• Earthquakes

    26/Oct/2015 // 153 Viewers

    AFP / by Stéphane Koguc, Marian Henbest

     

    JURM (AFGHANISTAN) (AFP) - 

    A powerful 7.5 magnitude killed at least 70 people as it rocked south Asia on Monday, including 12 Afghan girls who were crushed to death in a stampede as they tried to flee their collapsing school. VIDEOGRAPHIC

    by Stéphane Koguc, Marian Henbest


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  • S. Korea's Park says North ready for nuclear test

    27/Apr/2016 // 615 Viewers

     

    Seoul (AFP) - North Korea is ready to carry out a fifth nuclear test and could press the button at any time, South Korea's president said Tuesday, amid reports Pyongyang has readied a powerful, new mid-range missile for an imminent flight test.

    Concern has been growing for weeks that the North is building up to another nuclear experiment ahead of a rare, ruling party congress to be held early next month.

    "We assess that they have completed preparations for a fifth nuclear test and can conduct it whenever they decide to," President Park Geun-Hye said during a meeting with local media.

    If North Korea does go ahead, it would constitute a dramatic act of defiance in the face of tough UN sanctions imposed after its most recent nuclear test in January.

    Some analysts have suggested that, by carrying out a fifth test so soon after the fourth, the North might hope to avoid a heavy package of additional sanctions -- but Park insisted that the international community's response would be swift and severe.

    "Although the current sanctions are strong, we can impose even stronger sanctions that fill up any holes," the president said.

    - Grave 'miscalculation' -

    "North Korea's miscalculation is that by ignoring warnings from the international community and continuing to launch provocations, it will not defend its security, but only speed up its own collapse," she added.

    In recent months the North has claimed a series of major technical breakthroughs in developing what it sees as the ultimate goal of its nuclear weapons programme -- an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to targets across the continental United States.

    These have included success in miniaturising a nuclear device to fit on a missile, developing a warhead that can withstand atmospheric re-entry, and building a solid-fuel missile engine.

    Earlier this month, leader Kim Jong-Un monitored the test of an engine specifically designed for an ICBM that he said would "guarantee" an eventual strike on the US mainland.

    The South's Yonhap news agency on Tuesday quoted unidentified government sources as saying the North had readied a medium-range Musudan missile for an imminent test launch.

    Existing UN resolutions forbid North Korea from the use of any ballistic missile-related technology.

    The Musudan is believed to have an estimated range of anywhere between 2,500 and 4,000 kilometres (1,550 to 2,500 miles). The lower range covers the whole of South Korea and Japan, while the upper range would include US military bases on Guam.

    The missile has never been successfully flight-tested.

    A test firing on April 15 ended in what the Pentagon described as "fiery, catastrophic" failure -- apparently exploding seconds after launch.

    According to the Yonhap sources, North Korea had prepared two Musudans for the test, but the second launch was called off after the first failed.

    "The remaining missile now appears to be standing by for launch," one of the sources said


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  • Tension worsens as North Korea conducts military drills, parades deadly weapons in massive show of strength, now ready to strike US

    27/Apr/2017 // 4347 Viewers

     

    PARIS, APRIL 27, 2017: (DGW)A North Korean government official said on Wednesday that his country’s nuclear tests would “never stop” as long as the U.S. continued what they viewed as “acts of aggression.”

    Speaking to CNN Wednesday, Sok Chol Won wouldn’t confirm when the country’s long-anticipated sixth nuclear test would take place but said it wouldn’t be influenced by outside events.

    “The nuclear test is an important part of our continued efforts to strengthen our nuclear forces,” he said.

    “As long as America continues its hostile acts of aggression, we will never stop nuclear and missile tests.”

    Sok’s official title is director of North Korea’s Institute of Human Rights at the Academy of Social Sciences, but he was authorized to comment to CNN on all matters.

    His comments came as top U.S. Cabinet members put a stress on economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure to rein in North Korea, calling for a return to dialogue after a Senate briefing on the threat posed by Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile program.

    The calmer tone came in contrast to U.S. President Donald Trump’s tough rhetoric toward North Korea earlier this week.

    Another nuclear test could further inflame an already tense situation on the Korean Peninsula, at a time when the Trump administration is moving large amounts of military hardware to the region.

    The USS Vinson aircraft carrier is currently on its way to the peninsula, while a nuclear-powered submarine, USS Michigan, arrived in a South Korean port on Tuesday.

    And the THAAD anti-missile system designed to mitigate the threat of North Korea’s missiles will be operational “in the coming days,” the top U.S. commander in the Pacific said.

    Sok said Tuesday’s massive artillery drill, held on the 85th anniversary of North Korea’s army, was a warning to the U.S. President.

