Thursday, May 19, 2011

Gadhafi War Machine Degraded: NATO Chief

BRATISLAVA - NATO's bombing campaign in Libya has significantly degraded veteran leader Moammar Gadhafi's military power, the alliance's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said May 19.
Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radicova, left, and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen review an honor guard during an official welcoming ceremony May 19 in Bratislava. (Samuel Kubani / AFP via Getty Images)
"We have significantly degraded Gadhafi's war machine and now we see the results - the opposition has gained ground," Rasmussen said after talks in the Slovak capital Bratislava with President Ivan Gasparovic.
"The Gadhafi regime is more and more isolated every day," the NATO chief added.
"We will keep a strong military pressure on the Gadhafi regime and I'm confident that a combination of a strong military pressure and increased political pressure and support for the opposition will eventually lead to collapse of the regime."
The NATO chief elaborated three objectives of the alliance's campaign in Libya, and vowed to continue the mission until all were accomplished.
"There are three clear military objectives for our operation," Rasmussen told reporters.
"Firstly, a complete end to all attacks against civilians. Secondly, withdrawal of Gadhafi's military forces and paramilitary forces to their bases. And thirdly, immediate and unhindered humanitarian access to people in need in Libya.
"We will continue our operation until these objectives are fulfilled," he vowed.
Rasmussen stressed the NATO mission was restricted to enforcing the U.N.-mandated no-fly zone and that there were no plans for alliance troops to set foot on Libyan soil.
"We have no plans to change our strategy, we operate on the basis of U.N. mandate. In the U.N. resolution it is specifically excluded to put troops on the ground. We have no intention to put troops on the ground," Rasmussen said later May 19 following talks with Slovak foreign minister Mikulas Dzurinda.
"I believe we are able to carry out this mission within this mandate," he added.
With almost daily bombardments by NATO jets, acting under the U.N. mandate to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians, Gadhafi forces have lost control of vast swathes of the east of the country to anti-regime rebels.
But on May 19 United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned the humanitarian crisis in Libya was worsening amid failed attempts to secure a ceasefire.

Norway Army Faced Cyber Attack After Libya Bombing

OSLO - The Norwegian military said May 19 that it had been the victim of a serious cyber attack at the end of March, a day after Norwegian F-16 fighter jets for the first time carried out bombings in Libya.
"The army is regularly the target of cyber and virus attacks, but not as extensive as this," Hilde Lindboe, a spokeswoman for Norwegian Defence Information Infrastructure (INI), told AFP.
On March 25, a day after Norwegian F-16s first took part in the NATO-led bombing in Libya, around 100 military employees, some of them high-ranking, received an email in Norwegian with an attachment that, once opened, let loose a virus made to extract information from the host computer.
"From what we have seen, no sensitive information has been obtained," Lindboe said.
According to INI, only one computer containing non-classified information was contaminated.
The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) has opened an investigation to determine who launched the attack, but authorities say it is too soon to say whether there was a link to the Libya bombings.
Norway has six F-16s stationed on the Greek island of Crete as part of the NATO campaign against leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces, authorized by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 to protect the Libyan population.
The Scandinavian country has however said it plans to curb its military role in Libya if the campaign lasts longer than June 24.

Israel's Military Attache Was 'Industrial Spy': Russia

MOSCOW - Russia expelled Israel's military attache at its Moscow embassy because he engaged in industrial espionage, an unnamed secret service official told the state RIA Novosti news agency on May 19.
The source said air force Col. Vadim Leiderman helped Israeli companies with links to the military illegally obtain sensitive technology from Russia.
"As far as Colonel Leiderman's detention is concerned, this deals entirely with industrial espionage - or rather, his overly active work on behalf of certain Israeli companies on the Russian market," the security source said.
Israel's Haaretz daily said the Soviet-born Leiderman's detention was the first incident of its kind to occur between the two countries in nearly two decades.
The Israel Defence Forces said Leiderman had been briefly detained last week and then given short notice to leave Moscow. He is currently believed to be in Israel.
"Security authorities in Israel completed a thorough investigation and concluded that these (spying) claims were unfounded," the Israeli defense ministry said.
Israel's state-run Channel One television said Leiderman was arrested in apparent breach of his diplomatic immunity while sitting at a cafe.
Russia and Israel enjoy close economic ties based on the Jewish state's vast ex-Soviet diaspora.
But Russia is also a key arms supplier to the Arab world and continues to sell advanced missile systems to Syria that Israel fears make their way to the Shiite Hezbollah movement in neighboring Lebanon.

