st atomic bombing anniversary

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎9, ‎2016, ‏‎8:10:59 AMGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 9, 2016 - The Japanese city of Nagasaki on Tuesday marked 71 years since its destruction by a US atomic bomb, with its mayor lauding a visit by US President Barack Obama to Hiroshima earlier this year.

A bell tolled as thousands of people, including ageing survivors and relatives of victims, observed a minute's silence at 11:02 am (0202 GMT), the exact moment the of the blast.

Some 74,000 people died in the initial explosion, while thousands of others perished months or years later from radiation sickness.

The attack came three days after the US dropped the first ever atomic bomb on Hiroshima, which ultimately killed 140,000 people.

Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue lauded Obama's landmark May visit to Hiroshima -- the first ever by a sitting US president.

"Knowing the facts becomes the starting point for thinking about a future free of nuclear weapons," Taue said, calling on other world leaders to visit his city.

Local officials and those who survived the bombing called for strict adherence to Japan's post-war tradition of pacifism and were critical of the Japanese government.

"The government of Japan, while advocating nuclear weapons abolition, still relies on nuclear deterrence," the mayor said, calling it a "contradictory state of affairs".

Hiroshima mayor Kazumi Matsui on Saturday marked the commemoration of the bombing of his city, also citing Obama's visit.

He said the visit was proof the US President shared his city's view of the "absolute evil" of nuclear weapons.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in his address in Nagasaki, called on world leaders to honour the global Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

"We must not allow a repeat of the horrible experiences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that happened 71 years ago," Abe said.

Abe has moved to extend the scope of Japan's military and deepen the nation's alliance with Washington in the face of threats from China's expanding military strength and unpredictable North Korea.

North Korea last week test fired a ballistic missile that landed in waters off Japan's coast for the first time.

 

 

Japan marks Hiroshima bombing anniversary

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎9, ‎2016, ‏‎8:10:59 AMGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 6, 2016 - Japan on Saturday marked 71 years since the city of Hiroshima was destroyed by a US atomic bomb, as its mayor urged the world to unite in abolishing nuclear weapons.

The annual ceremony came just months after Barack Obama became the first sitting US president to visit the western Japanese city, paying moving tribute to victims of the devastating bomb.

American B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped its deadly payload, dubbed "Little Boy", on Hiroshima at 8:15 am local time on August 6, 1945.

Much of the city was incinerated by a wall of heat up to 4,000 C (7,232 F) -- hot enough to melt steel -- killing tens of thousands.

About 50,000 participants, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and representatives of more than 90 countries and regions, observed a minute's silence at the exact time the atrocity occurred some seven decades ago.

During the solemn ceremony, Hiroshima mayor Kazumi Matsui recalled the visit by Obama in his peace declaration, citing the president's historic speech.

"(His visit) was the proof that Hiroshima's strong wish not to tolerate the 'absolute evil' was shared by President Obama," he said.

The mayor urged the world to take action towards the abolition of "the ultimate form of inhumanity, united and with passion".

Obama in May embraced survivors as he made his visit to the city and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

"71 years ago, death fell from the sky and the world was changed," he said of the bomb, adding it "demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself".

Obama offered no apology for the bombings, having insisted he would not revisit decisions made by then president Harry Truman.

But his moving tribute and brief conversations with elderly survivors, which included an unexpected embrace with one of them, profoundly impressed most Japanese.

Abe, after lying a wreath of flowers, reiterated Saturday that Tokyo will continue working to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

"I am convinced (Obama's visit) brought a great hope for people in Japan, in the world and in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who believe in a world without nuclear arms," he said.

The bombing claimed the lives of 140,000 people. Some died immediately while others succumbed to injuries or radiation-related illnesses weeks, months and years later.

A second bomb destroyed the city of Nagasaki three days later. Japan announced its surrender in World War II on August 15.

Many in Japan feel the attacks amount to war crimes and atrocities because they targeted civilians and due to the unprecedented destructive nature of the weapons.

But many Americans believe they hastened the end of a bloody conflict, and ultimately saved lives, thus justifying the bombings.

Since Obama went to Hiroshima, the park and accompanying memorial museum have witnessed an increase in visitors.

But an association of atomic bomb survivors has criticised his speech, saying he failed to explicitly mention US responsibility for the bombing.

Abe last year faced harsh criticism, especially from A-bomb survivors, for his policy of expanding the role of Japan's military and opening the door to possibly sending troops into combat for the first time since the war.

In his latest Cabinet reshuffle, Abe appointed nationalist confidante Tomomi Inada as defence minister.

 

 

Israel ministry 'clarifies' comments on Iran nuclear deal

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎9, ‎2016, ‏‎8:10:59 AMGo to full article
Jerusalem (AFP) Aug 8, 2016 - Israel's defence ministry on Monday sought to "clarify" controversial comments it made last week criticising the Iran nuclear deal and likening it to the 1938 Munich agreement with Nazi Germany.

The defence ministry said in a statement on Monday: "Friday's statement was in no way intended to draw comparisons, historical or personal. We regret if it was interpreted otherwise."

"The difference in Israel's position on this matter (the nuclear deal) from that of our close ally, the United States, in no way detracts from our deep appreciation for the United States and for the President of the United States, for their tremendous contribution to Israel's national security."

On Thursday, US President Barack Obama defended the landmark nuclear deal which was signed in July 2015 between Tehran and six world powers led by Washington.

The next day, Israel's defence ministry, led by hardliner Avigdor Lieberman, slammed Obama for defending the accord with the Jewish state's arch-foe, comparing it to the deal that allowed Nazi Germany to annex parts of then Czechoslovakia.

