Friday, October 3, 2008
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In a move bound to anger China, the United States intends to sell $6.4 billion in arms to Taiwan, the State Department said Friday.
State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood said Congress -- whose approval is needed for the deal to go through -- was notified Friday afternoon. He indicated the administration expects congressional approval quickly.
The package includes a variety of U.S.-made weapons systems, including Patriot III anti-missile missiles, Apache attack helicopters, Harpoon missiles and Javelin anti-tank missiles.
The deal had been in the works for a few months, Wood said, and the decision is "consistent with U.S. policy of providing arms for defense of Taiwan and consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act."
"This arms deal is a key factor in bringing security and stability across the Taiwan Strait," he added. The deal also gives Taiwan upgrades for Taiwan's E-2T aircraft and spare parts for its air force.
U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have always angered China. The latest deal comes at a time when the United States needs China in negotiations over Iran's and North Korea's nuclear programs. But Wood said the U.S. government decision is no surprise to Beijing, as the Chinese were briefed "several" times about the impending deal.
This is the latest chapter in a decades-long uneasy standoff. China claims Taiwan is its own territory and has threatened to invade if Taiwan ever declares independence. The United States has said it will defend Taiwan if China ever attacks.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 8:07 PM
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia hopes to deploy a new nuclear missile next year designed to penetrate anti-missile defenses and will build eight submarines to carry it, defense officials said on Thursday.
The latest statements underline Moscow's determination to upgrade its nuclear strike forces on land, sea and air. They are regarded by Russian commanders as the cornerstone of the country's defenses.
Colonel-General Vladimir Popovkin, head of armaments for the Russian armed forces, told the Defense Ministry newspaper "Red Star" that Russia's recent war with Georgia "compels us to rethink the current state of the armed forces and how they should develop further."
President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have both pledged to extend Russia's recent military build-up with extra funds to buy new, high-tech arms. On Wednesday, Putin announced an extra $3.1 billion of spending next year, partly to replace equipment lost in the Georgia war.
Despite the billions of dollars spent on them since Putin came to power as president in 2000, Russia's 1 million-strong armed forces remain poorly equipped, badly paid and reliant on a large proportion of unwilling conscripts.
The deputy commander in chief of the Russian navy, Admiral Alexander Tatarinov, said on Thursday that by 2015 Moscow would build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines to carry a new, nuclear-capable strategic missile.
"The navy has gone over to building ships and nuclear submarines by the batch," Tatarinov told Interfax news agency.
"A new state armaments program includes a plan to build a batch of eight nuclear submarines that would be armed with new Bulava strategic missiles."
Posted by Steve Douglass at 12:01 PM
2 suspected U.S. strikes kill 3 in Pakistan
By Ishtiaq Mashud - The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Oct 3, 2008 12:52:42 EDT
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan — Two suspected U.S. missile strikes close to the border with Afghanistan killed three people Friday, Pakistani intelligence officials said.
The strikes took place in two villages in North Waziristan, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
A Pakistani military spokesman said he was not immediately able to comment on the suspected strikes.
American forces recently ramped up cross-border operations against Taliban and al-Qaida militants in the Pakistan’s border zone with Afghanistan — a region considered a likely hiding place for Osama bin Laden.
Another suspected U.S. missile strike on a Taliban commander’s home in Pakistan killed six people late Tuesday, officials said.
Pakistan said the attacks often result in civilian casualties and serve to fan extremism. American officials complain that Pakistan was unwilling or unable to act against the militants.
Militants in the border region are blamed for rising attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and attacks within Pakistan, including the Sept. 20 truck bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad that killed more than 50 people.
Editors note: I predict either Osama Bin Laden will be found, or killed or his remains verifying he is dead will be recovered before the November election.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 11:47 AM
RICHMOND, CA (KGO) -- Millionaire Steve Fossett left behind a secret vessel that was being built in the Bay Area. He funded a deep sea submersible -- which, its builders say, was capable of "flying" to the bottom of the ocean.
"We were his big secret project this was to make a record dive to bottom of the planet," says Graham Hawkes, from Hawkes Ocean Technologies.
The Deep Flight Challenger looks like a plane, but is actually a winged submersible - capable of diving to the lowest spot on Earth, The Mariana Trench. It is 37,000 feet below the surface and until now, the ship has been kept under wraps in a Richmond warehouse.
"It would have dramatically, dramatically opened the oceans for exploration. It would have been a game changer," said Hawkes.
Hawkes says the craft would have "flown" to the bottom of the ocean in an hour and 40 minutes and then rocketed back up. He wouldn't say what it cost to build, but it was almost ready to launch when Fossett disappeared.
"We finished testing all of the systems have been tested under pressure at the Department of Defense facilities. We were four weeks away from splashing it in," said Hawkes.
But now that Fossett has died, the project is on hold.
"Deep Flight Challenger is, I think, in my eyes, an extraordinary beautiful machine in my eyes, not like any else seen on this planet before," said Hawkes.
Hawkes owns the design, but the craft itself is owned by the Fossett estate, which has not yet decided what to do with it.
(Copyright ©2008 KGO-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
Posted by Steve Douglass at 11:13 AM