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The Magog Invasion

 

 Introduction:

 

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


[READ THE FULL INTRODUCTION]
 
 
 

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

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Heavy security for Jerusalem Gay Pride year after deadly attack

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎1 hour agoGo to full article
Ultra-Orthodox Jew Yishai Shlissel (C), who was convicted of killing a 16-year-old Israeli girl during the Jerusalem Gay Pride parade last year, is escorted into courtHundreds of Israeli police are being drafted into Jerusalem to protect the city's Gay Pride march on Thursday, a year after an ultra-Orthodox Jew killed a teenager and also stabbed five other people. Shira Banki, 16, was killed at the march last August after she was attacked at random along with five others by Yishai Shlissel, who is now serving a life sentence. Shlissel had spent 10 years in jail after an almost identical attack on the 2005 Jerusalem Gay Pride march and had been released just three weeks before last year's event, leading to criticism of police.
 
 

French lawmakers vote to extend state of emergency

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎8 hours agoGo to full article
Soldiers patrol past a makeshift memorial in tribute to the victims of the deadly Bastille Day attack at the Promenade des Anglais in NiceThe government is scrambling to find new ways to assure a jittery population after its third major attack in 18 months saw a truck driver plough into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, killing 84 people. After seven hours of fraught debate into the night, during which the opposition accused the government of being lax on security, the lower house of parliament voted by 489 to 26 to prolong the state of emergency for a further six months. Then on Wednesday afternoon, a large majority of senators followed suit, voting to extend the state of emergency by 309 to 26.
 
 

HSBC Bank's chief of foreign exchange cash trading arrested

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎8 hours agoGo to full article
HSBC Bank's head of foreign exchange cash trading Mark Johnson, 50, left, leaves U.S. District Court in Brooklyn with an attorney after posting bail, Wednesday, July 20, 2016, in New York. U.S. Attorney U.S. Attorney Robert Capers says Johnson put personal and company profits ahead of his customers' needs by trading ahead of his customers to make millions of dollars. Johnson, a British citizen and U.S. resident was arrested Tuesday night at Kennedy Airport. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)NEW YORK (AP) — HSBC Bank's head of foreign exchange cash trading was released on $1 million bail Wednesday after his arrest at a New York airport on charges he traded ahead of his customers to make millions of dollars in a scheme known as "front running."
 
 

Allies finalize plans to defeat IS group

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎8 hours agoGo to full article
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter speaks at the conclusion of a meeting of defense ministers of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, July 20, 2016The United States gathered its allies in the coalition fighting the Islamic State group Wednesday and agreed on a plan to corner the jihadists in their final bastions. US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told reporters that an accelerated military effort would soon see the group pushed back to Raqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.
 
 

Turkey declares 3-month state of emergency after failed coup

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎11:56:50 PMGo to full article
Turkey declares 3-month state of emergency after failed coupANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey's president on Wednesday declared a three-month state of emergency following a botched coup attempt, declaring he would rid the military of the "virus" of subversion and giving the government sweeping powers to expand a crackdown that has already included mass arrests and the closure of hundreds of schools.
 
 

Mosul assault in focus two years after Islamic State takeover

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎7:30:09 PMGo to full article
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters inspect an RPG launcher as they take control of the area, on the outskirts of MosulBy Stephen Kalin and Phil Stewart BAGHDAD (Reuters) - When Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi pledged in December that Iraq would retake Islamic State's de facto capital Mosul by the end of 2016, the target was greeted with scepticism by Western allies and officials within his own government. Less than seven months on, the Iraqi military has recaptured most major militant positions in western Anbar province and advanced toward Mosul, the largest city still under the ultra-hardline group's control across its self-proclaimed caliphate. Last month's recapture of Falluja, followed swiftly by Qayara airbase 60 km (40 miles) south of Mosul and the announcement of a fresh deployment of U.S. forces, lent momentum to the campaign, which the administration of President Barack Obama would like to finish before January.
 
 

US places sanctions on 3 Al-Qaeda officials in Iran

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎7:18:31 PMGo to full article
The sanctions on three Al-Qaeda officials seize any assets located in US jurisdictions of those named, and ban Americans and US-based companies from doing business with them — closing off their access to much of the global financial systemWashington (AFP) - The US Treasury announced Wednesday sanctions on three Iran-based senior Al-Qaeda officials allegedly involved in moving funds and weapons around the Middle East for the group.
 
 

US hits 3 Iran-based al-Qaida figures with terror sanctions

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎6:27:54 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has slapped sanctions on three senior al-Qaida figures based in Iran who it accuses of helping transfer money and fighters from South Asia to the Middle East.
 

Child beheading in Syria triggers backlash against rebels

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎6:09:56 PMGo to full article
BEIRUT (AP) — A U.S.-supported Syrian rebel group said Wednesday it will open an investigation into the beheading of a Syrian boy on spy accusations, calling it an "individual mistake" that does not represent the overall policies of the group.
 

Syria rebel beheading of child sparks outrage

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎5:58:41 PMGo to full article
More than 280,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria's civil war erupted with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011Syrian residents and the opposition expressed outrage on Wednesday at the brutal beheading of a child by a rebel group in Aleppo city, branding it a "heinous act". The horrific murder, captured in footage circulated on social media Tuesday, was carried out by Islamist rebels who accused the boy of fighting alongside government forces. "How could they slaughter a child like this?" asked 25-year-old Bassel Zein, a barber in the opposition-held Al-Kalasseh neighbourhood of Aleppo.
 
 

Israel says renews diplomatic ties with Republic of Guinea

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎5:15:31 PMGo to full article
Israel said on Wednesday that it and the Republic of Guinea have renewed diplomatic relations after 49 years, a diplomatic score for Israel as it looks to improve political and economic ties in the Muslim world. A number of African countries have either never had diplomatic relations with Israel, or severed them in the past, often citing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Guinea cut off ties after the 1967 Middle East war.
 

Seeing no future, deserters and draft-dodgers flee Syria

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎4:07:36 PMGo to full article
File photo of new Syrian army recruits carrying their plates before heading for their Iftar (breaking fast) meals, at a military training camp in DamascusBy John Davison BEIRUT (Reuters) - Nasser lifts another cigarette to his mouth with a scarred left hand, chain smoking and watching action films on a grainy TV at his friend's flat in a Beirut suburb. Since deserting President Bashar al-Assad's army he mostly avoids venturing outdoors. Shrapnel from a rebel shell ripped into his knuckles when he was serving on a front line of the Syrian conflict in Mouadamiya near Damascus.
 
 

Saudi clerics renew edict against playing 'Pokemon Go'

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎4:05:30 PMGo to full article
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia's top clerics renewed a religious edict that warns against playing Pokemon — this time as the wildly popular mobile phone application "Pokemon Go".
 

U.S. says its forces will keep operating in South China Sea

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎10:46:34 AMGo to full article
The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer transits the East Sea during Exercise Ssang YongU.S. military forces will continue to operate in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson said on Wednesday during a visit to a Chinese naval base. China has refused to recognize a ruling by an arbitration court in The Hague that invalidated its vast territorial claims in the South China Sea and did not take part in the proceedings brought by the Philippines. China has repeatedly blamed the United States for stirring up trouble in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually.
 
 

German foreign minister urges more ties between police, spy agencies

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎9:21:36 AMGo to full article
German Foreign Minister speaks during a news conference in TbilisiBy Andrea Shalal BERLIN (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on Wednesday for greater cooperation between police and intelligence agencies in Europe as well as sustained international efforts to fight Islamic State after recent attacks. The minister also said Germany would pledge a further 160 million euros ($176 million) to help stabilize Iraq at a donor conference of 24 countries in Washington. "The attacks of the past have shown us there is no absolute security," Steinmeier told Reuters in a written interview.
 
 

Italy says 3,200 boat migrants rescued Tuesday, one body recovered

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎11:36:40 PMGo to full article
Migrants sit in their boat during a rescue operation by Italian navy ship Borsini off the coast of SicilySome 3,200 migrants were plucked from overcrowded boats off the coast of Libya on Tuesday and one dead body was recovered, Italy's coast guard said, as people smugglers operating in Libya took advantage of calm seas and warm weather. A coast guard spokesman said the smugglers had sent at least 26 boats toward Italy, the latest in a tide of migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The Doctors Without Borders charity and migrant rescue groups MOAS and Sea Watch also participated.
 
 

Activists: Airstrikes on IS-held villages in Syria kill 56

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎10:09:03 PMGo to full article
BEIRUT (AP) — Airstrikes on Islamic State-held villages in northern Syria killed at least 56 civilians on Tuesday as intense fighting was underway between the militants and U.S-backed fighters, Syrian opposition activists and the extremist group said.
 

Bahrain rebuffs British, US allies over opposition ban

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎9:10:52 PMGo to full article
A Bahraini man holds a placard bearing the portrait of Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the Shiite opposition movement Al-Wefaq, during a protest against his arrest, on May 29, 2016Bahrain has rebuffed its British and US allies over a controversial ban on the kingdom's largest opposition group, insisting it will brook no interference in its internal affairs. The tiny but strategic Gulf state, a former British protectorate and home base of the US Fifth Fleet, has been racked by persistent unrest since its Sunni rulers bloodily suppressed an uprising by its Shiite majority in 2011. Western governments have repeatedly appealed publicly for reform and reconciliation but those calls have gone unheeded and in recent months the crackdown on dissent has intensified.
 
 

Suspected U.S. coalition strikes kill 56 civilians in IS-held Syrian city: monitor

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎7:30:16 PMGo to full article
Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) ride vehicles along a road near Manbij, in Aleppo Governorate, SyriaAt least 56 civilians were killed on Tuesday in air strikes north of the besieged Islamic State-held city of Manbij in northern Syria, and residents said they believed the attack was carried out by U.S.-led warplanes, a monitoring group said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the dead included 11 children, and that dozens more people were wounded. The U.S.-backed Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, launched an offensive at the end of May to seize the last territory held by Islamic State (IS) insurgents on Syria's frontier with Turkey.
 
 

Hollande 'open' to six-month French emergency extension

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎5:59:34 PMGo to full article
French President Francois Hollande (C) arrives on the tarmac at Lisbon's Figo Maduro military airport in Lisbon on July 19, 2016 for a one-day visitPresident Francois Hollande said Tuesday he was willing to extend France's state of emergency for another six months following the Bastille Day massacre, as lawmakers prepared to debate the country's tough security laws. French MPs will mull a fourth extension of the eight-month-old state of emergency, as criticism mounted of the Socialist government's response to a slew of extremist attacks. Hollande had announced last Thursday a planned lifting of the measures imposed after the November Paris attacks that killed 130.
 
 

France debates new extension of emergency laws after Nice attack

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎3:19:48 PMGo to full article
Soldiers patrol past a makeshift memorial in tribute to the victims of the deadly Bastille Day attack at the Promenade des Anglais in NiceFrench lawmakers, prompted by the Bastille Day massacre in Nice, were Tuesday to debate extending the country's state of emergency for a fourth time amid mounting criticism of the government's response to extremist attacks. President Francois Hollande had announced last Thursday that he planned to lift the measures on July 26. The ruling Socialists have proposed a three-month extension but government sources told AFP that they would yield to the demands of the conservative opposition and keep the draconian measures in place until the beginning of 2017.
 
 

Indonesia '99 percent' sure most-wanted militant killed in clash

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎10:15:53 AMGo to full article
Police carry body bags one of which is believed to contain the remains of the country's most-wanted militant Santoso at a hospital in PaluBy Kanupriya Kapoor JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia is "99 percent" sure its most-wanted militant, a supporter of Islamic State known as Santoso, has been killed in a clash with security forces, a senior government official said on Tuesday. Santoso, who had been designated a "terrorist" by the United States, was believed to have been killed in a gunbattle with the security forces on the island of Sulawesi on Monday, officials said. "It's confirmed that Santoso ... is dead," the official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters by text message.
 
 

Biden reasserts US as a 'Pacific power' in trip to Australia

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎9:59:30 AMGo to full article
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, center, meets with Australian Defense Force personnel on board the HMAS Adelaide, in Sydney, Tuesday, July 19, 2016. Biden is visiting Australia during a tour of the Pacific. (Jessica Hromas /Pool Photo via AP)SYDNEY (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden met with Australia's prime minister and other leaders on Tuesday, as he reasserted America's push to boost its presence in the Asia-Pacific region and maintain its status as a "Pacific power."
 
 

Attacker in Nice had 'clear interest' in jihad: prosecutor

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎9:12:28 PMGo to full article
Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel was shot dead by police after he drove this truck through a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice on July 14The truck driver who caused carnage in the French city of Nice showed "recent interest" in jihadist activity, investigators said Monday, four days after a massacre that sparked fierce criticism of the government's security record. Emotions are running high in France after the third major attack in 18 months. Prime Minister Manuel Valls endured a humiliating chorus of boos and heckles at a ceremony of remembrance for the victims during a visit to the Riviera city Monday.
 
 

Bastille Day truck killer drove up low kerb onto promenade

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎9:02:00 PMGo to full article
By Johnny Cotton and Michel Bernouin NICE, France (Reuters) - The Bastille Day killer drove his truck up a low kerb and onto the Nice waterfront to get at his victims, using an apparently easy and unblocked route that delivery drivers take daily, according to witnesses and the French government's account. The ease with which Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel reached the pedestrianised Promenade des Anglais, where he killed 84 people by driving the rented white truck into a crowd on Thursday, has become a focus for criticism of security arrangements at the event. The mass killing, claimed by Islamic State, was the third in France since January 2015.
 

Turkey economy facing fresh problems after coup attempt

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎8:51:18 PMGo to full article
Turkish mourners carry the coffin of a policeman killed Friday in the failed military coup, during a mass funeral in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, July 18, 2016. Warplanes patrolled Turkey's skies overnight in a sign that authorities feared that the threat against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government was not yet over, despite official assurances that life has returned to normal after a failed coup. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey faces the prospect of waning economic growth, a struggle to attract international investors and financial market volatility for months to come following the failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
 
 

NATO head tells Erdogan 'essential' Turkey respects rule of law

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎5:53:09 PMGo to full article
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives for the opening of a NATO summit in Warsaw on July 8, 2016NATO head Jens Stoltenberg on Monday said Turkey must fully respect the rule of law and democratic freedoms, just like any other alliance member, in the aftermath of a failed military coup. "Being part of a unique community of values, it is essential for Turkey, like all other allies, to ensure full respect for democracy and its institutions, the constitutional order, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms," Stoltenberg said in a statement after speaking with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
 
 

Russia's Alfa-Bank signs with FIFA as 2018 World Cup sponsor

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎3:29:07 PMGo to full article
MOSCOW (AP) — FIFA has filled the first of 20 sponsor slots for the 2018 World Cup in a new program that stalled during its corruption crisis.
 

Resort town mapped out for Athens airport wasteland

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎12:47:00 PMGo to full article
A migrant woman makes her way next to tents set at the old baseball venue of the former Hellenikon Olympic complex, which is used as a shelter for refugees and migrants, in AthensBy Angeliki Koutantou and Karolina Tagaris ATHENS (Reuters) - A crumbling former Athens airport complex housing thousands of stranded migrants will be transformed into one of Europe's biggest coastal resorts if a Greek development company realizes its ambitions. The 7-billion-euro plan to develop Hellenikon, a site three times the size of Monaco, has the potential to help kick-start an economy that is limping back to growth after seven years of recession.
 
 

Boris Johnson says Britain not abandoning 'leading role' in Europe

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎11:50:17 AMGo to full article
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson speaks to journalists outside his home in London on July 15, 2016New British foreign minister and top Brexit backer Boris Johnson pledged Monday Britain would continue to play a leading role in Europe as he met his European Union peers in Brussels for the first time. The normally ebullient Johnson was on his best behaviour after infuriating his partners in the run-up to the referendum by comparing the EU's ambitions for closer European integration to Adolf Hitler's. "We have to give effect to the will of the people and leave the European Union but... we are not going in any way to abandon our leading role in European participation," Johnson told reporters.
 
 

At height of Turkish coup bid, rebel jets had Erdogan's plane in their sights

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎1:03:23 AMGo to full article
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan waves to the crowd following a funeral service for a victim of the thwarted coup in IstanbulBy Humeyra Pamuk and Orhan Coskun ANKARA/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - At the height of the attempt to overthrow Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, the rebel pilots of two F-16 fighter jets had Erdogan's plane in their sights. The Turkish leader was returning to Istanbul from a holiday near the coastal resort of Marmaris after a faction in the military launched the coup attempt on Friday night, sealing off a bridge across the Bosphorus, trying to capture Istanbul's main airport and sending tanks to parliament in Ankara. "At least two F-16s harassed Erdogan's plane while it was in the air and en route to Istanbul.
 
 

EU ministers meet on Turkey, facing perfect storm

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎1:03:23 AMGo to full article
By Alastair Macdonald and Robin Emmott BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European foreign ministers will urge Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday to respect the law and human rights in dealing with defeated coup plotters but have limited leverage over their strategic neighbor. Diplomats said an EU line on Turkey would be agreed after ministers breakfast in Brussels with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. What was to be a routine if busy meeting, to address before the summer break such simmering crises as Ukraine and Libya, African migration and the China's maritime expansion, has been swept into a perfect storm as three major developments battered Brussels' agenda in 48 hours on successive days last week: -- The accelerated formation of a new British government under Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday and her choice of Brussels-baiting journalist and Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson as foreign secretary.
 

Israel launches anti-aircraft missiles at Syrian drone: army

 
‎Sunday, ‎July ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎6:04:10 PMGo to full article
Israel on Sunday fired missiles toward an unmanned drone that entered Israeli-controlled airspace from Syria and it turned back, the military said in a statement. "Two Patriot air defense missiles were fired toward a drone which infiltrated Israeli airspace in the central Golan Heights. The drone returned to Syria," the Israeli army said.
 

Turkey rounds up plot suspects after thwarting coup against Erdogan

 
‎Sunday, ‎July ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎4:12:53 AMGo to full article
Supporters of Turkish President Erdogan gather at Taksim Square in central IstanbulBy David Dolan and Gulsen Solaker ISTANBUL/ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish authorities rounded up nearly 3,000 suspected military plotters on Saturday and ordered thousands of judges detained after thwarting a coup by rebels using tanks and attack helicopters to try to topple President Tayyip Erdogan. For several hours overnight on Friday violence shook Turkey's two main cities, as the armed faction which tried to seize power blocked a bridge in Istanbul and strafed the headquarters of Turkish intelligence and parliament in Ankara.
 
