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China will likely keep up a fledgling dialogue with the US military despite friction over Washington's decision to upgrade Taiwan's fleet of F-16 fighters, a top US officer said Tuesday.
China's navy is playing an important role in the country's drive to become a world military power, with the recent trials of its first aircraft carrier underlining the scale of Beijing's naval ambitions.
China has become increasingly assertive on the high seas and the carrier's first outing last month sparked jitters in the United States and Japan, which said the move would have a "big impact" on the region.
South Korea's military has seen more than 2,700 attempts to hack into its websites over the past year, a lawmaker said Wednesday, amid growing concern over North Korea's cyber warfare capability.
The monthly average number of attacks has grown from some 170 last year to more than 200 in 2011, the ministry said in a report submitted to Kim.
South Korean officials are alarmed after discovering that the navy has only been able to detect 30 percent of the North Korean subs they come across. Moreover, North Korea is using its submarines more frequently in training (for sneaking people into South Korea) exercises. North Korea has a fleet of over 80 mini-subs, plus about 24 older Russian type conventional boats (based on late-World War II German designs, as adapted for Russian service as the Whiskey and Romeo class).
The use of a North Korea midget sub to sink a South Korean corvette in March, 2010, forced the United States, and South Korea, to seriously confront the problems involved in finding these small subs in coastal waters. This was a difficult task, because the target is small, silent (moving using battery power) and in a complex underwater landscape, that makes sonar less effective.
So, in the 1990s, the U.S. developed the Advanced Deployable System (ADS) for detecting non-nuclear submarines in coastal waters. ADS is believed to be in South Korea. ADS has done well in tests, but it has only recently faced the North Korean mini-subs. There, it was discovered how little capability South Korea warships had to detect the North Korean submarines.
South Korea is hustling to improve its anti-submarine capabilities. But decades of neglect will take years to recover from.
A former diplomat in Pyongyang cast doubt Wednesday on North Korea's willingness to denuclearise, saying its officials believe Libya's regime would have survived had it kept its nuclear weapons.
North Korea has stepped up a crackdown on soldiers in a northeastern city who are stealing from locals because they cannot survive on their food rations, a report said Wednesday.
We conclude that a US attack on North Korea designed for military effect with many, near simultaneous nuclear strikes likely would have to come from a US submarine in the Pacific somewhere to the south and west of the lines indicated in Figure 2 if they are to avoid overlying Russia or, for that matter, Japan.
Such an attack, particularly if done from the western Pacific using a depressed trajectory from a submarine to shorten delivery time to target in North Korea, would be of great concern to China which would also fall in the line of fire, and could rapidly invoke Chinese intervention in the Peninsula.
Admittedly, as Patrick Morgan points out, the fact that nuclear attack by either North Korea or the United States is of limited credibility, implies that there should not be reason for great concern on either side—and the less credible the weapons and their delivery systems, the more secure North Korea and the United States should be with respect to each other.
North Korean refugees, operating from South Korea, have led the psyops (psychological warfare) effort against North Korea in recent years. They started shortwave radio transmissions with U.S. government funding and launched helium balloons loaded with DVDs and leaflets. The South Korean government had halted its official propaganda as part of an agreement with the North in 2004. But the torpedoing of a South Korean warship and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island last year changed all that.
The South Korean military has jumped in with both feet. The Joint Chiefs of Staff established a psyops unit. It resumed transmissions of the Voice of Freedom, an FM propaganda network.
The station plans to expand to AM, a better choice as there are few FM receivers in North Korea.
Another outlet is loudspeakers. Four have been set up in the DMZ. Measuring 4 by 3 meters, they can be heard 12 kilometers away during the day and twice as far at night.
But they have yet to be turned on as North Korea threatened to shell any speaker that starts broadcasting.
Traders and smugglers living on the Chinese border are relieved that the month long campaign by troops from the elite Escort Bureau (the personal security force for the ruling Kim family) are gone. For a month (August 4th to September 4th) these "storm troopers", as they came to be called, terrorized the border area, making over a hundred arrests. But now that the elite troops are gone, it's been revealed that the main result of the storm troopers visit was to inflate the size of bribes required to avoid trouble.
Thus the government now realizes that the border is very porous, with far more goods, and people, moving back and forth, than previously believed. The extent of the corruption up there was also demoralizing.
The Kims are still around because they control the military. But the generals are also being bought, and loyalty isn't what it used to be up north.
