Wednesday, 18 April 2012
April 18, 1982 – Message to Judge Clark
White House, Secret Situation Room flash cable
Secretary Haig writes to National Security Advisor Clark:
"I called you on open line with clear recognition that the Argentines would monitor. In order to break impossible impasse this morning on force withdrawal modalities, I created the impression that British military action was about to take place. While somewhat over-theatrical, it has the virtue of being true in the context of first British units steaming toward South Georgia Island. Fortunately, the ploy worked and it is vital that I leave here with an assessment by the Argentines not only that the British are going to attack but we are only hours away from such event. You handled it on the phone precisely as I had hoped. Warm regards, Al"
Worldwide military spending held strong at $1.7 trillion dollars in 2011, despite the lingering global financial crisis. With US arms spending on the slide, Russia and China are on the rise.
The data released by The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute [SIPRI] shows that despite the astronomical global arms outlays for last year, the great recession halted a decade-long trend in increased military spending.
While the United States remains by far the world’s biggest spender with a defense budget of US$711 billion dollars, its military spending decreased by 1.3 per cent from the previous year.
That trend is only likely to continue, as the Pentagon is expected to make $478 billion in cuts over the next decade.
China for its part held the second spot at $143 billion dollars, a 6.7 per cent increase from 2001.
China’s steady growth has sent ripples throughout the region, with both India and Vietnam drastically increasing arms outlays over the last decade the perceived Chinese threat.
New Delhi announced earlier this month it would increase defense spending by 17 per cent rise for 2012-2013, up to $40 billion.
India has already eclipsed China as the world’s largest military hardware importer, and is projected to spend $137 billion on foreign contracts between 2013 and 2022.
Russia meanwhile is on the rise, overtaking Britain and France to become the world’s third-largest arms spender at $72 billion dollars on arms last year.
Russia’s defense budget is expected to grow by 53 per cent come 2014, a plan which put former Finance Minister Alexey Kudrin at loggerheads with outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev.
Russia plans to spend over $600 billion on upgrading its armed forces over the next 10 years, though doubts remain if the country’s arms industry will be up to the task.
While overall European spending crept up to $407 billion, Britain, France and Germany all faced recession-related cuts.
While the head of SIPRI’s Military Expenditure Project Sam Perlo-Freeman says “deficit reduction measures” had hit the United States hard, he did not see China catching up militarily anytime soon, AP reports.
“The US is still going to maintain for the foreseeable future overwhelming military dominance,” he said. “The US still outspends China five to one, and Russia’s spending is half of China’s.” ‘
Israel has once again demonstrated its readiness to launch a massive assault on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The Israeli Air Force is geared up and ready to strike as soon as the order is given, a major Israeli TV station reported.
A reporter from Israel's Channel 10 TV station has spent several weeks interviewing pilots and other military personnel at an Israeli air base. Dozens of pilots are inspired with the prospect of Israel’s first full-scale air campaign in 30 years. Most of the interviewees spoke openly about the “year's preparations” that are now almost over, as the country heads towards a hot and tense summer.
“Dozens if not more planes” are being prepared to carry out an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites, the reporter Alon Ben-David said. This includes F-15 fighter jets, escort planes and air tankers to refuel the squadron en route to its target.
Unmanned drones are also expected to play a role in the operation. The all-weather fully-automatic UAV Eitan was designed for strategic reconnaissance but reportedly has assault capabilities as well. “This plane can do all that is required of it when the order is given,” one of the pilots said as cited in the report.
When the order is given, the assault will be “short and professional,” pilots say.
Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan warned earlier that, although IAF has the capability to deliver a crushing blow to Iran’s nuclear facilities and wipe out years of research, such an attack would have serious repercussions. He said that such an operation would trigger a war in Gaza – and that in retaliation, Iran would launch hundreds of missiles at Israel.
One of major problem the IAF will be facing is the Russian-made advanced anti-aircraft systems deployed in many countries across the region, including Iran and Syria. Israel's military personnel are aware that by no means will all of them get home safe from the mission.
Moreover, the pilots had already been told where their families would be moved when the assault begins – proof that attack day is drawing close, as the report mentions.
Israel believes that a nuclear-equipped Iran would pose an existential threat to it. As a result, Israel has repeatedly reiterated its threats to deal with the issue militarily. Defense Minister Ehud Barak even spoke of a three-month deadline for Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions, which ends in mid-summer.
