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Archive for May, 2012

S. Korea activists plan protest against navy base

Seoul (AFP)
Sept 3, 2011

South Korean activists gathered Saturday on a southern holiday island to protest against the construction of a navy base, a day after hundreds of riot police dispersed demonstrators blocking the work.

About 300 activists and opposition party members flew to Jeju island to join protesters already there, Yonhap news agency reported.

They plan a “peace event” including a concert and cultural activities to demonstrate opposition to the planned base at Gangjeong village on the south coast.

Protesters say the base, which will be open to US forces, will damage the environment and could spark disputes with China over the American presence.

Opponents have occupied the site since June, preventing construction.

Police dispersed about 130 people on Friday and arrested 38 of them. Scuffles broke out but no serious violence was reported.

Construction workers later Friday completed a fence around the site.

Jeju police have sent 230 officers to support 606 riot police already stationed in Gangjeong, some of them dispatched from the mainland.

Military officials say the $970 million project is vital for national security. Once completed in 2014 it will host some 20 warships, including submarines, to help protect shipping lanes through which virtually all the country’s sea trade passes.

The deployment will also help guard against sea infiltration by North Korea and could quickly respond to territorial disputes with neighboring states, the military has said.

Some islanders support the project for the boost it will give the local economy.

Opponents ranging from environmentalists to religious leaders and anti-government activists allege South Korea bowed to pressure from the United States, which they say is eager to establish a military presence near China.

Both Seoul and Washington, which stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, deny the accusation.

Source: Space War.

Opposition calls for Japan defense minister to go

Tokyo (AFP)
Sept 3, 2011

Japan’s main opposition party called for the new defense minister to resign on Saturday for referring to himself as an amateur shortly before he took office, but there was a poll boost for the new premier.

Yasuo Ichikawa told Japanese media just before his formal appointment to the defense brief: “I am an amateur concerning security”, comments that the opposition Liberal-Democratic Party said proved he was not qualified for the job.

“For that comment alone he deserves to be discharged from his ministerial post,” said LDP policy chief Shigeru Ishiba, a former defense minister.

He said the wisdom of new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in appointing Ichikawa was also “put into question”.

But there was better news for Noda as Kyodo news agency reported a public approval rating of 62.8 percent on Saturday, compared with 15.8 percent for his predecessor Naoto Kan in late August.

The cabinet announced on Friday by Noda, Japan’s sixth new leader in five years, featured untested talent in key posts including the finance and foreign ministries.

Ichikawa, 69, who worked in the farm ministry for 25 years before entering politics, said his comment had been misinterpreted.

“I meant to say that most of the people are amateurs and it is important to pursue security policies from the people’s viewpoint,” he said late Friday.

But the controversy refused to go away on Saturday, with LDP policy expert Ichita Yamamoto joining calls for Ichikawa to quit as soon as possible.

“We feel very anxious leaving Japan’s national defense to a person with such an attitude,” Yamamoto said.

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan have been at odds with the United States over a huge US military presence in Okinawa since it ended the LDP’s long domination of Japanese politics in 2009.

Noda’s two predecessors have failed to resolve the issue with the key ally due to Okinawa islanders’ resistance to the planned transfer of a US Marine Corps air station from a growing urban area to a scenic stretch of shore.

Major newspapers on Saturday noted that Finance Minister Jun Azumi, 49, and Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, 47, are “unknown quantities” with little experience in the fields related to their jobs.

But they also commended Noda for allocating cabinet posts to strike a balance among quarreling factions within his party.

The business daily Nikkei said the line-up “emphasized a balance of power” after a leadership battle between supporters and enemies of veteran powerbroker Ichiro Ozawa, who has been indicted in a political funding scandal.

Two members from Ozawa’s group joined the cabinet.

“There is no room for futile confrontation within the party,” the daily said, citing crucial issues such as the recovery from the March earthquake and tsunami, emergency at the disaster-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant and economic strife.

