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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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France fears Brexit consequences for EU defense capability

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎10:27:08 PMGo to full article
France fears Britain may downsize its military ambitions once outside the European Union, leaving its neighbor to a role as the only significant power in the region, according to French defense ministry sources. Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian published a column on Wednesday in Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper in which he urged Britons to vote to remain in the EU, stressing the importance of Britain's defense relationship with its European partners as the west battles jihadi groups in the Middle East and Africa. Speaking after Thursday's vote to leave, the sources said France still hoped that relationship could continue in some form.
 

Brexit vote a victory for populist politics

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎7:35:16 PMGo to full article
Two people hold an European Union and the castle of Hardelot, the cultural center of the Entente Cordiale (the colonial-era promise of cross-channel friendship between Britain and France)in Neufchatel-Hardelot, northern FranceBritish voters' decision to leave the European Union highlighted working class dissatisfaction with the UK and Europe's ruling elite and the mass appeal of populist politics. Farage, who posed next to an anti-migrant poster emblazoned with the words "Breaking Point" during the Brexit campaign, dedicated the "Out" vote to people who have "had enough of the merchant bankers". Donald Trump's tell-it-like-it-is bluntness and disdain for both political correctness and Washington insiders has struck a chord among increasingly frustrated white working class and middle class voters in the United States.
 
 

Pope denounces 'genocide' in Armenia visit

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎7:08:04 PMGo to full article
Pope Francis gives a speech as he visits the Apostolic Cathedral in Etchmiadzin, outside Yerevan, on June 24, 2016Pope Francis began his three-day visit to Armenia on Friday with a denunciation of the mass killing of Armenians a century ago by Ottoman forces as "genocide", risking Turkey's fury. The pontiff -- who is making his 14th overseas trip since he was elected in 2013 -- invoked a term Turkish authorities have vehemently rejected during a meeting with Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian. "Sadly this tragedy, this genocide, was the first of the deplorable series of catastrophes of the past century," Francis said at the presidential palace in Yerevan.
 
 

Nepali migrants banned from working in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎5:18:02 PMGo to full article
By Gopal Sharma KATHMANDU (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Nepal has banned its nationals from working in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria after 13 Nepali security guards were killed by a Taliban suicide bomber in the Afghan capital earlier this week, Labour Minister Deepak Bohara said on Friday. "Our decision is prompted by the security situation in those countries," Bohara told Thomson Reuters Foundation. "If our nationals already working in those countries want to return home, the government will make arrangements for that." Nepal is one of the world's poorest countries.
 

Israeli troops say kill Palestinian attacker in West Bank

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎3:51:30 PMGo to full article
Israeli security forces gather at the scene where a female Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops at the entrance to Kiryat Arba near HebronIsraeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian woman who rammed a vehicle into a parked car near an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank on Friday, injuring two people sitting inside, the army said. Palestinian officials had no immediate comment. Israeli forces have shot dead at least 198 Palestinians, 135 of whom Israel has said were assailants.
 
 

Pope visits Armenia with Mideast peace message

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎3:23:22 PMGo to full article
Francis is the second pope to visit Armenia since it re-emerged as an independent state from the ashes of the Soviet UnionPope Francis began a three-day visit to Armenia on Friday, just over a year after he enraged Turkey by using the term genocide to describe the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire. The pontiff's 14th overseas trip since his 2013 election is expected to see him highlight Vatican concern over instability, conflict and the plight of Christians in the war-torn Middle East, which has seen Armenia take in many refugees. On his way to Yerevan, Francis told reporters that Britain's decision to exit the European Union means Europe must bear "great responsibility" to ensure the well-being of its population.
 
 

Pope is bringing message of peace for Armenia _ and beyond

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎1:51:58 PMGo to full article
Pope Francis arrives at Yereven's Zvaretnots airport, Armenia, Friday, June 24, 2016. Pope Francis is in Armenia for a three-day visit. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is bringing a message of peace and solidarity to Armenia as it marks the centennial of the Ottoman-era slaughter of Armenians that Francis himself has called a "genocide." But he may sidestep the politically charged word as he broadens his concern about current atrocities against Christians across the region and beyond.
 
 

Developing countries fuel west Africa as cocaine hub

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎9:20:49 PMGo to full article
Seizures on the Atlantic island of Cape Verde, in the Gambia, Nigeria and Ghana contributed to a 78 percent increase in cocaine seizures from 2009-2014 compared to the previous periodDeveloping markets are fuelling an increase in cocaine trafficking through west Africa, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said Thursday in a new report. Seizures on the Atlantic island of Cape Verde, in the Gambia, Nigeria and Ghana contributed to a 78 percent increase in cocaine seizures from 2009-2014 compared to the previous period, UNODC regional representative Pierre Lapaque said at the report's launch in Dakar. "Cocaine trafficking through Africa seems to be growing again and we have evidence of increasing trafficking to Asia and the Middle East," Lapaque said.
 
 

Boeing's historic deal with Iran rests on shaky foundations

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎9:17:35 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2016 file photo, an Iranian Mahan Air passenger plane takes off as a plane of Iran's national air carrier, Iran Air, is parked at left, at Mehrabad airport in Tehran, Iran. Boeing Co. said Tuesday it signed an agreement with Iran Air "expressing the airline's intent" to buy its aircraft, setting up the biggest business deal between the Islamic Republic and America since the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover in Tehran. Boeing Co.’s historic deal with Iran Air rests on shaky foundations, with potentially $25 billion riding on hopes that Tehran would stop its past practice of using the airline’s planes to ferry fighters and weapons across the Middle East.(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Boeing Co.'s historic $25 billion deal with Iran Air potentially rides on hopes that Tehran would stop its past practice of using the airline's planes to ferry fighters and weapons across the Middle East.
 
 

Iraqi forces focus on militants in north and west Fallujah

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎8:56:52 PMGo to full article
In this Wednesday, June 22, 2016 photo, Iraqi soldiers enter the main hospital in Fallujah, Iraq. On the northwestern edge of Fallujah, Iraqi commanders are preparing for one of their toughest battles yet, despite declaring victory in the city west of Baghdad last week.(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)FALLUJAH, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi commanders are preparing to dislodge Islamic State group fighters from pockets of territory in Fallujah's northern and western neighborhoods where the militants have dug in after largely fleeing their positions in the city center last week.
 
 

Interpol seeks public help to catch human traffickers

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎6:42:59 PMGo to full article
Libyan coastguard escorts illegal migrants after their boat started to sink off the coastal town of Garabulli in 2014Interpol called Thursday for public help to track down scores of human traffickers wanted around the world, accused of "profiting from the desperation" of migrants determined to reach Europe. "People smuggling is a global issue, which is why international cooperation through operations such as Hydra are essential," Interpol's director of operational support Michael O'Connell said in a statement. The operation, known as Infra Hydra, involves 44 countries as well as the EU police agency Europol.
 
 

Egypt gets its first French Mistral-class helicopter carrier

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎4:22:49 PMGo to full article
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt has received the first of two French-made, Mistral-class helicopter carriers purchased last year in an effort to upgrade its navy.
 

Turkey in new quest to patch up with regional foes

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎3:18:55 PMGo to full article
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, pictured together in Moscow in September 2015Reaching out to Russia and working to normalise ties with Israel, Turkey is moving to mend fences and restore its waning regional clout by returning to a policy known as "zero problems with neighbours". Prime Minister Binali Yildirim hinted at a new approach after he took over in May from Ahmet Davutoglu, a former academic who masterminded an aggressive foreign policy that some analysts fear brought Turkey more problems than profit. Davutoglu left office with Turkey in the throes of an unprecedented diplomatic crisis with Russia, as well as having reduced ties with Israel and Egypt and having failed to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
 
 

New Zealand man jailed for spreading images of IS violence: media

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎9:47:58 AMGo to full article
(Reuters) - A New Zealand man was jailed on Thursday for spreading images of Islamic State (IS) violence, the first person sentenced to prison for circulating and possessing objectionable material linked to extreme violence, local media reported. Imran Patel, 26, was jailed for three years and nine months by an Auckland court after he admitted to making, distributing and possessing videos depicting cruel violence perpetuated by IS, according to news website stuff.co.nz. The prison sentence was the first for someone on an objectionable material charge related to violence.
 

Pope risks Turkey's ire with Armenia trip

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎8:28:27 AMGo to full article
Pope Francis poses with a band at the end of his weekly general audience in VaticanPope Francis heads to Armenia Friday for a three-day visit likely to inflame simmering tensions with Turkey over the Vatican's description of mass killings under the Ottoman Empire as genocide. The same formulation had been employed by Pope John Paul II in 2001 in a written declaration. Turkey reacted furiously to Francis's comment.
 
 

German mural for dead migrant boy vandalised

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎2:27:54 AMGo to full article
"Borders save lives" is written on the colour painting of Aylan Kurdi in FrankfurtVandals have destroyed a mural in Germany dedicated to a Syrian toddler who drowned last year trying to reach Europe with his family, police said Thursday. The 20-metre-by-six-metre (66-foot-by-20-foot) colour painting of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, whose body washed ashore on a Turkish beach last year, was smeared with silver paint and the scrawled message "Borders save lives!", a police spokesman told AFP. Directly next to the image, which had been painted with official permission by artists Oguz Sen and Justus Becker on a wall next to the city's Main River in March, was a vulgar far-right slogan targeting leftist opponents.
 
 

UN chief meets Saudi prince over Yemen row

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎11:32:48 PMGo to full article
Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman answers questions during a press conference in Riyadh, on April 25, 2016UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday hosted Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman for talks that touched on the row between the world body and Riyadh over the deaths of hundreds of children in Yemen. The meeting at UN headquarters in New York was low-key, and neither Ban nor the Saudi prince spoke to reporters. Mohammed bin Salman is the Saudi king's son and the country's defense minister.
 
 

Clinton, Trump trade blows in sharpening US election battle

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎11:05:48 PMGo to full article
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the Trump Soho Hotel in New York on June 22, 2016Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton came to bitter blows Wednesday, savaging each other as unfit for office and launching rival pitches to middle America as they sharpened their talons ahead of the general election in November. Clinton, who is determined to make history as America's first female commander-in-chief, ridiculed Trump hours later as the "self-proclaimed king of debt" with a "hollow sales pitch" who threatened to bankrupt the US economy. The rivals are the most loathed presidential hopefuls in modern US history -- Clinton's unpopularity after decades in public life bested only by even greater distaste for the New York billionaire.
 
 

Israel PM to meet Kerry in Rome on Palestinians

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎10:22:27 PMGo to full article
US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin, pictured on January 21, 2016, will meet in Rome to discuss stalled peace effortsIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday in Rome to discuss stalled peace efforts with the Palestinians, US and Israeli officials said. US State Department spokesman John Kirby said several issues would be on the agenda, but observers have noted that the meeting comes ahead of a report by the Quartet on the peace process.
 
 

US military's cyber force reluctant to cut Internet in Syria

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎10:02:50 PMGo to full article
A Syrian army soldier takes aim from a position on the outskirts of Syria's Raqa region on February 19, 2016The US military is wary of cutting Internet connections to Islamic State strongholds such as Raqa in Syria, even though the Pentagon is waging cyber-war against the jihadists, officials said Wednesday. Cyber Command -- better known as CYBERCOM -- officially started attacking the tech-savvy IS group in April, in what was the command's most important offensive since being established in 2010. Thomas Atkin, the acting assistant defense secretary for homeland defense and global security, said a "careful balance" needed to be struck, when asked why the military does not simply stop jihadists from accessing the Internet.
 
 

In Turkey's tussle with the EU, Erdogan thinks he holds the cards

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎9:15:31 PMGo to full article
Turkish President Erdogan chairs a cabinet meeting in AnkaraBy Nick Tattersall and Paul Taylor ISTANBUL/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Britain's Brexit campaign and the rise of Europe's populist right have further dented Turkish hopes of ever joining the EU, leaving President Tayyip Erdogan largely indifferent to its criticism and weakening an anchor of Turkish reform. While neither side has any interest in ending Turkey's decade-long accession process, their relations are increasingly transactional, driven by mutual need in areas such as migration, trade and security, rather than by convergence towards European Union norms on democracy and basic rights. Warnings from populist leaders around Europe of creeping Islamization and from campaigners for a British exit from the EU of dire consequences if Turkey, a Muslim nation of 78 million, ever joins, have led Turkish leaders to complain increasingly openly about what they see as European Islamophobia.
 
 

Brexit may impede Europe intel sharing: Dutch official

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎8:08:09 PMGo to full article
The Union and European Union flags fly outside City Hall in central London on the eve of the EU referendum on 22 June 2016Europe may have to set up new ways of sharing vital intelligence to protect itself in the fight against terror groups if Britain leaves the EU, the top Dutch anti-terror chief warned Wednesday. Asked if Thursday's vote could impact the security of Europe, national counter-terrorism coordinator Dick Schoof replied "of course" but that could be the case even without a Brexit. Intelligence cooperation with Britain, which has a large number of foreign fighters who have joined the so-called Islamic State (IS) group, is "excellent," Schoof said.
 
 

Conflict among U.S. allies in northern Syria clouds war on Islamic State

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎7:17:32 PMGo to full article
Fighters of the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) stand inside a building near ManbijBy Tom Perry GAZIANTEP, Turkey (Reuters) - A smoldering confrontation between Syrian armed groups backed by the United States but hostile to each other is escalating, complicating the fight against Islamic State in the war-torn country. Syrian Arab rebels under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) banner say they are in a growing struggle against the Kurdish YPG militia that are helping the United States wage its campaign against IS in Syria. On June 12, one of the many FSA groups in the Aleppo area fired a guided TOW missile at a YPG position, the first attack of its kind, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and YPG said.
 
 

AP Interview: NATO head says Europe safer with Britain in EU

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎7:04:56 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this April 14, 2016 file photo, British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, greets NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at 10 Downing Street in London. The chief of the NATO alliance said on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 that Britain remaining in the European Union is key for Transatlantic security and common efforts to combat violent extremism. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)BRUSSELS (AP) — Britain's remaining in the European Union is key for trans-Atlantic security and common efforts to fight violent extremism, the chief of the NATO alliance said Wednesday.
 
 

Lebanese army slowly crushing extremists near Syria border

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎5:54:17 PMGo to full article
In this Sunday June 19, 2016 photo, a Lebanese army soldier stand guards at one of the frontline hills where they are fighting militants, at the edge of the town of Arsal, on the Syrian border, in northeast Lebanon. The Lebanese army is fighting a war against the Islamic State and al-Qaida and has clawed significant territory back from the extremists. The fighting and shelling near the eastern border town of Arsal occur almost daily. Some 5,000 Lebanese soldiers are fighting against a dwindling number of militants. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)ARSAL, Lebanon (AP) — In a remote corner of Lebanon near the border with Syria, Lebanese troops have been quietly making steady progress, fighting against Islamic extremists holed up in the rugged mountains.
 
 

Swiss authorities detain suspected Islamist leader: TV

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎2:40:24 PMGo to full article
Swiss authorities have taken a suspected Islamist leader into custody, broadcaster SRF reported on Wednesday, calling it the first arrest of a senior figure from a Salafist ring based in the northern city of Winterthur. The man, a Muslim convert identified only by the letter S, is being held in investigative custody while authorities check his suspected role in radicalizing and recruiting young people to fight with Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the report said. After deadly jihadist attacks in France and Belgium, Swiss authorities are monitoring the social media activity of about 400 possible jihadists who might pose a security threat, the NDB federal intelligence service said last month.
 

Turkey says normalisation deal depends on Israel

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎1:55:27 PMGo to full article
Ten Turkish activists were killed when Israeli commandos raided the Mavi Marmara ship which was part of the Free Gaza flotilla in May 2010Turkey said Wednesday that reaching a deal to normalise relations with Israel downgraded after a 2010 Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish vessel depended on steps taken by the Jewish state. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey had made its demands crystal clear ahead of upcoming talks -- while insisting that Ankara's relationship with Palestinian militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, was not a condition in the talks. Two of Turkey's key conditions for normalisation -- an apology for the deadly 2010 raid and compensation -- were largely met, leaving its third demand, that Israel lift its blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, as the main obstacle.
 
