Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wikinews: US will remove 'terror' tag on North Korea

Fulfilling a pledge of fairness, United States president George W. Bush announced Thursday that the United States will soon remove North Korea from a list of countries seen as 'sponsoring terrorism' in the world.

The announcement was made as a 'reward' to North Korea for turning over all documents related to its controversial nuclear program. Pyongyang turned over to China documents related to its plutonium core and waste activities.
Pyongyang finally turned over documents and plans of its nuclear enrichment facilities in Yongbyong.
North Korean state television also announced that the state will televise the demolition of the cooling tower of the Yongbyong nuclear facilities on Friday.
Mr. Bush called the North Korean action as a positive step with no illusions. He also said that the act truly pleased him and it's just the first step towards repairing North Korea's relation and status with the world community.
The president added that in response to the act, he will lift the trade sanctions under the Trading With the Enemy Act.
The White House will also inform the U.S. Congress that in 45 days, the State Department will remove North Korea from a list of nations that sponsor terrorism.
The United States reminded North Korea that it still has some requirements to complete in order for the country to be completely removed from its diplomatic and economic isolation.
Pyongyang remains obliged to answer questions such as the degree of its uranium enrichment and proliferation that possibly benefited Syria.
The United Nations sanction sponsored by the United States issued on February 13, 2007 also demanded for a complete accounting of the alleged half a dozen units of nuclear bombs, the real number and its actual location.

U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley downplayed any heightened expectations from North Korea and branded the latest act as a mere "stepping stone."
Hadley warned that the process remains delicate and there will still be "definite consequences," if North Korea fails to fulfill its end of the bargain.
Meanwhile, Japan expressed 'unease' over the decision of the United States to remove North Korea from the 'terror' list claiming that there is still a need to resolve issues about the kidnapping of Japanese nationals by agents of Pyongyang.

Monday, June 23, 2008

FAS: Cost of "War on Terror" Since 9/11

"With enactment of the FY2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R.
2764/P.L. 110-161) on December 26, 2007, Congress has approved a total of about
$700 billion for military operations, base security, reconstruction, foreign aid,
embassy costs, and veterans’ health care for the three operations initiated since the
9/11 attacks: Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Afghanistan and other counter
terror operations; ..."
>> more >>

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Armaments, Disarmament and International Security
SIPRI’s annual compendium of data and analysis of developments in security and
conflicts, military spending and armaments and non-proliferation, arms control
and disarmament

As shown in the new edition of the SIPRI Yearbook:
• Armed conflicts are far more complex and intractable than is often thought and the traditional
classification of conflicts is breaking down.
• Military spending, arms production and international arms transfers are all on the rise:
 world military spending totalled $1339 billion in 2007, a real-terms increase of 6% since 2006;
 arms sales by the 100 largest arms-producing companies in 2006 increased by 8% in nominal
terms over 2005;
 international transfers of major conventional weapons were 7% higher over the period 2003–
2007 than in 2002–2006.
• While 8 states possess almost 10 200 operational nuclear weapons, many arms control and nonproliferation
agreements are faltering or making little progress.
• Efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction—nuclear, biological or
chemical—are increasingly focused on individuals and non-state groups, rather than states.
In response to these challenges, there is growing urgency around the globe to bring new life and a
mainstream momentum to arms control. There are new leaders in the UN, France, Germany, Japan,
Russia, the UK and, from January 2009, the USA—who will find it politically possible to take
concrete action on the arms control and disarmament front. Encouraging technological developments
allow greater certainty in the monitoring and verification of arms control agreements.
‘The movement to reinvigorate arms control efforts must stake common ground across the political
divides of right and left, “doves” and “hawks”, nationalists and internationalists, hope and fear,’ said
Gill. A global consensus on arms control and disarmament must include both nuclear and non-nuclear
weapon states and be supported by think tanks and other non-governmental organizations.
‘Voices from across the political spectrum are coming to recognize again the value of arms control in
the face of looming threats to humankind,’ said Gill, ‘Although we face tremendous obstacles, a new
window of opportunity is opening to realize constructive progress on arms control and disarmament. It
is clearly in the interest of citizens and governments alike to take pragmatic and positive steps in the
right direction.’

