Putin and Medvedev Reveal True Loyalties In Iranian Double-Crosses

Russia Damaging Iranian People

24 August 2011

Iran’s ambassador to Moscow on Wednesday assailedGazpromNeft for a “delay” in developing the country’s oil reserves, as fewer energy investors remain committed to cooperating with Tehran.

Mahmoud Reza Saijadi also announced that Iran asked the United Nations’ International Court of Justice to rule on Russia’s refusal to supply S-300 missile systems to his country.

Saijadi’s broadside at Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of state-controlled Gazprom, comes as many foreign oil majors are pulling out of the country, citing reasons that include U.S sanctions and difficulty in dealing with the government.

Gazprom Neft has delayed the development of the Azar field for nearly two years since signing a tentative agreement with the National Iranian Oil Company in November 2009 to jointly tap its resources, he said.

“Big damage has been done by Russian oil companies to the Iranian people,” Saijadi said through a translator at a news conference. “I have already told the Russian side about the danger of this approach.”

A spokeswoman for Gazprom Neft said the company would have no comment. The company does not mention Iran as a country of presence in the map of its business on the corporate web site.

A Gazprom Neft executive last mentioned Iran in March. Alexander Kolomatsky, head of the company’s Iraq-based Badra project, said in an interview that data from Iran helped the company evaluate Badra’s potential.Gazprom Neftraised its estimate of Badra’s reserves more than twofold to 3 billion barrels thanks to its involvement in Iran, he said.

The company believes that Iran’s Azar field and Badra in neighboring Iraq are part of the same underground oil reserve.

Foreign oil companies have reduced their activity in Iran since January 2010, according to a U.S. congressional report released earlier this month. The report by the Government Accountability Office said 20 firms — out of 41 firms it had tracked as having presence in Iran — withdrew or were in the process of pulling out from commercial activity in the country.

Those companies includedLUKoil, which announced its retreat from Iran in March 2010 citing U.S. sanctions that seek to punish Iran for its nuclear program, which many nations suspect aims to create a nuclear bomb. U.S. lawmakers reinforced sanctions, which previously only barred investments of more than $20 million a year in Iranian exploration and production, by legislation that U.S. PresidentBarack Obamasigned last summer.

The new law complicates any investment in Iran by expanding sanctions to financial institutions, insurers and export credit agencies aiding the Iranian oil sector.

Some other companies that cooled to Iran also listed the difficulty of doing business with the country as a reason why they left, the congressional report said.

Saijadi on Wednesday unveiled a plan to rescue another deal that went sour: The sale of Russian S-300 missile systems, which PresidentDmitry Medvedevbanned in September 2010 in compliance with a UN resolution from June 2010.

Iran is suing Russia in the International Court of Justice, hoping that the court will rule that UN resolution does not cover S-300s, Saijadi said.

“We have filed our lawsuit in order for the court ruling to help Russia go through with the sale and in order for Russia to have a legal trump,” he said in comments translated into Russian, Interfax reported.

In response, a highly placed Russian source dealing with arms exports from the country said Russia will not agree to supply the weapons unless the UN lifts its sanctions, Interfax reported.

“As of now, the contract is not on ice as some people believe. It’s canceled,” the source said.

Moscow is ready to return to Tehran the advance payment of $166.8 million, the source said. The entire contract, signed in 2007, has been estimated to be worth $800 million.

Behold India’s unfolding democratic revolution

Behold India’s unfolding democratic revolution

Sudip Mazumdar
A unique revolution is unfolding across India. No matter what is the immediate outcome of this popular upsurge, triggered by the inspiring determination of a 74-year-old man’s refusal to eat food till the first step towards containing the hydra-headed monster of state-encouraged corruption is taken, Anna Hazare’s fast has already become an event of great historic proportions.