U.S. Explores Pakistan Supply Route Alternatives

A shutdown of the supply routes that run through Pakistan would pose problems for the U.S. military but would not halt Afghan operations, according to the Army's chief logistics officer.
"We would overcome it," Army Lt. Gen. Mitchell Stevenson, deputy chief of staff for logistics, told the Senate Armed Services readiness subcommittee during a May 18 hearing. "It would not stop Afghanistan operations, but it would be a challenge."
Several lawmakers have voiced concern about the U.S. relationship with Pakistan following the capture of Osama bin Laden. A key part of that relationship is Pakistan's permission for the U.S. to move supplies for Afghanistan through the country. If those supply routes were shut down for any reason, lawmakers wanted to know what would happen.
The Army keeps 45 days worth of fuel on the ground in Afghanistan so that operations can withstand severe disruptions to its supply lines, Stevenson said.
If the southern routes were shut down, the U.S. would increase its use of airdrops and flow more in from the north. However, that route takes much longer and is more expensive, Stevenson said.
Smaller disruptions already frequently delay the delivery of supplies. For example, a sit-down strike in Karachi is keeping supply trucks from getting to the port, Stevenson said. He expects the strike to last a couple of days.
Of the supplies it delivers by land, the U.S. brings in 60 percent to Afghanistan from the north through Central Asia and the Baltic states and 40 percent from the south through Pakistan. There, supplies arrive in the port of Karachi and travel over land by contractor-driven trucks.
The goal is to increase supplies coming in from the north to 75 percent, Stevenson said. "We're not there yet."
The U.S. relies on airlift for all of its "sensitive" and "high-tech" equipment, Stevenson said. This is due to restrictions placed on the U.S. by countries along the northern route, as well as frequent attacks on supply trucks.
To keep supplies off the roads, the U.S. also relies on a large pool of "theater-provided" equipment. The challenge there is that the equipment requires major overhaul and refurbishment about every two years. The capability to do that in Afghanistan is now available, the three-star said.
The Army is also experimenting with shipping more supplies to a nearby "friendly country" and then flying them into Afghanistan using C-17s. The Army is examining whether this route is cheaper in the long run because it avoids pilferage and other kinds of attacks, Stevenson said.
The general did not name the country. However, Stars and Stripes reported last spring that Bahrain served as a staging area to ship MRAP all-terrain vehicles into Afghanistan. The new vehicles were transported by ship to Bahrain and then flown to theater.

China to provide 50 new JF-17 aircrafts to Pakistan on emergency basis.

China will provide 50 JF-17 Thunder jet fighters to Pakistan on emergency basis to meet the requirements of the Pakistan Air Force for in the wake of threats facing the country.
China pledged to provide the warplanes during the visit of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on is on four-day visit to the country.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao assured his Pakistani counterpart of China’s “all-weather friendship” on Wednesday, at the start of a visit that.
“I wish to stress here that no matter what changes might take place in the international landscape, China and Pakistan will remain forever good neighbours, good friends, good partners and good brothers,” Wen told Gilani, according to a pool report.
“I do believe that this visit will give a strong boost to the friendship and cooperation between our two countries and take that friendship and cooperation to a new high,” he added, during a meeting in central Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.
“I would like to thank your Excellency for the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to me and my delegation since our arrival in China,” Gilani told Wen.