    “This exercise is a direct response to acts of aggression by the United States,” he said.

    But despite the dramatic drills and the deployment of military assets, analysts said that outright conflict between North Korea and the U.S. and its regional allies was unlikely.

    “We are in a phony war phase,” Euan Graham, director of the International Security Program at Sydney’s Lowy Institute, wrote for CNN.

    “If there’s an underlying motive to Washington’s increased belligerence, it is to get the Chinese sufficiently rattled that they become serious about sanctions beyond tokenistic enforcement.”

    Trump has repeatedly called on China, North Korea’s only real ally and main economic benefactor, to do more to bring its neighbour into line.


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  • Watch Video: Man who claims he is the world's oldest at age 145 says he is ready to die

    27/Aug/2016 // 731 Viewers

     

    PARIS, AUGUST 27, 2016: (DGW) World's oldest man, Indonesian, aged 145 , said he is now ready to go the way of all flesh having outlived his generation.

    In an interview with The Telegraph, he recounted all he has been through and survived many natural disasters that rocked his native country of Indonesia which claimed so many lives.

    According to documentation recognised by Indonesian officials, Mbah Gotho is 145 and was born on 31st December 1870.

    He has not surprisingly outlived all 10 of his siblings as well as his four wives, the last of whom died in 1988.

    All of his children have also died, and now he is survived by his grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren.

    If correct, that makes him significantly older than the verified oldest person in the world ever, a title that belongs to French woman Jeanne Calment, who lived to be 122.
    The super senior citizen from Sragen, Central Java, was interviewed by Liputan 6 television news,
    He said he has been through it all and would not mind passing on.

    'What I want is to die. My grandchildren are all independent,' he told Liputan 6 on Tuesday.

    Suryanto, Mbah Gotho's grandson, said his grandfather has been preparing for his death ever since he was 122, but it never seemed to come.

    Watch the video below: 



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  • S. Korean Navy Fires Warning Shots to Repel N. Korean Boats - ABC News

    27/May/2016 // 732 Viewers

     

    South Korea's navy on Friday fired warning shots to chase away two North Korean ships after they briefly crossed a disputed western sea boundary, Seoul defense officials said.

    The North Korean ships — one military vessel and the other a fishing boat — were in South Korean-controlled waters for less than 10 minutes Friday morning before they retreated, the officials said requesting anonymity citing department rules.

    They said a South Korean navy ship fired five rounds of warning shots after broadcasting a warning. There were no reports of injuries and damage to the ships of either side.

    This kind of incident isn't unusual, as North Korea doesn't recognize the boundary drawn unilaterally by the American-led U.N. command at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. In February, South Korea also fired several rounds of warning shots as a North Korean patrol boat moved south of the boundary but no clash occurred either.

    The two Koreas fought three bloody naval skirmishes in the area since 1999. Fishing boats from the Koreas also jostle for positions in the waters teeming with crab and other seafood, especially in the April-June season.

    Friday's incident happened as North Korea is stepping up pressure on South Korea to accept its calls to resume talks after months of animosities triggered by its fourth nuclear test in January. Seoul has rejected the overture, saying it lacks sincerity and Pyongyang must first demonstrate how serious it's about nuclear disarmament.

    Critics say the North often takes conciliatory gestures after raising tension in an attempt to wrest concessions from its rivals.


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  • China’s Aircraft Carrier Making Taiwan Nervous; Russia Hits Obama, Looks Forward to Trump

    28/Dec/2016 // 457 Viewers

     

    Cruise control. Taiwan has been nervously watching as Beijing’s aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, cruised past Taiwan on its way to the South China Sea in recent days, though Chinese officials said the movement was a routine drill. Taiwan has emerged as a point of contention between President-elect Donald Trump and China after Trump’s phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and his statement suggesting that his administration might ignore with the decades-old One China policy.
     
    “The threat of our enemies is growing day by day. We should always be maintaining our combat alertness,” Taiwan Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan said on Tuesday. China, of course, does not recognize the independence of Taiwan, which has purchased billions in U.S. weaponry over the decades. Last December, the government in Beijing confirmed that it was building a second aircraft carrier, and China likely has the ability to build multiple carriers over the next 15 years, the Pentagon said in a report earlier this year.
     