 

Factbox: Global number of widows rises as war and disease take toll

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎9:19:27 AMGo to full article
Millions of widows worldwide suffer crushing poverty and persecution. International Widows' Day on June 23 aims to raise awareness of the often hidden injustices faced by widows. Here are some facts: *There are an estimated 258.5 million widows globally with 584.6 million children (including adult children).
 

Australia says 28 asylum seeker boats have been turned back

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎8:02:56 AMGo to full article
CAMBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's ruling party said Wednesday that it had turned back 28 boats to prevent asylum seekers reaching Australia during its three years in power and warned that such vigilance would not continue if the country's opposition wins next month's national election.
 

FBI: Indiana 18-year-old tried to join Islamic State

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎4:01:47 AMGo to full article
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — FBI agents arrested an 18-year-old from suburban Indianapolis as he tried to board a bus to New York and join the Islamic State terror group overseas, federal authorities said Tuesday.
 

Kerry meets authors of dissenting cable on U.S. Syria policy

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎12:31:30 AMGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry steps off his plane after arriving at Kastrup International Airport in CopenhagenU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met on Tuesday with about 10 of the 51 State Department officials who last week wrote a cable disagreeing with U.S. policy toward Syria and arguing for "a more militarily assertive U.S. role." Multiple U.S. officials have said they do not expect the memo, conveyed through the State Department's relatively rarely used "dissent channel," a conduit for voicing contrary views, to change U.S. President Barack Obama's policy. In the cable, the diplomats call for military strikes against President Bashar al-Assad's government to stop its persistent violations of a civil war ceasefire Obama's policy toward Syria, where a civil war has burned for more than five years, has been predicated on the goal of avoiding deeper military entanglements in the Middle East, and has been widely criticized as hesitant and risk-averse.
 
 

Kerry talks with US diplomats who urged Syria strikes

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎9:46:25 PMGo to full article
US Secretary of State John Kerry, pictured on June 20, 2016, met with 10 of the diplomats who wrote a cable calling for military action to force Syria's Bashar al-Assad to agree to peace talksSecretary of State John Kerry sat down Tuesday for an exchange of views with the US diplomats who challenged White House policy and called for air strikes on Syria. Last week, some 50 mid-level US officials signed a so-called "dissent channel" cable calling for military action to force Syria's Bashar al-Assad to agree to peace talks. Rather than express annoyance at the rebuke, Kerry dubbed the memo "very good," fueling speculation in Washington that he too is frustrated with President Barack Obama's cautious policy.
 
 

Israel to open mission at NATO HQ, boost cooperation

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎7:09:03 PMGo to full article
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (R) shakes hands with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on June 21, 2016Israel will open a mission at NATO headquarters in Brussels as part of efforts to boost cooperation with the US-led alliance to counter extremist violence, top officials said Tuesday. The move had been discussed for several years but was held up by opposition from Turkey, a key NATO member which is reportedly on the verge of normalising ties with Israel, once its close regional ally. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Israel had been an active alliance partner for 20 years and now it was "essential" to step up cooperation and go a step further.
 
 

EU to back Mideast peace with 'unprecedented' support

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎5:57:44 PMGo to full article
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union stands ready to provide Israel and the Palestinians with massive political, economic and security support as part of any peace agreement between them, a top official said Tuesday.
 

In Brexit vote, echoes of Trumpism minus Donald Trump

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎5:38:21 PMGo to full article
Republican U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in PhoenixBy James Oliphant and Emily Stephenson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - To U.S. voters who have witnessed the rise of Donald Trump, the campaign urging Britain to abandon the European Union may appear eerily familiar. Call it Trumpism minus Trump, the New York real estate developer who has emerged as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee in the 2016 U.S. elections. If British citizens vote on Thursday in favor of exiting the European Union, it would allow Britain to negotiate its own trade deals and better control who enters the country, among other things.
 
 

Chinese economic cyber-espionage plummets in U.S.: experts

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎10:54:21 AMGo to full article
A hand is silhouetted in front of a computer screen in this picture illustration taken in BerlinBy Joseph Menn and Jim Finkle SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The Chinese government appears to be abiding by its September pledge to stop supporting the hacking of American trade secrets to help companies there compete, private U.S. security executives and government advisors said on Monday. FireEye Inc, the U.S. network security company best known for fighting sophisticated Chinese hacking, said in a report released late Monday that breaches attributed to China-based groups had plunged by 90 percent in the past two years. FireEye's Mandiant unit in 2013 famously blamed a specific unit of China's Peoples Liberation Army for a major campaign of economic espionage.
 
 

With huge London footprint, US banks gird for Brexit vote

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎10:38:29 AMGo to full article
Morgan Stanley says Brexit will have a "very considerable impact"Two days before Britain's referendum on breaking with the European Union, the largest US banks are preparing for a catastrophic scenario that could cost them billions of dollars. Amid the volatile atmosphere in Britain, the banks are outwardly keeping a straight face. "We are locked down on this," said Michael Duvally, spokesman for Goldman Sachs, when asked how his bank is preparing for the possibility that Britain's anti-Europe camp will win in the referendum on Thursday.
 
 

Lawmakers remember Jo Cox as markets sense rising EU support

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎2:18:36 AMGo to full article
A white and red rose are placed on Member of Parliament Jo Cox's empty seat, in London, Monday June 20, 2016. British lawmakers returned to Parliament Monday to pay tribute to lawmaker Jo Cox, as the man charged with her slaying made a brief court appearance by video link from prison. (PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUTLONDON (AP) — Britain's normally raucous House of Commons was given over to tears, roses and warm tributes Monday as legislators urged an end to angry and divisive politics in honor of their slain colleague Jo Cox, who was killed last week.
 
 

Israeli defense minister makes low-key Pentagon visit

 
‎Monday, ‎June ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎10:07:15 PMGo to full article
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter greets Israel's Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman June 20, 2016 as he arrives at the Pentagon in Washington, DC for meetingsUS Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Monday met controversial hardline Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman for the first time, the Pentagon said, offering few details about the visit. "They have had a good conversation," said a senior US defense official with knowledge of the meeting. It was Lieberman's first foreign visit since being sworn in on May 30.
 
 

Iran says it disrupts major Sunni 'terrorist' plot amid wars

 
‎Monday, ‎June ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎6:02:30 PMGo to full article
This picture taken on Monday, June 6, 2016 shows a general view of Tehran, Iran. Iranian intelligence officials have broken up one of the "biggest terrorist" plots ever planned to target Tehran and other provinces in the Islamic Republic, the country's state media reported on Monday. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran said Monday it broke up one of the "biggest terrorist plots" ever on its soil by Sunni extremists planning bombings in Tehran and elsewhere, emphasizing that the Shiite power could be facing threats at home for its military actions in Iraq and Syria.

 

 

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The Latest: Italian official: EU must deal with unhappiness

 
‎Today, ‎June ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎33 minutes agoGo to full article
The Foreign Ministers from EU's founding six Paolo Gentiloni from Italy, Didier Reynders from Belgium, Jean-Marc Ayrault from France, Bert Koenders from the Netherlands, Frank-Walter Steinmeier from Germany and and Jean Asselborn from Luxemburg, from left, walk away from a group photo prior to a meeting to talk about the so-called Brexit in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, June 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Britain's historic vote to leave the European Union (all times local):
 
 

Iranian forces clash with Kurdish separatists

 
‎Today, ‎June ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎37 minutes agoGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian security forces have clashed with Kurdish separatists who infiltrated a northwestern village to stage "terrorist and propagandist operations," the state-run IRNA news agency reported Saturday.
 

Correction: TAE-Taekwondo Preview story

 
‎Today, ‎June ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
LONDON (AP) — In a story June 24 about the Olympic taekwondo competition, The Associated Press reported erroneously that the spelling of the name of the president of the World Taekwondo federation was Chongwon Choue. The president's name is spelled Chungwon Choue.
 

Detained British-Iranian woman linked to 2009 protests: Iran

 
‎Today, ‎June ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎4 hours agoGo to full article
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (left), an employee of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested at Tehran airport in April as she prepared to return to Britain with her daughterAn Iranian-British woman detained in Iran on charges of seeking to overthrow the government was implicated in anti-regime protests in 2009, a judicial official said. There had previously been scant information about the grounds for the arrest in April of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a 37-year-old employee of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "In 2014-2015, the intelligence service of the Revolutionary Guards in Kerman province identified and arrested members of one of the groups that during the sedition conducted activities against the security of the country by designing websites and carrying out campaigns in the media," Yadollah Movahed, head of Kerman's justice department, told Mizan.
 
 

33 killed in renewed clashes across Yemen

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎10:03:01 PMGo to full article
Yemeni loyalist forces man a checkpoint on a road on April 15, 2016 in the town of Lahej, 30km from the port city of AdenClashes in several areas across Yemen on Friday killed 22 Shiite rebels and 11 members of pro-government forces, military officials said, after peace talks hit a new barrier. Fierce battles erupted in the northern Jawf province when Huthi rebels attacked loyalists in al-Motoon district, triggering a counter attack by government forces backed by warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition, a military official said. Further south, three Huthi rebels were killed in clashes in Bayhan, Shabwa province, another military official said.
 
 

Hezbollah brushes off US sanctions, says money comes via Iran

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎7:52:16 PMGo to full article
Supporters of Lebanon's militant Shiite movement Hezbollah watch a televised speech by Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, in the southern town of Insar, in the Nabatiyeh district on March 6, 2016Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Friday said his group would not be affected by fresh US sanctions because it receives its money directly from Iran, not via Lebanese banks. In a speech broadcast by the Shiite party's Al-Manar station, Nasrallah brushed off assertions that Hezbollah would be hurt by US sanctions on Lebanese financial institutions that work with the group.
 
 

UN experts urge Iran to release jailed musicians, filmmaker

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎5:52:46 PMGo to full article
GENEVA (AP) — U.N. human rights experts are urging Iran to promptly release three men imprisoned on charges that include "insulting Islamic sanctities" and spreading anti-state propaganda by producing and distributing underground music.
 

The Latest: Pope says EU vote is will of the British people

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎2:28:40 PMGo to full article
A TV screen shows global stocks plunging following the British Brexit vote as traders, background, work at the Euronext Amsterdam Stock Exchange, Netherlands, Friday, June 24, 2016. The British vote to leave the EU shook up financial markets around the globe on Monday, leading to sharp falls in stocks and the British pound.(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Britain's historic vote to leave the European Union (all times local):
 
 

Russia's Putin says no obstacles for Iran to join SCO

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎9:12:32 AMGo to full article
Russian President Putin meets with members of Russian Direct Investment Fund and foreign investors in St. PetersburgTASHKENT (Reuters) - There are no obstacles left for Iran to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a regional security and economic cooperation body led by China and Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday. "We believe that after Iran's nuclear problem was solved and United Nations sanctions lifted, there have been no obstacles left (for Iran's membership in the SCO)," Putin said in a speech at an SCO summit in the Uzbek capital Tashkent. (Reporting by Denis Dyomkin; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Katya Golubkova)
 
 

China rejects bending rule for India to join nuclear club

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎6:59:42 AMGo to full article
Chinese President Xi Jinping guides Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a meeting room in XianBy James Pearson SEOUL (Reuters) - China maintains its opposition to India joining a group of nations seeking to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons by controlling access to sensitive technology, said the head of the arms control department in China's Foreign Ministry. The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) met this week in Seoul, but China said it would not bend the rules and allow India membership as it had not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the main global arms control pact.
 
 

Rally outside Shiite sheikh's home reflects Bahrain unrest

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎9:51:16 PMGo to full article
FILE- In this Feb. 2, 2014 file photo, Sheik Isa Qassim, Bahrain's top Shiite Muslim cleric, center, smiles during a gathering of Shiite clerics at a mosque in Manama, Bahrain. Bahrain's government stripped a leading Shiite cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, of his nationality following a request from the country's Interior Ministry. The Bahrain News Agency quotes the Interior Ministry Monday, June 20, 2016, as saying the cleric had played a key role in creating an extremist sectarian atmosphere and working to divide the society. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Hundreds of Bahraini protesters kept up their rally Thursday outside the home of a Shiite cleric, a day after they chanted a promise to "give our soul and blood as a sacrifice" to protect him following the government's move that revoked his citizenship this week.
 
 

Boeing's historic deal with Iran rests on shaky foundations

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎9:17:35 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2016 file photo, an Iranian Mahan Air passenger plane takes off as a plane of Iran's national air carrier, Iran Air, is parked at left, at Mehrabad airport in Tehran, Iran. Boeing Co. said Tuesday it signed an agreement with Iran Air "expressing the airline's intent" to buy its aircraft, setting up the biggest business deal between the Islamic Republic and America since the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover in Tehran. Boeing Co.’s historic deal with Iran Air rests on shaky foundations, with potentially $25 billion riding on hopes that Tehran would stop its past practice of using the airline’s planes to ferry fighters and weapons across the Middle East.(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Boeing Co.'s historic $25 billion deal with Iran Air potentially rides on hopes that Tehran would stop its past practice of using the airline's planes to ferry fighters and weapons across the Middle East.
 
 

Iran detains 6 suspects on espionage charges in northwest

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎7:47:53 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian authorities detained six members of an Azeri separatist group on espionage charges in the country's northwest, state-owned IRAN newspaper reported on Thursday
 

China-led bloc keeps Iran at arm's length despite Russian backing

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎7:19:18 PMGo to full article
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a China-led security bloc, refused to initiate Iran's accession on Thursday despite a request from Russia which backs Tehran's bid, indicating possible divisions between Beijing and Moscow. The bloc has served a platform for Moscow and Beijing to project influence in the region. Iran has long knocked at SCO's door and Russia has argued that with Western sanctions against Tehran lifted, it could finally become a member of the bloc which also includes four ex-Soviet Central Asian republics.
 

Interpol seeks public help to catch human traffickers

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎6:42:59 PMGo to full article
Libyan coastguard escorts illegal migrants after their boat started to sink off the coastal town of Garabulli in 2014Interpol called Thursday for public help to track down scores of human traffickers wanted around the world, accused of "profiting from the desperation" of migrants determined to reach Europe. "People smuggling is a global issue, which is why international cooperation through operations such as Hydra are essential," Interpol's director of operational support Michael O'Connell said in a statement. The operation, known as Infra Hydra, involves 44 countries as well as the EU police agency Europol.
 
 

Defiant Bahrain speeds up moves against main opposition bloc

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎5:25:49 PMGo to full article
Bahraini Shiite cleric Ali Salman, the leader of the opposition movement Al-Wefaq, is serving a nine-year jail term for inciting violenceBahrain began court proceedings to dissolve the main Shiite opposition bloc Al-Wefaq on Thursday, bringing the process forward in defiance of UN and US appeals for it to be dropped. The bloc was the largest in parliament before its lawmakers resigned in protest at the crushing of 2011 protests calling for an elected government and Washington has labelled the crackdown on it "alarming". The administrative court had not been due to meet on the government's request to dissolve Al-Wefaq until October 6 but brought the session forward at the request of Justice Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ali Al-Khalifa, a judicial source said.
 
 

Why Japan is wary of North Korea's Musudan missiles

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎3:11:22 PMGo to full article
Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said the launch showed North Korea’s threat to Japan was increasing, according to Reuters. Other experts agreed that the test showed progress for North Korea's military. "We have to see it as a success," Lee Choon Geun, an analyst at South Korea's state-funded Science and Technology Policy Institute, told the Associated Press.
 