 

Questions now swirl about Turkey, key Western ally

 
‎Sunday, ‎July ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎2:04:50 AMGo to full article
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech n Istanbul, Saturday, July 16, 2016. Forces loyal to Erdogan quashed a coup attempt in a night of explosions, air battles and gunfire that left some hundreds of people dead and scores of others wounded Saturday. The chaos Friday night and Saturday came amid a period of political turmoil in Turkey _ a NATO member and key Western ally in the fight against the Islamic State group _ that critics blame on Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian rule. (AP Photo)Turkey's pivotal roles as an ally in the U.S.-led war against the Islamic State group and a guarantor of refugee agreements are likely to remain intact for now after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emerged triumphant followingr a failed coup attempt.
 
 

Turkish president Erdogan is a survivor and strongman

 
‎Saturday, ‎July ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎10:23:42 PMGo to full article
A Turkish man looks towards a portrait of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a protest against the military coup outside Turkey's parliament near the Turkish military headquarters in Ankara, Turkey, Saturday, July 16, 2016. Forces loyal to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan quashed a coup attempt in a night of explosions, air battles and gunfire that left dozens dead Saturday. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, rose to power riding on brash populism. A former professional soccer player and ex-mayor of Istanbul, he engineered electoral landslides for a party whose pious Muslim base flouted the old secular establishment. In office for more than a decade, he has been increasingly accused of autocratic tendencies.
 
 

Two cheers for Erdogan: Europe hopes and fears after coup bid

 
‎Saturday, ‎July ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎10:11:51 PMGo to full article
A man poses on an Armored Vehicle with portraits of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan parked outside the parliament building in AnkaraBy Robin Emmott and Alastair Macdonald BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European leaders greeted the defeat of Turkey's coup on Saturday with relief as it averts chaos and keeps alive a deal that has helped to stem the migration crisis threatening the continent. "Erdogan will be judged on his response," one EU official involved in the plan said, citing arrests of judges as an early sign that justified "deep concern that this will lead to a new trampling on rights of freedom of expression and demonstration". Senior members of the European Parliament, where anger at the prickly Turkish leader's treatment of elected opponents could stymie the EU deal to reward Turkey for stopping refugees, were pessimistic about the outlook for Turkish democracy.
 
 

AIDS summit in South Africa to warn of lagging effort

 
‎Saturday, ‎July ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎9:49:51 PMGo to full article
AIDS activists hold banners and wave flags as they attend a march called "Keep The Promise 2016" through the streets of Durban on July 16, 2016Sixteen years after Nelson Mandela galvanised the world to take up the fight against AIDS, experts and activists return to the South African city of Durban on Monday, seeking to revitalise the fight against the disease. Some 18,000 scientists, campaigners, funders and lawmakers are descending on the port city for the five-day 21st International AIDS Conference -- a council of war on a pandemic that has claimed more than 30 million lives in 35 years. Singer Elton John and Britain's Prince Harry will host a session at the conference discussing the HIV epidemic among young people.
 
 

Istanbul's airport reopens, flights resume after coup attempt

 
‎Saturday, ‎July ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎5:47:19 PMGo to full article
Turkish Airlines resumed flights from Istanbul's international airport on Saturday following a failed coup attempt while some foreign carriers canceled weekend flights. Forces loyal to Turkey's government fought on Saturday to crush the last remnants of a military coup attempt. Television images late Friday had shown tanks parked in front of the airport.
 

U.S. urges support of Turkey's government after coup attempt

 
‎Saturday, ‎July ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎9:51:47 AMGo to full article
By Alistair Bell WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States called on all parties in Turkey to support President Tayyip Erdogan's government against a coup attempt as world leaders expressed concern about the upheaval in a NATO member country that bridges Europe and the Middle East. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by phone and gave their support to Erdogan after Turkey's military said it had seized power on Friday. By early Saturday, Erdogan appeared to have regained control.

 

 

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South Korea's Lee weighs cost of taekwondo gold

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
South Korea's world taekwondo champion Lee Dae-Hoon won silver in the 58-kilogram division at the London GamesSouth Korea's two-time world taekwondo champion Lee Dae-Hoon has a weight problem when it comes to securing the Olympic title he craves. A quirk of taekwondo is that its Olympic weight classes are different from those that feature in the Asian Games and World Championships. Lee's natural fighting weight of 63 kilograms fits the latter, but for the Olympics he must choose to shift up or down.
 
 

Turkey's Erdogan declares state of emergency after coup bid

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎6 hours agoGo to full article
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference at the Presidential Palace in AnkaraBy Asli Kandemir and Gareth Jones ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan declared a state of emergency on Wednesday as he widened a crackdown against thousands of members of the security forces, judiciary, civil service and academia after a failed military coup. Erdogan said the state of emergency, lasting three months, would allow his government to take swift and decisive measures against supporters of the coup and was allowed under the constitution. Emergency rule, which would take effect after it is published in Turkey's official gazette, would allow the president and cabinet to bypass parliament in passing new laws and to limit or suspend rights and freedoms as they deem necessary.
 
 

U.S. blacklists three al Qaeda members living in Iran

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎11:19:51 PMGo to full article
By Yeganeh Torbati WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday blacklisted three members of al Qaeda living in Iran, saying they had helped the Islamist militant group on the battlefield, with finance and logistics, and in mediating with Iranian authorities. Iran has held several al Qaeda high-ranking members and lower-level militants since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, though U.S. officials say the precise conditions of their confinement are unclear. Faisal Jassim Mohammed al-Amri al-Khalidi, a 31-year-old Saudi national, led an al Qaeda brigade and was serving as the group's military commission chief in May 2015, Treasury said, describing him as "part of a new generation" of al Qaeda operatives.
 

U.S. appeals court voids forfeiture of Iran-linked New York office tower

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎11:16:29 PMGo to full article
The main entrance of 650 Fifth Avenue in the midtown Manhattan section of New YorkA federal appeals court said on Wednesday the U.S. government cannot seize a Midtown Manhattan office tower originally built by the Shah of Iran, whose owners it claimed were fronts for the Iranian government. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also said hundreds of victims of "terrorist acts" linked to Iran could not force the owners of 650 Fifth Avenue to turn over the building or pay unsatisfied money judgments they had won against the country, finding no proof that the owners and Iran were legally one and the same. Both decisions were written by Circuit Judge Richard Wesley for a unanimous three-judge panel, and totaled 145 pages.
 
 

Argentina judge requests arrest of Iran adviser for bombing

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎10:38:25 PMGo to full article
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — An Argentine judge is requesting that Singapore and Malaysia arrest an adviser to Iran's supreme leader who is accused of masterminding the South American country's worst terrorist attack.
 

Argentina's spy agency regroups, wins back power under Macri

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎10:36:57 PMGo to full article
A man uses headphones while working at the Justice Ministry's Agency for comunications capturing in Buenos AiresBy Nicolás Misculin BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - A little over a year since Argentina's spy agency was shackled in the wake of the mysterious death of a star prosecutor, President Mauricio Macri is backing its quest for broader powers that critics fear will revive unfettered domestic spying. Argentina's spies are pressing Macri to remove restrictions imposed by former president Cristina Fernandez after public investigator Alberto Nisman was found dead in his home in 2015, a source in the judiciary said. Fernandez accused a rogue agent of playing a role in Nisman's murder, which came days after he accused her of covering up Iran's alleged role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires.
 
 

Syria opposition asks anti-IS coalition to halt strikes

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎10:06:54 PMGo to full article
A Syrian man reacts as rescuers look for victims under the rubble of a collapsed building following a reported air strike on the rebel-held neighbourhood of Sakhur in the northern city of Aleppo on July 19, 2016Syria's opposition appealed Wednesday to the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group to halt its air strikes after dozens of civilians were killed in raids near an IS-held town. In a letter to the alliance's foreign ministers, National Coalition president Anas al-Abdah demanded "an immediate suspension of the military operations of the international (anti-IS) coalition in Syria to allow for a thorough investigation of these incidents". "We believe that such incidents indicate a major loophole in the current operational rules followed by the international coalition in conducting strikes in populated areas," said the letter.
 
 

UN chief says Iran deal marks fundamental shift

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎8:53:06 PMGo to full article
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations chief says that the Iran nuclear deal marked a fundamental change in the Middle Eastern nation's relationship with the Security Council and has provided Iran with an opportunity for greater engagement with the international community.
 

Trump's 'politics of fear' dangerous for world: German foreign minister

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎8:43:38 PMGo to full article
German Foreign Minister Steinmeier speaks during a news conference in TbilisiBy Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump threatens U.S. and world security with his "politics of fear and isolation," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Wednesday. Steinmeier, a Social Democrat, told Reuters in a written interview that he was concerned about what he called Trump's ambiguous vows to "make America strong again" while simultaneously reducing its engagement overseas. "A politics of fear and isolation will bring less security, not more, and would be dangerous not only for the United States, but for Europe and the rest of the world as well," he said before departing for Washington for meetings about the U.S.-led effort to defeat the Islamic State militant group.
 
 

U.N. chief: Make sure Iran nuclear deal benefits Iranian people

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎7:51:07 PMGo to full article
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrives for the closing news conference during the World Humanitarian Summit in IstanbulUnited Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged world powers on Wednesday to ensure a historic nuclear deal with Iran delivers "tangible benefits to the Iranian people" after Tehran complained it was not fully benefiting from sanctions relief. On the first anniversary of a U.N. Security Council resolution endorsing the deal between Iran and six world powers, Ban urged all the parties to uphold their commitments to implement the agreement to curb Tehran's atomic work. "It is of the utmost importance that the JCPOA (Iran deal) works for all its participants, including by delivering tangible benefits to the Iranian people," Ban said in a statement.
 
 

US places sanctions on 3 Al-Qaeda officials in Iran

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎7:18:31 PMGo to full article
The sanctions on three Al-Qaeda officials seize any assets located in US jurisdictions of those named, and ban Americans and US-based companies from doing business with them — closing off their access to much of the global financial systemWashington (AFP) - The US Treasury announced Wednesday sanctions on three Iran-based senior Al-Qaeda officials allegedly involved in moving funds and weapons around the Middle East for the group.
 
 

US hits 3 Iran-based al-Qaida figures with terror sanctions

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎6:27:54 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has slapped sanctions on three senior al-Qaida figures based in Iran who it accuses of helping transfer money and fighters from South Asia to the Middle East.
 

Why Britain may eventually scrap its nuclear deterrent

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎4:19:03 PMGo to full article
The British government voted Monday to renew its nuclear deterrent, replacing its aging fleet of nuclear-armed Vanguard submarines with four new ones, to be named Successor. Digging into the detail of those numbers, however, reveals even more – about the difference in opinion between Scotland and the rest of Britain, as well as the divisions within political parties and the political considerations tied to this vote. Recommended: How much do you know about nuclear weapons?
 

The Latest: Erdogan supporters rally for 5th straight day

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎10:04:32 PMGo to full article
The Latest: Erdogan supporters rally for 5th straight dayISTANBUL (AP) — The Latest on the attempted military coup in Turkey (all times local):
 
 

Bahrain rebuffs British, US allies over opposition ban

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎9:10:52 PMGo to full article
A Bahraini man holds a placard bearing the portrait of Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the Shiite opposition movement Al-Wefaq, during a protest against his arrest, on May 29, 2016Bahrain has rebuffed its British and US allies over a controversial ban on the kingdom's largest opposition group, insisting it will brook no interference in its internal affairs. The tiny but strategic Gulf state, a former British protectorate and home base of the US Fifth Fleet, has been racked by persistent unrest since its Sunni rulers bloodily suppressed an uprising by its Shiite majority in 2011. Western governments have repeatedly appealed publicly for reform and reconciliation but those calls have gone unheeded and in recent months the crackdown on dissent has intensified.
 
 

Iran's nuclear deal starts to end after 10 years, not 15 years

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎7:51:25 PMGo to full article
A confidential document from the Iran nuclear deal, which was recently leaked to the Associated Press, allows Iran to expand its uranium enrichment program after the first 10 years of the deal, even though the overall agreement lasts 15 years. The document was given to the Associated Press by a diplomat whose work focused on Iran’s nuclear program and who described the document as “an add-on agreement to the nuclear deal in the form of a document submitted by Iran to the International Atomic Energy Agency.” The IAEA is the United Nations' watchdog on nuclear research. The nuclear deal, signed a year ago, was intended to prevent Iran’s proclaimed peaceful nuclear research from being directed at making weapons.
 

Clashes over water in southern Iran kill 1, injure 30

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎4:16:12 PMGo to full article
TEHRNA, Iran (AP) — Iran's semi-official ILNA news agency is reporting that at least one person has been killed and 30 people injured in clashes over a water supply.
 

Bulgaria detains 45 migrants trying to cross border into Serbia

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎2:53:45 PMGo to full article
Bulgaria detained 45 migrants who were trying to cross into neighboring Serbia, the interior ministry said on Tuesday, three days after Belgrade bolstered its border patrols to prevent migrants getting in. Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday his country must not become a "collective center for migrants" most of whom enter Serbia from Bulgaria seeking to travel on to richer European countries. Thirty of the 45 migrants detained at the border were Afghans, 13 were from Pakistan, and two from Iran, authorities said.
 

U.N. chief: Bahrain's closure of main opposition bloc risks escalation

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎2:46:30 PMGo to full article
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during the inaugural "Xin" Philanthropy Conference in HangzhouU.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday that Bahrain's dissolution of its main opposition group risked escalating tensions in the Gulf Arab kingdom beset by a growing rift between a Shi'ite Muslim majority and its Sunni rulers. Since June Bahrain has taken a series of steps that activists describe as a renewed opposition crackdown, including the arrest of prominent activist Nabeel Rajab and stripping top Shi'ite cleric Isa Qassim of his citizenship. "The Secretary-General deplores the dissolution of al-Wefaq, the main opposition political party in Bahrain," a statement from Ban's spokesman said.
 
 

Iran to issue verdicts in trial over storming of Saudi posts

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎2:35:50 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency says verdicts are to be handed down in 10 days for suspects on trial over the storming of Saudi diplomatic missions in January.
 

Iran's FM extolls country's ability to restore nuke program

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎1:25:53 PMGo to full article
FILE -- This Oct. 27, 2004 file photo, shows the interior of the Arak heavy water production facility in Arak, 360 kms southwest of Tehran, Iran. A document obtained by The Associated Press Monday, July 18, 2016, says key nuclear restrictions on Iran will ease in a little more than a decade, halving the time Tehran would need to build a bomb if it chose to do so. The document says that 11 to 13 years into the 15-year agreement, Iran can replace the 5,060 inefficient centrifuges it now uses to enrich uranium with up to 3,500 advanced machines. (AP Photo/Fars News Agancy, File)TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's foreign minister on Tuesday extolled the country's ability to bring its nuclear program back on track as limits on the landmark 15-year accord between Tehran and world powers ease in the coming years.
 
 

Arrest of several dual-national Iranians could be politically motivated

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎12:58:50 PMGo to full article
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her daughter Gabriella pose for a photo in LondonBy Babak Dehghanpisheh and Yeganeh Torbati BEIRUT/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Montreal academic Homa Hoodfar was preparing to return to Canada from Iran in March when agents from Iran's powerful paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps raided her Tehran home and took her laptop, phone, books and passport, her family said. On June 6, she went in for yet another interrogation session but was not released.    Nine days later, the hardline Mashregh site, which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, published what it alleged were her crimes: creating security problems within the Islamic Republic by taking part in feminist activities. Hoodfar's niece said the 65-year old anthropology and sociology professor at Concordia University in Montreal was in Iran on a personal trip.
 
 

Netanyahu: Hezbollah will face 'iron fist' if it attacks

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎11:16:36 AMGo to full article
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, Israel, Sunday, July 17, 2016. (Abir Sultan, Pool via AP)JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's prime minister says the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah will face an "iron fist" if it attacks Israel again.
 
 

The Latest: Erdogan ready to reinstate death penalty

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎2:52:09 AMGo to full article
A woman waves Turkish flags during a rally against the attempted coup in Taksim Square in Istanbul, protesting against the attempted coup, Monday, July 18, 2016. The Turkish government accelerated its crackdown on alleged plotters of the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The rebellion, which saw warplanes firing on key government installations and tanks rolling into major cities, was quashed by loyal government forces and masses of civilians who took to the streets. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Latest on the attempted military coup in Turkey (all times local):
 
 

AP Exclusive: Document shows less limits on Iran nuke work

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎2:00:59 AMGo to full article
FILE -- In this July 14, 2015 file photo, young Iranian men cheer and show victory signs while holding a picture of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, reading "Zarif is Mosaddegh of our time," comparing Zarif to Mohammad Mosaddegh, Iran's legendary prime minister during the 1950s who nationalized the country's oil industry, in Tehran, Iran. A document obtained by The Associated Press Monday, July 18, 2016, says key nuclear restrictions on Iran will ease in a little more than a decade, halving the time Tehran would need to build a bomb if it chose to do so. The document says that 11 to 13 years into the 15-year agreement, Iran can replace the 5,060 inefficient centrifuges it now uses to enrich uranium with up to 3,500 advanced machines. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)VIENNA (AP) — Key restrictions on Iran's nuclear program imposed under an internationally negotiated deal will start to ease years before the 15-year accord expires, advancing Tehran's ability to build a bomb even before the end of the pact, according to a document obtained Monday by The Associated Press.
 
 

U.S., Russia criticize U.N. chief over Iran nuclear deal report

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎11:32:35 PMGo to full article
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon attends St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2016By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States and Russia both criticized United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday for overstepping his mandate in a report on the implementation of a Security Council resolution backing a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. Most U.N. sanctions on Iran were lifted in January when the U.N. nuclear watchdog confirmed that Tehran fulfilled commitments under its nuclear deal with Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States.
 
 

Podcast: 'Zero Days' director Alex Gibney on making Stuxnet a movie star

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎10:28:46 PMGo to full article
In his recently released film "Zero Days," award-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney takes on an especially tough challenge: Making a movie about a top secret program that few people will publicly acknowledge ever existed. 
 

Bahrain slams UK, U.S. 'interference', clerics say Shi'ites under threat

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎8:44:06 PMGo to full article
Bahrain on Monday dismissed as "unacceptable interference" U.S. and British criticism of its decision to dissolve the main Shi'ite Muslim opposition party, as senior clerics warned the Shi'ite majority was under threat. Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet, said a court's decision on Sunday to dissolve the al-Wefaq opposition group, accused of helping foster violence and terrorism, was "just" and "transparent", state news agency BNA reported. The move against al-Wefaq was one of several steps taken by the Sunni-led government against its opponents that have drawn international criticism, including revoking the citizenship of the country's Shi'ite spiritual leader Ayatollah Isa Qassim.
 