It gets worse, for the government up north. In the midst of all this privation, the frightened, and hungry, population has come to see South Korea as a paradise. This is despite decades of government propaganda depicting the south as an economic and cultural failure. But the growing number of South Korea TV and movie videos getting into North Korea (via Chinese traders and smugglers) has changed all that.
Russia is apparently trying to avoid taking responsibility in case gas supply to South Korea through a mooted pipeline across North Korea is disrupted. Russian daily Moskovskie Novosti on Tuesday reported that state-run energy giant Gazprom is reluctant to guarantee delivery of gas supply to the final destination, which is the norm elsewhere.
Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd on Tuesday urged the world not to be lured into a false sense of security by North Korea, warning its nuclear weapons drive could become "our worst nightmare".
"Make no mistake, the North Korean regime is armed and dangerous," he said in an opinion piece for Sydney's Daily Telegraph.
"It has a long history of brinkmanship and has shown that it is prepared to lash out. A cruel totalitarian state, it has no regard for the welfare of its people, much less world opinion."
North Korea on Tuesday accused the rival South of seeking "the road to war" but called again for international talks on its nuclear arsenal.
"The so-called 'unification through absorption' is the road to war," he said, while a federal formula for an eventual merger agreed by their leaders in 2000 "leads to peace."
Relief groups on Monday made a new plea to the United States to offer food assistance to North Korea, warning that hunger was worsening and could develop into a major crisis next year.
Pakistan is now where most suicide bomb attacks are taking place. In the decade after September 11, 2001 there were 303 suicide bomber attacks in Pakistan, which killed 4,808. Iraq suffered about a thousand suicide bomb attacks since 2003, but these have sharply declined in the last three years, while attacks in Pakistan have increased. Afghanistan has suffered 740 suicide bomb attacks (killing 3,800) since 2003, but most of them have been in the past few years. Those attacks sharply declined this year. All this leaves Pakistan with most suicide attacks, which is rather ironic, considering the Pakistani government's long-time support of Islamic terrorism.
In 2007, Pakistan cracked down on the most troublesome (to the government) Islamic radical groups, and touched off open war between Pakistan and a large assortment of Islamic radical groups (including the Pakistani Taliban and some of those groups that had long concentrated on attacking India.) There were 56 suicide bomber attacks in 2007, followed by 60 in 2008, 78 in 2009 and 51 last year. While the number of attacks declined a bit, the size of the bombs, and the number killed, increased. And it kept up this year.
Through all this, the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, has continued to support Islamic radical groups that would not attack the government, and stay in touch with some of the groups that did.
Pakistan on Friday warned the United States that it could lose an ally if it continues to publicly accuse Islamabad of exporting violence to Afghanistan and being involved in attacks on US targets.
A top Pakistani general Sunday expressed concern over US allegations of links to insurgents, stressing that peace in the region would only be possible through mutual trust and cooperation.
The United States demanded Friday that Pakistan "break any link they have" with the insurgent group that attacked the US embassy in Kabul and take immediate action against them.
Both Pakistan and China have very strong ties, not just militarily, but also politically. Recently, Pakistani Minister for Science and Technology, Mir Changez Khan Jamali has informed that Pakistan is in talks with Chinese companies to import the third-generation nuclear technology. Pakistan hopes to get the technology within a year or two according to China Daily, a state-run newspaper. Already China has assisted Pakistan in setting up two nuclear reactors at Pakistan’s Chashma nuclear power plant. But they use second-generation nuclear technology.
The time is now to upgrade the n-technology. China is now financing a third 200-megawatt (mW) which is under construction at the nuclear site.
Pakistan has apparently been secretly lobbying for a defence pact with China though the initiative has been met with caution in Beijing, which feels that such an agreement could put the two 'all-weather' allies in trouble with the USA and India, a media report said today.
Pakistan on Tuesday promised China maximum support in fighting Muslim separatists, determined to keep relations with its key ally on track to offset its troubled alliance with the United States.
"We are true friends. China's enemy is our enemy, we will extend our full cooperation to China on security," Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told visiting Chinese Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu in Islamabad.
The United States has stopped "playing the game" of pretending that the Pakistani military does not control or cooperate with Islamic terrorist groups. Senior American commanders have told the public, and in closed meetings with senior American politicians, presented the classified information that proves this Pakistani involvement continues.
The effort to ensure that diplomacy and calmer heads prevail at a time of fragile relations between Pakistan and the United States is on. However, the effort notwithstanding, Islamabad has made it clear to Washington that, if it comes down to it, Pakistan will be forced to retaliate if American forces attempt to launch a unilateral strike on the country’s tribal belt.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that Pasha had informed his counterpart that the Pakistani people will not tolerate any US misadventure and in that case the government will be left with no other option but to retaliate.