Yemen's Houthis kill seven in search for pro-government fighter: residents

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎1:17:47 PMGo to full article
Residents of a village in central Yemen said Iran-allied Houthi fighters shot dead seven farmers on Thursday while searching for the leader of a pro-government militia. Peace talks in Kuwait between Yemen's government and the Houthis to end a civil war have dragged on for two months with few concrete results. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies intervened in Yemen's war in March 2015 on behalf of the internationally backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
 

Bahrain summons senior Shi'ite clerics for questioning: lawyer

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎12:45:35 PMGo to full article
The clerics were called to a police station west of the capital Manama as an administrative court began hearing a justice ministry petition to dissolve the main opposition Shi'ite Muslim group al-Wefaq following a court order last week. The court adjourned the hearing until September 4 to give al-Wefaq time to prepare its defense, the group's lawyer Abdallah al-Shamlawi said on his Twitter account. The Bahraini government says it is acting against people and groups it accuses of fomenting sectarian tensions and of being linked to non-Arab Iran.
 

Russia seen putting new nuclear-capable missiles along NATO border by 2019

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎11:41:18 AMGo to full article
Russian servicemen equip an Iskander tactical missile system at the Army-2015 international military-technical forum in KubinkaBy Andrew Osborn MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is likely to deploy advanced nuclear-capable missiles in its European exclave of Kaliningrad by 2019, casting the move as a reply to a U.S.-backed missile shield, and may one day put them in Crimea too, sources close to its military predict. Russia would probably have deployed the missile -- called the Iskander, the Persian name for Alexander the Great -- in Kaliningrad regardless, and the targets it will cover can be struck by longer-range Russian missiles anyway.
 
 

In a first, Mideast hub Dubai eases liquor rules for Ramadan

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎9:03:47 AMGo to full article
In this Wednesday June 22, 2016 photo, a waitress serves the customers with the beers during lunch time at a restaurant in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Dubai is breaking new ground again by deciding to loosen its rules prohibiting day-time alcohol sales during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Dubai, the Mideast's desert party town, has just gotten even wetter.
 
 

Saudi police shoot dead wanted man in kingdom's restive east

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎5:52:41 AMGo to full article
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry says police have shot to death a wanted man in the country's predominantly Shiite east.
 

Wanted man killed after Saudi raid on Shi'ite village: state media

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎5:16:37 AMGo to full article
A wanted man has been killed in Saudi Arabia's oil-producing Eastern province after an exchange of gunfire while police were searching his home, state news agency SPA reported on Thursday. The search in the village of Awamiya came amid rising anger in neighboring Bahrain after authorities stripped the spiritual leader of the kingdom's majority Shi'ite Muslims of his citizenship over alleged links to Iran and accusations he was fomenting sectarian tensions. Saudi state news agency SPA said security forces came under heavy fire when they raided the home of Abdul-Rahim al-Faraj and his brother, Majed, who was also wanted by security forces, in Awamiya on Wednesday evening.
 

Anti-money laundering body seen keeping Iran on blacklist: officials

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎11:36:10 PMGo to full article
Iran's national flags are seen on a square in TehranBy Louis Charbonneau, Jonathan Saul and Parisa Hafezi UNITED NATIONS/LONDON/ANKARA (Reuters) - An international group that monitors money laundering worldwide is expected to decide this week to keep Iran on its blacklist of high-risk countries despite aggressive lobbying by Tehran to come off the list to help it access the global financial system, Western officials said. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), established in 1989 to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, compiles the list, which it regularly updates. "No changes to Iran's status on the blacklist are imminent, though I think perhaps we can expect some words of encouragement and recognition of Iran's attempts to make progress," said one Western official familiar with FATF discussions, who asked not to be named.
 
 

UN chief meets Saudi prince over Yemen row

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎11:32:48 PMGo to full article
Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman answers questions during a press conference in Riyadh, on April 25, 2016UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday hosted Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman for talks that touched on the row between the world body and Riyadh over the deaths of hundreds of children in Yemen. The meeting at UN headquarters in New York was low-key, and neither Ban nor the Saudi prince spoke to reporters. Mohammed bin Salman is the Saudi king's son and the country's defense minister.
 
 

Exclusive: Bahrain national reconciliation efforts stalled - U.S. State Department

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎11:10:35 PMGo to full article
Protesters hold banners with photos of opposition leader and head of Al Wefaq party Ali Salman during a protest after Friday prayers in the village of Diraz west of Manama, BahrainBy Warren Strobel and Yara Bayoumy WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Bahrain's efforts to build national reconciliation after it crushed street protests in 2011 have stalled, and the Western ally in the Gulf has not implemented recommendations to protect freedom of expression, including nonviolent dissent, according to a U.S. State Department report obtained by Reuters. In the report, which was delivered to the U.S. Congress this week, the State Department says that Bahrain has made progress toward implementing reforms recommended by an independent commission, but "more work remains to be done." The report, which was delayed for months, appears to represent muted criticism of a strategically-located country that hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet as a bulwark against Iran.
 
 

Saudi deputy crown prince, U.N. chief talk protecting Yemen's children

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎10:46:56 PMGo to full article
Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman greets U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the U.N. headquarters in New YorkBy Louis Charbonneau and Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met Saudi Arabia's powerful deputy crown prince on Wednesday and the pair discussed improving civilian protection in Yemen after a U.N. report briefly blacklisted a Saudi-led coalition for killing children. Ban removed the coalition from the blacklist earlier this month pending review after Riyadh, a major U.N. donor, threatened to cut Palestinian aid and other U.N. funding. Saudi Arabia has denied using threats, although Ban blasted Riyadh for exerting "unacceptable" pressure.
 
 

France looks to fan nuke deal momentum with Iran's minister

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎10:13:49 PMGo to full article
French President Francois Hollande, right, faces Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during his meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Thursday June 22, 2016. Iran's foreign minister is holding a string of meetings in Paris to seek benefits from a nuclear accord, hoping to maintain the momentum toward change before it runs out. (Jeremy Lempin, Pool via AP)PARIS (AP) — France's foreign minister said on Wednesday that his country will work toward guaranteeing Iran's return to the international community despite major differences over Syria.
 
 

In Turkey's tussle with the EU, Erdogan thinks he holds the cards

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎9:15:31 PMGo to full article
Turkish President Erdogan chairs a cabinet meeting in AnkaraBy Nick Tattersall and Paul Taylor ISTANBUL/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Britain's Brexit campaign and the rise of Europe's populist right have further dented Turkish hopes of ever joining the EU, leaving President Tayyip Erdogan largely indifferent to its criticism and weakening an anchor of Turkish reform. While neither side has any interest in ending Turkey's decade-long accession process, their relations are increasingly transactional, driven by mutual need in areas such as migration, trade and security, rather than by convergence towards European Union norms on democracy and basic rights. Warnings from populist leaders around Europe of creeping Islamization and from campaigners for a British exit from the EU of dire consequences if Turkey, a Muslim nation of 78 million, ever joins, have led Turkish leaders to complain increasingly openly about what they see as European Islamophobia.
 
 

Lebanese army slowly crushing extremists near Syria border

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎5:54:17 PMGo to full article
In this Sunday June 19, 2016 photo, a Lebanese army soldier stand guards at one of the frontline hills where they are fighting militants, at the edge of the town of Arsal, on the Syrian border, in northeast Lebanon. The Lebanese army is fighting a war against the Islamic State and al-Qaida and has clawed significant territory back from the extremists. The fighting and shelling near the eastern border town of Arsal occur almost daily. Some 5,000 Lebanese soldiers are fighting against a dwindling number of militants. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)ARSAL, Lebanon (AP) — In a remote corner of Lebanon near the border with Syria, Lebanese troops have been quietly making steady progress, fighting against Islamic extremists holed up in the rugged mountains.
 
 

Bahrain gambles with security by launching crackdown on Shi'ites

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎2:31:25 PMGo to full article
Supporters chat religious slogans during a sit-in outside Bahrain's leading Shi'ite cleric Isa Qassim in the village of Diraz west of ManamaBy Sami Aboudi DUBAI (Reuters) - Bahrain aims to end years of instability with a crackdown on Shi'ite political parties, but it could be a gamble that risks further destabilizing the Western-allied kingdom and the wider Middle East. In a series of moves over the past three weeks, authorities closed down the main Shi'ite opposition al-Wefaq Islamic Society, doubled the prison sentence on the group's leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, detained prominent rights campaigner Nabeel Rajab and stripped Ayatollah Isa Qassim, Bahrain's Shi'ite spiritual leader, of his citizenship. The United States and other Western countries have expressed alarm, but Bahrain appears to be calculating that the distaste will not translate into concrete reprisals against a country closely allied to key U.S. partner Saudi Arabia.
 
 

In Iran accident, bus plunges into ravine, killing 19 people

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎12:03:13 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A road accident in southern Iran has killed 19 people when a bus plunged into a ravine.
 

Gains against Islamic State not yet enough, could backfire: U.S. officials

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎7:08:10 AMGo to full article
Smoke rises from clashes with Islamic State militants in FallujaBy John Walcott WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and some administration officials have hailed recent military gains against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but other U.S. officials and outside experts warn that the U.S.-backed air and ground campaign is far from eradicating the radical Islamic group, and could even backfire. While Islamic State’s defeats in Iraq and Syria have erased its image of invincibility, they threaten to give it greater legitimacy in the eyes of disaffected Sunni Muslims because Shi'ite and Kurdish fighters are a major part of the campaign, some U.S. intelligence officials argue.
 
 

Boeing says it signs historic sales agreement with Iran Air

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎6:37:50 AMGo to full article
Boeing says it signs historic sales agreement with Iran AirDUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Boeing Co. said Tuesday it signed an agreement with Iran Air "expressing the airline's intent" to buy its aircraft, setting up the biggest business deal between the Islamic Republic and America since the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover in Tehran — if it goes through.
 
 

Yemen rebels demand consensus president in any peace deal

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎2:46:01 AMGo to full article
A building in Sanaa after it was damaged by air strikesYemen's Iran-backed rebels said on Wednesday that they would not sign any peace deal without prior agreement on a consensus president to lead the transition. The demand from the Huthi rebels, who control swathes of the country, including the capital Sanaa, comes a day after the UN envoy said he had proposed a roadmap for peace following two months of negotiations in Kuwait. The Saudi-backed government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi insists that he is the legitimate president who should lead any transition.
 
 

UN envoy proposes roadmap for Yemen peace

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎10:11:14 PMGo to full article
Armed tribesmen, loyal to the Shiite Huthi rebels, brandish their weapons at a gathering in the capital Sanaa on June 20, 2016The UN special envoy to Yemen said on Tuesday he has proposed a roadmap for a peaceful settlement to end 14 months of armed conflict in the impoverished Arab nation. The envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed proposed the roadmap after two months of negotiations in Kuwait. "The roadmap provides for the implementation of the security arrangements specified in Security Council Resolution 2216 and the establishment of a national unity government," he said in a briefing to the UN Security Council from Kuwait City.
 
 

Iran says inflation in single digits, first time in decades

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎8:19:25 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian state TV says the inflation rate has dropped into the single digits for the first time in decades.
 

Iran says 'terrorists' planned 50 bombings in capital

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎8:18:23 PMGo to full article
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's intelligence minister says Sunni extremists arrested last week were planning 50 bombings in the capital.
 

German held in Yemen evacuated to Oman

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎7:25:37 PMGo to full article
A German national held hostage in Yemen was airlifted to Muscat on Tuesday after neighboring Oman helped negotiate a release, the Omani foreign ministry said. The German was flown out of Yemen's capital, Sanaa, which is controlled by the Iran-allied Houthi militia, on an Omani air force flight on Tuesday evening, the ministry said in a statement, without identifying the hostage. Oman was asked to help by the German government, it said.
 

Yemen missile launch, Saudi-led air strike shake truce

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎6:26:44 PMGo to full article
Houthi fighters carry their weapons as they attend a tribal gathering in SanaaA Saudi-led military coalition said it intercepted a missile fired in Yemen on Tuesday and residents said an air strike by the alliance caused eight civilian casualties, straining a civil war ceasefire. The ballistic missile was fired toward the central city of Marib, which is controlled by Saudi-backed government forces, but was intercepted and destroyed along with the source of the launch, the coalition said in a statement without elaborating. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies intervened in a civil war in March 2015 on behalf of the internationally backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against the Iran-allied Houthi group, which controls the capital Sanaa.
 
 

Iran says arrests ten 'terrorists' who planned to bomb 50 targets

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎6:04:44 PMGo to full article
Iran has arrested 10 Sunni Muslim militants who were planning to bomb 50 targets across the country, Iranian intelligence minister Mahmoud Alavi said on Tuesday, according to the Fars News site. Officials in predominantly Shi'ite Iran have said in recent weeks that Sunni militants from Islamic State have been trying to target the country. Alavi said the arrests took place in the last week in Tehran and three other provinces in central Iran and along the border.
 

A look at major deals signed in Iran after nuclear accord

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎4:22:46 PMGo to full article
In this photo taken on Feb. 7, 2016, A Iranian Mahan Air passenger plane takes off as a plane of Iran's national air carrier, Iran Air, is parked at left, at Mehrabad airport in Tehran, Iran. Boeing Co. said Tuesday it signed an agreement with Iran Air "expressing the airline's intent" to buy its aircraft, setting up the biggest business deal between the Islamic Republic and America since the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover in Tehran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran Air has signed an agreement to buy aircraft from Chicago-based Boeing Co., the first major American company to make a deal in the Islamic Republic since the last year's landmark nuclear agreement, which lifted international sanctions.
 
 

Supporters gather for top Bahrain cleric, U.N. protests citizenship revocation

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎3:53:48 PMGo to full article
A supporter holds photo of Bahrain's leading Shi'ite cleric Isa Qassim during a sit-in outside his home in the village of Diraz west of ManamaDozens of supporters of Ayatollah Isa Qassim, spiritual leader of Bahrain's Shi'ite Muslim majority, gathered at his home on Tuesday to protest the revocation of his citizenship, with some men wearing white shrouds signaling their readiness to die. The move against Qassim strikes at the heart of Bahrain's Shi'ite opposition and is part of an escalating crackdown following a court decision last week to shut down the main Shi'ite political group al Wefaq. Bahrain's Shi'ites complain of discrimination by the government, which in 2011 put down a pro-reform uprising.
 
 

Iran's Revolutionary Guards warns of an Islamic revolution in Bahrain: statement

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎3:13:54 PMGo to full article
Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards on Tuesday condemned Bahrain's decision to revoke the citizenship of the spiritual leader of its Shi'ite Muslim majority, saying the move would encourage a rebellion in the country. "There is no doubt that the unwise decision of the Al Khalifa (rulers of Bahrain) against the top Shi'ite cleric (Ayatollah Isa Qassim) would add to the flame of an Islamic revolution movement in Bahrain and will form a devastating rebellion against the dependent rulers of this country," the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said in a statement published by Fars news agency.
 

Proposals to curb online speech viewed as threat to open internet

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎12:28:56 PMGo to full article
Protesters from the Anonymous India group of hackers wear Guy Fawkes masks as they protest against laws they say gives the government control over censorship of internet usage in MumbaiBy Yasmeen Abutaleb and Alastair Sharp SAN FRANCISCO/ TORONTO (Reuters) - At least a dozen countries are considering or have enacted laws restricting online speech, a trend that is alarming policymakers and others who see the internet as a valuable medium for debate and expression. Such curbs are called out as a threat to the open internet in a report on internet governance set to be released today at an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development meeting in Cancun, Mexico. The report, reviewed by Reuters, warns of dangers for the global internet, including intrusive surveillance, rising cybercrime and fragmentation as governments exert control of online content.
 
 

Bahrain strips citizenship of top Shiite cleric

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎4:54:59 AMGo to full article
Sheikh Isa Qassim is considered the spiritual leader of Bahrain's Shiite majorityBahrain has revoked the citizenship of the Sunni-ruled kingdom's top Shiite cleric, accusing him of sowing sectarian divisions, in a move that sparked protests among the majority community. Sheikh Isa Qassim, considered the community's spiritual leader, abused his position to "serve foreign interests and promote... sectarianism and violence", the interior ministry said, quoted by the BNA state news agency. Qassim had been a strong proponent of "absolute allegiance to the clergy," while maintaining continuous contact with "organisations and parties that are enemies of the kingdom," it charged.
 