Take a few recent developments in the so-called developed democracies of the West. In the United Kingdom marauding mobs robbed innocent people, burned down neighbourhood shops and houses and attacked police with guns and petrol bombs. In otherwise placid Norway, extreme hate-filled anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant mindset led to the mass carnage of innocent students and bombing of buildings in Oslo. In the preacher of democracy, the United States, a prolonged recession, mounting unemployment and venal partisan politics have led to hardening of anti-immigrant prejudices, instead of a pan-American protest movement. A similar narrow-minded response is on display across crisis-ridden Europe.

Now contrast that with India’s sweeping mass movement. It is peaceful, non-violent and all-inclusive, propagating a ‘middle path’ shunning the extremism of Maoists on the one hand and rightwing bigotry on the other. We must remember that ordinary Indians have been brutalised for far too long by tyrannical state functionaries ranging from a ruthless policeman to a shameless minister looting public money to a pitiless judge allowing the innocent to rot in prison.

And yet, Indians have not swung either to the extreme left or to the extreme right. They have steadfastly remained on the middle path. In a dazzling display of noble human emotions, Indians are helping each other in this mass uprising in a spirit of service and fellow feeling. Look at that family of 40 from Ludhiana distributing food and water at Ramlila grounds and the traders from Shahdara who are running community kitchens to feed people and the grandmother from Kurukshetra who cooks food and brings it to Delhi and shares it with anyone sitting next to her at Ramlila grounds. Such stories abound across the country.

There is, as if, a race to do as much as one can to help the fellow human being braving the punishing heat and a callous government apparatus. There was a blind teacher from Delhi University who came with his blind wife so that they could let their one-year-old son see and hear Anna Hazare. There was an 80-year-old ailing professor from Patna who was brought in a wheelchair by his daughter-in-law so that he could be part of this social churning before he dies. Groups of poor homemakers from the suburb of Palwal came every day after finishing their household chores along with babies in their arms. Taxi-drivers skipped their work one evening and brought their taxis in a procession and many gave free rides to fellow protesters. Diasporic Indians also took to streets from Toronto to London and New York to feel emotionally connected with the movement back home.

No other popular movement since independence has been able to generate such nationwide enthusiasm in such a grand scale that is totally peaceful and non-violent. Even the ‘total revolution’ call by Jayaprakash Narayan in the seventies evoked a response mainly among the youth and stayed confined to northern and western India and sometimes degenerated into violent outbursts.

Cynics and sceptics, unwittingly propping up the indefensible case of an insensitive and insular ruling establishment, have variously tried to run down the uprising by picking up a stray slogan here or an out-of-context comment there or by plainly circulating lies and misinformation. That is why they are as disconnected from the ground reality and popular aspirations as the government and its corrupt minions are.

We must celebrate the swelling popular participation in the uprising that has forced the elected representatives to be accountable in an unprecedented way. If the legislators were truly representing the people, they would be milling among the peaceful crowds, and not hide in fear in their well-guarded, fenced and usurped prime real estate.

This churning will go toward strengthening democracy and making it more meaningful and relevant. Democracy does not mean voting once in five years and allowing the elected politician to lord over people and to loot public money and resources, secured in comfortable enclaves and protected by phony legalese.

It is the criminal masquerading as politician who has degraded parliament and its procedures, not the long suffering Indian people who are out on the street today demanding accountability and transparency – two hallmarks of real democracy. And the citadel of corruption is shaking. It is time to be proud of India’s vibrant and exemplary democratic revolution.

(24.8.2011 -Sudip Mazumdar is long-time foreign correspondent based in New Delhi and a keen political observer. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at sudipm@gmail.com)

‘Stealth’ warships to test China’s nerve

Sea Shadow
Sea Shadow is an experimental stealth warship concept of the US Navy, Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) and Lockheed Martin.

THE US is deploying a new generation of high-speed stealth warships to the disputed waters of the South China Sea, in a move that is bound to raise tensions with Beijing.