Stuxnet ushered in era of government hacking, say experts

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎8:14:26 PMGo to full article
When cybersecurity researchers discovered the computer worm known as Stuxnet in 2010, they reacted with a mix of excitement and anxiety. The excitement came from the apparent sophistication that went into crafting the malicious code designed to harm Iran's nuclear program by causing centrifuges to spin rapidly out of control. Recommended: Passcode How secure is your data?
 

Document obtained by AP: Secret deal will allow Iran to expand key nuclear program in little more than a decade

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎8:08:14 PMGo to full article
VIENNA (AP) — Document obtained by AP: Secret deal will allow Iran to expand key nuclear program in little more than a decade.
 

11 dead in Yemen bombings claimed by Qaeda

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎7:48:37 PMGo to full article
Yemenis run for cover as smoke rises following a car bomb attack at an army checkpoint at the entrance to the town of Hajr on July 18, 2016Suicide bombings killed 11 people Monday at two army checkpoints in Al-Qaeda's former stronghold in southeastern Yemen, officials said, in attacks claimed by the jihadist group. One attacker drove his bomb-laden truck into a checkpoint in a western district of Hadramawt's provincial capital Mukalla, security officials told AFP. The second attacker simultaneously blew up his vehicle at an army checkpoint in the nearby town of Hajr, some 15 kilometres (nine miles) to the west of Mukalla, the sources said.
 
 

Suspects in Saudi embassy attack appear in Iranian court

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎6:22:34 PMGo to full article
Flames rise from Saudi Arabia's embassy after it was stormed by Iranian protesters during a demonstration in TehranBy Bozorgmehr Sharafedin DUBAI (Reuters) - More than 10 people accused of storming Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran in January appeared in a Tehran court on Monday, Iranian news agencies reported, weeks after President Hassan Rouhani urged the judiciary to take action. The suspects are accused of "disturbing the public order and damaging embassy buildings", according to state media. Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations with its Shi'ite Muslim rival Iran after protesters stormed the kingdom's embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad following Riyadh's execution of a prominent Saudi Shi'ite cleric.
 
 

Iran begins trial for 21 linked to storming of Saudi posts

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎5:26:38 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran began a closed trial on Monday for 21 suspects in the storming of Saudi diplomatic missions earlier this year, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.
 

Will Britain keep its Trident nuclear program?

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎5:18:29 PMGo to full article
British lawmakers will vote Monday on whether to replace the country's fleet of nuclear-armed submarines, an expensive project which Conservative lawmakers say is key to maintaining the country's status as a world power. With a Conservative majority of 16, Parliament is likely to approve renewing the Scotland-based, nuclear-armed Trident submarines, despite opposition from lawmakers in the Labour Party and the Scottish National Party who say the money would be better spent elsewhere.
 

Iran hardliners gain authority in backlash that could sideline Rouhani

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎1:41:09 PMGo to full article
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani attend Supreme LeaderÕs meeting with authorities of the country and ambassadors of Islamic countries, in TehranBy Parisa Hafezi ANKARA (Reuters) - A year after Iran's nuclear deal with the West, hardliners are gaining authority in a backlash against pragmatic President Hasan Rouhani that his allies say could leave him sidelined or push him out of power in an election next year. Rouhani, who was elected in a landslide in 2013 on a promise to reduce Iran's diplomatic isolation, delivered the agreement that resulted in a lifting of financial sanctions in return for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program. The deal had the grudging approval of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the arch-conservative in office since 1989, whose ultimate authority outranks that of the elected president.
 
 

Iran suspects on trial over Saudi embassy attack

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎1:25:38 PMGo to full article
Iranian protesters set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran during a demonstration against the execution of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi authorities, on January 2, 2016The trial of protesters accused of ransacking the Saudi embassy in Tehran opened Monday in the Iranian capital with 21 suspects accused of "destruction", the judiciary's news agency reported. Mizan Online said 21 out of 48 defendants appeared in court for the first hearing and were formally informed by the prosecutor of the charges against them. The Saudi embassy and its consulate in Iran's second city Mashhad were stormed and burned on January 2 in protest against the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent cleric from Saudi Arabia's Shiite minority.
 
 

Iraqi cleric Sadr says new US troops 'a target'

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎10:20:53 AMGo to full article
Iraqi Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's forces have taken part in operations against IS, but one of their main tasks has been the defence of shrines and other religious sitesA powerful Iraqi Shiite cleric whose militiamen battled US forces after the 2003 invasion has said that hundreds more American troops being sent to Iraq are "a target for us". Pentagon chief Ashton Carter announced on a recent visit to Baghdad that 560 extra military personnel would be sent as part of efforts to combat the Islamic State group, which overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014. "They are a target for us," Moqtada al-Sadr said in a statement on his website on Sunday, responding to a question about Carter's announcement.
 
 

Iran receives the missile part of S-300 defense system from Russia: Tasnim

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎9:56:30 AMGo to full article
Russian military vehicles move along a central street during a rehearsal for a military parade in MoscowRussia has delivered the missile part of S-300 surface-to-air defense system to Iran, Tasnim news agency reported on Monday, moving to finish the delivery of all divisions of the system to Tehran by the end of this year. "The first shipment of missiles of S-300 missile system has recently entered Iran that shows Iran's determination to equip its air defense circle with this system," Tasnim news agency, which is close to the Revolutionary Guards, reported. Russia's agreement to provide Iran with S-300 has sparked concern in Israel, whose government Iran has said it aims to destroy.
 
 

Iran denounces 'unconstructive' Bahrain opposition ban

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎9:12:01 AMGo to full article
A Bahraini cleric walks past a cardboard cutout bearing the portrait of Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the Shiite opposition movement Al-Wefaq, during a protest against his arrest, on the outskirts of the capital Manama, in May 2016Iran has criticised as "unconstructive" a Bahraini court's decision to dissolve and seize the funds of the country's main Shiite opposition group. The order -- which can be appealed -- came Sunday despite international criticism of the Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdom's intensified crackdown on dissent. The administrative court in Manama found Al-Wefaq guilty of "harbouring terrorism" and ordered the government to seize its assets.
 
 

Iraqi Shi'ite cleric tells followers to target U.S. troops fighting Islamic State

 
‎Monday, ‎July ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎2:39:53 AMGo to full article
Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is seen during a protest against corruption at Tahrir Square in BaghdadPowerful Shi'ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr instructed his followers on Sunday to target U.S. troops deploying to Iraq as part of the military campaign against Islamic State. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Monday the Pentagon would dispatch 560 additional troops to help Iraqi forces retake the northern city of Mosul in an offensive planned for later this year. Sadr, who rose to prominence when his Mahdi Army battled U.S. troops after the 2003 invasion, posted the comments on his official website after a follower asked for his response to the announcement.
 
 

Turkey rounds up plot suspects after thwarting coup against Erdogan

 
‎Sunday, ‎July ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎4:12:53 AMGo to full article
Supporters of Turkish President Erdogan gather at Taksim Square in central IstanbulBy David Dolan and Gulsen Solaker ISTANBUL/ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish authorities rounded up nearly 3,000 suspected military plotters on Saturday and ordered thousands of judges detained after thwarting a coup by rebels using tanks and attack helicopters to try to topple President Tayyip Erdogan. For several hours overnight on Friday violence shook Turkey's two main cities, as the armed faction which tried to seize power blocked a bridge in Istanbul and strafed the headquarters of Turkish intelligence and parliament in Ankara.
 
 

Questions now swirl about Turkey, key Western ally

 
‎Sunday, ‎July ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎2:04:50 AMGo to full article
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech n Istanbul, Saturday, July 16, 2016. Forces loyal to Erdogan quashed a coup attempt in a night of explosions, air battles and gunfire that left some hundreds of people dead and scores of others wounded Saturday. The chaos Friday night and Saturday came amid a period of political turmoil in Turkey _ a NATO member and key Western ally in the fight against the Islamic State group _ that critics blame on Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian rule. (AP Photo)Turkey's pivotal roles as an ally in the U.S.-led war against the Islamic State group and a guarantor of refugee agreements are likely to remain intact for now after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emerged triumphant followingr a failed coup attempt.
 
 

The Latest: Flights resume to Istanbul international airport

 
‎Sunday, ‎July ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎1:36:50 AMGo to full article
Turkish citizens wave their national flags as they protest against the military coup outside Turkey's parliament near the Turkish military headquarters in Ankara, Turkey, Saturday, July 16, 2016. Forces loyal to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan quashed a coup attempt in a night of explosions, air battles and gunfire that left dozens dead Saturday. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Latest on the attempted military coup in Turkey (all times local):
 
 

UN-backed Yemen peace talks resume in Kuwait

 
‎Saturday, ‎July ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎11:48:49 PMGo to full article
United Nations special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed (2-R) and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (2-L) arrive for Yemeni Peace Talks with Yemeni delegations in Kuwait City on June 27, 2016The UN special envoy for Yemen on Saturday urged the country's warring parties to make "decisions that will prove your true intentions", as peace talks resumed in Kuwait City after government delegates abandoned a boycott threat. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the negotiations, back on after a 15-day suspension, would last for two weeks and warned that they may be Yemen's last chance for peace. "It's time for decisive decisions that will prove your true intentions and national responsibilities to Yemenis," he told a meeting of the two delegations late Saturday.
 
 

Drone strike kills 3 Qaeda suspects in Yemen

 
‎Saturday, ‎July ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎10:33:21 PMGo to full article
The United States is the only country known to be operating drones in Yemen and has vowed no let-up in its war against jihadists thereThree Al-Qaeda suspects were killed in a drone strike in Yemen's south on Saturday, security officials said. The United States is the only country known to be operating drones in Yemen and has vowed no let-up in its war against jihadists there who have exploited the power vacuum created by a conflict between the government and the rebels to expand their presence in the south and southeast. Washington considers the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to be the network's deadliest franchise and similar strikes have taken out a number of senior AQAP commanders in Yemen over the past year.
 
 

U.N.-backed Yemen peace talks resume in Kuwait

 
‎Saturday, ‎July ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎9:55:51 PMGo to full article
Houthi fighters react while riding on the back of a truck as they attend a tribal gathering in Sanaa, YemenUnited Nations-sponsored talks to end nearly 16 months of war in Yemen resumed in Kuwait on Saturday, delegates said, despite threats by representatives of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government not to attend. The talks bring together the Iranian-allied Shi'ite Muslim Houthi movement and Yemen's internationally-recognised government, but have achieved little concrete progress in over two months. Two delegates said only a ceremonial meeting was scheduled for Saturday night in the presence of the U.N. special envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.
 
 

Bahrain to try top Shi'ite cleric for money laundering

 
‎Saturday, ‎July ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎8:52:50 PMGo to full article
Anti-government protesters hold posters of Shi'ite cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim during an anti-government protest organised by Bahrain's main opposition group Al Wefaq, in Budaiya, west of Manama in this file photoA Bahraini cleric will go on trial next month on charges of collecting funds illegally and money laundering, the public prosecutor said on Saturday. A source familiar with the case said the cleric was Shi'ite Muslim spiritual leader Ayatollah Isa Qassim, who had his citizenship revoked by the authorities less than a month ago. The case has revived fears of fresh protests in Bahrain, where the Shi'ite Muslim majority complains of discrimination and demands a bigger share in running the country.
 
 

Turkey's bungled putsch: a strangely 20th century coup

 
‎Saturday, ‎July ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎7:58:42 PMGo to full article
Policemen stand atop military armored vehicles after troops involved in the coup surrendered on the Bosphorus Bridge in IstanbulBy Ece Toksabay and Paul Taylor ANKARA/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - It was a strangely 20th century coup, defeated by 21st century technology and people power. When a self-styled military "Peace Council" tried to topple Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his increasingly authoritarian government on Friday night, the rebel generals and colonels seemed to be fighting the last war. "This coup was obviously planned quite well but using a playbook from the 1970s," said Gareth Jenkins, a researcher and writer on military affairs based in Istanbul.
 
 

Turkey has made clear to U.S. that Gulen behind coup plot

 
‎Saturday, ‎July ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎7:39:15 PMGo to full article
Still image taken from video of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose followers Turkey blames for a failed coup, speaks to journalists at his home in SaylorsburgBy Tulay Karadeniz ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey's foreign minister said on Saturday he had made clear in a call with U.S. counterpart John Kerry that followers of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen were behind a coup attempt, but had not directly discussed the cleric's possible extradition. A faction of the armed forces, deemed by the government as loyal to Gulen, tried to seize power using tanks and attack helicopters overnight. "The topic of extradition did not come up directly in our conversation yesterday.
 
 

Turkey Mideast allies rally behind Erdogan, critics silent

 
‎Saturday, ‎July ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎6:39:10 PMGo to full article
People wave national flags as they march from Kizilay Square to the Turkish General Staff building in Ankara, on July 16, 2016Turkey's regional allies on Saturday condemned a deadly but foiled coup attempt by a faction of the army against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's rule, while his opponents abroad kept silent. Key regional powers Iran and Israel, which have both had strained relationships with Erdogan's government in the past, condemned the putsch that began late on Friday. Damascus regularly accuses Ankara of supporting "terrorist groups" fighting regime forces in Syria, while Erdogan has repeatedly called for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
 
 
 

 

 

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Five detained over Nice attack to face judge

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎25 minutes agoGo to full article
France's National Assembly and Senate are set to pass a bill extending the state of emergency for six monthsFive people detained after last week's massacre in Nice are due to appear before a judge Thursday, as France is set to pass a law extending the state of emergency. Four men and one woman aged between 22 and 40 are due to appear before the court for links to Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel who ploughed a truck into the crowded promenade in Nice. A 22-year-old man who received an SMS from Bouhlel shortly before he began his rampage will also appear in court, as well as another man who had been in contact with Bouhlel over weapons.
 
 

Iraq donor conference raises more than $2.1 billion: U.S. spokesman

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An Iraq donor conference on Wednesday raised more than $2.1 billion in aid, surpassing the estimated $2 billion organizers had expected, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said. "The conference raised in excess of $2.1 billion, with a number of additional pledges still being finalized," Kirby said in a statement. Defense and foreign ministers from 24 countries met in Washington for a pledging session to help Iraq in its fight against Islamic State militants. (Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Bill Trott)
 

Kerry warns of new challenge in securing Iraq after Islamic State

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State Kerry speaks during a Pledging Conference in Support of Iraq, co-hosted by the United States, Canada, Germany in Washington.By Warren Strobel and Lesley Wroughton WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The battlefield momentum in Iraq and Syria has shifted against Islamic State, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday, but the international community must now also confront the challenge of stabilizing newly liberated areas. "The momentum has shifted," Kerry told an international conference to raise funds for Iraq at a critical juncture in the military campaign. "The new challenge that we face is securing and aiding for the recovery of a liberated area." Lise Grande, the United Nations' humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, warned that military victories will prove transient if the needs of Iraqis displaced by the conflict are not addressed.
 
 

AP FACT CHECK: The GOP rush to blame Clinton

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana speaks during the third day session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Wednesday, July 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump's new running mate and other Republicans are wrongly accusing Hillary Clinton of speaking with indifference about the death of Americans in Benghazi, Libya — twisting her comments out of context to make their indictment.
 
 

Factbox: Clinton to name running mate as early as Friday

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎5 hours agoGo to full article
U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees convention in Las VegasBy Adam DeRose and Amanda Becker WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrat Hillary Clinton, who is running against Republican Donald Trump in the Nov. 8 presidential election, is expected to announce her running mate as early as Friday. Here are some of the potential vice presidential candidates Clinton is considering, according to U.S. news media: TIM KAINE The U.S. senator from Virginia is a former Roman Catholic missionary and civil rights lawyer who is fluent in Spanish. Kaine, a former Richmond mayor and former Virginia governor, has served on the Senate's Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees.     He has backed liberal causes such as establishing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
 
 

Gunman's manifesto describes actions as 'necessary evil'

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎5 hours agoGo to full article
This frame grab made from a video posted on YouTube on July 10, 2016, shows Gavin Eugene Long speaking as his online persona Cosmo Setepenra. Long killed law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge, La., on Sunday, July 17, 2016. (YouTube via AP)BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The man who ambushed and killed three law enforcement officers in Louisiana purportedly described his actions as a "necessary evil" in a self-described, handwritten manifesto that an Ohio man says was emailed to him by the gunman less than an hour before the shootings.
 
 

Islamic relief agency admits illegal funds transfer to Iraq

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎6 hours agoGo to full article
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri-based Islamic charity that was shut down after being identified by the federal government as a global terrorist organization admitted in federal court Wednesday that it illegally funneled $1.4 million to Iraq in violation of U.S. sanctions.
 

Turkey's Erdogan declares state of emergency after coup bid

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎6 hours agoGo to full article
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference at the Presidential Palace in AnkaraBy Asli Kandemir and Gareth Jones ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan declared a state of emergency on Wednesday as he widened a crackdown against thousands of members of the security forces, judiciary, civil service and academia after a failed military coup. Erdogan said the state of emergency, lasting three months, would allow his government to take swift and decisive measures against supporters of the coup and was allowed under the constitution. Emergency rule, which would take effect after it is published in Turkey's official gazette, would allow the president and cabinet to bypass parliament in passing new laws and to limit or suspend rights and freedoms as they deem necessary.
 
 

Accused teen 'jihadist' ordered held without bond in Arizona

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎7 hours agoGo to full article
An Arizona teenager who the FBI said has professed to be an "American jihadist" was ordered to remain held without bond on Wednesday on charges of plotting to stage an attack with bombs and other weapons on a Phoenix-area state motor vehicle office. The suspect, Mahin Khan, 18, of Tucson, was charged in a three-count indictment earlier this month with terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism and conspiracy to commit misconduct involving weapons. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sam Myers declared Khan ineligible for bond at the end of a hearing in Phoenix on Wednesday, finding the defendant posed a "substantial danger to the community" if he were released.
 

Donald Trump Adviser on Hillary Clinton's Benghazi Scandal: She Should Be "Shot for Treason"

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎7 hours agoGo to full article
New Hampshire state representative Al Baldasaro said of Clinton in an interview on the 'Jeff Kuhner Show,' "She is a disgrace for the lies that she told those mothers about their children that got killed over there in Benghazi."
 

