March 6, 2017

Iran Launched Ballistic Missiles, U.S. Officials Say

The alleged launchings come the same day North Korea sent four projectiles into the Sea of Japan.

By Curt Mills | Staff Writer

Iran has launched two ballistic missiles, U.S. officials told Fox News.

 

Iran launched the two short-range ballistic missiles from Revolutionary Guard Corps bases in southeastern Iran over the weekend, according to one official. The first missile was fired on Saturday, but missed its target. On Sunday, Iran is said to have tried again and been successful.

Both target locations were in the Gulf of Oman. The successful attempt was said to have destroyed a floating barge.

The news of the tests comes the say same day as South Korea and Japan reel from North Korea’s latest test.

In February, the Trump administration put Iran “on notice” following a missile test. The news of that status was delivered by then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who has since resigned from the administration. Iran nonetheless test-fired another missile after being put “on notice.”

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-03-06/iran-launched-ballistic-missiles-us-officials-claim

Swarming Iranian attack boats force US ship off course in Persian Gulf

Iranian attack boats forced a US Navy ship to change course in the Persian Gulf’s Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, Reuters reports, quoting a US official.

The official says multiple boats approached the USNS Invincible, coming within 600 yards of it.

According to the official, three British ships that were accompanying the Invincible were also forced to change course.

Attempts to communicate with the Iranian vessels over radio did not garner any responses, the official says.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/iranian-attack-boats-force-us-ship-off-course-in-persian-gulf/

 

Iran: The story of proxy militias

Iran’s destructive role across the Middle East has become common knowledge and crystal clear for all. During the past two decades, especially, the presence of this regime’s proxy militias and affiliated Shiite groups has been considered an overt secret. Yet the question is how has Iran been able to dispatch so many fighters, and on a constant basis, to various flashpoint scenes in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Iran has trained, equipped, financed and dispatched thousands of fighters to various battlegrounds across the region. However, with its own economy literally in peril, how has Tehran afforded such an expensive campaign?

Iran allocates a large portion of its annual budget to finance a massive domestic crackdown machine, parallel to exporting terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. This goes part in parcel to Tehran’s continuous effort to obtain weapons of mass destruction, including its clandestine nuclear drive and ballistic missiles program. A percentage of the capital necessary for such endeavors, and the repressive forces inside the country, have ironically been provided by the highly boasted Iran nuclear deal.

Weaponised black hole? Texas town terrorised – portal opens over secret Army research base

A BIZARRE and sinister-looking perfect black cube has terrified residents of a Texas town after it appeared in the skies above White Sands – the USA’s most secret military installation.

UFO alien cube and portal spotted over Texas
The terrifying black cube was snapped over El Paso on the Texas border just a few miles from White Sands – the infamous US military testing site where the world’s first Atomic bomb was detonated.Almost all the experimental weapons research carried out ay White Sands is highly classified. The results of the cutting edge research only become public decades later.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/science/774782/mystery-perfect-black-cube-hovering-Texas-secret-military-research-complex

Japan Moves to Highest Alert Level After North Korea Fires Missiles

March 5, 2017, 6:39 PM EST March 6, 2017, 4:05 AM EST
  • Pyongyang fires 4 missiles simultaneously into sea near Japan
  • Unlikely they were intercontinental missiles, South Korea says
Japan on Alert After North Korea Fires Missiles

What Is Known About Missiles Fired by North Korea?

Japan moved to the highest possible alert level after North Korea fired four ballistic missiles simultaneously into nearby waters, the latest provocation from Kim Jong Un’s regime.

Three of the missiles fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, with one dropping about 350 kilometers west of the nation’s northern Akita prefecture, government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters after a meeting of Japan’s National Security Council. Authorities were still analyzing the type of missile launched, he said.

The launches “clearly show that this is a new level of threat” from North Korea, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told lawmakers in Tokyo. American officials held phone calls afterward with counterparts in Japan and South Korea, which rely on the U.S. for security.

“North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities have really improved, and they are becoming more difficult to predict,” Abe said. The missiles “are getting closer to Japan’s waters and territory.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-03-05/north-korea-fires-what-may-be-intercontinental-missile-yonhap

 

Juppé says he will not replace Fillon in French presidential race

Former PM tells supporters it is too late to save his party from damage caused by François Fillon’s ‘fake jobs’ scandal

in Paris

The man seen as a possible saviour of France’s centre-right has disappointed supporters by announcing he will not stand in next month’s presidential election.