The influential Asahi Shimbun said Noda, a former finance minister, may have proven his reputation as a “candidate from within the finance ministry” by appointing two figures close to the ministry in his cabinet.

The appointments showed the Noda government’s readiness to follow the finance ministry’s drive for tax increases to solve the public debt problem, Asahi said.

Source: Space War.

India postpones latest Agni missile launch

New Delhi (UPI)
Sep 2, 2011

India postponed until next week a test-firing of its indigenously built Agni II ballistic nuclear capable missile due to a technical glitch.

The two-stage surface-to-surface missile was to be tested by its Strategic Forces Command from Wheeler Island off the Bay of Bengal on Monday, a report in the Indian Express newspaper said.

“But we had to postpone the test due to technical problems,” Avinash Chander, director of the Agni missile program, said.

The day next week for the launch is not decided, said Chander, who gave no reason for the failure.

But previous missile failures have been blamed on guidance problems.

There also were doubts about continuous rainfall in Balasore near the test-firing range over the past three days.

India has a checkered history of launching indigenously built missiles, including the Agni I, II and III weapons.

The basic Agni series includes the single-stage 450-mile range Agni I, already inducted into service, and the two-stage Agni II and III models.

The 1,200-mile range Agni II was inducted into the army in 2004 and still is undergoing test-firings. The 65-foot missile weighs around 17 tons and can carry a 1-tonne payload.

The 2,000-mile range Agni III is in the last stages of development.

The solid-propellant Agni series of ballistic missiles are manufactured by Bharat Dynamics, one of India’s major manufacturers of munitions and missile systems founded in 1970 in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.

Bharat Dynamics also manufactures India’s Konkurs anti-tank missile.

Agni-II has been developed by Advanced Systems Laboratory along with other laboratories under the government-backed Defense Research and Development Organization.

India’s main missile test launch center is Wheeler Island — just over 1 mile long and 6 miles off the country’s east coast in the Bay of Bengal and about 90 miles from Bhubaneshwar, the capital city of Orissa state.

It was from Wheeler Island that Agni III, with a range of just over 2,000 miles, was successfully test-launched from a mobile launcher in February last year.

During a test launch the following month, a Prithvi missile veered off its path, failing to reach its required altitude of around 70 miles. It climbed to around 45 miles before tumbling back into the Bay of Bengal.

Then in September, the DRDO acknowledged guidance problems that caused a failure in another Prithvi missile test launch. The surface-to-surface missile remained on the launch pad during a trial in Chandipur, Orissa.

The short-range, 4.6-tonne nuclear-capable missile became enveloped in orange smoke and the launch was aborted, officials from the DRDO said at the time.

“The failure to lift Prithvi II was due to a snag either in the main missile or the sub-system, including the launcher,” a DRDO spokesman said.

Source: Space War.

Turkey to host radar for NATO missile defense

Ankara (AFP)
Sept 2, 2011

Turkey plans to deploy an early warning radar by the end of the year as part of NATO’s missile defense system for Europe, officials said Friday.

Leaders of the 28-member NATO alliance endorsed plans in Lisbon last year to launch a Europe-wide ballistic missile shield, which US officials say is aimed at thwarting missile threats from Iran.

Technical negotiations about the deployment of the defense system in Turkey “have reached a final stage,” Selcuk Unal, spokesman for the Turkish foreign ministry, said in a written statement.

“It is foreseen that the early warning radar system dedicated by the United States to NATO will be deployed in our country,” Unal said.

“Turkey’s hosting of this element will contribute to the … defense system, which is developed under NATO’s new strategic concept (and) strengthen NATO’s defense capacity and Turkey’s national defense system,” he added.

In Washington, the Pentagon on Friday welcomed Turkey’s decision as a step forward for the missile defense project, which initially will rely on naval ships equipped with interceptors designed to knock out incoming missiles.

“The hope is to have it deployed by the end of this year,” spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan told reporters.