Netanyahu the same day repeated his country's rejection of the nuclear deal but stressed that Israel and the United States remained great allies.

Israel's Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz on Sunday said that Tehran had so far respected the accord, even if it was a "bad deal".

The US and Israeli governments have for several months been negotiating the terms of a new 10-year defence aid pact to replace the current one, which expires in 2018 and is worth more than $3 billion (2.7 billion euros) per year.

The Netanyahu government wants the United States to increase the annual amount of military assistance it provides.

The nuclear deal, which came into force in January, saw Tehran accept curbs to its nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of economic sanctions.

US calls on Iran to respect human rights after execution
Washington (AFP) Aug 8, 2016 - The United States called Monday for Iran to respect human rights and ensure an impartial judiciary, but stopped short of condemning the execution of an Iranian nuclear scientist accused of spying for Washington.

The whereabouts of Shahram Amiri, 39, had been unknown since 2010. On Sunday, an Iranian judiciary spokesman announced he had been hanged.

US State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau on Monday refused to address Amiri's case specifically but noted that, in general, American officials urged Tehran to respect human rights.

"We reaffirm our calls on Iran to respect and protect human rights to ensure fair and transparent judicial proceedings in all cases," she said at a press briefing.

"We have constantly and publicly expressed our concerns about Iran's human rights records through a range of channels."

Amiri disappeared in Saudi Arabia in June 2009 and resurfaced a year later in the United States.

Conflicting accounts said he had either been abducted or had defected at a time when international tensions over Iran's nuclear program were at their peak.

In a surprise move, Amiri returned to Tehran in July 2010, saying he had been kidnapped at gunpoint by CIA agents in the Saudi city of Medina.

At first he was greeted as a hero, but it was soon clear that Iranian authorities remained suspicious. Amiri dropped out of public view and his arrest was never officially reported.

Amiri was executed for "revealing the country's top secrets to the enemy, Iranian judicial spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie said.

He said Amiri was tried in accordance with law. Amiri appealed his death sentence but it was upheld by the Supreme Court, the spokesman said.

Trudeau again refused to speak about Amiri's case when asked if she thought he was given a fair trial.

"I couldn't speak to Iranian judicial procedures related to the specific case. You know, when this individual chose to return to Iran, we obviously spoke about it then," she said. "We've made our concerns known at large around Iranian due process, around Iranian respect for human rights."

Iran reached a deal with world powers in July 2015, promising to curb its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions.

Tehran and Washington have not had full diplomatic ties since 1980.

 

 

US Air Force head 'concerned' about no-first-use nuke idea

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎9, ‎2016, ‏‎8:10:59 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Aug 4, 2016 - The head of the US Air Force on Thursday said she would be "concerned" if President Barack Obama were to formally declare a "no-first-use" policy for America's arsenal of nuclear weapons.

US media reports have in recent weeks said Obama is weighing an overhaul of long-standing nuclear policy, including by pledging to never conduct the first strike in a nuclear conflict.

"I would be concerned about such a policy," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told the New America think tank in Washington.

"Having a certain degree of ambiguity is not necessarily a bad thing. You certainly want to communicate certain things to allies and to your potential adversaries around the world, but you don't necessarily want to show all your cards all the time."

The US Air Force is responsible for two legs of America's nuclear defense "triad" -- a three-pronged nuclear system comprising long-range bombers, ground-launched missiles and submarines.

The Washington Post last month reported that Obama, who has espoused a world free of nuclear weapons, is weighing a range of measures that he could implement before leaving office early next year.

Among these measures are funding cuts to modernize America's nuclear arsenal, and canceling or delaying development of the Long-Range Stand-Off nuclear cruise missile, the Post reported.

America's nuclear policy has been the subject of increased public discussion following a number of contentious comments by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

According to MSNBC presenter Joe Scarborough, citing an anonymous source, Trump repeatedly asked a foreign policy expert "why can't we use" nuclear weapons.

He also has suggested providing nuclear weapons to Japan and South Korea and has refused to rule out the use of atomic bombs in Europe.

On a separate matter, James reacted to this week's news that an initial squadron of Air Force F-35 jets is finally ready for combat.

At nearly $400 billion for a total of 2,443 aircraft, the most expensive plane in history has been beset by delays, technical problems and cost overruns.

"It has taken too long, there were too many schedule slips and of course it's gone over budget, and that's the part (of the plane's history) I would like to rewrite," James said.

But "the thing I am bullish about is it's exactly the type of aircraft we need for some of these high-end threats around the world that we believe are going to be the key threats of the future."

 

 

N. Korea accuses US of seeking 'pre-emptive nuclear strike'

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎9, ‎2016, ‏‎8:10:59 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Aug 6, 2016 - North Korea has accused Washington of planning a pre-emptive nuclear strike, after the US announced it would deploy its B-1 bomber in the Pacific for the first time in a decade.

The strategic aircraft were to be deployed on Saturday on the US island of Guam, the US military said last month, describing the operation as a routine rotation with the B-52 bomber.

Tensions have been running high since North Korea carried out its fourth nuclear test in January, followed by a barrage of missile launches that this month reached Japanese waters directly for the first time.

Pyongyang accused Washington of "becoming all the more pronounced in their moves to topple down the DPRK by mobilizing all nuclear war hardware," using North Korea's official title.

"The enemies are bluffing that they can mount a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the DPRK by letting fly B-1B over the Korean peninsula within two-three hours in contingency," said an English-language statement on state media.

"Such moves for bolstering nuclear force exposes again that the US imperialists are making a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the DPRK a fait accompli."

North Korea has threatened "physical action" over the planned deployment of a sophisticated US anti-missile system in South Korea, known as THAAD.