 

Iran warns Bahrain 'will pay price' for crackdown on Shiites

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎2:40:04 AMGo to full article
Leading Iranian general Qassem Suleimani warned Bahrain that its decision to strip the Gulf state's Shiite spiritual leader of his citizenship could fan armed rebellion in the Shiite-majority kingdomIran has warned Bahrain that it is fanning armed rebellion and "will pay the price" after an escalating crackdown on the country's Shiite majority saw a top cleric stripped of citizenship. Washington and the United Nations have also raised concerns about moves by the Sunni-ruled kingdom against Shiites, who account for some 70 percent of the Gulf state's population. Bahrain has been shaken by unrest since security forces crushed Shiite-led protests demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister in 2011.
 
 

Turkey arrests three prominent press-freedom campaigners

 
‎Tuesday, ‎June ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎12:13:20 AMGo to full article
By Dasha Afanasieva ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish authorities on Monday arrested three prominent campaigners for press freedom, including the local representative of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda, human rights groups said. The three are RSF representative Erol Onderoglu, author Ahmet Nesin and Sebnem Korur Fincanci, president of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey.
 

Bahrain strips nationality from top Shiite cleric

 
‎Monday, ‎June ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎11:12:58 PMGo to full article
FILE- In this Feb. 2, 2014 file photo, Sheik Isa Qassim, Bahrain's top Shiite Muslim cleric, center, smiles during a gathering of Shiite clerics at a mosque in Manama, Bahrain. Bahrain's government stripped a leading Shiite cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, of his nationality following a request from the country's Interior Ministry. The Bahrain News Agency quotes the Interior Ministry Monday, June 20, 2016, as saying the cleric had played a key role in creating an extremist sectarian atmosphere and working to divide the society. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Bahrain's government on Monday stripped the country's leading Shiite cleric of his nationality in a move that brought thousands of protesters into the streets and threatened to further ignite sectarian tensions across the region.
 
 

Bahrain strips top Shi'ite Muslim cleric of citizenship

 
‎Monday, ‎June ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎10:12:59 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 photoBy Sami Aboudi DUBAI (Reuters) - Bahrain has revoked the citizenship of the spiritual leader of the kingdom's Shi'ite Muslim majority, the state news agency reported on Monday, prompting protests outside his home and a sharp rebuke from an Iranian paramilitary chief. The move against Ayatollah Isa Qassim comes less than a week after a court ordered Bahrain's main opposition al-Wefaq group closed, accusing it of fomenting sectarian unrest and of having links to a foreign power, in an apparent reference to regional Shi'ite power Iran. The move against Qassim was the latest one taken by Bahrain – where a Shi’ite majority is ruled by a Sunni monarchy – against Shi’ite figures in the country, in what appears to be an escalating campaign against dissent in the Western-allied Gulf kingdom.

 

 

 

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Today in History

 
‎Today, ‎June ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎10 hours agoGo to full article
Today in History
 

Workplace retaliation suit against Tammy Duckworth settled

 
‎Today, ‎June ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎12 hours agoGo to full article
FILE - In this Aug. 13, 2014, file photo, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., appears in Springfield, Ill. A settlement in the workplace retaliation lawsuit against Duckworth concluded Friday, June, 24, 2016 with an agreement that no law was violated, removing an obstacle in bid to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk in one of November's most competitive Senate races. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A settlement in the workplace retaliation lawsuit against U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth concluded Friday with an agreement that no law was violated, removing an obstacle in her bid to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk in one of November's most competitive Senate races.
 
 

US-backed Syria fighters edge into IS border hub

 
‎Today, ‎June ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎14 hours agoGo to full article
US-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters advance into the Islamic State (IS) jihadist's group bastion of Manbij, in northern SyriaUS-backed fighters edged further into the Islamic State group stronghold of Manbij on Saturday, threatening a key staging post on the jihadists' lifeline from Turkey to their "caliphate" in Syria and neighbouring Iraq. If it succeeds, the offensive on Manbij -- backed by intense air strikes by a US-led coalition -- would mark the most significant victory against IS for the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance. In Manbij, SDF fighters overran a key road junction in the south of the city after capturing nearby grain silos overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
 
 

'Brexit' threatens to undermine U.S.-Britain special relationship

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎10:40:47 PMGo to full article
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and U.S. President Barack Obama watch a fly-past by the Red Arrows during the NATO summit at the Celtic Manor resort, near NewportBy Matt Spetalnick and Yara Bayoumy WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Britain’s decision to quit the European Union could send damaging shockwaves through the bedrock Anglo-American “special relationship,” raising questions about London’s willingness and ability to back U.S.-led efforts in global crises ranging from the Middle East to Ukraine. The loss of the strongest pro-U.S. voice within the 28-nation bloc, as a result of the “Brexit” referendum, threatens to weaken Washington’s influence in European policymaking and embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin to further challenge the West, analysts and former diplomats say. Britain's departure -- which is not immediate and must be negotiated with the EU -- could present the next U.S. president with a decision on whether to turn to other key European partners like Germany and France, essentially downgrading a special U.S. bond with London forged in World War Two.
 
 

Officials: No evidence Orlando gunman was gay

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎10:07:11 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this June 12, 2016 file photo, law enforcement officials work at the Pulse nightclub following a fatal shooting, in Orlando, Fla. Two government officials familiar with the Orlando shooting say FBI investigators have so far not turned up persuasive evidence that the gunman was pursuing gay relationships. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — FBI investigators so far have not turned up persuasive evidence that Orlando gunman Omar Mateen was gay or pursuing gay relationships, according to two government officials familiar with the investigation.
 
 

IS captures 900 Kurdish civilians in north Syria in 3 weeks

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎8:46:06 PMGo to full article
FILE - This file image posted on the Twitter page of Syria's al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front on Tuesday, June 14, 2016, which is consistent with AP reporting, shows Nusra Front fighters moving forward to fight against Syrian troops and pro-government gunmen at the hilltop of Khalsa village, southern Aleppo, Syria. The Syrian government has suffered serious setbacks in its campaign to retake the Islamic State's de facto capital of Raqqa, even with Russia's support. Arabic, bottom right, reads, "Jihadis on their way to Khalsa village." (Al-Nusra Front Twitter page via AP, File)BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State militants abducted about 900 Kurdish civilians in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo over the past three weeks, forcing the captives to build fortifications for the extremists in retaliation for a Kurdish-led assault on a nearby IS stronghold, activists said Friday.
 
 

Hezbollah vows to send more fighters to Syria's Aleppo

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎8:38:16 PMGo to full article
A Hezbollah supporter wave his group flag, as Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, center, speaks via a video link during a ceremony marking the death of Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine who was killed in in Damascus last month, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, June 24, 2016. Nasrallah says the Lebanese Shiite militant group will send more fighters to Syria's Aleppo province, where pro-government forces are battling Syrian rebels on several fronts. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)BEIRUT (AP) — Hezbollah's leader said on Friday that the Lebanese militant group will be sending more fighters to Syria's Aleppo province, where pro-government forces are battling Syrian rebels on several fronts.
 
 

Libyan government forces repel IS counterattack in Sirte

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎8:22:12 PMGo to full article
Fighters from the pro-government forces loyal to Libya's Government of National Unity hold a position as they target the Islamic State group in Sirte with air strikes to pave the way for ground troops on June 23, 2016Libya pro-government forces repelled a counterattack by the Islamic State group as they pressed their offensive to retake the jihadist coastal bastion of Sirte on Friday, a military statement said. Forces backing Libya's unity government early Friday "repelled a new counter-offensive from Daesh... in very violent clashes," the statement said, using an Arabic acronym for IS. Since May 12, pro-government forces from the west, Libyan naval forces and eastern militias have pushed the jihadists back into a residential zone of just five square kilometres (two square miles) inside the city.
 
 

U.N. can't verify incendiary bombs in Syria, concerned by reports

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎7:55:39 PMGo to full article
The United Nations is concerned by the Syrian opposition's accusations that incendiary weapons have been used in Syria but said on Friday it is unable to verify the reports. The Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee called on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday to launch an investigation into its accusations that Russia has used air-delivered incendiary weapons and cluster bombs in Syria.
 

Hezbollah to send more fighters to Syria's Aleppo

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎7:39:09 PMGo to full article
Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah react as he addresses them from a screen during a ceremony marking the 40th day after Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine was killed in an attack in Syria, in Beirut's southern suburbsThe leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement said on Friday it will send more fighters to Syria's Aleppo area, a battleground where it has suffered heavy losses fighting alongside Syrian government forces against insurgent groups. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said thousands of Hezbollah's Sunni militant foes had recently entered Syria via the Turkish border with the aim of taking over Aleppo and its surrounding countryside. "We are facing a new wave...of projects of war against Syria which are being waged in northern Syria, particularly in the Aleppo region," Nasrallah said in a speech broadcast live on the group's Al Manar TV.
 
 

Fight for Aleppo 'greatest battle' in Syria: Hezbollah chief

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎7:19:39 PMGo to full article
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah gives a televised address on June 24, 2016The head of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement said Friday that the offensive on the city of Aleppo was the "greatest battle" in Syria, pledging to dispatch more fighters to support Syrian regime forces. Hezbollah has intervened in Syria's complex war on behalf of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and has dispatched thousands of fighters to Damascus, Aleppo, and Homs provinces, among others.
 
 

Organizers say gay pride march in Istanbul canceled after ban

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎6:17:16 PMGo to full article
LGBT rights activists wave rainbow flags during a transgender pride parade which was banned by the governorship, in central IstanbulAn annual gay pride parade in the Turkish city of Istanbul will not go ahead on Sunday, organizers said in a statement on Friday after the governor's office banned the march citing security risks and declined the group's request to read a statement. "We are announcing with sadness that we will not be able to hold the 14th Pride March," the Istanbul LGBTI and Pride committee said in a statement on its website, but added this was a violation by the authorities of their right to demonstrate. The Istanbul governor's office last week said the marches had been banned out of concern for public order.
 
 

Wounded Veteran Finds Help, While Seeking Sticker

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎5:26:00 PMGo to full article
Had Matthew not gone to woundedwarriorproject.org looking for a decal to put on his father-in-law's new work helmet, he may have never come across Warrior Care Network™. Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) partnered with four top academic medical centers across the country to form Warrior Care Network in 2015. This world-class health network provides mental health care for wounded veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) regardless of where they are located, and the care being provided is free of charge.
 

Nepali migrants banned from working in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎5:18:02 PMGo to full article
By Gopal Sharma KATHMANDU (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Nepal has banned its nationals from working in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria after 13 Nepali security guards were killed by a Taliban suicide bomber in the Afghan capital earlier this week, Labour Minister Deepak Bohara said on Friday. "Our decision is prompted by the security situation in those countries," Bohara told Thomson Reuters Foundation. "If our nationals already working in those countries want to return home, the government will make arrangements for that." Nepal is one of the world's poorest countries.
 

Why the Refugee Crisis Is Just the Beginning

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎12:10:35 PMGo to full article
Why the Refugee Crisis Is Just the BeginningLESBOS, Greece—Two years after her town fell to the Islamic State, Zozan Qerani visited psychiatrists in Turkey and Greece for help with what she’d seen. Since arriving in Greece by boat three months ago she has suffered seizures while living in a tent at a refugee camp called Kara Tepe. “I fall over, every day,” she said, sitting on a folding chair in front of the tent, which she shares with her husband, Atoo Qerani.
 
 

Morocco arrests 10 suspected Islamist militants, including Algerian

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎9:21:39 AMGo to full article
A picture illustration of an Islamic State flagMorocco said on Thursday that it had dismantled a suspected militant cell inspired by the radical group Islamic State and that it had arrested 10 men who were planning attacks in the North African kingdom. This was the latest in a series of radical Islamist groups that Morocco has said it has broken up. The group includes an Algerian national living in Morocco illegally, according to the statement carried by state news agency MAP said.
 
 

Guard convicted in killing ordered freed amid guilt doubts

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎12:29:49 AMGo to full article
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge on Thursday ordered the release of a former security guard after prosecutors said new evidence cast doubt on his conviction for killing a college student 16 years ago in California.
 

The global impact of the battle of Fallujah

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎11:48:46 PMGo to full article
The global campaign to defeat Islamic State and end its influence over lone-wolf terrorists depends to a large degree on a grand moral reckoning inside Iraq. Can the country’s majority Shiite Muslims ever treat Sunnis as equal citizens rather them drive them to rely on IS for protection? A possible answer to that question came with the recent retaking of the city of Fallujah from the militant group by Iraqi forces.
 

US Democrats end marathon gun control sit-in

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎11:42:55 PMGo to full article
Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis speaks to supporters of House Democrats taking part in a sit-in on the House Chamber outside the U.S. Capitol on June 22, 2016 in Washington, DCDemocratic lawmakers pushing for tougher US gun control laws after the Orlando nightclub massacre ended a stunning 24-hour sit-in at Congress on Thursday. American people are with us and people around the world are with us," sit-in leader John Lewis, a longtime congressman and veteran of the civil rights movement who marched with Martin Luther King, told reporters. Dozens of Democrats disrupted the chamber's proceedings after Republican House speaker Paul Ryan refused to allow votes on two bills demanded by Democrats.
 
 

Prosecutors call wannabe Islamic State fighter a flight risk

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎11:08:40 PMGo to full article
This undated photo provided by the United States Attorney's Office, Southern District of Indiana shows Akram Musleh, of Brownsburg, Ind. FBI agents arrested Musleh as he tried to board a bus to New York and join the Islamic State terror group overseas, federal authorities said Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (United States Attorney's Office, Southern District of Indiana via AP)INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An 18-year-old Indiana man accused of trying to travel overseas to join the Islamic State militant group should remain held until trial because he's a flight risk and poses a potential threat to the public, federal prosecutors argued in a court filing.
 
 

US-backed forces enter key IS bastion in north Syria

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎9:29:03 PMGo to full article
A fighter of Syria's Manbij military council fires a weapon on June 15, 2016 on the outskirts of the northern Syrian town of ManbijUS-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters advanced Thursday into the Islamic State jihadist group's bastion of Manbij in northern Syria, sparking fierce street fighting as they push to take the city. Backed by air strikes by the US-led coalition bombing IS in Syria and Iraq, fighters with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance entered Manbij from the south, a monitoring group said. The advance marked a major breakthrough in the battle for Manbij, once a key link on the supply route between the Turkish border and IS's de facto Syrian capital of Raqa.
 
 

Iraqi forces focus on militants in north and west Fallujah

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎8:56:52 PMGo to full article
In this Wednesday, June 22, 2016 photo, Iraqi soldiers enter the main hospital in Fallujah, Iraq. On the northwestern edge of Fallujah, Iraqi commanders are preparing for one of their toughest battles yet, despite declaring victory in the city west of Baghdad last week.(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)FALLUJAH, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi commanders are preparing to dislodge Islamic State group fighters from pockets of territory in Fallujah's northern and western neighborhoods where the militants have dug in after largely fleeing their positions in the city center last week.
 
 

US military leaders discuss extra troops in Iraq: official

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎8:04:41 PMGo to full article
American trainers take a break as they train Iraqi soldiers on approaching and clearing buildings north of Baghdad, on January 7, 2015US military leaders are weighing whether to request additional coalition troops to help local forces fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq, but no decisions have been made, a military official said Thursday. The comments from Chalmers, who is deputy commander for support in the US-led coalition against the IS group in Iraq and Syria, followed a Washington Post story saying generals want to ask President Barack Obama for additional troops and equipment to help consolidate gains against the jihadists. The Post said Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland, who heads coalition forces in Iraq, is among a group of military leaders, administration officials and lawmakers who are fed up with "arbitrary" limits on troop numbers.
 
