Archive for October 13th, 2009
Israel and U.S. prepare for largest-ever joint air force drill
Pentagon Expedites Bunker-Buster Bomb Plan: Pentagon Boosts Development of Iran-Focused Bombs
UN backs debate on Goldstone’s Gaza report
War Criminals Are Becoming Arbiters of the Law:
|Goldstone, Israel’s Frankenstein’s monster|
U.S. Media and Israel
Sharing A More Balanced Truth about Israel Media Coverage in the U.S.
Russian FM: Threats of Iran sanctions won’t work
By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writer
11 mins ago
MOSCOW – Threatening Iran with more sanctions would be counterproductive, Russia’s foreign minister declared Tuesday, resisting efforts by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to win agreement for tougher measures if Iran fails to prove its nuclear program is peaceful.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke as Clinton visited Moscow, her first trip since becoming America’s top diplomat, in an effort to gauge Moscow’s willingness to join the U.S. in imposing sanctions.
Lavrov said Russia’s position is that under current conditions even the threat of sanctions against Iran would be counterproductive.
Clinton said the U.S. agreed it was important to pursue diplomacy with Iran.
“At the same time that we are very vigorously pursuing this track, we are aware that we might not be as successful as we need to be, so we have always looked at the potential of sanctions in the event we are not successful and cannot assure ourselves and others that Iran has decided not to pursue nuclear weapons,” she said at a joint news conference.
Iran insists it has the right to a full domestic nuclear enrichment program and maintains it is only for peaceful purposes, such as energy production.
President Barack Obama — who visited Russia in July — has vowed to “reset” U.S.-Russia relations. On Tuesday, Clinton apologized for missing that meeting because of a broken elbow.
“But now both my elbow and our relationships are reset and we’re moving forward, which I greatly welcome,” she said.
She was to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev later Tuesday.
Beyond Iran, Lavrov said U.S. and Russia negotiators have made “considerable” progress toward reaching agreement on a new strategic arms treaty. The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, expires in December and negotiators have been racing to reach agreement on a successor.
The two diplomats also discussed possible cooperation on missile defense following Obama’s decision not to proceed with Bush-administration plans to base such a system in eastern Europe. Russia has welcomed Obama’s new approach, but has said it was eager for more detailed information.
Clinton said the U.S. would be as transparent as possible.
“We want to ensure that every question that the Russian military or Russian government asks is answered,” she said, calling missile defense “another area for deep cooperation between our countries.”
Also on the agenda were Afghanistan, nuclear-armed North Korea, NATO expansion, the situation in Georgia after its conflict with Russia last year, human rights and arms control.
Iran is already under three sets of U.N. sanctions. Russia and China have balked at imposing new penalties on Iran, although Medvedev has hinted that the Russian position might be shifting after Tehran disclosed a previously secret uranium enrichment site near the holy city of Qom.
Medvedev said last month that while sanctions are rarely productive “in some cases they are inevitable.” Lavrov stressed Tuesday the president meant that sanctions would be considered only when all political and diplomatic efforts are exhausted.
Sanctions have become a harder sell after Iran agreed to allow U.N. inspectors to visit the Qom site and agreed, in principle, to send most of its low-enriched uranium to Russia for reprocessing.
Associated Press writer Lynn Berry contributed to this report.
Russia balks on tougher Iran sanctions
Defying U.S. pressure as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton begins a visit to Moscow, Russia’s top diplomat promotes negotiation over punishment to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear program.
(AIPAC hack) Clinton: World will not wait for Iran:
Pentagon Expedites Bunker-Buster Bomb Plan:
Report: Pentagon Boosts Development of Iran-Focused Bombs
US wants bunker-buster fast, denies Iran is reason
WASHINGTON – The Pentagon is speeding up delivery of a colossal bomb designed to destroy hidden weapons bunkers buried underground and shielded by 10,000 pounds of reinforced concrete.
Call it Plan B for dealing with Iran, which recently revealed a long-suspected nuclear site deep inside a mountain near the holy city of Qom.
The 15-ton behemoth — called the “massive ordnance penetrator,” or MOP — will be the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal and will carry 5,300 pounds of explosives. The bomb is about 10 times more powerful than the weapon it is designed to replace.
The Pentagon has awarded a nearly $52 million contract to speed up placement of the bomb aboard the B-2 Stealth bomber, and officials say the bomb could be fielded as soon as next summer.