Tensions on the divided Korean peninsula are also building ahead of an annual South Korea-US military exercise later this month.

On July 29, the US Air Force said it would upgrade its hardware on Guam, a US territory in the western Pacific, by sending the B-1 for the first time since April 2006.

"The B-1 will provide US Pacific Command and its regional allies and partners with a credible, strategic power projection platform," it said in a statement.

Pyongyang has repeatedly warned it may carry out pre-emptive nuclear strikes against the South and US targets, domestic and abroad. Ultimately, the North wants to be able to strike on the continental US.

The secretive state, led by supreme leader Kim Jong-un, warned Saturday it would respond to any aggression by reducing the US to a "sea of flames".

"The ever-mounting moves of the US imperialists to ignite a nuclear war are pushing the situation on the Korean peninsula into the uncontrollable and catastrophic phase," said the KCNA statement.

 

 

S. Korea hits back at China in US missile row

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎9, ‎2016, ‏‎8:10:59 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Aug 7, 2016 - South Korea on Sunday rejected China's criticism over the planned deployment in the South of a US anti-missile system, saying Beijing's failure to curb its ally North Korea had created the situation.

Seoul's decision to deploy the powerful US system, to counter a growing threat from North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes, threatens to damage relations with its largest trading partner Beijing.

China has condemned the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system as a move against its own national security interests and said it would further heighten regional tension.

The People's Daily even warned Seoul Thursday Seoul of the potentially costly "domino effect", saying the South would "inevitably be the first target" in any conflict between China and the US.

The South's presidential office however urged China to work harder to tame its neighbour North Korea, saying THAAD would have been unnecessary had there been no threat from it.

"Chinese media recently put the cart before the horse in insisting that our decision to host the THAAD was the cause of the North's series of provocations including ballistic missile launches," the presidential Blue House said in a statement.

Tension has been running high since the North staged its fourth nuclear test in January and a series of missile launches since then -- most recently last Wednesday.

"We believe that China, before taking issue with our purely defensive move, should raise the issue more strongly with the North, which... is disrupting the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia," it said.

China is the sole major ally of the impoverished and isolated North, which relies heavily on food and oil imports from its neighbour.

The Blue House also urged a group of six Seoul lawmakers from the main left-leaning opposition party to scrap a plan to visit Beijing, after they had announced the August 8-10 trip aimed at discussing ways of mending ties.

"No matter what the intention of these lawmakers is, their trip would eventually help strengthen the Chinese government's stance and deepen division within South Koreans," it said.

The decision to host THAAD in the South has met opposition from left-leaning Seoul lawmakers and activists who argue it will imperil diplomatic and economic ties with China.

China is South Korea's largest trading partner and accounts for one quarter of its exports.

Concerns have grown particularly in the South's vast entertainment industry about the possible loss of a key market for the pop music and dramas which have taken China by storm for the past decade.

A number of events scheduled in China involving South Korean stars -- including TV appearances or "fan meetings" with Chinese fans -- were abruptly cancelled recently.

N. Korea accuses US of seeking 'pre-emptive nuclear strike'
Seoul (AFP) Aug 6, 2016 - North Korea has accused Washington of planning a pre-emptive nuclear strike, after the US announced it would deploy its B-1 bomber in the Pacific for the first time in a decade.

The strategic aircraft were to be deployed on Saturday on the US island of Guam, the US military said last month, describing the operation as a routine rotation with the B-52 bomber.

Tensions have been running high since North Korea carried out its fourth nuclear test in January, followed by a barrage of missile launches that this month reached Japanese waters directly for the first time.

Pyongyang accused Washington of "becoming all the more pronounced in their moves to topple down the DPRK by mobilizing all nuclear war hardware," using North Korea's official title.

"The enemies are bluffing that they can mount a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the DPRK by letting fly B-1B over the Korean peninsula within two-three hours in contingency," said an English-language statement on state media.

"Such moves for bolstering nuclear force exposes again that the US imperialists are making a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the DPRK a fait accompli."

North Korea has threatened "physical action" over the planned deployment of a sophisticated US anti-missile system in South Korea, known as THAAD.

Tensions on the divided Korean peninsula are also building ahead of an annual South Korea-US military exercise later this month.

On July 29, the US Air Force said it would upgrade its hardware on Guam, a US territory in the western Pacific, by sending the B-1 for the first time since April 2006.

"The B-1 will provide US Pacific Command and its regional allies and partners with a credible, strategic power projection platform," it said in a statement.

Pyongyang has repeatedly warned it may carry out pre-emptive nuclear strikes against the South and US targets, domestic and abroad. Ultimately, the North wants to be able to strike on the continental US.

The secretive state, led by supreme leader Kim Jong-un, warned Saturday it would respond to any aggression by reducing the US to a "sea of flames".

"The ever-mounting moves of the US imperialists to ignite a nuclear war are pushing the situation on the Korean peninsula into the uncontrollable and catastrophic phase," said the KCNA statement.

 

 

Israel minister says Iran has respected nuclear deal

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎9, ‎2016, ‏‎8:10:59 AMGo to full article
Jerusalem (AFP) Aug 7, 2016 - Israel's energy minister on Sunday criticised a landmark nuclear accord between the Jewish state's arch-foe Iran and world powers but said Tehran had so far respected the deal.

The agreement, which was signed in July 2015 and came into force in January, saw Tehran accept curbs to its nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of economic sanctions by world powers.

"It's a bad deal but it's an accomplished fact and during the first year we spotted no significant breach from the Iranians," said Youval Steinitz, who is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"But it's still too early to conclude that this 12-year deal is a success," he told public radio.