The vessels, which cost $US440 million ($422m) each, will be deployed in the shipping lanes between Hong Kong and Singapore, where four nations are at odds with China over who owns vast areas of ocean rich in oil and gas.

The ships are designed to fight in shallow waters. They carry three helicopters and special forces units with armoured vehicles that can roll off a ramp into action, while fast gunboats can be launched from the stern.

The latest version, built by General Dynamics, is an aluminium-hulled trimaran, the USS Independence. Launched last year, it is protected by Mk 110 57mm guns made by BAE Systems, plus missiles for air, land and underwater targets.

The warships’ sleek silhouettes reflect their stealth technology, while the stable trimaran design suits the South China Sea, which is swept by typhoons every summer.

Experts say the ships are superior to any known Chinese vessel in their ability to combine anti-submarine, minesweeping, surveillance, reconnaissance and troop deployment missions.

However, they are expensive and controversial.

US legislators have complained about their cost, and some military analysts claim they could be vulnerable to Chinese anti-ship missiles. Nonetheless, they are seen as a potent symbol of US might.

The Sunday Times

Sounding the Alarm About Dirty Bomb Material Falling Into Libyan “Al Qaida” Hands

[I watched the headline change from “IAEA Official” to the current title.]

Nuclear experts warn of Libya “dirty bomb” material

A Libyan rebel walks in the Bab Al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, August 23, 2011. REUTERS/Louafi Larbi

By Fredrik Dahl

VIENNA | Wed Aug 24, 2011 8:59am EDT

(Reuters) – A research center near Tripoli has stocksof nuclear material that could be used to make a “dirty bomb,” a former senior U.N. inspector said on Wednesday, warning of possible looting during turmoil in Libya.

Seeking to mend ties with the West, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi agreed in 2003 to abandon efforts to acquire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons — a move that brought him in from the cold and helped end decades of Libyan isolation.

A six-month popular insurgency has now forced Gaddafi to abandon his stronghold in the Libyan capital but continued gunfire suggests the rebels have not completely triumphed yet.

Olli Heinonen, head of U.N. nuclear safeguards inspections worldwide until last year, pointed to substantial looting that took place at Iraq’s Tuwaitha atomic research facility near Baghdad after Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003.

In Iraq, “most likely due to pure luck, the story did not end in a radiological disaster,” Heinonen said.

In Libya, “nuclear security concerns still linger,” the former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in an online commentary.

Libya’s uranium enrichment program was dismantled after Gaddafi renounced weapons of mass destruction eight years ago. Sensitive material and documentation including nuclear weapons design information were confiscated.

But the country’s Tajoura research center continues to stock large quantities of radioisotopes, radioactive waste and low-enriched uranium fuel after three decades of nuclear research and radioisotope production, Heinonen said.

Refined uranium can have civilian as well as military purposes, if enriched much further.

“DANGEROUS” MATERIAL

“While we can be thankful that the highly enriched uranium stocks are no longer in Libya, the remaining material in Tajoura could, if it ended up in the wrong hands, be used as ingredients for dirty bombs,” Heinonen, now at Harvard University, said.

“The situation at Tajoura today is unclear. We know that during times of regime collapse, lawlessness and looting reign.”

A so-called dirty bomb can combine conventional explosives such as dynamite with radioactive material.

Experts describe the threat of a crude fissile nuclear bomb, which is technically difficult to manufacture and requires hard-to-obtain bomb-grade uranium or plutonium, as a “low probability, high consequence act” — unlikely but with the potential to cause large-scale harm to life and property.

But a “dirty bomb,” where conventional explosives are used to disperse radiation from a radioactive source, is a “high probability, low consequence act” with more potential to terrorize than cause large loss of life.

“There are a number of nuclear and radiological materials at Tajoura that could be used by terrorists to create a dirty bomb,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, a director at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank.

There was no immediate comment from the IAEA on the Tajoura facility. A document posted on the IAEA’s website said it was a 10 megawatt reactor located 34 km (20 miles) east of the Libyan capital.