Former prime minister Alain Juppé, who lost Les Républicains’ primary election last November to François Fillon, said it was too late for him to save the party, which is riven with political scandal and the prospect of defeat.

“I confirm, once and for all, that I will not be a candidate in the election for the presidency of the republic,” Juppé told journalists in Bordeaux, where he is mayor.

In a brief declaration tinged with bitterness, he described the deeply divided situation in which his party finds itself as “a waste”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/06/alain-juppe-not-replace-francois-fillon-french-presidential-race

Iran indicts ex-nuke negotiator likely on suspicion of espionage

Suspect, unnamed by authorities, believed to be dual Iranian-Canadian national who worked on parallel talks team, previously detained for spying

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s judiciary has indicted a member of the country’s team that negotiated the nuclear deal with world powers, a spokesman said Sunday, likely an Iranian-Canadian national previously detained by authorities on suspicion of espionage.

An Iranian-American also faces charges after allegedly taking $3.1 million from people after promising to help them emigrate to foreign countries, judiciary spokesman Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejehi said, according to reports by Iran’s official IRNA news agency.

In the case involving the nuclear team member, Ejehi said it would be up to a court to decide whether to try the individual charged. Ejehi did not directly name the team member who had been indicted, nor did he explain what charges the indictment carried.

However, Ejehi did say the person involved was a dual national with the initials D.E. That suggests the person indicted likely is Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani, a dual Iranian-Canadian national.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-indicts-ex-nuke-negotiator-likely-on-suspicion-of-espionage/

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces capture Mosul bridge, close in on government buildings

By Isabel Coles and Maher Chmaytelli

MOSUL/BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) – U.S.-backed Iraqi forces captured the second of Mosul’s five bridges on Monday, giving a boost to their onslaught on Islamic State’s remaining stronghold in the western part of the city.

All of Mosul’s five bridges over the Tigris have been destroyed but their capture facilitates the movement of forces progressing alongside the river,which cuts Mosul in two.

The bridge seized, al-Hurriya, is the second after one located further south. Its capture shields the back of the forces advancing towards a nearby government buildings complex.

“We control the western end of the bridge,” said a senior media officer with Rapid Response, the elite unit of the Interior Ministry leading the charge towards the complex.

Recapturing the site would help Iraqi forces attack the militants in the old city. It would also mark a symbolic step towards restoring state authority over Mosul, even though the buildings are destroyed and not being used by Islamic State.

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/u-backed-iraqi-forces-capture-mosul-bridge-close-123656781.html

Russia, Turkey and the Black Sea A2/AD Arms Race

Russian cruiser Moskva. Wikimedia Commons/Mil.ru

Will Turkey build its A2/AD capabilities to counter Russia’s growing A2/AD assets in the Black Sea and Syria?

Bleda KurtdarcanBarın Kayaoğlu

While the Chinese A2/AD “bubble” in the South China Sea gives headaches to the United States and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region, further to the north, the newest Russian “bubble” is about to go online against Japan in the disputed Kuril Islands. Meanwhile, on the other end of Eurasia, in Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave, another A2/AD zone challenges NATO’s position in Eastern Europe.

Now, two more Russian “bubbles” in the Black Sea and Syria are threatening Turkey and NATO’s southeastern flank.

Russia’s Black Sea and Syria “bubbles” matter to Turkey for several reasons. They spell an end to the relative naval superiority that Ankara had established in the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean after the Cold War. It also means that Turkey has to redirect resources away from its ambitious buildup of force-projection platforms toward developing strategies and weapons to counter the Russian A2/AD bubbles. While Russian–Turkish relations appear better in recent months, the future is uncertain. If a crisis erupts similar to the November 2015 shoot down of a Russian Su-24 by a Turkish F-16, Ankara would face fearful odds against Moscow.