“We cannot be caught off guard this time,” the official told lawmakers, referring to the raid that embarrassed the country’s powerful security establishment about its ignorance of the world’s most wanted man’s whereabouts. “This time, we will give them a surprise if they (Americans) dare,” he said.
U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday that Washington is in final review on decision to designate the Haqqani network as a terrorist organization.
"We're in the final, formal review that has to be undertaken to make a government-wide decision to designate the network as a foreign terrorist organization," Clinton told reporters at a joint press conference with visiting Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr.
A group of American military officers and Afghan officials had just finished a five-hour meeting with their Pakistani hosts in a village schoolhouse settling a border dispute when they were ambushed — by the Pakistanis.
An American major was killed and three American officers were wounded, along with their Afghan interpreter, in what fresh accounts from the Afghan and American officers who were there reveal was a complex, calculated assault by a nominal ally. The Pakistanis opened fire on the Americans, who returned fire before escaping in a blood-soaked Black Hawk helicopter.
The attack, in Teri Mangal on May 14, 2007, was kept quiet by Washington, which for much of a decade has seemed to play down or ignore signals that Pakistan would pursue its own interests, or even sometimes behave as an enemy.
Chinese Vice Prime has assured Pakistan of full support to cope up with all security perils. Meng Jianzhu called on Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committeee Gen Khalid Shameem Wynne. The Chinese vice premier discussed the region situation with a focus on the war on terrorism and the current situation.
The United States will have to consider all options "including defending our troops" in confronting Pakistani support for militant networks fighting U.S. soldiers in the region, a senator said on Sunday.
"We need to put Pakistan on notice," Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican member of the Armed Services Committee said on "Fox News Sunday."
"It destabilizes Afghanistan. They're killing American soldiers. If they continue to embrace terrorism as part of their national strategy we're going to have to put all options on the table, including defending our troops."
Pakistan's military will not take action against a militant group Washington blames for an attack against its embassy in Kabul, despite mounting American pressure to do so, a Pakistani newspaper reported on Monday.
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has been put on red alert in view of possible American action. Modern fighter aircraft have been deployed at the western border.
Some circles have raised the fear of a US air attack from Afghanistan on North Waziristan. PAF has been alerted as a defensive measure. Air surveillance has also been made more effective by the PAF.
Pakistan Army chief has canceled a Monday visit to Britain as U.S. outrage grows over allegations that Pakistani spies helped insurgents attack American targets in Afghanistan.
Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, who was expected to meet privately with U.K. Defense Minister Liam Fox, had canceled. It declined to speculate on why the visit was scrapped.
A Pakistani official said Kayani was staying in Pakistan to hold talks on the crisis sparked by the U.S. accusations against Pakistan’s military-run Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency.
Saudi Arabia has been beefing up its military links with Pakistan to counter Iran's expansionist plans and this reportedly includes acquiring atomic arms from the only Muslim nuclear power or its pledge of nuclear cover.
Washington's offer to upgrade Taiwan's fighter jets may mean little in any war with China, but represents a valuable sign of US commitment to help the island's defence, observers and media said Thursday.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a meeting Monday to reconsider the US decision to upgrade F-16 fighters for Taiwan, a US official said.
"They indicated they are going to suspend, or cancel or postpone a series of... military-to-military engagements," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
The U.S. recently told Japan that the new SM-3 Block 2A anti-missile missile will be delayed two years because of test failures with the warhead.
Japan currently uses the SM-3 Block 1 missile on some of its warships. The Block 2A has a more accurate warhead, which is also more resistant to decoys and other countermeasures. The new delay means that Block 2A missiles won’t be available until the end of the decade.
Japan wants the new SM-3 badly, to provide some defense against North Korean or Chinese missiles.
Japan recently launched another photo reconnaissance satellite, replacing a radar equipped spy satellite that failed last year. A Japanese rocket was used for this launch.
Technically, the satellites are in violation of a 1969 Japanese law, which mandated Japan only use space for non-military purposes. To get around this, these satellites are technically non-military, and are not controlled by the military.
Japan had long refrained from launching military satellites, but this changed when North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan in 1998. Japan promptly set out to get eight surveillance satellites in orbit by 2006, in order to keep an eye on North Korean nuclear weapons and ballistic missile efforts.
