February 26, 2017

Korea to conclude land acquisition for THAAD battery this week

South Korea is expected to conclude the land acquisition for the US advanced missile defense system this week with actual deployment to be completed by late June at the earliest, the military said Sunday.

The defense ministry said administrative measures to take over the Lotte Skyhill Country Club in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang Province, owned by local retail giant Lotte Group will be completed soon.

It said plans are already under way to start environmental impact evaluations on the site located 296 kilometers south of Seoul. An environmental impact evaluation is part of the review process for the building of a military site.

Seoul and Washington agreed in July 2016 to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense in the country to counter evolving missile and nuclear threats from North Korea. The government inked a deal in November to give Lotte state-owned land in Namyangju, just east of Seoul, in exchange for the golf course.

Sources said that the THAAD unit to be deployed in South Korea will have between four to nine truck-mounted launchers, each with eight interceptors, although the exact numbers have yet to be released. The battery will have the powerful “X-band” AN/TPY-2 radar that can detect incoming missiles at great distances.

Last year Pyongyang detonated two nuclear devices and test-fired 24 ballistic missiles and long-range rockets totally ignoring repeated warnings by the United Nations. Such provocations have fueled the need to station THAAD on South Korean soil.

Terror chief Max Hill warns risk of attacks in Britain is highest since dark days of IRA

British citizens are facing a level of threat from terrorists not seen since the IRA bombings of the Seventies, the country’s new terrorism watchdog has warned.

In his first major interview since taking the role, Max Hill said Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) was planning “indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians” on a scale similar to those perpetrated by the IRA 40 years ago.

He told The Telegraph that Islamists were targeting UK cities and said there was an “enormous ongoing risk which none of us can ignore”.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/25/terror-chief-max-hill-warns-risk-attacks-britain-highest-since/

Pentagon seeks to expand fight against Al Qaeda extremists in Somalia

The Pentagon wants to expand the military’s ability to battle Al Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia, potentially putting U.S. forces closer to the fight against a stubborn extremist group that has plotted attacks against America, senior U.S. officials said.

The recommendations sent to the White House would allow U.S special operations forces to increase assistance to the Somali National Army in the struggle against al-Shabab militants in the fragile Horn of Africa nation, the officials said. They said the proposal would give the military greater flexibility to launch airstrikes against extremists that appear to be a threat.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/02/26/pentagon-seeks-to-expand-fight-against-al-qaeda-extremists-in-somalia.html

Iran begins navy drill off Strait of Hormuz as US newly wary

Iran’s navy began an annual drill Sunday near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, its first major exercise since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, state television reported.

The TV report quoted navy chief Adm. Habibollah Sayyari as saying the two-day maneuver will cover an area of 772,000 square miles in the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean near the strait. It showed Iranian warships and helicopters taking part in the exercise.

Nearly a third of all oil traded by sea passes through the strait and it has been the scene of previous confrontations between the U.S. and Iran.

But the drill does not involve Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force the U.S. Navy often criticizes for harassing its vessels.

Iran Could Supply Turbines for Crimean Power Plants Bypassing Sanctions

Russia is going to sign a contract with Iran to supply turbines for thermal power plants in Crimea, the CEO of state corporation Rostec, Sergei Chemezov, said.

During a media briefing in Abu Dhabi, Chemezov announced that Russia plans to sign a contract with Iran for the supply of turbines for thermal power stations in Crimea.

According to him, negotiations with Iran are at an advanced stage and Rotec expects to install the turbines before the end of this year.

“We have problems with turbines after German and other European countries banned their supply to Crimea. We are now in the final stages of negotiations and we hope that, barring any additional US and European sanctions, we will be able to install these turbines before this year is out,” Chemezov said.

Even though Iran has not recognized Crimea’s reunification with Russia, it is ready to assist Moscow’s efforts to ensure an unfettered energy supply on the Black Sea peninsula.

In an interview with Sputnik Persian, Tehran-based political analyst Shoeib Bahman said that economic cooperation with Crimea could speed up the process of the international recognition of the region as part of the Russian Federation.

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201702261051048334-iran-crimea-turbines/

 

Iraqi jets strike Islamic State in Syria for first time as troops advance in Mosul

Iraqi jets struck Islamic State targets inside neighboring Syria for the first time Friday, Iraq’s prime minister said while vowing to chase down militants “everywhere” as Iraqi troops opened new fronts in their battle for the city of Mosul.