Steinitz's comments came after US President Barack Obama on Thursday defended the accord.

Israel's defence ministry, led by hardliner Avigdor Lieberman, on Friday compared the deal with Iran to the 1938 Munich Agreement, which allowed Nazi Germany to annex parts of then Czechoslovakia.

Netanyahu the same day repeated his country's rejection of the Iran deal but stressed that Israel and the United States remained great allies.

For several months the US and Israeli governments have been negotiating the terms of a new 10-year defence aid pact to replace the current one, which expires in 2018 and is worth more than $3 billion (2.7 billion euros) per year.

The Netanyahu government wants the United States to increase the annual amount of military assistance it provides.

Israel defence ministry likens Iran deal to Munich accord
Jerusalem (AFP) Aug 5, 2016 - Israel's defence ministry on Friday likened the Iran nuclear deal to the 1938 Munich agreement with Nazi Germany and slammed US President Barack Obama for defending the accord with Tehran.

The rebuke came after Obama on Thursday defended the nuclear deal which was sealed in July 2015 between Tehran and six world powers led by Washington.

Obama told reporters that the year-old nuclear deal "has worked exactly the way we said it was going to work".

"You'll recall that there were all these horror stories about how Iran was going to cheat and this wasn't going to work and that Iran was going to.... finance terrorism and all these kinds of scenarios, and none of them have come to pass," said Obama.

"It's not just the assessment of our intelligence community, it's the assessment of the Israeli military and the intelligence community, the country that was most opposed to this deal that acknowledges this has been a game changer and that Iran has abided by the deal and that they no longer have the sort of short-term breakout capacity that would allow them to develop nuclear weapons," he added.

Israel's defence ministry, lead by hardliner Avigdor Lieberman, on Friday compared the deal with Iran to the Munich agreement, which allowed Nazi Germany to annex parts of then Czechoslovakia.

"The Munich agreement did not prevent World War II and the Shoah (Holocaust) because it rested on the hypothesis that Nazi Germany could be a partner to an agreement," it said in a statement.

The defence ministry said the Iran deal was "harmful" and would also fail to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Tehran "clearly and proudly proclaims that its goal is the destruction of the State of Israel," the ministry said.

It said the Jewish state's defence establishment and the entire Israeli people "understand that such agreements are not useful and undermine the fight without concession against terrorist states like Iran".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a separate statement, repeating the country's rejection of the Iran deal but stopping short of lambasting Obama.

"While Israel's view on the Iran deal remains unchanged... it firmly believes that Israel has no greater ally than the United States," said the statement released by the premier's office.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu looks forward to further strengthening the alliance between Israel and the United States with President Obama and with the next US administration," it added.

The deal with Iran, which came into force in January, saw Tehran accept curbs to its nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of sanctions by world powers.

 

 

Iran nuclear scientist executed for spying for US

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎9, ‎2016, ‏‎8:10:59 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) Aug 8, 2016 - Iran has executed a nuclear scientist convicted of handing over "confidential and vital" information to the United States, a judicial spokesman said on Sunday.

"Shahram Amiri was hanged for revealing the country's top secrets to the enemy," Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie told reporters in Tehran.

Amiri, 39, disappeared in Saudi Arabia in June 2009 and resurfaced a year later in the United States.

Conflicting accounts said he had either been abducted or had defected at a time when international tensions over Iran's nuclear programme were at their peak.

In a surprise move, Amiri then returned to Tehran in July 2010, saying he had been kidnapped at gunpoint by two Farsi-speaking CIA agents in the Saudi city of Medina.

At first he was greeted as a hero, telling reporters as he stepped off the plane at Tehran airport that he had resisted pressure from his US captors to pretend he was a defector.

He denied he was a nuclear scientist and said US officials wanted him to tell the media he had "defected on his own and was carrying important documents and a laptop which contained classified secrets of Iran's military nuclear programme".

"But with God's will, I resisted," Amiri said as he was welcomed home by his tearful wife and young son.

- US 'outsmarted' -

However, it was soon clear that Iranian authorities had not accepted this version of events and Amiri dropped out of public view. His arrest was never officially reported.

Iran's judicial spokesman said Sunday that its intelligence services had "outsmarted" the US.

"American intelligence services thought Iran has no knowledge of his transfer to Saudi Arabia and what he was doing but we knew all of it and were monitoring," Ejeie told reporters.

"This person, having access to confidential and highly confidential information of the regime, had established a connection to our number one enemy, America, and had provided the enemy with Iran's confidential and vital information," he added.

The US State Department declined to comment on the case when asked on Sunday.

Tehran and Washington have had no diplomatic ties since 1980, when students stormed the US embassy following the previous year's Islamic revolution.

"Shahram Amiri was tried in accordance with law and in the presence of his lawyer. He appealed his death sentence based on judicial process. The Supreme Court... confirmed it after meticulous reviews," Ejeie said.

"We like all convicts to repent and reform. Not only did he not repent and compensate for his past, but he tried to send out false information from inside the prison, and finally he was punished," he added.

- 'Covert headquarters' -

Numerous media reports in recent years have supported the idea that Amiri was a defector with highly prized information on Iran's nuclear programme.

"Shahram Amiri described to American intelligence officers details of how a university in Tehran became the covert headquarters for the country's nuclear efforts," the New York Times reported in July 2010, citing unnamed US officials.

"While still in Iran, he was also one of the sources for a much-disputed National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's suspected weapons program, published in 2007," the report said.

In a confusing series of events shortly before his repatriation to Tehran, three separate videos emerged appearing to show Amiri claiming either that he was abducted by US agents, had come freely to study, or that his life was in danger and he wanted to return to Iran.