French lawmakers vote to extend state of emergency

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎8 hours agoGo to full article
Soldiers patrol past a makeshift memorial in tribute to the victims of the deadly Bastille Day attack at the Promenade des Anglais in NiceThe government is scrambling to find new ways to assure a jittery population after its third major attack in 18 months saw a truck driver plough into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, killing 84 people. After seven hours of fraught debate into the night, during which the opposition accused the government of being lax on security, the lower house of parliament voted by 489 to 26 to prolong the state of emergency for a further six months. Then on Wednesday afternoon, a large majority of senators followed suit, voting to extend the state of emergency by 309 to 26.
 
 

U.S. defense chief says coalition to probe report of civilian deaths in Syria

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎8 hours agoGo to full article
The U.S.-led coalition to defeat Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will investigate reports of civilian casualties in an air strike near Manbij, in northern Syria, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Wednesday. Carter was speaking to reporters after a meeting with defense ministers of around 30 countries on the campaign to defeat Islamic State. Some of those countries, Carter added, had indicated their intent to contribute more to the campaign, which is seeking to wrest away the militant group's control of parts of Iraq and Syria.
 

Syrian rebel group investigates beheading of child seen in video

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎8 hours agoGo to full article
A Syrian rebel group that has received U.S. military backing said it is investigating the beheading of a child in Aleppo after video footage circulated showing the boy being killed by a man who activists identified as a member of the rebel group. Images of a fighter cutting off the boy's head with a knife matched some of the worst brutalities committed by the jihadist Islamic State group, which has killed hundreds of captives in Syria and neighboring Iraq in the last three years. Before being killed, the boy is shown on the back of a truck being taunted by several men who say he is from a Palestinian faction which fights in Aleppo in support of President Bashar al-Assad.
 

Allies finalize plans to defeat IS group

 
‎Today, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎8 hours agoGo to full article
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter speaks at the conclusion of a meeting of defense ministers of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, July 20, 2016The United States gathered its allies in the coalition fighting the Islamic State group Wednesday and agreed on a plan to corner the jihadists in their final bastions. US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told reporters that an accelerated military effort would soon see the group pushed back to Raqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.
 
 

Defense, foreign ministers to plan next steps against IS

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎11:57:59 PMGo to full article
Defense Secretary Ash Carter opens the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL Meeting at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, July 20, 2016. Defense and foreign ministers from more than 30 nations are gathering in Washington to plan the next steps in the fight against the Islamic State and to determine what more they can do as the fights for key cities in Iraq and Syria move forward. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. (AP) — Defense leaders at a counter-Islamic State meeting expressed concerns about what happens after the expected defeat of the militant group, and whether countries are ready to help stabilize and rebuild the war-torn cities, particularly in Iraq, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday.
 
 

Turkey declares 3-month state of emergency after failed coup

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎11:56:50 PMGo to full article
Turkey declares 3-month state of emergency after failed coupANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey's president on Wednesday declared a three-month state of emergency following a botched coup attempt, declaring he would rid the military of the "virus" of subversion and giving the government sweeping powers to expand a crackdown that has already included mass arrests and the closure of hundreds of schools.
 
 

The Latest: Services set for slain Kansas officer

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎11:39:23 PMGo to full article
This undated photo provided by the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department show police Captain Robert Melton. A suspect in a drive-by shooting fatally shot Melton on Tuesday, July 19, 2016, as the officer was sitting in his patrol car, police said. (Kansas City, Kan. Police Department via AP)KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Latest on the fatal shooting of an officer from Kansas City, Kansas (all times local):
 
 

The Latest: Erdogan declares 3-month state of emergency

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎10:37:47 PMGo to full article
Turkish special forces policemen walk in front of their damaged base, which was attacked by the Turkish warplanes during the failed military coup last Friday, in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, July 19, 2016. The violence surrounding the Friday night coup attempt claimed the lives of government supporters and coup plotters, according to the government. Turkey says Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Muslim cleric, was behind the coup and has demanded his extradition. Gulen has denied any knowledge of the failed coup. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Latest on the situation in Turkey after the failed military coup last week (all times local):
 
 

Authorities: Kansas officer's shooting death not an ambush

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎10:29:40 PMGo to full article
This undated photo provided by the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department show police Captain Robert Melton. A suspect in a drive-by shooting fatally shot Melton on Tuesday, July 19, 2016, as the officer was sitting in his patrol car, police said. (Kansas City, Kan. Police Department via AP)KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The fatal shooting of a Kansas City, Kansas, police officer was not part of a planned ambush, but the work of "another criminal" trying to evade arrest, authorities said Wednesday.
 
 

Foreign ministers cite concerns about Turkish crackdown

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎10:17:21 PMGo to full article
By Lesley Wroughton and Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Dutch, German and Canadian foreign ministers on Wednesday expressed concern about the scale of the crackdown by Turkish authorities in the aftermath of the country's failed coup attempt and called on Turkey to respect the rule of law. "We have serious concerns about the situation in Turkey," Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders told a news conference in Washington. "We want to send a strong signal on the need to ... respect the rule of law." German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said his government viewed with concern reports of thousands of people arrested in Turkey and some prevented from leaving the country.
 

When Trump talks what do voters hear?

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎10:11:18 PMGo to full article
Suddenly Donald Trump’s face loomed over the delegates, tanned, jaw set, and a story high. From the giant video screen on the Republican National Convention stage Mr. Trump thanked everyone for nominating him as the GOP presidential pick. When Trump began to speak, his sentences were looping and repetitive.
 

Britain doubles military trainers in Iraq

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎9:53:20 PMGo to full article
British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon arrives for a meeting of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on July 20, 2016Britain will double its deployment of troops to train Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State group, defense minister Michael Fallon told reporters Wednesday. The additional 250 troops will bring Britain's contingent of advisers to more than 500, he said, as allied ministers met in Washington to plan moves to defeat the jihadists. "We will be sending an additional 250 troops into the theater over the next few weeks," Fallon said.
 
 

Iraq PM accepts resignation of another minister: office

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎9:52:38 PMGo to full article
Minister of Higher Education Hussein al-Shahristani, pictured on on April 2, 2016 has resigned from his position in the cabinetIraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has accepted the resignation of another minister, his office said on Wednesday, as he seeks to move forward with long-stalled efforts to replace the cabinet. Abadi agreed "to accept the resignation of Minister of Higher Education Hussein al-Shahristani," his office said in a statement, referring to a long-serving official who has also held positions including deputy prime minister and oil minister.
 
 

How Turkey's military coup failed

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎9:50:29 PMGo to full article
The father of a Turkish special forces policeman officer, center, is helped by two special forces policemen during his son's funeral procession, in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, July 20, 2016. Turkey on Wednesday intensified a sweeping crackdown on the media, the military, the courts and the education system following an attempted coup, targeting tens of thousands of teachers and other state employees for dismissal in a purge that raised concerns about basic freedoms and the effectiveness of key institutions. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish officials say an attempted coup by a segment of the military over the weekend was put down in about 10-12 hours. At least 260 people were killed, and 1,400 wounded in violence that rattled the country's two major cities. Bombs hit the parliament and other state buildings, tanks drove over civilians and there was an attempted assassination of the country's strongman, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
 
 

French lawmakers extend state of emergency after Nice attack

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎9:49:14 PMGo to full article
French Prime Minister Valls is seen before the questions to the government session at the National Assembly in ParisBy Brian Love and Emile Picy PARIS (Reuters) - French lawmakers approved a six-month extension of emergency rule on Wednesday after last week's truck attack on holiday crowds in Nice, the third deadly assault in just 18 months for which Islamist militants have claimed responsibility. President Francois Hollande's Socialist government, accused by political opponents of doing too little to avert the attack that killed 84 and hurt hundreds, also said it would step up strikes against Islamic State in its strongholds in Iraq and Syria. A year from elections, Hollande is under intense pressure as opponents accuse his administration of police failings over the tragedy.
 
 

In Mideast views of Erdoğan's victory, a gap between ruler and ruled

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎9:42:55 PMGo to full article
Peoples across the Middle East have been celebrating President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s put-down of a military coup as a victory for democracy, even as their governments have had a much more lukewarm response to the Turkish strongman’s continued hold on power. News of President Erdoğan’s victory was met with celebration in large parts of the Arab world. From late Friday through Saturday afternoon, drivers in Arab capitals kept their ears to the radio, and shopkeeper kept their eyes glued to television screens, witnessing what many believed to be the unthinkable: a democratically-elected Islamist facing down a military coup – and winning.
 

UN: Mosul campaign could affect 1.5 million civilians

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎7:57:55 PMGo to full article
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The upcoming military campaign to wrest control of the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State group could affect as many as 1.5 million civilians, making it one of the world's largest humanitarian crises, a United Nations official said Wednesday.
 

Mosul assault in focus two years after Islamic State takeover

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎7:30:09 PMGo to full article
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters inspect an RPG launcher as they take control of the area, on the outskirts of MosulBy Stephen Kalin and Phil Stewart BAGHDAD (Reuters) - When Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi pledged in December that Iraq would retake Islamic State's de facto capital Mosul by the end of 2016, the target was greeted with scepticism by Western allies and officials within his own government. Less than seven months on, the Iraqi military has recaptured most major militant positions in western Anbar province and advanced toward Mosul, the largest city still under the ultra-hardline group's control across its self-proclaimed caliphate. Last month's recapture of Falluja, followed swiftly by Qayara airbase 60 km (40 miles) south of Mosul and the announcement of a fresh deployment of U.S. forces, lent momentum to the campaign, which the administration of President Barack Obama would like to finish before January.
 
 

Smith, Corbyn battle for UK Labour leadership

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎7:20:09 PMGo to full article
Welsh MP Owen Smith, pictured speaking on July 17, 2016, will be the sole challenger against socialist Jeremy Corbyn to lead Britain's opposition Labour PartyFormer BBC producer Owen Smith will be the sole challenger against veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn to lead Britain's opposition Labour Party after registrations for the race closed on Wednesday. The Welsh MP has portrayed him as a leftist candidate and has praised Corbyn but has faced criticism for his past as a lobbyist for the pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer and his support for the Iraq war. Another challenger, Angela Eagle, dropped out of the race on Tuesday when it was clear she was short of endorsements from Labour lawmakers to continue.
 
 

Tunisia stops militant cell plotting attacks in Sousse: interior ministry

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎7:01:19 PMGo to full article
Tunisian authorities dismantled a cell linked to the Islamic State militant group that was planning attacks against sites in the coastal town of Sousse, the interior ministry said on Wednesday. Tunisian security forces are on high alert after attacks in Tunis and Sousse last year, and an attempt by militants to take control of a town near the Libyan border in March. The interior ministry statement said the cell had been dismantled on Tuesday in the Kalaa Kbira area, and that it "planned to carry out terrorist acts in Sousse against key sites in the city".
 

Inside 'The Sheriff of Babylon,' DC Comics' Wartime Crime Drama

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎6:37:42 PMGo to full article
Tom King and Mitch Gerads on the origins of the Vertigo series that defies easy categorization and avoids easy answers.
 

Global alarm grows as 50,000 hit by Turkey purge

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎6:29:02 PMGo to full article
Demonstrators attend a rally in support of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sarachane park in IstanbulTurkey faced fresh accusations it was flouting the rule of law with its purge of 50,000 people after an attempted coup, as the president gathered security chiefs Wednesday for the first time since the putsch. The putsch left more than 300 dead and caused scenes of devastation, especially in Ankara where raids by fighter jets and attack helicopters turned parts of parliament and the police headquarters to rubble. Erdogan was in the Aegean resort of Marmaris when the coup struck and then, narrowly escaping the rebel soldiers, flew to Istanbul where he had stayed since, appearing before crowds of flag-waving supporters each night in "vigils" for democracy.
 
 

Police shootings touch nerve among military veterans

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎6:18:07 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Sunday, July 17, 2016 file photo, Baton Rouge Police investigate the scene in Baton Rouge, La., where several law enforcement officers were killed and wounded. Back-to-back attacks on police in Texas and Louisiana by former military men have touched a nerve among veterans who traditionally share a close bond with law enforcement. Veterans and active-duty troops started posting messages on social media almost immediately after the news broke this weekend that a masked ex-Marine had ambushed law enforcement along a busy highway, killing three officers - including a fellow former Marine. (Scott Clause/The Daily Advertiser via AP, File)SAN DIEGO (AP) — Back-to-back attacks on police in Texas and Louisiana by former military men have touched a nerve among veterans who traditionally share a close bond with law enforcement.
 
 

How one town helps its residents balance being Belgian and Muslim

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎6:02:06 PMGo to full article
Along the train line that connects Brussels and Antwerp, young men, often the children of Muslim immigrants, have been swayed by radicalism. Instead of singling this out as a “Muslim” issue, in fact, they look at radicalization through the lens of marginalization, so put most of their emphasis on making sure youths aren’t vulnerable in the first place.
 

Kerry, addressing donors, says momentum in Iraq has shifted

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎5:45:53 PMGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State Kerry attends joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov following their meeting in MoscowThe momentum in the fight against Islamic State has shifted and the militant group has been driven out of almost half the territory it once occupied in Iraq, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday. "The momentum has shifted," Kerry told the opening of an Iraq donor conference, saying he hoped the meeting would raise at least $2 billion for the war-torn country. "We are making progress with significant portions of Iraq reclaimed, significant portions of Syria now being reclaimed," he added.
 
 

Iraq heat wave sends temperatures up to 53 degrees Celsius

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎4:00:30 PMGo to full article
People cool off from the summer heat by using an open air shower in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, July, 20, 2016. Iraqis are enduring the year's hottest day to date, with temperatures soaring to 51 Celsius degrees (123.8 Fahrenheit) in Baghdad and as much as 53 Celsius (127.4 Fahrenheit) in the southern part of the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqis on Wednesday endured the hottest day so far this year, with temperatures soaring up to 51 degrees Celsius (124 Fahrenheit) in Baghdad and as much as 53 degrees Celsius (127 Fahrenheit) in the southern part of the country.
 
 

Bikers ride through Baton Rouge in support of fallen police

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎1:35:42 PMGo to full article
Several hundred bikers gathered in Baton Rouge on Tuesday and rode in a procession to the city's police headquarters in a show of support for the policemen shot and killed by a gunman at the weekend. The bikers, many carrying U.S. flags and revving their engines, rode past the gas station where the policemen where killed en route to the police station. President Barack Obama has told law enforcement officials that Americans recognize, respect and depend upon the difficult and dangerous work they do, a rallying call of support following the ambush killings of eight officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
 

UN appeals for $204 million for hungry in southern African

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎1:18:46 PMGo to full article
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. food agency has declared its highest-level emergency in drought-stricken southern Africa and is appealing for $204 million immediately to purchase food and transport it to the region to help millions of hungry people.
 

Bangladesh says 260 missing amid hunt for extremists

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎1:08:26 PMGo to full article
A Bangladeshi policeman stands guard as Muslims offer Eid al-Fitr prayers in Dhaka on July 7, 2016Doctors, engineers and university students are among 261 people officially missing in Bangladesh, with some feared recruited by Islamic militant groups, as the country reels from a wave of deadly attacks. More than two weeks after Islamists killed 20 foreign hostages in a siege at a cafe in Dhaka, police published a list overnight Tuesday of those missing and urged information on their whereabouts. "We have to find them," elite Rapid Action Battalion spokesman Mufti Mahmud Khan told AFP, without saying how many were suspected to have joined extremist groups at home and abroad.
 
 

EU police agency warns of extremist threats to Europe

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎12:54:56 PMGo to full article
Soldiers patrols on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, southern France, Tuesday, July 19, 2016. Joggers, cyclists and sun-seekers are back on Nice's famed Riviera coast, a further sign of normal life returning on the Promenade des Anglais where dozens were killed in last week's Bastille Day truck attack. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The number of people killed in attacks by extremists throughout Europe soared in 2015 from a year earlier, the European Union police agency reported Wednesday as it warned the Islamic State group may "put more emphasis on operations abroad" as a Western military alliance puts it under pressure in Syria and Iraq.
 
 

Today in History

 
‎Sunday, ‎July ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎6:01:35 AMGo to full article
Today in History
 

Turkey rounds up plot suspects after thwarting coup against Erdogan

 
‎Sunday, ‎July ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎4:12:53 AMGo to full article
Supporters of Turkish President Erdogan gather at Taksim Square in central IstanbulBy David Dolan and Gulsen Solaker ISTANBUL/ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish authorities rounded up nearly 3,000 suspected military plotters on Saturday and ordered thousands of judges detained after thwarting a coup by rebels using tanks and attack helicopters to try to topple President Tayyip Erdogan. For several hours overnight on Friday violence shook Turkey's two main cities, as the armed faction which tried to seize power blocked a bridge in Istanbul and strafed the headquarters of Turkish intelligence and parliament in Ankara.
 
 

Questions now swirl about Turkey, key Western ally

 
‎Sunday, ‎July ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎2:04:50 AMGo to full article
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech n Istanbul, Saturday, July 16, 2016. Forces loyal to Erdogan quashed a coup attempt in a night of explosions, air battles and gunfire that left some hundreds of people dead and scores of others wounded Saturday. The chaos Friday night and Saturday came amid a period of political turmoil in Turkey _ a NATO member and key Western ally in the fight against the Islamic State group _ that critics blame on Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian rule. (AP Photo)Turkey's pivotal roles as an ally in the U.S.-led war against the Islamic State group and a guarantor of refugee agreements are likely to remain intact for now after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emerged triumphant followingr a failed coup attempt.
 
 

The Latest: Flights resume to Istanbul international airport

 
‎Sunday, ‎July ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎1:36:50 AMGo to full article
Turkish citizens wave their national flags as they protest against the military coup outside Turkey's parliament near the Turkish military headquarters in Ankara, Turkey, Saturday, July 16, 2016. Forces loyal to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan quashed a coup attempt in a night of explosions, air battles and gunfire that left dozens dead Saturday. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Latest on the attempted military coup in Turkey (all times local):
 
 

Obama urges rule of law in Turkey, U.S. warns of damage to relations

 
‎Sunday, ‎July ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎1:23:24 AMGo to full article
By Jeff Mason and Jonathan Landay WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States urged Turkey on Saturday to exercise restraint after a failed military coup sparked a government crackdown, and warned its NATO ally that public suggestions of a U.S. role in the plot were "utterly false" and harmful to relations. President Barack Obama urged parties on all sides of the crisis to avoid destabilizing Turkey and follow the rule of law after the coup attempt against President Tayyip Erdogan. The coup attempt complicated U.S.-led efforts to combat Islamic State.
 