Pentagon officials acknowledge that the new bomb is intended to blow up fortified sites like those used by Iran and North Korea for their nuclear programs, but they deny there is a specific target in mind.
“I don’t think anybody can divine potential targets,” Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said. “This is just a capability that we think is necessary given the world we live in.”
The Obama administration has struggled to counter suspicions lingering from George W. Bush’s presidency that the United States is either planning to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities itself or would look the other way if Israel did the same.
The administration has been careful not to take military action off the table even as it reaches out to Iran with historic talks this month. Tougher sanctions are the immediate backup if diplomacy fails to stop what the West fears is a drive for a nuclear weapon.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently said a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities would probably only buy time. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen has called a strike an option he doesn’t want to use.
The new U.S. bomb would be the culmination of planning begun in the Bush years. The Obama administration’s plans to bring the bomb on line more quickly indicate that the weapon is still part of the long-range backup plan.
“Without going into any intelligence, there are countries that have used technology to go further underground and to take those facilities and make them hardened,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. “This is not a new phenomenon, but it is a growing one.”
After testing began in 2007, development of the bomb was slowed by about two years because of budgetary issues, Whitman said, and the administration moved last summer to return to the previous schedule.
North Korea, led by Kim Jong Il, is a known nuclear weapons state and has exploded working devices underground. The United States and other countries have offered to buy out the country’s weapons program. The Obama administration is trying to lure Pyongyang back to the bargaining table after a walkout last year.
Iran is a more complex case, for both diplomatic and technical reasons. Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, claims its nuclear program is peaceful and meant only to produce energy, but the West suspects a covert bomb program that may be only a year or so away from fruition.
“I don’t really see it as a near-term indication of anything being planned. I think certainly down the road it has a certain deterrent factor,” said Kenneth Katzman, a specialist on Iran and the Middle East at the Congressional Research Service. “It adds to the calculus, let’s say, of Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il.”
Details about Iran’s once-secret program have come out slowly and often under duress, as with last month’s surprise confirmation of the hidden underground development site near Qom.
That revelation came a month after the Pentagon had asked Congress to shift money to speed up the MOP program, although U.S. and other intelligence agencies had suspected for years that Iran was still hiding at least one nuclear development site.
The MOP could, in theory, take out bunkers such as those Saddam Hussein had begun to construct for weapons programs in Iraq, or flatten the kind of cave and tunnel networks that allowed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden to escape U.S. assault in Tora Bora, Afghanistan, shortly after the U.S. invasion in 2001.
The precision-guided bomb is designed to drill through earth and almost any underground encasement to reach weapons depots, labs or hideouts.
Israel and U.S. prepare for largest-ever joint air force drill
Iran, Iran So Far Away:
Obama approves 13,000 more troops for Afghan quagmire
Obama approves 13,000 more troops to Afghanistan
WASHINGTON (AFP) – In an unannounced move, President Barack Obama is dispatching an additional 13,000 US troops to Afghanistan beyond the 21,000 he announced publicly in March, The Washington Post reported.
The additional forces are primarily support forces — such as engineers, medical personnel, intelligence experts and military police — the Post said, bringing the total buildup Obama has approved for the war-torn nation to 34,000.
“Obama authorized the whole thing. The only thing you saw announced in a press release was the 21,000,” a defense official familiar with the troop-approval process told the daily.
The report, posted on the newspaper’s website late Monday, came as Obama weighs a request from the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, for more combat, training and support troops, with several options including one for 40,000 more forces.
But the newspaper noted that the maximum number of US service members expected in Afghanistan by year’s end — 68,000 — would remain the same.
Major deployments of support troops have not been publicized by the Pentagon and the White House in the past. When former president George W. Bush announced a US troop increase in Iraq, he only mentioned 20,000 combat troops and not the accompanying 8,000 support troops.
The troop increase approved by Obama brought the level of US forces deployed in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters to a total greater than during the peak of the surge in Iraq in late 2007 and early 2008.
At the start of this month, some 65,000 US forces are currently in Afghanistan and about 124,000 in Iraq, compared to around 26,000 US troops in Afghanistan and 160,000 in Iraq at the height of the Iraq surge, according to a troop count by the Post.
Be sure to scroll down to the “Afghanistan: Back Door to War on Iran” article linked near the bottom of the following URL:
Disinformation about the Iranian “Threat”: