Monday, September 03, 2007

Introducing APEC

* Protestors cut power in Victoria
* North Korea hope
* Iran plan
* Schoolgirls inducted to weapons and violence
* Brits leave Basra, as US Surge works ..


Anonymous said...

Pentagon plans to destroy Iran's military
By Sarah Baxter
THE Pentagon has drawn up plans for large-scale airstrikes against 1200 targets in Iran to annihilate the Iranians' military capability in three days, a security expert says.

Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Centre, said US military planners were not preparing for "pinprick strikes" against Iran's nuclear facilities.

"They're about taking out the entire Iranian military," he said.

At a meeting organised by the foreign policy journal The National Interest, he said it was a"very legitimate strategic calculus".

George W.Bush upped the rhetoric last week, accusing Tehran of putting the Middle East "under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust".

The US President warned that the US would confront Iran "before it is too late". One Washington source said the "temperature was rising" in the administration.

Mr Bush was "sending a message to a number of audiences" - to the Iranians and to members of the UN Security Council who are trying to weaken a tough third resolution on sanctions against Iran for flouting a UN ban on uranium enrichment.

The International Atomic Energy Agency last week reported significant co-operation with Iran over its nuclear program and said uranium enrichment had slowed. Tehran vowed to answer most questions from the agency by November, but Washington fears it is stalling to prevent further sanctions. Iran continues to maintain that it is merely developing civilian nuclear power.

Mr Bush is committed for now to the diplomatic route but claims the Iranians are moving towards acquiring a nuclear weapon.

A well-placed source said the administration supported using rapid, overwhelming force, should military action become necessary.

Alireza Jafarzadeh, a spokesman for the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which uncovered Iran's uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, said the IAEA was being strung along.

"The report reads as though it was written by the Iranians," he said.

"A number of nuclear sites have not even been visited by the IAEA. They're giving a clean bill of health to a regime that isknown to have practised deception."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threw oil on the fire last night, declaring Iran had put into operation more than 3000 uranium-enriching centrifuges at a nuclear plant, reaching a key goal of its atomic drive.

"They thought that by issuing any resolution Iran would back down," he said.

"But after each resolution the Iranian nation took another step along the path of nuclear development. Now it has put into operation more than 3000 centrifuges and every week we install a new series."

Mr Ahmadinejad had irritated the White House last week by vowing to fill a "power vacuum" in Iraq. But Washington says Iran is already fighting a proxy war with the Americans in Iraq.

The Institute for the Study of War last week released a report by Kimberley Kagan that uses the term "proxy war" and claims that with the Sunni insurgency and al-Qa'ida in Iraq "increasingly under control", Iranian intervention is the "next major problem" to be tackled.

Mr Bush noted last week the number of attacks on US bases and troops by Iranian-supplied munitions had increased in recent months - "despite pledges by Iran to help stabilise the security situation in Iraq".

It explains, in part, Mr Bush's lack of faith in the power of diplomacy with the Iranians.

But Mr Debat says the Pentagon's plans for military action involve the use of so much force that they are unlikely to be used and would seriously stretch resources in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ray Takeyh, an Iran expert at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, speaking at the same meeting, said the Iranians were determined to pursue a nuclear program "irrespective of the financial and political costs".

Professor Takeyh warned US soldiers in pursuit of Iranian targets in Iraq could cross the border and spark military conflict.

He added optimistically that if Iran acquired nuclear weapons, it could be beneficial to the US, leading the Gulf states to "seek out the American umbrella even more".

Perhaps the proper approach to the Iranian problem is "benign neglect", Professor Takeyh suggested. "Nothing has worked, so maybe ignoring them will."

The Sunday Times, in The Australian

Anonymous said...

British troops quit Basra
BRITISH troops are quitting the southern Iraqi city of Basra today in another step towards handing over the province to Iraqi control and paving the way for an eventual withdrawal of British forces from Iraq.

A British Ministry of Defence source in London said troops were pulling out of Basra Palace, which was built for Saddam Hussein, in the city centre and withdrawing to the vast British airbase on the outskirts of the city.

"The troops are coming out," the source said.

British military officials in Basra declined to comment but a source at the Iraqi Ministry of Defence in the city said Iraqi troops were now inside the palace.

Four-year presence

The withdrawal means the end of a British presence in the volatile city for the first time since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

It is part of plans to transfer security control of Basra province, expected before the end of the year.

The Sunday Times reported today that Britain was preparing to hand over control of Basra province to the Iraqi army as early as next month.