Police arrest three in Nice as Islamic State claims truck attack

 
‎Saturday, ‎July ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎10:41:49 PMGo to full article
A man covered with a towel is apprehended by French police as the investigation continues two days after an attack by the driver of a heavy truck who ran into a crowd killing scores and injuring as many on the Promenade des Anglais, in NiceBy Richard Lough and Johnny Cotton NICE, France (Reuters) - Islamic State claimed responsibility on Saturday for the truck attack that killed at least 84 people celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice and police arrested three more people there in connection with the seafront carnage. "The person who carried out the operation in Nice, France, to run down people was one of the soldiers of Islamic State," the Amaq news agency affiliated with the militant Islamist group said on its Telegram account. "He carried out the operation in response to calls to target nationals of states that are part of the coalition fighting Islamic State." French authorities have yet to produce any evidence that the 31 year-old Tunisian killer, shot dead by police in the attack, had turned to radical Islam.
 
 

Two cheers for Erdogan: Europe hopes and fears after coup bid

 
‎Saturday, ‎July ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎10:11:51 PMGo to full article
A man poses on an Armored Vehicle with portraits of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan parked outside the parliament building in AnkaraBy Robin Emmott and Alastair Macdonald BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European leaders greeted the defeat of Turkey's coup on Saturday with relief as it averts chaos and keeps alive a deal that has helped to stem the migration crisis threatening the continent. "Erdogan will be judged on his response," one EU official involved in the plan said, citing arrests of judges as an early sign that justified "deep concern that this will lead to a new trampling on rights of freedom of expression and demonstration". Senior members of the European Parliament, where anger at the prickly Turkish leader's treatment of elected opponents could stymie the EU deal to reward Turkey for stopping refugees, were pessimistic about the outlook for Turkish democracy.
 
 

Nice attack: What we know so far

 
‎Saturday, ‎July ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎8:57:03 PMGo to full article
Forensics officers and police search for evidences near a truck on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice on July 15, 2016, after the vehicle drove into a crowd watching a fireworks displayEighty-four people were killed after a truck ploughed through crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day in the southern French city of Nice. Here is what we know so far about the attack that the Islamic State group claims was carried out by one of its "soldiers". Some 30,000 people had gathered on the glitzy beachfront avenue, the Promenade des Anglais, to watch a firework show for France's national day.
 
 

Obama warns Turkey to 'act within the rule of law'

 
‎Saturday, ‎July ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎7:43:21 PMGo to full article
US President Barack Obama speaks on July 15, 2016 in Washington, DCPresident Barack Obama called on Turkey to respect the rule of law Saturday, a warning to the country's government as it rounded up alleged coup plotters. Obama also urged Turkish leaders to "avoid actions that would lead to further violence or instability," the White House said. Although the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repelled the coup, the situation remains fraught and tensions between Washington and Ankara are growing.
 
 

Five reasons why France is a prime target for jihadists

 
‎Saturday, ‎July ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎7:22:05 PMGo to full article
People pass French flags lowered at half-mast in Nice on July 16, 2016, following the deadly Bastille Day attackIn 18 months France has been the target of three major terrorist attacks claimed by jihadists in which more than 230 people have died. From sub-Saharan Africa to the Middle East, France is in the front line of the fight against radical Islamist groups. It is the second biggest contributor to US-led airstrikes against IS in Iraq and Syria.
 

 

 

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

 

 
 

Lockheed gets U.S. Navy Trident missile contract

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎8:08:32 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Jul 15, 2016 - Lockheed Martin Space Systems has been awarded a $21 million U.S. Navy contract to support the Fiscal 2017 Trident II D5 missile production schedule.

The deal covers long lead material and labor, planning and scheduling for the program.

Work will be performed in California and has an estimated completion date of September 2021.

Strategic Systems Program is the contracting activity.

The Trident II D5 is the latest generation of the Navy's submarine-launched fleet of ballistic missiles, following the Polaris, Poseidon and Trident I C4 programs.

The Trident was first deployed in 1990 and is currently aboard U.S. Ohio-class and British Vanguard-class submarines.

Lockheed developed and produced the missile and support equipment. The company also handles technical and logistical support at sites where the missiles are deployed.

 

 

N. Korea says missile tests simulated nuclear strike on South

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎8:08:32 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) July 20, 2016 - North Korea said Wednesday its latest ballistic missile tests trialled detonation devices for possible nuclear strikes on US targets in South Korea and were personally monitored by supreme leader Kim Jong-Un.

Tuesday's test firing of three missiles in violation of existing UN resolutions was seen as an angry reaction to the planned deployment of a US missile defence system in the South.

The launch of the two Scud missiles and one intermediate-range Rodong was condemned by the United States, Japan and South Korea, who vowed a collective diplomatic response.

The tests were ordered and monitored by Kim Jong-Un and the range of the missiles was limited to simulate pre-emptive attacks on South Korean ports and airfields hosting US military "hardware", the North's official KCNA news agency said.

The tests "examined the operational features of the detonating devices of nuclear warheads mounted on the ballistic rockets at the designated altitude over the target area," it said.

According to the South Korean military, the two Scuds flew between 500 and 600 kilometres (310-370 miles) into the Sea of Japan, while the Rodong was fired about an hour later.

A photo from the test, published on the front page of the North Korean ruling party's Rodong Sinmun newspaper, showed Kim sitting at a desk covered by a large map of the Korean peninsula.

The map was clearly marked with a possible missile flight path from the North to South's southern coast, around the major ports of Ulsan and Busan.

- 'Deeply troubling' -

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday said the tests were "deeply troubling" and undermined efforts to reduce tension on the Korean peninsula.

UN resolutions prohibit North Korea from developing ballistic missile technology.

Pyongyang has repeatedly warned of pre-emptive nuclear strikes against the South and US targets there and elsewhere, although the main focus of its nuclear weapons programme is to develop a credible strike threat against the US mainland.

A series of missile tests this year aimed at backing up that threat led to the recent agreement between Seoul and Washington to deploy the sophisticated US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, in South Korea.

Last week, Pyongyang responded to the announcement by threatening to take "physical action".

There are nearly 30,00 US troops permanently stationed in South Korea.

North Korea-US tensions had already been stoked by Pyongyang's fury at Washington's decision to personally target leader Kim with sanctions related to human rights abuses.

The North test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile on July 9, following back-to-back tests of a powerful new medium-range missile on June 22.

Those two missiles achieved a significant increase in flight distance over previous failed launches and were believed to be of a much-hyped, intermediate-range "Musudan" -- theoretically capable of reaching US bases as far away as Guam.

- Technical breakthroughs -

Since carrying out a fourth nuclear test in January, which prompted a significant tightening of UN sanctions, North Korea has claimed a series of technical breakthroughs for its weapons programme.

It said it had miniaturised a nuclear warhead to fit on a missile and successfully tested an engine designed for an inter-continental ballistic missile that could reach the US mainland.

While some experts say the claims are exaggerated, most acknowledge that the North's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes have made significant strides.

In a separate dispatch on Wednesday, KCNA quoted a spokesman for the Korean People's Army (KPA) unit based in the border truce village of Panmunjom calling for all US troops to leave the South immediately.

"The KPA already solemnly declared that the US imperialist aggression forces in South Korea are its first strike target," the spokesman said.

"The US should go back home, abandoning its wicked intention for a permanent stay in South Korea," he added.

 

 

British MPs back new PM and vote to update nuclear deterrent

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎8:08:32 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 attack and kill 100,000 innocent people, May said: "Yes."

MPs voted overwhelmingly in 2007 to begin preparatory work on building a replacement for the current Vanguard-class submarines, with Monday's decision clearing the way for them to enter service in the early 2030s.

Some 30,000 jobs are linked to the nuclear deterrent, although the Trident missiles themselves are built in the United States. They will not need replacing until the 2040s.

Critics question the morality, effectiveness and cost of the programme, with construction of the new boats alone estimated at PND 31 billion, with PND 10 billion contingency.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), which held a protest outside parliament during the debate, put the total cost at PND 205 billion, although this is over 30 years and includes decommissioning.

"Nuclear weapons are indiscriminate," protester Jane Orr, 55, told AFP.

"The skin melts off people with nuclear weapons and it's just catastrophic to think it's a deterrent, it cannot be used."

In his speech to MPs, veteran socialist and long-time anti-war campaigner Corbyn said Britain's possession of nuclear weapons had not deterred the Islamic State group -- and warned that it was immoral.

He said: "I do not believe the threat of mass murder is a legitimate way to go about international relations."

The government says it remains committed to reducing its nuclear arsenal in line with its international obligations.

The debate acted as a unifying event for the Conservatives, as MPs rallied around the new prime minister.

But it only deepened splits between left-wing and centrist members of the Labour party, which crystallised in the turmoil sparked by the Brexit vote and have led to a leadership challenge against Corbyn.

 

 

N. Korea test-fires three ballistic missiles: S. Korea

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎8:08:32 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) July 19, 2016 - North Korea test-fired three ballistic missiles on Tuesday, South Korea's military said, just over a week after issuing threats to respond to the planned deployment of a US anti-missile system in the South.

The missiles, launched early Tuesday from the western city of Hwangju, flew between 500 and 600 kilometres (311-373 miles) toward the Sea of Japan, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JSC) said in a press statement.

The range of what were believed to be SCUD missiles could reach anywhere in South Korea, the JCS said, adding the military was keeping close tabs on the North's movement.

North Korea last week threatened to take "physical action" after Washington and Seoul announced plans deploy a sophisticated US anti-missile defence system to counter the growing menace from Pyongyang.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, will be deployed in Seongju county by the end of next year.

An unidentified military official said that Tuesday's launch was believed to be linked to the North's latest threats.

"SCUDs are a weapon that the North is most likely to use to hit places like Seongju", the official said, according to Yonhap news agency.

The North previously launched relatively short-ranged SCUDs in March, as it flexed its muscles in response to joint US-South Korea military drills just south of the border.

North Korea reportedly has some 600 SCUDs, developed in the former Soviet Union and modified by Pyongyang, whose ranges are estimated to be somewhere between 300 and 700 kilometres.

Tensions have soared since Pyongyang carried out its fourth nuclear test in January, followed by a series of missile launches that analysts say shows that the North is making progress toward being able to strike the US mainland.

Both South Korean and US troops stationed in the South have Patriot anti-air defence systems that can intercept enemy missiles at low altitudes.

Alongside the Patriot systems, the THAAD system is necessary to form a multi-layered anti-air defence system, South Korean military authorities say.

The announcement to deploy the THAAD system in Seongju sparked fierce protests by residents who are concerned it will ruin the town's economic main stay, melon farming, and create health and environmental hazards.

 

 

In May's first test, UK MPs vote on nuclear deterrent

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎8:08:32 AMGo to full article
London (AFP) July 17, 2016 - Prime Minister Theresa May will face her first parliamentary test on Monday when lawmakers vote on replacing the ageing submarines that carry Britain's nuclear weapons.

Five days after taking office in the wake of the referendum vote to leave the European Union, May will use her first speech to the House of Commons as premier to defend the nuclear deterrent as the "ultimate insurance".

MPs are almost certain to approve the construction of four new submarines to carry the existing Trident missile system and their nuclear warheads, at a cost of PND 41 billion (49 billion euros, $54 billion).

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran socialist and anti-war campaigner, will lead the vote against the motion but many of his MPs will back the Conservative government.

"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," May said ahead of the debate, which starts at 1430 GMT followed by a vote at 2100 GMT.

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

Britain is one of only three nuclear-armed NATO nations, along with the United States and France, and has had a continuous at-sea deterrent since 1969 -- meaning one of its submarines is always deployed somewhere in the world.

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

- Nuke threat 'increased' -

Critics argue that Britain's possession of nuclear weapons is immoral, expensive and outdated, a product of the Cold War that has no use in the fight against modern threats such as the Islamic State group.

The government says it remains committed to reducing its nuclear arsenal in line with its international obligations, but May will argue that the nuclear threat "has not gone away -- if anything, it has increased".

Corbyn has said that he would not deploy Trident if he were prime minister, but has allowed his MPs a free vote, and many are expected to back the deterrent.

The vote risks further deepening splits between the socialist and moderates in the Labour party which crystallised in the turmoil sparked by the Brexit vote on June 23 and sparked a leadership challenge against him.

The new Successor submarines will cost PND 31 billion over two decades, with another PND 10 billion set aside for contingencies and the first boat set to enter service in the early 2030s.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which is due to hold a protest outside parliament on Monday evening, put the cost at PND 205 billion although this is over 30 years and includes decommissioning.

May will also Monday visit Wales to reaffirm her commitment to the United Kingdom, whose future has been thrown into question by the country's decision to leave the EU.

She will "emphasise her strong personal support for the Union" in talks with First Minister Carwyn Jones at the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff, according to a statement from her Downing Street office.

The new leader defended the UK's unity in a visit to Scotland on Friday, while attempting to allay Scots' fears over a future outside the European Union (EU).

While 52 percent of voters across the UK voted to leave the EU, 62 percent in Scotland opted for Britain to remain in the bloc, triggering calls for a second Scottish referendum on independence.

 

 

Nuclear deal holding but more work needed: Iran negotiator

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎8:08:32 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) July 13, 2016 - Iran's nuclear deal with world powers is holding a year after it was agreed but more needs to be done to ensure its full implementation, a top Iranian negotiator said Wednesday.

"The total process has been relatively satisfactory despite the difficulties that we see in the implementation," Hamid Baeidinejad told a press conference in Tehran for the first anniversary of the agreement.

"We belive that the deal has not been violated so far and efforts continue to resolve the remaining issues," Baeidinejad said.

The deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of powers (Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States) limited Tehran's atomic programme in return for the lifting of some international sanctions, which took effect in January.

There has been some disappointment in Iran that the lifting of the sanctions has not yet led to significant investments, with many international investors and banks still wary of doing business with the Islamic republic.

Despite the lifting of nuclear-related penalties, Washington and the European Union maintain some sanctions on Iran over its human rights record and ballistic missile testing.

Asked if Iran had oversold the deal to its people, Baeidinejad said: "We knew exactly what was agreed upon in the deal and what was not."

He said Tehran "had more expectations on the removal of economic, banking and financial restrictions, but despite all these deficiencies there is a feeling of hope inside our country to remove these obstacles" through more talks.

"We will not agree to anything less than the full implementation of the JCPOA," he said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the official name of the agreement.

The agreement caused "great optimism" in Iran on "unrelated issues", Baeidinejad said, but those expectations are "fortunately being balanced and adjusted to reality".

President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday also praised the "new atmosphere" created by the accord, saying it can lead to "better economic, defence, and technological activity" for Iran.

"In some fields, including banking, we still haven't reached the expected level, although good steps have been taken in this regard and some connections have been made with big international banks," Rouhani was quoted as saying by official news agency IRNA.

 

 

Iran urges US to choose diplomacy over coercion

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎8:08:32 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) July 15, 2016 - Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has called on the United States to choose diplomacy over intimidation and to fulfil its obligations under a year-old nuclear deal with world powers.

"The Iran Deal was a triumph of diplomacy over coercion," Zarif wrote on Twitter late Thursday, the first anniversary of the July 14, 2015 accord with Washington and five other major powers.

"Same stark choice for US today, and reminder: old methods produce same old failures.

"Progress will remain elusive as long as short-sighted bragging, lacklustre implementation of obligations and tired slogans are preferred.

"Mutual respect and fulfilment of JCPOA obligations to ensure promised dividends will open new horizons," he added, referring to the deal by its official name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The agreement, which took effect in January, saw Tehran limit its controversial atomic programme in return for the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions.

It has faced opposition from ultra-conservatives in Iran and the United States.

Iran has complained that remaining sanctions related to its missile programme and support for armed movements like Lebanon's Hezbollah are locking it out of the international banking system and hampering its ability to make major purchases, such as aircraft.

The sanctions are also hindering foreign investment.

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said Thursday that Washington was meeting its commitments under the deal.

But he stressed that the United States would continue to apply sanctions pressure on the country over its alleged support for terror activities and its ballistic missile programme.

 

 

Russia's 'Doomsday' Military Plane Almost Ready for Flight

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎8:08:32 AMGo to full article
Moscow (Sputnik) Jul 12, 2016 - By the end of this year "Voronezh aircraft factory" will give Russia's Ministry of Defense an airborne command system based on the upgraded Il-96-400 military aircraft, the press service of the military reported.

"During this year, the factory is delivering to us a specialized airborne command system based on the Il-96-400. According to the plan, the contract for the AN-148 aircraft is being implemented," military website RG.ru reported Deputy Defense Minister, Yuri Borisov, as saying.

Particular attention was paid for the preparation to begin production of the Il-112V light military transport aircraft.

"The plane is new and currently it is in development stage. In accordance with the decision of the supreme commander, its first flight should take place no later than in July 2017," Borisov said.

The airborne command systems are being called "doomsday planes" because they are intended to assist the country and armed forces in case a nuclear war breaks out and there is massive destruction or contamination of ground command posts.

These aircraft are equipped with the necessary protection and communication systems, supplies of fuel and food. They also have resting areas and inflight refueling systems.

An airborne command post based on the upgraded Ilyushin Il-96-400 aircraft is expected to be an improvement to the airborne command system based on the IL-86 or IL-86VKP which is functional today.

It is a backup control center in the event of a real emergency or the start of full-scale aggression against Russia.

"Today, it is difficult to predict how such a threat can manifest itself hence it is quite probable that a few airplanes are waiting at the bases, ready to go at moment's notice in case of an emergency," according to RIA columnist Alexander Hrolenko.

The strategic nuclear forces of Russia are actively being updated with the latest automated control systems. These systems allow missile launches and change in trajectory of missiles inflight.

The airborne command systems are more difficult to track down and destroy. They are protected against radiation, advanced electronic warfare, and have stealth technology to hide them from satellites and enemy radars.

Hence, their high-tech outlay and speed gives them significant advantages over ground, underground and underwater command centers.

According to the columnist these 'doomsday' aircraft can stay airborne for days if refueled. As modern war is not a simple exchange of blows, the parties have opportunities for flexible strategy changes making the conflict last for a very long time.

However, these airborne command systems can initially and indefinitely push the 'Day of Judgment' scenario a little further away. Although, if it does happen, the air control centers will share the fate of fellow citizens whatever it is, but first they will destroy the aggressor of the country and its allies, according to the columnist.

Source: Sputnik News

 

 

N.Korea keeping nuclear test site ready: US think tank

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎8:08:32 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) July 12, 2016 - Satellite imagery indicates a high-level of activity at North Korea's nuclear test site to ensure the facility is always ready for use on any orders from Pyongyang, a US think-tank said.