At the time, world powers had grown increasingly concerned that Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapon -- a charge that it has consistently denied.

Between 2010 and 2012, four nuclear scientists were assassinated inside Iran and a fifth survived a bomb attack. The government blamed the attacks on US and Israeli intelligence services.

Iran finally reached a deal with world powers in July 2015, promising to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions.

The deal took effect in January this year but Washington and the European Union maintain some sanctions on Iran over its human rights record and ballistic missile testing.

Tehran has complained that the remaining sanctions are locking it out of the international banking system and hampering its ability to make major purchases, such as aircraft.

an-er/srm/mtp/ds

THE NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY

 

 

BAE Systems gets $51 million Minuteman III contract modification

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎2, ‎2016, ‏‎3:29:51 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Aug 1, 2016 - BAE Systems has received a $51 million U.S. Air Force contract modification for support services for the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile weapon system.

The company exercised an option on the previously awarded contract for the fixed-price, level of effort modification.

The deal calls for BAE to provide systems engineering, technical assistance support, as well as training and development in performing integration, sustaining engineering and program management support functions for the system.

Work will be performed in Utah and is expected to be completed by July 2017.

The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center is the contracting activity.

The Minuteman is an intercontinental ballistic missile system dispersed via hardened silos to protect against attack and connected to an underground launch control center, where two-officer crews perform around-the-clock alert in the launch control center.

Minuteman I was deployed in the early 1960s, with the current array of 450 Minuteman III missiles located at several Air Force bases across the United States.

 

 

S. Korea says North hacked government e-mails

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎2, ‎2016, ‏‎3:29:51 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Aug 1, 2016 - Seoul prosecutors on Monday accused North Korea of hacking into the email accounts of dozens of South Korean government officials this year, the latest in the series of suspected cyber attacks by Pyongyang.

Investigations showed a "suspected North Korea-operated group" attempted to hack into the emails of 90 people -- including officials at the foreign, defence and unification ministries -- from January to June, the Supreme Prosecutors' Office said in a statement.

"The passwords of 56 accounts were stolen," the statement said.

The hackers set up 27 phishing sites in January posing as popular portals like Google and South Korea's Naver, as well as government and university websites, to steal the passwords.

The prosecutors said the malicious codes used in the latest attack were the same as the ones used by North Korea in previous attacks on the South.

An investigation is still ongoing to see if any confidential information may have been leaked.

The latest cyber attack comes just days after South Korean police said the North stole the personal data of over 10 million customers at South Korean online shopping mall Interpark.

Interpark was unaware about the attack until July 11, when it was blackmailed with threats to publicise the leaked data unless the company paid three billion won (US$2.7 million).

The National Police Agency said the North's main spy agency -- the Reconnaissance General Bureau -- had organised the hack in a bid to earn hard currency.

Tensions on the divided Korean peninsula have been running high since Pyongyang carried out its fourth nuclear test in January, followed by a series of ballistic missile tests.

The provocations have put North Korea under the toughest sanctions yet from the United Nations as well as mounting individual sanctions by countries like the US, South Korea and Japan.

Seoul has in recent years blamed the North's hackers for a series of cyber attacks on military institutions, banks, state agencies, TV broadcasters, media websites and a nuclear power plant.

The North operates an army of more than 1,000 hackers who stage hacking or cyber attacks targeting Seoul's major institutions or key officials, according to the South's spy agency.

 

 

Russia carries out Iskander-M electronic launches: Report

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎2, ‎2016, ‏‎3:29:51 AMGo to full article
Vladivostok, Russia (UPI) Jul 22, 2016 - Missile troops in Russia's Far East have carried out the first electronic launches from the Iskander-M tactical ballistic missile system, the Tass news agency reported Friday.

The exercises took place at the Kapustin Yar range in the Astrakhan region of southern Russia.

"The electronic launches of missiles were carried out on different targets at a distance of up to 500 kilometers," Eastern Military District spokesman Col. Alexander Gordeyev was quoted by Tass as saying.

The drills involved 150 troops and 50 units of armaments and military equipment.

The Iskander-M tactical missile system was introduced into service earlier this month, Tass reports.

Crews underwent retraining before the missile systems were delivered to troops.

Iskander-M systems are designed to destroy enemy targets at a distance of up to 300 miles.

It fires an alterable trajectory with rapid acceleration, allowing it to overcome missile defense systems.

It can also operate in extreme heat and cold.

 

 

N. Korea says any further nuclear test depends on US

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎2, ‎2016, ‏‎3:29:51 AMGo to full article
Vientiane (AFP) July 26, 2016 - North Korea's foreign minister said Tuesday that any decision to stage a further nuclear test would depend on the United States, as he held Washington responsible for scuppering denuclearisation efforts on the Korean peninsula.

"Whether we conduct additional nuclear tests is entirely up to the United States," Ri Yong-Ho told reporters on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Laos.

His comments came just hours after US Secretary of John Kerry, who was attending the same forum in Vientiane, warned of "real consequences" if Pyongyang pushes ahead with nuclear and missile tests.

The newly appointed Ri, who was making his overseas debut as the North's top diplomat, blamed the United States for the failure of the long-dormant six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear programme.

"The denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula went out of the window because of the United States," he said.

Ri was previously the North's top negotiator to the six-party talks which brought together the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, Russia and China, and were last held in 2008.

"The key factor damaging the situation is the United States' hostile policies... and the problem is getting worse," he said, citing significantly toughened UN and US economic sanctions imposed after the North's fourth nuclear test in January.