It is believed that the Japanese spy satellites are also being used to watch military developments in China and Russia.
India tested a short-range nuclear-capable missile along its eastern coast on Monday, an official said, as part of the nation's efforts to build up its atomic deterrent.
The Prithvi, which is domestically built and developed, can carry nuclear or conventional payloads and has already been inducted into the armed services.
Shrugging off Chinese warnings, India's state-run oil firm ONGC said on Friday it would press ahead with long-term partner Vietnam in exploring the disputed South China Sea for oil.
India’s hypersonic missile, Shourya, was successfully test-fired from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, Orissa, on Saturday, in its final configuration. The missile flew at 7.5 Mach, that is, 7.5 times the speed of sound and covered its full range of 700 km in 500 seconds.
India is poised to get fifth generation aircraft sooner than expected. While an Indo-Russian programme to develop a fifth generation fighter aircraft is already under way, Russia has agreed to provide India with an advanced version of the Sukhoi-30MKI, which boasts of fifth generation capabilities and stealth features.
This development is expected to provide India a considerable edge over Pakistan. In January 2011, China had agreed to deliver its J-20 fifth generation fighter – touted to be the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft — to Pakistan.
The timeframe of the delivery of the Super Sukhois has not been specified, but India plans to deploy four squadrons of the advanced aircraft in the northeastern sector by 2015.
The Indian Army will soon induct an advanced variant of the 290-km range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile in the country's north –east as part of its overall drive to upgrade capabilities against the military might of China in that region.
North Korea has recently moved fighter jets near the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border, and ground-to-air missiles close to Baeknyeong Island. There is speculation that it plans a minor provocation while South Korean president Lee Myung-bak visits the U.S. since any show of unity between the two allies tends to incense the North.
"The North Korean military was seen moving mobile missile launchers at a ground-to-ship missile base near the NLL," a government source said. "There's likelihood that the North will launch a military provocation" while Lee is away.
He instructed the military to "strongly respond" if the North does.
I recognize the reality that Korea has been split in two.
But I will never accept it as a permanent condition.
South Korea's ruling-party chief on Friday began a rare visit to North Korea by a senior Seoul politician, saying he hopes to break a long stalemate in cross-border relations.
Hong Joon-Pyo, chairman of the conservative Grand National Party (GNP), crossed the closely guarded border to pay a one-day visit to a jointly run industrial estate at Kaesong in the North.
"I'm the first chief of the Grand National Party to visit the Kaesong complex," he told reporters, according to Yonhap news agency, adding that it was "a politician's obligation" to try and improve ties.
South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak promised "flexibility" Monday in his North Korea policy, in a possible sign of a softer approach towards Pyongyang aimed at easing longstanding tensions.
Lee made the comments a day before he leaves for Washington for a summit later this week with President Barack Obama.
"The government will exercise flexibility for the peaceful resolution of North Korea's nuclear problem while pursuing principled dialogue," Lee told parliament in a budget speech read by his prime minister.
He also offered the North humanitarian aid.
The head of the air force said Taiwan's defense capabilities won't suffer despite the refusal of Washington to sell the island country F-16C/D fighters.
Instead of allowing the sale of new fighters to Taiwan, the United States has agreed to a major $5.9 billion upgrade program of the country's 145 General Dynamics F-16A/B Fighting Falcon jets.
All the F-16 upgrades will be completed by 2023.
China's President Hu Jintao on Sunday called for Taiwan and the Chinese mainland to reunite, as he marked the 100th anniversary of the revolution that ended the nation's long imperial history.
"Achieving reunification through peaceful means is what most suits Chinese people's fundamental interests, including Taiwan compatriots," he said.
"We must strengthen our opposition to Taiwanese independence... and promote close exchanges and cooperation between compatriots on both sides."
Former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld insisted Tuesday that further United States arms sales to Taiwan were needed as China continued with its ambitious military modernisation plans.
A 16-year-old grandson of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has reportedly been denied a visa to study in Hong Kong, despite being described by his prospective school as a "lovely kid" with a "good sense of idealism".
Most of the senior leadership of North Pyongan Province has been dismissed. This took place in northwestern North Korea, along the Chinese border, an area where the corruption is worst.
North Pyongan Province contains 12 percent of the national population, and an even larger portion of GDP. It is the site of most trade with China, and most smuggling as well. Aside from shock, many North Koreans see this crackdown as a way of shaking up the party establishment and making them more willing to accept the young heir, Kim Jong Un, as the true ruler when his father, Kim Jong Il dies.