The US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said images from July 7 of the Punggye-ri site show what appear to be supplies and/or equipment stacked next to the North Portal where the North conducted its fourth nuclear test in January.

A small vehicle was also at the nearby support building and several mine ore carts may also be present southeast of the portal, suggesting the tunnel was being actively worked.

"Based on imagery alone, it is not possible to determine whether this activity is for maintenance, excavation or preparation for a fifth nuclear test", it said Monday on its website 38 North.

"Nevertheless, it is clear that North Korea is ensuring that the facility is in a state of readiness that would allow the conduct of future nuclear tests should the order come from Pyongyang," it added.

Tensions are high since Pyongyang carried out its fourth nuclear test in January, followed by a series of missile launches.

Pyongyang on Monday threatened to take "physical action" after Washington and Seoul announced they would deploy a sophisticated US anti-missile defence system.

The North's military said it would take "more merciless and powerful successive corresponding measures" against deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) in the South.

Pyongyang test-fired what appeared to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile on Saturday, a day after the THAAD announcement.

Also on Monday, the North said it would cut off all diplomatic channels with the US and handle issues related with it under its "wartime law" in protest at sanctions on leader Kim Jong-Un.

The issue of two Americans jailed in the North was "no exception", the North said, indicating it would give up using them as a negotiating card and could treat them harshly.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby on Monday urged Pyongyang to cease the "improper and unjust" detention of the two.

"We call on North Korea to refrain from actions and rhetoric that only further raise tensions in the region", Kirby said at a regular press briefing.

Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old college student, was sentenced to 15 years' hard labour in March for stealing a propaganda banner from a hotel. Korean-American missionary Kim Dong-Chul is also serving a jail term on charges of subversion and espionage.

The latest sanctions, which described Kim directly responsible for a long list of serious human rights abuses, are the first that name the leader of the isolated, nuclear-armed state.

 

 

British MPs to vote on nuclear deterrent this month

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎8:08:32 AMGo to full article
Warsaw (AFP) July 9, 2016 - Britain's parliament will vote this month on renewing the Trident nuclear weapons programme, Prime Minister David Cameron said Saturday as he sought to reassure NATO allies alarmed by Brexit.

Cameron's announcement at a NATO summit in Warsaw comes as the alliance grapples with the implications for its unity after key member Britain shocked the world by voting to leave the European Union.

Conservative leader Cameron is pushing through the vote on the PND 20 billion (23 billion euro, $25 billion) plan to maintain the submarine-based system before he steps down in September in the wake of the EU result.

"Today I can announce that we will hold a parliamentary vote on the 18th of July to confirm (lawmakers') support for the renewal of a full fleet of four nuclear submarines capable of providing around-the-clock cover," Cameron told a press conference at what will be his final NATO summit after six years in power.

"The nuclear deterrent remains essential in my view not just to Britain's security but as our allies acknowledge here today to the overall security of the NATO alliance," he said.

Britain is one of only three nuclear-armed NATO nations along with the United States and France, and holds a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

But the EU referendum result has raised questions about its commitment to NATO, especially at a time when the US-led alliance is trying to remain unified in the face of an increasingly assertive Russia.

- 'Ultimate deterrent' -

Cameron however insisted that his country, which has what he said was the second biggest military budget in NATO, would remain a key member.

"This summit has underlined that while Britain may be leaving the European Union, we are not turning our backs on the world," he added.

"We are a country that is willing to deploy its troops... and we are a country with the ultimate deterrent," he said.

Cameron is likely to win the Trident vote as his party widely backs it.

The leader of the main opposition Labour party Jeremy Corbyn has opposed the upgrade but a significant part of his increasingly rebellious MPs are also likely to support it.

The future of Britain's nuclear deterrent is however in question as the submarines are based in Scotland, where the government is considering a second independence referendum following the Brexit vote.

Asked why he was pushing through the vote before handing over to his as-yet-undecided successor, Cameron said it was a pledge in his party's 2015 election manifesto "and we need to get on with that."

"I don't think it needs to be caught up in the leadership contest (of the Conservative party) and we will be doing it on the 18th of July," he said.

"It makes sense to hold this vote now, for it to go ahead so our military planners can get on the investment that is needed."

 

 

Iran missile tests inconsistent with nuclear deal: UN report

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎12, ‎2016, ‏‎11:26:36 AMGo to full article
United Nations, United States (AFP) July 9, 2016 - Iran's ballistic missile tests in March were "not consistent" with the spirit of the nuclear agreement signed with world powers, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said in a report to the Security Council.

The secretary general, in a confidential report that AFP saw on Friday, left it up to the Security Council to determine what, if anything, should be done in response.

The report does not clearly state whether the Iranian tests violated the provisions of the landmark nuclear deal signed in July 2015 in Vienna.

Under the agreement, Tehran agreed to curb its atomic program. Western powers accused Iran of using the program to develop a nuclear bomb, but Tehran always denied the allegation.

Iran's foreign ministry on Saturday rejected Ban's report as "contradicting the text of the agreement".

It instead called for a report on "America's failure to undertake its commitments in the deal, as all countries who have restored economic cooperations with Iran have acknowledged".

Tehran accuses Washington of failing to reassure foreign companies and especially international banks planning to restore links with Iran.

The deal led to the lifting of sanctions in January. However, Iran's ballistic missile program was not covered by the agreement.

"While it is for the Security Council to interpret its own resolutions, I am concerned that those ballistic missile launches are not consistent with the constructive spirit demonstrated by the signing" of the nuclear deal, reads part of Ban's 16-page report, dated July 1.

"I am concerned by the ballistic missile launches conducted by Iran in March 2016.

"I call upon Iran to refrain from conducting such ballistic missile launches since they have the potential to increase tensions in the region."

- 'It's up to us' -

This is the first report regarding the application of Security Council Resolution 2231, which includes the terms of the nuclear accord.

The resolution states that Iran "is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology."

The Security Council is set to examine the report on July 18, but diplomatic sources are not expecting a decision to be taken, or even for the 15 nations on the Council to take a joint position.

"The report makes no recommendations to the Security Council," a Council diplomat told AFP.

"Having a report by the secretary general is very useful but it is up to us to decide what we are going to do about it," the diplomat said.

The United States, France, Britain and Germany in late March said they believed that Iran's ballistic missile launches violated UN resolutions, and asked the Security Council to address the issue.

The Western powers believe that some of the missiles could carry nuclear payloads, something that Tehran has denied.

 

 

N. Korea to take 'physical action' over US anti-missile system

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎12, ‎2016, ‏‎11:26:36 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) July 11, 2016 - North Korea on Monday threatened to take "physical action" to counter a sophisticated US anti-missile system planned to be deployed in the South.

The warning follows an announcement by Seoul and Washington Friday to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea to counter growing threats from the North.

The two allies have not yet revealed exactly when and where in the South the system would be deployed but said they were in the final stage of selecting a potential venue.

"The DPRK will take a physical counter-action to thoroughly control THAAD... from the moment its location and place have been confirmed in South Korea," the artillery bureau of the North's military said in a statement, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

North Korea's military, which has "sufficient latest offensive strike means", will take "more merciless and powerful successive corresponding measures against the US keen to ignite a war by deploying THAAD", it said.

It also warned the South of "miserable self-destruction" as a consequence of deployment of the THAAD system.

"We once again warn the enemies that it is the steadfast will of the KPA to make merciless retaliatory strikes to reduce south Korea to a sea in flames, debris once an order is issued," the statement said.

A day after Seoul and Washington's announcement, North Korea test-fired what appeared to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile, sparking swift international condemnation.

The launch followed Pyongyang's back-to-back tests of a powerful new medium-range Musudan missiles on June 22 -- theoretically capable of reaching US bases as far away as Guam.

Tensions have soared since Pyongyang carried out its fourth nuclear test in January, followed by a series of missile launches that analysts said show the North is making progress toward being able to strike the US mainland.

North Korea also claimed that Seoul was "offering" the South as a "US nuclear outpost".

Since the announcement on the THAAD system, residents from possible deployment sites have launched mass protests against bringing the missile defence system to their towns.

On Saturday, some 3,500 residents of Chilgok county, North Gyeongsang Province, protested against the possible deployment, saying the region had not been properly developed since US troops were stationed there in 1960.

Around 5,000 residents from Eumseong county, North Chungcheong Province, will also launch a mass demonstration Monday to protest at the lack of information provided to the public about the dangers of the defence battery.

The plan to deploy the powerful THAAD system in South Korea has also angered Beijing and Moscow, which both see it as a US bid to flex military muscle in the region.

 

 

Russia May Test-Fire Its Most Powerful Ballistic Missile Sarmat Near Hawaii

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎12, ‎2016, ‏‎11:26:36 AMGo to full article
Moscow (Sputnik) Jul 07, 2016 - Russia has started large-scale preparations for flight tests of the new "Sarmat" heavy intercontinental ballistic missile which is set to join the service by 2018. The former Chief of Staff of the Strategic Missile Forces, Viktor Esin, said that the missile will replace the most powerful RS-20V Voevoda (according to NATO classification - SS-18 Satan)ballistic complexes.

"These missiles have been in service for more than 25 years, with each of them able to deliver ten megaton nuclear warheads at a distance of more than 11,000 kilometers, guaranteeing inevitable retaliation in the event of aggression against Russia," news website Izvestia reported Esin as saying.

The main requirement of the prospective missile is to improve power performance, for example, to overcome the existing and prospective US missile defense system, the expert explained.

"The improved power should allow strikes on targets not only across the North but also the South Pole. Thus the launch range should increase significantly compared to its predecessor. In addition, the improved power characteristics should enable the missile to overcome any anti-missile systems."

According to the expert this is achievable as Sarmat will gain improved fuel formulation and design. However, the question remains how to actually verify that the new missile will be able to hit targets in the other hemisphere.

"As a rule, our missiles were tested using Plesetsk - Kura trajectory or Baikonur - Kura. The range of such a flight does not exceed 7,000 kilometers, while many of our missiles on tactical and technical characteristics fly well over 12,000 kilometers. In this case, our military must fire from the north to the area near the Hawaiian Islands. The test is difficult, but it is necessary," Esin explained.

The test for the "maximum speed" is still one of the most difficult stages of tests flight of all the previous ballistic missiles.

During the Stability 2008 drills, the ballistic missile of the submarines R-29RMU2 Sineva set a world distance record by covering a distance of over 11, 000 kilometers. It was launched from the Barents Sea and flew to the area west of Hawaii.

According to the former deputy head of the Defense Council of the Russian Federation and now the deputy director of the Institute of USA and Canada, Pavel Zolotarev, adopting a missile with a range of more than 11,000 kilometers without checking its actual characteristics is simply unacceptable today.

"History has taught our military commanders and designers not to rely on just theory. It is clear that if we want Sarmat to have the whole world under its "sight," we need to be sure of its actual performance," Izvestia reported Zolotarev as saying.

The State Rocket Center named after Academic V.P. Makeev, where the missile is being constructed, definitely has the right expertise in creating intercontinental missiles.

"However, as was the case with the 'Siniva' missile, everything should be checked practically," he further said.

Source: Sputnik News

 

 

S. Korea to ramp up border propaganda broadcasts to North: report

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎12, ‎2016, ‏‎11:26:36 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) July 6, 2016 - The South Korean military is planning to ramp up its propaganda broadcasts targeting North Korean troops by doubling the number of loudspeakers along the heavily-fortified border, a report said Wednesday.

Since the North's widely-condemned nuclear test in January, the South has blasted a mix of news, propaganda messages and Korean pop music across the border using giant banks of about 17 loudspeakers.

Yonhap news agency said the number of the loudspeakers would be doubled by the end of the year, and some ageing equipment replaced by new devices capable of broadcasting more than 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) away.

It quoted a Seoul military official who declined to be named. Seoul's defence ministry declined to confirm the report.

"We will make more efforts to erode the morale of the North's troops at the frontline and deliver information (about the outside world) to civilians there," said the official quoted by Yonhap.

North Korean civilians live within range of the loudspeakers.

The move is aimed at punishing Pyongyang for its recent series of provocations, including last month's launch of the new medium-range missile, said the official quoted by Yonhap.

The widely-condemned launch of Musudan missile, which theoretically could reach US military bases in the Pacific including Guam, raised alarm over Pyongyang's capability to deliver a nuclear warhead.

The border propaganda broadcast would carry more criticisms of the North's leader Kim Jong-Un and his "hopeless" policies of pursuing simultaneous development of nuclear arsenal and the economy, according to the official quoted by Yonhap.

The propaganda broadcasts targeting North Korean troops, intensely hated by Pyongyang, have been switched on and off in line with the swings of volatile inter-Korea ties.

Seoul last August resumed them for the first time in 11 years after two of its border patrol soldiers were maimed by mines it said was planted by the North's soldiers.

The broadcasts infuriated Pyongyang, which at one point threatened artillery strikes against the loudspeaker units unless they were switched off.

But the broadcasts came to a halt two weeks later after two Koreas reached an agreement to defuse growing military tension and Pyongyang expressed regret over the mine explosion.

 

 

Kim Jong-Un: North Korea's young leader accused of cruelty

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎12, ‎2016, ‏‎11:26:36 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) July 6, 2016 - North Korea's young leader Kim Jong-Un, who was personally blacklisted by the United States for the first time over allegations of human rights abuses, has repeatedly shrugged off pressure by the international community while asserting absolute control over the reclusive state.

In his late 20s when he took over from his late father Kim Jong-Il four and a half years ago, the younger Kim was considered untested, vulnerable and likely to be manipulated by senior figures.

But he has proved his mettle in dealing harshly -- sometimes brutally -- with any sign of dissent, even at the highest levels, while maintaining an aggressively provocative stance with the international community.

The latest move by the United States marks the first time that Kim has been sanctioned personally, and the first linked to the systemic human rights abuses in the country, where between 80,000 and 120,000 prisoners languish in political prison camps.

"Under Kim Jong-Un, North Korea continues to inflict intolerable cruelty and hardship on millions of its own people," said Adam Szubin, the US Treasury's acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

The new blacklist, which also names 10 other top officials, follows a ramping up of United Nations sanctions on the country in the wake of a series of nuclear and missile tests this year.

But Kim has repeatedly shown he will not be cowed by international criticism or pressure, as he has carried out further weapons tests while cementing the personality cult that surrounds him at home.

In late June, Kim was named chairman of a new supreme governing commission, underlining the 33-year-old's absolute control over every aspect of state policy in the isolated, nuclear-armed nation -- including the country's network of detention centres and labour camps, according to Washington.

After his father's death, the young Kim was expected to initially rely on a coterie of powerful aides, including his uncle Jang Song-Thaek.

But that expected tutelage was short-lived as Kim started to remove any potential challenges to his authority by executing Jang.

Other purges of high-ranking officials followed.

- Short-tempered, intolerant -

Kim Jong-Un was born to his father's third wife, Japan-born ethnic-Korean dancer Ko Yong-Hi, who is believed to have died of breast cancer in 2004.

He was sent to school in Switzerland, where he was looked after by his maternal aunt Ko Yong-Suk and her husband.

School staff and friends, who were reportedly unaware that he was a member of North Korea's ruling family, remembered him as a shy boy who liked skiing and Hollywood tough guy Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Meanwhile in a recent interview with the Washington Post, Ko -- who defected to the US in 1998 -- described Kim as short-tempered and lacking in tolerance.

He was also basketball mad, according to Ko, and even slept with a basketball.

Kim knew from his eighth birthday that he would become North Korea's leader, but he only entered the public eye in 2008 when his father suffered a stroke and Pyongyang revved up plans for the nation's second dynastic succession.

But he has distanced himself from his father's legacy and shown himself willing to alienate the North's sole major ally, China, with his unstinting efforts to advance the country's nuclear and missile programmes.

Just two days before his 33rd birthday on January 8, 2016, Pyongyang said it had successfully tested a Hydrogen bomb, a claim widely refuted by international experts.

But with the H-bomb claim, Kim's nuclear achievements outstrip those of the country's founding leader Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il.

Kim Il-Sung is still widely revered in North Korea, something his grandson has sought to play on by appearing to mimic his hairstyle, dress, mannerisms and public speaking style.

The younger Kim has also continued the time-tested ways of his forebears in selectively stoking tensions with rival South Korea, occasionally extending an olive branch only to snatch it away again.

 

 

Rockets target Iran exiles at Iraq camp

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎12, ‎2016, ‏‎11:26:36 AMGo to full article
Baghdad (AFP) July 5, 2016 - A barrage of rockets targeted a camp housing members of an Iranian opposition group near Baghdad on Monday, injuring several people, an Iraqi security spokesman and the exiles said.

The People's Mujahedeen Organisation of Iran (PMOI) members are waiting at the camp to be resettled outside the country.

The camp was targeted in a rocket attack last year that killed at least 26 people.

"A number of rockets fell on Camp Liberty," Baghdad Operations Command spokesman Saad Maan said in a statement, referring to the camp where the PMOI members are housed.

Maan said that some 20 rockets were launched towards the camp from a truck in an area west of Baghdad, some of which fell short, wounding Iraqi civilians.

"According to reports from Camp Liberty, as of midnight tonight, more than 40 residents were wounded or injured in the missile attack on the camp," the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the PMOI's parent organisation, said in a statement.

The statement blamed Iran-affiliated militias for carrying out the attack.

Powerful Shiite militia forces that are hostile to the PMOI are present in areas west of Baghdad, while the Islamic State jihadist group lacks the interest to attack the group.

Camp Liberty, a former US military base, has since 2012 housed members of the PMOI, a group that originally opposed the shah but later fought alongside Saddam Hussein's forces against Iran's clerical rulers after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The PMOI was also accused by the US State Department of taking part in the brutal suppression of a 1991 Shiite uprising against Saddam, making it widely reviled by members of the country's Shiite majority, which came to power after 2003. It has denied the accusations.

The exiles have been repeatedly targeted in the years after being disarmed following Saddam's overthrow, with dozens of its members killed in attacks it generally blamed on Iranian and Iraqi authorities.

At least 26 people were killed and many more wounded in a rocket attack on Camp Liberty last October, according to the United Nations.

 

 

Laser uranium enrichment technology

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎12, ‎2016, ‏‎11:26:36 AMGo to full article
Princeton NJ (SPX) Jul 01, 2016 - A new laser-based uranium enrichment technology may provide a hard-to-detect pathway to nuclear weapons production, according to a forthcoming paper in the journal Science and Global Security by Ryan Snyder, a physicist with Princeton University's Program on Science and Global Security.