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/russia-turkey-the-black-sea-a2-ad-arms-race-19673

Russian Hackers Said to Seek Hush Money From Liberal U.S. Groups

Michael Riley
  • Post-election crime wave by attackers demanding bitcoins
  • Center for American Progress said to be among victims

Russian hackers are targeting U.S. progressive groups in a new wave of attacks, scouring the organizations’ emails for embarrassing details and attempting to extract hush money, according to two people familiar with probes being conducted by the FBI and private security firms.

At least a dozen groups have faced extortion attempts since the U.S. presidential election, said the people, who provided broad outlines of the campaign. The ransom demands are accompanied by samples of sensitive data in the hackers’ possession.

In one case, a non-profit group and a prominent liberal donor discussed how to use grant money to cover some costs for anti-Trump protesters. The identities were not disclosed, and it’s unclear if the protesters were paid.

At least some groups have paid the ransoms even though there is little guarantee the documents won’t be made public anyway. Demands have ranged from about $30,000 to $150,000, payable in untraceable bitcoins, according to one of the people familiar with the probe.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-06/russian-hackers-said-to-seek-hush-money-from-liberal-u-s-groups

Russia’s Only Aircraft Carrier Will Soon Be Out of Action for 3 Years

Russia will start modernizing its sole aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov before July. The ageing warship will undergo a massive refit that will modernize her problematic and unreliable propulsion system along with other upgrades.

“The decision to start Admiral Kuznetsov’s modernization at Zvezdochka in the first six months of 2017 has been made. The project plan specifying the costs and the amount of work to be performed, will be completed within a couple of months,” a source told the Moscow-based TASS news.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/russias-only-aircraft-carrier-will-soon-be-out-action-3-19678

Tensions Rise In Iraq As Kurdish Forces Seize Oil Pipeline

Forget China, Germany may be America’s top trade problem

Germany’s surpluses larger, and its industries more competitive

FRANKFURT — China bears the brunt of U.S. anger over unfair trade, but Germany’s foreign surpluses are now far larger and may be more consequential for America’s economy and the rest of the world.

Low-wage Chinese workers have put downward pressure on U.S. manufacturing wages for years, but Germany’s industries compete more directly with U.S. industries.

Nine of Germany’s 10 top export categories, such as machinery and electronic equipment, are the same as the U.S. top-ten exports, says Caroline Freund at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

The weak euro — which has lost around a quarter of its value against the dollar over the last three years — gives German companies an extra edge in international markets. Germany’s surpluses have drawn fire from the new U.S. administration, and could figure large when Group of 20 finance ministers gather in Baden-Baden on March 17.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/forget-china-germany-may-be-americas-top-trade-problem-2017-03-05

Germany Disagrees with Italy, France over Defense Fund Financing

 

The German government has rejected calls by France and Italy to finance a proposed €5-billion ($5.3 billion) E.U. defense through new debt, according to a government positioning paper obtained by Handelsblatt.

In the paper, Berlin says financing the fund with bonds would “contradict the fundamentals of good budget management and is therefore not a viable option for financing European defense efforts.”

Germany rejects Franco-Italian proposal on Defense Eurobonds

Germany opposes a Franco-Italian proposal to finance European defense public procurement via a €5,3bn Eurobond issue, Handelsblatt reports on Monday.

The German financial daily sites government sources, insisting on the principle that defense procurement must be financed by member states alone rather than mutualized debt. Berlin is ready to veto any such an initiative.

The European Commission has proposed a fund that would lower the cost for the procurement of helicopters and planes. Paris and Rome followed up with the idea of funding defense procurement with Euro bonds guaranteed by EU member states.

Berlin is in principle opposed to any form of mutualized debt while also categorically opposing any one-off exemption from stability and growth pact. Germany was one of the first countries allowed to deviate for Maastricht criteria in the late 1990s.

https://www.neweurope.eu/article/germany-rejects-franco-italian-proposal-defense-eurobonds/

NATO battalion battle group to start moving to Estonia

TALLINN– The personnel, arms and equipment of a battle group of the multinational NATO battalion will be moving to Estonia over the next six weeks.

The troops will be airlifted to Estonia via the Amari air base and the equipment will arrive by land or by sea, via the port of Paldiski.