'Overwatch role"

British forces, however, will remain in an "overwatch role" and continue training Iraqi security forces as well as guard key land supply routes from neighbouring Kuwait.

Britain has already handed over three other provinces in southern Iraq.

Some 500 troops had been based at the palace, which was bombarded daily by mortar and rocket fire.

5000 troops left

The withdrawal from the palace will lead to a reduction in the number of British soldiers in Iraq to about 5000. All are based at the airbase, which is also attacked daily.

Attacks on British troops by Shiite militias have surged - 41 British soldiers have been killed in southern Iraq this year, the highest number of casualties suffered by the British since the first year of the war.

Fragile calm

Basra, Iraq's second largest city, is strategically vital as the hub of southern oil fields that produce nearly all of the government's revenue, and the centre of imports and exports through the Gulf.

It has witnessed a turf war between rival Shiite groups, including supporters of fiery cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council and smaller Fadhila party, mainly for political supremacy and control of illegal oil traffic.

While residents say there is now a fragile calm between the rival groups, there are fears that the British withdrawal will be accompanied by an upsurge in factional violence.

Anonymous said...

Radicals issue APEC riot manual
by Malcolm Farr and Joe Hildebrand
MILITANT APEC protesters are secretly plotting an outbreak of violence for US President George W. Bush's arrival in Sydney tomorrow, distributing a rioter's training manual on how to wear gas masks, confront police and even evade fares.

The clandestine anarchist action, six weeks in the making, has been dubbed "FLARE in the void" and is described as an "Anti-APEC counter convergence".

Police are already on edge about security, yesterday clamping down on activity in the CBD - including forcing three German tourists to delete photographs they had of the security fence.

And APEC-related arrests have already begun with the charging of 12 Greenpeace activists who boarded inflatable boats early yesterday to paint "Australia Pushing Export Coal" on the side of a ship in Newcastle Harbour.

The FLARE (For Liberation Autonomy Resistance Exodus) manual, obtained by The Daily Telegraph, openly declares an intent to commit violence.

It tells protesters engaging in "direct action" to form small groups of five to 15 people and to wear masks so they cannot be identified.

"It is important to defy police attempts to frighten us," the so-called Mutiny Collective has written in one section.

The manual also tells rioters to wear gas masks, goggles, running shoes and full-body clothing to protect from tear gas and capsicum spray. It also advises carrying water and a bandanna soaked in vinegar to combat the effects of pepper spray.

The busloads of interstate activists expected to descend on Sydney are also told how to evade public transport fares, including forcing their way through railway station ticket barriers.

Mr Howard yesterday acknowledged the threats of violence and the response of intrusive security precautions in Sydney's CBD.

But he said if violence occurred people should not blame him or Mr Bush.

"Don't blame the police, don't blame the NSW Government, don't blame any of our (heads of government) guests, don't blame the Federal Government," he said.

"Blame the people who threaten violence."

Mr Howard said the APEC summit was an opportunity, despite the expected clashes, to present a positive image of Australia.

He said the nation's largest city, "undeniably the most beautiful big city in the world", would be seen as as a modern, sophisticated, tolerant, multi-racial society.

Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd said violence would be unacceptable and backed a zero-tolerance policy by police towards protests who were not peaceful.

"I would appeal to anyone who is thinking of protesting out there to protest in peaceful terms only," he said.

Police were yesterday viewing anyone who photographed or filmed the fence with suspicion. As well as detaining the tourists, they also forced a Melbourne documentary maker out of the declared zone and arrested a homeless man with a mobile phone camera.

The Stop Bush Coalition, the umbrella protest group, has claimed its demonstrations will be peaceful.

However it is only taking responsibility for protests on Tuesday evening for Mr Bush's arrival and the main march on Saturday.

Anonymous said...

Explosion in schoolgirl weapons, violence
ASSAULTS by schoolgirls – some aged as young as six – have exploded, with attacks or serious threats of violence against teachers and other students reported to police at a rate of nine a week.

Knives and other weapons, including broken bottles, have been used by girls in the attacks, which experts say are close to catching up with boys in frequency and intensity.

Figures released by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research show there were 373 assaults or threats of violence reported to police in schools in 2006 involving a female "person of interest".

The figure – covering individuals aged 10-17 years – covers both government and private schools. It is almost a third of the total 1242 reports of criminal incidents of assault handled by police for both government and private schools in school hours.

The statistics include 21 attacks identifying girls filed by private schools.