In SIPRI Yearbook 2008, SIPRI reports that
• There were 14 major armed conflicts in 2007. With the breakdown of the traditional classification
of conflicts, new approaches to conflict resolution are needed. Violent groups should be integrated
into political processes, not marginalized.
• 61 peace operations were conducted in 2007, two more than in 2006 and the highest number
since 1999, and the number of personnel deployed to such operations reached an all-time high of
169 467. With this growth, the crucial pre-mission phase of a peace operation deployment is
becoming more complex.
• World military spending totalled $1339 billion in 2007, corresponding to 2.5% of world GDP and
$202 per capita. This is a real-terms increase of 6% since 2006 and of 45% since 1998. The factors
driving increases in world military spending include aspiration to global or regional power status,
actual or potential conflicts, and the availability of economic resources.
• Global arms production is increasing. Arms sales by the 100 largest arms-producing companies
(the ‘SIPRI Top 100’) amounted to $315 billion in 2006, an increase of 8% in nominal terms over
2005. US companies dominate the Top 100, both numerically and financially, with West European
companies some way behind.
• International transfers of major conventional weapons over the period 2003–2007 were 7%
higher than in 2002–2006. The 5 largest arms suppliers for the period 2003–2007—the USA,
Russia, Germany, France and the UK—accounted for about 80% of the volume of transfers.
• Russia’s new-found self-confidence, supported by revenue from its natural resources, is allowing it
to assert itself more on the international stage. However, Russia appears eager to maintain
cooperative relations with the West and is unlikely to risk challenging it too forcefully.
• The role of export controls in supporting the main multilateral non-proliferation treaties is now
supplemented by the important role that they play in implementing decisions of the UN Security
Council on particular countries (such as Iran or North Korea).
• Experts widely agree that another influenza pandemic is on the horizon, jeopardizing global health
and security.

Friday, June 06, 2008

When will the West answer Medvedev's proposals?

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Fedyashin) - While in Berlin, Dmitry Medvedev has made so many proposals to the West, that it would be very rude to turn them down. It will be interesting to see how long the West ponders over them and which it will accept.

In brief, Medvedev suggested a pause on Kosovo, on NATO's extension (one more step to the East and relations with Russia will be spoilt once and for all), and on new U.S. missile defense elements in Europe. He said that the Russian views should not be tailored to the Western positions, that the UN and the OSCE should not be replaced with other forums, and proposed a universally binding international security agreement on the template of the Helsinki-2 accords.

His proposals will not be accepted as a package, and the West is not likely to give a prompt reply. Moreover, many Europeans are impeded by a blinkered understanding of the recent change of power in Russia. They cannot see that Medvedev is Vladimir Putin's successor, rather than opponent.

The new Russian president's first trip to the West was bound to attract comment, and Medvedev could not but be compared with his predecessor. This is only natural. But these comparisons were made against the background of Putin's speech in Munich on February 10, in which he outlined Russia's grievances. That speech scared the West quite a bit.

Thus, on the eve of his first visit to Berlin, Medvedev was expected to show renewed "liberalism," "restraint," and "gentleness," all the features which Putin had lost by the time he gave his Munich speech (these are all statements from British, German, and American newspapers). It is difficult to say where the West got such "confidential information," not only about the contents of Medvedev's speech but also about his tone.

Nor was it very well informed. Speaking before almost 700 German businessmen, politicians, and public figures, Medvedev set forth in detail the very same ideas Putin had so emotionally voiced in Munich. Indeed, it is difficult to find any differences between the two speeches. In Munich, Putin said "the use of force may be considered legitimate only if a decision is made by the United Nations, and the latter should not be replaced with either NATO, or the European Union (EU)." In Berlin, Medvedev spoke about "attempts to justify NATO's existence by 'globalizing' its mission, which infringes on the UN Security Council's prerogatives, and by inviting new members."

Moreover, Putin said that "NATO's expansion is a serious provocation, which is reducing the level of mutual trust. It is fair for us to ask in plain terms - against whom is this expansion directed?" This sounds much more liberal than Medvedev's warning that if NATO expands any further, "relations with Russia will be spoilt once and for all," and "the price of this will be high."

Putin said that Russia has "the privilege to conduct an independent foreign policy." Medvedev recalled that "our approaches should not be tailored to Western positions," and that we "are seeking truly equitable relations and nothing more than that."

One gets the impression that though many people understand that the era of "Yeltsin's mellowness" has gone for good, they cannot - or will not - accept it. They are trying to subject Russia to some kind of a check-up, to find out who it will make friends with and who it will oppose.

These people seem to think that Winston Churchill's dictum that Britain has neither friends nor enemies, but interests, should not apply to anyone but Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Australia or Canada. They forget that no country has a monopoly on pragmatism.

The business part of the meeting went without a hitch. After all, Germany and Russia enjoy a special relationship going back as far as Peter the Great. For centuries the two countries have had an unwritten agreement under which Germany helps Russia with technologies in exchange for access to its mineral riches. Today, that relationship is as strong as ever. Germany is Europe's biggest consumer of Russian energy, and Russia has always been its most reliable supplier. Today, oil and gas amount to 70% of Russian exports to Germany. Metals and alloys account for another 15%, and timber comes next. Ninety percent of German exports to Russia are machines and equipment, metal ware, chemicals, and electrical equipment.

Asked by a German newspaper what advice he would give to Frau Merkel at the talks with Medvedev, Andreas Schockenhoff, Germany's envoy on German-Russian relations, replied that he would suggest inviting the Russian president to attend the annual security conference in Munich, which is traditionally held in February.

That is a good idea. Medvedev has had his say. Maybe in Munich the Europeans will give him their answer.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Russian president calls for binding European security treaty

BERLIN, June 5 (RIA Novosti) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called on Thursday for a legally binding European security treaty to be signed at an all-European conference.
"I am convinced that without addressing all of our concerns in a frank and fair way we will be unable to make any headway in building a Greater Europe," he said, speaking in Berlin after talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel during his first European trip since being sworn into office on May 7
He also added that "organizations operating in the Euro-Atlantic region" could also join it.
He said a new security arrangement should be based on "pure" national interests, not skewed by ideological motives.
The president also said that without cuts in military spending it would be impossible to raise sufficient resources to deal with such global challenges as climate change, illegal migration, and global poverty.
He also said that NATO's further eastward expansion would harm the bloc's relations with Russia, but there would be no confrontation.
Medvedev urged NATO to halt its enlargement and missile defense plans in Europe, adding that it was critical to break the vicious circle of unilateral actions.
He also said earlier on Thursday that Russia was alarmed by "narrowing trends of mutual understanding in Euro-Atlantic policies."

Russia and the EU are to start talks on a new wide-reaching strategic partnership agreement at a summit later this month.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

10 arguments against the US radar

Infos from
  1. There is no substantial difference between a radar base and a missile base. They are two integral parts of the same system and they can’t be separated either technically or politically. The whole system can be used both in defense and in offense.
  2. If our country plays host to this extraordinarily powerful and technically advanced U.S. radar base, we will become a tool of the unilateral U.S. foreign policy, which is aimed at military hegemony and the so-called war against terrorism. This war has thusfar succeeded only in increasing terrorism, destroying Iraq, destabilizing the region and giving rise to the prisons at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.
  3. Our membership in NATO places no obligation on us to accept the radar base. The construction of the radar base is a unilateral action of the United States.
  4. The base will not make us more secure. On the contrary, it will place us in greater danger. At the present time, the Czech Republic has no enemies among states. And missiles and radars are not effective in combatting terrorism.
  5. Just as in the case of a missile base, the Czech Republic would have no say in what happens at a U.S. radar base on our soil or what would truly be installed there. The base would be completely under the control of U.S. Air Command in Europe.
  6. Such a base whether with radar or missiles will increase international tension, particularly in relation to Russia, and intensify an international arms race, which could spark a serious conflict.
  7. Such a base is a potential target for attack. In the event of a conflict between states which own medium-range ballistic missiles, a radar base would be a first priority target.
  8. The construction of more bases threatens to spark new cycles of armament around the world. In developing countries, this results in the deepening of poverty for already desperate populations. In Europe, it could mean the end of state ensurance of social security.
  9. The effects of such a high-power radar system on nearby residents are not known. The only similar systems are located in remote and unpopulated areas.
  10. Effective defense against the threats of terrorism and war requires a decrease in international tension. New bases, which increase tension, will certainly not help in this regard.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Barack Obama effectively clinches Democratic nomination

Barack Obama has reportedly achieved enough Democratic Party delegates to clinch the Democratic nomination to become the Presidential candidate to face Republican Senator John McCain in the November 2008 United States elections. Obama will be the first black candidate ever to stand for the United States presidency with the backing of a major political party.

While Obama needed another 40 primary delegates coming into Tuesday's final two primaries to secure the nomination with the required 2,118 total, he was considered to be likely to achieve this through the primaries in Montana and South Dakota. However, due to the superdelegates that have gone in favor of Obama, he has achieved the needed count ahead of today's primaries. According to two anonymous Clinton campaign officials, the New York Senator believed that Obama, the junior Senator from Illinois, had done enough to win the Democratic nomination.

Hillary Clinton's campaign has denied reports that she will concede the Democratic Party of the United States primary campaign to Barack Obama during a speech tonight in New York City.

The Associated Press first reported that two campaign officials stated she would announce her concession tonight. In a statement to the press, Clinton's campaign commented in two sentences: "The AP story is incorrect. Senator Clinton will not concede the nomination this evening."

Interviewed on CNN today, Clinton's campaign manager Terry McAuliffe called reports of concession "100 percent incorrect," but stated on NBC's Today that once Obama reached the crucial delegate count of 2,118, Clinton would congratulate him and "call him the nominee". She also told NBC that, "until someone has that magic number, we're going to continue to fight for literally those 17.5 million people."

On Monday, former President Bill Clinton was quoted as saying that "this may be the last day I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind. I thought I was out of politics, till Hillary decided to run. But it has been one of the greatest honors of my life to be able to go around and campaign for her for president." President Clinton's aides later downplayed the statement.

The decision not to terminate Clinton's campaign officially was observed to give her a bargaining and leverage tool with Obama on various matters, up to and including the possibility of Clinton being Obama's vice presidential candidate. Speaking on conditions of anonymity, a Clinton campaign official stated that all Clinton campaign staff would be paid through June 15.

Called the "comeback kid" for her ability to come from behind to win states when the primary campaign showed Obama beginning to take both delegate and popularity leads, Clinton had campaigned late into Monday night for the chance of still taking a final come-from-behind victory in the final two primary elections. But today, Obama took the nomination ahead of the time frame analysts had predicted.

The Barack Obama campaign website has reported that there are 31.5 more delegates required before Obama receives the nomination.

A news report released by the Boston Globe has claimed that the Clinton Campaign is indicating that "she [Clinton] will gracefully exit the stage and won't take her fight to the convention." Sources close to Clinton hinted that if asked, she would be willing to serve as Obama's running mate. +wikinews+

Human rights group alleges U.S. prison ships

The British branch of human rights organization Reprieve has accused the United States government of using naval military ships to detain in secret and interrogate alleged terror suspects. The United States swiftly denied the allegations. Clive Stafford Smith, founder and director of Reprieve, said, "the U.S. administration chooses ships to try to keep their misconduct as far as possible from the prying eyes of the media and lawyers."

According to Reprieve, prisoners such as the Australian David Hicks, and the American John Walker Lindh were imprisoned on naval ships stationed off the coasts of both Somalia and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Reprieve also noted that "prisoners have been interrogated under torturous conditions before being rendered to other, often undisclosed locations."

According to the United States Navy, some ships have been used for short term prisoner housing, but denied they were prisons. "We do not operate detention facilities on board Navy ships. Department of Defense detention facilities are in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay." said Navy Commander Jeffrey D. Gordon from the Pentagon. Gordon did acknowledge that it was a matter of public record that some individuals had been put onto the ships in question "for a few days", in what he labelled the 'initial days of detention'.

Among the United States ships named by Reprieve as having served as prison ships were the USS Peleliu and the USS Bataan, both of which are amphibious assault ships. Also named was the USS Ashland, a dock landing ship. Reprieve stated that its assessment was based on evidence from sources in the U.S. military, the Council of Europe and from testimony received from former detainees at the the U.S. prison camps in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

On Monday, Reprieve said it would publish details of its research later this year, in a full report on the alleged activities of the U.S. military. The organization went on to claim that the United States was imprisoning as many as 26,000 foreign detainees in secret prison facilities, including land-based prisons. Gordon was quoted as calling Reprieve's comments "inaccurate and misleading." +wikinews+

Monday, June 02, 2008

Artic Robbery

Denmark, Canada, Norway, Russia, and the United States met there on May 27-29 to discuss a legal division of the Arctic.

Territory extension without permission from the United Nations is not legal. And without legitimacy.
PeaceServer + United Nations + WorldPeacePlan + Translator + InternetJournal
The intellect must be sharper than all ammunitions. (msr)