    Beijing, Moscow have complains about that U.S. defense spending bill. Chinese officials aren’t happy over a provision contained in the $618.7 billion National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Barack Obama last week calling for more cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwanese militaries. In a statement, Beijing’s Foreign Ministry said, “we urge the U.S. side to abide by its promises made to China on the Taiwan issue, stop U.S.-Taiwan military contacts and arms sales to Taiwan, to avoid damaging Sino-U.S. ties and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
     
    Moscow and Syria. On Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling Washington’s plans to drop some restrictions on supplying weapons to Syrian rebels a “hostile act” that threatened Russian warplanes operating in the country. “The passing of this law in the last days of team Obama is an indication the administration is planting a landmine for the future administration of Donald Trump, in an attempt to complicate affairs in the international arena,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
     
    Sanctions. Likewise, the decision to renew U.S. sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014 was an attempt to impose the Obama administration’s “vicious anti-Russian course” on the incoming Trump administration, she added. “We hope that those who succeed them will be wiser.” Still, U.S. officials tell the AP that talks between American and Russian military officials to ensure their aircraft don’t run into one another over Syria have been fruitful, and have at times progressed beyond merely tactical communications.
     
    To the Baltics. In an open message to Donald Trump — who has celebrated Russian President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian tactics and questioned NATO’s relevance, unnerving the alliance’s Baltic members — Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham arrived in Estonia on Tuesday on a trip widely perceived as an attempt to reassure Baltic states concerned Trump may not be committed to their defense.
     
    “I think this visit is being done to emphasize that, whatever happens after the inauguration, the U.S. Senate will be something the Baltic states can calmly rely upon,” Zygimantas Pavilionis, Lithuania’s former ambassador to Washington, told Reuters. McCain and Graham will next travel to Latvia and Lithuania on Thursday where they’ll meet heads of state and defense officials.
     
    In recent days, Trump has Tweeted approvingly about Putin’s criticism of Hillary Clinton, his opponent for president, and showed off a congratulatory note the Russian leader sent him after the election.
     
    Good morning and as always, if you have any thoughts, announcements, tips, or national  security-related events to share, please pass them along to SitRep HQ. Best way is to send them to: paul.mcleary@foreignpolicy.com or on Twitter: @paulmcleary or @arawnsley
     
    Russia
     
    Russian officials are saying they don’t believe that terrorism caused the crash of a Russian military plane that killed 92 people when it crashed into the Black Sea, according to the New York Times. The Tupolev 154 took off from Sochi on Sunday with 68 entertainers on board headed for a holiday concert in Latakia, Syria, where Russian forces in the country are based. Russian authorities are currently mounting search operations and say they’ve found the “black box.” Russian Interior Minister Maxim Sokolov says terrorism has been ruled out already and Russian Air Force has vouched for both the pilot and the aircraft involved.
     
    Afghanistan
     
    The New York Times reveals the story behind a Norwegian diplomat’s secretive, backchannel talks with Taliban leaders and the story of a peace deal that might have been. Alf Arne Ramslien tells the paper he started meeting with Taliban officials sent by the group’s late emir Mullah Omar to talk about a possible peace deal to end the fighting in Afghanistan starting in 2007. Norwegian diplomats managed to arrange for Taliban and an Afghan government delegations to meet in Norway for talks in 2008 but the effort was sabotaged when a Taliban delegation member’s family was attacked in an explosion in Quetta — an act officials believed was a warning that Pakistan didn’t want the talks to continue.
     
    Capt. Niloofar Rahmani, the Afghan military’s only female pilot, used to be a symbol of things going right with the country. Now, the Wall Street Journal reports, Rahmani is in the U.S. asking for asylum. After a C-130 training course Rahmani was attending ended last week, she refused to return to Afghanistan and sought asylum, saying she hoped to fly either for an airline or the U.S. Air Force if her request is accepted. The Afghan military has had repeated problems with troops deserting once they arrive in the United States for training.
     
    Pakistan
     
    Fake news has generated some very real threats in international relations as Pakistan defense minister threatened Israel with nuclear war over a bogus online story. The AP reports that a fake news purveyor AWD News published a story about a non-existent threat by a former Israeli defense minister threatening to use nuclear weapons against Pakistan if it sent troops to Syria. Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif read and believed the story, leading him to tweet ominously at Israel that “Pakistan is a nuclear state too.”
     
    Saudi Arabia
     
    Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry estimates that about 2,093 Saudi citizens have joined up with jihadist groups abroad as foreign fighters. Agence France Presse reports that the ministry believes that 70 percent of fighters are currently with groups in Syria. The rest of the foreign fighters were either in Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan, or Iraq.
     
    Business of defense
     
    This year is ending with a bang for U.S. arms sales, according to Defense News. Arms sales greenlit by the State Department’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency up until late December amount to around $45.2 billion. The end-of-year blowout sale of F-15QA  and F/A-18E fighter jets to Gulf countries pushed the 2016 total up by around $31.2 billion


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  • JUST IN: Tension as Indonesian Government sends strong warning to Abuja

    28/Dec/2016 // 13060 Viewers

     

    PARIS, DECEMBER 28, 2016: (DGW) The Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Harry Purwanto, has issued a stern warning on what his country would continue to do to the Nigerian Government regarding its citizens living in the country or traveling from any part of the world into the country.