Incident reports obtained under Freedom of Information reveal in detail 80 attacks involving girls in government schools over a 20-week period.

In one assault, a Year 8 girl from a school on the North Coast was battered into a "semi-conscious state" by another Year 8 student. The victim was grabbed by the hair, slammed on to the ground, punched continually and kicked in the head and stomach.

Broken noses, bruising and other injuries to female students show up in incident reports.

A principal was hit in the leg by a knife when a Year 9 female in the Fairfield area threw a waste paper bin at a teacher and menaced other staff.

The attacks fly in the face of a claim by Premier Morris Iemma more than a year ago that the Government would crack down on teenage lawlessness.

Since then, victims of female assault have been hospitalised and police called to schools when violence has surged out of control.

Bullying expert Professor Donna Cross, of Edith Cowan University in Western Australia, said female violence had become a worldwide phenomenon.

"There is an acceptance of this behaviour that we haven't seen before. It has become somewhat normalised that girls can be aggressive ... they see it on TV that girls can behave in this way," she said.

Anonymous said...

APEC protesters occupy power plant
CLIMATE change protesters intent on sending a message to APEC leaders in Sydney have occupied part of a power station in Victoria's east.

Four people from the Real Action on Climate Change group have chained themselves to a coal-carrying conveyor belt at the Loy Yang plant in Gippsland. Another 11 protesters have occupied the site but have not chained themselves to the belt.

The plant supplies Victoria with about one-third of its power. Supply has been reduced as a precautionary measure.

Strict security measures are in place in Sydney to prevent similar actions targeting the APEC summit of 21 world leaders.

A 2.8m-high fence has been erected throughout sections of the city centre, reinforced by concrete bases.

The fence has become a surprise drawcard for tourists and residents, who have turned out with cameras in hand to take a snap. In some cases, however, police have demanded the photos be deleted.

Did you walk down to see the 'Great Wall of Sydney'? Do you have any photos, or did the police prevent the picture? Send your stories and snaps to

In Gippsland, a spokesman for the Loy Yang station said emergency procedures have been activated. He said the protesters broke into the station at 5am today.

Loy Yang Power owns and operates a 2000 megawatt power station and an adjoining brown coal mine and supplies about 30 per cent of Victoria's electricity demand.

A spokeswoman for the activists, Michaela Stubbs, told the ABC that the action was intended to send a message to APEC leaders meeting in Sydney this week.

"We're already seeing the effects of climate change and it's our generation and future generations that are going to be dealing with the long-term consequences of climate change," she said.

"We need to see real action now."

She said the protest was one of many targeting the industry across Australia today.

"This is the type of visionary action that the Asia Pacific Economic Forum (APEC) is unable to take," Ms Stubbs said.

"Their non-committal, aspirational targets are completely inadequate to stop dangerous climate change."

- with AAP

Anonymous said...

N Korea agrees to end all nuclear work by end-2007
By William French in Geneva
NORTH Korea has agreed to make a full declaration of all its nuclear programs and to disable them by the end of the year, the chief United States negotiator said.

"One thing that we agreed on is that the DPRK (North Korea) will provide a full declaration of all of their nuclear programs and will disable their nuclear programs by the end of this year, 2007," Christopher Hill said.

North Korea has already shut down a key nuclear reactor at Yongbyon under an agreement reached on February 13.

Aid, security deal

Under the deal, North Korea agreed to dismantle its nuclear program in return for aid and security and diplomatic guarantees, notably normalising ties with the United States.

The US suspects the North, which conducted its first atomic weapons test in October, of running a secretive highly enriched uranium program in addition to the programs it has already admitted to.

When asked whether the declaration would have to include the suspension of all uranium activities to be satisfactory to Washington, Mr Hill replied: "Full means full."

Talks not over

Mr Hill stressed that talks would continue under the six-party framework that has addressed the issue of the secretive communist state's nuclear program, with the next plenary session expected in Beijing later this month.

"Of course we will have to work out some of the details of this in the six-party process... but we had a very good understanding of this today and an understanding that we need to pick up the pace and get through this phase in 2007," he said.

The two Koreas, the US, China, Japan and Russia are all involved in the multilateral process.

Mr Hill said the ultimate aim was not just declarations and disabling of facilities but the full denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and the forging of closer regional ties.

"We're in this for an even broader purpose which is to help create the sense of neighbourhood and bring all the countries together as part of a north-east Asian peace and security framework, which is scheduled to be the focus of further discussions in 2008," he said.