"And recently they committed the most grave hostility by insulting our Dear Leader," Ri said, referring to the US decision to personally blacklist Kim Jong-Un over human rights abuses.

Despite the latest sanctions, North Korea has continued to carry out ballistic missile tests in violation of UN sanctions, and has made it clear that it intends to continue nuclear testing.

The issue of the North's weapons programme has dominated this week's talks in Vientiane -- a rare opportunity for all the members of the six-party process to be in the same room.

Kerry, who has held a flurry of closed-door meetings with his regional counterparts over the last two days, said there was unanimity on the need to curb the North's nuclear ambitions.

"Together we are determined... to make absolutely certain that DPRK (North Korea) understands that there are real consequences for these actions," Kerry told reporters.

Ri insisted that the North was a "responsible nuclear state" which would only strike if threatened, and he called on the United States to withdraw its troops from South Korea immediately.

US, N. Korea trade barbs over nuclear weapon tests
Vientiane (AFP) July 26, 2016 - North Korea said any decision to conduct another nuclear test depends entirely on the behaviour of the United States as the two sides traded blame Tuesday over tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Ri Yong-Ho, Pyongyang's newly appointed foreign minister, accused the US of being behind the failure of the long-dormant six-party talks on the country's nuclear programme.

His comments came after top Washington envoy John Kerry warned the North of "real consequences" if it continues nuclear and missile tests in defiance of UN sanctions, as the international community attempts to rein in the rogue nation.

"Whether we conduct additional nuclear tests is entirely up to the United States," Ri told reporters late Tuesday on the sidelines of a regional security forum in Laos which both he and Kerry attended.

"The denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula went out of the window because of the United States," Ri said.

The hermit state carried out its fourth nuclear test in January, followed by a series of ballistic missile launches that sent tensions soaring across East Asia and beyond.

In response the UN Security Council slapped North Korea with its toughest sanctions to date in a unanimous decision even endorsed by China, its economic lifeline and diplomatic shield.

"The key factor damaging the situation is the United States' hostile policies... and the problem is getting worse," Ri said, citing the ramped up economic sanctions.

Despite the latest attempt by the international community to push it towards bankruptcy, North Korea has continued to carry out ballistic missile tests, and made it clear that it intends to continue nuclear testing.

With the tensions dominating talks in the Laos capital Vientiane, Kerry issued a stern warning to the North.

"Together we are determined... to make absolutely certain that DPRK (North Korea) understands that there are real consequences for these actions," Kerry said.

Analysts say this year's tests have shown the North making progress towards its goal of developing a credible strike threat against the US mainland, adding urgency to Washington's warnings.

Ri, a former nuclear negotiator, was making his overseas debut as North Korea's top diplomat at the gathering hosted by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The meeting was a rare opportunity for the six parties involved in talks aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear programme -- the US, Russia, China, Japan and the two Koreas -- to be in the same room.

- 'Serious threat' -

Kerry held a flurry of closed-door meetings with his regional counterparts over the last two days.

"(The) issue that came up in nearly every meeting I had so far this week is the provocative and deeply concerning behaviour of the DPRK," he told reporters.

"North Korea's actions present a very serious threat, not just to this region but to international peace and security."

Earlier in the day, Kerry had referred to Iran and encouraged North Korea to follow its example.

"(Iran) was not going to pursue a nuclear weapon and, in exchange, would like to have sanctions lifted that had been put in place because of the evidence of that programme," Washington's top diplomat said.

Washington and Seoul agreed earlier this month to deploy a sophisticated anti-missile system in South Korea, a move which also spooked China and Russia, who worry about having the advanced US-made system on their doorstep.

The North, meanwhile, said it would take "physical action" -- a threat followed up with another missile test which it described as a simulated strike on the South.

North Korea's Ri met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Monday on the sidelines of the Laos meeting but few details have been released.

Beijing is Pyongyang's main ally but its patience has worn thin.

China is, however, wary of pushing the North too far, fearing a regime collapse that could create a refugee crisis on its border and swing the regional balance of power towards the US.

The North Korean minister also hit out at the US decision to personally blacklist Kim Jong-Un over human rights abuses.

"Recently they committed the most grave hostility by insulting our Dear Leader," he said.

 

 

Iran destroys 100,000 satellite dishes

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎2, ‎2016, ‏‎3:29:51 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) July 24, 2016 - Iran destroyed 100,000 satellite dishes and receivers on Sunday as part of a widespread crackdown against the illegal devices that authorities say are morally damaging, a news website reported.

The destruction ceremony took place in Tehran in the presence of General Mohammad Reza Naghdi, head of Iran's Basij militia, who warned of the impact that satellite television was having in the conservative country.

"The truth is that most satellite channels... deviate the society's morality and culture," he said at the event according to Basij News.

"What these televisions really achieve is increased divorce, addiction and insecurity in society."

Naghdi added that a total of one million Iranians had already voluntarily handed over their satellite apparatuses to authorities.

Under Iranian law, satellite equipment is banned and those who distribute, use, or repair them can be fined up to $2,800 (2,500 euros).

Iranian police regularly raid neighbourhoods and confiscate dishes from rooftops.

Culture Minister Ali Jannati pleaded on Friday for a revision of the law.

"Reforming this law is very necessary as using satellite is strictly prohibited, but most people use it," Jannati said.

"This means that 70 percent of Iranians violate the law" by owning satellite dishes, he added.

Naghdi criticised Jannati's comments and said those in charge of cultural affairs "should be truthful with people rather than following what pleases them".

"Most of these satellite channels not only weaken the foundation of families but also cause disruptions in children's education and children who are under the influence of satellite have improper behaviour," Naghdi said.