The airstrikes in Bukamal, in Syria, were coordinated with Damascus and carried out through a joint intelligence-sharing and command center in Baghdad involving Syria, Iran, Iraq and Russia, according to Brig. Gen. Tahseen Ibrahim, a spokesman for Iraq’s Defense Ministry. He said he had no information on whether the strikes also were coordinated with the U.S.-led coalition, which is conducting airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq and providing close air support to Iraqi forces fighting the group.

The strikes came as Iraqi forces are reaching the final stages of their operation to oust the group from the northern city of Mosul, its largest remaining stronghold in Iraq.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/iraqi-jets-strike-islamic-state-in-syria-for-first-time-as-troops-advance-in-mosul/2017/02/24/833a8e8a-fa96-11e6-be05-1a3817ac21a5_story.html?utm_term=.e31622cf2c82

 

Russia Could Defeat the British Army ‘In an Afternoon’

February 25, 2017

Over by Teatime,” blared the headline in the British tabloid The Sun.

Budget cuts have so depleted the army that it could be destroyed by a “competent enemy” such as Russia, according to excerpts of the report published in the British press.

That ominous conclusion comes from the Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research (CHACR), a British Army think tank run by the Sandhurst military academy. The report was based on a two-day conference of active-duty and retired officers.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/russia-could-defeat-the-british-army-afternoon-19580

Russia’s Aerospace Forces, Naval Aviation to Get 160 Aircraft in 2017 – Colonel

© Sputnik/ Russian Defence Ministry
MILITARY & INTELLIGENCE

Russia’s Aerospace Forces and naval aviation will receive about 160 planes and helicopters, Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev announced on Sunday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia’s Aerospace Forces and naval aviation will have their air fleets boosted this year by a total of 160 planes and helicopters, Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev announced on Sunday.

“The Aerospace Forces are expected to receive around 140 planes and helicopters this year, making up a total of 160 items of new equipment if you count in those reserved for the Naval Aviation,” the chief of the Aerospace Forces told reporters.

Col. Gen. Bondarev said forces in his charge had overhauled most of their air fleet, with new equipment amounting to some 55 percent of the total.

https://sputniknews.com/military/201702261051049674-russia-aerospace-naval-aviation/

One of Russia’s Most Powerful Tanks Is Coming to the Middle East

Russia has found a buyer in the Middle East for its advanced T-90MS main battle tank. However, while the Russians have apparently signed a contract, Moscow is not disclosing which nation is buying the powerful new tank.

“A large-scale contract was signed with a Middle East country in December. Another contract on this type of military output is expected to be signed soon,” the Kremlin’s industry and trade minister Denis Manturov told the Moscow-based Tass news agency.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/one-russias-most-powerful-tanks-coming-the-middle-east-19594

Russia Building Six Kilo-class Submarines for its Pacific Fleet

By KiloThe RNS Rostov-on-Don, a Project 636.3 Varshavyanka-class submarine of the Russian Navy under construction. (Photo : Russian Navy)

Two new improved Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines will be laid down this year for the Russian Navy, the first of six Kilos (Russian designation: Project 636.3 Varshavyanka) to be deployed to the Pacific Fleet of the Russian Navy.

 

The fleet currently operates seven of the older version of the Kilo (Project 877 and Project 636). The six new Project 636.3 Varshavyanka subs will be delivered from 2019 to 2021 and will be built by the Admiralty Shipyard, one of Russia’s largest military shipbuilders located in St. Petersburg.

Russia previously built six Varshavyanka-class submarines for the Black Sea Fleet, the last of which was launched in 2015.

Defense officials say work on the project will be conducted in St. Petersberg, but did not disclose an official timeline. Russia’s TASS news agency reports the Kremlin expects the work to be completed in 2021.

The Kremlin approved the construction of six improved Kilos in September 2016. The new subs will feature improved combat effectiveness and enhanced stealth and navigation capabilities, according to the Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering, the submarine’s developer.

The Kilo-class was built for anti-shipping and anti-submarine operations in relatively shallow or littoral waters. Anechoic tiles are fitted on casings and fins to absorb the sound waves emitted by active sonar. This results in a reduction and distortion of the return signal, making the sub harder to detect.

http://www.chinatopix.com/articles/111884/20170225/russia-building-six-kilo-class-submarines-pacific-fleet.htm#ixzz4ZoQ2PQuk

Russia toughens stance on territorial dispute with Japan

Russia has renewed its earlier hardline stance on the territorial feud with Japan over the Kuril Islands by announcing upcoming deployment of additional troops to the disputed islands.

On February 23, still known as “Army Day” in Russia, Moscow brushed aside Japanese objections against the deployment, dismissing Tokyo’s stance as irrelevant.