The Vienna-based U.N. agency has been involved in technical aid projects in Libya, including at Tajoura.

Heinonen said Libya’s rebel Transitional National Council would need to be aware of the material at Tajoura. Once a transition takes place it should “take the necessary steps to secure these potentially dangerous radioactive sources.”

Fitzpatrick said the looting that occurred at Iraq’s Tuwaitha center “should stand as a lesson for the need for nuclear security precautions in the situation today in Libya.”

(Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Foreign reporters trapped in Tripoli’s Rixos Hotel

Foreign reporters trapped in Tripoli hotel – media

Foreign reporters trapped in Tripoli hotel

Foreign reporters trapped in Tripoli hotel

© AFP/ IMED LAMLOUM

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi loyalists are keeping 35 foreign journalists inside a hotel in downtown Tripoli, Al Arabiya television said on Wednesday.

The reporters have not been allowed to leave the Rixos Hotel since late Tuesday as the fighting for control of the capital between Gaddafi soldiers and rebels intensified.

According to Al Arabiya, the journalists have been largely deprived of water and electricity, and food is in short supply. They have to wear bullet-proof vests and helmets, as gunfire periodically erupts in the neighborhood.

Rebels claimed on Wednesday they were trying to release the reporters, who had been issued passes by the International Organization for Migration for a possible departure from the Libyan capital by sea.

However, a direct assault on the hotel guarded by a handful of soldiers wearing civilian clothes and armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and grenade launchers could put the lives of the reporters in serious danger.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday called on Libya’s National Transitional Council and opposition forces to ensure the protection of all foreign nationals during the final days of the Gaddafi regime and transition period.

Rebels seized control of much of Tripoli this week, but Colonel Gaddafi’s whereabouts remain unknown. According to a pro-Gaddafi television channel, the 69-year-old promised “martyrdom or victory” in his fight against the rebels and NATO forces.

S. Korea the Middleman Linking American Empire To Uzbekistan

[Imperial penetration of Uzbekistan is taking place out of sight because of S. Korea’s efforts on behalf of the US Govt.  (SEE:  New freight terminal launched at Navoi airportUS Gets Uzbek Air Base ; Charter Air Services to Navoi, Uzbekistan).

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (L) and Uzbek President Islam Karimov hold a joint news conference in Tashkent on Aug. 23. (Yonhap)

S. Korea, Uzbekistan sign string of economic cooperation agreements

By Chang Jae-soon

TASHKENT, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) — South Korea and Uzbekistan agreed to jointly explore rare earth resources in the Central Asian nation and signed other economic cooperation agreements Wednesday, a day after sealing a massive deal to develop a gas field and build a related plant.

A total of seven memorandums of understanding were signed during a forum with about 150 business leaders of the two countries that was also attended by President Lee Myung-bak, Uzbek President Islam Karimov and government officials.

Besides the rare earth exploration agreement, the MOUs also included one about textile technology cooperation, which officials said is expected to help boost South Korea’s exports of textile technology and equipment to Uzbekistan, the world’s second-largest exporter of raw cotton.

The agreements were the latest tangible results of Lee’s two-day trip to Tashkent.

On Tuesday, the two countries signed a US$4.1 billion package of deals to develop the Surgil gas field near the Aral Sea and build a gas and chemical plant, the largest-ever contract between South Korea and Uzbekistan since they established diplomatic relations in 1992.

Also signed on Tuesday was a $7 million contract to export an information technology system to modernize Uzbekistan’s stock market.

During the business forum, Lee and Karimov also watched via video link the unveiling of a commemorative stone at the plant construction site in a symbolic commitment to the project. In summit talks on Tuesday, Lee and Karimov pledged to work together closely for its success.

Lee told the business leaders that he hopes that the Surgil and other joint projects will go smoothly so as to contribute to Uzbekistan’s economic development. Lee also praised Karimov for his role in facilitating the country’s high economic growth, officials said.