Iran insists that its nuclear program is fully civilian, and any enriched uranium it produces is for medical and research purposes. The Islamic Republic has even said it is ready to make concessions on its nuclear program if the West takes “confidence-building measures” and lifts the crippling sanctions. “We are ready to resolve all issues very quickly and simply,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in an interview with the Iranian news agency ISNA.
“It can speed up the process of negotiations, reaching results,” Salehi said, "if there is goodwill.” Iran is currently under four sets of UN sanctions over its nuclear program. The US and EU have also slapped Tehran with their own sets of sanctions, targeting the country's financial markets and oil industry.
The nuclear talks between Iran and six major world powers resumed on April 14. The latest meeting in Turkey was described as generally successful by the majority of participants, and the next round is scheduled for May 23 in Baghdad. Many consider these talks to be the last chance for a peaceful solution.
Israel says it never promised the United States it would refrain from striking Iran while the latest nuclear talks were underway. However, some experts say the drive to strike Iran has little connection with Tehran’s alleged weapons program.
Ratcheting up the rhetoric, Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak told Israel’s Army Radio diplomatic efforts to reach a compromise with Iran were a waste of “precious time.”
Barak’s position comes in stark contrast to Saturday’s talks in Istanbul between Iran and the five plus one countries – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalilil portrayed the talks as “very successful,” with a White House spokesman lauding Tehran’s “positive attitude.”
With the five plus one countries having agreed to meet with Iran again for talks in Baghdad next month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed Iran was given a “freebie” by the international community. US President Barrack Obama shot back, saying the US had not given anything away in the talks.
While Israel insists that it will use force to stop Iran from developing the capability to produce a nuclear weapon, Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi from the University of Tehran told RT Iran poses a very different type of existential threat to the Jewish state.
“Israel has an inherent hostility towards Iran, and it has really nothing to do with the nuclear program. It began from the very start of the Islamic revolution in Iran. Because the Iranian position has always been that Israel is an apartheid state, and like apartheid South Africa, it must cease to exist in its current state of affairs.”
Marandi says that it is “the idea that Iran promotes that Palestinians should have equal rights that angers Israel so much” – rather than its nuclear program.
Marandi says Israel’s restlessness with the negotiations stems from the possibility “that Western countries may be shifting their positions” when it comes to Iran exercising its rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Marandi attributes this shift both to “the fact that oil prices have gone up dramatically and Western economies are hurting,” as well as his belief that “Iran is the only stable country in the region” following the Arab Spring.
While Marandi says Iran will never “give up its right to enrich uranium,” it could be more transparent with the UN nuclear watchdog.
“The Iranians of course have concerns,” he said. “In the past, every time the IAEA met new scientists or saw new places, subsequently we had assassinations and murders of Iranian scientists, including an academic who was a colleague of mine at the University of Tehran.”
Pyongyang says it is “no longer bound to” its deal with the US, which provided a nuclear and missile test moratorium in return for food aid. The move comes in retaliation to the UN’s criticism of North Korea's failed satellite launch.
The UN Security Council (UNSC) condemned North Korea for last Friday’s rocket launch, which was widely regarded as a cover up to test a long range nuclear missile. On Tuesday, Pyongyang shot back at the UNSC for violating the country’s right to put satellites into orbit.
"We resolutely and totally reject the unreasonable behavior of the UNSC to violate (our) legitimate right to launch satellites," Pyongyang said in a statement delivered by the official KCNA news agency.
Washington pulled strings in the Council in order to rob Pyongyang of its right to conduct space research, the statement said.
"As the US violated the February 29 [North Korea-US] agreement through its undisguised hostile acts, we will no longer be bound to it," the statement said as quoted by Reuters.
Now, North Korea, free from the agreement, has "become able to take necessary retaliatory measures." The statement did not elaborate on exact measures.
Pyongyang agreed to give up all nuclear tests and rocket launches as well as uranium enrichment this past February. In response, Washington agreed to send some 240,000 tons in food aid to a country suffering from famine.