Meanwhile, Kim Jong Un, believed to be about 29 years old, is being built up by the propagandists. This is not going so well, as Kim Jong Un is no genius and no one believes he has any exceptional talent for anything. Apparently urged to be "active", his handlers are beginning to cringe when the "Youth Captain" (the official nickname) has an idea of his own. One recent disaster involved his order that a large neighborhood of Hyesan, on the Yalu river, have the roofs of all structures replaced with more presentable ones, of the same height. Kim Jong Un had noted that this section of Hyesan could be seen from China (across the 15 meter/47 foot wide river), and made North Korea look poor and ugly, and ordered the change. But he did not provide any money to pay for it, meaning that the poor people living in that riverside neighborhood had to. Those people who could not often found themselves in homes with the roof removed, waiting for building materials that will never come. Word of this mess has gotten all around the country, even though the state controlled media made no mention of it.
The government refuses to trade its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles for food, a million or more North Koreans may die (from lack of food, heat and medical care) because of that.
China has been unwilling to provide enough additional food to prevent mass starvation. This is apparently because the Chinese also don't trust the North Korean leadership to get the food to the people that need it most.
Even though most North Koreans now know about the lies, the KPW is still in charge. But Chinese intelligence analysts warn that KPW control is weakening more than at any time in the past, and at an increasing rate. While the North Korea police state has survived for 66 years, it should be noted that the seemingly mighty Soviet Union lasted for 70 years, before collapsing like a house of cards.
The North Korean government is apparently ignoring the mass starvation, and undertaking to develop a rapidly growing market economy. This is what China has long urged, and it is now official policy.
North Korea could conduct a third nuclear test or another missile launch before next year's US and South Korean presidential elections if disarmament talks fail, a senior Seoul official warned on Friday.
"North Korea could take provocative acts if it judges it won't be able to extract economic aid from South Korea and the US ahead of next year's presidential elections in both countries," Kim told a security forum.
The United States and South Korea say before talks can begin Pyongyang must show it is serious about the process, notably by shutting down the uranium programme which could be reconfigured to make bombs.
"As a matter of principle, we have no intention of rewarding North Korea for its illegal nuclear weapons," Chun said.
North Korea on Tuesday rejected US preconditions for a resumption of long-stalled six-nation nuclear disarmament talks, saying Washington is trying to shift the blame for the failure to restart dialogue.
"The US talk about preconditions is little short of an artifice to shift the blame for the failure to resume the six-party talks onto the DPRK."
The launch of the multi-purpose satellite Arirang 5 has been postponed indefinitely after notice from Russia.
That means the satellite will probably not be launched this year because the date needs to be fixed two to three months in advance.
It is its fourth postponement over the past year. The Arirang 5 will be tasked with observing Earth, traveling in an orbit at an altitude of 550 km above Earth 15 times a day for five years after launch.
NATO's planned missile defence system is "not targeted against anyone", Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez said Friday a day after Russia criticised Madrid's decision to join the programme.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced Wednesday during a visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels that Spain had agreed to host four US naval ships equipped with interceptors designed to knock out incoming missiles.
Russia's foreign ministry objected Thursday to the plan, saying the move could end its cooperation with a NATO missile shield.
Russia on Wednesday announced the arrest of a Chinese national who was allegedly trying to secure secret documents on S-300 missile systems while posing as an official interpreter.
The Federal Security Service (FSB) said the arrest was made on October 28 last year but did not explain why it had failed to report the incident.
It said the man had posed as an interpreter for "official delegations" and tried to purchase his data from Russian nationals. The espionage charge carries a prison sentence of 10 to 20 years.
Russia has ordered another three Krivak IVs frigates. These 4,000 ton ships are 125 meters (386 feet) long, carry 24 anti-aircraft and eight anti-ship missiles, four torpedo tubes, as well as a 100mm gun, close in anti-missile autocannon systems, a helicopter, and anti-submarine weapons (depth charges and missiles). The ship has a very complete set of electronics gear and a crew of 180. Krivak IVs cost over $600 million each. The first three were ordered last year, for delivery to the Black Sea fleet. The second three are to be delivered by 2016.
Vladimir Putin will travel to China next week to cement long-standing ties with the world's top energy consumer, the prime minister's first trip abroad since he announced his planned Kremlin comeback.
China became Russia's top trading partner for the first time last year and the two countries seek to nearly double trade to $100 billion by 2015 and then to $200 billion by 2020.
