Saturday, April 26, 2008

Kim Jong-il builds ‘Thunderbirds’ Runway for war in N. Korea

From The Sunday Times (UK):

North Korean military engineers are completing an underground runway beneath a mountain that can protect fighter aircraft from attack until they take off at high speed through the mouth of a tunnel.

The 6,000ft runway is a few minutes’ flying time from the tense front line where the Korean People’s Army faces soldiers from the United States and South Korea.

The project was identified by an air force defector from North Korea and captured on a satellite image by Google Earth, according to reports in the South Korean press last week.

It is one of three underground fighter bases among an elaborate subterranean military infrastructure built to withstand a “shock and awe” assault in the first moments of a war, the defector said.

The runway, reminiscent of the Thunderbirds television series, highlights the strange and secretive nature of the regime that provided the expertise for a partially built nuclear reactor in Syria, film of which was released by the CIA last week.

The reactor was destroyed by Israeli aircraft last September in an operation that may have killed or injured North Koreans at the site in the remote deserts of eastern Syria.

The airstrike appears to have convinced North Korea to harden its own defences and to spend more on its military, even as it struggles to cope with a new food shortage that could see millions of its citizens go hungry. In recent days North Korea has ordered its people to be vigilant against “warmongers”.

“The prevailing situation requires the whole party and army and all the people to get fully prepared to go into action,” North Korea’s state media said on Friday.

Although the media unleashed a volley of abuse against the United States and Lee Myungbak, South Korea’s conservative new president, it also said “sincere and constructive” negotiations on nuclear disarmament were in progress, an apparent effort to play off hawks against doves in Washington.

Olympic Torch Relay Protests In Japan

The Olympic torch can be extinguished but not the desire for human freedom:

Huge security along the route of the Olympic torch relay in Japan failed to prevent scuffles breaking out and demonstrators from attacking the flame.

More than 3,000 police were deployed in Nagano, the site of the 1998 Winter Olympics, following major disruption during the relay legs in London and Paris.

Demonstrators are keen to use the publicity surrounding the Beijing Games to highlight human rights issues in China and the occupation of Tibet.

Police guards in track suits surrounded the first runner, the manager of Japan's national baseball team, and another 100 uniformed riot police trotted alongside six patrol cars and two police lead motorcycles.

Two men tried to charge at the torch in separate incidents during the first half of the relay, but were arrested.

Another was held after throwing eggs at the flame.

Demonstrators also threw rubbish and flares towards the torch at different points, briefly holding up the relay.

Pro-Chinese supporters and protesters kicked and punched one another, leaving at least four Chinese injured, officials said.

[...]The 1,400-year-old temple, which was the showcase of the 1998 Olympics, last week declined to host the start of the relay, citing security concerns and sympathy among monks and worshippers for their religious brethren in Tibet.

After Nagano, the Olympic torch heads to South Korea, North Korea, Vietnam and Hong Kong.

If the grievances of the Tibetan people are not addressed violence could worsen and harm innocent people, including athletes attending the Olympics in China:
Interpol has warned of a "real possibility" that the Beijing Olympics will be targeted by terrorists - or that anti-China groups could attack athletes.

The warning came in the wake of the Olympic torch relay being dogged by pro-Tibet protests.

Ronald Noble, secretary general of the International Criminal Police Organisation, said: "An attempted act of terrorism is a real possibility and a real concern that all Olympic host countries have shared in recent years.

"In light of recent events, all countries whose athletes will participate and whose citizens will attend the Beijing Olympics must be prepared for the possibility that the groups and individuals responsible for the violence during the global torch relay could carry out their protests at the actual games."

He said the actions could range from disruptive behaviour, like blocking major transport routes or interfering with competitions, to more violent acts like assaulting officials or athletes or destroying property.

"Worse yet, we must be prepared for the possibility that al Qaeda or some other terrorist group will attempt to launch a deadly terrorist attack at these Olympics," he said.

The warning comes as air passengers in China will be restricted from taking more than one piece of carry-on baggage on flights from May 1.

Earlier this month, China added matches and lighters to a list of banned items on board domestic flights after what it said was plot to bring down a flight from the western region of Xinjiang.

The government has now restricted luggage allowances and also banned passengers carrying liquids on board domestic flights.

Is Bush Preparing for War with Iran?

The Bush presidency has been a total disaster. He needs something to distract the American people's attention from his failure. What is the solution? Wag the dog: start a war. Bill Clinton bombed Iraq during his Monica Lewinsky troubles. In addition, it was the neocon plan all along to overthrow the regime in Iran. They've been thwarted up to this point by the press, especially the blogs, from carrying out that dream. We'll need to stop them again:

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff accused Iran yesterday of "ratcheting up" its arms and training support to insurgents in Iraq, and warned that the United States has the combat power to strike Tehran if needed.

Adm. Mike Mullen told a Pentagon news conference the military has evidence - such as date stamps on newly found weapons caches - that shows that recently made Iranian weapons are flowing into Iraq at a steadily increasing rate.

Some of that firepower was used to support insurgents during the recent fighting in Basra in southern Iraq.

Mullen said he has seen evidence "that some of the weapons are recently not just found, but recently manufactured."

Both Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have made it clear that while all military options are on the table, they prefer to use other pressures on Iran.

"The solution right now still lies in using other levers of national power, including diplomatic, financial and international pressure," Mullen said.

Mullen also said that launching a third conflict in that region would be extremely stressing for US forces,

But "it would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability."

"Unusual public accusations":
U.S. military leaders have issued a series of unusual public accusations and warnings about Iran, saying they have new evidence of Iranian-backed attacks on U.S. troops as part of a broader effort to destabilize Iraq.

On Friday, the top uniformed officer in the U.S., Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, accused Iran in a televised news briefing of increasing its shipments of weapons to militants in Iraq, in violation of its promises to stem the flow of arms.

The comments by Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came days after angry complaints by Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

In addition, military officers in Iraq are planning to publicize evidence of what Mullen called Iran's "malign influence" there.

Military officials said there was no concerted U.S. campaign to intensify pressure on Iran. But taken together, the remarks represent a shift in the military's thinking. Hopes expressed last year that Iran might be tempering its involvement in Iraq seem to have evaporated, and military officials have renewed warnings about the potential for military action.

[...]Underscoring the latest tensions, a cargo vessel under contract to the Defense Department fired on a group of small boats in the Persian Gulf on Friday, briefly touching off alarm in the world energy markets. U.S. military officials said they believed the boats involved in the confrontation were Iranian, but military officials in Tehran denied the incident took place.

President Bush and officials in his administration have been accused by political opponents of using criticism of Iran to shift public attention away from the protracted war in Iraq.

U.S. intelligence experts reversed earlier assessments in December and concluded that Iran was not actively pursuing a nuclear weapons program. But in releasing classified information this week on an alleged nuclear reactor being built in Syria with the help of North Korea, the White House also warned Iran against pursuing such technology.

Here's another view from another blog:
As previously noted, Admiral Mike Mullen told a gathering at the Atlantic Council that he fears the United States and its allies “will have to deal with Iran in the very near future.” That statement left a lot of room for strategic ambiguity. He removed a bit in a press briefing yesterday, Ann Scott Tyson reports.
The nation’s top military officer said today that the Pentagon is planning for “potential military courses of action” against Iran, criticizing what he called the Tehran government’s “increasingly lethal and malign influence” in Iraq. Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said a conflict with Iran would be “extremely stressing” but not impossible for U.S. forces, pointing specifically to reserve capabilities in the Navy and Air Force. “It would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability,” he said at a Pentagon news conference.

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