Japanese protests are inappropriate and are not based in international law, said Viktor Ozerov, head of the Defense and Security Committee of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament. Russia will deploy its armed forces inside its borders anywhere it is necessary, he said in televised remarks on February 23

http://www.atimes.com/russia-toughens-stance-territorial-dispute-japan/

Kurds offer land for independence in struggle to reshape Iraq

Kurdish leaders say that ‘the deal with a federal Iraq has failed’

Iraqi Kurdish leaders are considering offering territory seized by their forces in the offensive to recapture Mosul from Isis as a bargaining chip in a new push for independence from Baghdad.

As Iraqi forces continue their advance towards key Isis-defended districts in west Mosul, attention is turning to what northern Iraq will look like once the jihadi group is routed. Ministers from the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) believe that one option might be offering to Baghdad land their peshmerga forces have recaptured from Isis in return for self-rule, the pinnacle of Kurdish ambition for decades.

Speaking from his office in the Iraqi Kurdistan capital of Erbil, foreign minister Falah Mustafa said that, although the Mosul alliance of Iraqi and peshmerga troops was on course to quash Isis in Iraq’s second city, the time had arrived for Kurdistan to move forward by itself.

Germany seeks Israeli technology

The North Rhine-Westphalia Economic Development Agency (NRW) will visit Israel next month looking for new technologies.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s GDP totaled €645 billion in 2015, more than the GDP of entire countries like Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, and Argentina, and making it the wealthiest state in Germany. Many companies from all over the world have recognized the opportunity, and are doing business there. Foreign investment in Westphalia totaled €190 billion in 2015, more than in any other German state. 18,000 international companies are already operating there, and the number is projected to grow in the coming years. Israeli companies and startups are now also being invited to partake of this huge bonanza.

The North Rhine-Westphalia Economic Development Agency (NRW) will visit Israel next month in order to take part in the annual Axis Tel Aviv conference, where investors, funds, and leading global companies can meet directly with Israeli startups and entrepreneurs. The NRW representatives’ goal is obvious: to encourage Israeli entrepreneurs to add Dusseldorf, Cologne, Dortmund, and Essen to their list of markets.

http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-german-market-wants-israeli-technology-1001178545

France sends backup to Niger after 16 troops killed

France is to send a contingent of counterterror forces to help the army in Niger after militants ambushed a military patrol killing 16, the defence ministry said.
The decision, announced late Saturday, was taken following a request from President Mahamadou Issoufou after Wednesday’s attack near the border with Mali.
The deadly ambush, which took place in an area some 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of Niamey, the capital, also wounded another 18 Niger troops, with the army blaming “terrorist elements”.

China-North Korea ties deteriorate

BEIJING — For decades, North Korea could count on China as a loyal ally despite the erratic behavior of the ruling Kim dynasty, as Beijing held its tongue despite its neighbor’s saber rattling, nuclear testing and bombastic threats.

But last week, things may have gone too far, with North Korea unleashing a tirade in which it deployed some of the most damning insults in its playbook, accusing China of “dancing to the tune of the U.S.” and “styling itself as a big power.”

Chinese observers of relations between the countries were left in disbelief about how rapidly those ties have deteriorated, particularly after Beijing decided to cut off coal imports that provide badly needed currency for the North’s economy.

“At first many people thought it was a fake commentary,” Cheng Xiaohe, associate professor of international studies at Renmin University, said of the tirade against China, published in the North’s state-run news media Thursday. “It is a big surprise that North Korea has launched such a strong attack against China. I expected an angry reaction — but not this strong.”

http://www.sfgate.com/world/article/China-North-Korea-ties-deteriorate-10959572.php

Activity at North Korean Nuclear Facility Could Mean Another Test Imminent

Activity at North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test facility indicates that the country could conduct another nuclear test at any time, a North Korean watchdog warns.

The website 38 North, which monitors commercial satellite imagery for clues to North Korea’s actions, says the continued activity in many areas of the Punggye-ri site shown by images from February 18 indicate that work is underway at many of the site’s tunnels.

“In particular, the shifting of supplies and equipment, as well as additional changes in the texture and pattern of small sections of the tailings pile at the North Portal, indicate continuing work inside the test tunnels,” 38 North said.

“These activities suggest continued preparation and maintenance of this portal for use in a new nuclear test. Should the decision be made to do so, North Korea could probably move forward with a nuclear test in short order but it remains unclear when such a test might take place.”

https://sputniknews.com/asia/201702261051045791-nk-nuclear-site-activity/

U.S., S. Korea plan full-scale war games for 2nd straight year

By YOSHIHIRO MAKINO/ Correspondent

Photo/IllutrationThe Asahi Shimbun

 

SEOUL–In response to the heightened threat from North Korea, the United States and South Korea will conduct large-scale joint military exercises for the second consecutive year this spring, rather than biennially.