Russian gas giant Gazprom and China National Petroleum Company signed a framework agreement in 2009 that could eventually see almost 70 billion cubic metres of Russian gas sent to China annually for the next 30 years.
St. Petersburg's Severnaya Verf shipyard will deliver a new stealth corvette to the Russian Navy at an official ceremony on Friday.
The Russian and the United States navies began joint anti-terrorism exercises near the Mariana Islands on Thursday, a Russian Pacific Fleet spokesman said.
"Early on October 14, the active phase of the exercise will begin. It will include numerous scenarios, including an operation to liberate a vessel seized by terrorists," Martov said.
A new batch of Mi-28N Night Hunter attack helicopters has been delivered to a pilot training center near Moscow, Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Vladimir Drik said on Wednesday.
A senior U.S. negotiator with Russia on missile defense will hold a round of talks in Moscow on October 11-14, the U.S. Department of State said.
Russia is negotiating the extension of the lease of the Gabala missile early-warning radar in Azerbaijan, Commander of the Russian Space Forces Lt. Gen. Oleg Ostapenko said.
Russia and Ukraine are currently in talks on a joint missile defense system, Space Forces commander Lt. Gen. Oleg Ostapenko said on Tuesday.
The development of Russia's formidable S-500 air defense system is lagging behind schedule by at least two years, the Izvestia daily said on Wednesday citing a defense industry source.
According to the source, the first prototypes will be ready and tested by 2015, while the deliveries to the Russian army could start in 2017 at the earliest.
The Russian military has demanded that the system must be capable of intercepting ballistic missiles and hypersonic cruise missiles and plans to order at least ten S-500 battalions for the future Russian Aerospace Defense.
Russia warned on Thursday it may stop cooperation with the United States on a missile shield in Europe.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow condemned Washington for making far-reaching decisions “without collective discussion” and ignoring the opinions of all interested parties.
“If this continues, then the chance created at the NATO-Russia summit in Lisbon to turn anti-missile defense from an area of confrontation to an area of cooperation may be lost,” the ministry said.
Russia and Venezuela have signed an agreement on a $4 billion loan for the oil-rich Latin American partner to buy Russian weaponry, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez said on Thursday.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ratified agreements on Thursday concluded last year with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, under which Moscow will set up military bases in the breakaway republics.
The treaties allow Russia to operate military bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia for an initial term of 49 years, with possible extensions for an additional 15 years.
Ukraine is ready to contribute to the creation of the European missile shield if the program is developed in cooperation with Russia, Ukrainian envoy to NATO Igor Dolgov said on Thursday.
“It is obvious that this project would be of a special interest for Ukraine if the NATO system is built together with Russia,” the Ukrainian Unian news agency quoted Dolgov as saying in Brussels.
“If a system is built that would cover parts of Europe on either side of Ukraine,” the diplomat added, “this is in our natural interest.”
Special sharpshooter units are being formed in Russia’s ground forces brigades, Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Sergey Vlasov said on Friday.
The sniper units have already been set up in the ground forces and now they are being manned.
Russia has its own defense projects that leave the country relaxed about its security despite the controversy with NATO over the European missile defense shield, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday.
Myanmar's suspension of a controversial mega-dam project is the latest glimmer of change from a regime reaching out to the West at the expense of ties with traditional ally China, experts say.
The surprise decision to halt construction of the Chinese-backed hydropower project for several years at least -- risking the anger of Beijing -- was a rare concession to public opinion in the authoritarian nation.
It was also the latest conciliatory gesture by the new nominally civilian government towards its critics, including Western nations who impose sanctions on the regime, the suppressed pro-democracy movement and armed ethnic rebels.
The newly elected government has backed off on its campaign promise to grant more autonomy to the three largely Moslem provinces in the far south. The autonomy offer did not gain the new government much support down there, thus there was not a great number of Moslems available that the new government could trust with an autonomous zone. There is not a lot of political unity in the Moslem south, which is part of the problem.
While some of China's neighbors (Vietnam, India and South Korea) are nervous about reforms in the Chinese Army, all the neighbors are alarmed at the increasing size and assertiveness of the Chinese Navy. While the navy contains only 11 percent of China's military personnel, it is the element of the armed forces most frequently encountered by foreigners. This is a recent development, for the Chinese navy, until the last decade, rarely left Chinese coastal waters. But now the Chinese fleet is frequently showing up off the coasts of neighbors, and visiting foreign ports. This isn't just about "showing the flag," it's mainly about asserting control over vital Chinese trade routes, and nearby underwater oil and gas fields. It's about money and power, and China is making it clear that both will be backed by armed force. China insists that their growing military power is purely defensive. But anxious neighbors see that as an attempt to defend Chinese claims on neighboring territory and resources.