“This component will link in to the ballistic missile defense capable AEGIS ships that we operate in the Mediterranean,” Lapan said.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Turkey’s decision marked “a critical contribution to the Alliance’s overall defense against current and emerging ballistic missile threats.”

He further applauded Ankara for its contribution to “NATO’s capability to provide protection to its European territory populations and forces against the growing threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles.”

Turkey, concerned over its delicate position with neighboring Iran, persuaded NATO allies to leave out any mention of Iran when the missile defense plan was approved at an alliance summit in November.

Reacting to Turkey’s announcement, Russia’s foreign ministry restated Moscow’s demand for guarantees that “the anti-missile systems deployed in Europe are not aimed at the strategic nuclear forces of Russia”.

Source: Space War.

Russia successfully tests veteran missile with new warhead

Moscow (AFP)
Sept 3, 2011

Russia on Saturday successfully tested its Topol strategic missile with a new warhead designed to breach missile shields, Russian news agencies reported, citing the defense ministry.

“The experimental warhead of the missile hit the designated target with high precision at the testing site on Kamchatka peninsula,” a spokesman for the strategic rocket forces told the Interfax news agency.

The Topol intercontinental missile used has been operational for 23 years and was being tested to check its durability in extended use, the spokesman said.

The missile was fired from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the northwestern Arkhangelsk region to its target area around 6,000 kilometers (3,730 miles) to the east.

Source: Space War.

Arab film festival honors Tunisian revolution


Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian credited with launching the Arab Spring, is featured on the poster for the 2011 Arab Film Festival in Rotterdam, TAP reported on Friday (September 2nd). The event opens September 7th with Tunisian director Mongi Farhani’s “Al-Charara”. Forty films from 20 Arab and European countries will be presented at the festival, initiated in 2000 by Tunisian Khaled Shawkat, who lives in the Dutch city.

Source: Magharebia.

Tunisia, NTC hold bilateral talks


Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) foreign emissary Mahmoud Jibril on Saturday (September 3rd) led a delegation to Tunisia for bilateral talks with Interim President Foued Mebazaa and Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi, TAP reported. Discussions reportedly focused on the protection of national security. Tunisia will “spare no effort to strengthen co-operation with Libya in all fields… to contribute to the construction of a better future for the two countries and for the two peoples”, Mebazaa said.

Source: Magharebia.

Tunisia clashes spur curfews


Tunisia on Friday (September 2nd) imposed an overnight curfew on Sbeïtla, TAP reported. According to the defense ministry, a row that started at a wedding led to clashes between security services and young people. A 17-year-old girl was killed by a stray bullet. Another curfew was imposed Friday on the Kebilie town of Douz, after clashes between youths from El Kalaa and Abedla left 30 people injured.

Source: Magharebia.

UN begins Tripoli operations


The United Nations Secretary-General’s special adviser for post-conflict planning in Libya arrived in Tripoli on Saturday (September 3rd) to meet with the transitional government. Ian Martin’s visit follows the “Friends of Libya” conference in Paris last Thursday, when Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon vowed to send a UN mission to help rebuild the state and confront the humanitarian crisis. According to Ban, the immediate challenge is to assist hospitals and clinics.

Source: Magharebia.

Libyan rebels besiege Bani Walid, Sirte


Libyan rebels on Saturday (September 3rd) encircled the Kadhafi stronghold of Bani Walid and besieged Sirte, Jufra and Sabha, BBC reported. National Transitional Council (NTC) Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil said that the cities under siege were being given humanitarian aid but had one week to surrender “to avoid further bloodshed”. According to Al Jazeera, a team of negotiators from Bani Walid told the rebels that they wanted two more days before surrendering their weapons.

In other news, Algeria denied political asylum to some 30 high-ranking military and intelligence officials from the Kadhafi regime who tried to enter Algeria last week near Debdeb, El Khabar reported on Saturday (September 3rd). Following the refusal of Algerian authorities to allow them entry, the Libyan officers reportedly headed in a convoy to the border with Niger.

Source: Magharebia.

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