“Estonia is ready to receive the allies,” Minister of Defense Margus Tsahkna said in a press release. “As soon as in May, the battle group of the allied battalion will take part in Spring Storm, a major exercise of the Estonian defense forces, in the composition of the 1st Infantry Brigade.”

http://www.baltictimes.com/nato_battalion_battle_group_to_start_moving_to_estonia/

EU should avoid duplicating Nato, says Michael Fallon

UK defence secretary urges against recreating structures as ministers due to agree on Brussels military command centre

Michael Fallon
Michael Fallon will urge the EU to cooperate more closely with Nato. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA

The EU must not undermine Nato by recreating its military structures, the UK defence secretary will tell European leaders.

As the bloc aims to deepen its defence cooperation, EU foreign and defence ministers are expected to agree at a meeting on Monday to establish a small military command centre in Brussels to aid “planning and conduct capability”.

Arriving in Brussels before the meeting, Michael Fallon said he would be urging EU leaders to cooperate through the atlantic defence union. “Today we are urging the European Union to cooperate more closely with Nato to avoid unnecessary duplication of structures and to work together on new threats, including the need to strengthen cybersecurity,” he said.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/mar/06/eu-should-avoid-duplicating-nato-says-michael-fallon

[Editor’s Note: Europe has gone mad.]

EU considers having its own NUCLEAR arsenal following fears in Brussels that Donald Trump will withdraw US support

  • Talk of a military plan to beef up the continent’s weapons of mass destruction
  • Comes as union under pressure and suggestions Russia and the US are aligning
  • German lawmaker has said France and Britain should build on their weapons
  • Poland’s former prime minister called for nuclear defence  in Europe last month

Talk of a military programme to beef up the continent’s weapons of mass destruction comes with the union under pressure and suggestions of Russia and the US aligning.

The drastic move would only be triggered if it believed The White House would no longer be an ally, but discussions have already gathered pace in Germany.

HMS Trafalgar which was decommissioned in 2009 as a German lawmaker said his idea was to build on existing weapons in France and the UK

BY

(Civil.Ge) — The Military Committee (MC), NATO’s highest military authority and the organization’s primary source of military advice, concluded its two-day visit to Georgia on March 2-3 to discuss the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package and its implementation, as well as regional security issues.

The Military Committee Chairman, General Petr Pavel, accompanied by senior NATO military representatives, held multiple high-level meetings with Georgian officials.

On March 2, Georgia’s Defense Minister Levan Izoria hosted the Czech General to discuss NATO-Georgia cooperation prospects, security challenges in the region, as well as the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP) and Georgia’s participation in international missions.

“NATO supports Georgia’s commitment and its Euro-Atlantic membership aspirations” General Pavel said at the joint press conference following the meeting with Georgian Defense Ministry officials on March 2.

http://www.eurasiareview.com/06032017-nato-military-committee-visits-georgia/

Polish Defense Minister Claims NATO Seeks to Protect Suwalki Isthmus From Russia

NATO forces, deployed in Poland, are aimed at protecting Suwalki isthmus, bordering on Lithuania and Russia’s Kaliningrad region, so that Moscow was unable to cut off the Baltic States from their “territorial rear area,” Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said Monday.

WARSAW (Sputnik) — The minister highlighted that the US troops would be deployed in a number of cities in western, northern and central Poland, and would be ready to respond to any external aggression.

“The main forces are sent to defend Suwalki isthmus, so that the Russians were unable to cut off the Baltic countries from the territorial rear area, presented by Poland, which is the so-called strategic depth for NATO troops,” Macierewicz said in an interview with Do Rzeczy newspaper.

“The presence of the allied troops in the west of the country made it possible to make a decision to move part of the tank forces to the east bank of the Vistula,” Macierewicz added.

Macierewicz stressed that “Russia might not withdraw its troops from Belarus” after West-2017 military exercises, set for September.

In early November 2016, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia and Belarus would hold joint military exercises dubbed Zapad-2017 (“West-2017”) in September 2017. On January 30, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Alliance did not see any threat posed by Russia to its eastern flank.

https://sputniknews.com/europe/201703061051312606-poland-nato-troops/

Report flags NATO’s naval shortfalls vis-a-vis Russia

March 5, 2017 (Photo Credit: U.S. Navy)
LONDON — NATO has been urged to rethink its maritime strategy to address the re-emerging contest with Russia for supremacy in the North Atlantic, a paper by one of Europe’s top military think tanks says.