    This was in reaction to the rampant cases of Nigerians who deal in and bring hard drugs into the country.

    Speaking on Wednesday, he advised Nigerians to desist henceforth from engaging in or allowing themselves to be used for trafficking of drugs to Indonesia and warned that his government there is an existing legislation which now carries the death penalty not only for Nigerians but for everyone including Indonesians found dealing in or in possession of hard drugs. 

    He said: “Let me once again remind Nigerians wishing to travel to Indonesia, that the Indonesian Government, like every other government, has its laws and regulations.

    “It is, therefore, expected of Nigerians and other foreigners visiting Indonesia to always obey her laws prohibiting anybody’s involvement in drug crimes.

    “There are very strict laws for anyone arrested for drug-related offences in any part of Indonesia today.”


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  • First made-in-China jetliner makes debut commercial flight

    28/Jun/2016 // 250 Viewers

     


    SHANGHAI (AP) — The first regional jet produced in China's initiative to compete in the commercial aircraft market made its debut flight Tuesday carrying 70 passengers.

    The ARJ21-700 jet is one of a series of initiatives launched by the ruling Communist Party to transform China from the world's low-cost factory into a creator of profitable technology in aviation, clean energy and other fields.

    The plane operated by Chengdu Airlines took its passengers from the western city of Chengdu to Shanghai in two hours.

    China is one of the biggest aviation markets but relies on foreign-made aircraft. Beijing wants to capture more of those sales. Its major airlines are state-owned, which gives the ruling party a captive pool of potential customers that can be ordered to buy Chinese-made aircraft.

    The ARJ21 — or Asian Regional Jet for the 21st Century — is intended to make its state-owned manufacturer, Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China, a competitor to Bombardier Inc. of Canada and Brazil's Embraer SA.

    "The first flight of the ARJ21 marks the beginning of commercial, or passenger, operations for the ARJ21 and signifies the first time a domestically made regional jet has been used by a Chinese airline," said the COMAC chairman, Jin Zhuanglong.

    The ARJ21 initiative was launched in 2002. It was scheduled to deliver its first plane in 2007 but that was pushed back due to technical problems.

    A full-size jetliner under development by another state-owned company, the C919, is aimed at competing with Boeing Co. and Airbus. After delays blamed on manufacturing problems, the C919 is due to fly this year and enter service in about 2019.

    Boeing forecasts China's total demand for civilian jetliners over the next two decades at 5,580 planes worth a total of $780 billion.


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  • China says extremely dissatisfied with G7 statement on South China Sea

    28/May/2016 // 613 Viewers

     

    BEIJING (Reuters) - China is extremely dissatisfied with a statement by Group of Seven (G7) leaders on the contentious South China Sea, where Beijing is locked in territorial disputes with several southeast Asian countries, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

    Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the remarks at a regular briefing. China's increasingly assertive stance in the region has sparked concern from the United States and its Asian allies.

    "This G7 summit organized by Japan's hyping up of the South China Sea issue and exaggeration of tensions is not beneficial to stability in the South China Sea and does accord with the G7's position as a platform for managing the economies of developed nations," Hua said. "China is extremely dissatisfied with what Japan and the G7 have done."

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday that Japan welcomed China's peaceful rise while repeating Tokyo's opposition to acts that try to change the status quo by force.

    China has said that the South China Sea issue has nothing to do with G7 or its member countries.

    China is not in the G7 club but its rise as a global power has put it at the heart of some discussions at the advanced nations' summit in Ise-Shima, central Japan. G7 leaders agreed on Thursday to send a strong message on maritime claims in the western Pacific.


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  • China urges Japan to act prudently in military field

    28/Nov/2016 // 205 Viewers

     

    BEIJING: China urged Japan on Monday to act prudently in military and security fields and avoid unsettling regional stability.

    Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang made the remarks at a routine press briefing in response to a question regarding Japan's plan to install an advanced US missile defense system, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)

    According to Japanese media reports, Tokyo plans to set up a panel to discuss ways to reinforce its missile defense system.

    "We were concerned about the news reports. China's position on the deployment of the THAAD is very clear and remains unchanged," Geng said.

    Japan's military and security activities are watched closely by its Asian neighbours and the international community because of its history, he said.

    "We hope Japan [will] play a constructive role in boosting regional peace and stability, not to the contrary," said the spokesperson.

    Calling the current Korean Peninsula situation "complicated and sensitive," he urged parties concerned to solve related issues through political and diplomatic channels.


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