The same pact provided that International Atomic Energy Agency monitors, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, would be granted access to the nuclear scientific research center in Yongbyon. On April 16, the North went back on this part of the agreement.
|1905||A13||Submarine HMS A13 launched|
|1916||E33||Submarine HMS E33 launched|
|1923||L69||Submarine HMS L69 completed|
|1945||Tireless||Submarine HMS Tireless completed|
|1944||Thor||Submarine HMS Thor launched|
|1944||Tiara||Submarine HMS Tiara launched|
|1967||Warspite||Submarine HMS Warspite completed|
|1923||HMS L69||From 18th April to 8th May L69 (also known as Lucia) went on sea trials.|
|1940||Sterlet||HMS Sterlet was sunk|
On 8th April 1940 HMS Sterlet left for a patrol in the Skagerrak, Norway. Four days later she signaled that she had unsuccessfully attacked a Convoy of 3 Merchant ships and a Destroyer. The following day she was assigned a new patrol area and on the 18th torpedoed the German Gunnery Ship Brummer, causing serious damage. At once the German escorts counter attacked with repeated depth charge attacks. Their target never resurfaced.
|1940||HMS Seawolf||HMS Sea Wolf sank the German merchant Hamm in the Skagerrak|
|1941||Urge||Whilst on the way to Malta on Submarine HMS URGE made an attack on the 10,585 ton Italian Tanker FRANCO MARTELLI in position 46`51'N 08`29'E in the Bay of Biscay firing torpedoes at a range of approximately 2,000 yards. One torpedo hit and the target sank. It is reported that the tanker had been returning to Italy from Brazil.|
|1942||HMS Torbay||HMS Torbay torpedoes and sinks the German army cargo ship Bellona in the Ionian Sea about 50 nautical miles east-south-east of Capo Colonna, Italy.|
|1942||HMS Umbra||HMS Umbra attacks the Italian merchant Nino Bixio about 40 nautical miles south-west of Pantelleria Island. All torpedoes missed.|
|1943||Regent||HMS Regent sailed from Malta on 12 April 1943 to patrol in the southern Adriatic & was mined north of Monopoli. That evening a large explosion was heard in that area, which is believed to have been HMS Regent striking a mine. HMS Regent was reported overdue at Beirut on 1 May 1943. All 53 crew are lost. |
Post mortem on some bodies wearing British uniforms which were washed ashore between Brindisi and Otranto during April and May 1943 gave indication of a sinking three weeks earlier, hence between 18 and 25 April
|1943||P615||HMS P615 left Freetown under escort by minesweeper HMS MMS-107 on passage to the South Atlantic Command to provide ASW escort training. During the night they lost contact but found each other the next morning. |
U-123 spotted both vessels at 0344 and missed them with two spreads of two torpedoes at 0534 & 0647, one of the torpedo tracks was sighted by the escort, but was put down to a porpoise.
At 1101, a merchant vessel was sighted and at 1153 the U-boat fired one torpedo at the minesweeper on station about 300 yards off the submarines starboard quarter, but missed.
At 1154, a spread of two torpedoes was fired at the submarine, which was hit by one of them on the starboard side, exploded and sank immediately about 100 miles SW of Freetown.
U-123 then torpedoed at 1239 hours Empire Bruce and left the area after sinking her with two coup de grace. The minesweeper picked up the survivors from the merchantman and returned to Freetown
|1943||Unseen||HMS Unseen torpedoes and sinks the German auxiliary submarine chaser UJ-2205 north-north-west of Isola di Femmine, Sicily, Italy.|
|1944||HMS Taurus||HMS Taurus lays mines off Penang.|
Malaysia is close to a contract with Russia on the delivery of Kornet antitank missile systems, Igla portable anti-aircraft missiles and is also negotiating a deal on Russian guided missile and patrol boats, Russian state-controlled arms exporter Rosoboronexport said on Tuesday.
Rosoboronexport deputy chief Viktor Komardin said Russia is ready to sell Malaysia a license to build Molniya-class guided missile boats and Mirazh-class patrol boats.
“Malaysia is interested in our Molniya and Mirazh boats,” he said.
“This refers to their construction under license at local shipyards as shipbuilding in Malaysia is well developed.”
Raytheon UK is eyeing possible applications for the Royal Air Force's Sentinel and Shadow surveillance aircraft, with both types expected to be retired once they are no longer required to support coalition activities in Afghanistan.
Representing combined fleets of 10 aircraft, the manned types provide a key part of the RAF's intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability.
The Sentinel R1 force comprises five Bombardier Global Express business jets modified to carry a Raytheon synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indication sensor and onboard stations for two image analysts. The aircraft forms part of the UK's Airborne Stand-off Radar (ASTOR) system, along with supporting ground elements.