There are dozens of foreign-based Farsi satellite channels broadcasting mostly news, entertainment, films and series.

Conservatives regularly denounce the channels as an attempt to corrupt Iranian culture and Islamic values.

Moderate President Hassan Rouhani, whose four-year mandate ends in June 2017, has repeatedly said that the ban on satellite dishes is unnecessary and counterproductive.

 

 

China says S. Korea damaged 'mutual trust'

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎2, ‎2016, ‏‎3:29:51 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) July 25, 2016 - China has blamed South Korea for damaging "mutual trust" with its planned deployment of an advanced US missile defence system in the face of Beijing's opposition, Yonhap news agency said Monday.

Seoul and Washington announced earlier this month their decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in the South following recent North Korean missile and nuclear tests.

The plan to deploy the powerful system, which fires projectiles to smash into enemy missiles, angered Beijing and Moscow, which both see it as a US bid to flex its military muscle in the region.

"The recent behaviour from South Korea has undermined the foundation for our mutual trust," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters ahead of a meeting late Sunday with his South Korean counterpart on the sidelines of a regional forum in Vientiane, Laos.

"I will hear what kind of practical actions South Korea will take to protect the unwavering relations between us," Yonhap quoted Wang as saying.

China is South Korea's largest export market and also a key partner in Seoul's efforts to curb North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.

At the meeting, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se acknowledged challenges in bilateral relations, but stressed that the THAAD deployment was purely defensive and posed no threat to China's security interests, Yonhap said, citing an unnamed Korean government official.

China, North Korea envoys hold talks in Laos
Vientiane (AFP) July 25, 2016 - Top envoys from China and North Korea held talks on Monday on the sidelines of a regional summit in Laos as tensions run high on the Korean peninsula over Pyongyang's nuclear programme.

North Korea's newly minted Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho, a former nuclear negotiator for the hermit state, and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi met in the capital Vientiane.

It is the first time Ri has attended a major diplomatic gathering since his appointment in May.

A phalanx of security guards from both Laos and North Korea guarded the room where the meeting was taking place.

Relations between Beijing and Pyongyang have frayed this year after North Korea's fourth nuclear test and a series of missile launches put the region on edge.

In response to the new tests -- the most recent of which was last Tuesday -- Washington and Seoul announced plans to deploy a US missile defence system in South Korea, sparking fury in Pyongyang and concern in Beijing.

In the face of continued North Korean provocation, the United States spearheaded the drafting of a new UN resolution adopted unanimously in March by Security Council members, including China -- North Korea's main diplomatic protector and economic benefactor.

Washington has since urged China to use its leverage over Pyongyang to implement tougher sanctions and push the reclusive state towards bankruptcy.

But Beijing is wary of pushing the North too far, fearing a regime collapse that could create a refugee crisis on its border and swing the regional balance of power towards the United States.

In June, Chinese president Xi Jinping stressed the importance of "friendly relations" with the North at a meeting with a top North Korean official.

North Korea formally withdrew in 2009 from six-party talks with South Korea, the United States, Russia, China and Japan that were aimed at tackling the nuclear issue.

Beijing wants the talks revived but Washington, Seoul and Tokyo all insist Pyongyang must first take some tangible step towards denuclearisation.

Beijing previously acted as a buffer between Pyongyang and the other five members, using cash to lure North Korea back to the negotiating table.

Both Ri and Wang are attending a diplomatic gathering organised by the 10-member Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN).

 

 

China, North Korea envoys hold talks in Laos

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎2, ‎2016, ‏‎3:29:51 AMGo to full article
Vientiane (AFP) July 25, 2016 - North Korea's new top envoy sat down with his Chinese counterpart Monday with relations between the secretive state and its historic benefactor on edge as Pyongyang stubbornly pursues its internationally condemned nuclear programme.

Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho, a career diplomat and party princeling, was making his first appearance at a major diplomatic gathering in his new role in the capital of fellow communist Laos.

Washington's top diplomat John Kerry also held talks with linchpin ally South Korea in Vientiane, with both sides describing relations as closer than ever in the face of Pyongyang's sabre-rattling.

"This is the right time for us to send out a very clear and strong message to North Korea that our alliance is stronger, deeper and broader than ever," Seoul's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se after a sitdown with Kerry.

Little emerged from Ri's meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

"The meeting was held as part of the two countries' normal communication process," an unnamed North Korean official said after the sitdown.

Both Beijing -- North Korea's main diplomatic protector and economic backer -- and Pyongyang share a deep suspicion of Washington's strong presence in the region.

But China has grown impatient with North Korea's refusal to reign in its weapons programme after its fourth nuclear test in January and a series of missile launches this year sparked international uproar.

Pyongyang's repeated provocations has pushed tensions on the Korean peninsula to a new high, and finally led Washington and Seoul to announce earlier in July the long-discussed deployment a US missile defence system in South Korea to counter the threat from the North.

- Mixed messages -

The United States spearheaded the drafting of a new toughened UN sanctions against Pyongyang in response to this year's barrage of weapons tests, which were adopted unanimously in March by Security Council members, including China.

Washington has also urged China to use its leverage over Pyongyang to implement the tougher sanctions and push the reclusive state towards bankruptcy.

But Beijing is wary of pushing the North too far, fearing a regime collapse that could create a refugee crisis on its border and swing the regional balance of power towards the United States.

Ri, 59, was previously North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator at the long-stalled, six-party talks aimed at halting the hermit state's weapon's programme.

His new appointment in May was seen as a signal that Pyongyang wanted to ease its international isolation.

But Pyongyang has continued its provocations with a series of missile tests.