The Surgil gas field is believed to be holding an estimated 130 billion cubic meters of natural gas (960 billion tons of LNG, or 830 million barrels of oil equivalent). The project calls for developing the field and building a processing plant, and is expected to cost US$4.16 billion in total.

Also on Tuesday, four engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts were signed involving South Korea’s GS Engineering & Construction Corp., Samsung Engineering Co., Hyundai Engineering Co. and Uzbekistan’s state-run gas corporation UNG, and UZKOR, a 50-50 joint venture set up between the two countries to develop the gas field.

South Korea and Uzbekistan have pursued the Surgil project since Korea Gas Corp. (KOGAS) and UNC signed a memorandum of understanding in 2006. The two sides have since established the joint venture UZKOR in 2008, in which a Korean consortium led by KOGAS holds a 50 percent stake.

Uzbekistan was the second leg of Lee’s three-nation tour of Central Asia. He visited Mongolia earlier this week and is scheduled to depart for Kazakhstan later Wednesday.

jschang@yna.co.kr

You Will Accept Special Forces Trainers, Or Else.

[The delegation of old farts is in Islamabad trying one-on-one extortion/blackmail of the Pakistani government, seeking to force an opening for the re-penetration by pumped-up American killers.  This can easily be compared to a violent rape of Pakistani leaders by an Imperialist aggressor.  Pakistan has one chance to avoid Libya’s fate, and that is through concentrated resistance of any military “assistance” from the West.  When all the dust settles, we will either see a world subjugated by the American war machine, or a world liberated from the American Empire, depending upon how, or if, Eastern leaders like PM Gilani resist the assault.]

Restoration of military aid: United States offers quid pro quo

Prime Minister Gilani and US Senator Levin during a meeting at the PM House. PHOTO: PPI

ISLAMABAD: The United States has offered to restore $800 million in military aid to Pakistan if it reverses its decision of expelling US military trainers in the aftermath of the May 2 Abbottabad raid that had killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

The offer came from an influential US Democrat, Senator Carl Levin, at a meeting with Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on Tuesday, a Pakistani official familiar with the development told The Express Tribune.

Leading a delegation of US congressmen, Senator Levin – who is the chairman of Senate’s Arms Services Committee – also held separate meetings with President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said Gen Kayani refused to review the decision anytime soon.

Pakistan Army expelled close to 100 US military trainers from the country in June in a show of displeasure over the Bin Laden raid. The Pakistani move, the US said, compelled it to withhold $800 million in military assistance.

At a meeting with the US delegation, President Zardari voiced concern over reports of the proposed cut in assistance for Pakistan. “Any cut in assistance would impact our existing economic conditions,” said an official statement quoting the president as telling the visiting US senators.

Zardari said the move would also send negative signals to the public about the US commitment to the people of Pakistan “when they are suffering heavily in economic terms due to unparalleled toll of the war against terror.”

The president hoped that all such steps would be avoided, the statement added.

President Zardari said drag on our relations due to operational irritants can effectively be avoided if the terms of engagements were clearly defined and followed in their true essence by the two countries.

In a meeting with Prime Minister Gilani, Senator Levin underlined the importance of bringing back US-Pakistan relations on even keel because both the countries are fighting the common enemy who is ‘using violence as IEDs.’

(Read: Pakistan key to regional economic integration, says US)

According to an official handout, Premier Gilani expressed reservations over the failure of the US-led Nato troops to stop infiltration of militants at the Pak-Afghan border.

“One wonders how terrorists dare go to Afghanistan without being eliminated by the Isaf and Nato Forces which are equipped with the most advanced weapons,” Gilani asked.

He underscored the importance of relations between the US and Pakistan to go beyond terrorism and cover other areas of bilateral relations on durable basis for the benefit of people of both countries.

Published in The Express Tribune