Think Tank Raises Concern on Pakistan's Plutonium

ISLAMABAD - Washington should pressure Pakistan to curtail its accelerating efforts to enrich plutonium, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) says in a new report.
The May 16 report says Pakistan's program "is by itself an inherent nuclear material security risk" that "complicates efforts to agree on a Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty (FMCT)." The Washington-based think tank also says the country has excessive plutonium stocks.
The report recommends the Obama administration "publicly insist that Pakistan halt construction."
"Congress should condition a fraction of U.S. aid on Pakistan announcing a moratorium on further construction and agreeing to a FMCT," the report said.
The report compares GeoEye satellite images of the fourth reactor site at the Khushab enrichment facility taken on Jan. 15 and April 20. It said the pace of construction was likely to be faster than on the previous reactors, and that the new reactor could be active in "a few years," depending on the progress of its "overseas illicit procurement of goods for this reactor."
An earlier ISIS report from April 14 cited some of these efforts.
Once operational, the four reactors at Khushab "will roughly double Pakistan's annual ability to build nuclear weapons to about 19-26 nuclear weapons per year."
ISIS has long documented Pakistan's nuclear program, but this is the first time it has openly asked Washington to try to slow its progress.
Mansoor Ahmed, a lecturer with the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies at Islamabad's Quaid-e-Azam University, said the report shows a double standard in responses to Pakistan's and India's nuclear efforts.
Ahmed said the three reactors at Khushab can produce 50 megawatts apiece, and can produce 9 to 12 kilograms of plutonium annually, while India is working on a second 100-megawatt thermal plutonium production reactor and has 950 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium and 11.5 tons of weapon-usable, reactor-grade plutonium.
"Assuming five kilograms of weapon-grade and 10 kilograms of reactor-grade plutonium per weapon, these stocks are sufficient for India to develop 190 and 1,150 nuclear warheads, respectively," he said.
Ahmed also noted that the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal means India "can potentially add 1,250 [kilograms] of weapon-usable, reactor-grade plutonium from its eight unsafeguarded heavy water power reactors, 130 [kilograms] of weapon-grade plutonium from each of its five existing and planned unsafeguarded fast-breeder reactors to its existing stocks of fissile material each year."
Ultimately, Pakistan's efforts are a question of maintaining the credibility of its deterrent.
Ahmed said, "Pakistan will have to maintain the credibility of its minimum deterrent, which is dynamic and sensitive to the threat perception emanating from India's potential to massively increase its nuclear arsenal in the near future, and is not a manifestation of engaging into a nuclear arms buildup, which it does not desire, nor can it afford."

Nuclear Scientist Says Bomb Saved Pakistan

WASHINGTON - The father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb has vigorously defended the program as sparing his country the fate of Iraq or Libya, amid signs that Islamabad is ramping up its weapons capacities.
Writing in Newsweek magazine, Abdul Qadeer Khan said that Pakistan's nuclear weapons had prevented war with historic rival India, which he accused of pursuing a "massive program" due to ambitions of superpower status.
"Don't overlook the fact that no nuclear-capable country has been subjected to aggression or occupied, or had its borders redrawn. Had Iraq and Libya been nuclear powers, they wouldn't have been destroyed in the way we have seen recently," Khan said.
Khan also argued that Bangladesh would not have won independence in 1971 if Pakistan had nuclear weapons. India supported Bangladesh's independence, which came after a nine-month struggle that was harshly put down by Pakistani forces.
Many Pakistanis regard Khan as a hero for building the Islamic world's first nuclear bomb. India and Pakistan carried out nuclear tests in 1998.
He admitted in 2004 that he ran a nuclear black-market selling secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea. But Khan later retracted his remarks and in 2009 was freed from house arrest, although he was asked to keep a low profile.
Western powers in March launched a military campaign against Libya over concerns of violence against civilians. Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi agreed in 2003 to end his nuclear program and tried to reconcile with the West.
Pakistan has been increasingly worried about its nuclear program after U.S. forces on May 2 managed to enter the country covertly to kill the world's most wanted man, Osama bin Laden, who was living in the garrison city of Abbottabad.
Khan lashed out at Pakistanis who contend that the country, which suffers grinding poverty and receives billions of dollars in U.S. assistance each year, cannot afford its nuclear program.
"The propaganda about spending exorbitant sums on the nuclear program circulated by ignorant, often foreign-paid, Pakistanis has no substance," he wrote.
But Khan also said that Pakistan's "incompetent and ignorant rulers" never devoted enough resources to development, which he argued should have been easier due to the protection ensured by nuclear weapons.
While Khan said he was not familiar with the latest developments in Pakistan's nuclear program, Newsweek published a commercial satellite image that appeared to show expedited construction at the country's Khushab nuclear site.
The Institute for Science and International Security, which assessed the image, said it showed "significant progress" on a fourth reactor. A frame of a building was now visible, which did not appear in a picture taken in January.
The Washington-based think-tank said that plutonium from the new reactors would allow a "dramatic increase" in production, potentially allowing Pakistan to double its annual production of nuclear weapons.
Pakistan is the sole country blocking talks in the Conference of Disarmament that would lead to an international agreement banning production of new nuclear bomb-making material.
Pakistan said that Senator John Kerry, on a mission to Islamabad to ease tensions in the wake of bin Laden's killing, assured Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani that the United States had no designs on taking over the country's nuclear arsenal.
"He said that he can write this with his blood, that we have no interest in Pakistan's nuclear assets," Gilani's office said in a statement.
But the statement quoted Kerry as hoping that Pakistan's nuclear weapons would be "well-protected and secure" under a "proper command and control system."