That has prompted Seoul and Washington to announce plans for a missile defence shield to be deployed in South Korea by the end of next year.

Those moves have riled China and Russia.

Japan is also in the Laos capital this week, a rare moment when all members of the six party talks are in the same room.

The US is due to hold sideline talks with China and Russia, but US officials said a meeting with Pyongyang's envoy is highly unlikely.

 

 

Suspect North Korean nuclear site identified: report

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎2, ‎2016, ‏‎3:29:51 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) July 22, 2016 - A US think-tank said Friday it may have identified a secret North Korean gas centrifuge plant used in the early stages of the nuclear-armed country's illicit uranium enrichment efforts.

The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said identifying suspected hidden plants involved in the production of weapons-grade uranium would be "critical" to the success of any future deal on dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.

The North first revealed the existence of a gas centrifuge enrichment programme at its Yongbyon nuclear complex in 2010, but denied widespread expert assessments that it was part of a much larger network of smaller-scale plants.

In its report on Friday, ISIS said it may have identified one of the plants that could have served as an important facility in the development of North Korea's gas and centrifuge programme in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Collating reports from Chinese sources, a high-ranking North Korean defector and input from satellite imagery analysis and "knowledgeable" US government officials, ISIS pointed the finger at an air force base around 45 kilometres (30 miles) west of Yongbyon.

The most likely site of the gas centrifuge facility, it said, was an underground complex southeast of the air strip.

While it may once have held up to 200-300 centrifuges, ISIS said it had "no information" to suggest it was still functioning as an enrichment plant.

North Korea's enrichment activities are believed to date back to the early 1990s when it received substantial assistance from Pakistani experts who, according to ISIS president David Albright, essentially provided Pyongyang with a "centrifuge starter kit."

Uranium enrichment carries a far smaller footprint than plutonium and can be carried out using centrifuge cascades in relatively small buildings that give off no heat -- making it far harder to detect.

The possibility that North Korea has, or will have, undeclared uranium enrichment facilities squirrelled away across the country would undermine the credibility of any future aid-for-denuclearisation deal with Pyongyang.

 

 

Iran speaker says US undermining nuclear deal, failing against IS

 
‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎2, ‎2016, ‏‎3:29:51 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) July 20, 2016 - Iran's influential parliament speaker hit out at Washington Wednesday, accusing it of disrupting implementation of last year's landmark nuclear deal and failing in the fight against the Islamic State group.

Ali Larijani, a conservative who helped the nuclear deal pass in parliament last year, warned that Washington risked forcing Tehran into a path of renewed confrontation by putting obstacles in the way of its promised readmittance to the world economy.

"With great sadness, parliament... warns the US administration, House of Representatives and Senate that the efforts to undermine the nuclear agreement have reached a point that leaves no option for Iran but confrontation," he said.

Larjiani said the West had failed to give Iran sufficient recognition for its contribution to the fight against IS and hit out at the United Nations for continuing sanctions against its foreign operations commander.

Larijani said Western governments should be "thankful to Iran and (its elite Revolutionary Guard foreign operations unit) the Quds Force who have helped Iraq against the bestial terrorists" of IS.

"You, who neither have the courage to confront Daesh (IS), nor know how to fight it, as they carry out bloody attacks in three European countries... how dare you call the admirable Quds Force's fight a violation?" he asked.

The Quds Force and its commander Major General Qassem Suleimani remain under UN sanctions over its involvement in Iran's ballistic missile programme, which was not covered by last year's nuclear deal.

The sanctions include a travel ban and a recent visit to Baghdad by Suleimani was criticised by UN chief Ban Ki-moon in his latest six-monthly report on implementation of the sanctions.

Long a shadowy figure, Suleimani has become the public face of Iran's intervention against IS in Iraq and Syria, making repeated televised appearances from the front lines.

Iran is not part of the US-led coalition fighting the jihadists but has played a major military role in both countries.

 

 

British MPs back new PM and vote to update nuclear deterrent

 
‎Thursday, ‎July ‎28, ‎2016, ‏‎8:25:38 AMGo to full article
London (AFP) July 18, 2016 - New British Prime Minster Theresa May on Monday won her first parliamentary battle when MPs overwhelmingly voted to replace the ageing submarines that carry Britain's nuclear arsenal.

In her first address to the House of Commons since taking office last week following the EU referendum, May warned that the threat from nuclear weapons was increasing and said it would be an "act of gross irresponsibility" to abandon the nuclear deterrent.

Parliamentarians voted in favour of the motion by a margin of 472 to 117, a majority of 355, following six hours of debate.

The vote gives the green light for the construction of four new submarines to carry the Trident missile system and their nuclear warheads, at a cost of PND 41 billion (49 billion euros, $54 billion).

Some 138 Labour lawmakers, over 70 percent of those party members who voted, backed the Conservative government despite the opposition of their leader Jeremy Corbyn.

May cited Russian aggression and the nuclear ambitions of North Korea as proof that "the nuclear threat has not gone away, if anything it has increased".

"It is impossible to say for certain that no extreme threats will emerge in the next 30 or 40 years to threaten our security and way of life," she said.

"And it would be an act of gross irresponsibility to lose the ability to meet such threats by discarding the ultimate insurance against those risks in the future."

- 'Catastrophic' vote -

Britain is one of only three nuclear-armed NATO nations, along with the United States and France.

It has had a continuous at-sea deterrent since 1969, meaning that a submarine -- equipped with up to 40 nuclear warheads -- is always deployed somewhere in the oceans.

Each boat contains a sealed letter from the prime minister containing instructions on how to proceed if a nuclear strike on Britain has incapacitated the government.

Pressed whether she would be prepared to launch a nuclear