One example of this new third-generation laser enrichment technique may be the separation of isotopes by laser excitation (SILEX) process which was originally developed in Australia and licensed in 2012 for commercial-scale deployment in the United States to the Global Laser Enrichment consortium led by General Electric-Hitachi. Research on the relevant laser systems is also currently ongoing in Russia, India and China.

The paper explains the basic physics of the new uranium separation concept, which relies on the selective laser excitation and condensation repression of uranium-235 in a gas. It also estimates the key laser performance requirements and possible operating parameters for a single enrichment unit and how a cascade of such units could be arranged into an enrichment plant able to produce weapon-grade highly enriched uranium.

Using plausible assumptions, the paper shows how a covert laser enrichment plant sized to make one bomb's worth of weapon-grade material a year could use less space and energy than a similar scale plant based on almost all current centrifuge designs, the most efficient enrichment technology in use today. The results suggest a direct impact on detection methods that use size or energy use as plant footprints.

Acquiring the key laser systems appears to be the main technological hurdle to states mastering this new enrichment process. The paper details some of the different lasers that, in principle, could be used for uranium enrichment.

Technology export controls on possible laser systems may be hard to implement since some of the lasers have multiple applications in areas such as medicine, telecommunications, and defense. One consequence of this is that commonplace laser research and development activities could allow more countries a latent nuclear weapons capability.

Snyder observes that an unexpected window of opportunity to think more carefully about the proliferation potential of the new laser technology has opened up with the April 2016 decision by General Electric-Hitachi to withdraw from the Global Laser Enrichment consortium which has stalled the commercialization effort.

"We have a second chance to think about the risks of deploying new laser-based uranium enrichment technologies on a laboratory or industrial scale," said Snyder. "Previously developed technologies that provided pathways to nuclear weapons such as gaseous diffusion and gas centrifuges have spread to other countries, and the same should be expected with laser enrichment if commercial deployment of this new technology is successfully demonstrated."

The paper concludes with the suggestion that attention should be focused on regulating laser systems capable of enriching uranium to weapon-grade levels, otherwise such lasers may come to pose proliferation concerns comparable to if not greater than gas centrifuge development or plutonium reprocessing today.

The paper, "A Proliferation Assessment of Third Generation Laser Enrichment Technology," will be published in Science and Global Security.

 

US Navy report blasts blundering sailors captured by Iran

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎12, ‎2016, ‏‎11:26:36 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) June 30, 2016 - US sailors who were captured in January after straying into Iranian waters committed basic navigational blunders, were quick to surrender and some buckled under questioning, a damning Navy probe released Thursday found.

The report into the January 12 incident in the Persian Gulf highlights a string of leadership and procedural failings in Iran's humiliating seizure of the 10 American sailors, with investigators saying the crews of the two captured boats had been derelict in their duties.

The sailors at times appeared haplessly lost at sea, with the engineer on one boat even resorting to an app on his smartphone to try to figure out the name of an unexpected land mass -- which turned out to be Iran's Farsi Island -- only to find his phone displaying only a "long Arabic name" and no other information.

In all, nine Navy personnel -- three of whom were actually on the boats that were meant to head from Kuwait to Bahrain -- have been disciplined or will face disciplinary action.

Iranian media broadcast humiliating images of the US sailors during their detention, showing them kneeling on their boats at gunpoint with their hands on their heads.

At one point during detention, a gunner from one boat thought about trying to escape, but "did not think of himself as a prisoner of war because the conditions were too nice," the report states.

Though the sailors were held for less than 24 hours, the incident was a major embarrassment for the US Navy and President Barack Obama.

The United States carefully avoided escalating the situation, maintaining a conciliatory tone with Tehran days ahead of the implementation of a historic international deal over Iran's nuclear program.

"I didn't want to start a war that would get people killed," the crew's captain told investigators in explaining why he had quickly surrendered.

"I made the gamble that they're not going to (take us to) Tehran and parade us like prisoners of war, because they want this nuke deal to go through."

- Name, rank, serial number -

Some of the crewmembers told investigators they were subjected to "aggressive behavior" by the Iranians, such as an interrogator "slapping his hand down on the table, spinning a crewmember's chair around or threatening to take a crewmember to Iran for lying."

Sailors told Iranians their name, ranks, serial numbers and dates of birth. Some "played stupid" and evaded answering questions, but others revealed sensitive information such as passwords to their personal phones and laptops, the report found.

The Navy has slammed Iran for detaining its sailors, for hampering their "innocent passage" of Farsi Island and for using them as propaganda tools when it filmed them surrendering and while in captivity.

But the investigation "found a lack of leadership, a disregard for risk management processes and proper mission-planning standards," US Vice Admiral Chris Aquilino told reporters.

"If the guidance provided ... had been followed, this event could have been prevented."

- Lost at sea -

The ill-fated mission was destined for trouble from the get go, the report found.

Originally, the two boats were supposed to go from Kuwait on a 259 nautical mile (480 kilometer) trip to Bahrain, the longest such sailing the crews had ever conducted.

But the mission got off to a late start, so the crews attempted to take a shortcut to make up time, investigators found.

This "deviation" caused them to unknowingly enter Saudi Arabian waters, and then stray into Iranian territorial seas off the coast of Farsi Island. The sailors saw "land masses" but did not realize where they were.

"Crewmembers speculated as to whether these were Saudi Islands, rocks or oil platforms," the probe states. "None of the crew believed that any of the masses were an Iranian island."

The crews had functioning navigation systems, but failed to zoom in to the right level of magnification, the report found.

Less than two miles from the island, one of the boats broke down and stopped in the water.

As crews worked to fix it, two Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy vessels approached with their guns uncovered. Shortly after, the Americans fixed the mechanical problem and attempted to flee, only to be blocked.

The crews would have been operating within rules of engagement to offer armed resistance, but the captain decided to surrender in order to de-escalate tensions.

The 10 sailors were taken to Farsi Island, where they were interrogated and spent a fitful night.

Eventually, the crew's officer made a scripted apology in saying the incident was the Americans' fault and that the Iranians' behavior had been "fantastic."

The Navy has already relieved three officers of their commands, one of whom was on one of the boats.

Six other people in the case face non-judicial punishments.

 

 

N. Korea leader Kim Jong-Un gets new 'top post'

 
‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎12, ‎2016, ‏‎11:26:36 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) June 30, 2016 - North Korea has created a new, supreme governing commission with leader Kim Jong-Un as its chairman, underlining the 33-year-old's absolute control over every aspect of state policy in the isolated, nuclear-armed nation.

The country's legislative body, the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA), unanimously voted Kim as head of the State Affairs Commission on Wednesday, the North's official KCNA news agency said.

The new agency replaces the National Defence Commission as the country's highest branch of government and supreme policymaking organisation.

Nominating Kim for the post, SPA president Kim Yong-Nam said it was the "unshakable faith and unswerving will of all service personnel and people of the country to uphold Kim Jong-Un ... at the top post of the DPRK".

DPRK is the official acronym for North Korea.

Cheong Seong-Chang, a North Korea expert at the Sejong Institute think-tank in Seoul, said the move effectively raised Kim Jong-Un to the post of supreme head of state.

"It's commensurate with the title of 'President of the Republic' given to (his grandfather) Kim Il-Sung in 1972," Cheong said Thursday.

Kim Il-Sung was declared North Korea's "eternal president" following his death in 1994.

Kim Jong-Un bears a striking resemblance to his grandfather -- a similarity he has played up in a clear attempt to co-opt Kim Il-Sung's legacy.

-- Out of father's shadow --

His new position also marks a further break with the legacy of his father, Kim Jong-Il, who until his death in late 2011 had effectively ruled North Korea as chairman of the now defunct NDC.

The military-dominated NDC was responsible for all defence and security-related affairs, but under Kim Jong-Il's military-first policy it also exercised control over other key, non-defence related policymaking areas.

The new commission has three vice chairmen under Kim, each explicitly responsible for military, party and governmental affairs.

"This marks a clear departure from the era of his father," said Yang Moo-Jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

"And, by making himself the head of an umbrella commission with control over the military, party and government, Kim Jong-Un has become supreme leader in both name and reality," Yang said.

Almost the entire front page of the ruling party's official Rodong Sinmun on Thursday was taken up with a formal, colour headshot of Kim Jong-Un, wearing a sombre expression and a Mao jacket buttoned to the neck.

"We offer the greatest honour to Dear Comrade Kim Jong-Un, the supreme leader of the Party and the people," ran the accompanying block-letter headline in red ink.

The SPA meets only once or twice a year, mostly for day-long sessions to rubber-stamp budgets or other decisions made by the leadership.

Wednesday's session included discussion of a new, five-year economic plan unveiled by Kim Jong-Un at a rare party congress in May -- the first such document to come out of the North Korean leadership for decades.

Few specific details of the plan have emerged and the KCNA report on the SPA meeting stuck with general exhortations about boosting production and easing the country's energy crunch.

 

 

US, Russia cutting nuke arsenals, but modernising: study

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎8:19:32 AMGo to full article
Stockholm (AFP) June 12, 2016 - The world's biggest nuclear powers, the US and Russia, are slowly reducing their nuclear arsenals but are modernising their capacities, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said on Monday.

Nine states -- the US, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea -- had 15,395 nuclear warheads at the start of 2016, including 4,120 which were operationally deployed, the institutes's annual report said.

At the beginning of 2015, the number was 15,850.

"Global nuclear weapon inventories have been declining since they peaked at nearly 70,000 nuclear warheads in the mid-1980s. The decline has been due primarily to cuts made in the Russian and US nuclear forces," researchers Shannon Kile and Hans Kristensen wrote in the report.

The reductions are the result of three arms limitation treaties signed since 1991, as well as unilateral force reductions by the world's two nuclear superpowers.

"However, the pace of their reductions appears to be slowing compared with a decade ago, and neither Russia nor the US... has made significant reductions in its deployed strategic nuclear forces since the bilateral New START treaty" entered into force in 2011, SIPRI said.

Russia was estimated to have 7,290 nuclear warheads at the start of 2016, and the US 7,000, with the two countries accounting for 93 percent of nuclear weapons in the world, it said.

They were followed by France (300), China (260), Britain (215), Pakistan (110-130), India (100-120), Israel (80) and North Korea (10), a reclusive country for which the data is uncertain and therefore not included in the overall totals.

"None of the nuclear weapon-possessing states are prepared to give up their nuclear arsenals for the foreseeable future," SIPRI said, noting that Washington and Moscow have "extensive and expensive nuclear modernisation programmes under way."

Two bordering, rival countries are increasing their capacities: India is beefing up its nuclear-capable ballistic missile programme and speeding up its plutonium production, while neighbouring Pakistan is developing battlefield nuclear weapons in a bid to offset India's superior conventional forces.

Pakistan's "nuclear arsenal may increase significantly over the next decade," the institute warned.

SIPRI concluded that worldwide, "the prospects for genuine progress towards nuclear disarmament remain gloomy."

 

 

China bans exports of nuclear-use technology to N. Korea

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎8:19:32 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) June 15, 2016 - China has banned exports to North Korea of a range of technologies that could be used to build weapons, the latest move to deter Pyongyang's internationally condemned nuclear programme.

Prohibited goods include ring magnets, high strength aluminium alloys, laser welding equipment, and an array of compounds that can be used to produce nuclear and chemical weapons, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement late Tuesday listing restricted "dual use" items.

China is North Korea's largest trading partner and has been its key diplomatic protector for decades. But relations have soured over the North's nuclear tests and long-range missile launches, with Beijing supporting UN sanctions in a security council vote in March.

The ban comes in the wake of UN resolution 2270, which aims to prevent the production of nuclear weapons and imposed fresh sanctions on the pariah state after Pyongyang's nuclear test at the start of the year.

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with a visiting North Korean official earlier this month and stressed the importance of keeping "friendly relations" between the countries. The envoy reportedly told Chinese officials Pyongyang would continue its nuclear programme.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has not visited China since coming to power and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping has not been to Pyongyang.

North Korea held its first party congress for nearly 40 years in early May, formally endorsing leader Kim Jong-Un's policy of expanding the country's nuclear arsenal.

 

 

N. Korea may have 21 nukes or more: US think tank

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎8:19:32 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) June 15, 2016 - North Korea may have produced an additinal six or more nuclear weapons over the past 18 months, possibly bringing its total arsenal to more than 21 bombs, a US think tank said Tuesday.

The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) based the estimates on the amounts of weapons-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium the North is believed to have produced at its Yongbyon nuclear complex.

The report came after International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano said last week that North Korea might have reactivated a plant at Yongbyon for reprocessing plutonium for use in nuclear weapons.

In late 2014, ISIS estimated the North's nuclear arsenal at 10 to 16 weapons.

Since then, the North has added another four to six weapons to the stockpile for a total of 13 to 21 or more today, ISIS said.

The 13-21 estimate did not take into account the additional contribution of a possible second centrifuge plant the North may have built to produce weapons-grade uranium, it said.

"Nonetheless, this exercise, despite not being comprehensive, shows that North Korea could be significantly increasing its nuclear weapons capabilities", the Washington-based think tank said.

Most of this increase since 2014 can be attributed to the production of weapons-grade uranium, it added.

Amano, citing satellite imagery, said last week in Vienna: "The indications that we have obtained... (are of) activities related to the five-megawatt reactor, expansion of enrichment facilities and activities related to (plutonium) reprocessing."

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

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 out out a fourth test on January 6.

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".

IAEA inspectors were kicked out of North Korea in 2009. Amano did not say when the activities spotted by satellite took place.

 

 

Iran's Khamenei warns US candidates over nuclear deal

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎8:19:32 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) June 14, 2016 - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned candidates in the US presidential election against questioning the Islamic republic's nuclear deal with world powers, his official website reported on Tuesday.

"We do not violate the nuclear accord... candidates in the American presidential election are threatening to tear up the nuclear deal. If they do so, we will burn it," he told visiting dignitaries.

Republican candidate Donald Trump has called the nuclear agreement "catastrophic".

In March, Trump said that if elected his first foreign policy priority would be to dismantle the deal and what he said was Tehran's global "terror" network.

The nuclear agreement signed in July last year between Iran and the P5+1 group -- the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany -- came into force in January.

Under it, Iran has limited its nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of many international sanctions.

Tehran accuses Washington of not actively promoting relations between Iran and international business, especially banks.

"The other party had to lift sanctions but has not done so. The question of banking has not been regulated... we are unable to recover oil revenues and other capital we have in other countries," Khamenei said.

"The Americans are not applying a large part of their commitments as we have done," he said.

Iran complains that major international banks, particularly in Europe, are reluctant to do business with it for fear of US punitive measures.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, at the Oslo Forum in Norway where he is due to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday, urged Washington to lift "psychological" barriers to Iran doing business.

"I think that while on paper the US has lifted all sanctions, the psychological aftermath associated with many years of sanctions remains, and I think the US should play a more active role to remove them," he said.

Zarif said he would raise the issue when he met Kerry on Wednesday.

 

 

Iran recovery a long way off despite nuclear deal: ministers

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎8:19:32 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) June 7, 2016 - Iran's economy faces tough years ahead despite a nuclear deal with world powers that the government hoped would spur investment and revive stagnant growth, ministers have warned.

Speaking to members of parliament on Monday and Tuesday, the industry and interior ministers painted a bleak picture of chronic underinvestment, surging inflation and unemployment in the Islamic republic.

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli warned on Monday that the country may achieve growth of only between 1.5 and three percent per annum.

"With that sort of growth, unemployment and inflation will double in the short term. We need foreign investment," he said.

His predictions fall far short of the growth target of eight percent President Hassan Rouhani set in January to tackle double-figure inflation and high unemployment.

Rouhani's government had hoped the lifting of economic sanctions following last year's nuclear deal would trigger an influx of billions of dollars from overseas to boost growth and create jobs in a country where around a quarter of young people are out of work.

Iran needs annual foreign investment of $30-$50 billion to reach the eight percent growth target and cash in on the nuclear deal, Rouhani told parliament in January, a day after implementation of the historic agreement.

But Rahmani Fazli said a total of 3.5 million Iranians -- some 11 percent of the workforce -- are unemployed.

"I myself have three unemployed university graduates at home," he said.

New investment cannot come soon enough for some sectors.

"Gradually increasing in the industrial and mining sector between 2000 and 2011, investment has fallen since 2012," Industry Minister Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh told parliament on Tuesday.

The lack of investment had created "a catastrophe in the industrial sector", he said.

He emphasised government efforts to help, noting that 12 industrial projects with foreign investment of $500 million (439 million euros) had been approved since the deal came into effect in mid-January.

Major Western powers said on May 20 that they back doing business with Tehran. But many sanctions remain, deterring potential business partners who fear being hit by punishing US fines.

Low oil prices and years of US and European Union sanctions that barred much of Iran's foreign oil sales have hammered the country's income from crude. Its economy grew by less than 1 percent in 2015.

"Concerning economic prosperity, Iran is ranked 106 out of 129 countries, which is the sign of a problem," Nematzadeh told MPs.

 

 

'Indications' N. Korea has reactivated plutonium plant: UN watchdog

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎8:19:32 AMGo to full article
Vienna (AFP) June 6, 2016 - North Korea may have reactivated a plant for reprocessing plutonium for use in nuclear weapons, the UN atomic watchdog said Monday, citing satellite imagery and echoing recent comments from a US think-tank.

"The indications that we have obtained... (are of) activities related to the five-megawatt reactor, expansion of enrichment facilities and activities related to (plutonium) reprocessing," International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano said.

"However, as we do not have inspectors on the ground we are only observing through satellite imagery. We cannot say for sure. But we have indications of certain activities through the satellite imagery," Amano told a regular news conference in Vienna.

He said that the indications spotted at the main Yongbyon complex included the "movement of vehicles, steam, discharge of warm waters or transport of material".

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

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 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".

Amano's comments tally with those of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University last week.

The think-tank said that recent satellite pictures showed two rail "flatcars" -- loaded with tanks or casks -- near the Yongbyon complex's radiochemical laboratory.

Similar flatcars were seen during reprocessing campaigns in the early 2000s and the casks could be used to supply chemicals for reprocessing, the institute said.

At the same time, exhaust plumes were seen coming from the lab's thermal plant and coal pens adjoining the plant appeared filled to capacity, it said.

In addition, a lack of activity and steam generation at the main reactor suggest it is either not operating or doing so at an extremely low level, the analysts said.

The reactor needs to be shut down in order to discharge the spent fuel for reprocessing.

IAEA inspectors were kicked out of North Korea in 2009. Amano did not say when the activities spotted by satellite took place.