China's dependence on Russia for arms and energy imports has declined and Moscow's position when dealing with Beijing has weakened as a result, a Swedish think tank said.
"Decreasing dependence on Russian arms exports and a growing number of alternative energy suppliers mean that China has taken the upper hand in the relationship," the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a report released Monday.
China has put into service at least one battalion of its new HQ-16A anti-aircraft missiles. This is a land based version of the HQ-16 system used in ships (and fired from VLS (Vertical Launch System) containers. This system is a license built version of the Russian Buk M2 anti-aircraft missile systems.
Russian sales of AL-31 jet engines to China have surpassed a thousand, with the addition of several new orders this year. This is because China wants to expand its fleet of modern jet fighters (J-10 and J-11), and keep pilots in the air often enough to develop and maintain combat skills. That wears out engines faster. Another reason for the continued orders is persistent Chinese difficulties in developing jet engine manufacturing capabilities. China has been especially keen on freeing itself from dependence on Russian high-performance jet engines for its top-line jet fighters. That has not been happening.
China's faster-than-expected military buildup has alarmed the United States and its Asian allies and could help the Pentagon gird against deeper defense cuts threatened in some corners of Congress.
But even though the sophistication of China's People's Liberation Army has
exceeded US military forecasts, there is a recognition within the Pentagon that some of its most-cited conventional capabilities are still in their infancy.
Despite the attention given to the J-20, the Pentagon does not expect it to achieve an effective operational capability before 2018.
"China faces several hurdles as it moves toward J-20 production, including the mastery of high performance jet engine production," the Pentagon report said.
The US Navy's top intelligence officer warned before retiring earlier this year against overestimating Chinese military capabilities.
Pakistan believes that possession of nuclear weapons will keep the United States from doing anything drastic, like more raids into Pakistan to destroy terrorists. The May raid to kill Osama bin Laden shows that the U.S. could, and would, do this. Now Pakistan has said it will not shut down Islamic terrorist sanctuaries in North Waziristan (in the northeast) and Quetta (in the southwest). The U.S. says that if the Pakistanis won't, the U.S. will. Pakistan says that if America tries that, it will mean war. It's no secret that the U.S. has made plans to seize Pakistani nuclear weapons, and India has just signed a cooperation treaty with Afghanistan. Pakistanis like to believe that they have America in a corner, but it's becoming more likely that it is Pakistan that has painted itself into a corner. Pakistan has long complained of being surrounded by conspiracies and enemies. Now, because of Pakistani support for Islamic terrorism, those fears are about to become true.
The communist NPA rebels are losing what little popular support they have because of continued attacks on civilians and companies that provide jobs (usually in areas of high unemployment). The NPA has consistently preached revolution and the overthrow of the elected government, but they have also ruthlessly murdered civilians that got in their way. In 40 years of fighting, an average of a thousand people a year have died from NPA violence, most of them civilians.
India’s armed forces are re-orienting their strategic reach from the ability to land in, take off from and deploy in countries around the Indian Ocean rim to “wherever India’s interests lie”.
“I expect that at least by 2022, we are capable of taking care of India’s interests not only at home, but also abroad,” Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne said today, setting a 10-year time frame.
“So far, our interest was defined from the Gulf of Aden (in the west) to the Straits of Malacca (in the east) but, as experience in Libya and other countries have taught us, we have to be able to reach wherever we have our interests,” he said.
North Korea and Russia held a test run of their renovated cross-border railway Thursday, in a a move that could help make a key North Korean port a regional transportation hub.
North Korea on Friday called on South Korea to halt its Internet broadcast service on inter-Korean affairs, condemning Seoul's move as a grave provocation.
Taiwan's defence minister has backed a plan to deploy advanced missiles in the South China Sea over concerns that rival claimants to disputed islands are building up their arms, a legislator said Thursday.
South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak on Wednesday received a briefing from top US commanders on the threat posed by North Korea in a visit to the Pentagon, officials said.
"Today's briefing represents the first time in recent history that a foreign head of state has been briefed by the service chiefs in The Tank," said spokesman Captain John Kirby.
Lee heard "an updated North Korea threat assessment" from the top brass, he said.