Assigned to the RAF's 5 Sqn at Waddington, Lincolnshire, Sentinels have been operating over Afghanistan since November 2008, and were also deployed to the Mediterranean region from March 2011 to support the multinational effort to protect Libyan civilians.
The aircraft amassed more than 2,000 operational hours in support of the Libya campaign, with some individual sorties lasting more than 12h, says Sqn Ldr Chris Melville, 5 Sqn chief of staff.
Image analysts provided rapid "first-look" intelligence product while airborne, with additional work performed post-flight using new portable integrated mission-planner stations. Key tasks included collecting so-called pattern-of-life data, performing post-strike damage assessment of targets including airfield infrastructure, determining the forward edge of the battle area and hunting for "Scud" missile launchers, Melville says.
"The Libya operation proved the versatility and utility of the aircraft," says Melville. "We were massively in demand from coalition partners."
The RAF says its Sentinel R1s achieved a "duty carried-out" rate of more than 95% while being flown simultaneously over Libya and Afghanistan, and at twice the contracted rate.
With the ASTOR capability having been deemed surplus to requirements post-Afghanistan during the UK's Strategic Defence and Security Review of late 2010, two possible new roles have been suggested. Raytheon believes the system could deliver the UK's contribution to the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance system, which will also include an expected five radar-equipped Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned air vehicles.
Paul Francis, Raytheon UK's head of airborne solutions, says the Sentinel's dual-mode radar could also possibly be given software-based changes to enable it to provide a maritime patrol capability to search for, track and identify surface vessels.
Raytheon is under contract to provide logistics support for the Sentinel fleet until September 2016, and recently completed a build-standardisation programme on the fleet, performed at its Broughton site in north Wales. The RAF re-accepted the last of these in January, and deployed the aircraft - ZJ690 - in support of its Operation "Herrick" mission in Afghanistan less than two weeks later.
The UK's Defence Equipment and Support organisation says the undisclosed enhancements will provide "a much more robust ISTAR capability to support operations".
Meanwhile, a fifth Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350CER-based Shadow R1 was delivered to the RAF's 14 Sqn at Waddington last December. The unit's earlier examples have now all passed through a "return to works" programme at Broughton, with the process having added some undisclosed new capabilities.
Acquired under urgent operational requirement deals to support the Afghanistan campaign, the Shadow R1 carries an L-3 Wescam MX-15 electro-optical/infrared sensor payload, satellite communications equipment and up to three onboard operators. If retained long-term, the type could possibly also provide a maritime patrol capability by being equipped with Raytheon's SeaVue radar, Francis says.
Russia on Monday began a five-day aerial exercise in the country's maritime territory near the Japanese border in which some 40 strategic bombers are taking part, the Defense Ministry said.
The long-range aviation exercise includes aerial bombings and launching of airborne cruise missiles from the Litovka test range, Russian state media quoted Ministry spokesman Col. Vladimir Drik as saying.
Other training missions will include aerial patrol and midair refueling. About 30 crews of Tu-95MS Bear strategic bombers, some ten crews of Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers and two Il-78 aerial tankers will be taking part in the drill which has caused concern for Japan.
In early February, five Russian aircraft, including two Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers, two Su-24 Fencer reconnaissance planes and an A-50 Mainstay airborne early warning and control aircraft flew close to Japanese territory without intruding into its airspace. However, they were shadowed by Japanese Air Self Defense Force F-15 and F-16 fighter aircraft, the report said.
The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) displayed several squadrons of its operational fleet in an air show on the Army Day on Tuesday.
Different types of IRIAF fighter jets and fighter bombers took part in the air show staged over the mausoleum of the Founder of the Islamic Republic, the late Imam Khomeini, South of the capital Tehran.
The Air Force F4, F14, Mig 29, Sukhoi 24 fighter jets and F5 bombers in several squadrons flew over the sky of Southern Tehran.
Aerial refueling operation was also conducted by two Sukhoi 24 fighters during the air show.
Various units of the Islamic Republic Army started military parades in Tehran and other cities across Iran on Tuesday morning to mark the National Army Day.
Senior Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as well as a host of top military commanders are attending the ceremony.
The Iranian Army has recently test-fired different types of newly-developed missiles and torpedoes and tested a large number of its home-made weapons, tools and equipments, including submarines, military ships, artillery, choppers, aircraft, UAVs and air defense and electronic systems, during massive military drills.
Defense analysts and military observers say that Iran's wargames and its advancements in weapons production have proved as a deterrent factor, specially at a time of heightened threats by the US.