 

 

Signs of reprocessing at N. Korea complex: US think tank

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎8:19:32 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) June 1, 2016 - Recent satellite images reveal multiple indicators that North Korea is preparing, or has already begun, to reprocess plutonium for additional nuclear weapons at its main atomic complex, a US think tank said Wednesday.

Exactly how much weapons-grade plutonium the North can produce at the Yongbyon complex is unclear, said analysts at the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

When operating at full capacity, the main five-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon is understood to be capable of producing six kilos (13 pounds) of plutonium a year -- enough for one or two bombs.

The recent satellite pictures show two railroad flatcars -- loaded with tanks or casks -- near the complex's radiochemical laboratory.

Similar flatcars were seen during reprocessing campaigns in the early 2000s and the casks could be used to supply chemicals for reprocessing work, the institute said.

At the same time, exhaust plumes were seen coming from the lab's thermal plant and coal pens adjoining the plant appeared filled to capacity.

Meanwhile, a lack of activity and steam generation at the main reactor suggest it is either not operating or doing so at an extremely low level, the analysts said.

The reactor needs to be shut down in order to discharge the spent fuel for reprocessing.

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.

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

North Korea has carried out four nuclear tests -- the most recent on January 6, when it announced it had detonated its first hydrogen bomb.

Experts have disputed the H-bomb claim, saying the yield from the test was far too low for a fully fledged thermonuclear device.

 

 

Chinese President stresses 'friendly' ties to N. Korea envoy

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎8:19:32 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) June 1, 2016 - Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the importance of "friendly relations" to a visiting North Korean official Wednesday, after the envoy reportedly told Chinese officials Pyongyang would continue its internationally condemned nuclear programme.

Xi told top North Korean party official Ri Su-Yong in Beijing that "China places great value on the friendly cooperative relationship" with its isolated neighbour, an official report said.

China is North Korea's largest trading partner and has been its key diplomatic protector for decades. But relations have soured over the North's nuclear tests and long-range missile launches, with Beijing supporting UN sanctions.

According to South Korea, the North on Tuesday made an unsuccessful attempt to launch a powerful new medium-range missile.

Ri told Chinese officials on Tuesday that Pyongyang would stick to its policy of "simultaneously pushing forward economic construction and the building of nuclear force", according to the North's official KCNA news agency.

The report of the meeting between Ri -- a former foreign minister -- and Xi, which was posted on the website of the Chinese Communist Party's international department, made no mention of the nuclear issue.

It cited Xi as saying he hoped "all sides could remain calm, increase communication and dialogue and protect regional peace and stability".

Ri conveyed a message from the North's leader Kim Jong-Un in which Kim vowed to "develop the traditional friendship" between the two nations and "maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and northeast Asia", it said.

The report added that Ri updated Xi on the North's once-in-a-generation party congress last month, which cemented Kim's leadership and formally endorsed his policy of nuclear expansion.

The lack of any official Chinese representation at the congress was seen as a sign of friction between the two traditional allies.

Kim has not visited China since coming to power in December 2011 and Xi has not visited Pyongyang.

The North Korean leader watched the local Sobaeksu basketball team beat China's Olympic squad in three matches on Monday, KCNA reported.

But China's Sina Sports portal on Tuesday interviewed a Chinese Olympian who attributed the results to biased refereeing.

"At times we stood still and were accused of running, and we basically couldn't make any physical contact at all in defence," the unnamed player said.

He added: "As soon as we made contact, we were accused of a foul."

 

 

UN Security Council condemns N. Korea's attempted missile launches

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎8:19:32 AMGo to full article
United Nations, United States (AFP) June 1, 2016 - The UN Security Council on Wednesday strongly condemned North Korea's latest attempted missile launches and urged world governments to ramp up efforts to impose sanctions on Pyongyang.

The council unanimously backed a US-drafted statement that demanded that North Korea "refrain from further actions, including nuclear tests," which are in violation of UN resolutions.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre, who holds the council presidency this month, described the statement as a "firm and clear response from the Security Council" to North Korea's latest actions.

Council members "strongly condemned" a series of failed missile launches on Tuesday and on April 27 and 28, which are in "grave violation" of North Korea's international obligations, said the text.

China, Pyongyang's sole ally, and Russia supported the statement that calls on UN member states to "redouble efforts to implement fully the measures imposed" on North Korea.

The council has adopted the toughest sanctions to date on North Korea after it carried out its fourth nuclear test in January and a rocket launch that was widely seen as a disguised ballistic missile test.

Among the sweeping measures is a new requirement that all countries must inspect cargo destined for and coming from North Korea, in all airports and sea ports.

The resolution bans or restricts exports of coal, iron, iron ore and other minerals from North Korea, and prohibits the supply of aviation fuel including rocket fuel.

The council tasked a UN sanctions committee to intensify its work and urged all governments to report as soon as possible on the concrete measures they are taking to implement sanctions.

A previous council move to condemn North Korea's attempts to test-fire missiles in late April was blocked after Russia sought to include references to US-South Korean plans to develop missile defense.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters "not this time" when asked if he was planning to present amendments to the US text.

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

The US Treasury said earlier it was taking steps to limit banks used by North Korea in other countries from accessing the US banking system.

 

 

N. Korea defectors from China restaurant arrive in Seoul

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎8:19:32 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) June 1, 2016 - Three North Korean women who worked at a state-run restaurant in China have arrived in South Korea after defecting, authorities in Seoul said Wednesday.

It was the second such group defection announced this year, after 13 female employees of another Pyongyang-operated restaurant in China arrived in Seoul in April.

The South Korean Unification Ministry confirmed the arrival of the three, but declined to give any details of how they managed to get to Seoul.

According to unidentified government sources cited by the Yonhap news agency, they arrived via Thailand, after running away from their restaurant in the northern Chinese province of Shanxi.

Their case will fuel tensions with North Korea which insists the previous group of 13 women had been tricked into defecting and were being held in Seoul against their will.

Reports of the latest defection first emerged in late May, several weeks after the three women had initially escaped.

The South Korean government estimates that Pyongyang rakes in around $10 million every year from about 130 restaurants it operates -- with mostly North Korean staff -- in 12 countries, including neighbouring China.

Tough United Nations sanctions imposed on North Korea after its January nuclear test significantly curtailed the isolated state's ability to earn hard currency, making the restaurants an even more important source of income than before.

There have been reports of staff not being paid, with restaurants pressured into increasing their regular remittances to Pyongyang.

Since the group defection in April, North Korean state media has repeatedly run emotional interviews with the 13 women's relatives still in North Korea, demanding their immediate return.

South Korea has rejected the North's "kidnapping" claims and refused Pyongyang's demands to allow the women's parents to travel to Seoul to meet their daughters.

Nearly 30,000 North Koreans have fled poverty and repression at home to settle in the capitalist South.

But group defections are rare, especially by staff who work in the North Korea-themed restaurants overseas and who are handpicked from families considered "loyal" to the regime.

 

 

S. Korea says North fails with attempted missile launch

 
‎Friday, ‎June ‎10, ‎2016, ‏‎3:54:55 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) May 31, 2016 - North Korea apparently failed with an attempted missile launch Tuesday, the latest in a series of setbacks for a ballistic weapons programme that aspires to threaten the US mainland.

South Korea's defence ministry detected the dawn launch effort, which Japan condemned as an unacceptable and "provocative" act.

The ministry declined to speculate on the missile type, but military sources cited by local media said it was a powerful, medium-range "Musudan" that has already undergone three failed launches this year.

UN resolutions ban North Korea from any use of ballistic missile technology, although it regularly fires short-range missiles into the sea off its east coast.

Tuesday's effort came with tensions still running high on the divided Korean peninsula following the North's fourth nuclear test in January and long-range rocket launch a month later.

"We believe that it was a failure," said Jeon Ha-Gyu, spokesman for the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"As to why and how it failed, we are in the process of analysing that," Jeon told a press briefing.

"We are maintaining a strong defence posture with potential further provocations by the North in mind," he added.

US military officials on "strongly" condemned the failed launch attempt.

"These actions, and North Korea's continued pursuit of ballistic missile and nuclear weapons capabilities, pose a significant threat to the United States, our allies, and to the stability of the greater Asia-Pacific," said the statement from the US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM).

"We call on North Korea to refrain from actions that further raise tensions in the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its international commitments."

In April the North failed three times to test-fire a Musudan, which has an estimated range of anywhere between 2,500 and 4,000 kilometres (1,550 to 2,500 miles).

The lower range covers the whole of South Korea and Japan, while the upper range would include US military bases on Guam.

"North Korea's repeated ballistic missile launches are serious, provocative acts against the international community, including Japan," Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told a regular press briefing.

"We absolutely cannot accept this," Kishida said.

First unveiled as an indigenous missile at a military parade in Pyongyang in October 2010, the Musudan has never been successfully flight-tested.

The three failures in April were seen as an embarrassment for the Pyongyang leadership, coming ahead of a rare ruling party congress in May that was meant to celebrate the country's achievements.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted official sources as saying Tuesday's missile may have exploded on its mobile launcher.

- Dialogue offer -

"The explosion is presumed to have inflicted serious injuries on personnel in the immediate vicinity," Yonhap said.

During the party congress, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un personally extended an offer of military dialogue with the South aimed at easing tensions.

The proposal was repeated several times by the North's military, but Seoul dismissed all the overtures as insincere "posturing" given Kim's vow at the same congress to push ahead with the country's nuclear weapons programme.

Following Tuesday's attempted missile test, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said Pyongyang was wilfully defying the warnings of the international community.

"North Korea will face even stronger sanctions and isolation if it doesn't end its provocations," spokesman Cho June-Hyuck told reporters.

"The government will review necessary countermeasures through talks with our allies," he added.

The UN Security Council imposed its toughest sanctions to date on the North following the January nuclear test.

In recent months, North Korea has claimed a series of technical breakthroughs in developing what it sees as the ultimate goal of its nuclear weapons programme -- an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to targets across the continental United States.

The claimed achievements included miniaturising a nuclear warhead to fit on a missile, developing a warhead that can withstand atmospheric re-entry and building a solid-fuel missile engine.

The North also hailed the successful test of an engine specifically designed for an ICBM that would "guarantee" an eventual nuclear strike on the US mainland.

Outside experts have treated a number of the claims with scepticism, while acknowledging that the North has made significant strides in upgrading its nuclear arsenal.

 

 

 
 

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Colombia: Court backs referendum on peace deal with FARC

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎8:09:33 AMGo to full article
Bogota (AFP) July 19, 2016 - Colombia's constititutional court gave its approval on Monday for a popular referendum on a historic peace deal being negotiated with FARC rebels.

"There is a green light for us, the Colombian people, to approve the peace deal with our votes," President Juan Manuel Santos said.

The top court held more than eight hours of deliberations before giving its go-ahead to a government bill on the plebiscite, which has already been approved by Congress.

The Colombian government and the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are in the final phase of four years of talks that it is hoped will result in a peace deal putting to an end a half-a-century of conflict.

The rebels last month signed a ceasefire and disarmament deal with the government, with the aim of becoming a political party.

The government said it hoped to move on to a full peace deal within weeks.

Alejo Vargas, an analyst at the National University's Center for Reflection and Monitoring of the Peace Dialogues, has said government supporters of the peace deal are in the majority. In a referendum, he estimated, "up to 70 percent would vote 'Yes.'"

 

 

Grenade blast kills 2 Israeli soldiers

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎8:09:33 AMGo to full article
Jerusalem (AFP) July 17, 2016 - A grenade explosion killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded three others on Sunday near a military outpost in the Golan Heights, the army said in a statement.

The incident occurred at Mount Hermon near the demarcation line with Syria. Details on how the Israeli grenade went off were being investigated.

The two soldiers killed were identified as Staff Sergeant Hussam Tafesh, a 24-year-old Druze, and Sergeant Shlomo Rindenow, 20 and originally from the United States.

Israeli media reported that one of the soldiers exited an army vehicle holding the grenade and approached another soldier standing outside the outpost when it exploded.

Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

 

 

Spain under bombs: 'testing ground' for WWII

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎8:09:33 AMGo to full article
Benasal, Spain (AFP) July 15, 2016 - Teenager Angel Bertran had just gone out to work in fields of hazelnut trees when Spain's civil war burst into his small town with the arrival of Nazi bomber planes.

It was May 25, 1938. Bertran, then just 15, was heading to the countryside outside Benasal, a town of around 1,000 residents in the eastern province of Castellon where a mountain range separates Spain's Mediterranean coast from its central plains.

"Suddenly three planes flew by, not very high. They turned towards the town and nosedived," Bertran, now 93, recalls as he sits in a rustic wooden chair in the living room of his home.

"They lined up and dropped their bombs. They fell very quickly, making a loud whistling sound. Within seconds you could only see dust."

He stops talking and thinks for a moment before adding in a broken voice: "When I returned to the town, everything was destroyed."

Photographs from the time show entire blocks of Benasal reduced to rubble, the dome and roof of the baroque church blown open.

At least 13 people were killed, victims of a new war tactic: air bombardments.

- 'Absolute panic' -

Spain's 1936-39 civil war pitted an elected leftist government against right-wing forces that rose up under General Francisco Franco, who went on to win and presided over a nearly 40-year dictatorship.

It was the first war where "aviation played a crucial role", said Barcelona University historian Joan Villarroya.

Planes bombed systematically the battlefront as well as the civilian population to "cause terror and break morale", he said.

Hospitals, schools, theatres, markets and even churches became military targets.

Historians estimate that at least 10,000 people were killed across the country in the air raids during the 1936-39 war.

The vast majority of the dead were opponents of Franco's forces, who were backed by Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy.

The soldiers loyal to the Socialist-led government known as Republicans received help from the Soviet Union, but it was much more limited.

In November 1936 Madrid became the first European capital to be bombed by planes.

The following year the town of Guernica in the northern Basque region was wiped out by aircraft from Hitler's "Condor Legion" sent to Spain to support Franco, an atrocity immortalised in Picasso's haunting anti-war masterpiece named after the town.

At the same time Italian aircraft based in Mallorca bombed Spain's Mediterranean coast, especially Barcelona where 2,500 people were killed.

Spain was for them "a test ground for World War Two," said history professor Josep Sanchez Cervello of Tarragona's Rovira i Virgili University.

"They wanted to see what would be the effect of bombs on the civilian population. It was absolute panic."

- Stuka experiment -

Benasal suffered one of these experiments, the testing of the Junker-87, or Stuka, a German dive bomber that served the Axis forces in World War Two.

For decades no one explained why Benasal was targeted. It was an unimportant town, without troops and 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the nearest front.

But in 2011 Oscar Vives, a university professor who lives in Benasal, found a German military report titled "Images of the Effects of 500 kilogramme bombs".

The report proved that Benasal and three other nearby towns were used to test the dive bombers.

At leat 40 people died "because of an experiment, of weapons testing," said Vives.

Time has not erased the memories.

Now aged 90, Rosa Soligo says she was in bed when the bombs landed near her house.

She recalls hearing her mother scream and "a loud noise" as part of the building came crashing down.

"When they pulled us out of the rubble our bodies were covered in blood because of the injuries but fortunately they were not very serious," she said.

The German dive bombers returned three days later but there were no longer any inhabitants left in Benasal. Everyone had fled.

- 'Punished by history' -

"We lived in caves for days, for fear that they would return. We suffered a lot... a lot," Soligo said.

The effects of the air bombings can be seen still in the town of Corbera de Ebro in the northeastern region of Catalunya near the Ebro River, the site of the bloodiest battle of the war which paved the way for victory by Franco's forces.

Corbera was "completely levelled" by the insurgents, said professor Sanchez Cervello.

The town was engulfed in fire and smoke for weeks, and was called "the eternal flame", said local historian and high school teacher Joan Antonio Montana who provides tours of the ruins of Corbera.

Only the bell tower and facade of the town's baroque church survived.

After the war the surviving residents moved down the hill and rebuilt their town. The original town was left in rubble as a memorial to a "town punished by history".

 

 

UN-backed Yemen peace talks resume in Kuwait

 
‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎8:09:33 AMGo to full article
Kuwait City (AFP) July 16, 2016 - The UN special envoy for Yemen on Saturday urged the country's warring parties to make "decisions that will prove your true intentions", as peace talks resumed in Kuwait City after government delegates abandoned a boycott threat.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the negotiations, back on after a 15-day suspension, would last for two weeks and warned that they may be Yemen's last chance for peace.

"It's time for decisive decisions that will prove your true intentions and national responsibilities to Yemenis," he told a meeting of the two delegations late Saturday.

The envoy said the discussions between Yemen's Huthi rebels and the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi would focus on strengthening a ceasefire that came into effect on April 11 but has been repeatedly violated.

They would also deal with "forming the military committees that will supervise the withdrawal and handover of weapons... and opening safe passages for humanitarian aid," he said.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that over the past two weeks he had held intensive talks in Sanaa, Riyadh and Muscat and met with many dignitaries who declared their support for a final settlement.

"I hope that you will seize this opportunity which could be the last to win the trust of Yemeni people," the UN envoy added.

- Boycott threat -

The talks resumed after Ould Cheikh Ahmed convinced the Yemen government to send its delegation to Kuwait after threatening to pull out of the peace talks which began on April 21.

Earlier in the day, Yemen Foreign Minister Abdulmalek al-Mikhlafi said the government had obtained a "written response to our demands sufficient for the political leadership to decide (on) sending the delegation back to Kuwait".

A well-defined timetable has been agreed that is limited to "withdrawal, handover of arms, return of state institutions, release of prisoners and lifting siege on cities" by the Iran-backed Huthi rebels and their allies, Mikhlafi said.

The deal was struck after two days of talks with Ould Cheikh Ahmed in Riyadh, he said.

It was also agreed that the talks' two-week duration will not be extended and no other issues will be debated, he added.

The rebel delegation of Huthis and representatives of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh's General People's Congress party arrived in Kuwait on Friday.

More than two months of negotiations between President Hadi's Saudi-backed government and the rebels have failed to make any headway.

The government is calling for implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2216 which requires the rebels and their allies to withdraw from areas they have occupied since 2014, including the capital Sanaa, and hand over heavy weapons.

Hadi had previously warned that his government would boycott the talks if the UN envoy insisted on a roadmap stipulating a unity government that included the insurgents.

His government wants to re-establish its authority across the entire country, much of which is rebel-controlled, and to restart a political transition interrupted when the Huthis seized Sanaa.

More than 6,400 people have been killed in Yemen since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in support of Hadi's government in March last year.

Another 2.8 million people have been displaced and more than 80 percent of the population urgently needs humanitarian aid, according to UN figures.