China's top Communist Party members will meet on Saturday, 12 months before a generational change in leadership, to discuss media controls in the face of a growing challenge from the Internet.
Around 500 senior party leaders will attend a secretive four-day plenum at a hotel in Beijing, their penultimate annual meeting before October 2012 when President Hu Jintao will end his second five-year term as party head.
Hu will preside over just one more plenum in October 2012 before his resignation, which begins a 10-yearly process that will culminate in the end of his presidency at a parliamentary meeting in March 2013.
Little is known for certain about the political transition, but Vice President Xi Jinping is widely expected to take over Hu's posts as head of the party and head of state, while Vice Premier Li Keqiang is tagged to be the next prime minister.
US drone missiles on Thursday killed 10 militants including a commander in the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, which the American military has linked to Pakistani intelligence.
A senior North Korean official, who is on a rare trip to the United States, said Monday the security condition on the Korean Peninsula is so unstable that a war may occur again anytime.
North Korea appears to be making efforts to shorten the time needed to groom its leader Kim Jong-il's youngest son to be the country's next leader, lawmakers said Monday, citing military intelligence.
North Korea and the United States will hold a second round of bilateral meeting next week in Geneva to discuss the stalled six-nation talks on the North's nuclear weapons programs, a diplomatic source in Seoul said Monday.
A U.S. think tank forecasts that even if the North Korean regime led by Kim Jong-il and his son Jong-un collapses, it is unlikely to lead to a collapse of the country in the short term.
North Korea has called on South Korea to halt its broadcasts on unification, saying they are insulting and provocative. North Korea's government-run news agency KCNA, in an article Friday, denounced the South's Unification Ministry for launching broadcasts, which it said were meant to tarnish the communist country. The article quoted the North Korean committee which handles inter-Korean affairs as calling the move a grave provocation.
Host #ROK says Iran, DPRK military nuke programs won't be on agenda of high profile 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit.
Nine out of 10 North Korean defectors regarded their former leader Kim Jong-il's instructions as laws before fleeing to the South, a survey showed Tuesday, the latest sign that Kim wields absolute power in the communist country of 24 million people.
China will not support North Korea militarily in case of a conflict between North and South, according to a Chinese academic. Prof. Chu Shulong (55) of Tsinghua University was speaking at a seminar on Korea-China security strategy at the Seoul Press Center on Monday.
"I believe China will call for a diplomatic solution even if the North is attacked by South Korea or the U.S.," Chu said. "Most Chinese don't think a reunited Korea would stand against China, even if the U.S. keeps stationing troops or bases on the peninsula. China won't mind Korean reunification, even if it is led by South Korea."
The Philippines said Sunday it was prepared to defend its claims in the South China Sea, but downplayed a plan by Taiwan to deploy missiles in the area.
However, he said Manila was prepared to "defend to the hilt" islets it has already occupied in the Spraltys.
But when asked whether Manila considered a move towards aggression, he said: "Not really... we should not be over reactive."
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou Monday suggested the island should consider signing a peace treaty with China within the coming decade, formally ending a civil war that has actually been over since 1949.
A peace treaty is widely considered one of the thorniest issues in the complex relations between China and Taiwan, reflected in Ma's reassurance that it would only happen if the island's people agreed.
"As relations are improving in a gradual and orderly manner, we are now thinking of cautiously considering whether we should sign a peace agreement within the next decade," Ma said, according to a press release.
China is likely to call for a peace treaty between the respective ruling parties, as an agreement involving the state of Taiwan could implicitly entail Chinese recognition of the island.
First, in the context of current events, is Afghan President Hamid Karzai's recent visit to New Delhi and the signing of a strategic accord with India at the heels of High Peace Council leader Burhanuddin Rabbani's assassination.
Secondly, the Indian army is holding a massive two-month long winter exercise- involving battle tanks and artillery guns besides Indian Air Force assets- at the Pakistan border, bringing a potent strike corps, the Bhopal based 21 Corps, in the Rajasthan desert, the paper said.
Third, a key development across the border has been the deployment of Su-30 fighter aircraft near the Pakistan border, the paper said, adding that the significance of the fact that the aircraft is the most sophisticated in the region and that it has been deployed along the Pakistan border at this crucial juncture is not lost on policymakers in Islamabad.
Two other related but under-reported events have been the extension of the runway at Kargil by India and its decision to acquire six more C-130J aircraft, the latest version of the intractable workhorse, reinforcing fears in Islamabad that New Delhi is preparing for a war that may engulf the whole region, the paper said.