 

Iraq forces flushing IS out of last Fallujah pocket

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎7:55:03 PMGo to full article
Iraqi forces have retaken more than 80 percent of Fallujah from the Islamic State groupIraqi forces closed in on the last neighbourhood of Fallujah still held by the Islamic State group Thursday while aid groups struggled to deliver relief to desperate civilians. A month into a major offensive against one of the jihadists' most emblematic bastions, elite forces were close to establishing full control over Fallujah. "I can say that more than 80 percent is controlled by our forces," Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi, the operation's overall commander, told AFP in Fallujah.
 
 

Experts say South Africa suffers intelligence gaps

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎6:57:24 PMGo to full article
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Weaknesses in South Africa's police and intelligence agencies could make the country particularly vulnerable to an extremist attack, security experts warned. However, the analysts said they are not aware of an immediate threat.
 

Libyan government bombs Islamic State positions in Sirte

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎6:30:42 PMGo to full article
Government of National Accord fighters take part in an operation against Islamic State jihadists in the city of SirteLibyan pro-government forces targeted the Islamic State group in Sirte with a wave of air strikes Thursday to help pave the way for ground troops to take the jihadists' coastal stronghold. "Our air force today launched an intense series of air strikes that targeted various (IS) positions in Sirte," Reda Issa, a spokesman for Libya's Government of National Unity (GNA), told AFP. The fall of Sirte would be a major blow to IS, which has faced a series of setbacks in Syria and Iraq.
 
 

Democrats keep up gun control protest after all-night sit-in

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎6:28:18 PMGo to full article
The Democratic lawmakers staged the sit in to try to force the US House of Representatives to hold a vote on gun control following the Orlando nightclub shooting on June 12US Democrats on Thursday pressed on with a nearly day old sit-in as they vowed to continue pushing for gun safety legislation in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre. The scenes from the House floor, unprecedented in recent history, began after Democrats joined by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi disrupted the chamber's proceedings Wednesday. Ryan, who dismissed the protest as a "publicity stunt," refused to allow votes on two bills demanded by Democrats: one to expand background checks and another that prevents people on terror watch lists and no-fly lists from buying guns.
 
 

With Rubio in, others step out of Florida's Senate race

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎6:23:39 PMGo to full article
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks to media outside his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 22, 2016. Former Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio announced he will run for re-election to the Senate from Florida, reversing his retirement plans under pressure from GOP leaders determined to hang onto his seat and Senate control. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Republican Sen. Marco Rubio's decision to run for president set off a scramble to replace him. His last-minute decision to run for re-election set off another scramble.
 
 

Offensives against Islamic State could displace 2.3 million Iraqis: U.N.

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎6:09:25 PMGo to full article
Displaced Iraqi children, who fled from Falluja because of Islamic State violence, are seen at a camp on the outskirts of FallujaBy Stephen Kalin BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Upcoming military offensives in Iraq against Islamic State, including an assault on the northern city of Mosul, could displace at least 2.3 million people, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Iraq said on Thursday. The prediction of such a vast humanitarian emergency creates additional complications for the Iraqi government and its U.S. allies, who have announced plans for offensives to drive Islamic State fighters this year from most of their Iraqi territory. More than 3.4 million people across Iraq have already been forced by conflict to leave their homes, according to the United Nations.
 
 

‘We Can’t Understand That Kind of Hate’

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎6:01:08 PMGo to full article
‘We Can’t Understand That Kind of Hate’ORLANDO, Fla.—The good news is it’s a long way from Fallujah to Orlando. The bad news is it still feels like Orlando is a long way from the Middle East. If ever an American city was going to make the very real connection from the battlefields overseas to their own doorsteps, this could be it.
 
 

Turkey says inappropriate for lawmakers to visit air base, in row with Germany

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎5:01:18 PMGo to full article
A German air force Tornado jet lands at an airbase in IncirlikTurkey's foreign minister said on Thursday it would be inappropriate for politicians to visit an air base used by German and other Western forces in his country, drawing an angry response from Berlin in a mounting row between the NATO states. Mevlut Cavusoglu's words came a day after Germany's defense ministry said Turkey was blocking plans by a senior German defense official and lawmakers to visit the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey. Cavusoglu did not give his reasons – but one German lawmaker said Turkey's stance was meant as a response to the German parliament’s decision this month to declare the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces a genocide, a label Turkey rejects.
 
 

U.S. transfers Guantanamo detainee to Montenegro

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎3:20:59 PMGo to full article
(This June 22 story corrects Al-Rahabi's age to 36 from 37 in paragraph 3) WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Yemeni man who had been held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo for 14 years has been transferred to Montenegro, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, as President Barack Obama pushes to close the facility before leaving office in January. Al-Rahabi, 36, who was brought to Guantanamo in January 2002, had been accused of being a bodyguard for the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, according to Pentagon documents.
 

Southeast Asian Islamic State unit being formed in southern Philippines: officials

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎2:31:08 PMGo to full article
By Randy Fabi and Manuel Mogato JAKARTA/MANILA (Reuters) - Southeast Asian militants who claim to be fighting for Islamic State in the Middle East have said they have chosen one of the most wanted men in the Philippines to head a regional faction of the ultra-radical group, security officials said on Thursday. The claim was made in a video that was recently posted on social media, possibly last week, a military intelligence official in the Philippines told Reuters. The video is significant, experts say, because it shows that Islamic State supporters are now being asked to stay home and unify under one umbrella group to launch attacks in Southeast Asia, instead of being drawn to the fight in the Middle East.
 

A Tale of Two Rallies

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎1:48:05 PMGo to full article
A Tale of Two RalliesRALEIGH, N.C.—There was no shortage of differences between recent rallies by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in this newly minted battleground state, but it was the thing they shared in common that stuck out most. Sooner or later, and usually sooner, every conversation came back to Trump’s unpopularity, his temperament, and whether he’s qualified to be president.
 
 

Erdogan suggests UK-style referendum on Turkey EU bid

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎1:38:19 PMGo to full article
Turkish flags at the team's Euro 2016 match against Czech Republic in Lens on June 21, 2016Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has for the first time suggested Turkey could hold a referendum over whether to continue its long-stalled bid to join the European Union. Angrily lashing out at the bloc's treatment of Ankara, Erdogan said Turkey could hold a referendum along the lines of the plebescite in Britain, where voters are deciding Thursday whether to stay in the European Union or leave. "We can stand up and ask the people just like the British are doing," Erdogan said late Wednesday at a speech in Istanbul, quoted by the state-run Anadolu news agency.
 
 

Yesterday's U.S. Ambassador on Today's Middle East Turmoil

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article
Yesterday's U.S. Ambassador on Today's Middle East TurmoilOne provocative thought from a longtime U.S. ambassador: Obama should have given Hillary Clinton more backup.
 
 

Pope risks Turkey's ire with Armenia trip

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎8:28:27 AMGo to full article
Pope Francis poses with a band at the end of his weekly general audience in VaticanPope Francis heads to Armenia Friday for a three-day visit likely to inflame simmering tensions with Turkey over the Vatican's description of mass killings under the Ottoman Empire as genocide. The same formulation had been employed by Pope John Paul II in 2001 in a written declaration. Turkey reacted furiously to Francis's comment.
 
 

Islamic State militants push back in Syria, Iraq and Libya

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎7:06:33 AMGo to full article
FILE - In this Saturday, June 18, 2016 file photo, Syrian President Bashar Assad shakes hands with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Damascus, Syria. The Syrian government has suffered serious setbacks in its campaign to retake the Islamic State's de facto capital of Raqqa, even with Russia's support. (Vadim Savitsky/ Russian Defense Ministry Press Service pool photo via AP, File)BEIRUT (AP) — Even as internationally backed forces chip away at Islamic State-held territory in Syria, Iraq and Libya, the militants have demonstrated a stubborn resilience this week in the face of recent losses.
 
 

Citing doubts, LA prosecutors want to free convicted killer

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎5:49:20 AMGo to full article
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles County prosecutors will ask a judge Thursday to free a man convicted seven years ago of killing a college student, citing new doubts about his guilt.
 

Idaho prosecutor denies Syrian refugees gang-raped girl

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎5:18:18 AMGo to full article
An Idaho prosecutor said on Wednesday that internet outlets devoted to carrying anti-Muslim sentiments were to blame for fomenting widely spread, false rumors that three Syrian refugee boys had gang-raped a young girl at knife-point. None of it is true,” Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs said of the reports, which originated on blogs and social media postings and have since gone viral. An investigation by Twin Falls police found one of the boys sexually assaulted the girl and the two others were involved in the crime but did not touch the child, Loebs said.
 

AP FACT CHECK: Trump's distortions on Clinton

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎1:29:53 AMGo to full article
AP FACT CHECK: Trump peddles suspect claims about ClintonDonald Trump's fierce denunciation of Hillary Clinton on Wednesday was rife with distortion. He accused Clinton of announcing a withdrawal from Iraq that wasn't on her watch, pulled numbers out of nowhere ...
 
 

In Silicon Valley, Obama to keep hot-button tech issues off agenda

 
‎Thursday, ‎June ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎1:16:59 AMGo to full article
U.S. President Barack Obama points as he walks on the South Lawn of the White HouseBy Roberta Rampton WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will head to Silicon Valley on Friday to a summit aimed at connecting about 1,200 entrepreneurs from 170 countries with the biggest and brightest players in the U.S. tech sector and venture capital community. Hot-button political issues that the White House and tech sector normally grapple with, such as the use of social media by extremists, the desire by law enforcement for a way around encryption, and cyber security, will not be on the agenda. Obama is using the summit - the seventh in a series which have reached a total of 17,000 people mainly in Muslim-majority countries around the world - to help bolster his foreign policy legacy as his time in offices draws closer to the end on Jan. 20, 2017.
 
 

Ventura to appeal vacating of $1.8M 'American Sniper' award

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎11:30:07 PMGo to full article
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura wants a rehearing after a federal appeals court threw out a $1.8 million jury award to Ventura, who said he was defamed by the late author Chris Kyle in the bestselling book "American Sniper."
 

Swiss arrest suspected extremist upon return from Turkey

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎10:40:17 PMGo to full article
GENEVA (AP) — The Swiss federal prosecutor's office says authorities have detained a Swiss national in Zurich upon his return from Turkey on suspicion of links to jihadi groups in Syria and Iraq.
 

US military's cyber force reluctant to cut Internet in Syria

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎10:02:50 PMGo to full article
A Syrian army soldier takes aim from a position on the outskirts of Syria's Raqa region on February 19, 2016The US military is wary of cutting Internet connections to Islamic State strongholds such as Raqa in Syria, even though the Pentagon is waging cyber-war against the jihadists, officials said Wednesday. Cyber Command -- better known as CYBERCOM -- officially started attacking the tech-savvy IS group in April, in what was the command's most important offensive since being established in 2010. Thomas Atkin, the acting assistant defense secretary for homeland defense and global security, said a "careful balance" needed to be struck, when asked why the military does not simply stop jihadists from accessing the Internet.
 
 

The Aspen Security Forum Releases 2016 Agenda

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎9:58:00 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON, June 22, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 80 leading experts will discuss the most critical questions about national and homeland security at the seventh annual Aspen Security Forum, presented by the Aspen Institute's Homeland Security Program. The Forum will take place July 27 to 30 in Aspen, CO. The full agenda is available now at http://aspensecurityforum.org/agenda. ...
 

Rubio Is Making a Smart Move in Running for Senate

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎9:13:23 PMGo to full article
There are three obvious downsides to Marco Rubio’s decision to run for reelection to the United States Senate. First, he’s flip-flopped: As recently as May, he promised not to enter the race. Second, even if he wins, he’ll spend the coming years taking votes that could cause him problems in a presidential campaign. Or, if he skips those votes, he’ll be slammed for his absenteeism, as he was by his primary opponents this year. Third, and most importantly, if he loses his reelection bid, his political career is likely over.
 

U.S. says to co-host aid pledging conference for Iraq in July

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎8:42:47 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Wednesday it would co-host a humanitarian aid pledging conference for Iraq in Washington on July 20 with Canada, Germany and Japan. "This will be an effort to help the people of Iraq weather the humanitarian crisis and destruction wrought by Daesh in the country," State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters, using an alternative name for Islamic State. (Reporting by Lesley Wroughton and Mohammad Zargham; Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
 

Amnesty urges Jordan to keep border open to Syrian refugees

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎8:40:26 PMGo to full article
Jordanians hold candles at a vigil for six Jordanian soldiers killed in a suicide bombing on the border with Syria, on June 21, 2106 in the capital AmmanAmnesty International on Wednesday urged Jordan to keep its border open to refugees fleeing Syria after a deadly frontier attack prompted Amman to declare the area a "military zone". King Abdullah II vowed to hit back with an "iron fist" after Tuesday's suicide bombing that killed seven Jordanian soldiers near the Syrian border and a makeshift refugee camp. The military declared the remote desert regions that stretch northeast to Syria and east to Iraq "closed military zones".
 
 

Iraq's Fallujah nearly cleared but aid effort flounders

 
‎Wednesday, ‎June ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎8:35:42 PMGo to full article
A displaced Iraqi boy from the Fallujah area plays in a puddle of water at a camp near Amiriyiah al-Fallujah on June 22, 2016Iraqi forces hunted jihadist fighters in their last Fallujah redoubts Wednesday as tens of thousands of displaced civilians massed in overcrowded camps around the city. A month exactly after the offensive against the Islamic State group's bastion was launched, progress on the military front exceeded expectations but so did the scope of the ensuing humanitarian crisis. "The northern and central parts of Fallujah have almost been cleared of Daesh," Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi told AFP, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

 

 

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

 

 
 

US, Russia cutting nuke arsenals, but modernising: study

 
‎Yesterday, ‎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

 
‎Yesterday, ‎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

 
‎Yesterday, ‎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

 
‎Yesterday, ‎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

 
‎Yesterday, ‎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

 
‎Yesterday, ‎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

 
‎Yesterday, ‎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

 
‎Yesterday, ‎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

 
‎Yesterday, ‎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

 
‎Yesterday, ‎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.

 

 

Top N. Korea official visits China in bid to mend ties

 
‎Friday, ‎June ‎10, ‎2016, ‏‎3:54:55 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) May 31, 2016 - A top North Korean official made a rare visit to China on Tuesday in an apparent attempt by Pyongyang to mend frayed ties with its powerful neighbour.

China is North Korea's largest trading partner and has been its key diplomatic protector for decades. But relations have soured following Pyongyang's internationally-condemned nuclear tests, with Beijing supporting UN sanctions against its isolated neighbour.

The visit by Ri Su Yong, vice chairman of the North's ruling Workers' Party and former foreign minister, came even as South Korea said Tuesday the North had tried and failed to launch a powerful new medium-range missile.

The attempted launch is the latest in a series of setbacks for a ballistic weapons programme that aspires to threaten the US mainland.

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.

Ri Su Yong met Chinese official Song Tao, head of the international department of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee, to brief him on the North's once-in-a-generation party congress, according to the CCP.

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.

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

"Both sides pledged to cherish the traditional friendship, strengthen exchanges and cooperation," the website of the CCP's international department said of Tuesday's visit.

Kim has not visited China since coming to power and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping has not visited Pyongyang.

But the North Korean leader watched the local Sobaeksu basketball team beat China's Olympic squad in three matches on Monday, Pyongyang's official news agency reported.

Kim "expressed great satisfaction over the successful game", it said.

China's official Xinhua news agency said Ri would visit for three days as part of a delegation.

He is the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit China since last year, when Kim Jong-Un's close aide Choe Ryong Hae attended a military parade in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II.

South Korea's foreign ministry said Tuesday it "hopes relations between North Korea and China will advance in a way that could contribute to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula (and) get the North to give up its nuclear weapons".

 

 

S. Korea ministry says signs North preparing missile launch

 
‎Friday, ‎June ‎10, ‎2016, ‏‎3:54:55 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) May 30, 2016 - South Korea's defence ministry said Monday it had detected signs that North Korea was preparing a ballistic missile launch, as Japan reportedly put its military on intercept alert.

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.

Tensions have been running high on the divided Korean peninsula since the North's fourth nuclear test in January, followed by a long-range rocket launch the following month.