The decision comes in the face of a combative North Korea, which has been engaged in nuclear and missile development programs, several U.S. and South Korean military sources said on Feb. 25.

The joint military drills have been held annually in the spring to coordinate their operations, including dispatch of U.S. troops for reinforcements.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702260023.html

Japan doubles fighter jets deployed for scrambles against China

The Defense Ministry has doubled the number of fighter jets it scrambles when responding to airspace checks by foreign planes, government sources said Saturday.

The Air Self-Defense Force began scrambling four jets for each potential airspace violation last year, they said. The ASDF had previously been sending up only two jets per scramble since it began the practice in 1958.

As China ramps up its military activities around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, scramble intercepts by both sides have been surging in areas nearby where their air defense identification zones overlap. The Japan-administered Senkakus, which lie just off Taiwan, are also claimed by China and Taiwan.

Tokyo and Beijing have yet to set up a communication mechanism that can be used by their militaries to avoid accidental aerial or maritime clashes.

The number of scrambles launched between last April and this January has already eclipsed the annual record of 944 set in fiscal 1984, when the Cold War was in full swing and airplanes from the former Soviet Union were active

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/02/26/national/politics-diplomacy/japan-doubles-fighter-jets-deployed-scrambles-china/#.WLLfoI7ytD8

Fox News Exclusive: DoD-Funded School At Center Of Federal Probes Over Suspected Chinese Military Ties

By Catherine Herridge, Pamela K. Browne, Cyd Upson, Fox News

EXCLUSIVE: Based just four miles from the Pentagon in northern Virginia is an innocuous-sounding online school for “management and technology” – which a Fox News investigation reveals has been at the center of multiple federal probes about its leadership’s alleged ties to the Chinese military and whether thousands of records from U.S. service members were compromised.

The University of Management and Technology in Rosslyn, Va., which opened in 1998, touts a campus in Beijing and “partnerships” with universities around the world. The U.S. taxpayer-funded school claims to have had 5,000 graduates in the last five years and to be “especially proud of our students stationed in US military bases around the globe.”

http://nation.foxnews.com/2017/02/26/fox-news-exclusive-dod-funded-school-center-federal-probes-over-suspected-chinese

 

WHY A FEW AMERICAN MARINES IN TAIWAN POSE SO MANY PROBLEMS FOR CHINA-US TIES

The stationing of a dozen or so servicemen at a private mission office has sent a strong signal to Beijing that could tip the scales toward conflict

BY CARY HUANG

US President Donald Trump’s decision to deploy marines at a US representative’s office in Taiwan is yet another challenge to Beijing’s most cherished one-China principle. It follows a string of recent controversial actions from Trump, including his phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and his open remarks questioning the US commitment to honour the longstanding policy.

Stephen Young, former head of the American Institute in Taiwan, Photo: AP

Stephen Young, former head of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), Washington’s de facto mission to Taiwan, said uniformed officers would guard its new Taipei office upon its completion later this year. William Stanton, another former AIT director, has also confirmed the decision.

Echoing the news, Taiwanese Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee Ta-wei said Taipei would discuss with Washington sending a similar defence force to its de facto embassy in the US.

http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2073056/why-few-american-marines-taiwan-pose-so-many-problems-china-us

North Korea evades sanctions with network of overseas companies: U.N. report

By James Pearson

(Reuters) – North Korea is evading international sanctions with a sophisticated network of overseas companies, enabled partly by its continued access to the international banking system, says a forthcoming United Nations report seen by Reuters.

North Korea is under heavy U.N. sanctions and a strict arms embargo designed to impede the development of its banned nuclear and missile programs. The U.N. panel of experts, which produced the 100-page draft report, was created to investigate reported infringements of those sanctions.

“Designated entities and banks have continued to operate in the sanctioned environment by using agents who are highly experienced and well trained in moving money, people and goods, including arms and related materiel, across borders,” the report says.

U.N. member states should “exercise heightened vigilance” over North Korean diplomats engaged in commercial activities, it says, because some may be providing financial support to illegal networks.

North Korea “is flouting sanctions through trade in prohibited goods, with evasion techniques that are increasing in scale, scope and sophistication,” the report says.

It details a previously unknown interdiction of North Korean-made military communications equipment destined for Eritrea in July last year.

http://kfgo.com/news/articles/2017/feb/25/north-korea-evades-sanctions-with-network-of-overseas-companies-un-report/

 

 

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