Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov repeated in an interview with the Kuwaiti press on Tuesday an assertion he has made before, i.e. that Iran stands ready to cease enriching uranium to 19.75% for the purpose of fueling its medical reactor. This level of enrichment was forced on Iran when it ran out of enriched uranium for its small reactor that produces medical isotopes for treating cancer. Iran had bought a stock of fuel from Argentina before the latter mothballed its nuclear program. Most of Iran’s enrichment is to only 3.5% for making fuel for nuclear reactors so as to produce electricity, but it does have some of the 19.75% enrichment level (the last level considered “Low Enriched Uranium” (LEU). Israel and the US are worried that this stock could be most easily further enriched to the 90% or so necessary to produce a nuclear bomb.....
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
PARIS: Psst. Hey mister. Wanna buy a UAV? China’s got drones for shooting, drones for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and drones for target practice. Cheap prices and no arms export restrictions.
And China may grab a significant share of the international market for just those reasons, according to a new report by the U.S-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Breaking Defense obtained a copy of the report: China’s Military Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Industry
The irony would be, of course, that the United States has largely created that demand by demonstrating the utility of drones (UAVs, Remotely Piloted Aircraft — RPAs — pick your term) in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq and other locales over the last decade.
Here’s what the report’s author, Kimberly Hsu, concludes:
“Surging domestic and international market demand for UAVs, from both military and civilian customers, will continue to buoy growth of the Chinese industry. Chinese defense firms do not face the same export restrictions as top UAV-exporting countries, such as the United States and Israel. As a result, China could become a key UAV proliferator, particularly to developing countries.”
Currently, the great majority of Chinese drones are tactical, but Hsu says that “in the long term, China’s continued interest and progression in strategic-level UAVs appear poised to position China as a leader in the high-end UAV market.” A major reason is that China is not a member of either the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) or the looser but broader Wassenaar Arrangement. “In the absence of competition from more sophisticated U.S. or Israeli alternatives, China could become a key proliferator to non-members of the MTCR or Wassenaar,” she concludes.....
Sunday, June 16, 2013
...Iranian sources say they liaise constantly with Moscow, and that while Hizballah’s overall withdrawal from Syria is likely to be completed soon – with the maintenance of the militia’s ‘intelligence’ teams inside Syria – Iran’s support for Damascus will grow rather than wither. They point out that the Taliban recently sent a formal delegation for talks in Tehran and that America will need Iran’s help in withdrawing from Afghanistan. The US, the Iranians say, will not be able to take its armour and equipment out of the country during its continuing war against the Taliban without Iran’s active assistance. One of the sources claimed – not without some mirth -- that the French were forced to leave 50 tanks behind when they left because they did not have Tehran’s help.
It is a sign of the changing historical template in the Middle East that within the framework of old Cold War rivalries between Washington and Moscow, Israel’s security has taken second place to the conflict in Syria. Indeed, Israel’s policies in the region have been knocked askew by the Arab revolutions, leaving its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, hopelessly adrift amid the historic changes....
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Google said on Wednesday that it had uncovered a vast Iranian spy campaign that had been targeting tens of thousands of Iranian citizens over the last three weeks.
“These campaigns, which originate from within Iran, represent a significant jump in the overall volume of phishing activity in the region,” the company said in a blog post. “The timing and targeting of the campaigns suggest that the attacks are politically motivated in connection with the Iranian presidential election on Friday.”
The company said that thousands of its users inside Iran had been the targets of a sophisticated e-mail phishing campaign in which attackers send users a link that, when clicked, sent them to a fake Google sign-in page where the attackers could steal login credentials....
Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Three security force members and the deputy commissioner of Quetta have been killed in an armed siege at a hospital in southwestern Pakistan, where casualties of an earlier bus bombing were taken for treatment, authorities said Saturday.
Eight militants are holding hundreds of patients, physicians and nurses hostage at the Bolan medical complex, police said. Among the patients are more than 20 people wounded in a bus explosion that also killed at least 11 female university instructors, police said.
Several others were wounded in another blast that struck near the hospital's emergency room as the bus victims were rushed in.
"All the (bus) victims are women teachers and students," according to a police official, Mir Zubair Mehmood, in Quetta. The blast shattered the windows of offices and classrooms inside Sardar Bahadur Khan Women University.
The university bus was parked at the school, located on the outskirts of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
bth: terrorists that would do such a deed have to have local support. Unti lthe community rises up against them this conduct will continue.
Sunday, June 09, 2013
The House Appropriations Committee has included a 5 percent increase in defense spending for fiscal year 2014 as part of the panel’s $967 billion budget blueprint, Federal Times reported Sunday.
Sean Reilly writes the Department of Homeland Security would also receive a boost in funds, getting a 3 percent raise to $39 billion.
Lawmakers included a 19 percent cut total for the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Education starting in October at the start of the fiscal year, Reilly reports.
Funding for the State Department and foreign operations would go down 19 percent and the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development would see a 9 percent cut, according to Federal Times.
In total, the blueprint proposes a 2 percent total cut from the $986 billion federal budget for fiscal 2012, according to the report.
-bth: how is it politically possible to cut HHS, Labor and Education 19% and raise Defense and DHS 5% or even at all?
...We expect aggregate government worker income to decline in May given that furloughs started in late May.
The first day of government wide furloughs was on May 24, when roughly 115,000 federal workers, or 5% of the total federal work force, stayed home without pay.
However, with the majority of the furloughs not kicking in until the beginning of July, including the Pentagon’s 680,000 furloughs beginning July 8, the real income shock will not show up until the July personal income and outlay report on August 30.
Republicans have a problem with young voters. Democrats have a problem with young nonvoters.
That simple equation, which applies equally to minority voters, helps explain why Republicans could enjoy another strong midterm election in 2014 without solving any of the underlying demographic challenges that threaten them in the 2016 presidential race. Next year’s election could both disappoint Democrats (by frustrating their hope of recapturing the House) and mislead Republicans (by tempting them to believe they have overcome the trends that allowed Democrats to win the popular vote in five of the past six presidential elections.) It could also highlight one of the forces that is making it difficult for either party to sustain unified control over Washington, even as they struggle to reach consensus on almost anything while power is divided.
These intertwined risks and opportunities are rooted in a new twist on a familiar phenomenon. The familiar part is the tendency of young and, more recently, minority voters to turn out in smaller numbers during midterms than in presidential elections. The new twist is that changing voting patterns have vastly raised the partisan stakes in those participation trends, creating systematic challenges for Democrats in midterm elections and for the GOP in presidential years....
...Those have been used in only one major case: the American and Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear enrichment system, part of a covert program called Olympic Games that delayed, but ultimately failed to destroy, Iran’s nuclear ability.
Officials pledge that computer hardware and software eventually provided to allied nations will be evaluated to avoid providing the type of defensive systems that also can be used for domestic surveillance or to punish political opponents.
This new focus on adding computer-warfare skills to a global effort the Pentagon calls “building partner capacity” — and usually refers to more traditional training of conventional forces — is another indication of the high level of concern in Washington about the growing danger of computer-network attacks from Iran or North Korea.
After the attacks on energy firms in the Persian Gulf, “we recognized that we really need to bolster our working relationships with key allies in the region,” said one senior Defense Department official. “We made a very conscious strategy decision to make that a priority, both in the gulf and also in Asia.”
Iran, in particular, is viewed as having greatly accelerated its computer efforts. The advancements appear to be the result of carefully focusing the work of a domestic computer sciences and hacking community.
The emerging Iranian program is far more disciplined and mature than Tehran’s previous efforts, which had focused on social media to coax American military personnel based in the Middle East and Persian Gulf region to sign up for dating and travel services, or chat rooms. The goal was to obtain the online information from American military personnel to find back doors into military computer systems.
In addition, American officials say Iran now is believed to be hiring foreign computer programmers associated with Internet criminal activity, some from Russia.
And, perhaps most worrisome, Iran and other nations now are able to purchase powerful malware that, while costly, is available on the black and gray markets — and can quickly advance the potency of a nation’s destructive ability across computer networks.
In the rankings of computer powers, Iran and North Korea are far lower in ability than the United States, Israel, Britain, Russia and China....
Saturday, June 08, 2013
.... Mr. Khalid’s aides took the visitor to an armored room in the basement of a safe house in Taimani, an upscale neighborhood in the capital city, for a security screening. They were no doubt mindful of what happened in September 2011 when a Taliban peace emissary was allowed to meet with a prominent Afghan peace envoy and then killed him with a bomb hidden in his turban.
Watching the man over closed-circuit television, they ordered him to strip naked, which he did. Satisfied, they let him get dressed and took him to see their boss upstairs.
Then he blew up. The suicide bomber killed only himself, but Mr. Khalid sustained severe abdominal wounds as well as injuries to his hands and arms.
Now, months after that attack, on Dec. 6, a spokesman for the National Directorate of Security, Shafiqullah Tahiri, confirmed that the attacker had hidden the bomb inside his rectum....
-bth: I believe the Israelis have faced similar implant bombs.
...Hassan speaks of alleged plots involving foreign-funded Islamist rebels and U.S.-Israeli conspiracies aimed at "hitting the resistance" — Hezbollah — and dividing Syria.
"The project they were working on failed," he said of his enemies. "We are one united axis that runs from Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and down to Gaza."
Hezbollah has taken on a more public role in the Syrian conflict since its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, recently announced the group's involvement. The squad leader said Hezbollah was bracing for possible revenge attacks from supporters of the Syrian rebels in Lebanon.
Thousands of Sunni fighters from across the Arab world and elsewhere are said to be fighting on the rebel side. Hassan said he came across many Arab fighters in Qusair, especially from Libya and Tunisia. There were also "blonds," he said, describing fighters from places such as Canada, the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere in Europe.
Hezbollah technicians managed to hack into the radio communications network of some rebels, he said. Hezbollah fighters started shouting "Game over" and "One-way ticket" in English and also some phrases in French into the radio so non-Arabic speakers would get the message.
Hassan said he expected to be sent on a new mission to Syria in coming days. He doesn't know where. Potential destinations could be Aleppo and Idlib provinces or the fringes of Damascus, he said.
"Hezbollah can't cover all of Syria," he said. "Those who say Hezbollah is all over [Syria] are stupid. You have some strategic places."...
Ever since the liberation of northern Mali by French and African forces, some observers have been asking the same question: where did al-Qaeda fighters go?
A spate of deadly incidents indicates that the terrorists and armed Islamists routed from northern Mali have found a new home in the southern Libya desert and Jebel Chaambi's mountainous region between Algeria and Tunisia.
After al-Qaeda fighters were pushed out of Mali, they "hit the soft belly of coalition country Niger, via the place with the most fragile security system in the Maghreb - southern Libya," terrorism analyst Abdul Hamid Ansari says....
Friday, June 07, 2013
General Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) D-Day Message Order of the Day: 6 June
1944 SUPREME HEADQUARTERS ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven
these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers
of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our
brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the
destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over
the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped
and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of
1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats,
in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their
strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home
Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of
war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The
tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!
I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in
battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!
Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great
and noble undertaking.
SIGNED: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Former CIA Director David Petraeus is in attendance at the 2013 Bilderberg Group conference to help construct the “big data” spy grid, which is set to become the new frontier of clandestine statecraft as Internet connectivity becomes ubiquitous.
Bilderberg’s official agenda for 2013 lists one of the areas of discussion as, “How big data is changing almost everything,” a reference to how the “Internet of things” along with the ubiquitous growth of social media is transforming the world of surveillance and the ability to foresee and manipulate future events.
At almost the exact same time, a Homeland Security subcommittee in the United States will also be discussing “big data” and its implications in the context of social media.
Bilderberg’s effort to push the “big data” agenda ties in with the secretive organization’s close relationship with Google, which as we documentedis now merging with and taking over from Bilderberg in many aspects....
-bth: Is this what Americans want? I don't think so.