And in recent weeks Pyongyang has voiced anger at Seoul's refusal to accept repeated offers of military talks to de-escalate the situation.

"We are tracking signs that North Korea is preparing a ballistic missile test and are maintaining combat readiness," a defence ministry official told AFP.

The official did not specify the missile type, but the fact that signs of a launch had been detected would point to a medium-range missile or larger.

In April the North tried and failed three times to test-fire a powerful new mid-range missile known as a Musudan.

In Tokyo, public broadcaster NHK said the Japanese government had put its military on alert for a possible launch, with orders to intercept any missile that threatened Japanese territory.

Under the order, the Self-Defence Forces will deploy Aegis destroyers equipped with missile interceptors offshore and PAC-3 surface-to-air anti-ballistic missiles, NHK said.

A Japanese defence ministry spokeswoman declined to confirm the news reports.

The Musudan is believed to have a 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.

The missile has never been successfully flight-tested.

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

During the congress, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un personally extended the offer of military dialogue with the South.

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.

 

 

US nuke force still using floppy disks: report

 
‎Friday, ‎June ‎10, ‎2016, ‏‎3:54:55 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) May 26, 2016 - America's nuclear force still uses floppy disks designed in the 1970s to coordinate some of its functions, according to a watchdog report released Wednesday.

The report by the Government Accountability Office points to a number of worryingly outdated "legacy systems" still in use across the US government that are in desperate need of upgrading.

A Pentagon command and control system that "coordinates the operational functions of the United States' nuclear forces, such as intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear bombers, and tanker support aircrafts," runs on an IBM Series/1 computer and uses 8-inch floppy disks, the report says.

That type of computer debuted in 1976, when Gerald Ford was in the White House.

"This system remains in use because, in short, it still works," Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Valerie Henderson told AFP.

"However, to address obsolescence concerns, the floppy drives are scheduled to be replaced with Secure Digital devices by the end of 2017," she added.

"Modernization across the entire Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications (NC3) enterprise remains ongoing."

According to the GAO report, the Pentagon is planning to fully replace the system by the end of 2020.

The GAO said the federal government is spending a lot more on "operations and maintenance" of its computer systems than it is on "development, modernization and enhancement."

Last year, for instance, the government spent $61.2 billion on operations and maintenance, compared to $19.2 billion in the other category.

The report also found that the Treasury Department uses "assembly language code," which was initially designed in the 1950s.

The Office of Management and Budget has started an initiative to replace the legacy IT systems, "but until this policy is finalized and fully executed, the government runs the risk of maintaining systems that have outlived their effectiveness," the report states.

Harris continues support services for missile defense systems
Melbourne, Fla. (UPI) May 26, 2016 -U.S. missile warning, missile defense and space surveillance programs will continue to receive support and sustainment services from the Harris Corporation.

The work, which comes through the U.S. Air Force's exercise of contracts options, is worth a total of $106 million.

The services that will be provided to six ground-based weapons systems at 12 locations includes depot-level maintenance, repairs and upgrades, contractor logistics support and more -- to ensure the weapon systems are continually available and capable.

Additional details were not disclosed.

The Air Force in 2002 awarded Harris a five-year contract for support services in 2002. It provided for as many as 13 earned extensions. The new extension exercised is the 10th under the original contract.

 

 

Uganda angered at claim of halt to N.Korea military ties

 
‎Monday, ‎June ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎11:27:19 AMGo to full article
Kampala (AFP) May 29, 2016 - Uganda hit back Sunday at South Korea's claim that Kampala had ordered a halt to military ties with North Korea in line with UN sanctions, denying it had made such an announcement.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye's spokesman had earlier Sunday told reporters that Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni had ordered officials to honour the latest sanctions during a summit in Kampala.

Spokesman Jung Yeon-Guk quoted Museveni as saying: "We instructed officials to faithfully enforce the UN Security Council resolutions, including the halt of cooperation with North Korea in the security, military and police sectors."

But Ugandan authorities responded swiftly, saying there had been no "public declaration" to this effect.

"That is not true. It is propaganda," deputy government spokesman Shaban Bantariza told AFP.

"Even if (such an order) was to be made by the president, it cannot be public. It cannot be therefore true and it can't happen. That is international politics at play," he added.

Dozens of North Korean military and police officials are believed to be working in Uganda as military trainers under a cooperation programme.

Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since 1986, has visited North Korea three times and met Kim Il-Sung, the country's late founding president and grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-Un.

The UN Security Council in March imposed the toughest sanctions to date on Pyongyang following its fourth atomic test in January and a long-range rocket launch a month later.

The rocket launch -- widely seen as a disguised ballistic missile test -- was staged in violation of existing UN resolutions that ban the country from any use of ballistic missile technology.

Kim Jong-Un however remained defiant in the face of growing international pressure, declaring his country a "responsible" nuclear weapons state at a recent meeting of the ruling Workers' Party.

The young leader also defended North Korea's widely-condemned nuclear arsenal as a deterrent against "hostile" US policy against his regime.

On her first state visit to Uganda, South Korea's Park discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties, including offering more aid to Kampala and the offer of running join development projects.

burs-kjl/hmw

 

 

Iran sticking to nuclear deal: UN watchdog

 
‎Monday, ‎June ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎11:27:19 AMGo to full article
Vienna (AFP) May 27, 2016 - Iran is still complying with the July 2015 landmark nuclear deal with major powers, a report from the UN atomic watchdog seen by AFP showed on Friday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's second quarterly assessment since the accord came into force on January 16 showed that Iran was meeting its main commitments.

The report showed that Iran "has not pursued the construction of the existing Arak heavy water research reactor" and has "not enriched uranium" above low levels.

Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium, material which can be used for peaceful purposes but when further processed for a nuclear weapon, has not risen about the agreed level of 300 kilos (660 pounds).

The level of so-called heavy water has not exceeded the permitted level of 130 tonnes, as it did briefly during the previous reporting period. Verification by the IAEA has continued as agreed.

The IAEA added that "all stored centrifuges and associated infrastructure have remained in storage under continuous Agency monitoring" and no enriched uranium has been accumulated through research and development activities.

The steps taken by Iran under the 2015 deal extend to at least a year the length of time Tehran would need to make one nuclear bomb's worth of fissile material -- up from a few months before the accord.

They included slashing by two-thirds its uranium centrifuges, cutting its stockpile of uranium -- several tonnes before the deal, enough for several bombs -- and removing the core of the Arak reactor which could have given Iran weapons-grade plutonium.

Centrifuges are machines that "enrich" uranium by increasing the proportion of a fissile isotope, rendering it suitable for other purposes.

Throughout the 12-year standoff that preceded the deal, Iran always denied wanting nuclear weapons, saying its activities were exclusively for peaceful purposes such as power generation.

In return for the scaling down of its nuclear activities, painful UN and Western sanctions were lifted on the Islamic republic, including on its lifeblood oil exports.

Iran however has complained that major powers have been slow to implement their side of the bargain, with badly needed foreign investment into the country proving slower than hoped.

The United States has maintained its sanctions targeting Tehran's alleged sponsorship of armed movements in the Middle East and its ballistic missile programme.

European banks, which often have subsidiaries on US soil, have therefore been slow to resume business with Iran, fearing prosecution in the United States.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on May 21 called on Washington to take "more serious and concrete actions" to alleviate the situation.

 

 

N. Korea warns S. Korea of retaliatory strikes

 
‎Sunday, ‎May ‎29, ‎2016, ‏‎8:34:29 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) May 28, 2016 - North Korea on Saturday warned South Korea of "merciless retaliatory strikes", a day after the South fired warning shots at North Korean boats near their disputed sea border.

The North's military General Staff said from now on it would open fire without warning at any South Korean ships if they intrude "even 0.001 millimetres" into disputed waters in the Yellow Sea.

It called for the South to apologise for the "reckless military provocation", which it said aimed to "drive the situation in the volatile hotspot to the brink of explosion".

"From now on, we will open direct fire on any warship of the South Korean puppet forces without warning, if it intrudes... even 0.001 mm in the hotspot of the West Sea," it was quoted as saying in a statement carried by Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"They should be mindful that they would face our merciless retaliatory strikes anytime and at any place and in any way", it added.

It accused the South of responding to its efforts to create dialogue with "reckless military provocation".

In recent weeks, Pyongyang has been urging Seoul to accept leader Kim Jong-Un's proposal for military talks aimed at easing cross-border tensions.

Seoul has flatly rejected the offer, insisting that the North should first take a tangible step towards ending its nuclear weapons programmes.

A South Korean naval vessel fired warning shots Friday after a patrol boat from the North and a fishing boat crossed the disputed sea border. The North's boats swiftly retreated.

"This reckless military provocation was evidently prompted by a premeditated sinister plot to bedevil the north-south relations and further aggravate the tension on the Korean peninsula", KCNA said.

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

EU further tightens sanctions on North Korea
Brussels (AFP) May 27, 2016 - The European Union on Friday further tightened sanctions against North Korea over nuclear and ballistic missile tests carried out in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

The 28-nation bloc said it adopted new restrictions in the trade, financial, investment and transport sectors in order to complement UN resolutions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the north's official name.

"The EU decided to further expand its restrictive measures targeting the DPRK's nuclear, weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programmes," according to a statement from the European Council, which groups EU member states.

It cited the "grave threat to international peace and security in the region and beyond" that North Korean actions pose.

Under the new measures, the EU bans imports of petroleum products and luxury goods from North Korea as well as the sale or transfer to the regime of any civilian material or equipment that can also be used for military purposes.

It also prohibits any financial support for trade with the regime as well as any North Korean investment in the European bloc.

EU nationals and entities are barred from investing in the mining, refining and chemical industries sectors as well as in any entities working on illegal programmes.

The bloc also bans any North Korean aircraft from landing in or taking off from EU territory or even flying over it. And it prohibits any vessel owned, operated or crewed by North Korea from entering EU ports.

Last week the bloc added 18 persons and one entity to its asset freeze and travel ban blacklist, meaning sanctions are now in place against 66 individuals and 42 entities in North Korea.

In March, the UN Security Council imposed the toughest sanctions yet against Pyongyang, including unprecedented inspections of all cargo to and from the notoriously reclusive country which has locked itself away from the rest of the world for the past 60 years.

The UN sanctions also banned or restricted exports of coal, iron and iron ore and other minerals, along with the supply of aviation fuel as part of efforts to get Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear and missile ambitions.

The EU established diplomatic relations with North Korea in 2001 but contacts are minimal. It adopted its first sanctions in 2006.

 

 

Obama makes history with Hiroshima visit

 
‎Sunday, ‎May ‎29, ‎2016, ‏‎8:34:29 AMGo to full article
Hiroshima, Japan (AFP) May 27, 2016 - Barack Obama paid moving tribute to victims of the first atomic bomb Friday and called for a world free of nuclear weapons, during a historic and emotional visit to Hiroshima.

In a ceremony loaded with symbolism, the first sitting US president to visit the city met survivors of the fearsome attack that marked one of the final, terrifying chapters of World War II.

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

"Why did we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in the not-so-distant past. We come to mourn the dead," he said.

As crows called through the hush of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Obama offered a floral wreath at the cenotaph, pausing in momentary contemplation with his eyes closed and his head lowered.

The site lies in the shadow of a domed building, whose skeleton stands in silent testament to those who perished.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe followed by offering his own wreath and a brief, silent bow.

After both men had spoken, Obama, whose predecessor Harry Truman gave the go-ahead for the world's first nuclear strike, greeted ageing survivors, embracing 79-year-old Shigeaki Mori, who appeared overcome with emotion.

"The president gestured as if he was going to give me a hug, so we hugged," Mori told reporters afterwards.

Obama also chatted with a smiling Sunao Tsuboi, 91, who had earlier said he wanted to tell the US president how grateful he was for his visit.

- Ball of searing heat -

The trip comes more than seven decades after the Enola Gay bomber dropped its deadly atomic payload, dubbed "Little Boy", over the western Japanese city.

The bombing claimed the lives of 140,000 people, some of whom died immediately in a ball of searing heat; others succumbed to injuries or radiation-related illnesses in the weeks, months and years afterwards.

A second nuclear bomb destroyed the city of Nagasaki three days later.

The visit also marks seven years since Obama's memorable speech in Prague in which he called for the elimination of atomic weapons, a call that helped him win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Crowds of young and old gathered to meet the American president, who retains enormous star power in Japan.

"We welcome President Obama," said 80-year-old Toshiyuki Kawamoto.

"I hope this historic visit to Hiroshima will push for the movement of abolishing nuclear weapons in the world."

- 'We listen to the silent cry' -

Japanese and American flags flew on the street in front of the site, with a city official saying it was the first time the Stars and Stripes had been raised there.

As expected, Obama offered no apology for the bombings, having insisted that he would not revisit decisions made by Truman at the close of a brutal war.

As an eternal flame flickered behind him, however, he said leaders had an obligation to "pursue a world without" nuclear weapons.

"This is why we come to this place, we stand here, in the middle of this city and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell.

"We force ourselves to feel the dread of children confused by what they see. We listen to a silent cry."

"The world was forever changed here but, today, the children of this city will go through their day in peace," the US president said. "What a precious thing that is."

While some in Japan feel the attack was a war crime because it targeted civilians, many Americans believe it hastened the end of a bloody conflict, and ultimately saved lives.

Though there had been calls for an apology, public reaction to the visit and the speech was overwhelmingly positive.

Megu Shimomura, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, one of the selected guests at the ceremony, told AFP: "I was thrilled to attend the historic event. Obama is someone who lives in a very different world than I do but I felt his humanity."

Shinzo Abe praised the "courage" of the visit, which he said offered hope for a nuclear free future.

"An American president comes into contact with the reality of an atomic bombing and renews his resolve toward realising a world without nuclear weapons," he said.

"I sincerely welcome this historic visit, which has long been awaited by not only people of Hiroshima, but by all Japanese people."

The pilgrimage drew a less sympathetic response in other Northeast Asian countries where historical disputes with Tokyo over wartime and colonial aggression remain raw.

In a commentary released late Thursday, North Korea's official KCNA news agency called Obama's trek to Hiroshima an act of "childish political calculation" aimed at disguising the president's true nature as a "nuclear war maniac".

"Obama is seized with the wild ambition to dominate the world by dint of the US nuclear edge," the agency said.

And in Beijing, the government-published China Daily newspaper ran a headline saying: "Atomic bombings of Japan were of its own making."

 

 

North Korea is a 'big worry for all of us': Obama at G7

 
‎Sunday, ‎May ‎29, ‎2016, ‏‎8:34:29 AMGo to full article
Ise-Shima, Japan (AFP) May 26, 2016 - US President Barack Obama took aim at North Korea Thursday, calling it a "big worry" after a meeting with his G7 counterparts, as tensions escalate following Pyongyang's series of nuclear tests.

Obama made the remark at a briefing on the sidelines of Group of Seven talks in Japan where North Korea's provocations and its nuclear ambitions are among the topics on a packed agenda.

"North Korea is a big worry for all of us," Obama said.

"It is not the thing that poses necessarily the most immediate risk. (But) when you have such an unstable regime that is so isolated, that poses the kind of medium-term threat that we have to pay a lot of attention to."

Tensions between North and South Korea have been running high since Pyongyang conducted its fourth nuclear test in January.

In recent weeks, the North has made repeated proposals for military talks aimed at de-escalating the situation -- but the South has dismissed the offer as an "insincere" propaganda ploy.

The current administration of South Korean President Park Geun-Hye is adamant that substantive inter-Korean talks can only begin once the North makes a tangible commitment to denuclearisation.

Also Thursday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged a return to talks with North Korea, during a visit to South Korea that has fuelled speculation of his presidential ambitions in his home country.

"We must find the path back to dialogue," Ban said at a peace and security forum.

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

The congress was seen as an elaborate coronation for the 33-year-old Kim, securing his status as supreme leader and confirming his legacy "byungjin" doctrine of twin economic and nuclear development.

The UN Security Council in March imposed its toughest sanctions to date following the January nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch the following month.