“If NATO does not have effective control of the North Atlantic, or at least the ability to deny Russia naval access to this maritime domain, Russia could block or disrupt U.S. reinforcement to Europe,” the Royal United Services Institute said in the paper to be published in London on Monday.

Titled, “NATO and the North Atlantic: Revitalising Collective Defence,” the paper draws on views from leading experts, including Adm. James Stavridis, the Supreme Allied Commander between 2009 and 2013.

Until now most of NATO’s strategic response to Moscow’s aggression has been in the air and land sectors, but now senior ex-military officers writing in the survey are saying the alliance has to respond on the maritime front as well.

Pentagon Blocks Littoral Combat Ship Overrun From a GAO Report

March 6, 2017, 5:00 AM EST
  • Security office rejects including the numbers for publication
  • Data on troubled ships called ‘sensitive but unclassified’

The Pentagon office that reviews information to determine whether it’s classified has blocked publication of potentially embarrassing data on cost overruns for the first two vessels bought under the Navy’s primary Littoral Combat Ship contracts, according to a new congressional audit.

In a report examining Navy shipbuilding contracts, the U.S. Government Accountability Office deleted overrun information on two of the Littoral Combat Ships launched in late 2014 — the USS Milwaukee built by Lockheed Martin Corp. and the USS Jackson built by Austal Ltd. — at the request of the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review.

The GAO said the Defense Department “deemed the cost growth” on both vessels “to be sensitive but unclassified information, which is excluded from this public report. However, the percent difference” in cost for each ship “was above target cost.” Other types of ships were listed with specific data on cost increases that ranged from 4 percent to 45 percent.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-06/pentagon-blocks-littoral-combat-ship-overrun-from-a-gao-report

Kenya: Special Forces May Soon Join the War Against Al-Shabaab

The war against Al-Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia should intensify if US President Donald Trump approves a Pentagon plan to expand operations in the country.

A week today, the Pentagon sent recommendations to the White House that would allow US Special Forces to increase assistance to the Somali National Army, now struggling against Al-Shabaab, The Associated Press reported.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201703060006.html

China Trying To Crush South Korea’s Economy

I write about Asia, especially the Chinese economy.

Executives of South Korea’s Lotte Group, after a meeting Sunday, asked Seoul for “active help.”

The retail giant’s business has been under pressure in China this year as it first considered and then approved a swap of parcels with the South Korean Ministry of Defense. The Ministry plans to use the acquired land, a golf course south of Seoul, for the first battery of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, which is designed to knock down missiles.

Beijing, enraged at the defiance of “a small country,” has gone to great lengths to prevent the installation of the system.

And the Trump administration should go to great lengths to protect the American homeland. The security of the U.S. is at stake, so Washington should support its South Korean ally by imposing stiff sanctions on China.

The Pentagon wants to put THAAD, as the Lockheed Martin-built system is called, in South Korea to intercept North Korean missiles.

China has supplied crucial equipment and technologies to Pyongyang’s ballistic missile program. For instance, an enterprise associated with the People’s Liberation Army transferred transporter-erector-launchers for the North’s KN-08, making that intercontinental missile particularly dangerous to the U.S. Moreover, there are indications that the missiles Pyongyang tested August 24 and February 12 are variants of China’s submarine-launched JL-1 ballistic missile.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonchang/2017/03/05/china-trying-to-crush-south-koreas-economy/#b893aeb349c1

Taiwan Risks Beijing Backlash Over South China Sea Patrols


Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is risking a new showdown with Beijing by stepping up military capabilities to protect holdings in the widely contested South China Sea.

The navy of Taiwan, a diplomatically isolated government that claims the entire sea and controls its largest land feature, will increase patrols in the 3.5 million-square-kilometer body of water because of China’s own growing military might, Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan told parliament in Taipei last week. The navy will also train together with the air force, the minister said.

He added the navy will use its increased, regular South China Sea patrols to do humanitarian rescue drills and protect Taiwanese boats trawling for fish or ferrying supplies. A 1,000-ton coast guard frigate has already been sent to the sea to protect Taiwanese fishing boats.

http://www.voanews.com/a/taiwan-risks-beijing-backlash-south-china-sea-patrols/3751147.html

 

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