The North had already been subject to a range of sanctions because of earlier nuclear tests -- in 2006, 2009 and 2013 -- and a series of long-range missile tests presented as satellite launches.

The Security Council resolutions condemned the nuclear tests and rocket launches as a threat to international peace and security.

North Korea has challenged the sanctions, arguing that no international laws or agreements stipulate that nuclear tests are such a threat.

It has also noted that the Security Council never sanctioned the United States or other countries for their nuclear tests or ballistic missile launches.

Its long-held argument is its push for a nuclear deterrent has been forced by US hostility.

 

 

S. Korea navy fires warning shots after North incursion

 
‎Sunday, ‎May ‎29, ‎2016, ‏‎8:34:29 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) May 27, 2016 - A South Korean naval vessel fired warning shots Friday after a North Korean patrol boat and fishing boat crossed the countries' disputed maritime border, Seoul's defence ministry said.

The incident coincided with a prolonged push by North Korea for talks to reduce military tensions that escalated sharply after Pyongyang conducted its fourth nuclear test in January.

The two North Korean vessels crossed the Yellow Sea border around 7:30am (2230 GMT Thursday) but swiftly retreated after a South Korean navy patrol boat fired five warning shots, a ministry official said.

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

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

Incidents like Friday's intrusion are quite common and rarely escalate into anything more serious.

In recent weeks, Pyongyang has been urging Seoul to accept leader Kim Jong-Un's proposal for military talks aimed at easing cross-border tensions.

Kim had offered the military dialogue during a marathon speech to the recently concluded congress of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party -- the first event of its kind for more than 35 years.

Seoul has rejected the proposal, saying it lacks sincerity given Kim's vow to push ahead with the North's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

South Korea says it will only engage in substantive dialogue if the North takes a tangible step towards denuclearisation.

The North has repeatedly said its nuclear arsenal is not up for negotiation.

 

 

'I still hate the glow of the setting sun': Hiroshima survivors' tales

 
‎Sunday, ‎May ‎29, ‎2016, ‏‎8:34:29 AMGo to full article
Hiroshima, Japan (AFP) May 26, 2016 - For survivors of the world's first nuclear attack, the day America unleashed a terrible bomb over the city of Hiroshima remains seared forever in their minds.

Though their numbers are dwindling and the advancing years are taking a toll, their haunting memories are undimmed by the passage of more than seven decades.

On the occasion of Barack Obama's offering of a floral tribute on Friday at the cenotaph in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park -- the first ever visit by a sitting US president -- some of them share their stories with AFP.

Emiko Okada

Emiko Okada, now 79, was about 2.8 kilometres (1.7 miles) from ground zero and suffered severe injuries in the blast. Her sister was killed.

"All of a sudden a flash of light brightened the sky and I was slammed to the ground. I didn't know what on earth had happened. There were fires everywhere. We rushed away as the blaze roared toward us.

"The people I saw looked nothing like human beings. Their skin and flesh hung loose. Some children's eyeballs were popping out of their sockets.

"I still hate to see the glow of the setting sun. It reminds me of that day and brings pain to my heart.

"In the aftermath, many children who had evacuated during the war came back here, orphaned by the bomb. Many gangsters came to Hiroshima from around the country and gave them food and guns.

"President Obama is a person who can influence the world. I hope that this year will be the beginning of knowing what actually happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki under the mushroom clouds."

Keiko Ogura

Keiko Ogura, now 78, has devoted her life to keeping alive the memory of the devastating day.

"Shortly after (the bomb exploded) it rained. It was a sticky black rain and made my clothes wet.

"I saw a line of seriously burnt people, like silent ghosts.

"Suddenly, a girl grabbed my leg and said in a weak voice: 'Give me water.' Others also said: 'Water. Water.'

"I brought water to them, but some died right after they drank it. I regretted giving it to them.

"I saw smoke from a nearby park where bodies were being cremated. Sometimes I could smell the bodies burning.

"We faced the horror (of nuclear weapons). I tell everybody that it was hell. But they don't understand.

"There is no peace in Hiroshima. There is horror here."

Park Nam-Joo

Park Nam-Joo, now 83, is an ethnic Korean, who has suffered from breast and skin cancer because of the radiation she was exposed to that day.

An estimated 20,000 Koreans were among the dead in Hiroshima. Many had been taken to Japan as forced labourers during its 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula:

"Everything was broken to pieces. Everywhere was rubble. It's beyond description. It was inhumane.

"Hiroshima was a sea of fire. People bled from everywhere on their bodies: 'I'm burning. I'm burning. Please help,' they cried.

"The wounds of the living were infested with maggots. There was no medicine for it.

"People say human life is to be revered but the lives of those who died in the atomic bombing were just like those of insects.

"I still shed tears when I recall the scene. Many people don't want to remember that.

"I want people to know that not only Japanese but Korean, Chinese and others also suffered in the atomic bombing.

"I'm Catholic. Wearing a rosary and with a statue of the Virgin Mary next to me, I pray at night for a peaceful passage to heaven."

Misako Katani

Misako Katani, now 86, is one of the rare survivors of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

When her mother and sister were killed in the Hiroshima bomb she took their ashes to the ancestral graveyard in Nagasaki -- only to be caught up in the second atomic blast.

"My father told me 'Your mom and Tamie (Katani's sister) should be there.' So I removed the rubble and found my mother's ashen bones.

"I put them into a box. And then I found bones which were too fragile to pick up. My father said: 'Those are Tamie's.' I guess my mother tried to escape while holding my sister. And then the house collapsed on them and they burned to death.

"I still vividly remember the scene. It's unforgettable. I almost cry when I revisit the past.

"I suffered from a lot of lung afflictions such as pneumonia. Whenever I sit at our family Buddhist altar, I tell my late mother, 'Hi mom, please take me to your place.' but she never does.

"The colour of my memories is grey.

"I don't dislike America although I hated it in the past. I want to meet (President Obama) and tell him, 'Please do not wage war anymore'."

Shigeaki Mori

Shigeaki Mori, now 79, is known for his study of the fate of US prisoners of war who were in Hiroshima. He now researches the fate of Australian POWs in Nagasaki.

"I was blown into a river while walking on a bridge. I was under the mushroom cloud. I decided to stay in the river for a while.

"I crawled up out of the water and saw a woman tottering toward me. Blood was everywhere on her body, and internal organs hung from her abdomen. While holding them, she asked me where she could find a hospital. Crying, I ran away, leaving her alone.

"People who were still alive were collapsed all around me. I escaped by stamping on their faces and heads. I heard screams from a broken down house. But I ran away as I was still a child with no power to help."

Sunao Tsuboi

Sunao Tsuboi, now 91, is co-chairperson of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations. He suffered serious burns and developed cancer and other diseases, but remains active in his lifelong campaign for a nuclear free world.

"I suffered burns all over my body. I had a terrible experience. Naked, I tried to run away for about three hours on August 6 but finally could no longer walk. I then wrote on the ground (with a small rock), 'Tsuboi dies here.'

"I lost consciousness several times and eventually came to on September 25.

"I can tolerate hardships for the sake of human happiness. I may die tomorrow but I'm optimistic. I will never give up. We want zero nuclear weapons.

"An apology doesn't matter. I just want (President Obama) to come and visit Hiroshima and see real things and listen to the voice of survivors."

This is part of a multimedia series on Hiroshima survivors that AFP is running ahead of US President Barack Obama's historic visit to Hiroshima. Pictures by Johannes Eisele. Video by Quentin Tyberghien

 

 

Hiroshima bombing: the morning the earth shook

 
‎Sunday, ‎May ‎29, ‎2016, ‏‎8:34:29 AMGo to full article
Hiroshima, Japan (AFP) May 27, 2016 - With a blinding flash of light and an ear-splitting roar, the age of nuclear conflict arrived with terrifying and awe-inspiring force on August 6, 1945, changing the course of history, and killing 140,000 people.

The morning was a run-of-the-mill one for most Hiroshima residents. Housewives made breakfast for their families, children played in the sticky summer heat, and men hurried to get ready for work.

Few could have known the dangers above them as a US B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay pierced the sky, loaded with deadly cargo in its belly, the single most fearsome weapon the world had ever seen.

At 8:15 am, the pilot released Little Boy, a uranium bomb with a destructive force equivalent to 16 kilotons of TNT.

After the initial searing fireball, gusts of around 1.5 kilometres (one mile) a second roared outwards, carrying with them shattered debris, and packing enough force to rip limbs from bodies.

The air pressure suddenly dropped, crushing those on the ground, and an ominous mushroom cloud rose, towering 16 kilometres above the city.

The smell of burning flesh filled the air as scores of badly injured survivors tried to escape the inferno by diving into the rivers that criss-crossed Hiroshima.

Countless hundreds never emerged, pushed under the surface by the mass of desperate humanity; their charred bodies left bobbing in the brackish water.

Many died of their terrible injuries over the following hours and days; lying where they fell, desperate for help that would never come, or even just for a sip of water.

For those who survived, there was the terrifying unknown of radiation sickness still to come.

Gums bled, teeth fell out, hair came off in clumps; there were cancers, premature births, malformed babies and sudden deaths.

Seven decades later, some stone buildings that survived the supersonic blast still bear the shadows of anything -- or anyone -- that was incinerated in front of them.

The mangled skeleton of a domed exhibition hall -- the only structure left standing near the epicentre -- stands as a grim reminder of the power of the world's first atomic bombing, a sight that Barack Obama will see Friday when he becomes the first sitting US president to visit the city.

The Hiroshima attack was followed three days later by the Nagasaki bombing. In the wake of the overpowering twin bombs, Japan surrendered less than a week later, ending World War II.

Key dates in the nuclear arms race
Hiroshima, Japan (AFP) May 27, 2016 - Here is a timeline of the development of nuclear weapons, as US President Barack Obama pays a historic visit to the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Friday.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the only two cities to suffer an atomic bombing, by US planes in August 1945.

- June 1942: The United States launches the top-secret "Manhattan Project" to build an atomic bomb before the Nazis do. More than $2 billion is spent to achieve that goal.

- July 1945: The early morning "Trinity" test takes place in New Mexico, marking the dawn of the nuclear age.

- August 1945: On August 6, a US bomber drops an atomic bomb built with uranium on Hiroshima, killing 140,000 people and wounding tens of thousands.

Three days later, a second atomic bomb with plutonium fuel smashes Nagasaki, killing 70,000 people. On the 15th, Japan surrenders.

- August 1949: Four years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki are destroyed, the Soviet Union successfully tests its own atomic bomb in Kazakhstan. Britain becomes the world's third nuclear power with an A-bomb test in Australia in October 1952.

- November 1952: The US tests its first hydrogen, or thermonuclear bomb (H-bomb), in the Pacific. It is almost 700 times more powerful than an atomic bomb. The Soviet Union tests its first H-bomb in 1953, followed by the British in 1957.

France then tests an A-bomb in February 1960, as does China in October 1964. Both countries follow suit a few years later with H-bomb tests.

- February 1967: The Tlatelolco treaty declares Latin America a nuclear-free zone. It is followed by other treaties that cover the Pacific, South-East Asia, and Africa.

- July 1968: Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which takes effect in March 1970.

- May 1998: India and Pakistan become nuclear powers.

- October 2006: North Korea, which withdrew from the NPT in 2003, detonates an atomic device, and follows with three more tests since then. North Korea is also developing ballistic missile technology.

In December 2006, Israeli authorities let it be known they possess nuclear weapons, and the country is also developing long-range missiles.

- April 2010: Russia and the US sign a second Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) agreement to replace one signed in 1991. It calls for a significant reduction in the nuclear weapons arsenals of both countries. Britain is also reducing its stocks, while France and Israel are believed to be maintaining a stable level. According to the Federation of American Scientists, China, India, North Korea and Pakistan are building their inventories of warheads.

- July 2015: An agreement between Iran and major powers is signed with the aim of ensuring that Iran's nuclear programme remains limited to civilian purposes. In exchange, international sanctions against Iran are lifted.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the number of nuclear warheads has decreased, but the nine known nuclear powers continue to develop more sophisticated nuclear weapons.

In early 2015, SIPRI estimated the total number of nuclear warheads worldwide at 15,850 of which 4,300 are considered operational. In 2010 the numbers were estimated at 22,600 and 7,650 respectively.

Russia and the United States account for most of the reduction, but they still hold about 7,500 for the former and 7,260 for the latter, or 90 percent of the total.

 

 

N. Korea asks UN chief to explain legal basis for sanctions

 
‎Sunday, ‎May ‎29, ‎2016, ‏‎8:34:29 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) May 24, 2016 - North Korea has challenged United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon to clarify the legal basis for UN sanctions against it, Pyongyang's state media said Tuesday.

The North's permanent representative to the UN wrote to Secretary-General Ban on Monday, saying that UN sanctions imposed over its nuclear tests and "peaceful satellite launches" had no legal foundation, KCNA news agency reported.

It did not identify the permanent representative by his name, Ja Song-Nam.

The UN Security Council in March imposed its toughest sanctions on North Korea to date following its fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch the following month.

The North had already been subject to a range of sanctions because of earlier nuclear tests -- in 2006, 2009 and 2013 -- and a series of long-range missile tests presented as satellite launches.

The Security Council resolutions condemned the nuclear tests and rocket launches as a threat to international peace and security.

But the North Korean envoy asserted that no international laws or agreements -- such as the UN charter and the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- stipulate that nuclear tests are a threat to international peace and security.

The second question, he said in the letter, was why the Security Council had never sanctioned the United States or other countries for their nuclear tests or ballistic missile launches.

If no "convincing legal clarification" was given on such questions, the Security Council would be seen as enforcing double standards, the envoy said.

The North insists it needs atomic weapons to defend itself from what it calls a US nuclear threat.

A rare ruling party congress this month depicted the North as a fully-fledged nuclear weapons state and endorsed a push to improve and expand the arsenal.

 

 

Iran calls for 'more concrete' US action on sanctions

 
‎Sunday, ‎May ‎29, ‎2016, ‏‎8:34:29 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) May 21, 2016 - Iran's foreign minister Saturday said the United States must take concrete steps to encourage investors to engage with Tehran, a day after Western powers said they back legal business with Iran.

"More serious and concrete actions must be taken by the US in this regard," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said at a news conference with his New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully.

"Obstacles in the past decade on economic cooperations between Iran and other countries were created due to hostile American policies and sanctions," he said, according to the website of state television.

International sanctions related to Iran's nuclear programme were lifted under the nuclear deal signed last year and implemented in January.

But the United States has maintained its sanctions targeting Tehran's alleged sponsorship of armed movements in the Middle East and its ballistic missile programme.

European banks, which often have subsidiaries on US soil, have therefore been slow to resume business with Iran, fearing prosecution in the United States.

On Friday, a joint statement by the United States, the European Union, France, Britain and Germany said foreign banks and businesses should not hold back from conducting legal business with Iran.

"We will not stand in the way of permitted business activity with Iran," the said in the statement released after talks in Brussels.

"And we will not stand in the way of international firms or financial institutions engaging with Iran, as long as they follow all applicable laws," they added.

The governor of Iran's central bank, Valiollah Seif, has also called on Western powers to comply with the terms of the nuclear deal, in an interview published Thursday by the British daily the Guardian.

"Some movement and Western officials have made some positive pronouncements, but banks need tangible reassurances that they would be immune from baseless allegations (of sanctions breaches)," he said.

He also said that restricted access to the dollar system had created many obstacles for Iranian businesses.

"If we want to change Omani rials to euros, we don't need dollars, but the system is designed in a way that it has to be changed to dollars first, then euros. They should find a way to resolve this issue," he said.

 

 

S. Korea rejects North's military talks offer

 
‎Friday, ‎May ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎6:13:44 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) May 23, 2016 - South Korea on Monday rejected the latest proposal by the North to hold military talks, saying Pyongyang first needed to take steps towards abandoning its nuclear arsenal.

The North's leader Kim Jong-Un offered the military dialogue during a speech to a recent congress of the ruling Workers' Party -- the first event of its kind for more than 35 years.

North Korean military later urged Seoul to accept the offer to overcome the current "catastrophic state" of cross-border ties, proposing a preparatory working-level meeting in a message sent on Saturday.

But Seoul's defense ministry, in a response sent across the border Monday morning, effectively rejected the proposal that it said made no mention of Pyongyang's widely-condemned nuclear weapons programme, according to a ministry spokesman.

"A proposal for talks with no mention of denuclearisation is mere posturing," Moon Sang-Gyun told reporters, describing the latest talks proposal a gesture for "fake peace".

"We will firmly keep the stance that taking steps for denuclearisation should be the first priority when it comes to dialogue with the North," he said.

Most of Kim's speech at the party congress had been devoted to talking up his atomic weapons programme, Seoul said earlier.

South Korea's conservative President Park Geun-Hye insists Seoul would only consider engaging in substantive dialogue with Pyongyang if the North takes a tangible step towards denuclearisation.

But the North has repeatedly said the nuclear arsenal -- which it describes a "national treasure" -- is not up for negotiation.

Tension has been running high since Pyongyang staged its fourth nuclear test in January, followed by a long-range rocket launch a month later largely seen as a disguised missile test.

The isolated state is banned under several UN resolutions from using any ballistic missile technology. The UN Security Council responded by slapping the strongest sanctions to date on the North in March.

 

 

US, Britain, France, Germany back business with Iran

 
‎Friday, ‎May ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎6:13:44 AMGo to full article
Brussels (AFP) May 19, 2016 - Foreign banks and businesses should not hold back from conducting legal business with Iran, Western powers said Friday.

In a joint statement released after talks in Brussels, the United States, the European Union, France, Britain and Germany sought to reassure companies that, after the Iran nuclear deal, certain forms of trade are permitted.

"We will not stand in the way of permitted business activity with Iran," the four powers plus the European Union said.

"And we will not stand in the way of international firms or financial institutions engaging with Iran, as long as they follow all applicable laws," they added.

Under the terms of the Iran nuclear deal signed last year and implemented in February, international sanctions aimed at Tehran's nuclear programme have been dropped.

But the United States has maintained its sanctions targeting Tehran's alleged sponsorship of armed movements in the Middle East and its ballistic missile programme.

European banks, which often have subsidiaries on US soil, have therefore been slow to resume business with Iran, fearing prosecution in the United States.

But, a joint statement by the western parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) -- the implementation side of the Iran deal -- gave business the green light.

"The interest of European and other global firms in Iran is high," the statement said.

"And it is in our interest and the interest of the international community to ensure that the JCPOA works for all participants, including by delivering benefit to the Iranian people," it continued.

"This includes the reengagement of European banks and businesses in Iran."

US Secretary of State John Kerry -- a key architect of the Iran deal -- was in Brussels for a NATO ministers meeting, and held talks on the Iran deal while he was there.

President Barack Obama's administration has been criticised at home for moving too quickly to allow Iran to return to the international fold after agreeing to nuclear controls.

But Tehran's leaders have complained that the deal was oversold, arguing that they upheld their end of the bargain in surrendering most of their nuclear enrichment capacity in return for sanctions relief.

Meanwhile, European banks have been reluctant to renew ties with the Islamic republic, fearing that -- despite the end of some sanctions -- they could fall foul of US law.

"We understand that firms may continue to have specific sanctions-related questions or concerns about doing business in Iran," the statement said.

"And we stand ready to provide expeditious clarifications," it added, encouraging banks and other enterprises to come forward and seek advice as to how to deal legally with Iran.

"We encourage firms to approach our governments to address remaining questions, rather than forgo opportunities due to misperceptions or lack of information."

 

 

Why Russia's Reviving Its Nuke Trains

 
‎Friday, ‎May ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎6:13:44 AMGo to full article
Moscow (Sputnik) May 17, 2016 - Russian "Barguzin" strategic missile trains may become an asymmetric response to NATO's complex European Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system deployed in Romania and Poland, military experts believe.

Russian designers have begun to create new elements of "Barguzin" - Russia's combat railway missile complex (BZhRK) aimed at transporting and launching strategic nuclear missiles.

Citing a military source with the knowledge of the matter, Russian Regnum news agency wrote that the project's exact completion date would be announced in early 2018. Back in 2014, Strategic Missile Forces Commander Col. Gen. Sergei Karakayev told journalists that the sketches of Russia's future railway-based missile complex had been finalized.

It was reported that the Russian Army may receive five Barguzin railroad ICBM systems by 2020. In late February 2016 the head of the Strategic Missile Forces' military education department, Viktor Nesterov, informed Echo Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) Radio that a new generation of ICBM-launching trains would enter the Army service in 2020.

Russian military experts regard the system as a powerful counterbalance against NATO's European Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system deployed by the United States in Eastern Europe.

On Thursday, the Pentagon military officials inaugurated their missile defense base in Deveselu, Romania. The Deveselu base is one of the first major European elements of the US global missile shield. The cornerstone of the military site is an Aegis Ashore missile defense system equipped with an AN/SPY-1 radar and vertical launchers for 24 Standard SM-3 Block IB missiles.

A similar ground-based Aegis system is currently under construction in Poland. The Polish base is due to become operational in 2018.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stressed Thursday that the deployment of the elements of the US global missile shield in Europe undoubtedly poses a direct threat to the Russian Federation's security.

"From the very beginning we have said that, according to experts - and we are certain of this, undoubtedly - the deployment of missile defense systems indeed poses a threat to the security of the Russian Federation," Peskov told reporters.

The Pentagon and NATO war planners have been "encircling" Russia since the end of the Cold War seeking to nullify the country's nuclear deterrence capability. However, with Barguzin nuclear trains the threat would be seriously mitigated.

The crux of the matter is that the Russian BZhRK looks similar to any other ordinary cargo train and cannot be detected by an adversary. The elusive nuke complex also moves constantly across the system of the country's railroads. It is worth mentioning that the Russian railways are ranked second longest globally. In general, the combat railway missile complex can pass up to 1,000 kilometers daily.

The first BZhRKs entered the Soviet Army service in 1987 but were completely decommissioned in 2007 in accordance with the START II (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) treaty between the US and Russia.

However, the modernized BzhRK Barguzin system does not violate the provisions of the New START treaty signed by Moscow and Washington on April 8, 2010, in Prague.

Each Barguzin train will be armed with six ICBMs RS-24 Yars which could be brought into firing position within minutes. Furthermore, Barguzins will be also equipped with advanced electronic warfare systems and a sophisticated stealth technology.

Russian military expert Leonid Nersisyan notes in his article for Regnum, that Washington's unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in the early 2000s prompted serious concerns in Moscow and forced Russian military planners to seek new ways to counter potential threats.

The other destabilizing factor is the Pentagon's Prompt Global Strike (PGS) concept, Nersisyan underscores. The US is developing a system that can deliver a precision-guided conventional weapon airstrike at targets throughout the world within one hour using hypersonic weapons.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly signaled that Washington's efforts at implementing the European BMD and creating Prompt Global Strike (PGS) weapon systems is dealing a blow to the ongoing talks on nuclear disarmament between the countries.

However, Nersisyan stresses that the Russian BZhRKs will nullify the challenge posed by the US Prompt Global Strike (PGS) concept.

Source: Sputnik News

 

 

US, S. Korea, Japan to hold joint drill against N. Korea

 
‎Tuesday, ‎May ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎9:55:45 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) May 16, 2016 - South Korea, Japan and the United States will hold their first anti-missile drills together next month to guard against threats from nuclear-armed North Korea, a Seoul official said Monday.

The drill will be held in the waters near Hawaii on June 28, said an official at the Seoul's defense ministry, ahead of the US-led Rim of the Pacific naval exercises.

"The training will involve detecting and tracing an imaginary missile from North Korea, but will not include missile interception," said the official.

The US will launch an airplane as a mock-up missile, which all three countries will monitor from ships equipped with an Aegis anti-missile system, Yonhap news agency reported.

The upcoming exercise was proposed at a trilateral military meeting held after the North's long-range rocket launch in February, the official added.

The rocket launch -- held a month after Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test and seen as a disguised ballistic missile test -- drew widespread condemnation and prompted the UN Security Council to slap its toughest sanctions ever on North Korea.

Existing UN resolutions forbid the North from the use of any ballistic missile-related technology.

Pyongyang responded by launching a series of short-range missiles off its east coast and trying -- although unsuccessfully -- to test-fire a powerful, new medium-range missile in April.

The North has recently claimed a series of major technical breakthroughs in developing what it sees as the ultimate goal of its nuclear drive: an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the US mainland.

 

 

Iran says European banks still wary of US sanctions threat

 
‎Tuesday, ‎May ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎9:55:45 AMGo to full article
Tehran (AFP) May 15, 2016 - Big European banks remain reluctant to work in Iran four months after the lifting of international sanctions under a landmark nuclear deal with world powers, an Iranian official said Sunday.

"Major European banks have not yet started their interactions with Iranian banks, but some medium- and small-sized financial institutions have established relations, including opening letters of credit," deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi told state broadcaster IRIB.

He accused "extremist lobbies" in the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia of stirring up animosity towards Iran to prevent it from reaping the benefits of the landmark nuclear deal signed last July.

When the agreement came into effect in January, Washington lifted sanctions directly related to Tehran's nuclear programme but it maintained others imposed over its ballistic missile programme and its alleged support of "terror" groups.

Several European banks have received massive fines in the United States in the past after being found guilty of violating US sanctions against Iran and all remain wary of incurring similar punishment.

 

 

Hiroshima hopes Obama visit will revitalise anti-nuclear push

 
‎Tuesday, ‎May ‎17, ‎2016, ‏‎9:55:45 AMGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) May 11, 2016 - Barack Obama's trip to Hiroshima this month is a chance for him to see how the city suffered after its atomic bombing, and to renew his push for global nuclear disarmament, local officials said Wednesday.

On May 27, Obama will become the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima, the White House said Tuesday, stressing there would be no apology for the city's devastation in the final days of World War II.

Obama, who will be in Japan for a Group of Seven summit, will make the pilgrimage to Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park accompanied by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"I hope that here in Hiroshima he will conceive concrete steps towards a nuclear-free world," said city mayor Kazumi Matsui.

About 140,000 people died after US forces dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

Tens of thousands were killed by the fireball that the powerful blast generated, with many more succumbing to injuries or illnesses caused by radiation in the weeks, months and years afterwards.

Vast swathes of the city, including many of its military and industrial installations, were flattened.

The southern city of Nagasaki was hit by a second bomb days later, killing 74,000 people, in one of the final acts of World War II.

Hidehiko Yuzaki, the governor of Hiroshima prefecture, told reporters he hoped Obama would see "the reality of how the atomic bomb hurt people here, and would come away with a deep understanding of the scale of the damage."

Although many survivors of the attack may hope for an apology, Yuzaki said the key issue was simply that humanity "should never ever suffer such an experience again."

Hiroshima is now a thriving, modern city, little different from many others in Japan, although the bombed-out remains of a domed building stands tribute to those who died in the world's first ever atomic attack.

Last month US Secretary of State John Kerry laid a wreath near the building, and visited the "gut-wrenching" memorial museum that shows the human cost of the bombing.

Japan has long urged world leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki to see the horrors of the atomic bombings and join efforts to eradicate nuclear arms.

Former president Jimmy Carter visited Hiroshima after leaving office, while Richard Nixon went to the city a few years before assuming the presidency.

 

 
 

 

 
 

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Yemen peace talks broach military, security concerns: UN

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎8:20:38 AMGo to full article
Kuwait City (AFP) June 15, 2016 - Yemen's warring parties have discussed forming military and security committees to oversee a transition period aimed at ending 14 months of fighting, the UN special envoy said Wednesday.

"Discussions continued on security and military issues, including the details of military and security committees," Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said in a statement.

Peace talks in Kuwait between Iran-backed rebels and the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi have completed their eighth week without any major breakthrough other than the release of some prisoners.

Shiite Huthi rebels have announced the release of 187 prisoners and Saudi Arabia, which backs Hadi's administration, said last week it freed 52 children.

The UN envoy had tried to push the two sides to release half of all their prisoners before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began on June 6.

Yemen's foreign minister and the head of the government delegation Abdulmalek al-Mikhlafi threatened to pull out of the talks in a week's time if the "Huthis continue to reject peace".

"I think we still have another week... I believe we will reach the end," Mikhlafi told Sky News Arabia overnight when asked how long will they stay in Kuwait.

"Not only the government delegation, but also the ambassadors of countries (supporting the peace process) and the UN special envoy will leave," he said.

Mikhlafi said nothing has been achieved since the talks began on April 21 and "we have been revolving in a vacuum".

The main sticking point in talks remains the form of the government that would oversee a transition back to normality once a peace deal is reached.

The rebels and their allies have held out against demands contained in a UN Security Council resolution for their surrender of heavy weaponry and withdrawal from areas, including the capital, which they seized in September 2014.

The head of the Huthi delegation Mohammed Abdulsalam said late Tuesday that they would reject any deal that excludes their input on the make-up of the transitional body.

"Any deal that does not meet our demands of forming a consensual authority... will be rejected," he told Yemeni media.

This should include Huthi agreement on the president, the national unity government and military and security committees, he said.

The government has resisted proposals for a unity administration with the rebels, fearing it would undermine the international legitimacy of Hadi.

The war in Yemen has killed about 6,400 people, with more than 80 percent of the population in desperate need of humanitarian aid, according to the UN.

On ground, nine rebels were killed in a late Tuesday air raid by the Saudi-led coalition on the northern Jawf province, a Huthi stronghold, military sources said.

Meanwhile, eight other rebels and six pro-government soldiers were killed in 24 hours of fighting in the southern province of Daleh, controlled by loyalists, the sources said.

 

 

Israeli PM criticised after Obama opposes extra military aid

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎8:20:38 AMGo to full article
Jerusalem (AFP) June 15, 2016 - Israel's opposition leader accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday of jeopardising the country's security, after US President Barack Obama announced his opposition to $455 million in additional military aid.

The US and Israeli governments have been locked in negotiations for months over a new 10-year defence aid package for the Jewish state.

Israel already receives more than $3 billion per year in US military aid in addition to other spending, such as on the Iron Dome missile defence system.

The current agreement expires in 2018 and Netanyahu has been putting pressure on Obama to increase the offer even further.

The White House announced in a letter to Congress Tuesday it was opposed to an additional $455 million in anti-missile defence aid.

In response, opposition leader Isaac Herzog accused Netanyahu of "playing games" in the negotiations.

"We're losing a critical portion of the defence aid because of Netanyahu's egotistical games," Herzog wrote on Facebook.

"Should Israel be left without an aerial defence system in the next war, we can set up the commission of inquiry into how Netanyahu makes decisions related to Israel's security."

In a statement, Netanyahu said there was no question of a cut in aid, but there was a discussion between Congress and the White House about the size of the increase.

He said anti-missile defence aid would definitely increase.

"The attempt to make the dialogue with the US into a domestic political tool is inappropriate," it added.

 

 

UN allows EU to move against Libya arms smuggling

 
‎Yesterday, ‎June ‎16, ‎2016, ‏‎8:20:38 AMGo to full article
United Nations, United States (AFP) June 14, 2016 - The UN Security Council on Tuesday authorized an EU naval force to intercept ships suspected of arms smuggling to Libya, moving to shore up Tripoli's unity government as it battles the Islamic State group.

The council unanimously adopted a resolution drafted by Britain and France that expands the mission of Operation Sophia, which has been combating migrant trafficking in the Mediterranean.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre, who holds the council's presidency this month, said the measure is a potential "game-changer," by cutting off the arms flow "that feeds the instability" in Libya.

But Russia warned that the measure could deepen divisions in Libya, which has been in turmoil since the 2011 fall of Moamer Kadhafi.

Operation Sophia's enforcement of an arms embargo is aimed at supporting the UN-backed unity government as it struggles to establish its authority over the entire n